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  • NYFA Musical Theatre Alumna Cast in Asian Tour of “Sister Act”

    sophie KimNew York Film Academy Musical Theatre alumna Sophie Kim So-hyang has been cast in the US production of the hit Broadway musical “Sister Act,” making her the first Korean actress to have been cast in the American production of the musical. She will play the part of Sister Mary Robert, a quiet and timid nun who becomes inspired by the main character Delores to eventually break out of her shell. The show is a musical adaptation of the hit 1992 comedy film of the same name starring Whoopi Goldberg.

    “My Korean agent told me that there will an audition for ‘Sister Act’ in the Asian tour and that I should try to get in,” said Kim. “At first, I didn’t think too much about it because there are no roles for Asians in the play. But since it was an Asian tour, my agent told me that there would be a slight possibility of getting the part. So, I auditioned, got several callbacks, and finally got it. I was so excited!”

    Born and raised in Korea’s theatre district, Kim and her mother went to many shows as a child. “My parents were really supportive and always encouraged me to be an actress,” she recalls. “I was the kind of girl who loved to sing and dance.”

    While in Korea, Kim performed in many shows such as “Rent,” “Aida,” “Mamma Mia,” “Dreamgirls,” “Fame,” “West Side Story,” “Evita,” and “Wedding Singer.”

    sophie kim

    After attending and graduating from NYFA’s Musical Theatre Conservatory, Kim became the first person to join the AEA (Actors Equity Association) as a theatre actress from Korea. She played ‘Gigi’ from Miss Saigon (Paramount Theatre) ‘Tupim’ from ‘The King and I’ (Harbor Lights Theatre). Kim also appeared in the show of “Oliver,” “Spool Girl,” “6 Month Club,” and “Portrait of Father.”
    “Everything I’m doing now I learned from NYFA,” said Kim. “I learned history, preparing for auditions, ballet, vocal, stage combat, jazz, tap, Meisner, makeup, improv, and so much more. I would never be able to get a job if I didn’t go this school.”

    This Friday, April 28th, Kim will perform in the EnoB Benefit Concert at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan. The Benefit Concert is a semi-annual fundraising event hosted by EnoB, a non-profit music outreach organization that serves hospitalized and disabled children and youth and senior citizens through the joy and the healing power of music. It’s an opportunity for EnoB to raise funds to sustain the critical services for people in need and celebrate its work among friends and family.

    The Asian tour of “Sister Act” will begin in Singapore from May 9-28.

    April 26, 2017 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 916

  • NYFA Alumnus Jaspal Binning’s “Ovum” Available on Digital and VOD

    Beginning today, you’ll be able to watch New York Film Academy Musical Theatre alumnus, Jaspal Binning‘s newest independent feature, “Ovum,” on Digital (iTunes), DVD and Video-on-Demand (VOD). Binning both stars and is executive producer in this dark, comedic, yet uniquely poignant story about the mysterious world of egg donation, which is loosely based on the true-life experience of writer/star Sonja O’Hara.

    Ovum

    In addition to Binning and O’Hara, the film stars Hassan Johnson (“The Wire”), Katie Morrison (“Donnie”), Jaspal Binning (“Brown Nation”) and Rutanya Alda (“The Deer Hunter”). It is directed by Matt Ott, with Dan McBride as editor and director of photography. The film is produced by Vincent Petrosini, Anna Lauren Farrell and Sonja O’Hara. Jeff Forbes, Jack Turner, Kris Frank, and Elyssa Lyn Rabinowitz.

    “The idea for Ovum came to me when I was flipping through the pages of Backstage,” said writer and star, Sonja O’Hara. “Next to casting notices for student films and Off-Off-Broadway plays, I noticed a picture of a group of beautiful, glowing young women and an ad that read: Do something meaningful. Help a woman in need. $8,000 dollars. I remember thinking, ‘here they are marketing a dangerous and experimental vanity procedure to fledgling actresses who are more often than not desperate and financially impaired young women.’ Ultimately I discovered that the in vitro fertilization process can be potentially more affordable than the sometimes exorbitant adoption fees in New York State. The whole issue wasn’t black and white and I felt compelled to explore the questionable moral gray area of financial compensation in exchange for human life. Could an audience relate to a self-serving female character who sells her eggs?”

    This is not the first collaboration with Binning and O’Hara. The two won Best Director prize at the New York Television Festival and Best Pilot of the Festival at ITV Fest for “Doomsday.”

    Since graduating from the Musical Theatre program, Binning has also appeared in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series “The Newsroom,” and he plays the lead in the Netflix’s original series, “Brown Nation.”

     

    April 11, 2017 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1517

  • NYFA Musical Theatre Alumna Stars in “The Little Mermaid” Musical in São Paulo

    ana luisa pretoAfter graduating from the New York Film Academy, Musical Theatre alumna Anna Luisa Preto returned to her home country of Brazil where she was cast to play the Little Mermaid in “The Little Mermaid: The Musical.” The musical’s first season was at Teatro das Artes in São Paulo, and is now playing at “Teatro Jardim Sul,” also in São Paulo.

    “I have always loved musical theatre, and when I saw the opportunity of auditioning for NYFA’s Musical Theatre program, I was immediately interested,” said Preto. “After researching about the course, the place and the professionals involved I fell completely in love! NYFA has changed the way I approach and study a song or a scene. With what I learned there, I have much more material to work on the performances.”

    Preto says the Little Mermaid was a very special character in her life as a child, especially being a redhead. “It was one of those stories that you do not think will happen to you…until it happens,” she recalls. “I didn’t know about the auditions, in fact, I lived in another city during that period. A friend that I hadn’t spoken for a long time had moved to São Paulo and sent his material to this musical and in the middle of the material was a duet that we recorded when we studied together. The production saw the material and decided to look for me! I almost did not believe it when I saw the producer’s message calling me audition for the mermaid in São Paulo. In the end, I went to do the test and, on the same day, I received the answer that changed the course of my life at that moment.” She became the Little Mermaid.

    ana luisa preto

    Since graduating, Preto has also performed as the character of Cassie with the Company Project Broadway in Highlights of Chorus Line at the “Teatro Guaíra,” in Curitiba.

    “My goal is always to overcome myself,” she says. “Learn something new with each class, or work and be able to put it into practice. I have no idea what my next character will be, but I look forward to more of this amazing world of musicals!”

    March 23, 2017 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1948

  • NYFA Movie Musical “Streetwrite” Premieres at The Cutting Room

    On Sunday, March 12, one of the New York Film Academy’s newest movie musicals, “Streetwrite,” held a very well attended premiere screening at The Cutting Room in Manhattan. The film was written and directed by Blanche Baker, an Emmy Award winning actress and Senior Faculty member of the New York Film Academy, and shot by Piero Basso, an award-winning Director of Photography. The performers in the film consisted of an international cast of talented Musical Theatre students working alongside NYFA’s faculty and staff of professional artists.
    streetwrite

    Using street art as a focal point, Baker’s film examines the various ways people struggle to express themselves in situations where free speech is curtailed or suppressed. It also explores how certain kinds of expression can be repressive to individuals.

    Following The Cutting Room screening, there was an engaging panel discussion, which included David Klein, NYFA’s Senior Executive Vice President; Issues of freedom of expression in film, journalism and the world of academia were explored by J. R. Brandstrader, a veteran print and broadcast journalist; Deborah Carroll, executive producer at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs; Blaze Coyle, filmmaker, focused on women and social justice; and Christa Salamander, Syrian media specialist and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lehman College whose current book project is on the Syrian TV drama industry.

    streetwrite team

    For those who were unable to attend The Cutting Room premiere, there are a few more festival screenings to come.

    The RiverRun Festival, based in Winston-Salem, NC, will be holding a screening on Saturday, April 1. After the screening there will be a talkback moderated by the producer, Dale Pollack.

    Cinemonde, the private film series at the Roger Smith Hotel, will be screening the film on April 5 at 7pm.

    “Streetwrite” will then screen at the Manhattan Film Festival on FridayApril 21 at Cinema Village and at the NYC Indie Film Festival on Friday, May 5 at The Producer’s Club.

    For a look at more photos from The Cutting Room premiere, visit our Official Facebook Album.

    March 22, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 850

  • NYFA Instructor Wins Directing Awards for “The Engine of our Ruin”

    engine is in our ruinWith politics at the forefront of our daily news, it’s refreshing to see New York Film Academy Acting for Film instructor Maria Gobetti’s thought-provoking political play “The Engine of Our Ruin,” which played at The Victory Theatre Center in Burbank, California.

    Written by Jason Wells and directed by Gobetti, the play provides plenty of laughs but also offers some chewy nuggets of political give-and-take to savor. One wrong word or one wrong inflection can lead to crisis in our volatile modern world.

    The play is an LA Times Critics Pick that has won several awards, including Gobetti’s 2016 Arts in LA Stage Award for Directing. The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) recently announced its nominations and special awards for excellence in Los Angeles, and The Milton Katselas Award for career or special achievement in direction went to Maria Gobetti.

    Set in a luxury hotel suite somewhere in the Middle East, diplomat Charles Manning-Jourdain meets with delegates of an unfriendly nation in the hope that a simple trade agreement will bring their two countries closer together. But this routine mission quickly becomes an international incident thanks to an idealistic interpreter with an agenda of her own; a belligerent official who brings a rumor of war; and Charles’s own staffers, whose attempts to cover up an after-hours party might just topple a foreign government.

    engine of our ruin

    “This was one of the best directing experiences I’ve had, and I’ve directed over 80 plays — most of which have been world premieres,” said director Gobetti. “I could not have done this without experienced actors. Students should know that these actors were always prepared, always ready to work, and had great ideas. I did not have to ever ‘coach,’ only ‘direct’ actors who were already making strong choices.”

    Gobetti and Tom Ormeny, co-artistic directors of the Victory Theatre Center, are pleased to announce their next project — the first production of their season scheduled to rock the Little Victory — the world premiere of “Pie in the Sky.” Directed by Gobetti and produced by Ormeny, Katie Witkowski, and co-produced by Gail Bryson, “Pie in Sky” is set to begin previews on March 10 and is scheduled to run from March 17 through May 23.

    March 2, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Musical Theatre • Views: 1384

  • NYFA Produced Movie Musical “Streetwrite” Introduced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The Musical Theatre Conservatory at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) is one of the only musical theatre programs in the world that teaches both musical theatre for the stage and film.

    Blanche Baker

    Blanche Baker

    A recent prime example is “Streetwrite,” written and directed by Blanche Baker, an Emmy Award winning actress and Senior Faculty member of the New York Film Academy, and shot by Piero Basso, an award-winning Director of Photography. The film was fully funded by NYFA, with an international cast of talented Musical Theatre students working alongside NYFA’s faculty and staff of professional artists.

    This Feb. 14, 2017, “Streetwrite” was introduced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Bonnie Sacerdote Lecture Hall. The introduction included a screening of the trailer, followed by a 20-minute performance work by Artists Fighting Fascism: Rebecca Goyette, Brian Andrew Whiteley and Kenya (Robinson).

    Opening remarks were given by International Institute for Conservation (IIC) Council Member, Amber Kerr and introductions by Moderator, Rebecca Rushfield. IIC is an independent international organization supported by individual and institutional members. It serves as a forum for communication among professionals with responsibility for the preservation of cultural heritage. It advances knowledge, practice and standards for the conservation of historic and artistic works through its publications and conferences. It promotes professional excellence and public awareness through its awards and scholarships.

    “We were thrilled that the New York Film Academy and Blanche Baker allowed the International Institute for Conservation to open its Feb. 14, 2017 colloquium, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a showing of the trailer for the NYFA Musical Theater film ‘Streetwrite,’ said Rebecca Rushfield, IIC Conference Organizer. “With an explosion of sound, movement, and color, “Streetwrite” set the context for the discussion that followed, demonstrating how art is created as an expression of protest or outrage.”

    blanche at the met

    Political graffiti has a long history dating back to the walls of Ancient Rome. It represents an alternative means of expression that gives voice to the issues and concerns of the common people. This tradition of free expression forms the basis of “Streetwrite,” a movie musical that asks the question, “How can speech be free if only those who pay can speak?”

    Using street art as a focal point, the film examines the various ways people struggle to express themselves in situations where free speech is curtailed or suppressed. It also explores how certain kinds of expression can be repressive to individuals.

    “Streetwrite’ will have its public world-premiere at The Cutting Room (44 East 32nd Street, NYC 10016) on Sunday, March 12th from 2pm-4pm. It will also have its East Coast Premiere at The Queens World Film Festival on Sunday, Mar. 19 in the Zukor Theatre at Kaufman Astoria Studios. The film has also been accepted to screen at Cinémonde, a private film series at the Roger Smith Hotel in NYC.

    February 20, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 2367

  • NYFA Musical Theatre Students Hit the Recording Studio for Upcoming Movie Musical

    In addition to live musical productions at theaters in New York City, the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Program produces movie musicals as part of the second year in the program. Students play roles written for them and sing songs specifically composed for them, all within a professional model that results in a state-of-the-art movie musical, which is submitted to film festivals across the country. Past productions have gone on to win awards, including “Start-Up.Com,” which won a Laurel of Excellence Award at the Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network.

    recording studio

    “The New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Department is taking the lead in training young talent not only for the stage but also for careers in the film and television industry,” says NYFA Musical Theatre Chair, Mark Olsen. “A highlight of this experience is when students go to a professional studio and work closely with the engineer and the film’s music director to record their final vocal tracks.”

    The recording session, which recently took place at MonaLisa studios in New York City, is very unique to students as they get the chance to have original material tailored and developed personally to them — i.e. characters, music, etc. The students also have the opportunity to work with renown composers on the material and record in an actual recording studio as part of our music theatre program. No other program can provide this level of professional support.

    recording session nyfa

    The next movie musical, “Alma Mater,” is being directed by NYFA Musical Theatre faculty member, Nathan Brewer, Music Direction by Anna Ebbesen, screenplay by Emily Kaczmarek, with Music and Lyrics by Zoe Sarnak.

    It is a story of two rival roommates in the year 1993 at Beecher College, a fictional and exclusive all-girls school in the Hudson Valley. One roommate is preparing for an important fundraising event by organizing a group called “Beecher College Women of Substance.” The other roommate is organizing a group of her own for the same fundraiser, except this group is centered on the recent rebellious advance of the punk rock “Riot Girrrrrls” movement. Both groups awaken to and express their feminist points of view in ways that polarize them into separate and competing camps.

    nyfa recording

    As they rehearse and prepare for the big event, they overlook members of the computer club who are discovering this new thing called the Internet.

    They create songs, they write manifestos, they stake out separate “headquarters” and emerge to define themselves fiercely, but in completely opposite forms. Finally, after a serious arm wrestling match, members of their respective groups experience a moment of revelation where their combined efforts produce amazing results. The two musical styles and points of view come together in a triumphant song of solidarity. Both groups come to realize that they are actually two sides of the same Susan B. Anthony coin.

    “I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful program learning from working industry professionals,” said NYFA Musical Theatre student, Brielle Carmichael. “There is nothing better than being surrounded by people who share the same passion for their art form as you do.”

    December 8, 2016 • Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 1836

  • Musical Theatre Alumnus Roy Khoury Brings Broadway to Lebanon

    roy khouryNew York Film Academy Musical Theatre alumnus Roy Khoury came to the Academy to pursue his childhood dream of performing on Broadway. However, Khoury took it one step further by bringing Broadway to his home country of Lebanon.

    Last year, he created, starred and directed his own musical concert “One Night on Broadway” at the Casino Du Liban in Lebanon. The musical received an award of appreciation in the “Murex D’Or” 2015. Khoury also had the opportunity to showcase “One Night on Broadway” in the “Zouk Mikael International Festival.”

    The show is a collection of the most beloved Broadway musicals which are converted into a chain of tableaux that focus on the most fascinating features of the Broadway culture.

    “In our country there isn’t much of a known local musical theatre / Broadway scene,” said Khoury. “I have always dreamed of directing my own musical, as well as starring in it, so I threw the idea over to producers and they loved and invested in it. And it was a huge success!”

    one night on broadway

    Khoury and his team were able to perform the musical at international festivals, private events, and concerts.

    “The whole process of being the director and performing was a challenge for me, and I guess I nailed it,” said Khoury. “Thanks to NYFA and the awesome experience that I had in NYC. NYFA is the place where I became a musical theatre performer and director. I’ve worked a lot on myself in other schools and I’ve practiced intensively in different showcases and musicals, but it all comes back to NYFA and the most amazing teacher I met there.”

    Due to the huge success of “One Night on Broadway,” a producer from Dubai contacted Khoury to be the performing arts and stage director of the popular TV talent show, “Arab Casting.” The show hired Khoury to be an artistic director, acting coach and choreographer.

    Khoury says he’s now brainstorming for another show, as a variety of producers are interested in investing in his next big project.

    one night on broadway

    His advice to students and recent graduates: “Be patient, positive, and embrace every single word or class or project at NYFA because it gives you a lot and it’s a brilliant domain. My mentor have always talked to us about one’s discipline and attitude towards others and towards yourself in order to merge into this field. And don’t stop practicing and working on your talent and technique. Everything makes a difference. Finally, take risks and do what you love. You’ll make it if you love it.”

    October 14, 2016 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3274

  • Musical Theatre Alumna Ilda Mason to Tour in “Cinderella”

    After being in her high school performance of “Grease,” New York Film Academy Musical Theatre alumna Ilda Mason knew she wanted a career in musical theatre. Since graduating from NYFA, Mason has performed in two productions of “West Side Story”: one at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, and the second one at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. Mason played the role of Francisca in one, Estella in the other, and understudied Rosalia in both.

    ilda mason

    “Doing ‘WSS’ was incredibly close to my heart because it’s not only a classic masterpiece in every way possible, but it also gives me a sense of pride in my Latin American culture: to speak Spanish, to let my Latin flare explode, and to dance with all the I have,” says Mason.

    She’s currently rehearsing for the “Cinderella” national tour, which she describes as ten exhilarating months of adventure across the US and Canada while telling the story of Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”

    “It’s a fast paced learning experience where you have to give 100% all of the time and put a show together in two weeks,” she says. “I’m an ensemble member and love every second of it! It’s all about everyone being a company; it’s about images, formations, blending harmonies, and telling this beautiful story. It’s a special feeling to be part of a team like this.”

    ilda mason

    In addition to her performances on stage, Mason has worked as a choreographer on NYFA’s Musical Theatre performances. “I have come across many incredible and inspiring fellow students that have made me wish I could do what they do so effortlessly and vice versa,” she says. “But there is so much more to this. We all need to improve our dancing and our singing in different levels. Competing in the professional world is a delicate mix between the will power to go to those early calls everyday hoping one day they cast you; the discipline to take care of your instrument (meaning your entire body inside and out) while constantly going to classes to perfect your art; and a great deal of timing. Timing is everything because not only must you be ready for when the opportunity is presented, but you also need to have a level of maturity to build a career. Most of us will even need the time and previous experience to apply for a visa that will allow us to try to work in the U.S. I believe that when these characteristics of resilience and passion are present (and mixed with the unstoppable desire to conquer that musical theatre dream), NYFA’s students will always have what it takes.

    For more information on her upcoming tour in Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” please visit www.cinderellaonbroadway.com.

    September 6, 2016 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2126

  • Student Directed Play Series at NYFA Los Angeles

    New York Film Academy Acting Department Los Angeles campus is very proud of the Student Directed Play Series, which was completed at the end of the semester in July. Five plays, one original poetry/movement piece, and a musical were staged this summer.
    student directed play

    The season started off with Marcus by Tarell Alvin McCraney directed by Page de la Harpe, Summer ’15 MFA Acting for Film. Marcus completed the Brother’s Size Trilogy by Mr. McCraney, which includes In the Red and Brown Water and A Brother’s Size, also directed by Page in the previous two semesters.

    The second production was Hortensia & The Museum of Dreams by Nilo Cruz, directed by Morgan Aiken, Fall ’15 BFA 3A Acting of Film. Hortensia marks the second play done at NYFA by Latino writer Nilo Cruz, as a production of Ana & The Tropics was done last semester. Morgan has been heavily involved with Student Directed Plays since their inception two years ago, directing and acting in several productions.
    nyfa plays

    The third piece was a poetry/movement piece conceived and written by Ria Patel, Fall ’14 BFA 2B, and co-directed by Federico Mallet Flores, Fall ’14 MFA alumnus, entitled If Light Never Comes. This production explored the complex dynamics of a relationship when one ends and another begins through dance. This was Ria’s first piece she’s written. “I grew from this experience by immersing myself with a small and wonderful cast,” said Patel. “I learnt there are many aspects to putting up a production. Also, as an actor, I feel that I have grown. By helping my actors I was able to understand my own characters better and how to work on building a character too.”

    The fourth play was O.C.D., O.C.D by Laurant Baffie, adapted and directed by Gonzalo Maiztegui, Summer ’15 AFA Acting for Film. An unconventional comedy that explored the challenges of O.C.D. through humor. “This play helped me deal with my own mental disorder,” said Maiztegui.

    nyfa plays

    The fifth play was Everything You Touch by Sheila Callaghan, directed by Camilia Mejia Duque, Fall ’15 MFA Acting for Film. Set in the 1970’s and present day, this play explored the themes of women’s bodies, image, and society.

    The sixth play was the British comedy Nan by Catherine Tate, directed by Romeo Visca, Summer ’15 MFA Acting for Film.  Of the experience Visca said, “I learned so much not only from the production process — which taught me how important key elements are when staging a play — but also the casting, the rehearsals, the preparation. But, most of all, it showed me how honest and open you have to be when working with a group of artists, and how many challenges we face in order to make the actors work as a group.”

    nyfa directors plays

    The final production was a musical, Circle of Life, an adaption of The Lion King, adapted and directed by Simmie Sangian, Spring ’15 BFA Acting for Film. This production incorporated African body art and Brazilian Capoeria dance. This was such an amazing production that played to packed houses and an additional performance was added.

    All of these productions were quite the ambitious undertakings and NYFA applauds all of the student directors’ hard work on these very successful productions. We are continuously impressed by the passion and talent they bring to their work.

    August 10, 2016 • Acting, Musical Theatre • Views: 2248