Musical Theatre

  • NYFA’s James Lecesne Gets Rave Review from NY Times

    james lecesne

    James Lecesne

    As was made quite clear in the Oscar Winning Best Picture Birdman, having the approval of the New York Times is one of the most crucial components of putting on a successful show. While turning the pages (okay, clicking a link) of a recent Times article, we came across a rave review, highlighting none other than one of our very own, New York Film Academy​’s Oscar-winning Documentary instructor James Lecesne.​

    The New York Times’​ respected and well known critic, Christopher Isherwood, identified Lecesne as one of “the most talented solo performers of his (or any) generation,” in his review of James’ one-man show, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey.

    In his one-man show, Lecesne portrays various characters of a small Jersey shore town as they struggle to understand what happened to 14-year-old Leonard Pelkey. Adapted from his YA novel, Absolute Brightness, this solo show begins with the the discovery of Leonard’s disappearance, follows a criminal investigation led by detective Chuck DeSantis, and concludes with a trial that reveals the shocking truth.

    The multi-talented Lecesne has been admired for many of his artistic traits, as well as his work in philanthropy. To attest to his tremendous talent, the first film he ever wrote, Trevor, won the Oscar for best live action short! It’s truly an honor to have Mr. Lecesne as a member of the New York Film Academy.

    The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey is showing at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street in Manhattan, now until March 28.

  • New York Film Academy Presents ‘The Wedding Singer’


    the wedding singer
    After our first successful staged theatrical performance of Spring Awakening at the American Theatre of Actors, it was without a doubt we’d have to follow up with another. To that extent, it’s with great pleasure the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Department would like to announce its second full length musical production, The Wedding Singer. The musical is based on the 1998 New Line Cinema film written by Tim Herlihy. It features music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin, with its book written by Beguelin and Herlihy. The Wedding Singer is the story of a wedding singer and cocktail waitress, both already engaged to the wrong people. A series of comedic events and fortunes hopefully lead them to find true love elsewhere.

    When: Performances are September 26th-28th, Friday & Saturday at 8PM, Saturday & Sunday at 2PM.

    Where: The Connelly Theatre located at 220 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10009

    For general admissions tickets, please CLICK HERE.

    NYFA Student/Employee/Alumni tickets are available in person, cash only, max 2 per NYFA ID for $10 each. Employees and students can pick up and drop off order forms with Jordan Dragutsky in room 415 and Kaira Karnad in 433. Please present your NYFA ID when dropping off the order request. Alumni and incoming students can email to request tickets.

    Cast (in oder of appearance):
    Robbie Hart – Connor Lyons
    Sammy – Christopher Lee
    George – Alec Lee
    Julia Sullivan – Raquel Tillo
    Holly – Stephania Sanquiz Donelli
    Glen Guglia – Charles Engelsgjerd
    Rosie – Fernanda Hidalgo
    Linda – Carrie McMahon
    Angie – Beatriz Cavalieri
    Ensemble – Mauritz Badenhorst, Miguel A. Candelaria Palafox, Melissa Jennifer Gonzalez, Alexis Guarneros, Cody Arturo Hernandez (guest performer), Charlotte Hughes, Cristina Hussey, Ilda Mason, Silvia Nicoloso, Carol Nolasco, Giovana Pancera, Georgia Roe (NYFA Alum) Naomi Wong

    Production Team:
    Producers – Kristy Cates & Mark Olsen
    Associate Producer/Prod Manager – Jordan Neil Dragutsky
    Production Stage Manager – Nikki Castle
    Production Assistant Stage Manager – Momo Sugawara

    Creative Team:
    Director – Isaac Byrne
    Choreographer – Chad Austin
    Music Director/Conductor – Anna Ebbessen
    Speech & Dialect Coach – Lauren T. Mack
    Fight Director – Mark Olsen
    Fight Coordinator – Dan Renkin
    Associate Choreographer – Georgia Roe (NYFA Alum)
    Associate Music Director – Daniel Lincoln

    Book by Chad Beguelin & Tim Herlihy
    Music by Matthew Sklar
    Lyrics by Chad Beguelin

    Design Team:
    Scenic Design – Ryan Howell
    Costume Design – David Withrow
    Lighting Design – Mary Ellen Stebbins
    Sound Design – Jacob Subotnick


    September 10, 2014 • Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 8893

  • Catching up with NYFA’s Musical Theatre Department


    The New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Department had an excellent winter season in New York City. Some of our faculty went on national tours, some continued in current shows, and others moved to new productions with great promise, such as Kevin Duda who was in Book of Mormon and currently in the new musical Beautiful.

    The second year group completed their movie musical titled, Walk the Walk, a comic adventure where six guys awaken the morning after a night out to discover they are now women. Final edit is now complete, those actors have graduated, and excerpts of the film will soon to be available on the website.

    Chinese mtI should also mention that our wonderful Performance Lab teacher Mark Price visited Korea to teach master classes at schools and art academies. His work was very well received and this summer five students from Korea will join us for our four-week summer intensive.

    Our main attraction, however, and the event that occurred that has everyone in the program really beaming, was our first full-length production. Yes, indeed! Emerging New York director Nathan Brewer (assistant director for Disney’s Aladdin) led a strong team of NYFA staff, including the highly talented choreographer Chad Austin and musical director Anna Ebbesen, and a hugely talented and energized cast of Musical Theatre students to launch on May 1st, an effective production of Spring Awakening. The production was installed at the American Theatre of Actors on 54th street in Manhattan, which proved to be the perfect venue.

    Spring Awakening MT

    This is the beginning of a new initiative where NYFA will be producing new original musical readings and launching full-scale productions several times a year. Following the close of Spring Awakening, we were given the thrill of seeing a lovely first semester showcase and a very rousing, double bill, end of year showcase. Here’s a photo of the end of year showcase cast rehearsing a number just days before their performance.

    MT Rehearsal

    We are in the midst of shooting yet another movie musical, the next second year class finished their final films and presented a terrific final showcase event, other classes in residence are staying busy with dancing, singing, and acting classes. And everyone is excited in anticipation of what looks to be a record-breaking summer attendance for our four-week July intensives and the start of a new second year and one-year class.

    We had the good fortune of having Tony award winning actress and one of America’s artistic treasures, Tonya Pinkins, come in and present a fabulous master class for our students. Her teaching, like her performing, was generous, specific, bold, healing, and extraordinarily humane. In addition to working with a number of students, she spoke to everyone and gave expert advice about the profession.

    Tonya Pinkins

    Lots of good work is happening here in our program in New York. Join us and come to know the best of what musical theatre at NYFA has to offer!


    June 10, 2014 • Musical Theatre • Views: 5674

  • NYFA LA Senior Directing Instructor’s ‘Beyond Sight’ to Open at Stella Adler in Hollywood


    Beyond SightSenior Directing Instructor at New York Film Academy Los Angeles, Nick Sivakumaran’s play, Beyond Sight, which he co-wrote with Jeremy Aldridge, opens Friday, April 25 at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood and ends on May 25th. The award-winning creative team and dynamic cast includes Theatre By The Blind and Military Veteran artists.

    Beyond Sight is the story of Jack Carter, a committed ROTC cadet driven to answer the call of duty in the wake of a catastrophic event. Blinded in Afghanistan, Jack returns home forever changed, forced to face the challenges of reintegrating into society without sight.

    The source material for Beyond Sight was taken directly from the production team’s work at CRE Outreach. The program began 2007 to empower military veterans and the visually impaired through the performing arts, including the highly successful Theatre by the Blind program.

    “With Beyond Sight we hope to launch a larger discussion about how we treat our veterans – and drive home the point that disabilities do not define us,” says Greg Shane, Artistic Director.



    April 15, 2014 • Filmmaking, Musical Theatre • Views: 5273

  • Our Guide to the Best Apps for Aspiring Filmmakers


    Useful Apps

    With the rise of apps through smart phones and tablet devices, visual storytellers of all stripes have more tools with which to complete a project than ever before. At times, an aspiring filmmaker or photographer can get downright overwhelmed by the sheer volume of useful apps out there. In order to help our students, alumni, and other creative individuals navigate the world of visual storytelling apps, we have launched our Useful Apps resource page where we highlight and review the best and most useful applications currently available. Whether you’re looking to work on a script while on the train or have a quick reference guide for a theatre production, we’ve put together the best apps in the following categories.

    • Filmmaking Apps: As any filmmaker will tell you, there can be sometimes more to keep track of on a film shoot than one person can reasonably handle. To facilitate this, our filmmaking apps cover a wide range of the facets from filmmaking, from location scouting to film scheduling and much more.
    • Photography Apps: With more and more people using their smart phones’ or tablets’ cameras to create original pieces of art, our list of photography apps provide the tools one needs to manipulate and perfect his or her images while gaining greater control over his or her camera.
    • Editing Apps: Though most tend to think of film or photo editing as involving sitting in front of a desktop computer for hours on end, we’ve assembled a number of digital editing apps that allow you to piece together your footage or images quickly and effectively, wherever you might be.
    • Animation Apps: Animators looking for new and inexpensive tools to bring their stories to life can find a world of possibilities in our highlighted animation apps, from time-lapse apps perfect for assembling stop-motion animation to creating original animated films on your smart phone or tablet.
    • Theatre Apps: When putting on a piece of theatre or musical theatre, there are countless variables—from set design to lighting to organizing a cast—that one can now control from his or her smart phone with ease.
    • Screenwriting Apps: As any screenwriter can attest, one can never plan on when a good idea might arise. With our list of screenwriting apps, writers can now guarantee that they can always put their ideas down even if they are away from their computers while also being able to work on a screenplay from any location.
    • Acting Apps: From memorizing lines to rehearsing scenes, there are a number of useful and effective apps available for actors to make their jobs all the easier.

    Regardless of the field you are in, click here to view our list of useful apps that will help to simplify and facilitate your future creative endeavors.

  • Musical Theatre Kicks off 2014 with a Bang

    Jeff Sullivan Musical Theatre

    photo by Chase Heilman

    It is a crisp chilly day in New York and things are definitely heating up within the Musical Theatre Program. We completed a very well attended and expertly presented first semester showcase for our current September group. It was presented a block away from Lincoln Center at the beautiful Marjorie S. Deane theatre.

    The second year students, currently in their 4th and last semester, wrapped a very intense and successful seven-day shoot of their original movie musical. Script and lyrics by yours truly and the music provided by the hugely talented Bobby Cronin, we have what looks to be both a touching and hilarious movie on our hands. We have entered the editing process and will see a rough-cut screening during their final graduation. They will, of course, all receive the final copy when the fine edit is completed.

    Other classes are working diligently as well, pursuing their dance, acting, and singing training in an environment of other artists who are focused on musical theatre and also want to learn about film and television acting.

    While many of our alumni are gaining traction out in the greater marketplaces of both the United States and abroad, we are excited and proud to announce that recent graduate, Jeff Sullivan, won a 2013 BroadwayWorld New Jersey Award for “Best Actor in a Professional Musical” for his portrayal of Tony Brockhurst in a production of The Boy Friend at Surflight Theatre. This will no doubt be a big boost for his aspirations and a nice reflection of the efforts and investment made through his training in the New York Film Academy’s Musical Theatre Program.

    -Mark Olsen, Chair of NYFA Musical Theatre Program

    Jeff Sullivan NYFA

    photo by Chase Heilman



    January 30, 2014 • Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5095

  • Win a 4 Week Musical Theatre Scholarship to NYFA!


    musical theatre competition

    Do you believe you have what it takes to enter the competitive, but rewarding career of Musical Theatre? The New York Film Academy School of Musical Theatre, consisting of Broadway professional instructors, is inviting high school students from around the world to participate in a unique competition to Win a 4-Week Musical Theatre Scholarship at our Battery Park, New York City location in Summer 2014! Just like performing on the center stage, you should not be shy in this contest.

    TO ENTER: Interested students must prepare a 60-90 second monologue from a published contemporary American play or screenplay and one short musical theatre song.

    Participants must post their monologue and song on NYFA Musical Theatre Facebook Page by Friday, January 31st

    • When submitting your performance piece, please include your full name, phone number and name of the high school you are currently attending.
    • To be eligible, entrants are required to be 14-17 years of age as of June 29, 2014.
    • Must be proficient in English.
    • Winners Announcement: by March 3rd, 2014
    • Designated winners will be asked to provide proof of age before the dispensation of prizes.

    Please address any questions regarding the competition to Marissa Lieberman at or call +1 (212) 674-4300.

    We look forward to viewing performances from high school talents from all around the world. Break a leg!

    PLEASE NOTE: Travel and housing expenses are not included. Dorm facilities are available. Our NYC housing coordinator is available to help students find safe and convenient accommodations and flights to New York City.

    October 30, 2013 • Contests, Musical Theatre • Views: 7672

  • Kristy Cates in London

    Kristy Cates

    Kristy Cates as Elphaba in “Wicked”

    Our very own Kristy Cates who is the Director of Student Outreach and the Head of Voice for the Musical Theatre Programs, traveled to London to present the workshop “Broadway Musical Theatre Workshop.” On Saturday, October 19th she presented her exciting workshop where she coached talented and highly motivated participants.

    This is part of our ongoing initiative to reach out to and find those special talents who we know will thrive under our extraordinary training. We look forward to her return and hearing about her workshop and about the fine talent she auditioned.

    Most recently, Kristy was the featured soloist with the Oklahoma symphony, singing in front of approximately 20,000 people! Prior to that she created the role of Mary Hawkins in the world premier of Treasure Island at the Arkansas Rep Theatre. In addition to her popular classes at the New York Film Academy, she maintains her own voice studio and is a successful voice over artist.

    -Mark Olsen


    October 21, 2013 • Musical Theatre • Views: 6405

  • How David Marshall Grant’s Persistence Led to His Success


    This Monday, the New York Film Academy hosted a screening of ABC’s Brothers and Sisters with executive producer/show-runner David Marshall Grant. The event was moderated by Producer, Tova Laiter.

    In addition to Grant’s success in television as Executive Producer/show-runner of NBC’s Smash and ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, he is an accomplished actor and playwright. His first play, Snakebit, was nominated for both a Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. His second play, Current Events, was produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2000. His most recent play, Pen, opened in 2006 at Playwrights Horizons. As an actor, Grant is best known for playing opposite Richard Gere in Broadway’s Bent and for his Tony-nominated performance in Angels in America. His acting credits include film and television work in such projects as The Devil Wears Prada, The Stepford Wives, The Rock, Air America, And the Band Played On, Citizen Cohn, thirtysomething, Eli Stone, and Party Down.

    david grantAfter attending the Yale School of Drama, David went to the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference in Connecticut where he did a workshop of Bent. He was very lucky to experience immediate success right out of school when the production, which was bound for Broadway, asked him to star opposite Richard Gere. “So much of life is what fate brings you, and so much of life is what you bring when fate shows up,” said Grant.

    It was during his time at the playwright’s conference that David became fascinated with story and by the idea that the way an actor’s mind thought could actually help you as a writer. This kept gnawing at him until one summer he began to write a play. He wrote 23 pages the first day, assuming he could have the production up and running in no time. However, he ended up working on the play for five years and it was never produced despite his efforts.

    When his acting career stalled after Bent, David started taking writing more seriously. His second play was entitled, Snakebit. It was twelve years before this film was produced on a very small scale at Grove Street Theater in New York. There was an audience of 53 people. One of these people was Peter Marks of The New York Times. Marks wrote a great review of the play, and the next day everyone was calling David. It seemed there was a renewed interest in him.

    At the time, David was auditioning for episodic television and not getting the parts, so he decided to “open the door that wasn’t locked” and become a writer. Although, even that became an immense struggle for David. Five or six years later, John Robin Bates called David and asked him if he wanted to be a story editor on Brothers and Sisters, and he hasn’t stopped working since then.

    David always tries to impress on his students that, “Failure is the norm,” and this industry is a long game. “You’ve got to keep your eye on the prize, and if it doesn’t happen today, it might not happen for the next five years. But that doesn’t mean you give up.”

    David was also one of the first brave actors to play gay characters, like he did in Bent, when other actors (straight or gay) wouldn’t. This was also at a point when David hadn’t been out with the public. In thirtysomething, David took the opportunity to play a gay character, even though he was convinced it would ruin his career. He brought up the point that there hasn’t been a major movie actor that has come out yet. You can’t be Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise and be known as gay.

    QUESTION: Can you give advice to actors who want to transition into producing?

    DAVID: An actor’s job should always be to figure out how he or she can support the STORY—understand what your place in the story is. You are a part of the larger thing—and that thing is everything—STORY.

    QUESTION: What are some of the roles of a show-runner?

    DAVID: Your first job is to come up with a story every week. You follow the story. Also, it’s about navigating personalities—the demands of the studio and the actors on the script. That’s what the show-runner does. In the process of pushing that story up the hill, he deals with every human being that touches that story.

    David’s story was inspirational in regards to the success one can achieve in this industry through endurance and never giving up. He made the point to say that you must consciously inspire yourself. “It really works by failing every single day, until the world sees,” he concluded.


    October 11, 2013 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre, Screenwriting • Views: 13380

  • NYFA Dance Teacher Tours Asia

    Chad Austin

    Chad Austin with his students

    The Musical Theatre Program at the New York Film Academy is proud to announce that from October 6 – 13th one of our esteemed dance teachers, Chad Austin, is traveling to Seoul, Korea and to Tokyo, Japan! Starting in Korea and then after a few days going to Japan, Chad will visit numerous schools and arts academies to introduce interested young performers to the New York Film Academy programs. While there, he will offer acting and dance workshops, and view auditions from perspective students.

    Chad has traveled extensively, however, this is his first trip to Asia and he is very excited to have this opportunity. Consistently one of our most loved and most valued teachers, we are thrilled to be able to share his teaching and his talent with all those he will meet on this trip.

    If you come across Chad on his tour, you are in for a treat. He has high professional standards and teaches a challenging, rigorous class that is fueled by his huge heart and spiced with a wry sense of humor. We will miss him while he is gone, but we wish him all the best on his whirlwind trip – knowing he will represent the best of what our programs have to offer.

    Chad made his Metropolitan Opera Ballet debut, in 2008, in John Adams and Peter Sellars’ Grammy award-winning, Doctor Atomic. He has worked in over 10 different productions at the Met including Richard Eyer’s Carmen, Bartlett Sher’s Le Contes De Hoffman, Hansel and Gretel, Aida, La Traviata, and Stephen Wadworth’s Boris Gudinov. New York City and Regional productions include, Cinderella, Play About the Naked Guy, Cabaret, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and Street Scene.

    Chad teaches and choreographs around the world for companies including Ballet Arts, Hampton Ballet Theatre, Kiyone Ballet Brazil, and Arabesque Lebanon.


    October 8, 2013 • Musical Theatre • Views: 6287