April 23, 2018

This week, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) was delighted to host a special sneak-peek screening of hit series Riverdale at its New York City campus, featuring a lively Q&A with series leads Ashleigh Murray (Josie McCoy) and Casey Cott (Kevin Keller). NYFA New York Chair of Acting for Film Peter Allen Stone moderated the event for a packed house of Musical Theatre and Acting for Film students.

“The extraordinary conversation with Ashleigh Murray and Casey Cott of the CW’s Riverdale discussing their work on the television series was vital insight for our conservatory students,” said Stone.

NYFA students were treated to a special premier of the new Riverdale episode Chapter Thirty-One: A Night to Remember, a day before it aired on the CW. Directed by Jason Stone and written by Arabella Anderson and Tessa Leigh Williams, this special episode adopts a musical format as the Riverdale characters rehearse and perform Carrie: The Musical at their high school — the very same musical that NYFA Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) students are currently rehearsing!

Carrie was a very thoughtful choice for this season of Riverdale, as the series executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (co-writer of 2013’s Carrie film remake) told the The New York Times: “It felt as though the songwriters had written songs for the same set of characters.”

Our special guests, students, and faculty alike found the in-depth discussion of acting technique especially meaningful, with the common ground of working on Carrie: The Musical.

Ashleigh Murray praised the conservatory model of training. “Sometimes focusing just on what you want is the best way to go,” she said, “Because you can just let your right brain take over.”

“You’re in a unique spot right now to adjust the way you think about art and the way you think about acting,” Casey Cott told the audience of students, “And to put your bias aside whenever you go see a movie, a TV show, or a play, you can think about it unbiased. Don’t think of it as good or not. Think about what it is, and how you can adjust what you do to fit into the style of what that is.”

NYFA Instructor Stephen Nachamie, who directs the PCMT version of Carrie: The Musical, said of the event: “It was phenomenal for the students to see what a pop-culture icon Carrie is — and how exciting to see selections performed by the Riverdale cast! It stoked our students’ energy, commitment, and passion!”

Following a wonderful evening with Riverdale, PCMT Creative Director Kristy Cates said, “We are so lucky to have had Ashleigh and Corey speak to our students after the screening. They gave wonderful advice, were extremely gracious, and provided great insight into the business. As creative director of our program, it is such a thrill to be able to facilitate such unique experiences for my students. Special thanks to the Rodgers and Hammerstein foundation for making this possible!”

In Riverdale and beyond, musicals are enjoying a revival in film and television. PCMT at NYFA was recently profiled in Variety as a leader in preparing professionals for the mediumas a part of its two-year conservatory since 2012. Each PCMT movie musical features original music and stories, as well as collaborations with industry professionals — such as Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart and Tony Award-nominee Charlotte D’amboise.

The New York Film Academy would like to thank Riverdale and actors Ashleigh Murray and Casey Cott for sharing this special event with our students.