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  • Guest Lecture Series with Film Critic Peter Rainer

    Film Critic and historian Peter Rainer continues his guest lecture series with a thoughtful exploration of the film “Blue Sky” starring Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones and directed by Tony Richardson (“A Taste of Honey” and “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”). “Blue Sky” was shot between 1990 and 1991 but was not released until 1993. It was Richardson’s last film. In fact, he did not live long enough to see it released.

    Lange won her second Oscar for her role as the Bipolar, hyper-sexualized wife of an army nuclear inspector. In her acceptance speech, Lange said, “This is such an honor, especially for a film that seemed to have no future.”

    peter Rainer

    Rainer began the evening’s conversation with a reading of his initial review published in the Los Angeles Times from his book “Rainer on Film.” This review was sent to Oscar voters along with the VHS of the film for Ms. Lange’s nomination run. Rainer divulged that Lange herself said that if it hadn’t been for his essay she wouldn’t have won her second Oscar.

    “Jessica Lange’s acting in ‘Blue Sky’ leaves you awestruck. It is a great performance. Because the film is just now being released, it is yet another foundling from the pre-bankrupt Orion picture era —its appearance is like a gift,” Rainer began. “It’s an especially welcome gift because Lange hasn’t been acting much in the movies lately. You have to wonder how it is that Lange could give such a performance. It’s even better than her Francis in ‘Francis’ or her Patsy Klein in the ‘Sweet Dreams’ and keeps away from the camera for so long. The lack of roles for women is no excuse. Lange is the kind of actress artists write parts for.”

    From here the floor was open to students to discuss what they liked, what they didn’t understand, where they were moved, and how they might have addressed these performances. The most prevailing subject of conversation was the lead actress.

    Lange has also played deranged southern belle, Blanche DuBois on Broadway. Her character in “Blue Sky,” Carly Marshall inhabits touches of Blanche but also Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot. During the open discussion, one student wondered aloud, “What is the relevance of Blanche. Why does she keep coming back over and over again in American cinema?”

    Rainer gave a brief background on the character of Blanche and then said, “I think there are certain archetypes that repeat and the southern belle is one of them. The poles are Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone With the Wind’ and Blanche from ‘A Street Car Named Desire.’ It relates to the fragility and the strength of women in the context of a very male dominated society. Putting it in a southern context exaggerates that paradigm. In the South, you are expected to be prim and ladylike and sip Mint Julep, if you are a white woman.”

    peter Rainer

    Speaking to the enduring legacy of the role, Rainer continued, “Also, the role is just that damn good. Tennessee Williams wrote one of the greatest roles of all time. It’s natural for dramatist and actors to try to play that out and try to recapture the magic. In the case of ‘Blue Sky,’ she’s not just DuBois she’s very much trying to capture the stars of that time — Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. The very first shot of the film is her leafing through star magazines.”

    Another student chimed in that they didn’t think a film with a woman over 40 — acting sexy and leading a character driven film — could hope for funding in today’s film world.

    “It’s kind of depressing to think about the number of great films that couldn’t get made today,” Rainer said. “This film got made because Jessica Lange at that time was big box office. Orion was one of the few film companies at this time willing to take risks. A film like ‘Blue Sky’ would do much better on television than film nowadays.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Peter Rainer for his continued support and informative lecture series. If you’d like to read more of Rainer’s reviews pick up his book “Rainer on Film” or his page on Rotten Tomatoes.

    May 16, 2017 • Guest Speakers • Views: 1401

  • NYFA Instructor James Lecesne to Premiere “The Mother of Invention”

    mother of inventionAbingdon Theatre Company presents the world premiere of “The Mother of Invention,” a new play by New York Film Academy Documentary Story instructor James Lecesne, who is an Academy Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award-winner. Ranked by the NY Times as “among of the most talented solo performers of his (or any) generation,” Lecesne has shared the screen with Robert Downey Jr., Ian McKellan, Claire Danes, Holly Hunter, the Sex in the City cast, Anne Bancroft, and many others. He has also shared the stage with Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones, and many others.

    Performances are set to begin January 28, prior to an official press opening on February 9, at The Abingdon’s Theatre (312 West 36th Street). Artistic Director Tony Speciale, who also directed “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” is set to direct.

    When Dottie Nerber’s son and daughter arrive to pack up the contents of their mother’s Florida home, their conflicting memories of her collide. As the siblings unpack family secrets, they must separate fact from fiction and are forced to question the narratives of their own lives. James Lecesne’s new full-length play is an unflinching and comedic look at how one family deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s. It asks why we tell the stories we do about the people we love, and how we live with those stories after they’ve been debunked.

    Concetta Tomei, best known for her roles on TV’s “China Beach” and “Providence” and on stage in “The Elephant Man” (opposite David Bowie) and Sarah Ruhl’s “The Clean House,” leads the cast as Dottie Nerber.

    Joining Ms. Tomei are James Davis (Broadway revival of “The House of Blue Leaves,” Soho Rep’s “We Are Proud to Present…”), Dan Domingues (INTAR’s “Locusts Have No Kings,” The Civilian’s “The Great Immensity” at The Public), Angela Reed (Broadway’s “The Country Girl” and “The Rainmaker,” and national tours of “War Horse” and “Spring Awakenin”g), Isabella Russo (Broadway’s “School of Rock”), and Dale Soules (“Orange is the New Black,” Broadway’s “Hands on a Hard Body” and “Grey Gardens”).

    The creative team includes Jo Winiarski (Scenic Design), Daisy Long (Lighting Design), Paul Marlow (Costume Design), Christian Frederickson (Sound Design), and Jerry Marsini (Props Design). Deidre Works is Production Stage Manager.

    “The Mother of Invention” runs January 28-February 26: Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7:30PM; plus matinees Saturdays at 2:30PM and Sundays at 2:00PM (with the following exceptions, no matinees January 28-29) at Abingdon Theatre Company’s June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues).

    For tickets, visit abingdontheatre.org or call 212-352-3101.

    Use code Mother35 for $35 discount tickets during previews* (Jan 28 – Feb 8).

    January 26, 2017 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1788

  • Meet the Director and Choreographers Behind NYFA’s ‘Carousel’

    carousel

    Chad Austin and Ilda Mason are the creative force behind the NYFA Musical Theatre Program’s production of the great Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel. Musical Theatre Program Chair, Mark Olsen, stopped Chad in the midst of his busy schedule to ask a few questions about their collaborative process.

    Chad, when did you and Ilda Mason begin working on Carousel?

    Ilda began working with me early in the summer to develop the vocabulary of dance for our production of Carousel. We spent about two months in the studio developing the steps that would later become major production numbers.

    You two have teamed up before. How did the collaboration begin?

    Ilda’s dancing in my class and in all of her dance classes was very strong and she seemed to have a natural sensitivity to choreography. Our collaboration began when I brought her on to be my dance captain for the NYFA productions of Spring Awakening and The Wedding Singer.

    And it was in the next production that the two of you more fully teamed up to create choreography?

    Yes, I was asked to choreograph NYFA’s third musical, Chessand she served with great enthusiasm and success as my Associate Choreographer. When the time came for me to gather my team, it was a no-brainer to have her once again as my Associate Choreographer.

    It must be nice to have an associate who understands your process.

    Working with someone over a period of time you begin to speak the same language. I’m happy to say that by this fourth show together, Ilda was basically finishing my sentences.

    I understand that Ilda is now moving forward into the profession?

    Yes! Ilda, like many of our students, needed to be sponsored in order to stay in the country. I was thrilled to offer my name as a professional to be her Artist Sponsor. Halfway through the rehearsal process of Carousel, she got the call that she would be staying in the country where she can follow her dreams. She left us a week before opening to start rehearsal for Washington DC’s Signature Theaters Production of West Side Story. This is one of the most reputable regional theaters in the country and I’m truly thrilled to have any part of the amazing journey she has ahead of her!

    I know you are proud of her as are we all!

    Ilda is a true product of all the amazing faculty members who work so hard every day to inspire and train the young artists that come to our program.

    Be sure to check out one of our performances of Carousel this upcoming Friday, November 20th through Sunday, November 22nd at the American Theater of Actors in Manhattan. For tickets, please CLICK HERE.

    November 11, 2015 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3715

  • NYFA Musical Theatre to Perform ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel’

    carouselContinuing on the success of its last three musical productions, the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Program is gearing up for its for fourth stage performance, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, which will take place from November 20-22nd at the American Theatre of Actors in New York City. Based on Ferenc Molnar’s play Liliom, as adapted by Benjamin F. Glazerthe play centers on a Maine coastal village toward the end of the 19th century. The lead male is a swaggering, carefree carnival barker, Billy Bigelow, who captivates and marries the naive millworker, Julie Jordan. Billy loses his job just as he learns that Julie is pregnant and, desperately intent upon providing a decent life for his family, he is coerced into being an accomplice to a robbery. Caught in the act and facing the certainty of prison, he takes his own life and is sent ‘up there.’ Billy is allowed to return to earth for one day fifteen years later, and he encounters the daughter he never knew. She is a lonely, friendless teenager, her father’s reputation as a thief and bully having haunted her throughout her young life. How Billy instills in both the child and her mother a sense of hope and dignity is a dramatic testimony to the power of love. It’s easy to understand why, of all the shows they created, Carousel was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s personal favorite.

    “Carousel has always played a part in my life as a performer,” said director and choreographer, Chad Austin, who is an instructor at the New York Film Academy. “I have danced the role of ‘carnival boy’ in multiple productions. I knew we had the talent to tackle this massive musical, and I felt it was a great time to produce a Golden Age Musical!”

    Chad Austin with NYFA's Carousel cast

    Chad Austin with NYFA’s Carousel cast

    The NYFA cast has worked diligently these past few months going through the rehearsal process because for most of them this show is a huge stretch, both as dancers and actors. Some consider Carousel one of the best books of a musical—that alone tells you how much they have been digging into the character work in order to tell the story.

    Taking on both director and choreographer was a thrill and challenge,” added Austin. “Luckily, I was able to create most of the choreography months before with my amazing associate choreographer, Ilda Mason [NYFA Musical Theatre alumna]. While creating the concept of the show I had the freedom to make choices that might otherwise not have happened if I wasn’t wearing both hats. I think by opening night the audience will be blown away by the level of talent we have at NYFA.”

    Austin believes the performance will not only introduce a classic to our students, but also provide a story that will resonate with today’s modern audience.

    “The struggle with Carousel and other musicals from its era is that audiences sometimes feel disconnected from the material. When you strip down the themes of Carousel and tell the story it is simple and touches people of all ages. I hoped to turn an epic musical into a intimate one.”

    NYFA students, employees, and alumni may purchase up to two $10 tickets with Jordan Dragutsky in room 420 at NYFA Battery Place.

    All other general admission tickets are available at NYFACarousel.brownpapertickets.com.

    CAROUSEL
    Music by Richard Rodgers
    Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    Based on Ferenc Molnar’s play “Liliom”
    As Adapted by Benjamin F. Glazer
    Original Dances by Agnes de Mille
    Directed & Choreographed by Chad Austin
    Music Direction by Joshua Zecher-Ross and Anna Ebbesen
    Production Stage Manager: Jhanae Bonnick
    Associate Choreographer: Ilda Mason
    Associate Director: Beatriz Cavalieri
    Produced by Kristy Cates, Mark Olsen, and Jordan Neil Dragutsky
  • Bruce Willis Making Broadway Debut in Misery Adaptation

    Bruce WillisContinuing the adaptation trend of bringing big movies to Broadway, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures has announced plans to bring Stephen King’s famous book and film, Misery, to Broadway this fall, with Bruce Willis making his Broadway debut.

    The play is an adaptation of Stephen King’s popular novel, which was turned into a successful film in 1990 for which Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her turn as Annie Wilkes.

    King’s novel chronicles the travails of romance novelist Paul Sheldon who is imprisoned by his number one fan, Wilkes, following a car accident when she learns that he intends to kill off her favorite character from his books. Wilkes will be played by theatre veteran Elizabeth Marvel who recently had a major role in the third season of Netflix‘s House of Cards playing the character of Heather Dunbar.

    Will Frears, who directed Omnium Gatherum, has been hired to direct the play when it makes its limited run later this year.

    While this will be Willis’ official Broadway debut, he was Ed Harris’ understudy in the off-Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love in 1983. For students enrolling in our Two-Year Musical Theatre Conservatory, this will certainly be a staging worth checking out.

    March 5, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2608

  • NYFA’s Sara Antkowiak Stars in ‘Pretty Babies’

    pretty babiesLast week was the World Premiere of the new Anthony Raymond play, Pretty Babies, which stars New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Instructor Sara Antkowiak (Tales of Hoffmann/Metropolitan Opera).

    The ensemble cast, directed by Raymond and produced by the critically acclaimed Elsinore County Theater Company, is led by Stacey Roca who had a recurring role as Rachel on the UK series The Office with Ricky Gervais.

    Pretty Babies is a story about using the taboo and forbidden as weapons in a no-holds-barred scheme of manipulation. The play revolves around Jason and his sister Randi — two lives steeped in sex, drugs, and grifting.

    Already off to a roaring start, Pretty Babies will continue its performances from now until March 21st at the newly renovated 13th St Rep Theater in New York City.

    If you’re interested in checking out this wonderful play, and supporting your fellow NYFA teacher, visit here for tickets!

    March 2, 2015 • Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 2917

  • 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 and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2821

  • 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 marissa.lieberman@nyfa.edu 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: 4344

  • Musical Theatre Students Showcase Their Talent at June Havoc Theatre

    NYFA Musical Theatre

    photo by Hugo Garcia

    So far so good! Much has happened since the last entry. On September 6th, the New York Film Academy‘s one-year Musical Theatre group performed an excellent showcase. Directed by Chad Larabee, choreographed by Michelle Potterf, and accompanied by Anna Ebbesen on piano and Dan Weiner on drums, the students rocked that showcase! Anna is our Music Supervisor and Musical Director for the show.

    Carl Danielsen

    Carl Danielsen

    It is a beautiful day in New York City. The air is crisp, the sun is bright and the views from the fourth floor capture the sailboats gliding along the Hudson. WE HAVE OFFICIALLY MOVED TO THE 4TH FLOOR! We were working on the 5th floor temporarily, but now we’re downstairs in the new Musical Theatre home and it is glorious. The second year performers are practicing choreography in the new dance room, smiling and gleefully mastering their steps. Others are in adjacent rooms, working on vocal style; and Isaac Byrne is holding a class in Meisner technique in the film acting room. The place is alive with music, fun and excellent work.

    Last night, the assistant director of Disney’s new Broadway bound musical, Aladdin, came and gave a free class for our recent alums. Eight talented alumni gathered in one of our new performance studios and Nathan Brewer ran them through a mock audition for Seussical. Nathan has worked extensively with the director Marcia Milgrom – including the New York Theatreworks production of Seussical. Happily, at the end of the workshop, he gave all of them the contact for the casting director of the Theatreworks national tour of the show and gave them permission to say he had heard them sing and was sending them.

    This is a new element of the program that I’m hoping to install in a more permanent way. Alumni workshops to help with bridging to the profession world. In addition, I am hoping to have Nathan teach a “Director’s Perspective” class for the second year final semester students. Getting up-to-date rehearsal methods and learning about the director’s craft will give our graduates a sizable advantage!

    Mark Price

    Mark Price

    Finally, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to two of our brand new faculty members: Mark Price and Carl Danielsen. Carl is a multi-talented man of the Musical Theatre world. He is a composer, a first class pianist, a song and dance man, and one of the few Americans to work at the prestigious Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada. He is teaching Shakespeare for us and helping with accompaniment duties.

    Mark Price is also a real gem. He is a much appreciated and in-demand performer with nearly ten Broadway credits to his name. Chief among them are roles in Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia!, Beauty and the Beast, Chicago, Rocky Horror Show, and much much more. He has taught at AMDA, The Performing Arts Project, and Heifetz Institute. He will be teaching performance lab for us.

    We welcome Mark and Carl into the fold and look forward to the great studio training they will provide.

    Thanks for checking in with the blog.  Stay tuned for more soon.

    -Mark Olsen, Chair of Musical Theatre

     

    September 19, 2013 • Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 3465

  • An Update From Musical Theatre Chair Mark Olsen

    I have finally come up for air and have some time to write a few words to share more of the amazing whirlwind of joy that we have experienced this summer. Many of the faculty who were away on summer professional gigs have now begun to return, while others in pre-Broadway tryouts are beginning new rounds of rehearsals. The second year students are in the early planning stages for their Movie Musical and are continuing to hone their audition, vocal performance, acting, and dance skills. The second semester group, growing by leaps and bounds, will take a break from their intense schedule to see the Broadway musical Kinky Boots tomorrow. (As a side note, one of my former students, Caroline Bowman, was in the show until recently when she left to play Evita in the national tour.) Soon, the second semester students will be preparing to put together the materials for their end of semester showcase that will be performed at the June Havoc Theatre in September.

    Our summer high school group was the biggest and the most talented group we have seen in a long time. Their final showcase, directed by faculty member Chad Larabee, with music directed by Kevin White, was a wonderful celebration. In this photo you can sense the joy and authentic exuberance.

    Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.56.33 AM

    Our four-week adult intensive was an extraordinary collection of talented performers from around the world. They all recognized early on that they were a special group capable of creating memorable moments of excellence and making life long friends. Their work ethic was infectious and the whole academy could feel their focus and dedication. Their end of term performance, directed by D.J. Salisbury and music directed by Daniel Lincoln, was also an extraordinary celebration that allowed for an amazing display of talent and growth. This photo, taken moments after they received their diplomas, captures their uninhibited spirit.

    Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.55.24 AM

    Joining us once again was our much-anticipated Pastudio group from Buenas Aires, Argentina. Their leader, Cris Hansen, has reason to be proud since they continue the tradition of bringing serious, open, and receptive students. The group worked hard for a full week and on the eighth day presented a very enjoyable “open class.” They are pictured here with Mr. Hansen, and their Musical Theatre teachers Frank Lindquist, Sara Antkowiak, and Neva Rae Powers who also directed their showing.

    Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.56.54 AM

    All in all, a very successful summer filled with great memories, good times, excellent performances, and the simple joy of doing what we love and loving what we do.

    Cheers,

    Mark Olsen, New York Film Acdemy Musical Theatre Chair

    August 14, 2013 • Musical Theatre • Views: 2675