A rousing group of New York Film Academy students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses (New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach) participated in a Rock the Vote Virtual Rally yesterday. The Rally included special guest, Tony-nominated actor Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway’s RENT, Les Misérables, The Rocky Horror Show ), who shared stories of her immigrant family background, becoming a U.S citizen, and the imperative to vote.
NYFA Producing alum Lisa Cortes (producer of the Academy Award-winning Precious, recent Emmy Award-winner for The Apollo, and producer/co-director of the just-released Stacey Abrams documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy) spoke of the importance of voting in light of the long history of voter suppression in the U.S. In the making of All In: The Fight For Democracy during the COVID pandemic, Cortes talked about how her NYFA Producing education proved so valuable in pulling together the project during such challenging times. Attendees were treated to a special viewing of the All In trailer and a special musical clip of Janelle Monae performing the closing title song from the film.
The event was co-produced by NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Chair of the Musical Theatre Department, Kristy Cates.
“Our sincerest hope was not only to invigorate the NYFA community to become excited about and committed to voting, but to inspire everyone in attendance to reach out to their circles and do the same.” – Kristy Cates
NYFA’s Rock The Vote efforts include a Zoom room every Tuesday from 1 p.m. ET – 4 p.m. ET that offers voter registration and mail-in ballot assistance for NYFA students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses. Please stop in and check your registration, apply for absentee ballots, etc. Further information is available on the NYFA Voter Resources page.
You’d be hard pressed to find a New Yorker who doesn’t experience their fair share of frustration with the MTA, the corporation that runs the city’s sprawling and crowded transit system of trains and buses. Especially these days, as commuters deal with train construction, delays, and an impending apocalypse, while fares continue to increase (the MTA announced just this week their plan for yet another fare hike of 4%).
And every New Yorker deals with it in their own way. Some of us mutter under our breaths, while others aren’t afraid to scream and yell at the top of their lungs. Some of us weep silently when we finally get home, while others pray to themselves that they’ll actually get home.
But what most of us haven’t done, is sing a song about it. With Kristy’s Lament: Another Awful Day with the MTA, a new musical number performed by Broadway actress Kristy Cates, that’s no longer the case. And now that it has an accompanying music video produced by the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA), the song is easily available for everyone to share, relate with, and sing along to.
Kristy’s Lament is very much based on a true story. “I have the worst train luck,” Cates tells NYFA, continuing, “I’m always stuck underground with no explanation, waiting for a train that never shows up, or on the car with the person about to puke. And I often share these wild stories on social media.”
After one particularly nasty commute for Cates, where one bizarre thing followed another as she tried to make her way home from her Broadway show, she recounted the entire nightmare on Facebook. Her story quickly gained traction and gained a lot of attention on social media. Typically, the story would end there, but not for Cates.
After seeing her commute from hell, lyricist Chris Giordano was inspired to adapt the tale into song, writing lyrics for a number that step-by-step portrayed Cates’s disastrous trip. Soon, it was put to music by composer Ryan Edward Wise, and Kristy’s Lament was born. It wasn’t long after that that a music video was produced to accompany the track.
The video features Cates playing multiple roles — not just the tragic commuter narrating the song, but also a rude passenger carrying numerous bags, a stoner, and a homeless man, among others. It is mostly a stage production, filmed at NYFA’s 1st Floor Theatre, with gorgeous lighting direction and a minimal subway set. The video was also partially shot in an actual subway station, where the video opens and closes.
The video was produced by the PCMT at NYFA, where Kristy Cates also serves as Creative Director. The renowned musical theatre school prides itself on giving its students real world training that prepares them to achieve success in a competitive, empowering industry, creating an educational experience few other musical theatre schools can offer.
Aspiring performers develop their skills as triple threat performers by studying with faculty — like Kristy Cates — who have appeared in numerous Broadway and touring productions, top-rate regional theatre, opera, hit movie musicals, and television shows. NYFA’s musical theater alumni include llda Mason (On Your Feet), Pierre Marais (Aladdin), Christopher Viljoen (Les Misérables), Kylan Ross (Straight Outta Oz), and Tony Award-winner Yael Silver (Once on this Island).
Additionally, the PCMT at NYFA is able to use all of the resources shared by NYFA’s film school, cinematography school, and other departments. Using the Academy’s resources and state-of-the-art filmmaking equipment, its stage and its location in the heart of the New York City, and some of the Academy’s highly-talented staff — including director Jonathan Whittaker, editor Sean Robinson, Broadway veteran and choreographer Deidre Goodwin, and costume designer David Withrow — Kristy’s Lament was able to take advantage of high production values to really sell the humorous lyrics and support Cates’s powerful yet hysterical performance.
“One thing I love about working for NYFA,” Cates says, “is their willingness to explore new projects. As a result, our ability as a program to collaborate with up-and-coming composers and lyricists.” She adds, “It was wonderful to combine the expertise of our faculty, the passion of our alumni, the ingenuity of the composer and writer, and the generosity and support of the Film Academy.”
Cates is no stranger to high production values and show-stopping numbers. She is a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA and has starred in Wicked (Broadway, First National Tour, Chicago) as Elphaba, as well as playing Miss Bassett in Finding Neverland (Broadway), Grandma Josephine in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Broadway), and has had roles in a handful of off-Broadway shows and many regional productions. Additionally, she performs as a professional voiceover artist.
The Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy is proud to have Kristy Cates as an original and current member of its faculty, and was equally as proud to produce Kristy’s Lament: Another Awful Day with the MTA with her. Next time you’re stressed and stuck on the subway, check it out and let yourself laugh a little — if the wifi is working down there, of course.
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.
Rio is the third largest market for Musical Theatre, behind New York and London. After witnessing the talent on hand, we know why. The New York Film Academy had a wonderful time in Brazil, auditioning actors and meeting future Brazilian filmmakers. “I was amazed at the level of talent and enthusiasm that I found in Brazil,” said Director of Acting Admissions, Roger Del Pozo. ”Everyone was passionate and ready to advance to the next level.” In addition to his work at NYFA, Roger has been a casting director for over a decade, having casted many television commercials, as well as films, plays, voice-overs, video games, music videos and industrials for topcasting companies and advertisingagencies in New York City. This is Roger’s third trip so far to Brazil and based on the enthusiasm it will not be his last. “There are so many students I’m anxious to see enroll here in New York City.”
“The United States, specifically New York and Los Angeles, is still the epicenter of the entertainment business. If you are looking to do film and theatre at the highest level, you have to try it in the U.S. Also, the level of faculty in NYC and LA is unsurpassed. All of our teachers are working professionally and that makes such a difference in terms of training and opportunity.” In fact, joining us along the journey was Broadway actress, Kristy Cates. Kristy taught an exclusive Musical Theatre Workshop at the prestigious CALCasa das Artes de Laranjeiras in Rio. She is best known for her role of Elphaba in the Broadway, Chicago, and National Tour of Wicked. She holds the honor of being only the third person to perform the role on Broadway. Prior to playing the role full time, she was in the Original Broadway cast as the understudy to TONY winner, Idina Menzel and can be heard singing several solo lines on the cast recording. “Because I’ve gotten to work with several Brazillians in my time at NYFA, I was expecting very exuberant and welcoming students,” said Kristy. “I was certainly not disappointed!”
Kristy auditioned twelve students who were completely prepared to get into the work. On hand was an audience of approximately 75 observers who actively watched, asked questions, and even participated in the vocal warm up. Together with the group, Kristy explored vocal technique and creating a sound that is not only unique to each individual, but is commercially viable and healthy. She then went on to storytelling within their musical selections, discussing how their individual interpretation of each song is what truly sets them apart from all others. At the end of the class, the group was treated to a performance by Alessandra Maestrini, a well known Brazillian artist and an extremely gracious human being. As a special encore, Kristy sang one of her popular tunes from Wicked, “Defying Gravity.”
We’d like to thank our hosts at CAL who were so accommodating and we hope to return soon! If people are interested in meeting with representatives at the New York Film Academy, send an e-mail with your information to firstname.lastname@example.org.