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

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    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.

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    November 11, 2015 • Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5337

  • Musical Theatre Kicks off 2014 with a Bang

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    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

     

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    January 30, 2014 • Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3889

  • Musical Theatre Students Showcase Their Talent at June Havoc Theatre

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    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

     

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    September 19, 2013 • Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 4866

  • An Update From Musical Theatre Chair Mark Olsen

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    August 14, 2013 • Musical Theatre • Views: 3814

  • A Word From Musical Theatre Chair Mark Olsen

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    Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 11.27.56 AM

    The following is a post from New York Film Academy‘s Chair of the Musical Theatre Conservatory Program, Mark Olsen. Mark is a professional actor, author, and director – currently working as a movement consultant on two Broadway shows. His students are working on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in major films, television shows, and in regional theatres, both here and abroad.

    First, it is important to recognize that the previous Chair, VP Boyle, worked diligently and with great verve over the past four and a half years to bring this program to a level that is attracting such extraordinary young talent. I am honored to be given the task to not only serve that original mission, and greatly energized to take the program boldly forward. With the great faculty we have and the amazing students from all over the world, we are poised to do great things.

    I find it very interesting and appropriate that as I assumed this new position, numerous students of mine were joining other former students and fulfilling their dreams of performing on the Broadway stage. (And in Tony nominated productions no less!) In addition, one student just got the lead in the national tour of Evita and another just informed me yesterday that she was cast in the upcoming musical, Soul Doctor. Add to that the fact that a few months ago I was brought on to do some movement consulting for Cicely Tyson, who is starring on Broadway in Trip to Bountiful, and it certainly seems like this is my special Broadway season.

    However, what I really need to share with you is the incredibly big news: We have moved into our glorious new building in Battery Park! We are inhabiting the fifth floor for now, while the fourth floor finished its last stages of construction. The studios are extraordinary, the dance rooms exquisite, the views of the Hudson bay – breathtaking.

    Mark at NYFA doorwayOf course, I could not have made this transition and taken on the sudden task of this new position if it weren’t for the hard work and quick study of the new Musical Theatre coordinator, Megan Nilon. Together we have kept the ship steady and have navigated the various storms to land us safely and happily into our elegant new facility.

    Kevin Duda, who is in Book of Mormon, just recently directed the Movie Musical for the second year class who graduated last Friday. It was a rousing success. After final edits, it will be submitted to festivals thither and yon and the amazingly good looking cast will have that credential, great footage and photos for their professional reels.

    All in all it has been a terrific ride so far. We are experiencing a lull for a few weeks, with only one class in residence, but we all thrill with anticipation because July promises to be quite a mash up of Musical Theatre activity. When that hits, the summer season will kick off in earnest. All hands on deck, dedicated to giving the very best training to these students, these wonderful young singers, dancers, actors.

    Let’s make some good magic!

    -Mark Olsen

    If you’d like to learn more about NYFA’s Musical Theatre Conservatory Program, click HERE!

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    June 12, 2013 • Musical Theatre • Views: 5325

  • NYFA Welcomes New Musical Theatre Chair

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    Mark in Times Square

    The New York Film Academy is proud to announce the new Chair of Musical Theatre and Film Conservatory Program, Mark Olsen! Mark currently teaches at the Juilliard School and Columbia University; and is the former Head of Graduate Acting at Penn State University. He is a professional actor, author, and director – currently working as a movement consultant on two Broadway shows. His students are working on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in major films, television shows, and in regional theatres, both here and abroad.

    Mark brings his own brand of dedication and expertise to the Musical Theatre program and is focused on building upon the energy and programming, established by VP Boyle, to help evolve the conservatory to the next “octave” of training. To those students who are currently enrolled, he looks forward to meeting you and hearing from you in the coming weeks. To those hopefuls who have fallen in love with the musical theatre but have yet to apply to the program, he would like to extend a welcome hand.

    NYFA’s Musical Theatre Program is poised to become a major force in the field. If you’re interested in embarking on this new and exciting journey, click here to learn more!

     

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    March 22, 2013 • Musical Theatre • Views: 3994