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  • Highlights From the 71st Annual Tony Awards

    Screenshot 2017-06-12 13.05.12

    The New York Film Academy was especially excited to watch the Tony Awards this year, as our Musical Theatre Program has welcomed many members of the Broadway community as instructors, guest speakers, and featured artists in our original movie musicals, from our Artistic Director Kristy Cates to visiting Master Class lecturer Jonathan Groff. For industry insiders and theatre lovers everywhere, the 71st Annual Tony Awards on Sunday was the theatre event of the season. The New York Film Academy provided live social media coverage on Twitter, while the live CBS broadcast of the Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall gave nearly 6 million home viewers a glimpse into an evening full of Broadway royalty, moving speeches, and much-anticipated performances, all hosted by Oscar-winning actor and NYFA guest speaker Kevin Spacey.

    In case you missed it, here are some highlights from the 71st Annual Tony Awards:

    Best Musical

    After much anticipation, audience favorite “Dear Evan Hansen” swept the Tony’s this season, taking home awards in not one, not two, but six categories — including the coveted spot for Best New Musical. The groundbreaking musical is a true original, featuring a small cast and orchestra and offering some innovative tie-ins to social media.

    Best Actor in a Musical

    Dear Evan Hansen” also gave us one of the evening’s brightest new stars, when leading actor Ben Platt snagged the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. Platt received a rousing standing ovation from the live audience and the orchestra at the Tony’s, and used his moment in the spotlight to spread some inspiration.

    As quoted in the New York Times, Ben offered encouragement to fellow theatre kids: “To all young people watching at home, don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself, because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

    Best Actress in a Musical

    “Dear Evan Hansen” was not the only star of the evening. The Radio City Music Hall audience also swept to its feet to recognize and celebrate beloved industry icon Bette Midler, as she won the the Best Actress in a Musical award for her portrayal of Dolly Levi in the revival of “Hello, Dolly!” 

    Best Play

    While musicals and musical performances punctuated the evening, the Tony’s also celebrate legitimate Broadway performers and plays. This year, the category for Best Play (non-musical) was especially competitive, but in the end the award went to “Oslo,” which dramatizes the 1993 Middle East peace accords.

    Best Actress in a Play

    Laurie Metcalf had been nominated for a Tony Award four times before her emotionally-charged win on Sunday, when she took home the category for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Nora in “A Doll’s House, Part 2.”

    Most-buzzed Acceptance Speech

    Cynthia Nixon took the stage to accept an award for Best Featured Actress in a play for “The Little Foxes,” the Lillian Helman classic which was also nominated in the Best Revival of a Play category. During her acceptance speech, Nixon caused major internet buzz for quoting the playwright to make a political statement: ““Sixty years ago, [Hellman] wrote, ‘There are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it and other people who just stand around and watch them do it.’ My love, gratitude and undying respect go out to all the people in 2017 who are refusing to just stand and watch them do it.”

    Host Hall of Fame

    Kevin Spacey made his debut as a Tony Award host last weekend — and brought along some of his Hollywood pals for support. Spacey performed an affectionate homage to this season’s Broadway shows and playfully poked fun at himself for not being the first choice as this year’s host, bringing in pals like Steven Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, and Billy Crystal to offer him hosting tips.

    Surprise Stars

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, rocked Radio City during Jill’s moment on stage. Mrs. Biden made a brief appearance during the ceremony to promote Got Your Six, a campaign benefitting military veterans. And Variety reports that the crowd’s enthusiasm for the political superstars cased selfie-seekers to create traffic jams at the after-party as they clamored for a pic with the Bidens.

    Lifetime Achievement Award

    James Earl Jones received recognition for a full and incredible career on the stage, taking home the  2017 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theater. The superstar, who has portrayed roles from Darth Vader in “Star Wars” to Othello on Broadway, graciously thanked the New York City Police Department during his moment on stage for their work keeping the Broadway community safe.

    Here is the full list of this year’s Tony Award winners, as reported by The Tony Awards website:

    BEST PLAY

    “Oslo”

    BEST MUSICAL

    “Dear Evan Hansen”

    BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

    August Wilson’s “Jitney

    BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

    “Hello, Dolly!”

    BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

    Kevin Kline for “Present Laughter”

    BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

    Laurie Metcalf for “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

    BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

    Ben Platt for “Dear Evan Hansen”

    BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

    Bette Midler for “Hello, Dolly!”

    BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY

    Michael Aronov for “Oslo”

    BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY

    Cynthia Nixon for Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes”

    BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL

    Gavin Creel for “Hello, Dolly!”

    BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL

    Rachel Bay Jones for “Dear Evan Hansen”

    BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL

    Steven Levenson for “Dear Evan Hansen”

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE

    “Dear Evan Hansen” Music & Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

    BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY

    Nigel Hook for “The Play That Goes Wrong”

    BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

    Mimi Lien for “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”

    BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY

    Jane Greenwood for Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes”

    BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

    Santo Loquasto for “Hello, Dolly!”

    BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY

    Christopher Akerlind for “Indecent”

    BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

    Bradley King for “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”

    BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY

    Rebecca Taichman for “Indecent”

    BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

    Christopher Ashley for “Come From Away”

    BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

    Andy Blankenbuehler for “Bandstand”

    BEST ORCHESTRATIONS

    Alex Lacamoire for “Dear Evan Hansen”

    SPECIAL TONY AWARD® FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE

    James Earl Jones

    REGIONAL THEATRE TONY AWARD

    Dallas Theater Center

    ISABELLE STEVENSON TONY AWARD

    Baayork Lee

    SPECIAL TONY AWARD

    Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin

    TONY HONORS FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE THEATRE

    Nina Lannan and Alan Wasser

     

    June 12, 2017 • Entertainment Australia, Entertainment News, Musical Theatre • Views: 1053

  • Musical Theatre Grad “Ione” Performing as Alternate Lead in West End’s “Thriller Live”

    Growing up in Manchester, UK, Mica “Ione” Townsend began developing her singing chops at three-years old in her church choir. From there, she progressed through classical vocal training and performances to sharing her gift with renowned professionals around the world.

    At just 14, Ione became a session singer and backing vocalist, displaying an outstanding vocal talent that earned her the opportunity of performing with the likes of Gorrilaz, Errol Brown (Hot Chocolate) and Heather Small.

    ione

    In 2007, Ione moved to London to further her career and was soon invited to join a European and American Tour as backing vocalist to singer Adam Green. The success of the tour proved a catalyst for her career and Ione moved to the U.S. to fulfill her dream of studying at the Musical Theatre School at the New York Film Academy.

    “I think to train at NYFA, in New York, where musical theatre was born, has been extremely useful,” said Ione. “The focus was always on the acting and the story, and singing and dancing were an extension of that. I was also taught, at NYFA, not to limit myself; it was always inspiring that the teachers were on Broadway, taught, then would do other projects. I don’t have to choose between all the things I love.”

    After finishing NYFA and moving back to the UK, Ione toured as a soloist in the ”Hacienda Classics,” an experience which involved re-working dance classics with a 70 piece orchestra. She is now a lead in the West End musical ”Thriller Live,” which celebrates the music of Michael Jackson. The highly successful stage production has become the 15th longest running musical in the West End.

    As an artist who certainly doesn’t want to limit herself, Ione has continued to write her own songs, which gave her the impetus to showcase them as a singer in her own right.

    “The music industry is great,” says Ione. “Anybody can ‘release’ music, but in the same breath that means so many more people have music out there, so I would say the promotion of music as an artist, the staying on top of it, is most difficult for me.”

    In 2013, Ione released her debut EP “Fighting Fear,” which gave a nod to her musical theatre background in the haunting ballad “My Love.”

    Her first single “Back in the Day,” released in 2014, is an eclectic mix of soul and pop music with electronic sounds and is a blend of everything she loves in music. The song was heavily supported by BBC INTRODUCING and was aired by Tom Robinson Mixtape on BBC Radio 6. It was also chosen by songwriter Mark Hadfield, who has written for NEYO and Iggy Azalea, to be played on Huw Stephens’ show on BBC Radio 1.

    “Growing up around powerful and knowledgeable women gave me the landscape to share these life experiences in my work,” says Ione.

    Ione is also curently recording new material which is set to be released Spring 2017.

    June 12, 2017 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 939

  • NYFA Musical Theatre Alumna Cast in Asian Tour of “Sister Act”

    sophie KimNew York Film Academy Musical Theatre alumna Sophie Kim So-hyang has been cast in the US production of the hit Broadway musical “Sister Act,” making her the first Korean actress to have been cast in the American production of the musical. She will play the part of Sister Mary Robert, a quiet and timid nun who becomes inspired by the main character Delores to eventually break out of her shell. The show is a musical adaptation of the hit 1992 comedy film of the same name starring Whoopi Goldberg.

    “My Korean agent told me that there will an audition for ‘Sister Act’ in the Asian tour and that I should try to get in,” said Kim. “At first, I didn’t think too much about it because there are no roles for Asians in the play. But since it was an Asian tour, my agent told me that there would be a slight possibility of getting the part. So, I auditioned, got several callbacks, and finally got it. I was so excited!”

    Born and raised in Korea’s theatre district, Kim and her mother went to many shows as a child. “My parents were really supportive and always encouraged me to be an actress,” she recalls. “I was the kind of girl who loved to sing and dance.”

    While in Korea, Kim performed in many shows such as “Rent,” “Aida,” “Mamma Mia,” “Dreamgirls,” “Fame,” “West Side Story,” “Evita,” and “Wedding Singer.”

    sophie kim

    After attending and graduating from NYFA’s Musical Theatre Conservatory, Kim became the first person to join the AEA (Actors Equity Association) as a theatre actress from Korea. She played ‘Gigi’ from Miss Saigon (Paramount Theatre) ‘Tupim’ from ‘The King and I’ (Harbor Lights Theatre). Kim also appeared in the show of “Oliver,” “Spool Girl,” “6 Month Club,” and “Portrait of Father.”
    “Everything I’m doing now I learned from NYFA,” said Kim. “I learned history, preparing for auditions, ballet, vocal, stage combat, jazz, tap, Meisner, makeup, improv, and so much more. I would never be able to get a job if I didn’t go this school.”

    This Friday, April 28th, Kim will perform in the EnoB Benefit Concert at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan. The Benefit Concert is a semi-annual fundraising event hosted by EnoB, a non-profit music outreach organization that serves hospitalized and disabled children and youth and senior citizens through the joy and the healing power of music. It’s an opportunity for EnoB to raise funds to sustain the critical services for people in need and celebrate its work among friends and family.

    The Asian tour of “Sister Act” will begin in Singapore from May 9-28.

    April 26, 2017 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1818

  • NYFA Musical Theatre Students Hit the Recording Studio for Upcoming Movie Musical

    In addition to live musical productions at theaters in New York City, the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Program produces movie musicals as part of the second year in the program. Students play roles written for them and sing songs specifically composed for them, all within a professional model that results in a state-of-the-art movie musical, which is submitted to film festivals across the country. Past productions have gone on to win awards, including “Start-Up.Com,” which won a Laurel of Excellence Award at the Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network.

    recording studio

    “The New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Department is taking the lead in training young talent not only for the stage but also for careers in the film and television industry,” says NYFA Musical Theatre Chair, Mark Olsen. “A highlight of this experience is when students go to a professional studio and work closely with the engineer and the film’s music director to record their final vocal tracks.”

    The recording session, which recently took place at MonaLisa studios in New York City, is very unique to students as they get the chance to have original material tailored and developed personally to them — i.e. characters, music, etc. The students also have the opportunity to work with renown composers on the material and record in an actual recording studio as part of our music theatre program. No other program can provide this level of professional support.

    recording session nyfa

    The next movie musical, “Alma Mater,” is being directed by NYFA Musical Theatre faculty member, Nathan Brewer, Music Direction by Anna Ebbesen, screenplay by Emily Kaczmarek, with Music and Lyrics by Zoe Sarnak.

    It is a story of two rival roommates in the year 1993 at Beecher College, a fictional and exclusive all-girls school in the Hudson Valley. One roommate is preparing for an important fundraising event by organizing a group called “Beecher College Women of Substance.” The other roommate is organizing a group of her own for the same fundraiser, except this group is centered on the recent rebellious advance of the punk rock “Riot Girrrrrls” movement. Both groups awaken to and express their feminist points of view in ways that polarize them into separate and competing camps.

    nyfa recording

    As they rehearse and prepare for the big event, they overlook members of the computer club who are discovering this new thing called the Internet.

    They create songs, they write manifestos, they stake out separate “headquarters” and emerge to define themselves fiercely, but in completely opposite forms. Finally, after a serious arm wrestling match, members of their respective groups experience a moment of revelation where their combined efforts produce amazing results. The two musical styles and points of view come together in a triumphant song of solidarity. Both groups come to realize that they are actually two sides of the same Susan B. Anthony coin.

    “I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful program learning from working industry professionals,” said NYFA Musical Theatre student, Brielle Carmichael. “There is nothing better than being surrounded by people who share the same passion for their art form as you do.”

    December 8, 2016 • Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 2227

  • Musical Theatre Alumnus Roy Khoury Brings Broadway to Lebanon

    roy khouryNew York Film Academy Musical Theatre alumnus Roy Khoury came to the Academy to pursue his childhood dream of performing on Broadway. However, Khoury took it one step further by bringing Broadway to his home country of Lebanon.

    Last year, he created, starred and directed his own musical concert “One Night on Broadway” at the Casino Du Liban in Lebanon. The musical received an award of appreciation in the “Murex D’Or” 2015. Khoury also had the opportunity to showcase “One Night on Broadway” in the “Zouk Mikael International Festival.”

    The show is a collection of the most beloved Broadway musicals which are converted into a chain of tableaux that focus on the most fascinating features of the Broadway culture.

    “In our country there isn’t much of a known local musical theatre / Broadway scene,” said Khoury. “I have always dreamed of directing my own musical, as well as starring in it, so I threw the idea over to producers and they loved and invested in it. And it was a huge success!”

    one night on broadway

    Khoury and his team were able to perform the musical at international festivals, private events, and concerts.

    “The whole process of being the director and performing was a challenge for me, and I guess I nailed it,” said Khoury. “Thanks to NYFA and the awesome experience that I had in NYC. NYFA is the place where I became a musical theatre performer and director. I’ve worked a lot on myself in other schools and I’ve practiced intensively in different showcases and musicals, but it all comes back to NYFA and the most amazing teacher I met there.”

    Due to the huge success of “One Night on Broadway,” a producer from Dubai contacted Khoury to be the performing arts and stage director of the popular TV talent show, “Arab Casting.” The show hired Khoury to be an artistic director, acting coach and choreographer.

    Khoury says he’s now brainstorming for another show, as a variety of producers are interested in investing in his next big project.

    one night on broadway

    His advice to students and recent graduates: “Be patient, positive, and embrace every single word or class or project at NYFA because it gives you a lot and it’s a brilliant domain. My mentor have always talked to us about one’s discipline and attitude towards others and towards yourself in order to merge into this field. And don’t stop practicing and working on your talent and technique. Everything makes a difference. Finally, take risks and do what you love. You’ll make it if you love it.”

    October 14, 2016 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3767

  • Musical Theatre Alumna Ilda Mason to Tour in “Cinderella”

    After being in her high school performance of “Grease,” New York Film Academy Musical Theatre alumna Ilda Mason knew she wanted a career in musical theatre. Since graduating from NYFA, Mason has performed in two productions of “West Side Story”: one at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, and the second one at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. Mason played the role of Francisca in one, Estella in the other, and understudied Rosalia in both.

    ilda mason

    “Doing ‘WSS’ was incredibly close to my heart because it’s not only a classic masterpiece in every way possible, but it also gives me a sense of pride in my Latin American culture: to speak Spanish, to let my Latin flare explode, and to dance with all the I have,” says Mason.

    She’s currently rehearsing for the “Cinderella” national tour, which she describes as ten exhilarating months of adventure across the US and Canada while telling the story of Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”

    “It’s a fast paced learning experience where you have to give 100% all of the time and put a show together in two weeks,” she says. “I’m an ensemble member and love every second of it! It’s all about everyone being a company; it’s about images, formations, blending harmonies, and telling this beautiful story. It’s a special feeling to be part of a team like this.”

    ilda mason

    In addition to her performances on stage, Mason has worked as a choreographer on NYFA’s Musical Theatre performances. “I have come across many incredible and inspiring fellow students that have made me wish I could do what they do so effortlessly and vice versa,” she says. “But there is so much more to this. We all need to improve our dancing and our singing in different levels. Competing in the professional world is a delicate mix between the will power to go to those early calls everyday hoping one day they cast you; the discipline to take care of your instrument (meaning your entire body inside and out) while constantly going to classes to perfect your art; and a great deal of timing. Timing is everything because not only must you be ready for when the opportunity is presented, but you also need to have a level of maturity to build a career. Most of us will even need the time and previous experience to apply for a visa that will allow us to try to work in the U.S. I believe that when these characteristics of resilience and passion are present (and mixed with the unstoppable desire to conquer that musical theatre dream), NYFA’s students will always have what it takes.

    For more information on her upcoming tour in Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” please visit www.cinderellaonbroadway.com.

    September 6, 2016 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2615

  • Student Directed Play Series at NYFA Los Angeles

    New York Film Academy Acting Department Los Angeles campus is very proud of the Student Directed Play Series, which was completed at the end of the semester in July. Five plays, one original poetry/movement piece, and a musical were staged this summer.
    student directed play

    The season started off with Marcus by Tarell Alvin McCraney directed by Page de la Harpe, Summer ’15 MFA Acting for Film. Marcus completed the Brother’s Size Trilogy by Mr. McCraney, which includes In the Red and Brown Water and A Brother’s Size, also directed by Page in the previous two semesters.

    The second production was Hortensia & The Museum of Dreams by Nilo Cruz, directed by Morgan Aiken, Fall ’15 BFA 3A Acting of Film. Hortensia marks the second play done at NYFA by Latino writer Nilo Cruz, as a production of Ana & The Tropics was done last semester. Morgan has been heavily involved with Student Directed Plays since their inception two years ago, directing and acting in several productions.
    nyfa plays

    The third piece was a poetry/movement piece conceived and written by Ria Patel, Fall ’14 BFA 2B, and co-directed by Federico Mallet Flores, Fall ’14 MFA alumnus, entitled If Light Never Comes. This production explored the complex dynamics of a relationship when one ends and another begins through dance. This was Ria’s first piece she’s written. “I grew from this experience by immersing myself with a small and wonderful cast,” said Patel. “I learnt there are many aspects to putting up a production. Also, as an actor, I feel that I have grown. By helping my actors I was able to understand my own characters better and how to work on building a character too.”

    The fourth play was O.C.D., O.C.D by Laurant Baffie, adapted and directed by Gonzalo Maiztegui, Summer ’15 AFA Acting for Film. An unconventional comedy that explored the challenges of O.C.D. through humor. “This play helped me deal with my own mental disorder,” said Maiztegui.

    nyfa plays

    The fifth play was Everything You Touch by Sheila Callaghan, directed by Camilia Mejia Duque, Fall ’15 MFA Acting for Film. Set in the 1970’s and present day, this play explored the themes of women’s bodies, image, and society.

    The sixth play was the British comedy Nan by Catherine Tate, directed by Romeo Visca, Summer ’15 MFA Acting for Film.  Of the experience Visca said, “I learned so much not only from the production process — which taught me how important key elements are when staging a play — but also the casting, the rehearsals, the preparation. But, most of all, it showed me how honest and open you have to be when working with a group of artists, and how many challenges we face in order to make the actors work as a group.”

    nyfa directors plays

    The final production was a musical, Circle of Life, an adaption of The Lion King, adapted and directed by Simmie Sangian, Spring ’15 BFA Acting for Film. This production incorporated African body art and Brazilian Capoeria dance. This was such an amazing production that played to packed houses and an additional performance was added.

    All of these productions were quite the ambitious undertakings and NYFA applauds all of the student directors’ hard work on these very successful productions. We are continuously impressed by the passion and talent they bring to their work.

    August 10, 2016 • Acting, Musical Theatre • Views: 2647

  • NYFA Movie Musical “Start-Up.Com” Earns Laurel of Excellence Award

    start-upEach year, the New York Film Academy produces movie musicals as the culmination to its 2-Year Musical Theatre Conservatory. These films consist of entirely original material (story and music) and are produced by industry professionals who come onboard and create a story and musical platform that is tailored around the 2-Year students featured in the film. This year’s film, Start-Up.Com, was written by NYFA Screenwriting Chair Melanie Oram and NYFA Musical Theatre Chair Mark Olsen, who also directed the film. Additionally, NYFA alumnus Sean Robinson was the producer, NYFA Cinematography Instructor Piero Basso was the Director of Photography, and NYFA Musical Theatre Instructor Bobby Cronin wrote the original music, which is a seminal part to the movie musical apparatus.

    In the film, a small but inventive start-up company named Big Apple Orchard develops a program using facial recognition software that they hope can find missing children and aide in the fight against human trafficking.

    Given the talent and hard work that went into the production, it came as no surprise when a Laurel of Excellence Award was presented to Start-Up.Com. The accolade came from the Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network, which will be broadcasting the film on-air August 6th from 9pm-Midnight on Brighthouse Network 635 and Frontier FiOs 32 to an audience of 1.3 million viewers in the Tampa Bay area.

    START-UP.COM_TRAILER (NYFA MOVIE MUSICAL) from SEAN ROBINSON on Vimeo.

    “The accolade was awarded to everyone at NYFA involved in making the film — students and crew alike,” said producer, Sean Robinson. “It takes a village to make a film of this caliber and everyone’s role is an integral part in the process and should be equally celebrated. The students are fortunate to have a team of veteran filmmakers spearheading this level of exposure for them in the professional arena.”

    The team is already making plans for their next movie musical, which will focus on “freedom of expression.” Blanche Baker, a senior instructor in the Acting and Musical Theatre Programs, is directing and Robinson will be producing once again. The new movie musical, which has social and political undertones and features Musical Theatre’s 2-Year Summer 2015 students, puts an emphasis on examining graffiti as an art, as opposed to vandalism.

    June 28, 2016 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2052

  • Kylan Ross: Straight Outta NYFA to “Straight Outta Oz”

    After coming on the scene as a semi-finalist in Season 9 of American Idol, the multi-talented performer Todrick Hall has quickly built a following to become a household name in the world of musical theatre. From his flash mob for Ariana Grande to his Beyoncé themed flash mob performed in the middle of a Target store, Hall’s Youtube channel has grown to over 2 million subscribers.

    Hall is now taking his talents on tour in his upcoming show, Straight Outta Oz. The tour will run the entire summer at cities all across the country. New York Film Academy Musical Theatre students and alumni shouldn’t be surprised when they see a familiar face in the cast, as recent graduate Kylan Ross will be playing “The Wizard.”

    Fortunately for us, we had a chance to chat with the recent Musical Theatre graduate before he heads off on tour this summer.

    Kylan Ross

    Kylan Ross in a NYFA Musical Performance

    Congratulations on being cast as ‘The Wizard’ in Todrick Hall’s Straight Outta Oz! When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue musical theatre?

    I guess there were many different moments in my life that led up to me wanting to pursue musical theatre. Before I can remember, I loved singing pop music. I remember my mom would always be playing either Celine Dion or Michael Bolton songs, or singing random show tunes in the house, so I was raised with music all my life.

    What really opened my eyes to musical theatre was the movie musical adaptations of the musicals Rent and Chicago. I remember being younger and watching those movies on repeat, over and over again, to the point where I could recite the whole movies from start to finish.

    My first big theatre experience was when I went on a high school trip to London when I was 14 and our teachers brought us to see Wicked. From the moment the overture began to play I was in awe. I stood up at the end of the song ‘Defying Gravity’ and began to leave the theatre, until my teachers stopped me and told me that there was another act. I couldn’t believe how music, singing and dancing could tell such a story and I knew from that moment that this was something that I wanted to do. When I returned home I joined a local musical society called S.O.N.G and with them my passion and love for musical theatre grew with every show we put on.

    Why did you decide to study at NYFA?

    When I decided to study musical theatre I was actually in my final year of college studying Forensic Science and Biology. I knew I wanted to finish my degree but I also knew that there was really only one thing I wanted to do, and that was to perform, so I began to research schools. After looking through lots of programs I came across NYFA and from reading what classes they offered and seeing who some of their staff members were, I was sold. NYFA’s 2-Year Conservatory Program not only offers musical theatre training but on-camera training too, which no other program I researched offered. Other classes like Pop/Rock and Movie Musical were also a huge bonus to an already impressive program. I knew NYFA was the place for me.

    kylan ross

    Kylan Ross at NYFA performance

    How did you land the role of ‘The Wizard?’

    I was looking up auditions on backstage.com when I came across the auditions for Straight Outta Oz. I have been a huge Todrick Hall fan, so when I read the breakdown I knew that this was something I had to audition for. It was one of the first auditions I did after graduating from NYFA, so I was still getting used to the daily audition routine while trying to keep the audition nerves at bay. The first day of auditions at Pearl studios was the singers’ call and I sang “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. I came back the following day to the dance call where we did a commercial/hip-hop routine followed by another singing call where I sang “Alive” by Sia. A few weeks later I received a call from Todrick Hall offering me the role of ‘The Wizard.’

    What was your reaction when you found out?

    I was actually on a break from a restaurant job I was working at when I got the call from Todrick. I was in complete shock, so I did what most people do in a time of shock and I called my mother. We spent about five minutes just shouting back and forth at each other with excitement on the phone. I then called my boyfriend Cullen, another NYFA alum, and told him the good news. Unfortunately for me, I had to go back and work the dinner shift at my job, but, needless to say, I was smiling from ear to ear that night.

    kylan ross nyfa

    Would you say your training and experience at NYFA is useful in terms of being prepared for this role?

    I can honestly say that my training and experience at NYFA played, and will continue to play, a huge role in my audition process, as well as preparing for a role and performing. I have learned so many valuable skills and knowledge from the best in the business and I will be forever grateful for that. I would especially like to thank the dance staff at NYFA and in particular Chad Austin, Michelle Potterf and Deidre Goodwin, who I was lucky enough to have from the beginning to the end of my NYFA training.

    I never thought I would ever be able to go to a dance audition, but working with these people really improved my confidence, skill and training in dance and now I go to as many dance calls as I can. All of the staff at NYFA are the most supportive, caring and driven people I have ever met and I am so grateful to have learned from and to have worked with such talented people who genuinely want to best for all their students.

    When will we be able to see you perform as ‘The Wizard?’

    Straight Outta Oz will be touring the country all summer and we will be having a New York show on August 4th in The Highline Ballroom. For tickets and more information about show locations and venues visit todrickhall.com

    June 21, 2016 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5829

  • Tony-Nominated Actor Jonathan Groff Holds Master Class for Musical Theatre Program

    The New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Program was honored to welcome Tony-nominated actor, Jonathan Groff, to a Master Class Lecture. Currently starring as King George III in the new Broadway musical Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, Groff has appeared in the Broadway rock musical Spring Awakeningthe critically acclaimed revival of Hair, as well as two Craig Lucas plays, Prayer for My Enemy and The Singing Forest. He made his West End debut in the revival of the play Deathtrap opposite Simon Russell Beale.

    jonathan groff

    Jonathan Groff, star of Broadway’s “Hamilton”

    As for the world of film, Groff starred in the first-ever screen adaptation of author David Sedaris’s work, C.O.G., in which he portrayed a character based on Sedaris himself, and as the voice of Kristoff in the Disney animated feature, Frozen. On television, Groff portrayed the recurring role of Jesse St. James in the Fox series Glee, and from 2014 to 2015, he starred as Patrick Murray in the HBO series Looking.

    The event opened with an introduction where Groff spoke a bit about himself and his journey into the business. Hailing from Lancaster, PA and working a lot at the local Fulton Opera House, Groff decided to take a job on the non-union tour of Sound of Music. From there, he moved to New York City and waited tables for a while until his first big break into Broadway.

    The class developed into a workshop in which Groff coached six of our Musical Theatre students, and was totally impressed by their singing and acting abilities. He worked with each of them to find a different and more personal approach to each of their songs.

    groff

    “It was an honor to have such a well-rounded and admired actor spend his morning with our musical theatre department,” said NYFA Musical Theatre Creative Director, Kristy Cates. “He was patient and kind and gave incredible direction and advice. It’s extremely valuable for our students to see that someone who is so incredibly successful can still be humble and kind. He provided inspiration to our students…inspiration that will live with them for a very long time.”

    Groff ended the class with a question and answer session where he gave the sound advice to not compare yourself to others, to find a supportive group of friends in this crazy business and to continue to find new ways to be inspired.

    “I was so thrilled to find that the students at NYFA are as fearless as they are talented,” said Groff. “It was an honor and inspiration to work with them.”

    As you tell from the photos, it was a wonderfully inspirational experience for our musical theatre students and all involved!

     

     

    February 5, 2016 • Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre • Views: 7086