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  • NYFA Musical Theatre Alum Felipe Vasquez Encamilla to Perform in BroadwayMania’s Virtual Production of “In The Heights”

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    A performer and an alum of NYFA’s 2-Year Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) program, Felipe Vasquez Encamilla, like many others, was devastated when the pandemic hit and productions shuttered their doors and performers could no longer perform live and in-person. 

    Now, with Broadway and other theatre institutions around the world slowly beginning to open their doors again, the performing arts world is starting to rejoice as productions are being cast and virtual performances continue, one of which is the BroadwayMania virtual production of Lin Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights, where Encamilla will perform as the Piragua Guy.

    Promotional photo of Felipe Vasquez Encamilla for “In The Heights”

    In The Heights is one of the most wonderful musicals that I have ever known,” shared Encamilla. “It has a special value for me because the musical represents the Latinx community of which I’m proudly part. It is so important to have a voice and In The Heights is giving me a huge voice. We, as a cast, are recording videos and the audio from our own homes, and then the production and editing team do the incredible magic to put the show together.”

    Encamilla came to study at NYFA in 2018, where he credited instructors like Deidre Goodwin, Michelle Potterf, Kristy Cates, James T. Lane, Kevid David Thomas, D. Michael Heath, Wysandria Woolsey, Mark Price, T. J. Mannix, Stephen Nachamie, among many others, for providing such an immersive experience in the Musical Theatre program. 

    “They are legends! I had heard about them in Chile before, so you can imagine how excited I was to know them [the instructors] in person,” said Encamilla. “ Another big reason for coming to NYFA was the possibility to make a movie musical in the second year. None of the academies or schools that I had seen had this in their curriculums and I consider it so important! Actually, the pandemic has made me use a lot of the things that I learned at NYFA about how to perform musicals in front of the camera.” 

    Encamilla as Monsieur Thénardier in “Les Misérables”

    From playing King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar to Pirelli from Sweeney Todd, Encamilla revealed that his favorite part of performing is the relationships formed on and off stage. “For me, it’s the relationships with my colleagues and the connections that we can create on stage. Not only because the characters have to have a connection, but also because all the good energy is reflected when you are performing. People can totally see those connections. And that is so beautiful! I think if you work with love, respect and kindness your performance always will be the best.”

    As for what’s next after In The Heights, Encamilla is developing a few projects with his husband Pablo, including producing the play Llamada Entrante (“Incoming Call” written by Pablo and directed by Encamilla), which they are looking to expand after a few successful live online performances. 

    Felipe Vasquez Encamilla in “Sweeney Todd”

    “We are also are writing a musical that talks about homoparental adoption, which is a huge topic for so many people, especially in countries like Chile where it is not allowed. We think that we need more representation in the Musical Theatre world: one of my huge dreams is to write more musicals that contain more representation to the Latinx Community, gay people, immigrants, and people who came to this country to contribute with their talents but so many times they are non seen.”

    An advocate for the voiceless and determined, Encamilla urges those looking to expand their craft to follow their dreams no matter the circumstances. “You have to follow your dreams and make it real. It’s hard, I know. Sometimes you feel that they never will come true. Many times nobody believes in you, including yourself. But you have to find the strength to fight and don’t give up. You deserve it. Never stop dreaming!”

    Official poster for “In The Heights”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Felipe Vasquez Encamilla on the exciting opportunity to be part of BroadwayMania’s production of In The Heights. You can see the show online, with performances streaming on May 15 at 7:00 pm ET, May 16 at 2:00 pm ET, and May 22 at 7:00 pm ET. For tickets and more information, click here.

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  • Live Theater Returns to NYC With NYFA PCMT’s Newest Production “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle”

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    New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) recently performed their original musical, NOT WORKING: A 2020 SONG CYCLE earlier this month with live, COVID-safe performances at East River Park Amphitheatre in New York City.

    The original production was conceived and directed by NYFA’s Travis Greisler (The Cher Show) with musical direction by Kevin David Thomas (A Little Night Music) and was created especially for the Musical Theatre students at NYFA.

    NYFA PCMT students rehearse before the show’s debut

    NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle is a nod to the 1970’s song cycle WORKING, and portrays the various stories and vantage points of topics ranging from the global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, quarantine and isolation, and our immense desire to be telling stories live and in person again.

    The full length, live musical showcases NYFA’s PCMT students performing contributions from 15 different composers/lyricists from many racial backgrounds, gender identities, and sexualities. Each composer wrote about their various points of view on all things 2020 during this time where many have been missing the element of live performance for the majority of the year.

    “It is a show about all the things that are not working in our world, written in 2020, about 2020, and performed in 2020,” said Greisler. “A thing most new musicals never get to do as they usually take so long to get written and eventually produced. We had quite the opportunity on our hands and I didn’t want to waste it.”

    In addition to the performers, composers, and lyricists involved in the show, NYFA’s PCMT also collaborated across disciplines with NYFA’s Filmmaking and Cinematography departments to capture the live performance for online streaming distribution so as to reach a potentially even larger number of viewers.

    Photo from live performance of “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle”

    “One of the things this pandemic has taught everyone in the performing arts is the necessity to find new and creative ways to bring our performances and talents to a large audience in an unconventional way,” shared Pierro Basso (AIC-IMAGO), Chair of NYFA’s Cinematography Department in New York. “What the pandemic has not done, however, is deter from the longstanding collaboration between the Filmmaking, Cinematography and Musical Theatre departments at NYFA.”

    “NYFA is so proud of all of our students for their continued excellence in the face of very difficult circumstances,” added Senior Executive Vice President and COO at NYFA David Klein. “We are so proud of our Musical Theatre Department, the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre, and our musical theatre students and faculty who have overcome what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to live performance to create a new musical during a global pandemic.”

    Photo from live performance of “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle

    The show’s producer and Chair of NYFA’s Musical Theatre Department Kristy Cates (Wicked, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) also added, “I am thrilled that NYFA gave us the green light to create and produce this amazing new piece of work and I know this show has been an extremely uplifting and cathartic experience for all the performers, composers and audiences alike. We are proud we were able to share NOT WORKING with New York City.”

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  • New York Film Academy Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) Welcomes David Yazbek and Anna K Jacobs for Musical Theatre Workshop

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    On March 3rd, the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) participated in a master class with Tony Award-winner David Yazbek and New York Youth Symphony Musical Theater Songwriting Program (NYYS). The master class was hosted at New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) New York campus.

    The composers in the NYYS songwriting program vary in age from 12-22 years old.  Under the guidance of the program director, Anna K. Jacobs (2020 Jonathan Larson Grant recipient), the young songwriters chose moments from the animated Pixar film Inside Out to set to music in a verse/chorus musical form. Students from the Harlem School of the Arts, as well as students from the New York Film Academy, were assigned different songs, rehearsed with the composers, and then performed the songs in front of David Yazbek and an audience.

    David Yazbek (Left) and Anna K. Jacobs (Right) share with PCMT, NYYS, and Harlem School of the Arts students

    Yazbek offered feedback on all of the compositions to the NYYS songwriters. Siya Simanga (PCMT) sang a song called “Bing Bong Guide Song”, written by Grace Gamins, in which the character of Bing Bong (Riley’s childhood imaginary friend) offers Joy and Sadness help in getting back to headquarters.  Jordan White (PCMT) sang the final song of the night called “I Miss Minnesota”, written by Kayden Merritt and arranged by Simon Broucke, in which Riley confesses to her parents how sad she sometimes about leaving her childhood home.Jordan was joined by PCMT students Alexis Loiselle as Sadness, Jennifer Molson as Joy, Lucia Caballero as Disgust, Mario Greiner as Anger and Siya Siyamtanga as Fear.

    All of the NYFA PCMT students that participated and attended said it was very refreshing to hear the creative process talked about in a different way. Yazbek’s call to remain curious and explore multiple genres of music and types of culture was a valuable lesson for actors and composers alike and he  encouraged everyone to collaborate constantly with those around them. Several PCMT students commented later that they were struck by his kindness and humility as he offered feedback, even as his obvious expertise shone through.

    NYFA PCMT students perform their musical piece based on the Pixar film ‘Inside Out’

     

    After meeting PCMT’s music supervisor, Anna Ebbesen, at a workshop a few years ago, Anna K. Jacobs has had an affiliation with NYFA in several different ways. She composed music for an original movie musical, Kaya: Taste of Paradise, for the PCMT 2-Year program. The film was directed by NYFA’s Paul Warner, choreographed by head of dance, Michelle Potterf, with a book by Jerome Parker and music supervised and orchestrated by Ebbesen.

    Jacobs also did a reading of her show Echo as part of the NYFA “New Works Series ” with our musical theatre students. Ebbesen has also joined Jacobs at the NYYS Musical Theater Songwriting Program as music director. It’s true, having multiple “Anna’s” on email chains is confusing, but both of them are happy to have such a strong relationship with both the Harlem School of the Arts and the New York Film Academy, and they appreciated this opportunity to share new musical theatre with the next generation of performers and creatives.

    David Yazbek observes as students perform their musical pieces

    New York Film Academy thanks David Yazbek and Anna K. Jacobs for sharing an evening with NYFA PCMT students to provide constructive feedback and industry expertise. NYFA would also like to thank the New York Youth Symphony Musical Theater Songwriting Program for opening up the master class to NYFA PCMT students, and the Harlem School of the Arts for their participation and collaboration.

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    March 31, 2020 • Musical Theatre • Views: 2353

  • Hamilton’s Greg Treco Gives Master Class to New York Film Academy (NYFA) Musical Theatre Students

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    Actor, singer, and dancer Greg Treco arrived at the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA) on April 9 to hold a Master Class with NYFA’s Musical Theatre students.

    Treco is originally from Nassau, Bahamas, and is currently the standby actor for Aaron Burr, George Washington, and Lafayette/Jefferson in Hamilton on Broadway. He most recently wrapped up playing Burr in the Chicago company of Hamilton: An American Musical. 

    Greg Treco

    His other credits include Taboo on Broadway, the Off-Broadway hit Zanna Don’t, Miracle Brothers at the Vineyard Theatre, Neil Berg and Robert Schenkkan’s THE 12 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Roar of the Greasepaint at Goodspeed Opera House. 

    Treco was also a finalist on WB’s Popstars, with other TV credits including a guest-starring role on the CBS sitcom Whoopi. He also recently created the choreography and movement for the acclaimed short Celeste, which opened the Brooklyn Beats Film Festival earlier this year. 

    PCMT students chosen to perform in Treco’s Master Class each presented a song and received one-on-one coaching from him on their selections and individual performance. Treco’s goal was to encourage the students to think outside the box and develop a deeper connection to storytelling, imagery, and text. 

    “I was impressed by the amount of tools Greg gave each performer to help them reach what they wanted,” shared PCMT student Santiago Roma. “He was able to identify what was getting in the way of each actor and find a solution to that problem.”

    Treco helped bring clarity to the many complexities of song performance and storytelling, offering constructive feedback for each student and helping them to better understand the audition process.

    PCMT student Jennifer Johansson told NYFA, “What I found most fascinating about the Master Class with Greg was how big of a difference he made with each one of the students’ performances. Whether it had to do with the physicality or the story in itself, I could see and feel the difference between their first and their last passes. It was really cool to watch it happen in such a short amount of time.”

    Broadway actress and PCMT Creative Director Kristy Cates, who worked with Greg in 2004 on a show at the Eugene O’Neill Center, was also in attendance. “I saw him go on as Aaron Burr a few months ago and he was so wonderful that I knew I had to have him come in and do a Master Class with the students,” Cates told NYFA. “He is a beautifully nuanced, yet specific, actor and is just an all around wonderful person.”

    The Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at New York Film Academy thanks Hamilton actor Greg Treco for giving our students the opportunity to study and learn from one of the theatre world’s best!

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    May 13, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre • Views: 1713

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Musical Theatre Alum Ilda Mason Cast in Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’

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    The production of Steven Spielberg’s high-profile Hollywood remake of West Side Story has announced the casting of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Musical Theatre Alum Ilda Mason. Mason will be showcasing her dancing skills a member of the Sharks in the highly-anticipated film from Amblin Entertainment.

    Mason has previously performed in the Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet as well as a production of Legally Blonde in China, and has been an ensemble member in the national tour of Cinderella. Additionally, she was a professional dancer for two seasons on Panama’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Ilda Mason

    The Tony Award-winning musical was first adapted into a film in 1961 and went on to win ten Academy Awards. This newest adaptation is written by Tony Kushner and stars Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Maddie Ziegler, Corey Stoll, and original West Side Story star Rita Moreno. Casting announcements are still being rolled out as the film gears for production in New York later this year.

    Ilda Mason graduated from the 2-year program at the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA) in 2015. Since then, 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.

    “Ilda was an engaged, focused student and an integral member of the NYFA Musical Theatre community,” says Kristy Cates, Creative Director of PCMT at NYFA. “We are all so proud of her many successes and look forward to watching her star continue to rise.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates PCMT at NYFA alum Ilda Mason on her casting in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and can’t wait to see her dance on the big screen!

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    May 1, 2019 • Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1759

  • New Year’s Inspiration: New York Film Academy’s Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre Releases ‘Inhale/Exhale’ with Amy Yakima

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    The Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA) released a dance video titled Inhale/Exhale starring PCMT alum CorBen Williams and So You Think You Dance season 10 and Broadway Star winner Amy Yakima.

    Created to inspire reflection as we enter into the new year, Inhale/Exhale is a reminder to appreciate where you’ve been and where you’re going. In today’s ever-frenetic world, it’s important to take in your surroundings and remind yourself to breathe and connect with those around you. You never know what new opportunity or inspiration is right around the corner. 

    Raised in North Pole, Alaska, CorBen Williams first attended NYFA’s Musical Theatre Camp for Teens in 2013. A year later he enrolled in the 2-year program at PCMT. After graduating from PCMT, CorBen immediately found work with Disney Cruise Lines and and recently played TJ in a regional production of Sister Act.

    Amy Yakima is from Northville, Michigan and was crowned winner of So You Think You Can Dance’s tenth season. Yakima has starred on Broadway as Peter Pan in Finding Neverland, in addition to numerous other stellar performances.

    Showcasing the talents of both performers, the story is one of art imitating life: a student and Broadway hopeful meets his idol, a veteran who’s already achieved stardom. After a chance encounter in downtown Manhattan, the two dance together in a stunning sequence — shot in Battery Park, across the street from NYFA’s New York campus.

    The inspiring video was directed by Chair of Short-term Intensive Programs Jonathan Whittaker, edited by Sean Robinson, and produced by Kristy Cates, the PCMT’s Creative Director. Cates is a Broadway veteran as well, with credits including Wicked (Broadway, First National Tour, Chicago) as Elphaba, Miss Bassett in Finding Neverland (Broadway), and Grandma Josephine in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Broadway).

    Interested in attending PCMT at NYFA? Find out more information about our programs here.

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    December 28, 2018 • Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2038

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Musical Theatre School Produces “Kristy’s Lament: Another Awful Day with the MTA”

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    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.

    MTA Laments

    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), and Kylan Ross (Straight Outta Oz).  

    MTA Laments

    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.”

    MTA Laments

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    December 20, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 1665

  • Nova Fest Awards Best Musical & Best LGBT Film to New York Film Academy’s Plus One

    FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe New York Film Academy (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) has snagged two film festival wins for its original movie musical Plus One. The epic short film utilizes original music as it follows three generations of women, two unexpected pregnancies, and a time-traveling secretary with the key to their futures.

    After a successful run at the NOVA Fest, Plus One went home with the top trophies for Best Musical and Best LGBT Film.

    Plus One’s trophies will be proudly displayed in the Musical Theatre office at the NYFA New York City campus. Stop by and check them out, and learn more about PCMT’s work!

    PLUS ONE – trailer from SEAN ROBINSON on Vimeo.

    Two-Year Conservatory students at PCMT have had the opportunity to perform in original movie musicals since the program began in 2012. The unique experience allows conservatory students to prepare for the film and television industry as well as the stage. Each PCMT original movie musical is created from scratch with original stories and scores, and executed through collaborations with working industry professionals. Past films have featured collaborators such as Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart and Tony Award-nominee Charlotte D’amboise. Yet each PCMT movie musical maintains its focus on its student performers, allowing the next generation of artists to truly shine.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  • Tony Winner Jeff Marx Visits New York Film Academy

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    Jeff Marx

    Avenue Q’s Jeff Marx

    Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Jeff Marx visited the New York Film Academy at our New York City Theatre in late February, much to the delight of our Musical Theatre students.

    Marx is best known for Avenue Q, the innovative musical starring both human and puppet characters that instantly earned critical acclaim and won over audiences across the country. It went on to win three Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It is currently running Off-Broadway and has toured the country and been produced in both the West End and Las Vegas.

    Before writing Avenue Q, Marx passed the New York State Bar exam, planning to be a lawyer. He met partner Robert Lopez shortly after at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, writing a spec Muppet film as a pre-cursor to their collaboration on Avenue Q. Since winning his Tony, Marx has gone on to write for the musical episode of NBC’s Scrubs, as well as songs for Bear in the Big Blue House and The Book of Pooh. He also co-wrote the theme song for Logo TV’s Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World.

    Speaking with the students of NYFA’s Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre, Marx highlighted his indirect path to Broadway stardom, mentioning that he didn’t even start writing until he was 28 years old. “The greatest thing that I can wish for you,” Marx told the audience of aspiring Broadway stars, “is hunger.” He also shared anecdotes about the making of Avenue Q.

    Jeff Marx visits NYFA

    Highlights from the @newyorkfilmacademy Instagram story featuring Jeff Marx’s visit to NYFA #PCMT

    In addition to inspiring students with his story, he also brought a special and well-received guest — puppet and star of Avenue Q, Nicky. Avenue Q’s cast of puppet characters included both rod puppets and live-hands, the latter of which are often operated simultaneously by two puppeteers. Nicky is a live-hands puppet, and students were delighted to see him in action on stage with Marx.

    Nicky wasn’t all Marx brought with him on his visit to NYFA. In addition to Nicky, he brought along his Tony Award, Broadway’s highest honor. Musical Theatre students were thrilled when Marx allowed them to hold it and pass it around — an inspiring moment for those learning at NYFA and hoping to win one of their own in the not-too-distant future.

    By the time the students had to say goodbye to Marx and Nicky, they had learned and laughed, and were extremely grateful for the generous time, energy, and inspiring words Marx brought with him to the New York Film Academy.

    Interested in joining the magical and puppet-filled world of musical theatre? Check out the programs of New York Film Academy’s Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    March 2, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre • Views: 4859