Author: Jen Craine

The Best Broadway Shows Of The 1950s

In the 1950s the economy was booming and so was Broadway. It was also a big time for film and studios, led by head studio MGM. Technicolor was introduced to the public and musicals were transported to the screen. It was considered to be the best time for Broadway with some of the most entertaining shows came out of this decade. Peter Pan, West Side Story, and Flower Drum Song were just a few of the many captivating musicals created in the 1950’s. Below are four of the best shows to come out of those ten years.

Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls is a romantic musical comedy that premiered on Broadway in 1950. We are introduced to notorious con man Nathan Detroit. When his crap game home is located by the police he must quickly find a new spot. From there we are introduced to a unique cast of characters that includes a showgirl, a gambler, an evangelist, and a chorus full of talent. With its unique backdrops ranging from NYC to Havana it’s a highly entertaining show. With tunes like “Luck Be a Lady,” “I’ll Know,” “Sit Down,” “You’re Rocking the Boat,” and “A Bushel and A Peck,” you can’t help but feel like you are right in that time period with them. Guys and Dolls was awarded numerous Tony Awards, and has been adored by audiences since its premiere.

The King and I

Set in the 1860s, Anna Leonowens, who is newly widowed, sets sail along with her son to Siam where she takes a role as a schoolteacher. Still grieving, her work provides a good distraction for her. The King of Siam wants to modernize his country and hopes her Western teaching can help. Underneath their disagreements and different ways is a fond understanding and love between them. With a heartwarming story line and enchanting music The King and I is one of the most unique love stories set on stage. This charming show is sure to warm your heart with beautiful songs like “Getting To Know You” and “Shall We Dance. This was the talented Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fifth show and it was awarded the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1952. They would continue to collaborate until 1959 with their final show South Pacific. Hammerstein passed away in August of 1960.

Damn Yankees

Damn Yankees, is theater for the sports lover! Based on the novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, Damn Yankees combines America’s favorite past time, baseball, and a musical all in one neat package. This musical comedy opened on Broadway on May 5th, 1955. Baseball lover Joe Hardy sells his soul to the devil in order to become a great hitter for the Washington Senators in order to beat the Yankees. Not all goes exactly as planned for Joe. Damn Yankees was a musical collaboration by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. With many fun songs in this show the best are “Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets,” “Goodbye Old Girl,” and “Heart.” For baseball fans, the 1950s represented a transformation in how they viewed the game.  Fans could get their fix through the newly introduced television, as well as at the theater and Damn Yankees reflected the increasing ubiquity of baseball as the country’s favorite pastime.

My Fair Lady 

My Fair Lady is a lovely musical that explores class, politics, and romance. Based on the novel Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, the show centers around Cockney girl Eliza Doolittle and professor Henry Higgins, who is determined to transform her into a proper lady. Through her transformation Eliza questions if this is the life she actually wants to live. This romantic musical is full of wit and charm, which shines though in the songs “Wouldn’t it be Loverly” and “I Could’ve Danced All Night.” My Fair Lady opened in 1956 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It demonstrated that musical theatre can take on issues such as social status and acceptance and tie it all together with humor to make for an entertaining show. In 1964—during a decade in which musical theatre experienced many seismic changes—My Fair Lady was made for the big screen featuring the lovely Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the home of Broadway in New York.

The Best Broadway Shows From The 1940s

The 1940s marked the start of the Golden Age of American Musical theater. It was a time where Broadway featured hits from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, and Americans were introduced to the influential and successful collaborations of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The style and unique sound of the Golden Age shows often captured a true sense of Americana. In a time of war, musical theater was an escape from the everyday issues that our country was facing. Here are some of the best Broadway Shows from the 1940’s.

Oklahoma!

Cue up the title song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration and you’re likely to have a room full of people singing along with its iconic lyrics: “Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain and the waving wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right before the rain.” Oklahoma! opened on March 31st, 1943 at the St. James Theater and it turned out to be a Broadway smash. Set in the West Indian Territory, Oklahoma! is the story of rivalry, love, cowboys, and farmers. The backdrop is the 1906 picturesque Oklahoma territory and the main characters include Curly McLain the handsome cowboy, Laurey the lovely farm girl, Will Parker the cowboy, and his fiancée Ado Annie. We are introduced to these characters as Curly the cowboy looks into the beautiful blue morning sky and encounters Laurey the farm girl where he sings “Oh What a Beautiful Morning. Rogers and Hammerstein were praised for their sophistication and creative collaboration. They were awarded a special Pulitzer Award for Oklahoma! in 1944 and the show was considered the first blockbuster Broadway show. If you are looking for a show that is a perfect slice of Americana, this is it.

Carousel

Recently put on by NYFA’s Musical Theatre department, Carousel is a classic and iconic American Musical that opened in 1945 at the Majestic Theater. This show dives into true human emotions with a beautiful score featuring the songs “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “Mister Snow.” This was Rogers and Hammerstein’s second collaboration, following on the success of Oklahoma! . Rogers wrote that Carousel was of his favorite musicals to write. The plot takes place along the New England coastline revolving around a carnival barker named Billy Bigelow and a mill worker named Julie Jordan who fall in love. Their romance cost them both their jobs and we see their lives begin to un-ravel with unfortunate choices and events. Carousel, through its snazzy choreography and catchy songs, touches upon the power of forgiveness and love. This Tony Award winning show captures your heart and leaves you humming the operatic tunes.

Kiss Me Kate

This Tony Award-winning musical featured the songs “So In Love,” “Too Darn Hot,” and “Tom, Dick, or Harry.” Written by Samuel and Bella Spewack with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, it opened at the New Century Theater on December 30th, 1948. Kiss Me Kate was a battle of the sexes that also dealt with romance, conflict, show business, and some gangsters. The show centers around director and leading man Fred Graham and his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi, who also happens to be his leading lady. Although divorced they begin to realize their love has not completely faded away. Being somewhat of a play within a play, Kiss Me Kate is an updated version of Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew. By far the best part of Kiss Me Kate is the fun and dazzling lyrics by the talented Cole Porter. Toss in some heavy dance numbers and you have yourselves a toe-tapping comedic musical.

Annie Get Your Gun

This show is a fictionalized version of the real life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Set in the 1800’s, Annie Get Your Gun first opened on Broadway on May 16th, 1946. It follows the story of Annie Oakley and sharpshooter Frank Butler as they compete for who has the best shot.  This backwoods lady’s talent for being the best shot in town creates trouble and romance. The always amazing and talented Bernadette Peters starred as Annie in the Broadway revival. With its competitive spirit Annie Get Your Gun boasts an enchanting score with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. It features the songs “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “I Got The Sun in the Morning.” You”ll find yourself rooting for this naive, wild, and vibrant spirited country gal. Annie Get Your Gun is a darn tootin’ fun musical.

Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York City.

4 Essential Stephen Sondheim Musicals

American composer Stephen Sondheim was born on March 22nd, 1930 in New York City. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan until his parents got divorced, then he moved to a farm in Pennsylvania. It was there, at the age of 10, that he became friends with James Hammerstein, the son of the famous lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein who took Sondheim under his wing and served as a surrogate father to him through that difficult time in his life. During this time Hammerstein had a great influence on Sondheim and helped him to develop his interest in musical theater. While attending the George School, a private preparatory school in Pennsylvania, Sondheim wrote his first musical, based on the school, called By George. Although the show was a success among his peers, Sondheim asked Oscar Hammerstein to provide his feedback. Stepping through Hammerstein’s critiques turned out to be extremely valuable to Sondheim, who said he learned more through that experience than many would learn in a lifetime.

Sondheim attended college at the Williams School in Massachusetts, where he studied music. After graduating in 1950 he moved to New York City where through a friend he got in contact with composer Leonard Bernstein (link to Bernstein write up). They developed a friendship and together they created the Broadway sensation West Side Story. Sondheim went on to make great musical contributions to musical theater. He served as President of the Dramatist Guild from 1973 to 1981, and his talents have been awarded with countless Tony Awards, Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Lawrence Olivier Award. In addition to musical theater, in 1990 he won an Academy Award for the song Sooner or Later, which he wrote for the film Dick Tracy.  On Broadway, he is such an institution that he even has a popular theater named after him.

It can be a bit challenging to choose, but here are what I consider to be the essential Sondheim Musicals. You are probably familiar with the songs from these shows. You’ve most likely sung one or two before at an audition or belted one out in the shower. There’s no denying that Sondheim wrote some of the finest songs in musical theater history, so if you aren’t already familiar with his work, be sure to check out these four favorites, as well as our best-of articles about Andrew Lloyd Webber and Leonard Bernstein.

1. Assassins (2004)

Sondheim provided the lyrics and music to this fascinating show, which opened on Broadway in 2004 and was based on a book by John Weidman. This humorous musical explores the minds of the men and women who attempted as well as succeeded in killing the American Presidents. The show examines the motivation behind their acts of lunacy and abstract psychology. Assassins is presented in a revue style with various styles of music including the songs “The Ballad of Booth” and “Gun Song.” “The Ballad of Booth” contains the lyric Every now and then the country goes a little wrong.” Although this sentiment may be true and their actions wrong, we are fascinated by these killers and their stories. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and Sara Jane Moore are included in this cast of characters both historical and fictional. The show opens with the number Everybody’s Got the Right to Be Happy which gives us an idea of how these men and women think. Sondheim is known for controversial shows and he knew that this musical would likely have some backlash. Assassins is not only bold, but also brilliant and was recognized as such with five Tony Awards in 2004.

2. Company

This funny musical comedy centers around Bobby and his best friends, who all happen to be either married or engaged. Throughout the show Bobby attends a series of dinners and parties with his married friends, where he tries to make sense of his bachelor ways.  He learns that his friends marriages are not exactly what they seem. The relationships reveal infidelities, alcoholism and regret.  Along the way he questions whether it’s best to be single…. or not. Company captures honest moments of vulnerability, relationships, and marriage. In a society where we often use film, social media, and theater as an escape from everyday problems, this show puts those problems right back in your face. This modern musical features the songs Company, Marry Me a Little, Side by Side, and The Little Things You Do Together. It debuted on Broadway in 1970, and since then was won seven Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards.

3. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979)

The legend of Sweeney Todd was already a story before it was turned into a musical. Dark and humorous, this musical follows the story of Benjamin Barker who arrives home to London after serving a 15 year prison sentence given to him by a corrupt judge who tore his life and family apart. The feeling of revenge overcomes him.  Benjamin creates a new alias, Sweeney Todd, so that he can continue working in his barber shop located above Mrs.Lovett’s foul smelling and struggling pie shop. Mrs.Lovett recognizes him immediately as Benjamin Barker and tells him that the judge sexually assaulted his wife and now has his daughter Johanna. The two of them join forces and form a plan to use the bodies of Sweeney’s murdered victims as meat for the pies, which they will sell to unsuspecting customers.  While waiting for the judge to visit the shop we are introduced to other interesting characters in London. This dark comedic tail ends with a twist and the song Ballad of Sweeney Todd, which happens to be my personal favorite.

4. Into the Woods (1987)

This 1987 Sondheim musical is a woven web of Brothers Grimm stories and fairy tales. The narrator introduces us to a baker and his wife who wish to start a family, but have unfortunately been cursed by a Witch. In order to remove the curse they go off into the woods and must return with four potion ingredients requested by the Witch. Through this story we are introduced to the other fairy tale characters, including Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, the Prince, and Rapunzel, all of which have wishes. Each of their tales intertwine in the woods and they all discover the consequences that occur as they try to fulfill their wishes. This show is a brilliant mix of desire, deceit, and deception. Into The Woods has many amazing solo songs, but the song that truly stands out is “Children Will Listen,” which is sung by the Witch.  It perfectly sums up the feel and message of the show.  It also includes the songs “I Know Things Now,” “Giants in the Sky,” and “Stay with Me.” This show continues to be a success as it was recently made into a film in 2014. I think the Prince’s line of “Anything can happen in the woods” is a perfect way to describe this adventurous show.

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Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York.

5 Broadway Theaters Every Musical Theatre Fan Should Attend

New York City is the mecca for stage entertainment. Big lights, big city and big musicals. Broadway shows attract audiences from near and far year round. From matinees to evening shows, musical theater continues to shine. We buy our tickets online, receive them as gifts, and stand in long lines at TKTS out in the cold to get discounted tickets. The Broadway district includes some of the cities finest theaters and a majority of the shows there are musicals. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing a Broadway musical you know that it’s an amazing experience. From the moment you walk in these theaters you get a sense of excitement. I personally think the moment before the curtain opens is still one of my favorite parts. So if you’re looking to catch a musical here are some of the theaters along the Great White Way. 

1. Gershwin Theater

Located at 222 West 51st Street, this theater was named after composer George Gershwin. It originally opened as the Uris theater in 1972. The renaming occurred in 1983 during the Tony Awards. It is one of the biggest venues in NYC with 1,933 seats, which is the largest capacity of any of the other Broadway theaters and it also features the American Theater Hall of Fame in the lobby. The Gershwin has hosted many musicals including The King and I, Show Boat, Oklahoma, and Wicked, which is currently running

2. Stephen Sondheim Theater

Sitting at 124 West 43rd Street this theater was originally named Henry Miller’s Theater up until 2010. The original theater was closed and its interior demolished in 2004. It was rebuilt and is now located under ground below a bank. It was also re-named to honor the famous composer Stephen Sondheim. The last several years it has hosted shows that included The Pee-wee Herman Show, Anything Goes, and Beautiful: The Carole Kind Musical. 

3. Palace Theater

Located at 1564 Broadway the Palace Theater originally gained legendary status amongst vaudeville performers. When the great depression hit, film became popular and vaudeville started to decline. In the 1960’s The Palace was re-opened as a playhouse and has since had notable musical productions like Beauty and the Beast, Legally Blond and West Side Story.

4. Richard Rodgers Theater

Located at 226 West 46th street, it was originally called Chanin’s Theater, then the 46th Street Theater and eventually in 1990 it became the Richard Rodgers Theater named after the legendary composer. This theater has hosted the most Tony Award winning plays as well as Best Musicals. Some of these shows include How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Nine, and In the Heights. The popular and exhilarating musical Hamilton is currently running here.

5. New Amsterdam Theater

New Amsterdam Theater

This New York City landmark is located at 214 West 42nd Street.  The New Amsterdam Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and over the coarse of time has been the home to many amazing shows, including the Ziegfeld Follies way back in the day. During the Great Depression the theater suffered a fair amount of damage and was forced to close. But, after a long rehabilitation and a court battle it finally re-opened in 1997.  Since re-opening the theater has hosted many hit musicals including Lion KingMary Poppins, and Aladdin, which broke the theater’s box office records.

Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York.

5 Stars Of Hollywood’s Golden Age

Hollywood sign

Ah, the glitzy Golden Age. The Golden Age of Hollywood lasted from the late 1920s to the 1960s and was a time when technology in film began to emerge amongst the Hollywood glamour. The release of the movie The Jazz Singer in 1927 started the new era and marked the end of the silent film era. Although the golden era started off slow due to the great depression, the films provided an outlet for audiences. This era produced many talented and memorable performers. Here are 5 musical stars of the Golden Age that every actor and musical theatre performer should know and be sure to check out our essential list of the top method actors and child actors to better familiarize yourself with the acting canon.

1. Fred Astaire

Talk about a triple threat! This talented man was an actor, dancer, singer and choreographer. His successful film and television career spanned over many years. Astaire is known for dancing with his on screen partner Ginger Rogers, who he starred in many Hollywood musicals with, including the popular Top Hat featuring the sweet song Cheek to Cheek, which Astaire sings to Rogers as they dance. Through his career he made thirty-one musical films including the memorable and popular Ziegfeld Follies, Funny Face, and Swing Time. In 1981 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award from the American Film Institute.

2. Doris Day

The actress and singer began her career in the late 1930’s as a big band singer. She became a sensation after her recording of “Sentimental Journey,” a song about weary troops who were homeward bound. Day’s wholesome look and talent shot her into the spotlight. The Pajama Game, Lullaby of Broadway and Calamity Jane were among the musicals that she stared in. In Lullaby of Broadway, Day plays Malinda Howard who is an entertainer traveling to NYC to visit her mother who is also a performer. However Malinda learns that her mother is not doing as well as she thought. Doris Day was not only passionate about singing and acting, but was also passionate about the welfare of animals. As a lifelong advocate she started the Doris Day Foundation to help animals in need.

3. Danny Kaye

Mr. Kaye was a comedian, singer, actor and dancer. His first break came when he was cast in a Vaudeville act and two years later he made his film debut in Moon over Manhattan. He made his Broadway debut in the show The Straw Hat Review in 1939. Kaye later starred in a radio program called The Danny Kaye Show. The popular Kaye went on to star in the films including White ChristmasThe Kid from Brooklyn, and Wonder Man. Kaye said “I became an entertainer not because I wanted to but because I was meant to.”

4. Judy Garland

She was the star of many musical films and captured the hearts of her audience. Garland started singing at a very young age. She studied dancing and acting and performed gigs with her sisters calling themselves The Gumm Sisters. Garland continued on to film, first starring in Pigskin Parade. She starred in many popular musical films including A Star is Born, Meet me in St.Louis, Easter Parade, and as Dorothy Gale singing the memorable song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz. Although Garland’s personal life was not as successful as her professional career she will always be remembered as one of the brightest and talented stars.

5. Bing Crosby

Known for his bass baritone voice and laid back style, Crosby started off in a Vaudeville act which led to him launching a popular radio program. From there he began acting in numerous comedies which helped his career to flourish. Crosby became the best selling recording artist of the 20th century staring in popular films like The Bells of St.Mary’sRoad to Singapore, and Holiday Inn, featuring his biggest hit, “White Christmas,” which you are guaranteed to hear during December every year.

Are there any stars of the Golden Age that we missed? Then be sure to chime in below in the comments!

Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

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How To Create A Convincing Character

Robert De Niro

If you want to be a great actor you should know the importance of conveying a character as well as staying in character. Anyone can read words off of a page, but truly creating a convincing character takes much more than that. Your goal as an actor is to be able to tell a story. What type of person are you? What events have happened and how are you affected by them? There can be a laundry list of questions. Here are some helpful tips to guide you in the direction of creating a convincing character whether it be on screen or the stage.

1. Get Into It

You should immerse yourself in the role. Forget the audience is watching you and forget that your mom is in the front row. You need to focus on your character and how they feel. Be in the moment. You can use sense memory to help with this. Sense memory is a technique, developed by Stanislavski and Strasberg, where a person can access their subconscious memory to bring emotional truth to their work. They can access the memory of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. For example, if your character is stuck in a long dark alley and it’s full of trash, you can try to recall a memory of you being fearful in the dark at some point in your life or recall a time when you were faced with an unpleasant odor. These small details can make a big difference when conveying feelings.

2. Be Prepared

Make sure to carefully read through your lines as well as memorize them. If you don’t study your lines you will be unprepared and it will show in your performance. It will also take you out of character. Take the time to read through the script with your fellow actors and take rehearsals seriously while of course still enjoying the process.

3. Take A Moment

Take a moment to breathe in your scene.  Don’t just regurgitate the lines, but take a moment to take in the environment, and the other characters/actors in the scene.  Build and feed off of the scene and what the other actors are giving you. Take that split second to let it all affect you and process how your character will react.  This can also apply to auditions where you may be given a cold reading. A cold reading is text or script that is un-rehearsed and is often given to you at an audition. Take a moment to look over the lines and make choices about your character, think about how your character will react. It’s often fine to ask the casting director if you can take a moment.

4. Focus

Pay attention to what is going on around you in the scene. Be in tune with what other actors are doing and saying. By doing so you will have a more natural reaction to what’s going around you. Focus will also help you to not break character be present in the moment. Learning to focus more can be developed through rehearsals. However if you find yourself forgetting a line or you drop a prop on stage, just keep going. Life often throws us curve balls so just react naturally.

The more experience you get with rehearsals, auditions, and performance the more you will find yourself feeling comfortable and confident in your skin and your characters skin. You can use these tips to guide you in a direction that presents a convincing character. Break a leg!

Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy, with campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Charlie Smalls And The Story Behind The Wiz

Charlie Smalls was born on October 25th, 1943 and passed away due to an emergency appendix surgery in 1987, at the age of 43.  As a child, Smalls started playing piano at a very young age, and by the age of five was putting on piano concerts. He went on to study at the prestigious Julliard School and the High School of Performing Arts in New York. After graduating in 1961, he toured as a pianist with the New York Jazz Repertory Company, which included other musicians such as Harry Belafonte, Esther Marrow, and Hugh Masekela, a famous South African trumpeter, singer, and composer, for who Smalls wrote the song “From Me to You.”  Smalls biggest career success by far was the musical The Wiz, which he was the composer and lyricist for.

The idea for The Wiz started with producer Ken Harper who reportedly asked writer William F. Brown to create an adaptation from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but with black slang and an all black cast. Harper hired Trinidadian Geoffrey Holder as director, who had experience directing, acting, and designing, as well as experience choreographing several pieces for the phenomenal Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Smalls was brought on to be the composer and lyricist for the show.  His mix of gospel, soul, and blues influenced music created a fun and winning blend. The Wiz opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theater on January 5th, 1975 to mixed reviews, and it was said that a commercial featuring the cast singing “Ease On Down The Road” helped to market the show and turn it into a success, not to mention that the song itself also became a big hit single on the Billboard Soul Singles Chart. This show helped open the doors for other African-American shows such as Dreamgirls and Sophisticated Ladies.

The Wiz is smart and soulful, and follows the story of Dorothy, an energetic Kansas City girl who is eager to get out to see the rest of the world, when her house is swept up by a tornado and dropped in a magical new place filed with munchkins, and mysterious witches.  On her journey along a yellow brick road, Dorothy meets and makes some new friends, a tin man, a scarecrow, and a cowardly lion.  As the group continues on their adventure they encounter the Wicked Witch Evillene and make their way towards the Emerald City to see the Wizard where they discover a secret.

This retelling became a Tony Award winning show. It won Best Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics. Geoffrey Holder won the Tony Award for Best Direction in a Musical and Best Costume Design. Since it’s opening the show has won a total of seven Tony Awards. The show includes the songs Ease on Down the Road, You Can’t Win, What Would I Do If I Could Feel, and Brand New Day.

The Wiz was later adapted into a film starring Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Richard Pryor, and has recently been adapted into a live television musical as part of a series of live musicals NBC has been doing.

The live television debut is this Thursday at 8pm est on NBC, be sure to tune in or set your DVRs so you can sing and dance along to this super fun show. And check out our wish list of other Broadway shows we hope receive the small screen treatment.

Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York.

How To Succeed As An Actor After Acting School

Class of actors

So here you go, off into the real world you go to become an actor. You just graduated, so now what?  Where do you start? Like so many aspiring actors out there you want to jump right in. You may have heard some of these tips in school or maybe some are new or insightful, either way I hope they help you take those big steps forward towards a promising career.

1. Headshots

Before you can even audition you need a good headshot. It’s your calling card. You are marketing yourself, so make it the best you can. I know you are most likely working one or two jobs and trying to balance auditioning, while living paycheck to paycheck, but don’t go cheap with your headshot. Keep in mind that a bad headshot won’t even get you in the door. In general a great headshot showcases your personality all while looking ah-maz-ing.  Avoid too much make up, you want to look like you. But if you do wear makeup you might want to consider hiring a makeup artist that specifically does makeup for headshots (often times photographers will partner with a makeup artist). Don’t wear white and avoid distracting graphic shirts or prints. Do your research on headshot photographers, check out their websites and previous work.  Ask your actor friends who they used and whose photos you like and are drawn to. Also, some headshot photographers will do discounted group rates, so if you and some friends want to go in together you might be able to save a few bucks.

2. Attitude

This business can be cruel and disheartening like a bad ex. However, remember that rejection will happen and the best thing you can do is take the criticism and feedback and turn it into a positive. You will experience set backs, but stay positive. A good upbeat positive attitude will get you a long way. Don’t forget what you love about acting and why you are pursuing your passion.

3. Get involved

Find theater groups or take some commercial classes. Why not both. By taking commercial classes you will attain the skills and learn the basics (like how to slate) and it doesn’t hurt to go on to take the advanced classes as well.  Go out and see local theater, improv shows, and professional theater. Make mental notes and get inspired. By getting involved you will have the chance to meet other aspiring performers like yourself and why not make some new friends.

4.What is your type

You should have a clear view of who you are going to play as far as age range and physical type. This can be discovered through theater coaches, casting directors and by asking your friends and teachers.  It doesn’t mean you can only play one type, but you should be aware of what you would be considered for and hopefully cast as.

5. Acting is hard work

You need to work at it. Every. Day. This means getting headshots (and keeping them up to date/accurate), attending workshops, submitting to casting calls and being as active a you can possibly be. Surround yourself with smart, talented people that you admire. This will challenge you to be the best you can be.  Research casting agencies and do what you can to get an agent (this may take some time, partaking in commercial workshops or classes can be a great way to meet the right people). Create your own website to market yourself and to keep a professional collection of the things you are doing and have done. It may take some time to build, maybe even years, but it can be helpful as you work towards branding yourself.  The whole process can be challenging and exhausting at times, but don’t give up.

I find that people in the Arts are some of the most well balanced, because they often have to hold down a day job as well as constantly audition, attend rehearsals and perform. This is a highly competitive field so just remember it takes lots of hard work and dedication. You should be fully committed to your craft and the lifestyle it comes with. I hope you find much success while pursuing your acting career.

Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy, with campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.

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The Best 6 Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals

Andrew Lloyd Webber is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time. Born in London on March 22nd, 1948 his father was the Director of the London College of Music and his mother was a piano teacher. As a young boy he took piano lessons in London and later french horn and violin classes. He was a prodigy of music.

In 1965 he studied at Westminster School and and began taking a course in history. Like many artists and performers he dropped out to follow his true passion, music. He went on to study at the Royal College of Music where he received a letter from Tim Rice stating that he is “hip” writer and would like to meet up. Tim Rice would soon become an award winning lyricist and work with Webber on numerous musical collaborations.

Webber composed over 15 musicals and here are some of the most notable.

1. Cats

Based on the book Old Possums Book of Practical Cats by T.S Eliot. The show is about a group of cats called the Jellicles. During the course of the evening the cats introduce themselves hoping to be selected and reborn to a new Jellicle life.  It included the songs “The Song of The Jellicles,” “Mr. Mistoffelees,” and “Memory.” The show opened in 1981 and is the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history.

2. Evita

Evita is about Eva Peron, an Argentine political leader. It focuses on her life, rise to power, good deeds and death. It originally opened at the London’s West End in 1978 and then on Broadway in 1979. This show featured the notable song “Don’t Cry for me Argentin.” Evita was later made into a film, which starred Madonna as Eva Peron and Antonio Banderas as Che. Evita earned three Tony Awards.

3. Sunset Blvd

Sunset Blvd is based on 1950’s American film noir. The story is about Norma Desmond who is a washed up silent screen star. She comes across a young screenwriter named Joe Gillis and sees him as an opportunity to make a come back in the movie world. The show opened in 1993 in London and later on Broadway in 1994. Norma utters the notable quote “All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.”

4. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

With lyrics by Tim Rice this operetta/musical is based on the story of Joseph “coat of many colors”  from the book of genesis in the Bible. The show contains very little dialogue and is mostly sung, including “Any Dream will Do” and “Go,Go,Go Joseph.”  In 1968, the show was first presented as a 15 minute cantata at the Colet Court School in London. The Tony-nominated show later opened in 1982 on Broadway.

5. Jesus Christ Superstar

This was the first musical that Webber and Tim Rice produced for the stage. This musical featured pop music in a classical form. It focused on the final days of Jesus’ life with a larger part of the play focusing on the events through the eyes of Judas. It included the songs “Everything’s Alright,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” and “Superstar.” The show was condemned by some religious groups for how it depicted the characters. The show first started as a concept album and was later turned into a musical production. Webber was awarded Most Promising Composer for this production by the Drama Desk in 1972.

6. Phantom of the Opera

Based on the novel Le Fantome de l’Opera, it revolves around a disfigured musical genius and his obsession over the Soprano-singing Christine. This Tony and Olivier Award winning musical is the longest running in Broadway history. With music by Webber and lyric by Charles Hart this beautiful show included the songs ” Music of the Night,” “All I Ask of You,” and “Angel of Music”.

Webber has earned numerous awards and honors including an Oscar, Tony’s, Olivier’s, a Kennedy Center Honors Awards, and he was knighted in 1992. He also funded the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, which promotes and encourages the arts and culture for public benefit. The foundation enables individuals to develop their abilities and careers in what they understand can be hard when faced with difficult economic times.

And be sure to check out our recent piece highlighting the best works of Leonard Bernstein

What strikes me is there’s a very fine line between success and failure. Just one ingredient can make the difference – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York.

The Top 5 Works Of Leonard Bernstein

As I begin to write about the talented Leonard Bernstein I can’t help but hum the tune to “Jet Song” from his famous and notable show West Side Story. Each week we will feature a notable musical theatre composer and their achievements. A great way to get motivated is to see how past artists lived their lives. It’s a great inspiration.

Born in 1918 to Russian immigrant parents Leonard Bernstein began to show early interest in music when he started to play the piano at age 10.  Even though his father refused to pay for his lessons, Leonard raised the money himself and eventually impressed his father with his natural talent, which led him to buy a baby grand piano for his son. These interests and talents would eventually lead him to become a composer, author, pianist and conductor. While in school he participated in theatre productions such as The Mikado and a unique adaptation of Carmen. His father wanted Leonard to work for the family business which distributed beauty products. However Leonard wanted to pursue his love of music. He first attended Boston Latin School  and then went on to study Music Theory at Harvard and eventually the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. While at Harvard he attended the Boston Symphony where he became inspired and influenced by conductor Dmitri Mitropolous. Dmitri invited Leonard to his rehearsals and from then on Leonard centered his life around music.

In 1940 Bernstein was invited to study at the Boston Symphony’s Summer Orchestra Institute. It was there that he met the famous conductor Serge Koussevitzky, who became his mentor. Like many artists and musicians Bernstein found himself out of work for awhile. Then in 1943 he was chosen to work as assistant at the New York Philharmonic.  One day, he was asked to fill in for the symphony’s guest conductor who had fallen ill.  His debut conducting performance was broadcast on live radio and greatly impressed audiences, turning Bernstein into an overnight sensation. Here is a list of Bernstein’s works.

1. Peter Pan

In 1950, Bernstein wrote the music and lyrics for the musical adaptation of J.M Barrie’s play Peter Pan.  This fun and endearing show is about a boy who would never grow up, the lovely Darling Family and the adventures they encounter while in Neverland.  It opened on Broadway on April 24th, 1950 and starred Boris Karloff and Jean Arthur.  The show included the songs, “Pirate’s Song,” “Build my House,” “Peter Peter,” and “Who am I.”  It ran for 321 performances and closed on January 27th, 1951.  Bernstein’s musical involvement was considered minimal when compared to the other shows he worked on.

2. On the Town

This show tells the story of three fun loving sailors during World War II who depart their ship to explore NYC for 24 hours.  The show was based on the ballet by Jerome Robbins Fancy Free, which Bernstein had written the music for.  On the Town greatly integrated dance into the show.  It featured some of Bernstein’s greatest songs, especially the popular song “New York, New York.” The show opened in 1944 on Broadway and was later made into a film (a scene from which is above) in 1949.

3. Wonderful Town

This musical was based on the book My Sister Eileen by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodoroy. This fun show was about two sisters who moved from Ohio to the Big Apple to pursue their dreams. One was a writer who struggled to get any attention from men and the other a dancer who couldn’t keep men away.  The show opened on Broadway in 1953 and won five Tony awards.

4. Candide

This operetta with music composed by Bernstein was based on the novella by Voltaire. The show opened in 1956 to mixed reviews and was considered the most controversial of Bernstein’s works, which poked fun at religion, especially the Catholic Church. Candide has since been revived several times.

5. West Side Story

West Side Story is considered to be Bernstein’s most famous and notable piece of work and is his greatest compositional achievement.  This groundbreaking musical opened in 1957 and was inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  The Broadway score included the songs “Maria,” “Jet Song,” “America,” and “Somewhere.”  Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics to Bernstein’s West Side Story music, which gained amazing reviews and was later turned into a film that won 10 Academy awards.

Bernstein not only wrote music but enjoyed teaching young musical artists as well. He founded the creative Arts Festival at Brandeis University. He cared about World Peace and held concerts relating to global harmony.  He was the Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969. In 1990 he retired due to illness and passed away one week later, leaving behind his wife and three kids. Leonard Bernstein’s awarded career continues to be celebrated, and his legacy lives on through his beautiful and spirited music.

“This will be our reply to violence, to make music much more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” – Leonard Bernstein

Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the home of Broadway in New York.