NEWS ADVISORY: The Actors Studio Drama School Presents The “Graduating MFA Playwrights Staged Reading Series”

Sean Michael Welch, the author of 140 plays, is the only graduating playwright in this year’s MFA program.

NEWS ADVISORY: SATURDAY, MARCH 3 AND SUNDAY, MARCH 4, 2012 AT 2 PM

THE ACTORS STUDIO DRAMA SCHOOL (ASDS) AT PACE UNIVERSITY AND PLAYWRIGHT/FACULTY MEMBER EDWARD ALLAN BAKER INVITE YOU TO DISCOVER A PROMISING NEW STORYTELLER:

 Sean Michael Welch, Actors Studio Drama School MFA ’12 Candidate, Playwright

Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Award Winner (1999, 2000)

 Staged Readings of Welch’s two plays – Inventory and Murdertown – performed and directed by his ASDS classmates, are gripping tales of:

  • Corporate greed
  • Lost obsessions
  • Sex industry

WHEN & WHAT (PLAY SYNOPSIS):

  • Saturday, March 3 at 2:00 pm. Inventory: full-length play, cast of 11, about a man tracking down a past infatuation: a woman he worked with at a sex shop/massage parlor 20 years ago. Directed by Ken Urso.
  • Sunday, March 4 at 2:00 pm. Murdertown: one-act play, cast of 5, about a corporation’s desire to turn Flint, Michigan, into the world’s largest amusement park.  Directed by Colleen Britt and Chris Triebel.

WHERE: Pace University, One Pace Plaza, New York, NY 10038. Black Box Studio Theater, Room W509. Directions: http://bit.ly/eUwAch

RSVP/COST: Email ASDSReadings@pace.edu or call (212) 501- 2177. Tickets are free but space is limited so reservations are strongly advised.

MEDIA CONTACT: Samuella Becker, sbecker2@pace.edu, 212-346-1637 or 917-734-5172

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: Sean Michael Welch was awarded the 1999 Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival John Cauble Short Play Award for Earl the Vampire, and won the 2000 KC/ACTF Region III Ten-Minute Play Competition for Charleston’s Finger. Past productions of his work include Slab, Try Not to Step on the Naked Man, Rise Up You Bloody Animals, and Boise, Idaho. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan – Flint (BA 2000, Drama). Learn more about the 140 plays he has written to date at: www.freewebs.com/seanmichaelwelch/theworks.htm

The New York Times, Theater Review: “A Family’s Songs of Love and Loss, ‘Myths and Hymns,’ Directed by Elizabeth Lucas”

Performing Arts students Donell James Foreman ’12, Matthew Farcher ’12 (pictured), Pace alumna Ally Bonino ’11 and Performing Arts Assistant Professor Robert Meffe are getting major accolades for their work in “Myths and Hymns.”

Chief Theater Writer Charles Isherwood’s review of “Myths and Hymns” appeared on the front page of The New York Times “TheArts” section on February 9 and included accolades for several members of the Pace Performing Arts community – Donell James Foreman (BFA ’12), Matthew Farcher (BFA ’12), Pace alumna Ally Bonino (BFA ’11) and Performing Arts Assistant Professor Robert Meffe.
 
HIGHLIGHTS FROM ISHERWOOD’S THEATER REVIEW:
 
As the original title indicates, it’s a musically eclectic collection of songs that alternates between adaptations of 19th-century hymns and classic myths with contemporary lyrics supplied (mostly) by Mr. Guettel (best known for his Broadway musical “The Light in the Piazza”). Ms. Lucas has shown judicious taste in supplying only minimal dialogue for the new version: the songs remain the focus of the show, expertly performed by a five-member band in spare orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin and Robert Meffe and sung with bright fervor by a six talented singers.
 
Over a simple, lilting music-box melody Ms. Larsen laments the disappearance of yet another lover. (They are all played by the fine tenor Matthew Farcher – pictured)
 
Myths and Hymns

Music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, with new narrative by Elizabeth Lucas; directed by Ms. Lucas; choreography by Wendy Seyb; music supervisor, Robert Meffe; sets by Ann Bartek; costumes by Emily Morgan DeAngelis; lighting by Herrick Goldman; sound by Janie Bullard; musical director, Katya Stanislavskaya; stage manager, Kristine Ayers. Presented by Prospect Theater Company, Cara Reichel, producing artistic director; Melissa Huber, managing director. At the West End Theater, Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, 263 West 86th Street, Manhattan; (212) 352-3101; prospecttheater.org. Through Feb. 26. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.

WITH: Linda Balgord (Woman), Ally Bonino (Trickster), Matthew Farcher (Lover), Donell James Foreman (Shapeshifter), Anika Larsen (Daughter), Lucas Steele (Son) and Bob Stillman (Husband).

MEDIA ADVISORY: Monday, Feb 13 at 6 PM – PACE PERFORMING ARTS Presents “THE MASTERS SERIES,” Conversations with Leaders in the American Theater

Join us February 13th for an extraordinary evening bringing together visionaries from three of our most influential American theater institutions: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Lincoln Center Theater and The Public Theater.

PERFORMING ARTS at Pace University presents
“THE MASTERS SERIES”
Conversations with Leaders in the American Theater

Visionaries from three of our most influential American theater institutions discuss Promoting and Creating New Work:

  • Anne Cattaneo, Dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater (including the new Broadway plays of the current season); Creator and Head of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors’ Lab.
  • Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), responsible for institutional artistic direction.
  • Maria Goyanes, Associate Producer of The Public Theater (The Public LAB).

 WHEN:           Monday, February 13, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE:         Pace University, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, 3 Spruce Street, New York, NY.  Directions: http://bit.ly/qxH0g3

COST/RSVP: Free admission, open seating. Reservations: PerformingArtsPress@pace.edu 

PRESS RSVP: Samuella Becker, Pace Media Relations, sbecker2@pace.edu; 212-346-1637 or 917-734-5172

MODERATOR:  Cosmin Chivu, Winner of the 2012 Drama League’s New Directors/New Works Project; Head of Directing at the Performing Arts at Pace University

ABOUT THE PERFORMING ARTS MASTERS SERIES: The Performing Arts at Pace University is dedicated to providing a new generation of students/artists with the opportunity of interacting with well-established, outstanding professionals that have developed new voices and ideas. The goal is to reinvigorate the theater’s ancient role as a public forum by focusing on the social and cultural context for the works of the American Theatre of today and tomorrow.  The evening’s guests engage in discussions of their unique practices and bodies of work, followed by a Q&A session with Pace BFA and BA Performing Arts students. 

COMPLETE BIOS:

ANNE CATTANEO is the dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater and the creator and head of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors’ Lab.  A three term past president of Literary Mangers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, she is the recipient of LMDA’s first Lessing Award for lifetime achievement of dramaturgy. She has worked widely as a dramaturg on classical plays with directors such as Bartlett Sher, Robert Wilson, Adrian Hall, Jack O’Brien, Robert Falls, Mark Lamos and JoAnne Akalaitis.  As the director of the Playworks Program at the Phoenix Theater during the late 1970’s, she commissioned and developed plays by Wendy Wasserstein (ISN’T IT ROMANTIC) Mustapha Matura (MEETINGS) and Christopher Durang (BEYOND THERAPY). For the Acting Company, she created two projects: ORCHARDS (published by Knopf and Broadway Play Publishing) which presented seven Chekhov stories adapted for the stage by Maria Irene Fornes, Spalding Gray, John Guare, David Mamet, Wendy Wasserstein, Michael Weller and Samm-Art Williams, and LOVE’S FIRE (published by William Morrow) responses to Shakespeare sonnets by Eric Bogosian, William Finn, John Guare, Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, Ntozake Shange and Wendy Wasserstein. Her own translations of 20th Century German playwrights include Brecht’s GALILEO (Goodman Theater 1986 starring Brian Dennehy) and Botho Strauss’ BIG AND LITTLE (Phoenix production starring Barbara Barrie, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.) She is currently on the faculty at Juilliard. In July 2011, she was awarded the Margo Jones Medal given annually to a “citizen of the theater who has demonstrated a significant impact, understanding and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, with a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre everywhere.”

JOSEPH V. MELILLO, BAM executive producer since 1999, is responsible for the artistic direction of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). In the years that he has held this role, BAM has enjoyed increases in both programming and audience attendance in its Harvey Lichtenstein Theater, Howard Gilman Opera House, Rose Cinemas, and BAMcafé. Prior to his current position, Melillo served as BAM’s producing director, following a six-year tenure as founding director of the Next Wave Festival. Over the years, Melillo has fostered the work of emerging and established artists and forged dynamic artistic partnerships. One such partnership is The Bridge Project—a three-year series of international theater engagements featuring a trans-Atlantic company of actors directed by Sam Mendes and produced by BAM, The Old Vic (under the artistic direction of Kevin Spacey), and Neal Street (headed by Mendes and partner Caro Newling). The Bridge Project has furthered the global reach of BAM’s mission, with engagements in the US, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, The Netherlands, Spain, France, and Germany. BAM will soon expand its campus with the addition of the Richard B. Fisher Building, featuring an intimate and flexible new performance space, and adding a third stage for BAM’s renowned Next Wave Festival. Joseph Melillo was named a Chevalier (1999) and an Officier (2004) de L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. Also in 2004, he was awarded an honorary OBE for his outstanding commitment to British performing arts in America. In 2007, Melillo was appointed Knight of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, in recognition of his role in solidifying ties between the performing arts communities of Sweden and the United States. Melillo has served on the faculty of the Brooklyn College Graduate Program in Arts Management and on the boards of directors for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and En Garde Arts. He was a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts Dance Program and the New York State Council on the Arts, and served as Multidisciplinary Panel Chair of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts’ 2003 and 2007 Awards. Melillo is a lecturer at colleges and universities nationally and internationally. He currently serves as a member of the International Arts Advisory Committee for the Wexner Prize (Wexner Center for the Arts). Melillo earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and theater at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut and a Masters of Fine Arts in speech and drama at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He is currently celebrating his 27th year at BAM.

MARIA GOYANES  joined the staff of The Public Theater in August 2004 as an Artistic Associate, and was promoted to the Director of Special Projects before landing her current role Associate Producer. Previously as the Director of Special Projects she has worked on the development and cultivation of new plays and initiatives to support the work of a wide range of artists.  She helped launch the Public LAB, a series that brings stripped down productions to audiences for only $10, working with Adrienne Kennedy, the Civilians, Naomi Wallace, Suzan- Lori Parks, Roger Guenveur Smith, and many others. Both The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman transferred to the Public’s mainstage subscription season after successful runs in Public Lab. She spearheaded the Suzan-Lori Parks’ yearlong 365 Days/365 Plays festival for NYC, working with 70 theater companies and over a thousand artists. When not at the Public, she is the Executive Producer of Obie- award winning 13P (13 Playwrights, Inc.), a 13 play project founded with a collective of writers that includes Sarah Ruhl, Young Jean Lee, Anne Washburn, Lucy Thurber, and Sheila Callaghan.   She was the recipient of the Josephine Abady Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women.  Previously, she was the Associate Producer at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence RI.  She is a first generation American (spanish and dominican – spininican) and hails from Jamaica, Queens.

COSMIN CHIVU (Moderator) has directed over fifty professional and university productions in America, Austria, England, Germany, Greece, and Romania. He is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio, NYC, a fellow of the Jack O’Brien Lab at the Old Globe, and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. He is the winner of the 2012 Drama League’s New Directors New Works Project. Chivu is currently running the Directing program and teaches theater courses in the Department of Performing Arts at Pace University’s New York City. In recent months he also taught Master Classes on Improvisation, Directing styles, and European Drama at the Tisch School at NYU, the University of Hawaii, and T.O.C. Athens, Greece. He is actively involved in developing courses in translating contemporary European plays for an American audience and has been developing new plays in the Actors Studio’s Playwriting Directing workshop. He holds a Masters in Theatre Directing from the Actors Studio Drama School, New School University, NYC and a BA in Acting from the G. Enescu Art Academy, Romania.

 

BroadwayWorld.com: “Photo Flash – Pace New Musicals Presents Zoe Sarnak’s A LASTING IMPRESSION”

The Pace New Musicals Program was developed in 2007 to nurture the creation of new musical theater in New York City, while at the same time providing an invaluable educational opportunity for students to work directly with top professionals in the field. Perhaps most importantly, the program allows students to experiment with new, untested works without precedent-setting productions, a rare opportunity in theater education.

In “A Lasting Impression,” each of the three lead characters chose their own artistic medium – book, music or visual design – to express one shared story, reports BroadwayWorld.com

Josh Weinstein, a once guarded journalist, acts as the play’s narrator, using old taped interviews and pictures to guide us through his memory of his two sisters. Kali Blanche, a manic musician, is the piece’s composer, moving in and out of “her” band as the story unfolds. Simone Blanche, a young painter, controls the evolution of what begins as a blank set, and comes to life through the addition of her visual art.

“A Lasting Impression” is about impressions that we make through love, on those close to us, and through art, on those we may never meet.

The eight Pace Musical Theater students who will be bringing “A Lasting Impression” to life without costumes or scenery are (in alphabetical order, with hometown and their character roles):

Aaron Albert (Los Angeles, CA) as Josh Weinstein
Bethany Jeffery (Cincinnati, OH) as Mother
Taylor Noble (Glastonbury, CT) as Kali Blanche
Danny Quadrino (East Rockaway, NY) as Josh Understudy
Krista Pioppi (Succasunna, NY) as Kali’s Band
Cailan Rose (Sarasota, FL) as Simone Blanche
Kevin Shotwell (Wilmington, DE) as Franklin
Emily Thomas (Pittsburgh, PA) as Kali’s Band

The actors will be supported by Alex James (Schwenksville, PA) as Stage Manager and Dylan Bustamante (Babylon, NY) as Assistant Director.

 

NEWS RELEASE: Pace New Musicals Announce Premiere of its 2012 Official Selection, Zoe Sarnkak’s “A Lasting Impression” on January 18

Pace New Musicals has selected Zoe Sarnak’s “A Lasting Impression” – a tangled story of three artists: a composer, a writer, and a painter – as its 2012 official selection. There will be seven staged reading performances with a live band beginning January 18 at Pace’s Schaeberle Studio Theater, 41 Park Row, 10th Floor. For reservations call (212) 346-1352 or email performingarts@pace.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Samuella Becker, Pace Media Relations, sbecker2@pace.edu; 212-346-1637 or 917-734-5172; Robert Meffe, Music Director, rmeffe@pace.edu, 917-297-3897

Pace New Musicals Announces Premiere of its 2012 Official Selection,

Zoe Sarnak’s A Lasting Impression, at

Pace University’s Schaeberle Theater on January 18 – 22

 Staged Reading Performances with Live Band

 Directed by Amy Rogers; Music Direction by Robert Meffe

NEW YORK, NY, January 13, 2012 – Pace University’s Pace New Musicals program, dedicated to the discovery of new theater works, has selected Zoe Sarnak’s A Lasting Impression from over 50 submissions as its 2012 most promising show.

Amy Rogers, Associate Professor of Musical Theater and creator of the BFA Musical Degree program at the Dyson College of Arts & Science at Pace University, and Robert Meffe, Musical Director, are collaborating with Sarnak on a staged reading of her musical.

A Lasting Impression will be presented at Pace’s Schaeberle Studio, 41 Park Row, 10th Floor, Pace NYC Campus  from January 18-22;  performances Wednesday-Friday at 8:00PM; Saturday at 2:00 & 8:00PM and Sunday at 8:00PM.  Ticket prices: $5 for students; $10 for adults.  For reservations call (212) 346-1352 or email performingarts@pace.edu

In A Lasting Impression, each of the three lead characters chose their own artistic medium – book, music or visual design – to express one shared story. Josh, a once guarded journalist, acts as the play’s narrator, using old taped interviews and pictures to guide us through his memory of his two sisters. Kali, a manic musician, is the piece’s composer, moving in and out of “her” band as the story unfolds. Simone, a young painter, controls the evolution of what begins as a blank set, and comes to life through the addition of her visual art. A Lasting Impression is about impressions that we make through love, on those close to us, and through art, on those we may never meet.

The eight Pace Musical Theater students who will be bringing A Lasting Impression to life without costumes or scenery are (in alphabetical order, with hometown and their character roles):

  • Aaron Albert (Los Angeles, CA) as Josh Weinstein
  • Bethany Jeffery (Cincinnati, OH) as Mother
  • Taylor Noble (Glastonbury, CT) as Kali Blanche
  • Danny Quadrino (East Rockaway, NY) as Josh Understudy
  • Krista Pioppi  (Succasunna, NY) as Kali’s Band
  • Cailan Rose (Sarasota, FL) as Simone Blanche
  • Kevin Shotwell (Wilmington, DE) as Franklin
  • Emily Thomas (Pittsburgh, PA) as Kali’s Band

The actors will be supported by Alex James (Schwenksville, PA) as Stage Manager and Dylan Bustamante (Babylon, NY) as Assistant Director.

The Pace New Musicals Program was developed in 2007 to nurture the creation of new musical theater in New York City, while at the same time providing an invaluable educational opportunity for students to work directly with top professionals in the field. Perhaps most importantly, the program allows students to experiment with new, untested works without precedent-setting productions, a rare opportunity in theater education.

The BFA Musical Theater Program at Pace University began with six majors in 2002, and has grown to more than 90 majors. In 2006, Pace became only the second school in New York City to offer a BFA in Musical Theater.

Past works in the Pace New Musicals Program include staged workshops of Factory Girls by Creighton Irons, Sean Mahoney, and Maggie-Kate Coleman; Quanah by Larry Gatlin, Anthony Dodge, Marcia Milgrom Dodge; Darling by Ryan Scott Oliver and B.T. Ryback’s; Luck!, by Mark Waldrop and Brad Ross; and College: The Musical, which was later selected for a production with the New York Musical Theatre Festival where the authors, Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola, won the NYMF award for Excellence In Writing (Lyrics).

ZOE SARNAK (Writer) is a composer, lyricist, and playwright. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University where her first show, The Quad, was produced in 2009. In addition to numerous concert/cabaret features and performances with her band, TheWD, Sarnak has written two new musicals including A Lasting Impression, and Mixtape, which will be featured in Silent Street Productions 2011/2012 season.

AMY ROGERS (Director) is a tenured Associate Professor of Musical Theater at Pace University where she created the BFA Musical Theatre degree program.  Originally from Canada, Amy received her degree in musical theatre from Arizona State University, and her MFA from San Diego State University.  NYC directing credits include: Carousel, College: The Musical, Ragtime, The Wild Party (Lippa), Little Women and Violet. Amy has assisted director Lonny Price on Can-Can and Kismet at Encores at City Center, Candide with the New York Philharmonic and the Emmy Award winning Passion for Live at Lincoln Center.

ROBERT MEFFE (Music Director) is a professional music director, pianist, orchestrator, and vocal coach. On Broadway he was the Associate Conductor of Little Women as well as Les Miserables for the last six years of its run. Off-Broadway: Violet, The Prince and the Pauper, and Gutenberg! The Musical!. He was the Music Director for the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera and has played keyboards for Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Avenue Q, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Grey Gardens, and Bombay Dreams.  Meffe is the Director of Music for the Musical Theater Program at Pace University.

About Dyson College of Arts and Science’s Performing Arts Programs at Pace University:

Undergraduate: Dyson’s Performing Arts Department (PAD) offers Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees in Acting and in Musical Theater and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts with specialized focuses in Acting, Directing, Commercial Dance or Design/Technical Theater. On average, there are 1,000 applicants for every 100 new openings each year. PAD presents over 50 performances every year. Performance spaces range from the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Schaeberle (black box) Theater, and Studio 501, home to many student-directed productions. http://www.pace.edu/dyson/academic-departments-and-programs/performing-arts

Graduate: The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, also located in Dyson College, is the only MFA (Acting, Directing and Playwriting) theatre program officially sanctioned by the legendary Actors Studio (co-presidents Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino). All MFA students participate in the Craft Seminars known to the world as the Bravo Network television series Inside the Actors Studio (taped at Pace’s Schimmel Theater and open to students), hosted by James Lipton, Dean Emeritus and Co-Founder of the Actors Studio Drama School. www.Pace.edu/ASDS

About Pace University: For 105 years, Pace University has educated thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

# # #

Naples Daily News: “Whitney Winfield soaring in ‘Next Broadway Star’ contest (vote for her!)”

Musical Theater Senior Whitney Winfield has been performing onstage since the age of 8 and has never given up on her dream of being on Broadway. She has sung in countless competitions, in addition to performing in more than 40 musicals and plays. The Pace Community can give Whitney a chance to make her goal a reality by voting for her video on the Broadway.tv website. (http://j.mp/ndnwhitney). Only Facebook Likes on the Broadway.tv website count as votes for Whitney, not Likes on YouTube.

A  musical theater major from Naples, FL, Whitney Winfield, has been making her Broadway dreams fly in the Big Apple, hurtling into the semifinals of Broadway.tv’s “Next Broadway Star” talent competition. Fans can help her win by voting for her video by “Liking” it at the Broadway.tv website. (http://www.broadway.tv/blog/broadway-blog/next-broadway-star-semifinalist-whitney-winfield/).

Naples Daily News:

“The contest has been a platform for publicizing my career,” Winfield said. “Winning the Next Broadway Star could help bring me more opportunities to audition, make more industry connections, add more videos to my portfolio on YouTube … and not to mention the $5,000 prize to help me pay off student loans.”

The Next Broadway Star” contestants compete in a series of four monthly contests at the 42nd Street McDonald’s store, the chain’s highest-grossing hamburger shop in the world.

“We perform on a balcony to a crowd below where the judges are also sitting,” Winfield said. “It is an interesting experience performing for strangers who have just come to McDonald’s to have a meal. However, much to their surprise and delight, they also get a ‘show.'”

At each performance, contestants are judged on vocal ability, energy, and stage persona. In addition to the exposure generated by the contest, the winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and a chance to audition for some of Broadway’s most prestigious casting directors and producers.

“The competition is strong,” Winfield said. “We get little rehearsal time and we don’t see each other’s material until an hour before the competition begins, which puts the pressure on at the very last moment.”

Winfield powered through the quarterfinals with “Gimme Gimme” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and rolled out rocking Dixie Chicks anthem “Sin Wagon” (complete with boots and form-fitting, off the shoulder black minidress) for the semifinals.

“I wanted to do the Dixie Chicks​ song because it’s fun,” Winfield said. “I can do many different styles, based on my background and training, and I want to share that in this competition, as well as on the Internet.

Winfield does indeed have a solid background in country music; she used to perform in country karaoke competitions in Naples and even recorded a short demo CD, which she said her father still “cherishes and will share with anyone who’s interested.”

The judges loved the sexy, country-inspired turn.

Winfield also admitted to banking on strategy in tackling the country number after picking a solid Broadway tune for her first performance.

“The more variety the better in this contest because that is what Broadway today is all about,” she said. “You really need to be able to perform any style asked of you.”

Winfield has been performing since she was 8 – and always knew she wanted to be a performer. Her first role was Besse Mae Mucho in “Aladdin McFaddin,” a children’s theater version of the Disney movie.

“My favorite part of the whole experience was the costume that I got to wear,” Winfield said. “It was a sort of harem girl’s garb, flowing and baring my midriff!”

Neapolitan audiences will remember the songstress from starring roles Naples Players productions such as “Beauty and the Beast” in 2007 and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in 2009, plus “No, No, Nanette” at TheatreZone in January.

Winfield roared into the semifinals with a little help from her friends. Viewers can vote for their favorite contestants online via Facebook, YouTube and Broadway.tv – and Winfield called in the troops from back home. Family, friends and fellow performers – anyone with a Facebook account – helped the young warbler total up 355 “Likes” and earn her the designation as a co-favorite in the competition.

“I have been blessed with a great support system whom I have called upon to aid me in gaining votes for the contest,” Winfield said. “I am so lucky to have people who believe in me as much as they do.”

Now, she’s out to repeat the success.

Winfield left Naples at the age of 15 to attend Interlochen Arts Academy, a prestigious boarding school for the performing arts in Michigan. She’s in her senior year at Pace University in New York City, pursuing a musical theatre degree.

Right now, Winfield is staying busy. She’s working at New York cupcake shop Baked By Melissa, going to school full-time, preparing for winter finals, graduation, senior showcase and gearing up for winter and spring musical auditions. All this, plus the contest.

“There is a lot in the cooker right now,” she said, “and it is a lot to balance, but I find that I work at my best when I am busy and under pressure.”

While the future looms – and hasn’t been written yet, the talented young singer and actress is ready for it.

“In May, I will be a college graduate and I’ll go out in to the world, auditioning and performing,” Winfield said. “I am so excited for what the future holds.”

Neapolitan Whitney Winfield determined to be the ‘Next Broadway Star’ » Naples Daily News.

BACKSTAGE: “A New College Program Trains Dancers to Work in Popular Entertainment”

According to Rhonda Miller, when she approached Pace with the idea of starting a commercial dance program, the administration was extremely excited because her concept dovetailed with the university’s mission to provide students with the kind of education that helps them to make a living.

Until recently, Oklahoma City University offered the only college dance program focusing on American vernacular dance forms, preparing students for work in the commercial dance industry—theme parks, cruise ships, Las Vegas shows, Broadway musicals, films, music videos, rock concert tours, and television. Now, OCU has company. In September, Pace University, in Lower Manhattan, kicked off a new degree program: a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts with a specialized track in commercial dance.
 
The program is the brainchild of the university’s director of dance, Rhonda Miller, founder and former co-owner of the Edge, one of Los Angeles’ leading commercial dance megastudios. Miller earned a BFA in ballet from the University of Utah and a master’s degree in musical theater from OCU, where she also served on the faculty.
 
“I was inspired years ago by Jo Rowan at Oklahoma City University, and now I want to bring a very current, up-to-the-minute, inclusive approach to the study of dance in college,” Miller explains in an article in BACKSTAGE. “In my 20 years of choreographing and teaching at dance conventions all over the country, I noticed that so many young dancers are exposed to the world of commercial dance growing up, and they aspire to dance behind pop stars, or perform on Broadway and in Vegas. Most universities, however, have only begun to even consider adding jazz and hip-hop and contemporary styles to their curriculum, much less the kinds of courses that would help students transition from their dance studio training into the commercial dance industry.”
 
According to Miller, when she approached Pace with the idea of starting a commercial dance program, the administration was extremely excited because her concept dovetailed with the university’s mission to provide students with the kind of education that helps them to make a living. “Originally, Pace was a business school,” Miller says. “And in our program, the students will be given a lot of commercial dance industry inside tips. They will be given information that is current, and they will know how to navigate themselves into the commercial industry when they graduate. They will be given exposure to and will be integrated into the professional dance scenes in both New York and Los Angeles through our faculty members, all of whom are working professionals.”
 
The program’s roster of regular faculty members represents the diversity of styles demanded of commercial dancers today and includes Radio City Music Hall Rockette Lauren Gaul; Broadway veteran Melissa Rae Mahon, who has danced in “The Producers” and “Cats” and is currently appearing in “Chicago” popular New York City Dance Alliance tap teacher Mike Schulster; aerialist Joshua Dean; hip-hop choreographer Alisa Paradowski; musical theater choreographer Jen Littlefield; and ballet textbook author Janice Barringer. In addition, though the university is in New York, Miller has wide-ranging connections in the professional dance community in L.A. and has arranged for many West Coast instructors to come and work as guest artists.
 
The program’s curriculum includes course work in acting, voice and movement, the technical aspects of theater (including lighting, sound, and acoustics), and the history of dance and American musical theater, in addition to classes in a variety of dance techniques and styles.
 
“The dance classes will include traditional training as well as exposure to all the fresh movements you see on television these days and behind all of the singing stars. Also, the business of dance will be very well covered,” Miller says. “What I say to dancers is, if you’re looking for career longevity, this is the program for you. It will give you the knowledge you need to transition through different phases of your career—from performance to choreography to, say, casting assistant or director. It provides a broad view of the industry that will give you a basis from which to build a long and sustained career in the commercial entertainment world.” In addition to a seminar course in which they will explore all aspects of the dance business, students will be encouraged to take advantage of Pace’s numerous business classes.
 
Miller sums up the program’s goal as “providing an understanding of the dance performing world as well as the business of entertainment.” The university’s performing arts department, under which this program falls, recently appointed a new chair. “His approach is industry-based—not just acting, not just singing, not just dancing,” says Miller with enthusiasm. “He wants our students to understand the whole industry, and that’s particularly important for dancers, whose performing careers are so short. That expanded knowledge base is what will give them career longevity.”
 
The program prepares dancers to work not just onstage but in all entertainment mediums, and while it is currently performance-oriented, in the future Miller plans to add training for commercial choreographers. In addition, the program’s students have permission to work professionally off-campus, pursue internships, and gain as much real-world experience as possible.
 
In selecting dancers for the program, which currently has 24 students, Miller is looking for performers who have had a minimum of five years of dance training in ballet or jazz. “They must be intermediate-level dancers, not beginners,” she says. “At the audition, they will be asked to do ballet, jazz, and possibly tap or hip-hop.” Dancers interested in applying to the program can find information about auditions (which will begin in January) at www.pace.edu.

MEDIA EVENT ALERT, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5: Go INSIDE The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University for a FREE Master Class on The Method and The Stanislavski System

The Theater Master Class will be conducted by Andreas Manolikakis, Chair of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University and members of the MFA program’s faculty. For more information or to be considered for participation, send your resume and contact information to actorsstudiomfa@pace.edu or call 212-346-1531.

CALLING ALL ASPIRING ACTORS, DIRECTORS, PLAYWRIGHTS …

MEDIA EVENT ALERT: FREE THEATER MASTER CLASS

Saturday, November 5, 2011, 1- 4 PM

Go INSIDE The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University for a FREE Master Class on The Method and The Stanislavski System.

The Master Class will be conducted by Andreas Manolikakis, Chair of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University and members of the MFA program’s faculty.

Unique Aspects of The Actors Studio Drama School:

  • The Actors Studio Drama School is the only MFA program officially sanctioned and supervised by the legendary Actors Studio.
  • It is the only school that offers the authenticity, continuity and authority of the Stanislavski System and the Method.
  • The curriculum has been designed and supervised by the leadership of the Actors Studio, including the Presidents of the Actors Studio, Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino.
  • Faculty members include major figures at the Actors Studio, many of them Moderators, Board Members and Associate Artistic Directors of the Actors Studio.
  • All students — actors, directors, playwrights — train side-by-side as actors.
  • All students participate in the Craft Seminars known to the world as the Bravo Network TV series “Inside the Actors Studio,” hosted by James Lipton.
  • In Friday Workshops the MFA candidates are exposed to different elements of the theater, such as script analysis, design, stage combat, directing, and auditioning for plays, musicals, film and television.
  • All MFA dance courses are taught by the famous and prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at their uptown studios.
  • All students participate in an Observership Program at the Actors Studio.
  • All MFA black-box studios for professional training are designed and equipped according to state-of-the-art standards.
  • Located at prominent and easily reached campus in downtown New York City.

Repertory Season and Industry Showcase:

  • In their final year, all Actors Studio Drama School students present their work to the professional world and the public, in a fully-produced professional Repertory Season at a theater in downtown Manhattan. 
  • In addition, after the Repertory Season, our actors present their work to representatives from the theater, film and television industries in an Industry Showcase at the Actors Studio itself in midtown Manhattan.

After Graduation:

  • All students have the privilege, for one year, of the status of Working Finalist at the Actors Studio itself, which means they are eligible to attend weekly sessions and take a Final Audition for Studio Membership, bypassing the usual Preliminary Audition. Some of these students, if they successfully pass their Final Audition, will become Lifetime Members of the Actors Studio.
  • All directing and playwriting students are invited, for at least one year, to be part of the Playwrights and Directors Workshop of the Actors Studio, a unit especially created for the continuation of the training of our directing and playwriting graduates.

Next Steps:

For more information or to be considered for participation, send your resume and contact information to actorsstudiomfa@pace.edu or call 212-346-1531. Attendees must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or be within one semester of graduation. Admissions representatives will be available to answer your questions.

Media Contact:

Samuella Becker, sbecker2@pace.edu, 212-346-1637 or 917-734-5172

BroadwayWorld.com: “Jorge Luis Cacheiro as New Chair of Pace Performing Arts Department”

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Jorge Cacheiro’s caliber as the leader of our rapidly growing performing arts department, which has attracted nearly 400 declared majors from all over the country,” said Nira Herrmann, PhD. Dean, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences.

Jorge Luis Cacheiro joins Pace from Montclair State University, where he was the founder and first director of the New Works Initiative (NWI), which is dedicated to developing new work for the American theater and dance world.

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, during the past two decades Cacheiro has also headed MFA Professional Director Training Programs at Ohio University in Athens, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. 

Considered one of the country’s leading acting teachers, Cacheiro has taught Master classes at UCLA, Cal Arts, Princeton and the University of Iowa, as well as run his own studio in Los Angeles.

“From my very first visit on Pace’s campus, I sensed an immense energy from students, faculty and administration alike,” said Cacheiro, in an article appearing on BroadwayWorld.com. “There is an undeniable united goal to make Pace’s Performing Arts Deparrtment (PAD) one of the nation’s leading professional training programs. I am confident that with the support of our outstanding faculty, we will succeed.”

In choosing Cacheiro, PAD has gotten a scholar/artist with a keen entrepreneurial vision of present-day education.  According to Cacheiro, “We are in the business of education. This is our contemporary reality. I am very comfortable in both of these worlds. The cross section between the university world and the larger industry is still being defined. I believe it offers immense opportunities in the training and career prospects of young artists and creative thinkers.”

Cacheiro plans to immediately introduce a New Work Initiative similar to one he created at Montclair State University. This would complement the Pace New Musicals program.

“The two programs will help imprint Pace’s Performing Arts Department as an important incubator of new American performance work, a place where major professional artists — writers, composers, choreographers — can draft and develop work in a safe environment,” elaborated Cacheiro. “For our students to take part in the process as performers is an invaluable training and networking opportunity. We want to nurture work at Pace from the development phase hopefully all the way to a world premiere.”

DanceTeacher: “Keeping Pace with the Commercial World”

According to International Choreographer Rhonda Miller, who is spearheading Dyson’s new BA in Theater/Commercial Dance, “Being in New York City is a very important factor of our program — EVERY teacher on the faculty is currently working in the business.”

Starting this fall, Pace University is offering a program that caters exclusively to commercial dancers, providing specialized training for dance careers on the stage or silver screen, reports the September issue of DanceTeacher.  The BA in Theater/Commercial Dance program is the first of its kind in the nation, says Rhonda Miller, founder of L.A. dance studio The Edge, who is spearheading the audition-only program. “Pace is known for being a business school, so this blends right in with its philosophy,” she says.  Miller has been a full-time dance lecturer at Pace since 2008 and has been working with the university to create this degree for the past year. “The program teaches students how to make a living for themselves and how to develop themselves as a product,” she adds.

Classes include ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop and dance history, focusing on keeping students both diverse and current. “Being in New York City is a very important factor of our program—every teacher on the faculty is currently working in the business,” says Miller, who will teach jazz, choreography, theater dance and tap. Other faculty include Mike Schulster (tap), Janice Barringer (ballet), Lauren Gaul (contemporary and jazz) and Joshua Dean (modern dance and ballet). 

Why should commercial dancers choose to pursue a college degree? “The key word is longevity,” says Miller. “The best way to sustain a career in dance for your whole life is to educate yourself.” 

Click here to learn more about performing arts at Pace.