Downtown Express: “Pace’s Actors Studio stages its annual repertory season”

One of the interesting things about the repertory season is the opportunity to watch the actors and directors work on several plays and scenes. Week Three (April 11 – 14) brings scenes from “Topdog/Underdog” by Suzan-Lori Parks, “Brilliant Traces” by Cindy Lou Johnson and “Raised in Captivity” by Nicky Silver. The 24-hour reservation line is: (212) 501-2099 and email is

From an article in the Downtown Express


In a five-week repertory season, the graduating M.F.A. class of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University is once again showing what this school teaches and what the graduates have learned after three years of study. Anyone with affection for theater would likely find the Actors Studio Drama School productions interesting. Some of the acting is memorable. Sets and costuming are professional. The plays and scenes range from the familiar to the offbeat, giving each of the acting students an opportunity to show their stuff. And it’s all free, though reservations are required.

This year’s graduating class consists of 31 actors, four directors and one playwright. They range in age from their early 20s to their late 40s. Their backgrounds are diverse. Among the actors are a U.S. Navy veteran, the daughter of a Japanese martial arts master, a Junior Olympic gymnast who is also a screenwriter and novelist, a Fulbright scholar, an opera singer who has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Some have significant acting credits.

The Actors Studio Drama School program dates from 1994 when James Lipton, now Dean Emeritus, developed the curriculum with the assistance of some of the famed actors in the Actors Studio itself. Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino are still mentors to the school and appear in the repertory season program.

Lipton resigned in 2005 and Andreas Manolikakis became the chairman of the school. “This is not training for a specific style. It’s training of the instrument so that the actor will be able to do whatever he’s asked to do,” Manolikakis said.

Everyone in the program takes acting classes. Directors and playwrights have additional instruction.

“You get a firsthand experience of what it’s like to be on stage so when you ask an actor to do something, you know exactly what they’re going through,” said Chris Triebel, one of the directors in this year’s graduating class.

The annual tuition for the program is $35,320. In addition, there are living expenses. “I figure it costs about $57,000 a year to go through the program,” said Michael Crowe, who turned to acting after having spent five years in the Navy, where he worked as a chef, followed by a couple of years in business school. But, he said, “I don’t view this as an expense. I view it as an investment…I feel a better man, artist, human, from being here,” he said. “In order to be an actor, you have to be so vulnerable. It’s a really sacred, safe place here.”

One of the interesting things about the repertory season is the opportunity to watch the actors and directors work on several plays and scenes. This week brings scenes from “Topdog/Underdog” by Suzan-Lori Parks, “Brilliant Traces” by Cindy Lou Johnson and “Raised in Captivity” by Nicky Silver.

Next week includes “The Voice of the Turtle” by John Van Druten, scenes from “Orange Flower Water” by Craig Wright and a scene from “Red Light Winter” by Adam Rapp.

The repertory season concludes the following week with a scene from “Fallen Angels” by Noël Coward, a new play, “All An Act” by Sean Michael Welch, the sole playwright in this year’s graduating class and already the recipient of several important awards, and scenes from “The Producers,” with a book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan and music and lyrics by Mel Brooks.

The performances take place in the theater at Dance New Amsterdam, 53 Chambers St., Wednesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m. through April 28. The full schedule and information about plays, actors, directors and playwrights is online at Admission is free, but reservations must be made in advance by phone or email as seating is limited. The 24-hour reservation line is: (212) 501-2099 and email is

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


Contacts: Samuella Becker, Pace Media Relations,; 212-346-1637 or 917-734-5172; Robert Meffe, Music Director,, 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

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.

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.

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.

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