London’s West End and the Invasion of British Actors

London has a long and rich history of theater that dates back to late 1500s. It is now widely considered the theater capital of the world, even surpassing New York City. London's West End has something for everyone, and it is no longer just catering to the aristocratic upper class. And it is not just…

London has a long and rich history of theater that dates back to late 1500s. It is now widely considered the theater capital of the world, even surpassing New York City. London's West End has something for everyone, and it is no longer just catering to the aristocratic upper class. And it is not just the West End, as the Southbank of London as well as other areas around the country has their theater venues, with the Globe Theater highlighting Southwark.

Such an extensive theater background obviously has been a breeding ground for great acting talent. I personally have done some acting in London and can attest to the fact that the acting talent there is amazing. There are so many avenues these actors can develop their craft that it is a huge industry. So with the number of players that have grown out of this hotbed for acting that is London, should it be any surprise that there are so many British actors getting key roles in American television now?

It has been called the British invasion of television and movie actors. It seems like you can rarely turn on a TV drama series in America now without seeing at least one British actor. There is a perception that British actors are much better trained than their American counterpart, and for the most part this is probably true. In America actors are often trained for a single genre, be it stage, films or television. Perhaps because there is a lot more work in the United States actors have become more specialized.

From a commercial standpoint this might be a good thing, but the typical English actor does everything. They act on a television show, do commercials then move on to star in a film. In between it all they may perform a role on stage. This devotion to their craft comes from not trying openly to be stars, but to take on work wherever it comes. They end up with well-rounded resonances and they take something from each genre that they work in.

Another thing that English actors seem to be able to do better than American actors is their mastery over accents. The variations in the English accents that they have to learn while mastering their craft in the UK has forced them to develop this area of ​​their repertoire. So when they are asked to take on an American accent it's just a matter of fine tuning. Because American actors are not asked to develop this part of their toolbox they have the disadvantage to the British actor of not having that accent range.

So when we watch an American television show with a British actor doing a southern accent, be assured that a great deal of work went in to what we see on the screen.

Talent Is Not Always Enough

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Janis Joplin was endowed with immense innate talent. As a teenager her excess weight and severe acne condition made her an easy target for ridicule. The harsh jibes of her peers delivered crushed blowing after crushing blow to an already fragile ego. Joplin never developed the coping mechanisms to handle…

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Janis Joplin was endowed with immense innate talent. As a teenager her excess weight and severe acne condition made her an easy target for ridicule. The harsh jibes of her peers delivered crushed blowing after crushing blow to an already fragile ego. Joplin never developed the coping mechanisms to handle the verbal abuse that plagued her during her teens and went on to haunt her as an adult.

She began singing in high school and went on to become one of the great blues singers of her time. But her allergic reaction to criticism and her insatiable, essentially obsessive need for approval led to drug and alcohol abuse. Southern comfort, heroin, uppers, downers, speed, methamphetamine were among the cures she thought when sinking into the depths of despair. Sex was another drug she shot on a regular basis to ease her pain.

Many high profile artists ie Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Brian Jones, Lenny Bruce, Jimi Hendrix, and a host of others tried to do the same with fatal results. No matter how much they consumed, drugs could not provide a cure for their battered psyches.

In 1967, after years of honoring her skills, Janis burst onto the scene at the Monterey Pop Festival. Backed by “Big Brother And The Holding Company” she brought the house down, stunning the audience with her mind-blowing rendition of “Ball And Chain”. Stomping, quaking, stuttering, and sputtering, as if she were on the verge of an epileptic seizure, she sang from the very depths of her soul until there was nothing left for her to do but retire to the wings. No ordinary singer, she was able to exorcise in song every scintilla of pain, and every arrow that pierced her heart, At times the purity of her voice would resonate with a melody so haunting it could bring you to tears or render you speechless.

On March 8, 1968 she debuted at Bill Graham's, Fillmore East. To calm herself before she took the stage she thought comfort in her omnipresent bottle of Southern Comfort. After receiving several standing ovations for another unearthly rendition of “Ball And Chain” she left the stage plagued with doubt. In her dressing room, after the final encore, she pelted lead guitarist Sam Andrew with question after question about her performance. Often multiple standing ovations were no match for her insecurity.

Like many rock legends her death was shockingly premature. Ultimately excess drug abuse was the cause of her death. But her lack of confidence, low self-esteem, thin skin, and insatiable need for approval were at the heart of her demise. It's sad to think what it must have been like for her: starved for attention, living in a perpetual state of self-doubt, craving the approval of strangers, unable to overcome the slightest perceived criticism. For Joplin received rejection was like a knife to her heart. Hostile reviews were unendurable. Her talent, fame and money could not fill the gaping emotional hole that was like a bottomless pit.

To survive in the arts you must develop a thick skin, healthy ego, and sense of self that can withstand the slings and arrows of this most difficult of professions. Developing a strong inner core, belief in one self, a positive attitude, and indomitable spirit are not luxuries. They are necessities for those that wish to live a full and meaningful life. We are all subject to criticism. In a perfect world we would receive feedback that is just, fair, and constructive. But the world is an imperfect place where fairness is not always on the menu. Since life does not conform to our needs we must be able to adjust and adapt to a wide variety of situations and expect that criticism is inevitable, and depending on the source not always pretty. If we make a commitment to ourselves to develop a strong foundation we can not only deal with rejection we can succeed in spite of and because of it. It can be a motivational tool. The fodder that fuels our competitive juices and drives us towards our goals.

What Is The Criteria For Choosing A Great Acting Teacher

Before I began my formal training as an actor I was interested in gathering information on the craft. Books on Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Uta Hagen, Robert Lewis, Stanislavsky, and Bolislavsky came highly recommended and I read them all. These amazing teachers affected the world of acting as we know it and I wanted to…

Before I began my formal training as an actor I was interested in gathering information on the craft. Books on Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Uta Hagen, Robert Lewis, Stanislavsky, and Bolislavsky came highly recommended and I read them all. These amazing teachers affected the world of acting as we know it and I wanted to find someone who was capable of providing me with the tools I would need to succeed.

Unfortunately finding the right acting teacher was not an easy proposition. For at least 2 years I studied with teachers that talked-the-talk but failed to walk-the-walk. When it came down to it they were ill equipped to provide feedback that was helpful or in some cases, comprehensible. They had committed to memory a few catch phrases but lacked the knowledge and imagination to make an impact. It was a frustrating experience but I was determined to find a teacher that had “the right stuff”. After a long search a recommendation from a fellow actor / friend put me in touch with a great teacher that was the right fit for me.

If you are anything like I was when I started out you're probably wondering what the criteria is for choosing a great teacher, so I will provide you with the qualities that I feel necessary in a good / great teacher.

The teacher you choose must have a clear and specific knowledge of the craft and be able to articulate clearly and concisely to avoid complicating the already complicated.

Presence, poise, passion for their subject and the ability to engage, inspire, and stimulate the student are teaching qualities that enhance the learning process. Choose a teacher that is passionate and happy in what they do.

Patience is essential for those that are in the teaching profession. Students do not adapt and progress equally. It is the teacher's responsibility to assess each student and move them forward accordingly.

Mutual respect between teacher and student is not negotiable. Verbal abuse of any kind is a red flag. If you find yourself in a classroom with a teacher that is bent on humiliating, berating or chastising his / her students, head for the hills as fast as you can. There is no excuse for abusive behavior of any kind.

A sense of humor is a plus and helps the teacher to create a relaxed environment. It is up to the teacher to establish an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. When students feel safe and supported they are apt to take more risks and learning is enhanced. This does not mean that students will always feel comfortable, nor should they as discomfort is a part of the process. The teacher must make this clear to students that battle with discomfort from time to time.

The great director, Elia Kazan, once said that if at all possible work with people you like. I believe this applies to the teacher's choice of students. A good interview process allows student and teacher to get a feel for one another. If there is good chemistry from the start it's a pretty good bet that you are in the right place. A teacher with no criteria for choosing a student is one to be wary of.

Good teachers love their students and want to see them succeed. Bitterness and jealousy are negative hits that aspiring teachers need to address before entering this profession. Empathy is a quality that enables the teacher to maintain an open mind and provide support when students are confronted with the inevitable disappointments that are part of the business.

Choosing a great acting class is equally difficult and there are no guarantees that you will find one that satisfies all your needs. If the students that make up the class are focused, mature, responsible, respectful and display an eagerness to learn then chances are you have chosen a class that is right for you.

It is up to you to spend time researching and auditing classes. The suggestions I have made are the criteria that I used when I was looking for a teacher. The important thing to realize is that there are great acting classes out there. You just have to take the time to find the one that is right for you.

Need Or Love: The Driving Force In Art

In this article I offer my opinion on what motivates the artist over a lifetime. Some people suggest love and passion are what sustains the artist. I will discuss need as the driving force in the life of the artist.

In this article I offer my opinion on what motivates the artist over a lifetime. Some people suggest love and passion are what sustains the artist. I will discuss need as the driving force in the life of the artist.

The Impact Of Reading On Our Lives

When I was in my early teens we had a telephone and a TV. That was the amount of technology as we knew it. The advent of advanced technology was a number of years away and had not impacted on my world as of yet. My universe was made up of baseball gloves, bats, footballs,…

When I was in my early teens we had a telephone and a TV. That was the amount of technology as we knew it. The advent of advanced technology was a number of years away and had not impacted on my world as of yet. My universe was made up of baseball gloves, bats, footballs, basketballs, stickball bats, Spaldings and all things sporting goods I could get my hands on (legally of course). My friends and I made our way to “The Field” (Midwood Field) on a regular basis, squeezing in as many games of stickball, baseball, basketball and football possible before nightfall robbed us of that one last at bat. Darkness or inclement weather was not a consideration. Playing touch football in the snow or rain only added to the joy of being outdoors with my buddies and the elements.

One of my closest chums was an avid reader. A big fan of sci-fi, he got me hooked on the genius in High School and introduced me to Bradbury, Heinlen and Silverberg, who were among his favorites. After sampling one of Silverberg's novels I was hooked. When we were not playing ball, we would sit around his place or mine, discussing the latest book we were reading. Starting a new book was another adventure I could not wait to dive into. Any recommendation from a fellow reader was appreciated, providing me with a new experience to look forward to. Soon Steinbeck became another favorite along with numerous biographies and a wide variety of crime novels including Elmore Leonard, Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler.

My parents encouraged me to read when I was in elementary school but any reading I did was a sentence imposed on me by the school's curriculum. By the time I got to High School, I had begun to read for my own enjoyment and I no longer felt like I was doing a stint in solitary confinement.

I did not realize at the time that reading was making a huge impact on my overall growth in a variety of ways. Clearly I was more informed, better able to express myself, configure my own opinions, back up my arguments with facts, and more confident that when I opened my mouth I would not need a crowbar to extract my foot. I also did not realize at the time that reading was going to make a major impact on my future vocation. Teaching the craft of acting. After studying and acting for several years I segued into teaching. I was fairly confident at this point that between reading (several books on acting) and performing I would be able to not only teach, but hold the attention of a class of aspiring actors. I had been competent to find an exceptional teacher who provided me with knowledge of the craft, but I also had reading to thank for enabling me to stand before a class and address my audience with confidence.

Today, in this day and age of iPhones, iPads, Xboxes, text messaging, email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the gamut of cyberworld technology, we are losing the ability to express ourselves with some degree of intelligence. I am not making a blanket generalization or launching an attack on the population as a whole as there many people in our society that are extremely intelligent and well-read. But I am concerned with the negative impact technology is having on our ability to communicate and articulate our thoughts, ideas and feelings. Complete sentences are not a part of the lexicon of the text message devotee. “C u 2nite”, “B ova in 5”, “What ru doing lata?”, Are considered acceptable forms of communication. Have we become so lazy that writing messages in complete sentences has become the equivalent of “Sisyphus” rolling his boulder up a hill?

As a teacher of acting for 25 years I have met young people who express a desire to act, but lack the ability to express themselves adequately, and on more than a few occasions I have interviewed students with reading skills that are severely compromised. Sad but true.

For anyone that aspires to act reading is a primary requisite of the job. Pronunciation, articulation, projection and use of the proper syntax are essential if you are to make an impression on industry professionals. Reading is a way to cultivate and nurture your imagination, improve your vocabulary, enhance your ability to express yourself and contribute greatly to your overall intelligence. I can think of no downside to “feeding your head” (please do not confuse this phrase with “The Jefferson Airplane” s “reference in” White Rabbit “).

I would ask that you take all of this in the spirit in which it is offered. Heaven knows I am as imperfect as the next person, with my fair share of flaws and limitations, but if we wish to live in a society in which we are to experience a healthy exchange of thoughts, ideas, differences of opinions, intelligent discipline and the like, we would all be well served to put our devices down every so often and read, go to a museum, spend time with a friend chatting over coffee, write the occasional letter, see an off-Broadway play (Broadway prices are prohibitive for many of us), go to a movie and spend a little time discussing it afterwards.

I suggest that we all make a pact to put our devices down for one day and go about communicating with one another sans texting, FB messaging, et al. All those in favor say, “Aye.”

Dear Students – Past, Present And Future

I am always doing everything in my capacity to help my students to be the very best they can be. I emphasize on a regular basis those things that need to do to reach the highest ground attainable. In keeping with that I'd like to offer some advice that I have touched on before that…

I am always doing everything in my capacity to help my students to be the very best they can be. I emphasize on a regular basis those things that need to do to reach the highest ground attainable. In keeping with that I'd like to offer some advice that I have touched on before that bares repeating.

The artist sees and experiences the world differently than others. The things that touch and move them are necessary for their art. It is imperative that before that they see and experience the world on the deepest levels imaginable. Staying in touch and connecting with the world around you is not a luxury. It is a necessity that requires your attention. It is important that you see and absorb the world like a sponge. Taking notes on a daily basis of those things that effect you, move you emotionally, is critical. Be as descriptive and detailed as you can possibly be in writing about those events that stimulate your emotions and equally important, your imagination. That is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal and it would be wise to nurture it. Your imagination absolutely enables you to discover endless ways to improve your scenes and arrive at bold and interesting choices. You may not be aware of it but you are adjusting your behavior on a daily basis to deal with an infinite number of unexpected situations. In dealing with life's surprises you must find not one, but a variety of ways to deal with different situations. When confronted by the unexpected, ask yourself, “In what ways could I have deal with this particular situation differently?” Imagine in what ways you can adjust your behavior to deal with situations that happen without prior notice. Your ability to adjust in the moment to the unexpected is a sure sign that your imagination is at “play”.

If you live every day fully you will no doubt begin to bring that fullness to your work.
There is nothing casual about art. Actors must understand instinctively that there are no casual moments in drama. The stakes are always high and the characters you play are not “living” casually. Every moment in a play / script has meaning and it is your job to bring your character to life. That requires investing every ounce of your being in the world you are expected to inhabit. If you do any less you are cheating yourself, depriving yourself of the joy of being right here, right now. if you want and need to be a consummate professional then you must deliver when the lights go up or when the director shouts “action”. You owe that not only to yourself but to the people that pay to see you.

Those that currently study or have studied with me know that I never, ever, teach half-heartedly. I never take a night off or give myself any excuse for not giving my all. That would be a sure way to deprive myself of the joy that comes from doing what I do, and it would be cheating my students out of the education that they need, deserve and pay for.

Stella Adler said that Tennessee Williams was a multimillionaire but money was by no means the motivating force in his life. His art, his need to create, cave him the greatest satisfaction. That was where he lived. I am not suggesting that having money is a bad thing. I am suggesting that for the artist the need to create transcends the material world. Cars, limousines, yachts, multimillion dollar condos are not the driving force in the life of the artist. Their work is what drives them. It is not a matter of good and bad or better or worse. It is just the nature of the beast.

One last thing. I'm a dreamer. I've been dreaming since I was a child. It was a way for me to find comfort and escape the harsh realities of my world. I needed to get away from those realities and my fantasy life provided me with refugee and solace. As I got older I learned that I had to make adjustments when life thread me a curveball or a slider. I had to learn to deal with every card I was dealt. Failure, defeat and rejection are inevitable. You can only run so far before life catches up with you. I'm still a dreamer. Dreams are important. They keep us going, give us a target to shoot for. The artist dreams. They have no choice. It is the nature of the beast.

Preparation Is Key

Like Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler said that acting and doing are the same. Ms Adler, an original member of “The Group Theater” (1931-40) honed her acting skills for many years and went on to become one of the greatest acting teachers in the history of American theater. Her father Jacob Adler, founder of the Yiddish…

Like Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler said that acting and doing are the same. Ms Adler, an original member of “The Group Theater” (1931-40) honed her acting skills for many years and went on to become one of the greatest acting teachers in the history of American theater. Her father Jacob Adler, founder of the Yiddish Theater, had a major impact on both Stella and her brother Luther, also a member of “The Group” and a fine actor in his own right. Jacob Adler instilled in both son and daughter a reverence for the theater and its role in society. Ms. Adler learned a great deal from her father and thought his wisdom and teachings to “The Group”, where she acted and practiced for almost ten years.

Ms. Adler said, “Where you are is who you are.”, And “Your talent is in your choices.” The question is how does the actor arrive at choices that resonate with an audience whether on stage or in front of the camera? Her most famous student, Marlon Brando said that Adler's teaching went beyond craft. She taught him the importance of living a full life, staying in touch with all that life had to offer, and making sure to bring all of his experiences to his work.

For Adler, knowing “where you are” is a mandatory element of the actor's preparation. Clearly our instincts play a huge part in creating a role, but there is more work to be done if the actor is to achieve excellence. The actor must understand that behavior changes from place to place, ie a church, theater, amusement park, courtroom, etc., and the actor must have a detailed understanding of the time and place in which they are expected to live. By way of example let's look at 2 contrasting decades:

The 1950's was a time of prosperity in this country and the home was a seemingly stable environment. Women, in the major cases, tend to the children as well as a wide variety of household duties. Men were the accepted breadwinners. Their role was to provide food, shelter, and security for their families. Conversely the 1960s was a decade of upheaval marked by racial tensions that accelerated the civil rights movement, women's liberation, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the sexual revolution, the free speech movement, and a drug culture that was infiltrating the youth culture at an alarming rate. “Tune in, turn on and drop out” was the mantra of the '60s generation. A far cry from the “Father Knows Best” and “Ozzie And Harriet” climate of the '50s.

If you choose to ignore the realities of any given time and place you will disable your ability to live authentically. You can not exchange one time for another. A play / role is not like working on an assembly line where the parts of the whole are interchangeable. To ignore the prevailing social, economic, political, sexual, and religious climate of the time eliminates your ability to play with any sense of truth.

Marlon Brando, contrary to what some may think, invested in enormous amounts of time researching a role. In the film “Desiree”, Brando played “Napoleon” and understood that to play such a figure accurately required expanded research. Brando acquired not one, but several books on his subject and annotated them all in preparation for his role. He was not going to leave anything to chance. The knowledge of his subject was not a luxury it was a requirement and his responsibility.

Meryl Streep, Christian Bale, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Fassbender, are also well known for the time, effort and research that they invest in a role. Talent aside, to ignore the necessary elements of your subject will put you at a distinct disadvantage. If you consider yourself one who aspires to art then you have to invest all of yourself in what you do.

Great performances require great words. Great acting though is never about the words. It is about bringing yourself to life and using all the tools you have at your disposal.

Life Happens While You’re Making Other Plans

Madeline Kahn was a special actor and by all accounts a wonderful person. She had that special something that made her light shine brightly in comedic and dramatic roles alike. Her performances never fail to delight and I continue to enjoy them no matter how often I see them. While channel surfing on my TV…

Madeline Kahn was a special actor and by all accounts a wonderful person. She had that special something that made her light shine brightly in comedic and dramatic roles alike. Her performances never fail to delight and I continue to enjoy them no matter how often I see them.

While channel surfing on my TV one night I had the good fortune to stumble upon an episode of The American Theater Wing in which she was a appearing along with a panel of theater and film actors. At one point in the show the moderator asked each of the guests to recall how they got their start in the business. True to form Ms. Kahn's tale guided both audience and peers as she recounted her rib-tickling tale.

According to Ms. Kahn, as a High School student she enrolled in a drama class. If my memory serves me correctly it was the one and only class offered in her High School at the time. In her own words she was painfully shy and on the first day of class she made be-line for a seat in the back of the classroom where she would be able to blend in with the walls. In the course of the semester she only dared to speak on two occasions. On one such occasion she raised her hand, with considerable difficulty, to offer an opinion. What that opinion was she could not recall. When she finished speaking she returned to her role of “Gigot” and resumed her relationship with her chair and the walls. To her amazement her teacher asked to speak with her after class. About what she did not know. Reluctantly, Madeline did as instructed, approached her teacher and was immediately stuck dumb when she was encouraged to audition for the drama department at Pace University. She had already decided on a career in education. Teaching children was her chosen profession. Acting was not the remotest consideration. Neverheless her teacher saw a certain quality in her and urged her to go for it. After the conversation she came home and related the absurd conversation to her mother who also thought it a good idea. Madeline thought them both mad as hatters. The thought of acting terrified her and the whole concept seemed absurd, but mother and teacher were convinced it was a good idea. When the fateful day of the audition finally came it was raining. Glory halleluha! The perfect excuse to remain home. Her mother would not hear of it. Prodding her to get ready she all but pushed her out the door. When Madeline arrived for her audition she had nothing prepared so she had to wing it. Her suddenly “winging” was more than enough and she was accepted into the acting program. The rest as they say is history. Ms. Kahn, before her untimely death at the age of 57, due to ovarian cancer, left us with hilarious and moving performances in “Blazing Saddles”, “Young Frankenstein”, “Clue”, “High Anxiety”, “Paper Moon” and many, many more.

Often times we do not see ourselves accurately. Failure to acknowledge that there is more to us than meets the eye results in wasted opportunities. If we are sufficient enough to have someone that recognizes a unique or special ability, we may be able to realize our potential. Sadly, talent often gets buried beneath insecurity, lack of confidence and low self-esteem. At other times, as in Ms. Kahn's case there is a teacher, mentor or parent that not only recognizes a unique “something”, but urges that we “go for it”. They see a quality that we are far too myopic to see in ourselves.

Looking back I can recall times in my own life when a mentor would have been extremely helpful. Someone that could provide me with honesty and encouragement and push me in the right direction. In spite of the self doubts and obstacles I faced I am here today doing the thing I love to do, working with people that give my life meaning. I did not know as younger man that I would be learning my living teaching acting. It was not in my playbook. It was something that evolved over time. It happened while I was making other plans. Unexpectedly. That's the beauty of it.

Thumbs Up for a High Flying Good Time at Honeymoon in Vegas on Broadway

A creative adaptation from the 1992 movie, Honeymoon in Vegas The Broadway Musical was lively, fast-paced, funny and literally “electric.” I'm always a little skeptical when going to see a screen to stage production, but, this time, I was pleasantly surprised. I will be totally honest and tell you that my real motivation in purchasing…

A creative adaptation from the 1992 movie, Honeymoon in Vegas The Broadway Musical was lively, fast-paced, funny and literally “electric.” I'm always a little skeptical when going to see a screen to stage production, but, this time, I was pleasantly surprised.

I will be totally honest and tell you that my real motivation in purchasing tickets to this show, currently in previews as of November 18th, was the star power and my own personal affinity for Tony Danza. Yes, I was swayed by my youthful crush on Mr. Danza from his ” Who's the Boss ” and ” Taxi ” days. And, let me assure you, I enjoyed every moment of his performance as Tommy Korman, the powerful Vegas gambler.

The storyline, of course remains the same, as Jack Singer, played by Rob McClure, the commitment phobic boyfriend, finally agrees to take the plunge into marrying his long-time girlfriend, Betsey Nolan (Brynn McNalley) with a spur of the moment trip to Vegas to elope. Smitten with Betsey, who bears a striking resemblance to his deceived wife, Tommy Korman (Tony Danza), orchestrates a rigged poker game, in order to have Jack pay for his losses with his fiancé, Betsey.

And so the story goes with its ups and downs (literally!) As Jack attempts to recapture his bride to be away from the smooth talking Korman.

Well-written with many of the same funny lines and humorous dialogue as the original film, Andrew Bergman, who wrote both the screenplay and the play, succeeds in creating a witty, funny and entertaining story.

This is one of the few shows on Broadway right now that is a good choice for kids as well. I brought my two daughters (8 and 10) to see this along with my “Travelin 'Cousin” Tanya and her son and daughter (16 and 13). With its bright and colorful stage design, resounding and upbeat music by Tony-winner Jason Robert Brown and slapstick comedic affects, my kids were laughing through the production. No foul language either, which was an added bonus!

My favorite scene was none other than the Flying Elvis sequence and its inventive airplane backdrop and live dance number. Not to mention the “electrifying” suits!

Story – Check; Music – Check. Now, let's talk about the performances. The cast was a tight-knit group of performers who welcomed this story to life with dance and larger than life characterizations and chemistry.

What a joy for me to see Mr. Danza live on stage. He was just delightful in his tough, yet charming role. Who knew he had such a nice singing voice! He even surprised me with his soft-shoe tap dancing! The only negative could arguably be his playing the “bad guy” with his good looks and charming demeanor, but then again, I'm a bit pretjudice! To me, he's still the boss, even on Broadway!

Mr. McClure was endearing as the neurotic, protagonist switching off between humor, and song and dance, playing opposite Ms. O'Malley, whose voice was alluring and performance engaging.

A definite thumbs up for a high-flying good time!

Now, for me, the highlight for all of my Broadway excursions is waiting by the stage door for the cast to exit. My kids can not imagine seeing a show without this exciting experience to top off the evening. So, off we went to wait … Right up in front we managed to get autographs from the show's three leads, as well as snap some pictures with them!

It was quite obvious that these folks love what they do and have such an abounding appreciation for their fans. That's why I love Broadway so much and Honeymoon in Vegas is just one more for my long list of memorable shows!

What’s Polite Got To Do With It?

In this article I discuss why we have to unlearn certain habits that are counter-productive to the actors craft. “The polite routine” as Meisner stated has not place in acting. It inhibits the instincts that are vital to the creative process.

In this article I discuss why we have to unlearn certain habits that are counter-productive to the actors craft. “The polite routine” as Meisner stated has not place in acting. It inhibits the instincts that are vital to the creative process.

Forget The Camera

Good players know how to put all their attention on an object outside of themselves and block out any and all distractions. In doing so they are able to work spontaneously on a moment to moment, impulse to impulse basis. They are able to “play” with an absence of self-consciousness. They know that their actions…

Good players know how to put all their attention on an object outside of themselves and block out any and all distractions. In doing so they are able to work spontaneously on a moment to moment, impulse to impulse basis. They are able to “play” with an absence of self-consciousness. They know that their actions are reactions to how they are being affected by the other person. To achieve this “privacy” in a “public” situation they have to learn how to open up. Availability, susceptibility, vulnerability are necessary elements of the best acting. intellectual, pre-determined responses suggesting that the actor is not “listening” to the other person, which leads to flat or over-the-top responses.

A story about the late Stanley Kubrick comes to mind. Kubrick a NY native, was born in the Bronx. As a boy he developed a fascination for photography. This fascination was shared by his friend and upstairs neighbor. Kubrick and his friend would take to the streets of the Bronx, shoot pictures, and return home to develop the days shots in his friends home darkroom. Kubrick's affair with photography continued into his teens. Shooting and submitting his work to newspapers and magazines became a regular activity. On one occasion, at the end of WWII, Kubrick stumbled upon a news stand that was framed with newspapers announcing the death of FDR. Kubrick took a picture and submitted it to LOOK magazine. The photograph was accepted and Kubrick was offered a job as a staff photographer. On one particular occasion Kubrick was assigned to shoot some pictures for a human interest story about children at play. He proceeded to a local playground where he found exactly what he was looking for. Kubrick wasting no time, began to shoot his subjects at play. Predictably, when the children saw that they were being photographed they began to jump and mug for the camera. Kubrick was not interested in having the children pose for his pictures. He was interested in capturing the children “living” in the moment. To his credit he continued to shoot, never once instructing, or directing the children to strike specific poses. In time the children became bored and went back to doing what they did best. They had completely forgotten about this stranger with his camera and Kubrick was able to get the shots he was seeking.

Actors, to be affective, must learn to find the child in themselves and “play”. They must forget that they are under the scrutiny of the watchful eye of the camera. They must be able to focus and concentrate sans thought. They must develop the ability to live truthfully and impulsively from moment to moment. Living privately in public situations is the goal whether on stage or in front of the camera.

Marlon Brando's nephew said that his uncle had the remarkable ability to put all of his attention on what he was doing regardless of the number of takes required to get the scene. Kim Stanley, Maggie Smith, Cate Blanchett, Daniel Day-Lewis, Anthony Hopkins, Albert Finney, Michael Fassbender, Sam Rockwell, Toni Colette, are among the actors I admire for their unique ability to block out distractions and “live.”

There are many essentials that are necessary to achieve truthful results in the imaginary circumstances. Curiosity, patience, attention to detail, imagination, fullness, are among the many tools actors must have at their disposal. If you wish to have the very best you can be you will have to develop the necessary technical skills that will enable you to work on a professional level. You can not rush the process. Embrace it. Do not spend your time obsessing about the destination. Fall in love with journey

John Cassavetes: One Of A Kind

The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to. As an artist, I feel that we must try many things – but above all we must dare to fail. You must be willing to risk everything to really express it all. -John Casavetes John Casavetes was a…

The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to. As an artist, I feel that we must try many things – but above all we must dare to fail. You must be willing to risk everything to really express it all. -John Casavetes

John Casavetes was a superb actor, director and writer. He had a remarkable passion for his art and took many risks to ensure that his vision was realized. As an actor he invested all of himself in every role he played. He displayed the same passion in the writing and directing of his films, all of them possessing a unique vitality. When his bio, “Accidental Genius”, hit the bookstores I rushed out to buy a copy. One of the stories concerned his relentless desire to get his “shot” no matter how long it took

Casavetes was known for his generosity. If he thought you had “something” he would would not hesitate to cast you in one of his films. In the early days when money was tight he made sure that everyone on his set was involved in the making of his film. One day you might be holding the boom mike, the next day the camera, the next day, you might be stand-in. During one of his early shoots he was struggling with a scene that was not coming together. Val Avery, a wonderful character actor who had a role in the film, was growing impatient. It had been a long day and he was eager to wrap and go home.The hour was getting late and although Cassavetes had done a number of takes he still was not satisfied. Avery, who was reaching his boiling point turned to Cassavetes and told him that he had to leave. Casavetes pleaded with him for “just one more take” but Avery was determined to go. Cassavetes managed to hide him for a moment while he had an in conspicuous nod to fellow actor and best friend Seymour Cassel, who eased off of the set unnoticed. A short while later Cassel returned to the set. Avery, was not interested in discussing the matter any further with Cassevetes and left. Moments later he stormed into the room, shouting at the top of his lungs, “You son-of-a-bitch. You give the air out of my tires.” He had devised old means of detaining Avery so that he could finally get his shot.

Casavetes like so many fine directors was obsessed with making the movie he wanted to make. When he was dissatisfied with a scene he kept at it until the desired result was achieved. Good directors seem to have one thing in common, an obsessive nature in the pursuit of excellence. They are not satisfied with ho-hum results. They have invested too much of themselves in the making of their film to accept mediocrity in themselves or anyone else. No doubt one of the things that contributed to Cassavetes success was that he dared to fail.

Some Notes On Directing

In this article I will provide my opinions on what makes for effective directing. I will point out specific tools that are necessary for the director to establish a productive relationship with actors and how those tools can lead to effective choices.

In this article I will provide my opinions on what makes for effective directing. I will point out specific tools that are necessary for the director to establish a productive relationship with actors and how those tools can lead to effective choices.

5 Cool Facts About Horsemanship You Probably Didn’t Know

The concept of modern horsemanship is based in the military training and athletic competitions utilized by the ancient Roman cavalry. It is officially defined as the art or practice of riding on horseback, and refers to the art, skill, ability and manner of a horseman, or horsewoman. Horses may not play a functional role for…

The concept of modern horsemanship is based in the military training and athletic competitions utilized by the ancient Roman cavalry. It is officially defined as the art or practice of riding on horseback, and refers to the art, skill, ability and manner of a horseman, or horsewoman. Horses may not play a functional role for most people's daily modern life, but they are still a special animal in our culture and offer a great deal of fascination for many.

Horse Shows

The history of showing horses is based in ancient Roman military tradition. However, it continues into modern day. Horse shows demonstrate riding technique, and also show the beauty of the horse, its power, its athletic ability and agility. During these shows, there are a variety of skills that are displayed from riding (and there are multiple riding styles), racing, jumping, and horse obedience. For the riders there are classes and workshops, vendors, and breeders with what to network and learn from.

Modern Competition Styles

Perhaps the most visible competitions are during the Olympics. With televised games, more and more people are aware of horsemanship, even without knowing this official term. Dressage is the term used to describe a high level of training that essentially renders instinctive maneuvers into a choreographed and coordinated movements set to music.

Combined training is a much more athletic focus for horse and rider, combining jumping over various obstacles with cross-country racing distances. Show jumping focuses on horse and rider clearing several obstacles on a course with the goal of finishing as quickly as possible without knocking over and clearing all obstacles. For both combined training and show jumping, obstacles may include hurdles, logs, water, ditches, walls, and more.

Medieval Competitions

The earliest known tournament featuring horsmanship was in medieval Europe in the ninth century. During this tournament, the cavalries of Charles and Louis embarked on military training maneuvers that ultimately ended in all participants embroiled in a general upheaval. As time went on, the tournaments and friendly competition continued to grow in popularity and were adopted across much of Europe. Today, modern equine competitions and exhibitions, such as racing and polo, show the medieval traditions of tournament.

Training and Skill

Of course, competitions of yore or today are not possible without training. Training both the horse and rider are key elements of horsemanship. When the horse and rider seem to function as one cohesive unit, this is often due to a great deal of training of both the horse and rider. The training is for the physical feats, as well as the verbal and other commands for jumping, trotting, running, and other physical maneuvers.

Entertainment

Luckily for those who may not ever have the opportunity to attempt learning horseback riding or other equine skills, there are many opportunities to see this talent in person. One such venue is a dinner theater show that focuses on older equestrian talents such as jousting and parading. Not only is there the chance to watch the horse and show, but also for dinner, socializing and wonderful memories.

The Remarkable Marlon Brando

I have been watching Marlon Brando movies as far back as I can remember. Long before I knew an inkling about the craft of acting I was deeply affected by his remarkable performances. My father, a huge Brando fan, had seen him in “Streetcar” on Broadway and spoke of the stellar performance he had witnessed.…

I have been watching Marlon Brando movies as far back as I can remember. Long before I knew an inkling about the craft of acting I was deeply affected by his remarkable performances. My father, a huge Brando fan, had seen him in “Streetcar” on Broadway and spoke of the stellar performance he had witnessed. Actor William Redfield saw him play Stanley on stage 17 times. The nuances he brought to the role have been the subject of conversations to this day.

“On The Waterfront” was another of my father's favorites and hearing him talk about it made me eager to see it on the big screen. When I found out that a neighborhood theater was playing a double bill and “Waterfront” was featured, I rushed over to see it. For a little over an hour I sat in the darkened theater spellbound, my eyes glued to the screen. There was something all too human about the way he portrayed “Terry Malloy”. It did not seem like he was acting at all. In fact he reminded me of some of the “characters I came across in my neighborhood.

What was it about this actor that made him so compelling to watch? What made him different than other actors I had seen? To be sure he had worked alongside another fine actors through his career: Karl Malden, Anthony Quinn, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Sir John Gielgud, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Maximilian Schell, to name a few. But there was something about Brando that made him stand out, commanded you to watch his every move.

Over the years I have watched his movies many, many times and each and every time I marvel at his sense of truth, intensity, vulnerability, and the bold and powerful choices he made so effortlessly.

To date I have read several biographies on Brando. All of them recall the difficulties that he faced as a young Nebraskan boy growing up in a home with two alcoholic parents. By all accounts as a young boy he possessed the uncanny ability to mimic to a tee anyone he observed. His ear for dialects was akin to that of a musician with perfect pitch. He used his gifts to entertain, frighten, induce laughter. On one occasion he scared his mother and sisters half to death feigning an epileptic seizure.

Many of these biographies left me puzzling over the actor and his craft. I knew that he studied with Stella Adler, took classes at the New School, and became an “overnight” sensation in “A Streetcar Named Desire” playing “Stanley Kowalski”, theby revolutionizing acting and influencing generations of aspiring young actors (James Dean among them). But what about his technique? His preparation? What tools did he have at his disposal that enabled him to deliver, on a consistent basis, such remarkable performances? Brando himself rarely if ever talked about his process. Much of what I have read suggests that he did not have an affinity for acting. For him it was a means to an end. Something he did because he offered him the opportunity to experience the world in a way that he otherwise could not. According to one account he would become angry and reply to speak to you if you dared to bring up the subject of acting.

Many have suggested that his immense talent may have been to blame for his lack of interest.

Elia Kazan, his favorite director, wanted him to play the lead in his 1969 film “The Arrangement, which he wrote and directed.But Brando's” loss of enthusiasm “for acting concerned Kazan to such an amount that he turned to Kirk Douglas to replace him.

The accounts of Brando's “lack of enthusiasm” have been documented in every book I have read. But now there is a new book written by Susan Mizruchi, entitled “Brando's Smile”, that sheds new light on his process and almost obsessive attention to detail. There is no question that Brando's talent was immense. There is also no doubt that Stella Adler and Elia Kazan helped him to make the most of that talent. Brando combined talent, technical skill, and a vivid imagination to create some of the most memorable performances in the history of American cinema. Unfortunately, for legal reasons, I am not at liberty to declare any of the details of Ms.. Mizruchi's fascinating account of the Marlon Brando that has been a mystery to those interested in his process. And although I am an acting teacher, not a reviewer of books, I highly recommend, to those of you that are eager to get a new perspective on this complicated man that you buy a copy poste haste. It is not only totally absorbing but it will provide the reader with an opportunity to learn a great deal about the time, effort and level of commitment that is the foundation of so many of its greatest performances.