Tag Archives: Amanda Melby

Get out, get art!

After hitting just a single night of this year’s “Phoenix Film Festival,” I’m giving serious thought to running away from home. Not forever. Just through next Thursday when the festival comes to a close. With so many amazing offerings, it seems silly to drive back and forth from theater to laundry room and such.

All sorts of things caught my eye on this weekend’s festival schedule — including a free “Kids’ Day” for families presented by IFP Phoenix from 9am-2pm on Sat, March 31 (where you can also see three family films for just $5 each — including “Chimpanzee” from Disney at 1:05pm).

Also high school shorts, college shorts, animated shorts, a silent auction, a preview of Phoenix Comicon 2012 and plenty of live performance art by folks from Scorpius Dance Theatre to Carol Pacey & the Honey Shakers. Even workshops on topics like “Casting Indies” and “Life as an Indie Actor.”

A film titled “Kerry and Angie” that’s part of a Saturday morning “Arizona Showcase” is directed by Amanda Melby, head coach and owner at Verve Studios in Scottsdale — one of many performing arts groups to participate in this year’s RAK Camp Fair. Folks who attend the Actors Theatre production of “Body Awareness” at the Herberger Theater Center will get to see Melby in action.

Those seeking more family-friendly fare have another great option in the “Children’s Day & Kite Festival” taking place Sat, March 31 from 10am-3pm at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix — which features martial arts, games, food, face painting and other activities. Families are invited to wear kimonos and bring a kite along (or make kites during the festival). Best they not offer kimono-making. I would only embarrass myself.

Fans of Rodgers & Hammerstein can enjoy a double dose of musical theater this weekend as Greasepaint Youtheatre performs “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” and The Phoenix Symphony performs “An Evening with Rodgers & Hammerstein” (don’t let the name “fool” you — Sunday’s show is actually a matinee). The latter is a collaboration with Phoenix Theatre featuring direction by Michael Barnard and a collection of vocalists that bears a startling resemblance to my list of favorite people.

Your last chance to see the Scottsdale Community College production of “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson is Sat, March 31 at 2pm and 7:30pm — and I happen to know first hand that at least one of the show’s young actors is cuter than the dickens. If acting is hereditary, she’s also rocking her role.

— Lynn

Note: Family-friendly activities are always available in print and online calendars from Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

Coming up: Two of the most imporant hours of my life


Acting studio options

Someone suggested to me recently that I might have what it takes to work the art of acting. A lovely compliment and something I might consider were one of my children not committed to the craft.

As every parents knows, the everyday brings plenty of its own tragedy and comedy — with more of the latter on a good day. Still, if I ever decided to give acting a try I’d have plenty of Valley options for classes and private coaching.

One of many classes at Dearing Studio (Photo by Chadwick Fowler)

Dearing Acting Studio, which recently moved to a new Phoenix location, offers classes for adults and teens — and workshops too. Aug/Sept offerings include comedic monologue, scene-based improv and marketing for actors.

If you like to watch rather than read when it comes to gathering info, explore their “acting tips” videos — which cover topics like cold reading, diction and avoiding acting scams.

Waymire Studio for the Performing Arts in Glendale (also coming to Mesa) offers classes for kids and teens on topics like commercial work, audition techniques and improvisation. Adult options include Meisner, gut reacting and the Elayne Stein method — as well as scene study, improv and vocal performance for singers.

One of many classes offered at Verve Studios

Verve Studios, which describes itself as “a boutique music and acting studio,” has locations in Scottsdale and Phoenix. It offers classes and coaching for “serious actors and musicians” — whether child, teen or adult. Offerings include Shakespeare “boot camp,” accents and dialects training, a commercials intensive and more.

The above photo (taken by Jennifer Pfalzgraff of Verve Studios) features Amanda Melby and tween acting students, including Maggie Thurston (seen on the monitor), watching their taped auditions as part of Verve Studios’ 2011 “Film Acting for Tweens” camp.

The Phoenix Film Institute offers on-camera acting classes for adults as well as kids and teens. There’s also private coaching, plus classes in voiceover work, audition techniques and performance skills.

Several Valley theater companies, including Phoenix Theatre and Childsplay in Tempe, offer camps and classes for children and teens — as do many of the Valley’s youth theaters, such as East Valley Children’s Theatre, Theater Works’ Youth Works and Valley Youth Theatre.

A young student enjoying a class at Childsplay Academy

Performing arts venues like Mesa Arts Center offer a rich assortment of arts-related classes not only in acting, but in dance, music and various visual arts as well. City parks and recreation departments are another option, especially for families on a tight budget.

People have different philosophies about what makes for a well-trained actor. Looking at the backgrounds of today’s best known stage and screen professionals, you might suppose that just about any sort of life experience can bring something to the needed mix of instinct and talent.

My daughter Lizabeth is just beginning her journey as an actor, but already I can see that several things have influenced her work. Training with experienced, working theater professionals. Experiencing the live works of other actors and performers. Even people watching and reading galore.

Her education in the performance arts has been broad rather than narrow. She didn’t spend every waking hour in an acting class. Instead, she spent nearly a decade in dance and music training, primarily ballet and violin — something noted by an actor and director who wrote one of her recommendation letters for college.

Many of the skills she developed in acting classes were first honed in music lessons or dance classes. Movement. Pacing. Focus. Discipline. Taking direction. Working as a group.

So while I’m all for acting classes, I’m a big believer in creating a wider world for aspiring and developing actors to explore.

— Lynn

Note: Stay tuned for the September “performing arts” issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine featuring performing arts-related stories and resources.

Coming up: Playing “I Spy” sculpture style, Remembering 9/11, Fun with film festivals, Resume tips for young actors, Teen tips on choosing a theater camp