Tag Archives: Verve

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


Acting classes for all ages

Mr. Pricklepants, one of my two favorite thespians

If I had to choose an acting coach, I’d probably opt for thespian hedgehog Mr. Pricklepants from “Toy Story 3.” He’s a snappy dresser, he uses big words and he’s actually shorter than me.

But what’s available for the serious acting student, especially those still in their teens or even younger? Here’s a sampling of Valley options, some offered by professional theater companies and others offered by private studios.

I can’t speak for the possible pros and cons of each, since my 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth has done most of her training with Phoenix Theatre, Childsplay and Arizona School for the Arts, where she’s a senior majoring in theater.

Do your homework, looking for the things you expect in all experiences for your child–a safe environment, quality instruction, qualified and trusted professionals, convenient location and schedule, compatibility with your budget and the like.

Does your child want to be a triple threat?

Phoenix Theatre has an impressive roster of dance and theater classes, including several available this month. Think improv, Shakespeare, Fosse, musical theatre dance and more. (Master classes are for the 16 & up set.)

Teens and adults can enjoy an audition workshop with Daniel Solis, described by Phoenix Theatre as “one of L.A.’s leading Musical Theatre Casting Directors.” Solis is one of five musical theater casting directors for “California’s leading theme park.”

The Solis workshop is scheduled for Sat, July 24, at Phoenix Theatre. Solis will work with ages 12-17 from 11am-1:30pm and with adults ages 18+ from 2-4:30pm.

The latter “will also serve as an actual audition and could open up doors to potential employment with California’s leading theme park.”

I learned of another resource, Verve Studios in Scottsdale, from Laura Durant with Durant Communications, whose weekly audition notices are hailed as ‘free and safe’ by Janet Arnold, producing director for Arizona Jewish Theatre Company in Phoenix.

Good training can help your child stand out in a crowd

Durant’s website lists not only auditions, but also classes and workshops, consulting services for actors, production support classifieds and starving actor discounts.

Verve Studios offers group and individual classes in Phoenix, plus private lessons in both Phoenix and Scottsdale. Adult offerings include “foundational” techniques and “complimentary” specialties such as voice over, dialect, hosting, commercials and more.

Teen classes and workshops “are open to serious students ages 12-17 and are limited to 8 students per class in order to give each student individual attention.” Topics include film acting, scene work, monologue technique, character development and more.

Verve Studios also offers kids classes and workshops for ages 8-12. Kids classes prepare student for the “more rigorous teens curriculum” and serve “kids and parents who seek or already have agency representation.”

They also offer private acting coaching.

Always check teacher credentials and qualifications

Dearing Acting Studio with two Valley locations is proud to have been named a “2009 Parents’ Picks” winner. Their offerings include a movie camp dubbed “Valleywood” as well as a full range of classes.

Their website offers a convenient tool for searching for classes that match your needs in three categories–age group (kids, teens, adults), class type and location (North Phoenix/West Valley or Phoenix/East Valley).

Dearing Acting Studio classes cover diverse topics such as comedy, film, theatre and various specialty subjects.

I wonder if Andy is majoring in musical theatre...

Waymire Studio, with locations in Glendale and Mesa, offers diverse classes for all ages. New classes for ages 3-5, ages 6-8 and ages 9-13 begin on July 29.

The Waymire Studio teen program begins a series of six Sunday afternoon classes called “An Actor’s Life for Me” on Aug 8–which will feature training in “scenes, improv, auditioning, commerical, and more.”

Mesa classes starting July 26 include Monday night sessions for ages 5-9 and ages 10-17.

Can you tell which toy was classically trained?

One final class to note–from Theatre Artists Studio in Scottsdale, writing/acting/producing home to RAK’s own “Unmotherly Insights” blogger Debra Rich Gettleman.

They’re offering a fall singing class in “basic vocal techniques” Tuesday and Friday mornings 10am-noon from Sept 28 to Oct 29, which tells me its either for babies or grown-ups since all the other little darlings are in school during those hours.

Let’s assume grown-ups since most babies vocalize just fine–and I’ll let you know if I learn otherwise.

If you know of a Valley studio not mentioned here, feel free to comment below to briefly share their youth acting offerings with our readers.


Think outside the box by enjoying new works

Note: Phoenix Theatre’s “13th Annual Hormel New Works Festival,” featuring new works by emerging and established playwrights, opens this Friday (July 9) with a staged reading of James Christy’s “A Great War” directed by Pasha Yamotahari. Learn more at http://www.phoenixtheatre.com/page.aspx?title=New_Works_Festival

Coming up: Does your child need an agent?,  Musings on musical theater trends