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by Alison Hogan

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 The (almost) new A Class Act also offers New York City kids something unique in its acting classes — the opportunity to train with Broadway professionals.  Workshop leaders this season include Tony Award nominees Emily Skinner and Nancy Opel, Drama Desk nominee Leslie Kritzer, Broadway musical director Seth Rudetsky, and casting directors from CBS Primetime Casting and Abrams Artists Youth Division.

   A Class Act was started in 2005 by Jessica Rofe Cates and Marc Tumminelli. Both had been child actors; Tumminelli continued a stage career, while Cates moved into casting.  Up till now they have been focusing their efforts on in-school afterschool programs, but have just launched a full lineup of Weekend Workshops — classes for ages 7-17, all taught by theater professionals.

   Upcoming are a Two Day Musical Theatre Technique Workshop (March 17 and 24); an Acting II Workshop with Broadway star, Kaitlin Hopkins (April 15); a two-day On-Camera Commercial Workshop with casting agent, Maribeth Fox (April 21 and April 22); with “Broadway Experience” and “Broadway Dancer” workshops in May.  Workshop prices range from $75-$275; participants are kept to a maximum of 15 per workshop.

   Cates describes the workshops as geared more toward kids hoping to pursue a career on stage; their classes, on the other hand (currently on hiatus), work to expose kids to the arts and to build confidence.  “Theater brings kids out of their shell,” maintain Cates. “We’re big on nurturing, not criticism.”

   When we spoke, their first student had just been signed to a talent agency.  Growing up, this would have been her a dream, says Cates — a place to attend theater classes where you are exposed to the pros.

   Classes are held at Ripley-Grier Studios, 520 Eighth Avenue (36th Street).  For more info: (212) 636-9172; www.AClassActNY.com.


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