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New Studio on Broadway Curriculum

THE NEW STUDIO ON BROADWAY professional theatre training in Acting and in Musical Theatre is taught in four years of sequential training. Year I and Year II are Primary Training.  Years III and IV are Advanced Professional Training.  

The First Year

Foundational Courses

ACTING:

Focusing on Contemporary Scene Study and a range of Acting exercises designed to free the actor's imagination, first year acting study provides fundamental understanding of acting objectives with tools and approaches for personalization in order to bring students and their life experiences into their work on a written text. Acting classes are held twice per week.  

DANCE: 

Students take Foundations of Ballet or Ballet I depending on the individual student's dance aptitude upon entry into the training.  Ballet is given twice per week.  In addition, students have Contemporary Dance, which focuses on current dance vocabularies, Broadway Styles and urban, contemporary, popular dance, including an eclectic “of-the-moment” range of styles, techniques, skills, and approaches. Contemporary Dance is taught once per week.  

MUSIC:

Students study Music Theory, where they are taught the fundamentals and foundation of music or, if they have previously studied music theory, additional training is provided, equipping the actor to learn music quickly and to understand melodic, harmonic and rhythmic relationships, and their impact on vocal performance and acting through music.  Music theory meets twice per week.   

Small Group Music: Teaches students how to sustain dramatic and musical integrity in harmonic singing in a range of small groups from trios through full choral singing in a wide range of increasingly challenging arrangements. This course meets once per week.

Sight Singing teaches students how to sight-read music quickly, identifying their individual parts, translating what's on the musical page into a sustained, dramatically effective musical phrase and doing so quickly. This skill is particularly important for the actor working on new musical material that has never been performed before. This course meets once per week.

Vocal Performance teaches the essential ability to personally connect to the meaning and intent of a lyric and the musical information provided by the composer as well as the lyricist, so that a student can “own” the song and portray the musical character with a deep personal investment. Students study how to pursue the objective through, and within, the musical performance.

Individual private voice lessons are given to each NSB student once per week in order to build the actor’s musical facility and ability to believably act and sing in the voice of the character, serving the narrative in a dramatically compelling and musically beautiful expression that is healthy and sustainable in any genre of music, through any rehearsal process and performance long run.    

SPOKEN VOICE: 

Training of the spoken voice so that the actor can communicate in a clear, resonant, and expressive way, with any dramatic text and in any size theatre in a healthy and sustainable way.  The first year trains breadth, imagination and the clarity of intention made manifest on the voice so what the actor thinks and feels is constantly communicated through the precision and clarity of the utterance.  Voice meets once per week.    

SPEECH:

Shares goals and outcomes with voice training. The class focuses on both the mechanics and physiology of spoken word and how the body produces sound as clear expression. This class may also explore components of speech and dramatic literature as keys provided by writers in order to unlock character and intent. Speech meets once per week.        

The Second Year

ACTING, DANCE, AND SPOKEN VOICE

ACTING:

Students continue in-depth scene study with a primary focus on Shakespeare.  in addition to deepening the freedom of imagination and sense of play, study includes specifics of analysis and understanding of verse and poetry used in dramatic and musical forms, with an emphasis on the actor pursuing the objective on the language.  There is a deeper immersion in exercise work in direct relation to the growing complexity and demands of the scene study.  Actors work on longer scenes in order to learn to sustain characterizations and truthful acting over more extended periods and eventually in performances of full-length Sophomore Rehearsal Projects, presented in the spring term of the year.  Acting classes meet twice per week.

DANCE: 

Classes in Tango, Ballroom and Tap are taught, in addition to further training in Ballet and Jazz and Contemporary Dance.  Students take three classes per week.  Greater emphasis is now placed on application of basic technique in sustained and more complex combinations and extended sequences across the floor.  Tango, Tap and Ballroom are used to further expand the musical vocabulary, teach focus, partnering and rhythmic precision, and particularity, allowing the actor to fully express themselves and the creator/choreographer's intent, as a living vessel and embodiment of the music.

PHYSICAL ACTING:

Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian fusion of Martial Arts, Dance, and Percussion and Music, is also taught in the second year. This extraordinary art form builds strength, flexibility, and physical and musical expression in a way unlike any other course in the NSB curriculum. Capoeira encourages the student to work as far outside of the traditional Broadway and American show business genres as possible, breaking open the performer's usual comfort zone and opening up the actor to new ways of perceiving and expressing music, dance, and the physicalization of intention. This class is a fusion of dance and physical acting and meets one to two times per week. 

Alexander Technique: a physical discipline teaching body alignment, breath, and focused relaxation as a state of readiness and greater awareness of the subtleties of the body in relationship to space and other bodies.  This introductory class is taught once per week for one term. 

SPOKEN VOICE: 

Training of the spoken voice continues in the second year so that the actor can communicate in a clear, resonant and expressive way, with any dramatic text and in any size theatre in a healthy and sustainable way.

SPEECH: 

Shares goals and outcomes with Voice.  The class focuses on both the mechanics and physiology of the spoken word and how the body produces sound as clear expression but may also explore components of speech and dramatic literature as keys provided by writers in order to unlock character and intent.  Speech meets once per week.  The second year of Speech may include specific focus and analysis of speaking verse with an emphasis on blank verse as used by the playwright of choice for the Acting training, William Shakespeare.   Scansion, International Phonetic Alphabet and rhetorical prose are also taught and furthered considered in the second year of Speech training.  Students are also taught phonetic transcription and introduced to dialect work and sound changes as essential tools in creating a character through speech and sound choices, just as the trained actor makes acting choices.  

MUSIC, COLLABORATIONS, AND MORE

MUSIC:

Music Theory continues the teaching of fundamentals and foundation of music, equipping the actor to learn music quickly and understand melodic, harmonic and rhythmic relationships and their impact on vocal performance and acting through music, with an additional focus on sustained application of techniques to a wider range of material and in more challenging ways.  Music Theory meets once per week.

Small Group Music teaches students how to sustain dramatic and musical integrity in harmonic singing in a range of small groups from trios through full choral singing in a wide range of increasingly challenging arrangement.   This course meets once per week only in the FALL TERM.

Sight Singing work continues with teaching students how to sight-read music quickly identifying their individual parts, translating what's on the musical page into a sustained, dramatically effective musical phrase and doing so quickly.  This skill is particularly important for the actor working on new musical material that has never been performed before.  This course meets once per week.    

Vocal Performance teaches the essential ability to personally connect to the meaning and intent of a lyric and the musical information provided by the composer and lyricist, so that students learn to portray musical character with a deep, personal investment and ownership.  Student further explore how to pursue the objective through, and within, the musical performance.

Individual private voice lessons are given to each NSB student once per week to build the actor’s musical facility and ability to believably act and sing in the voice of the character, serving the narrative in a dramatically compelling, and musically beautiful expression that is healthy and sustainable in any musical genre, through any rehearsal process and performance long run. In Year II there is a greater emphasis on the expansion and strengthening of the vocal range, solidifying a healthy and sustainable singing practice and exploring more challenging and personal repertoire, perhaps outside of the actor's perceived comfort zone.

GRADUATE MUSICAL THEATRE WRITING COLLABORATION PART I:

This is the first of a series of integrated classes that bring together NSB performers and composers and lyricists from the Masters of Fine Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.  The course teaches the unique collaborative relationship and how the actor-to-creator dynamic functions in the development of new musical material with a focus on new songs written by the MFA creators for the NSB actors.  This is one of many courses in the New Studio On Broadway focusing on fundamentals of how a professional actor works with writers, composers and lyricists on new material and ultimately new musical theatre, which is a distinctly different skill set from working on an established musical in the canon.  This course meets once per week in the SPRING TERM of Year II.

SCENE INTO SONG:

This class teaches the acting fundamentals of how to believably move from the spoken word of a libretto or book scene into the lyric moment of song and the sustained expression of emotional, spiritual and psychological geography in a unified, truthful and organic character that serves the narrative.  The class teaches specific techniques of analysis of language and musical components as building blocks from which the character will be constructed.  This class meets once a week.

REHEARSAL PROJECTS:

In addition to the curricular studio classwork, in the SECOND TERM OF YEAR II all students in New Studio on Broadway perform in a full-length rehearsal project, which is often a musical, so that they can apply all that has been learned in the first two years of training on a sustained characterization synthesizing acting, music, dance, spoken voice, speech, and physicalization.

YEAR II students are also eligible to audition for departmental Tisch Drama StageWorks productions.    

The Third Year

Advanced Training

ACTING:  

Students continue in-depth scene study with a primary focus on Chekhov, The Greeks and Molière.  Continuing and deepening the freedom of imagination and a sense of play, the specifics of analysis and understanding of verse and poetry used in dramatic and musical forms, all with an emphasis on the actor pursuing the objective on the language.  Actors must now immerse themselves fully in detailed characterization while living truthfully in time periods and life-styles far from their own experience.   In addition to scene study and work on extended speeches, actors work on full acts, longer scenes and extended sequences in order to build skills and understanding of more complete work and to deepen learning to sustain characterizations and truthful acting in full-length character arcs.   Acting classes meet twice per week for a longer class period than Primary Training.

DANCE:  

In addition to ongoing advanced training in Ballet and Jazz, with greater complexity in combinations, partnering and more demanding use of the essential skill sets in wide-ranging choreography, students also study Acrobatics and Gymnastics.  In addition to building strength, fitness, flexibility, co-ordination and agility, these classes, under the direction of our faculty from the renowned acrobatics, gymnastics and tumbling program at Chelsea Piers, have proven to be extremely useful and marketable special skills for the actor in pursuit of a professional career.  Ballet, Jazz and Acro-Gymnastics each meet once per week. 

MUSIC:

Vocal Performance teaches the essential ability to personally connect to the meaning and intent of a lyric using the musical information provided by the composer and lyricist., so that students ‘own’ the songs and portray the musical characters with a deep personal investment. Additional work and deeper analysis of how to pursue the objective through and within the musical performance is taught.  In the third year of NSB training, more challenging, mature, and adult repertoire is introduced to continue to stretch the actor's vocal and musical capacities in order to be fully ready to tackle principal and supporting roles in Musical Theatre classics as well as in Contemporary Musicals and New Work.

Individual Private Voice Lessons continue for each NSB student once per week. In addition to building the actor’s musical facility and ability to believably act and sing in the voice of the character, work continues to serve the narrative in a dramatically compelling and musically beautiful expression that is healthy and sustainable in any genre of music, through any rehearsal process and long run performance schedule.  In Year III there is continued emphasis placed on the expansion of the actor’s capacities, moving out of received or accepted perceptions of self, continuing to engage and shatter the notion of "type", and empowering the actor.  In YEAR III there is also a focus on the ease of singing and creating music so that the musical performance is never effortful but is organic, free and unfettered, coupled with expansion and strengthening of the vocal range, solidifying a healthy and sustainable singing practice and exploring more challenging and personal repertoire, perhaps outside of the actor's perceived comfort zone.  

VOICE and SPEECH: 

Share goals and outcomes in classes, which focus on both the mechanics and physiology of the spoken word and how the body produces sound as clear expression.  Work may also explore components of speech and dramatic literature as keys provided by writers in order to unlock character and intent.  In YEAR III the actor is tasked with synthesizing the Primary Training voice and speech tools and creatively applying the first two year’s work to all projects, scenes and musical material in all class work, projects and performances in order to achieve clear, sustainable communication and to make varied and specific voice and speech choices according to the Professor’s and Director's wishes and the demands of the material.   Voice and Speech meets once per week.

SCENE INTO SONG: Year III HAMMERSTEIN and SONDHEIM: 

This class teaches the acting fundamentals of how to believably move from the spoken word of a libretto or book scene into the lyric moment of song and the sustained expression of emotional, spiritual and psychological geography, in a unified, truthful and organic character that believably serves the narrative.  The class teaches specific techniques of analysis of language and musical components as building blocks from which characters will be built.  This class meets once a week and focuses on the two most significant and accomplished musical dramatists in the history of the Musical Theatre: Oscar Hammerstein II (fall term) and Stephen Sondheim (spring term). 

Advanced Training: Performance Projects

In addition to the curricular studio classwork, during Year III all students perform in one full-length performance project, which is often a musical. The performance projects enable students to apply all that has been learned in their Advanced Professional Training on a sustained, mature, and nuanced extended characterization that synthesizes acting, music, dance, spoken voice, speech, and physicalization.  

YEARS III and IV Upper Level Projects are typically more challenging musical and dramatic material and may include world premiere productions of collaborative work written by Masters students in the Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program.

The Fourth Year

A BRIDGE YEAR

An essential goal of Year IV Advanced Professional Training is providing a bridge from the actor-training environment to the industry and profession. There is a subtle shift in the training in order to contextualize and assess each actor’s work as it might be considered professionally.  The training continues, but professional viability is now an assessment measure of the training and students are taught by a number of working industry professionals, particularly in the areas of casting and directing.

ACTING: 

In Year IV, the acting training comes full circle and, with expanded tools and facilities of the training taught in the first three years, the Actor now focuses once again on contemporary material.  There is an additional focus in ensuring that each actor does some work that may engage their "type" as that may be perceived by the Industry. Students are encouraged to explore some material that is specific to gender, race, culture heritage, and theater normative "types." Students are by no means limited by these categories, but it is important that they are able to bring their talents fully to bear on traditional material and ideas in addition to the innovative and exciting explorations that have been an essential aspect of their training. Our goal is to train resilient, flexible and personally committed, and invested actors who bring themselves fully to all they do and who are armed with excellent play analysis, language, and physical acting skills. These skills will allow them to make original and distinctive choices in Acting, Singing and Dancing. Continuing and deepening the freedom of imagination and sense of play, specifics of analysis, and understanding of verse and poetry used in dramatic and musical forms, with an emphasis on the actor pursuing the objective on the language. Actors must now immerse themselves fully in the detailed characterization while living truthfully in a time period and in life-styles far from their own experience. Actors may also be paired with seasoned professionals in their scene study work and mentored in this scene study by the senior professional actor. Acting classes meet twice per week for a longer class period. 

Among the Master acting teachers in this fourth year of training have been Academy Award-winner OLYMPIA DUKAKIS and Tony Award-winners FRANK WOOD and MEL SHAPIRO. The spring term of Year IV acting features a professional immersion. Classes are taught in four to six-week intensive labs with professional industry casting directors who work extensively with students on their craft and how to best share their work in a distinctive and indelible way in order to enter into the profession. Among the professional casting directors that have taught these classes are JORDAN THALER and HEIDI GRIFFITHS from the PUBLIC THEATER, STEPHANIE KLAPPER and colleagues from STEPHANIE KLAPPER CASTING, ALAN FILDERMAN, and casting associates from TARA RUBIN CASTING.  

DANCE:

In Year IV Dance is taught with an immersive focus on professional preparedness in order to enter the industry at a very high level of proficiency, artistic excellence, and professional readiness. To this end students take three dance intensives per week in Ballet, Jazz, and Broadway Professional Workshop and the actor is expected to synthesize all that they have learned thus far in order to demonstrate their readiness to work with Industry professionals, while continuing to learn exactly what that professional collaboration requires and demands of the actor. In the Broadway Professional Workshop students are taught in a series of master classes/multi-week intensives.

More on the Bridge Year

SCENE INTO SONG INTO DANCE:

This class teaches the acting fundamentals of how to believably move from the spoken word of a libretto or book scene into the lyric moment of song and when song can no longer express the breadth and depth of the intent and the experience of the character then they must DANCE.  The sustained expression of emotional, spiritual, and psychological geography in a unified, truthful, and organic character that believably serves the narrative and fully expresses the music vocally and physically through any and all forms of dance as demanded by the material. The class teaches and strengthens our responsiveness to dance within and through the music rather than to merely execute steps with only technical proficiency. This class teaches the actor to always ask "Why are you dancing?" and "What is the step or phrase really expressing?" Then the actor must translate this understanding into distinctive and indelible embodiment and execution of the choreography. To synthesize and unify all of the specifics of analysis of language and musical components as building blocks from which the character, the song, and the dance will be built. This class teaches more specific analysis of rhythmic, harmonic melodic choices made by the composer, as well as application of the text and verse techniques learned throughout primary training as the Actor moves towards a believable, truthful character. Class work includes, but is not limited to, the work of seminal choreographers JEROME ROBBINS, BOB FOSSE, TOMMY TUNE, AGNES DEMILLE and MICHAEL BENNETT. Meets once per week.  

GRADUATE MUSICAL THEATRE WRITING COLLABORATION PART II:

Year IV continues the collaborative training in how the actor works on new musical material with its creators: the librettists, lyricists, and composers, creating their original, full-length, master thesis musicals in Graduate Musical theatre Writing at Tisch. Among the immersive techniques-in-collaboration explored are how to quickly learn, absorb and perform brand-new scenes and songs in a compressed period of time and how to communicate and interact with writers and composers about what they intend and what is essential for them in the execution and playing of their material. This class teaches that the actor has a primary responsibility to allow the writers to hear exactly what they have written, as they have written it, in order to know whether or not the material successfully communicates what is intended. Sight-singing, superb & swift musicianship, and the ability to make strong, clear, and honest choices in acting and in singing the truth of the character are essential in this class. Those skills are tested each week, as new material is being constantly written and performed for the class. This class is also an opportunity for the writers and composers to learn how to communicate and collaborate with the actor and, more importantly, these creators have the opportunity to hear their material "played" by actors, rather than simply read by fellow writing colleagues. The course expands the unique collaborative relationship and how the actor-to-creator dynamic functions in the development of new musical material. There is a focus on extended scenes that lead to the lyric moment and to the song as the MFA students are writing new full-length works. This is a distinctly different skill set from working on established musicals in the canon.

 

Preparing for the Profession

VOCAL BOOK PREPARATION:  

The culmination of training in the NSB Vocal Performance curriculum is the Vocal Book Preparation class.  This class focuses on selecting and refining a range of distinctly chosen and specialized material in a wide range of genres that may best demonstrate the student’s personal affinity and musical taste, individual distinctiveness as an actor, vocal range and music that they genuinely love to sing.  While the demands and needs of the Industry are taken into account, they are not the ascending value of song selection.  Every selection is focused on how to best share the unique talent that the Actor has honed during their four years of singing and acting training.   The class also specifies and clarifies how to select a dramatically succinct 32-bar cut of exciting material that doesn't violate the sanctity of the music, while still giving the actor a viable objective to play out.  While NSB training leans toward the singing of full-length material, we recognize that chorus auditioning may be a necessity particularly in the early matriculation of the actor.  Therefore training must be comprehensive for preparedness, ranging from chorus calls to agent appointments for principal casting.  Many of these classes engage professional director and casting agent guests who may appear unannounced and will assess the work of the actor and their professional viability.  Among the actors, directors and casting agents who have worked with NSB students in these classes are Tony Award Winner KATHLEEN MARSHALL, JEFF CALHOUN, MICHAEL GREIF, JORDAN THALER, NORM LEWIS, and Tony Award winners BILLY PORTER and PHYLICIA RASHAD.

VOICE and SPEECH:  

In Year IV the actor is tasked with the refinement of vocal production and clear communicative speech as it must be practiced and maintained by the professional working actor.   There is ongoing attention to specific speech challenges and/or impediments and the elimination of those challenges by ongoing corrective drills and practices.  The actor may also be engaged in a project whereby they create a distinctive character based on historical research and then perform the character making distinctive and specific sound and speech choices.  The actor is charged with synthesizing the Primary Training Voice and Speech tools and creatively applying this work to all projects, scenes and musical material in class work, projects and performances in order to achieve clear, sustainable communication, making varied and specific voice and speech choices according to the Professor’s and Director's wishes and the demands of the material.   Voice and Speech meets once per week.  

ACTING IN THE DIGITAL AGE:  

This class teaches the actor to fully engage, confront and embrace digital technology and its intersection with acting for the theatre.  How to create a personal website that increases professional visibility and presence.  How to update a website with professional activities and how to establish and present a professional Internet presence on social media increasingly important in the industry. This class meets once a week.

TRANSLATING FOR THE CAMERA: 

This fall-term class specializes in continuing training for the actor, whose predominant training has been for the stage, in truthful, honest, simple and straightforward work for the camera, digital platforms and the Internet as these forms and technical elements increasingly intersect with the acting craft and profession. The class is taught by an Industry casting director with a wealth of experience in a wide range of films from independent to studio production, as well as working as an acting Instructor and an Industry coach.  This class meets once per week.   

ACTING AS A BUSINESS: 

This spring-term class is taught by former talent agent and personal manager, BRIAN O'NEIL, author of the best-selling book ACTING AS A BUSINESS, and teaches the practical survival tools that any young actor must know and understand. Covering everything from how to take an initial meeting with an agent or manager to taxes and practical time management for the freelance artist  - a critical skill upon matriculation. This is a unique and original class unlike any other that gives the actor essential survival techniques and tools necessary to sustain the “business as well as the art” in a life-long acting career. This class meets once per week.

In addition to the curricular studio class work, in Year IV all students perform in one full-length performanceproject. The project is often a musical and enables students to apply all that has been learned in Advanced Professional Training on a sustained, mature and nuanced, extended characterization that synthesizes acting, music, dance, spoken voice, speech and physicalization. YEARS III and IV Upper Level Projects are typically more challenging musical and dramatic material and may include world premiere productions of collaborative work written by Masters students in Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing.