Broadway Actors Perform On Amity High School Stage, Interact With Students

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Jun 042015


Aaron Walpole, Andrew Love, and Hannah Shankman talk to Amity Students about life as working actors.

When Amity Band Director Phil “I never win anything,” Dolan entered the WSHU Public Radio’s 14th annual “Music In Our Schools” outreach contest, he never dreamed he’d win.

But when the station picked the grand prize winner from 300 entries, the name on the card read “Amity Regional,” Phil Dolan was able to give his school the coolest gift ever.

The Grand Prize was better than a cash donation, or free T-shirts for the entire student body. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see three actual Broadway stars perform on the High School stage, then spend more than a half hour in a question and answer session, and join the actors in a choreographed number before rubbing elbows with them, talking one-on-one, taking selfies and getting autographs.

The three actors are all now starring in the new production of Les Miserables at the Imperial Theater on Broadway. Andrew Love (Javert — Ken Adair played this role in Amity’s production) sang “Stars”; Hannah Shankman (Eponine — Alli Kramer portrayed her at Amity in 2009) gave a stirring performance of “On My Own.”

Actress/Choreographer Shorey Walker served as emcee, she introduced each actor, then called upon Amity students to stand up and ask the cast questions about performing, getting started, dealing with stage fright, the path that led them to performing on Broadway etc.

When this session was over all of the students stood and participated in a fun, upper body choreography to the show stopping “Do You Hear The People Sing.”

The names of every student present were written on scraps of paper and placed in a basket from which six lucky winners were chosen.

Most received a CD of the Broadway Cast Recording of Les Mis, and the grand prize winning student won a full package of goodies, including a poster autographed by the cast, cd, and 4 tickets to see the show on Broadway.

Even though the actors had an evening performance to prepare for, they stuck around after the assembly was dismissed and talked to the kids, signed autographs took photos and just showed everyone that even busy working actors on a schedule can be down to earth.

The students didn’t forget to thank Mr. Dolan for making this afternoon experience possible.

Amity Principal Charles Britton was still smiling long after the assembly was over. “That was great,” he said. “What an amazing experience for the kids.”

About Music In Our Schools

WSHU developed the outreach program to bring visibility to the importance of music education, and to reward educators for the critical role they play in the community.  All elementary, middle and high school music teachers in WSHU’s listening area were invited to enter the drawing. In addition to the cast performance, the Grand Prize winner received tickets to see LES MISÉRABLES on Broadway.  First prize winning teachers each received a pair of show tickets, while second prize winning teachers received CD cast recordings.

“The ‘Music in Our Schools’ program is an integral part of our mission to serve our community,” said WSHU General Manager George Lombardi.  “It also fits into our work to promote the importance of music, art, and culture.   We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring something really special to educators and students in our listening area.”

This year’s outreach program was generously sponsored by Really Good Stuff.

Connor Deane: From Amity Theater Kid to Producer/Co-Founder Of Broadway Method Academy

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Jun 172014

connor Deane academyIf you’ve been an Orange resident for more than a year than you most likely have heard of Connor Deane.

Connor is an incredibly talented actor/singer who graced the Amity High School stage from freshman year until graduation. He excelled in every role he took on, including his final high school performance as Marius in “Les Miserables.”

A recent graduate of The Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; he holds a degree in Musical Theatre. Connor has taught extensively all over the country.

He directed such projects as the League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT) award-winning production of the “Revue Review” in Cincinnati, as well as the regional collegiate premier of “Les Miserables.” He is a proud Actors’ Equity Association Member.

Now that he is an adult, Connor has embarked on a new venture, the Co-founder/Producer of an acting studio here in Connecticut. I would love to share with the Orange community what we have going on.

Here’s what Connor had to say about it:

After graduating, I felt that I wanted to do something immediately. Some sort of giving back to a community that supported me for the past 8 years. 

Upon talking with some people, I decided to open a summer program where high school kids with a passion for musical theater could come study for three weeks. We’ve titled it Broadway Method Academy or BMA. 

Our goal is to give these kids top notch training from professional actors from across the country. All of whom are part of the professional actors union, Actor’s Equity Association. 

I’ve designed a program that will give the kids an opportunity to work on various genres of acting, singing and dancing. They will attend different classes throughout the three weeks to further their skills in the art of musical theater. 

However, the coolest part is the support BMA has received from the Broadway community in NYC. 

I wanted to have some draw for the kids to attend the program. I’ve reached out to the Broadway community and they have been nothing but supportive of this program. So many people who are starring in Broadway shows wanted to be involved somehow. 

Visiting Artists

This year, we decided we would bring in three Broadway artists to come and teach the kids for a day. We’re calling it our Broadway Artists Masterclasses. 

For this summer we’ve lined up an incredible array of talent. First we have Telly Leung of Godspell and Rent. Telly was also seen opposite Darren Criss in the hit Fox series ‘Glee’. Next we have, Lindsay Mendez. Lindsay was most recently seen as the 10th anniversary Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway. She has also been seen in Dogfight, Godspell, Everyday Rapture and Grease. Finally we have Tony nominee, Rob McClure of Chaplin. Rob was nominated last Tony season for his acclaimed role of Charlie Chaplin in the musical Chaplin. 

As you can see, we have a pretty exciting program happening this summer. 

The program will be run at Performing Arts Center of Connecticut in Trumbull for the month of July! 

There is more information on our website https://www.broadwaymethodacademy.com/