Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Masters at work: Committing to EXCELLENCE!

The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel. – Piet Mondrian, Artist
"Man is asked to make of himself what he is supposed to become to fulfill his destiny." – Paul Tillich, Theologian
The New York Awards season is upon us! The Bistro Awards happened last Tuesday night, The Drama Desk Nominations came out last Friday, The Lucille Lortell Awards were presented Sunday night, The Tony Nominations were announced yesterday, The MAC Awards will be presented on May 10th...have I left any out? I love this time of year. There is a buzz in the air and I am reminded once again how lucky I am to be in a city that celebrates LIVE ENTERTAINMENT. If I went to 3 live shows every night for the next five years, I still could not see everything. And I hope to God that everyone who reads this, no matter where you are, will celebrate and support LIVE entertainment.
The picture you see at the top is Wesla Whitfield. She truly is one of the greatest singers around AND she is going to be conducting THREE master classes here in New York next month!
Wesla is a gifted singer known for her interpretations of the Great American Songbook, and she has touched my heart with songs such as "My Ideal" (from her latest recording, "Message From the Man In the Moon").
Tony Bennett said "This wonderful singer thrills me when I hear her."Wesla Whitfield is a remarkable singer, with a deep love for that rich storehouse of musical treasures often identified as The Great American Popular Songbook. Take a listen:
Wesla has been developing her skills and learning her demanding craft for a number of years - by her own estimate, it’s been ever since she “knew at age two-and-a-half that I would grow up to be a singer.” Interestingly enough, that's when it also started for Judy Garland. I saw Wesla in a tribute to Judy at Carnegie Hall several years ago. Great night! Great performance!
Wesla's sound and approach would seem to place her somewhere in the intriguing area that borders on both jazz and that aspect of pop music which draws its material largely from the great standards and neglected gems of such as Cole Porter and Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hart.Wesla Whitfield was born in Santa Maria, California. The youngest of three girls, she experienced routine childhood music training (piano lessons at age 7, sang in church, studied voice - “classical, of course” - at about age 14). She did discover her mother’s extensive sheet music collection at an early age, “and used it to sight-read.” Serious radio and record listening provided some important influences including Rosemary Clooney, the Hi-Los, Peggy Lee, Frankie Laine and Dean Martin.

Among her earliest professional experiences was a mid-70s stint with the San Francisco Opera as a salaried chorister.
Wesla, with her husband/pianist/arranger, Mike Greensill performs annually throughout the country. Together Mike and Wesla have opened at Michigan’s Meadowbrook, New Jersey’s Garden State Art Center and Flint Center in Cupertino for such notables as George Burns, Michael Feinstein and Frankie Laine.
If you’d like to be a part of A Master Class with Wesla Whitfield and Mike Greensil,contact www.WeslaWhitfield/wesla@WeslaWhitfield.
Wednesday, June 1st, Thursday, June 2nd, and Saturday June 4th: all sessions from 1-4PM. Location to be announced. Also, see Wesla LIVE IN CONCERT!
May 31st through June 12th
Tuesday through Sunday
at 7 p.m. NYC, NY
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd St. (Between 5th & 6th Ave.)
NY 10010

with the Mike Greensill Trio. (I'm going June 10th if anyone wants to join me).
Can't wait!

On Monday nights, I am now studying with Paula Riley at Paul Michael's Network.
Tel: 212 206 0440Paul Michael's The Network offers studio space for castings, rehearsals, meeting and performing arts community of New York at:

242 West 36th, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10018

Be sure to check out their specials and discounts on the "Rental Rates" page!(
The Network is a place where Metropolitan area theatre and film artists and the agents, managers and casting directors looking to work with them can meet, communicate and connect in a safe and creative atmosphere.
Through weekly seminars and Q&A sessions with some of New York's top entertainment professionals, The Network provides opportunities for developing artists to meet with them to both train and expand their professional network.
There are so many things going on at The Network!
The Network eagerly anticipates its next One Act Festival, to be held in the early Summer of 2011.
Please send 20 minute submissions and questions to Patrick Woodall at

"The Network NYC's One Act Festival was such an amazing event. The atmosphere that Paul Michael and his staff develops is perfect for growing actors, writers, directors, and producers. This festival helped me to promote myself and my show to some of NYC's busiest and more influential casting directors, agents, and producers. It is one of the best networking opportunities an actor can take part in. The rewards of being a part of the Network are limitless and I am so thankful that I was able to participate in their One Act Festival this year."

Featured Events
Musical Theatre Best of Best with Merri Sugarman, Justin Huff & Jack Bowden
Legit Casting Directors with Tara Rubin, Telsey+Co., Binder Casting

The musical theatre season is upon us... Kick off your summer with a Triple Threat Best of The Best Musical Theatre class at the Network! Just announced: a 3-week musical theatre class with three casting directors from the three BIGGEST musical theatre casting offices in New York City.
Each week you have the opportunity to meet, perform and learn from a different casting director who will work with you while offering feedback and advice.
The first week you’ll meet Merri Sugarman from Tara Rubin Casting, the second week- Justin Huff from Bernard Telsey Casting, and the final guest: Jack Bowdan from Jay Binder Casting. Space is limited to 12 lucky actors so don’t miss out on the summers hottest and most informative musical theatre class with this “pitch” perfect tri-fecta of the biggest names in casting!

As stated earlier, I am in an acting class on Monday nights that I'm having a great time with! I LOVE working with Paula Riley! What a gift!As way of introduction to what Paula does and how she will assist you on your journey toward a career as an actor, her edict as both a teacher and a coach is as follows:

"PPA (Primary Principles of Acting) engages the student in both private coaching and class work. I also use improvisation as a main tool. It is my goal that the students become conscious of and familiar with those elements he will depend upon throughout his acting career, some of which are:

* Making conscious choices
* The use of the senses
* Memory +
* Imagination and the subconscious

The ultimate objective is to have the actor create and embrace the character’s 'sense of truth.'"
For over 35 years Paula has acted, directed, taught, coached and produced in New York City. Her aim is to help the actor achieve the greatest possibility for the existence of nuance, through the profound understanding of character development and its inevitable progression. Her workshops and private coaching have helped beginners as well as professionals, toward a deeper understanding, and therefore a more organic rendering, of their work.
Paula J Riley was born in the proverbial theatrical trunk. Her parents were comedian Larry Best and singer Susan Brewster, who worked the Borscht Belt circuit after meeting on the Major Bowes radio show. She was a charter member of Iza Itkin’s repertory theatre company, The Chamber Theater, in Manhattan. Iza was the daughter of David Itkin of the famed Goodman Theatre in Chicago. There, she studied the art of improvisation, which led Paula to a deeper understanding of herself as well as the intricacies of acting. This would have a lasting and profound influence upon how she would later teach. Working with a closely-knit group of actors for an extended period of time gave Paula great insight into the acting group dynamic.
Throughout her career, she has portrayed such characters as: Daisy Werthan, in Driving Miss. Daisy, Amanda in Glass Menagerie, Edna, in Prisoner of Second Avenue and Norma, in ‘Night Mother, just to name a few.
Some of her Directorial credits include: A Fake Fiasco by Fred Timm, I Feel Swell, by Henry Meyerson, Wednesdays by Sue Brody, Extreme Unction (Reading), by Marvin Cotlar, Traffic Jam by Bonnie Corso, The Reading by John C. Davenport, Come Back, Little Sheba by William Inge, Golden Boy by Clifford Odets, The Wreck on the 5:25 by Thorton Wilder, From Lindsay by Monica Raymond and The Stronger by August Strindberg.
Come see the results of our classes:
May 23
6-8 pm

ROY ARIAS STUDIOS/THE PAYAN THEATRE, 300 West 43rd Street/5th floor
Paula J Riley Presents: Primary Principles of Acting workshop Industry Showcase. Five scenes that examine the family dynamic from: BEAUTIFUL CLEAR-EYED WOMAN, DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, WAKE & LITTLE MURDERS. Contact Paula at to reserve.For further information, to schedule an appointment for a free consultation:

T: 212.689.4362
C: 917. 544.4986

(Buy THE THOUGHT EXCHANGE by David Friedman

Tomorrow's blog will be YOU TELL ME...the first three suggestions I receive!



Richard Skipper,

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