The Three R’s for your child’s start in showbiz: Start by Reading, Researching and Reaching Out

As parents, we should never be asked to pay another parent or child care giver for advice on anything. If there are specific professional services another parent or professional may provide to our child such as academic tutoring, website design, or dance lessons, that is another story. It seems to me that the term “expert” is often thrown around loosely in relation to kids in show business. I have three kids in the business who have collectively been in over 50 professional projects over the last ten years, but yet I am in NO WAY an expert in the business. Every project is different; every child is different; every pathway to success be it on Broadway, film, television, or voice overs is different. There is no formula for the Broadway “home run” that one can pay to receive.

With that said, there are true experts in the business who can offer paid expert advice and help for your child in the Broadway world. And, there are DOZENS of parents who have multiple kids in the industry with multiple credits who also offer advice and wisdom to others freely and with an open heart, but this can be done over a cup of coffee, facebook messaging, or a lunch date rather than an expensive seminar.   The logistics of navigating a performing child’s needs and even New York City go far beyond what can be taught in a two-hour class with folks who might not even have the true inside scoop or expertise they claim to have. Since most of us have limited resources, and the number one thing to know about showbiz is it is EXPENSIVE TO PURSUE, it is important to consider how to best spend our money.

So, with that stated where is a place that folks new to the Broadway scene and even seasoned families can turn? Here is a small list of legitimate, professional resources for families and kids. It is in no way exhaustive, but it certainly gets you started. And, guess what, this information is FREE.

The best place to start is to read Nancy Carson’s book Raising a Star. For much less than, say $175 for a two hour session, you can get a printed manual and how to guide for your child pursuing Broadway or other forms of the entertainment industry. In fact, you can buy it here at Amazon for less than ten dollars. https://www.amazon.com/Raising-Star-Parents-HelpingTelevision/dp/0312329865  Another great resource from an industry insider is a book by experienced casting director, Jen Rudin entitled Confessions of a Casting Director, again for less than ten dollars on Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Casting-Director-Secrets-Audition/dp/0062292099  An additional “how to” book has been written by a former child Broadway star, Henry Hodges, entitled How To Act Like a Kid. http://www.henryhodges.com/book

These three industry insiders alone offer a wealth of accurate, helpful and honest advice to families in the business. It is a parent’s job to do the research and do the work to help your child. Start by reading, researching and reaching out to friends you know who have kids in the biz. That’s the beginning.

A more direct benefit to your child in the industry is of course training and contact with people who really can help them along. If your child does not have an agent or manager, that is a next step. One group that I have found to help match children with agents and managers is A Class Act NY. This company, run by Jessica Rofe Grosman, offers an abundance of classes and workshops, but one of the most beneficial to the newbie are the agent and manager showcases she offers. These are LEGIT. Excellent agents and managers come and scout for new clients, and dozens of kids have been placed with agencies through this process. http://www.aclassactny.com/ ( One of the on camera classes my children attended offered a parent session at the end, and we learned so much useful information about self-taping that we put to use the next day, and our son booked his first film using that information.)

Some other organizations and people who are also insiders in the business as much as coaches are listed below. These are people who have years of professional experience behind them. They know what it REALLY takes for a child to make it on Broadway. Some of these people do training and some do seminars for parents, teaching us the expectations and responsibilities of the Broadway child. ( On a side note, Broadway is only one small set of stages a child may perform on and information on showbiz in general is probably more beneficial in the long run to most families.) Please follow up and research any group or person on the list. Keep in mind that this list is not all encompassing. It is simply a good start for parents who are seeking some direction.

Acting

Actors Connection https://www.actorsconnection.com/

Actors Technique NY http://actorstechniqueny.com/

Denise Simon http://denisesimoncoaching.com/

Diane Hardin http://www.dianehardinacting.com/

Jodi PrusanCoaches Kids https://www.facebook.com/Jody-Prusan-Coaches-Kids-344104809093327/

The Actors Green Room http://www.theactorsgreenroom.com/

Voice

Bob Marks http://www.bobmarks.com/

Lisa Franklin http://www.lisafranklinonline.com/vocal-studios.html

Casey Erin Clark https://www.facebook.com/caseyvoicestudio/

Trapper Felides  https://www.facebook.com/trapper.felides

Musical Theater

Broadway Artists Alliance http://www.broadwayartistsalliance.org/

Broadway Dreams Foundation http://broadwaydreams.org/

The Broadway Workshop http://www.broadwayworkshop.com/

Theater Development Fund https://www.tdf.org/—Education

Random Farms Kids’ Theater http://www.randomfarms.com/

Connecticut Resources

Voice- Billy DiCrosta http://www.billydicrosta.com/

Musical Theater all inclusive studio- Star2Be http://www.star2bperformingarts.com/

 

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It Takes Money to make Money

This past weekend my children participated in a wonderful workshop taught by the star of Newsies, Corey Cott. While sitting outside the workshop at a bustling studio in the theatre district, I met some LOVELY parents.  Meeting these folks who had trekked in from all over the Northeast really was a good reminder to me about the financial commitment “the biz” is for families.  One family in particular was from outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The mom and dad brought their thirteen year old daughter on the bus to NYC just for the day to do this workshop. They weren’t even able to stay overnight, but were headed back home on the bus in a bit of a snowstorm at eight p.m. that same evening. They told me this was her big Christmas gift. Wow! I had started to take all of these classes and workshops in abundance in NYC for granted. I started to forget that not everyone has the means to pay for expensive classes and training. So many moms and dads must make significant financial sacrifices to give their children these opportunities. My husband and I certainly pour all of our extra money into the kids’ activities, but just the mere fact we live in NYC makes these classes and training much more affordable than kids from out of town. And, unfortunately, in most anything, it does take money to make money.  

This is not a “hobby” or pursuit that comes inexpensively to anyone, regardless of geography. Dance lessons, singing lessons, vocal coaching, acting classes, head shots, web  sites, subway fare, dance shoes and clothes, audition clothes, flights to auditions, workshops…..The list goes on. Now here is the irony, there have actually been times when I spent more money on the training for an audition or transportation than the job itself paid, but remember for us, it’s about the experience. The expenses in a year can run into the tens of thousands per child. This is the truth. Not all families spend this much on training and whatnot, but for kids training and auditioning often, as well as kids who fly in for auditions, it is very easy to hit this financial mark.

Here is how my husband and I rationalize the expense; it is part of our kids’ education.  Our kids are honing their craft and having a lot of fun in the process. Honestly, too, the children pay for a portion of their own classes with their earnings as it is a legitimate and necessary tax write off for them.

My point is that it does cost money for the kids to be in this business. You can cut corners on head shots or dance shoes, but I would not cut short their training. I always say that you get what you pay for in a teacher. A great teacher should be expensive because they are worth it! And, as my children got more involved in the business, so did their expenses. Not all of this has to come at once, for example, their websites were added after they had gained some experience, and now they are excellent marketing tools that increase their visibility.

After leaving that workshop on a beautiful winter day, I felt a sense of gratitude for the experiences we can provide our kids. I also felt humbled by the parents who had made evident sacrifices to give their kids the same enriching day of training.