Written by Dave Gil de Rubio, email@example.com Thursday, 10 October 2013 00:00
Katherine Hepburn once said, “Acting is the most minor of gifts. After all, Shirley Temple could do it when she was four." And while this legendary late actress may have felt so glib about her craft, people of all ages usually have an entirely different outlook. Oftentimes it’s one of fear and intimidation.
It’s a reaction that acting professor Kerry McCarthy hopes to curb whenever she goes before a class of aspiring thespians. Which is the primary ideology behind the I’ve Never Acted Before Theatre Workshop she co-founded with her husband 25 years ago.
“Fifty percent of regional and local theater on Long Island is musicals, so we want our students to get the chance to see what it’s like to work with some kind of choreography,” she explained. “We’re not Bob Fosse or anything here but we want them to get some grace and know what it is to do a musical performance. We do this by employing the technique of lips synching, which Stella Adler did as exercises, so it’s very usual. Besides, the audience loves it.”
Over the past two and a half decades, McCarthy has offered up this workshop made up of between 15 to 20 students and kept it relatively inexpensive by partnering with a number of Suffolk Count-based adult education programs. Among the districts she’s worked with are Port Jefferson, Patchogue, Sayville and Miller Place. The Syosset School District is the company’s first venture into Nassau County and the second year it’s being offered here. By keeping the price down, the Longwood College alum feels her workshop offers students wishing to go further with their aspiring acting careers a shot at legitimcay.
“This is a performance they can put on a resume. It’s not about having taking classes or scenework. Fifty percent of our students return to learn more from working with this material,” McCarthy said.
While her current day job is as a music teacher who works with special needs children, McCarthy has an impressive resume that includes her having worked with a number of big names including Elizabeth Taylor, Spike Lee and Vincent Price. And with music being such a crucial part of her class, McCarthy’s most recent interaction with ‘50s/’60s pop superstar Neil Sedaka helped out with her workshop immensely.
“I ran into him at a book party in Manhattan. Because we’ve been doing lip synching performances that lend themselves more to old rock ‘n’ roll, his music is just right for it,” she pointed out. “So I took the opportunity to ask him if we could use it in a workshop situation where it’s not a paying public but rather a learning situation. [Thankfully] he readily gave me his blessing.”
The I’ve Never Acted Before Theatre Workshop began on Wednesday evening, Oct. 2, at Syosset High School. The 10-session program costs $75 for residents of the Syosset School District and $90 for everyone else plus a $5 materials fee. It’s open to adults of any age from any community, no prior acting experience or knowledge is necessary and at the end of this semester’s session, students will get to act in a comedy revue in December.