Saturday, October 3, 2015

Join our 2016 Team

We are thrilled to announce that NTSA will be producing the world premiere of Things People Defenestrated by Nick Mecikalski (Vanderbilt University '16) as our summer 2016 production.

With his brother facing charges of aggravated assault, a New York playwright returns to his hometown for the first time in years to help his family through the trial. He hopes to slip in and out of Northern Alabama without much trouble, but he soon finds himself struggling to keep his shaky career alive as he becomes entangled in a family dynamic that may be just one misplaced pornographic magazine away from exploding.

We are now accepting applications from actors, designers, and directors for our summer 2016 team. Students accepted to the program will receive an all-expense paid trip to the theater capital of America, New York City, and the opportunity to work on an off-Broadway show. Visit our Acceptd site for more information. We're looking forward to seeing your work and getting to know you!

(Members of our 2015 Team after a performance of Rae Binstock's Expedition)

And a special shout-out to our incredible script selection panel -- Jessica Baldinger (Set Designer, Expedition '15), Rae Binstock (Playwright, Expedition '15), Sam French (Co-Director, Jimmy! '14), Marla Louissaint (Actor, Jimmy! '14), and Alex Tobey (Director, Expedition '15). Thank you so much for your dedication and for making the future of the American theater possible!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

What Happens Next: Dual Acceptance

What Happens Next: Dual Acceptance


What do you get when you take an idea for a story — and then let hundreds of students from across Brooklyn decide what happens next?

What Happens Next: Dual Acceptance marks the culmination of a year-long theatrical tour that recruited high school and middle school students to help our artists develop the next scene in a constantly-evolving play. Pressured by her parents into applying to Harvard University, Emma has to decide if she’s willing to leave her long-term boyfriend behind for college — or if love means more than the Ivy League.

Exploring how race and socioeconomic class impact educational opportunity, What Happens Next: Dual Acceptance was written by Alinah Vision (LaGuardia Arts High School) and will be directed by John Moriarty (Carnegie Mellon University).

Elizabeth Baker (The Actors Studio)
Angela Guo (LaGuardia Arts High School)
Travis Raeburn (LaGuardia Arts High School)
Tristan Shuler (AADA)

Stage Manager: Genesis Ruiz (Uncommon Charter High School)

Thursday, September 10 at 9:30 PM
At The Tank

151 West 46th Street
N R Q to 49th Street
B D F M to Rockefeller Center


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thank You, Team Expedition!

This past weekend, Expedition opened at the Fourth Street Theatre to sold-out crowds. In just two weeks, our cast and crew put together an extraordinary production that gave audiences a sneak peek at the talent that they'll most likely be seeing on Broadway in a few years. Every summer, I volunteer for front-of-house duties, so that I can meet the audiences that make our work possible (especially the family members who raised, nurtured, and encouraged such outstanding young artists). What I enjoy the most about working in the lobby are the things that you hear from audience members. For instance:

"I wish there had been a program like this when I was in high school!"

"I've seen a lot of off-Broadway shows by adults that are nowhere near this good."

"As far as I know, there's no other program like this in the world."

These students put together a show that any seasoned theater professional could be proud of. We'll have more to share with you in the coming weeks (including a sizzle reel by the folks over at GreenLit Productions), but we wanted to get some production photographs out as quickly as possible. We also wanted to take a moment to thank our incredible donors who made this all possible -- including the Nancy Quinn Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York); the Actors' Equity Association Foundation; and our Kickstarter donors. Without you, our students would not have access to this life-changing opportunity. Thank you so much to our donors, audiences, and families for taking this expedition with us!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New York City, Here We Come!

Yesterday, most of Team Expedition was awake at the crack of dawn -- looking up directions to JFK Airport, making last-minute Trader Joe's trips to pick up snacks for orientation, or trying to jam that one last pair of high-heel shoes into their suitcase for opening night. (This is the last one! Promise!) As we watched the sun go up over the rooftops of Brooklyn, we held our breaths for one of the most exciting -- and most hectic -- days of the year:

Student Arrival Day.

One-by-one, students arrived at the airport and were greeted by NTSA staff members. After talking to them for months via Skype, it was so incredible to finally meet all of these extraordinary artists in-person. In fact, as we ate doughnuts off of a rustic tree slice at Dun-Well Doughnuts, Tara Smith showed me the cover of the arts section of her hometown newspaper. On the cover? A giant photograph of her onstage with the headline "READY FOR HER CLOSE-UP: New Albany Grad receives national theater opportunity." While Tara has become front-page news, she says in the article: "I feel so lucky to be given this opportunity, for it to be paid for and to be in New York. I never imagined myself going to New York. It seemed way far away . . . Sometimes I just think about it and go ‘Oh my God, this is happening.’”

Sitting with Tara yesterday, nibbling on a maple sugar doughnut, I can confirm that, yes, this is actually happening.


Today, I had the privilege of sitting in on the first read-through (or at least part of the first read-through -- we had to rustle up five gallons of paint today from Loews for some scenic construction!). Being the Executive Director, I'm great at managing a budget spreadsheet, but I'm not what you'd call an artistic mastermind. When I first read Rae Binstock's Expedition, my initial thought was: "I really like the relationship between Jack and Tom . . . but what's the deal with the Lewis and Clark scenes?" A trip back in time with language that can only be described as "poetic," I had no idea how those scenes would be staged or designed or performed. So you can imagine my surprise when I was watching Tara perform her first Sky Woman monologue, where she talks about how curiosity led her to fall from the clouds, and I actually started getting a little emotional. (I definitely did not cry in rehearsal. Nope. Never.)

(Why don't you believe me?)

Maybe it's because, just the day before, the NTSA staff had watched our team "fall from the clouds" and settle into the brand new world that had spread out before them. Maybe it's because, just like Sky Woman, these students have taken so many risks to get here -- training throughout high school, performing in community theaters, filming an audition video and uploading it onto NTSA's applications website. Most likely, it's just because Tara Smith is a damn good actress.

Whatever the case, these next two weeks are certain to be a life-changing expedition for everyone traveling this path. Make sure to join our mailing list (just fill in the little box at the top of the screen) and follow us on Instagram @ntsatheatre. And get your tickets to Expedition today! Performances are filling up fast!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Countdown to the Expedition

Way back in 2004, I moved from a little town in Western New York down to the Big City for college. I was as wide-eyed and eager as they come. Every time I took the 1-9 past 42nd Street-Times Square (yes, this was back in the day when the 9 train existed), my heart would give an excited little leap, as if to say: "YES! WE HAVE ARRIVED!" (Don't even get me started on how traveling below 14th Street automatically triggered a Rent sing-along.) For many of my acquaintances who've lived here for over a decade, New York City has become an annoyance -- the subways are always delayed, the restaurants are always crowded, and the rent is too damn high. Times Square must be avoided at all costs; Williamsburg has become the New York Times' favorite punchline.

But I still love it.

I still feel a sense of adventure every time I step onto a subway. I long for the hustle and bustle of my neighborhood Shake Shack. And while the rent really is too damn high, I wouldn't give up New York City's close quarters for anything -- even if my last apartment was a few square feet short of a walk-in closet. Times Square is still my favorite spot to spend an afternoon (some locals really do sit at those red metal tables). And I live in Williamsburg so come at me, NYT hipster jokes.

New York City is one of the greatest cities in the world.

And so it is with nothing but the utmost excitement that I get ready to welcome six recent high school graduates to New York City, some of them for the first time ever. At the end of this week, they'll be stepping onto planes in Utah, Indiana, Colorado, Florida, Vermont, and Texas and getting ready to embark on their first off-Broadway production. (The first of many! If there's one thing that I've learned working with our designers over the past few months, it's that these students really are the best of the best. It's only a matter of time before we see them on CBS, accepting their first Tony Awards.) They'll be greeted by NTSA staff at the airport and then brought to the New York Moore, which will be their home away from home for the next two weeks. They'll be staying in the East Williamsburg/Bushwick area where many of NTSA's staff members and alumni live -- an up-and-coming artistic hotspot in Brooklyn.

(This is Forrest Point -- the epitome of all things Bushwick in that it's way too cool for me. But that in no way stops me from going there.)

So join us on our expedition to New York City! We have a huge two weeks ahead of us, and we can't to share the adventure with you on this blog and our Instagram (@ntsatheatre). And if you're going to be in town on July 23-25, come and see the world premiere of Rae Binstock's Expedition at the Fourth Street Theatre! It's going to be one incredible journey!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Congratulations Marla!

Congratulations to Marla Louissaint, winner of the 2015 National High School Musical Theatre Awards (also known as the Jimmy Awards)! Marla was featured as Queen Xerilla, the intergalactic environmentalist, in last summer's production of Jimmy!: A Musical Fable with Almost No Historical Basis, so it's extremely apropos that she walked away from the ceremony at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway with the Jimmy Award. She was competing against her peers from across the nation and won the award for her stirring performance as Caroline in Beacon High School's Caroline, or Change (directed by NTSA board member Jo Ann Cimato).

Check her out in her musical medley at the Jimmy Awards. She starts singing around 6:30!

2015 Jimmy Awards Medley #5

Has it really been two weeks since the #JimmyAwards? Relive the magic of that night with the nominees of Medley #5: Morgan Higgins, Emma Buchanan, Grace Etzkorn, Sabrina Mari Uriegas, Brianna Bryan, Madeline Mathias, Marla Louissaint, Audrey McKee and Hannah Sulak.

Posted by National High School Musical Theatre Awards on Monday, 13 July 2015

(Marla as Queen Xerilla in 2014's Jimmy!: A Musical Fable with Almost No Historical Basis)

(Dancing in Jimmy!'s "Billy's Blues")