As the staff at Bucks County Playhouse (not so) patiently waits to once again fill the New Hope theater’s seats with patrons, they’re continuing to flex their creative muscles by bringing the historic stage into people’s homes.
Throughout the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, the Playhouse has offered numerous virtual variety shows as part of its Playhouse Live! series, featuring Grease star Didi Conn, Tony-nominated actor, singer, writer and director Hunter Foster (Little Shop of Horrors) and more. It also hosted a “Halloween Rock ‘N’ Roll Concert” – the first event to be live-streamed directly from the stage.
Currently, the Playhouse is offering a slew of online education programs, which range from adult acting to Broadway dance. Since these courses are usually held in-person, the transition to a virtual format may seem disheartening at first. But, according to director of education Michaela Murphy, it’s not a bad thing at all.
“We are not only excited to offer these classes online, but through our own experiences have learned how effective this content can be in the digital setting,” Murphy explained. “Not only can we offer them to a larger geographic area, but there is a richness in the experience that students are discovering in how they interact with their instructor and their fellow learners online.”
“Acting for Adults” welcomes a multi-generational group of students with varying experience, from curious beginners to more seasoned performers. Using improvisation, assigned scenes and monologues, the actor identifies the intersection of their own authentic self to the fictional character. This is aimed to be a validating class for students, encouraging compassion and understanding of themselves. The class is designed for ages 17 years and up, and meets Tuesdays, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., through Dec. 15. It’s taught by June Ballinger, who has performed on Broadway and at numerous off-Broadway theaters in New York.
“Writing and Performing Your Own Solo Show,” also taught by Ballinger, guides actors and writers toward creating a 10-minute personal monologue for performance. Through writing prompts, students will mine moments from their lives, including secrets, memories and stories that they want to tell. They’ll be coached to bring their crafted words from page to stage. The class meets on Wednesdays, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., through Dec. 16.
In “Acting Foundations and Monologue Preparation,” Broadway performer and teacher Mason Reeves (Frozen) guides students in building and strengthening the foundations of their acting technique by developing tools they need to approach any material thrown their way. Over the course of six weeks, students will prepare several performance-ready monologues and develop a clear preparation framework for approaching new monologues they may be given in the future. They’ll gain an understanding of the vocabulary used in professional rooms, practice application of those terms, and learn a basic historical awareness of the different styles of acting and their origins. The class meets Wednesdays, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., through Dec. 16.
Additionally, “Broadway Dance Workshops” are offered Nov. 14 (Chicago) and Nov. 21 (Six). Each week, participants learn original choreography from a popular Broadway musical. Students can enroll in the entire program, or choose a weekly drop-in option. No prior dance experience is required, just a desire to have fun. The class is open to students ages 8 years and older, and is taught by Dani Tucci Juraga, who owns and operates the Downstage Center Dance Studio in Morrisville. Workshops are offered on Saturdays, from 12:45 to 2 p.m.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com