**The Performing Arts School Where the Sky is the Limit**
659 Old Willets Path
Hauppauge NY 11788
I was inspired today by a conversation I had to write this entry. Lately I’ve been putting a lot of thought into why I had the idea to open SoLuna Studio, Why was it so important to me that I open a theater and try and change the world of theater one day at at time? Then today it occurred to me; i’m trying to break this ‘cookie cutter’ image that we have of theater and the arts in general. But with trying to break that mold comes a lot of obstacles. Growing up here on long island, i never truly felt like I belonged. I didn’t wear what everyone else was wearing, my makeup wasn’t perfect, my hair was off a magazine page and I always felt like there had to be something more in this world that always trying to fit in. Thats when I moved to the city, and found a world where everyone can be who they are and no one judges. The streets and subways are full of people talking/singing to themselves, dressing ‘crazy’, and being themselves (whatever that might mean). Its at this point that I realized theater is the same way. Theater is not this ‘means to stardom’ - its a process. Its a craft - one that is worked on constantly. I always tell my students that being a student of the arts is a never ending learning process. Theres is always something to research, something new to study, something wonderful to learn that you didn’t know before. Art is like people, just because it ‘doesn’t fit in’ doesn’t mean its wrong. I believe that all art is meant to mean something and it is not a road to celebrity. Sure, sometimes it leads there but that should never be the end result. We as a society have built up this idea that only art forms that are ‘popular’ are worthy of time. I like to think that theater is not a dying art form and maybe I’m one of the few people that still believe that it can make a difference that it can stand for something.
With all this being said, I realize that I fall into this category of being a different type of artist and not conforming to what most think I should do. Granted there is so much in this world I have to learn but I treat everyday like a new learning opportunity. Working at Soluna as a director and teacher I have learned so much over the past few months. I’ve noticed that sometimes my directing style is looked at ‘lazy’ which I find entertaining to say the least. My style of directing is something that is so basic and I try to find the truth behind every piece that I pick. I tell my actors and students to make choices and see what happens, experiment with the scene, don’t worry about where to stand and how to look, most of all - be you, find the truth of the character. So by allowing truth to be found in work my style is looked at to be lazy, when all i want is for actors to be the truest form of an artist that they can be. Isn’t that the joy of theater, to create characters that mean something not only to the audience but to you?! I tell my students all the time to find truth in every song and text that they are handed - that theater is so not about standing and looking and singing pretty. The greatest artists of all time I dived into their work and found ultimate truth and honesty. I don’t want to watch a play, movie or musical with a bunch of people who are trying to ‘show’ me what they ‘think’ I want to see - I want honesty.
My mother tells me all the time that I am different type of person - I tend to think thats a good thing (most days). Why would we want the world to be full of ‘cookie cutters’. No one would attempt to change the world. I’m not at all saying that my way is thinking is correct, all I’m saying is that in this world where society puts so much pressure on all of every day - shouldn’t the world where artists play be open and free of judgement. Cant we all learn something from everyone we meet in our life. Yes, now some of you who read this may think I belong is different era where the world was full of hippies and free loving artists, but i say whats wrong about letting a little bit of that history become our present and just love art around us. No art is correct, and no art is wrong - the beauty of art is its freedom to be whatever it wants to be. I only realize it now, but I learned so much in my years living in the city, it opened me up and allowed me learn that its okay to be different I just have to fight a little harder for what I believe in.
SoLuna was opened to as a place to allow artists to feel free - to my dying day I will allow that mission statement to be true. I will continue to learn everyday, to open myself up to change, to know that I am not always right,but most of all to stay strong in what I believe. I hope that the students I teach and the actors I work with open themselves up to free art - not just the this pop culture and celebrity world we consume ourselves in.
So COMPANY officially opens in 1 week!!! It is a stressful but wonderful process. I am currently directing and choreographing Company and Sweet Charity all at the same time and my brain is on “Sweet Company” mode as I like to call it!
Last weekend we raised enough money to get our new lighting equipment so our new row of lights will be on Monday!!! Its nice to know that my actors faces in Company will be illuminated next weekend!
So this week and next week are tech rehearsals for Company and then we open on Friday March 9th. I literally feel like we just started rehearsals a week ago! However my cast is doing a great job and they have over come a few obstacles in their way over the past few months! Overall everyone is working really hard and I could not be prouder of them.
Sweet Charity rehearsals are progressing nicely. Everyone has been working super hard on the choreography and since this is my first huge dance show I’ve choreographed its really nice to see it all coming together and everyone really sweating every week trying to make it all come together. With this show we are now on our 3rd musical director and I am so happy that even though its late we have found someone that can get us ready for the show! Matt DeMaria came in last week and seriously kicked some butt with the numbers and in one night made HUGE amounts of progress with the cast! Its nice knowing we have until April to really polish this show since there is a lot of dance and music happening all the same time!
Overall even though rehearsals are crazy (and I’m sleep deprived most days lol) and we are getting close to Spring Showtimes I know that both shows will be great! There has even been a lot of buzz with ticket sales and I have a feeling we will have some sold out shows of Company in the next few weeks so be sure to grab your tickets early and buy them online to make sure you get a seat! http://solunastudiony.eventbrite.com/
The past few months have been amazing because I’ve actually been able to be an acting/dance teacher and teach students. SoLuna studio might have opened in September but it took a little while to have students. Now that I am teaching/directing teens and adults on a 6-7day a week schedule life is completely crazy but I’m loving every moment of it.
Let me start with saying how proud I am of my “Spelling Bee” cast. The musical went up in the month of January and it went over with amazing success. It was our first teen/adult musical that we tried at the studio and there were a TON of up’s and down’s but in the end I was so happy with the end result. During the process I got to watch my teens grow into their characters and adapt to change/chaos and become professionals. It truly was a night and difference from when they walked through my door to the final curtain call. I miss the laughter that filled the auditorium on weekly basis.
Now I am currently working with Louis Hobson on our Musical Theater Workshop Class (Company Class) and it has truly been a learning experience. First off, working side by side with one of Broadway’s most wanted men is really exciting for me. I am seeing his process and how he approaches different theatrical material. We work very well together and off each other. We both bring different skills to the table. He is great with working them vocally and really finding characters WAY beyond themselves. (Sometimes its hard to get teens age 12-16 to get out of their own head and be bigger than they are). I approach material from a body language stand point since I am a choreographer. We are working together to have the kids grow as performers. Theater is more than just standing and singing pretty, and that is the hardest thing to get them to understand.
My goal, whether I’m teaching or directing to get my cast (esp teens) to commit to not ‘being cool’. To really step out of the box and try something new and risk looking ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’. Every other theater on Long Island prides themselves of telling their kids that they are ‘perfect’ and ‘magic on a cupcake’ - I, however do not teach this way. If you want to study at SoLuna Studio you will work hard every day and you will told what you need to improve and you will overcome fears and weaknesses. I’d rather loose a few kids who dont want to be told they have to improve than compromise on my mission statement and tell them all they are perfect.
This doesnt even always apply to just my teens, I am finding that even adults have the same problems that a lot of teens have. I never knew how many people dont know their own bodies and how they work and move. When working on Sweet Charity with my adults I spend so much time on body language and character development through dance. I truly love being a choreographer and helping people grown within their own bodies.
I know that both my teens and adults with grow and strive beyond themselves. One of my biggest joys is watching the final result when you truly see how much everyone grows from the beginning of rehearsals to the end.
Until next time.
I stand on a precipice
I struggle to keep my balance
I open myself one stitch at a time
Finally something takes me away
Finally he can cut through these strings
And open my wings
- “Goodbye Until Tomorrow” from The Last Five Years
I’m sure many of you know that our very first shows are coming up in the very near future! We couldn’t be any more excited! Our first show ever is going to be The Odd Couple: Female Version by Neil Simon, which premieres December 2. It is a HILARIOUS show about two young women, one divorced and one going through a painful and new separation who find themselves rooming together and dealing with their incredibly different personalities. Florence, (tidy, neurotic, and newly single) moves in with Olive (messy, sarcastic, her ex-husband still has her wrapped around his finger) and the two quickly find that, though they are long-time friends, they may not remain so if they stay living together for much longer! We have a great cast of eight young local actors!
Also coming up is our very first MUSICAL production The Last Five Years, which was written by Jason Robert Brown, the composer of the hit Broadway musical Parade. The Last Five Years premieres December 9 and closes December 18. The Last Five Years is a show featuring one female lead, Cathy, and one male lead, Jamie. The show follows the couple’s relationship, starting at the end of the relationship from Cathy’s point of view and ending at the beginning, and starting at the beginning of the relationship from Jamie’s point of view and ending at their break-up. The show explores the progression of love and loss. The audience sees their relationship bloom into love, through marriage, and gradually fall apart as both of their careers take the forefront.
I have the great honor of having been cast as Cathy in The Last Five Years, playing opposite the incredibly talented Greg Buckheit, a student at Adelphi University, as Jamie. Greg is not only a Broadway-quality singer, but has amazing stage presence that will keep your tush glued to the seat, your eyes glued to his expressions, and your ears glued to the music. We’ve only had one full rehearsal, and we have our next tonight, but I’m so in love with this show, I can barely even explain. Anyone who has been through a rough relationship can relate to this show. Though the time lines advance opposite for the two characters, our lovely director Karen Braun has decided to have us both begin from the top of the relationship and progress to the end together during rehearsal so we can really explore how we feel about each other and why everything gradually begins to unravel. Our first rehearsal consisted of the first date, songs about growing infatuation, and ended with a wedding…I felt like Britney Spears. Our second rehearsal tonight will be the real toughy. This is where the heartbreak begins, and I have my box of tissues ready.
If you want to laugh till you cry, come see The Odd Couple! If you want to just plain cry and feel your heart swell (and there’s a little bit of laughter in there as well) come see The Last Five Years! Tickets are available for purchase on our website (as well as tickets for our next upcoming musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) We can’t wait to see you here!
It was so refreshing and awesome working with all different kids of artistic people at theater company!! Awesome first meeting!!
Hey guys! Halloween is right around the corner! It’s this Monday coming up! Guess what else? SoLuna Studio is having not one, but TWO Halloween parties! Here’s the low down:
Saturday, October 29: ADULT Halloween Party. That means 18+. Come in costume because we’re going to have some sweet costume contest prizes. We’ll have Halloween-themed food and drinks and our dance floor is haunted, for this weekend only (if you haven’t heard about the SoLuna ghost, check out the latest episode of The Jonathan Chiaramonte Show by scrolling down on the NEWS page) We’ll have the return of our ever-popular 50/50 Raffle and the party will include a sweeeet Halloween surprise (no pun intended). Tickets are $15 at the door and include all the food, drinks, and dancing you can handle.
Sunday, October 30: YOUTH Halloween Party. Geared towards kids 13 and under, this party allows for a fun and safe environment to celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year. We’ll have Halloween-themed food and drinks, a tutorial of the Thriller dance by Michael Jackson, spooky campfire stories, games, arts and crafts, AND trick-or-treating! Tickets are $10 at the door and include ALL of these things. Kids 5 and under get in for FREE.
I want to talk for a moment about our auditions for our first production ever, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. We had an AMAZING turnout! Karen, Jonathan and I were so pleased at the end of auditions that we were jumping up and down with excitement! I love working with Jonathan and Karen. We have so much fun together, and we think you guys would have fun working with us, too. That’s why I think you should audition for our shows in January. We’re doing Seussical, Jr. (which is for kids aged 7-13), Company (for adults 18+), Sweet Charity (for teens and adults 15+) and a teen show that we’re still in the process of securing, which will be for teens 11-16. Needless to say, there’s a chance for EVERYONE to be the star of a show here at SoLuna! Check our website in December for audition information, but go ahead and start preparing now!
To wrap things up, don’t forget to come to one of SoLuna’s Halloween parties! They’re going to be ghoulish fun mwahahahaha!
On Halloween, the parents sent their kids out looking like me. - RODNEY DANGERFIELD
Holy cow! It’s almost November! Time sure flies. And the end of October means one thing: HALLOWEEN.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I think this is because I was born in October. I’m an October baby, through and through. I love the chance to dress up as someone else and pretend you aren’t yourself for the night. I think I like this because I’m an actor. That’s really the main allure of the stage for actors, that they get a chance to be someone different for a while and do things they would never normally do in their own lives.
This, I think, is a reason why theatre is a productive outlet for kids who don’t feel like they fit in. I was one of those kids. I was picked on, like many of us were. But I could lose myself on the stage and forget about all those mean kids I would have to face the next day at school.
It was about the third show I was in that I really started relating my experiences on the stage to my life. I began to speak with confidence (as one must do on stage so the audience can understand them); it became easier to memorize spelling words for vocabulary (as I had to memorize lines and lyrics in the musical I was in); and I began to see those bullies for what they really were: actors. I kind of hate to compare these people to my profession, but that’s what they are. Bullies put on a mean facade because they don’t want to show any vulnerability. Sometimes, they’re having trouble at home. Other times, they lack confidence and must put other people down to bring themselves up. They act mean because they don’t know how to act like themselves.
I wish I could tell my fourth grade self this: fifteen years down the road, you won’t remember the names or faces of those bullies. Sure, the words will remain, but know that those words came from some root of pain. In the end, IT GETS BETTER. www.itgetsbetter.org
A part of me is grateful for those experiences, because they made me into the person I am today. Cruel words are something I condemn. I try my best to make everyone feel included in a group. I’m definitely not perfect; nobody is. But I think those experiences I had as a child made me think twice about the way I conduct myself around others today.
I want to tell you all about an organization I truly believe in: Operation Beautiful. It’s all about empowering people around you. Members are encouraged to leave little notes of love for strangers: on bathroom mirrors, in dressing rooms, on door handles, anywhere a little surprise of loving words might make a positive turn in someone’s day. Please check out the website, www.operationbeautiful.org for more information.
Think your child could benefit from theatre as much as I did? We have classes for youth started in January AND a production of Seussical (Jr.)! Check out the information on our YOUTH CLASSES tab for more info. See you on the flip side!