“Quiet on the set” is a rare occurrence for those teaching children theatre, but for Bruce Grossman, founder/president of the Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset, that is par for the course.
His theater and acting academy has been training children, teens and young adults in musical theater, acting, and dance for the last quarter century.
“We offer a noncompetitive environment where all of our kids have the opportunity to shine and participate,” says Grossman, adding that the company has a zero tolerance for bullying. “Our approach is to develop confidence and self-esteem centered around positive reinforcement.”
“Being part of a theater group teaches acceptance and tolerance and being patient of others,” he says. “We have an incredible team of directors, teachers, music teachers, choreographers, artists and builders.”
Students at CAP may participate in a show or take part in the class curriculum that gives them training in speech, diction, exercises, dance, improvisation, monologues, audition techniques, scene study, and voice.
“We have had thousands of children of all ages participate in our classes or our shows,” he says.
Many have landed roles on Broadway, and in national tours, regional theater, movies, HBO specials, commercials, and voice-overs, says Grossman.
One Long Islander who is a CAP alumnus is actress Jamie Lynn-Sigler, who played Meadow Soprano on the popular HBO drama, The Sopranos.
“Jamie was our first famous student,” he says. “She was with us since she was a little girl.”
The spacious state-of-the-art theater is home to all their mainstage productions. Playing in October is All Shook Up; November is Next To Normal and December is The Nutcracker. The academy also has a satellite location in Wantagh.
During some productions, it isn’t unusual to see Grossman onstage and in character. Earlier this month, he played the Reverend Shaw Moore in the academy’s sold-out performance of Footloose. And in January 2019 he will return to the stage playing Daddy Warbucks in the musical Annie.
“I like to set an example for the kids,” says Grossman. “Our goal is to entertain Long Island with professional quality entertainment 52 weeks a year, and we love doing it.”
Cultural Arts Playhouse is located at 170 Michael Dr. in Syosset. They can be reached at culturalartsplayhouse.com or 516-694-3330. Tickets range from $20-$27. Group rates and fundraising available.