Learn to act on Long Island

Jeremy Benton (Don Lockwood), Leanne Borghesi (Dora Bailey)

Jeremy Benton (Don Lockwood), Leanne Borghesi (Dora Bailey) and Gretchen Bieber (Lina Lamont) with cast ensemble in the 2013 Gateway Playhouse production of "Singin' in the Rain" at Patchogue Theatre. (Undated) (Credit: Jeff Bellante)

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Maybe you've dreamed of getting up onstage, trying on a new persona and simply blowing an audience away. Bona fide acting classes for adults are within your midst, and many are starting new sessions soon.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

At Gateway Acting School in Bellport, classes are geared toward television and film technique, says director Robin Joy Allan, who founded the school two decades ago.

Beginning classes are for people who want to explore acting for the first time or for those in need of refresher classes, Allan advises. Participants include lawyers, police officers and other professionals who want "to develop their speaking style and become more charismatic."

For those who already have studied the basics of stage acting or are thinking of careers in acting, advanced classes focusing on scene study are the way to go.

Since 1996, Rick Imberman has trained actors for theater, film and television at his American Art Theatre in Huntington in the "method" acting techniques of the Actors Studio, used by notables such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson.

The method technique, explains Imberman, is about finding the part of you that is the character by using your own personal experiences to understand it and bring it to life. "The goal is to live it through internally," he says.

At the Performing Arts Studio of New York in Port Jefferson, where students glean audition tips and insight into the ups and downs of an acting career, director Deborah Livering teaches an array of acting theories. "We sort of go through the whole gamut, and people find what's good for them and what works for them," Livering explains.

BEYOND THE STAGE

Aspiring actress Laurie Slattery of Centerport, who has taken at least one semester at the Huntington theater for each of the past 15 years, says she continues to grow with each class.

Imberman "works on everything, from improv to relaxation," she says. "He incorporates sense memory in it. It's just a really comfortable home."

Although he characterizes his classes as "fun," Imberman says students come away with a very serious skill set.

Through acting, Saverio Tuzzolo, 47, of Great River, says he's gotten to behave in ways he wouldn't in normal, everyday life. Also an Imberman protégé, Tuzzolo says he's learned various accents and how to speak a little in other languages, as well as aspects of different trades. "It's kind of expanded my world view as a person," says the restaurant manager.

For Imberman, teaching never gets old. "Each individual student brings something unique to the work," he notes. "And that's always exciting -- to help that person realize their potential."

Determination aside, Allan admits that not everyone possesses the artistic gifts at the core of a truly great actor.

Acting, she says, is innate, "something that your heart and mind and body all come together and somehow move other people."

Still, she adds, the skills anybody learns in acting class can go a long way beyond footlights and fame. "I do believe that all of the skills required to be a good actor can be learned by anybody: listening and communicating better, confident speaking and expressing oneself."


UPCOMING CLASSES

GATEWAY ACTING SCHOOL

215 S. Country Rd., Bellport

WHEN 7:15-9:15 p.m. Mondays Feb. 24-April 14, separate sessions for beginners and advanced students

INFO 631-286-0555, gatewayplayhouse.com

COST $225

AMERICAN ART THEATRE

755 Park Ave., Huntington

WHEN 7:30-10 p.m. Mondays

Jan. 27-March 20 for beginners. Register by appointment; call to schedule Jan. 20, 21 and 23

INFO 631-424-2477, americanarttheatre.com

COST $425

PERFORMING ARTS STUDIO OF NEW YORK

11 Traders Cove, Port Jefferson

WHEN 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays for beginners, 7-9 p.m. Mondays for adult acting company class (audition required). Next sessions begin March 8.

INFO 631-928-6529, nyperformingarts.com

COST $350

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