New performing arts center

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:17

Professionals teach all classes at Cornerstone Sussex — Cornerstone Playhouse has acquired the Crescent Theater here as their second home and is starting a Performing Arts Center. In addition to a packed season of performances Cornerstone will open an education center. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Scott Mason, Cornerstone has developed a robust offering of classes including acting, puppetry for children, voice production, Pretend with Me, how to audition and technical theater classes. The staff for Cornerstone is comprised of working professionals who will guide children through the various disciplines of performance. Joining the staff will be Jennifer Kitchin, Sam Kitchin and Barbara Smith-Davis, who have many years of experience professionally as well as with children to give students the opportunity to expand their own talents as well learn new ones. The staff Jennifer Kitchin of Sparta holds a BFA in musical theater from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. She performed nationally in shows such as "Man of La Mancha," "The Fantasticks," "Carnival," "The Pirates of Penzance" and toured the country as an actor/director with the Missoula Children’s Theatre. Kitchin has sung in vocal ensembles ever since she discovered singing. Most recently, she has sung with the Mel-O-Chords in Montclair, Choral Chameleon in New York City and the newly formed Zephyr Vocal Ensemble in Vernon. She has worked with the Cornerstone Playhouse playing lead roles in "Me & My Girl" and "Annie" and she has also worked as a commercial casting director for over a decade. She has cast numerous commercial campaigns over the years and has worked with actors of all ages. She continues to work as a casting director and can offer guidance and perspective to students wishing to pursue the performing arts as a career. She will be directing the Glee chorus as well as teaching music in Cornerstone's home school division. Sam Kitchin, Jennifer's husband, will head up the acting and drama classes both privately and in the Cornerstone's Home School. He has performed on Broadway, film, TV and in numerous commercials. On Broadway he was featured in "Frozen at Circle in the Square," at Carnegie Hall in a special production of Jerry Springer the Opera. He has also been on stage at NY's Signature Theatre Company, The Berkshire Theatre Festival and at many regional theatres across the country. Films include principal roles in "The Truman Show," "Across the Universe," "No Reservations," "The Hoax" and others. His TV credits include Law and Order SVU, The Onion SportsDome, Mildred Pierce, Law & Order, The Sopranos, Law & Order Criminal Intent, 30 Rock, Whoopi, Third Watch, All My Children, Guiding Light and One Life to Live. He has performed scenes with top actors such as Richard Gere, Jeff Goldblum, Swoosie Kurtz, Laura Linney, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Harvey Keitel and has worked with prominent directors such as Doug Hughes, Harris Yulin, Lasse Hallestrom, Julie Taymor, Peter Weir and Stephen Herek. In addition to his "legit" career, Sam has over 15 years experience doing live improvisation as a multitude of characters at corporate events, fundraisers, bar mitzvahs, you name it. Barbara Smith-Davis began her career with the Dallas Summer Musicals. She moved to New York, making her debut and touring the country as Zerlina in Don Giovanni with The Goldovsky Opera Theatre. In summer stock she appeared in "Carousel" with Howard Keel and "The Sound of Music" with Carole Lawrence. She was chosen by John Kander and Fred Ebb to star in the revival of their musical, "The Happy Time." She has performed on two international tours of "The Sound of Music," one with Debbie Boone, the other with Marie Osmond. A resident of Sussex, she teaches voice and conducts master classes and theatre workshops. From 1995 to 2001 she was movement and stage deportment coach for the American Singers’ Opera Project in New York City. She has taught voice and acted as Assistant Director of the opera workshop at William Paterson University. As Marie Osmond’s voice teacher, Smith-Davis prepared Osmond for her Broadway debut in "The King and I" and for her recent appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She will be teaching a puppetry class and will be doing group based vocal classes this fall, In addition she will direct Cornerstone's first opera "Amahl and the Night Visitor" this holiday season. Upcoming classes Acting Introduction: Ages 8-12 and 13-17. This class will focus on basic acting skills as well as providing an overview of different aspects of the acting world. This class will be taught by Sam Kitchin Sam will use acting games and improvisation exercises to get in touch with the actor within. The students will be introduced to everything from memorization techniques to blocking, projection, diction, character development, stage management, prop usage, costuming, theatre etiquette and more. By the end of this class, students should feel confident enough to pursue the next level of their choice. This class also allows us to get a good sense of where the performer is in their development and where their energy would be best focused. Classes will be offered on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 for 8-12 year olds and 5:45 to 6:45 for 13-17 year olds. Puppetry for kids...Finding the actor in you: This class taught by Barbara Smith-Davis will focus on children from 4-8 who have not had a lot of stage experience. These classes will introduce the student to character portrayal through the use of puppets. Children will find their inner performer through short plays or character conversations. This method of teaching is a great introduction to acting for children who are not yet ready to be performing the characters themselves. Here they can gain confidence as they explore their own imagination. How to make puppets will also be explored for the students to take home with them as well. This class will meet Saturday mornings from 10 AM to 11:30 AM. Due to the nature of the age and experience of students class size will be limited to 8. Voice production: This class will meet prior to the Glee Chorus Rehearsals for those students who are not ready for private lesions and where a small group lesson is desired. Barbara Smith-Davis will help students learn how to find and use their voice. Proper techniques will be taught on the how to's of effective singing. Students will also learn vocal exercises they can use at home as well as getting their first introduction to classical singing for children and young adults. Classes will meet on Tuesdays and will be an hour in length. Classes will be from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m. for 9th through 12th grade students and again from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for 5th through 8th grade students. Classes will be limited to 6-8 students so individual attention can also be given. Glee Chorus: Jennifer Kitchin will be directing this chorus that will be fashioned the hit TV show “Glee”. Auditions for this choir will be on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 1 to 6 p.m. There will be two choruses from 5th through 8th grades and 9th through 12th grades. All classes will be held at the Crescent Theater at 74 Fountain Square, Sussex. For more information call Scott Mason at 973-875-8465 or e-mail him at Visit Cornerstone’s Web site at