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Review: BYOB Act & Sip In New York City

Review: BYOB Act & Sip In New York City

If you've ever wanted to try acting but have been too shy, the Russell Acting Studio's Act & Sip class is the way to do it. This 90-minute class gets you reciting lines without any pressure.

Everyone is a beginner and from all walks of life. Young and old, some are math teachers, others are personal trainers, and a few may prefer not to say. Regardless, everyone is there for the same reason: to try and act without being too serious about it.

The acting coaches, Cathy Russell and Bradley Bemboomy, are fun and as relaxed as the environment itself. You'll notice this the minute you walk in and they greet you with easy-going chitchat and a form to tell them the weirdest thing about you. Right from the start, these guys want you to loosen up. Of course, the bottle you bring with you also helps. It is a BYOB acting class after all. The coaches provide you with the cups, and if you're lucky, may even put your bottle of Sauvignon Blanc on ice.

After drinks are poured, you'll take a seat in the theater and introductions will be made. Prepare to go around the room, listening to each participant spill whatever they can about themselves while the spotlight is shining on them.

Cathy and Bradley will then go over the instructions to the class which are fairly simple: read the script you're given, practice and practice some more before performing it in front of everyone. Each script comes from well-known films and series: think: As Good as It Gets and The Office, and matched with the right person for the job: complementing similar personalities and to those who have never seen the show or movie.

Everyone is paired off with a partner, but not the person you came with, and the two of you take time to recite the scenes together, all while enjoying sweet treats made by Bradley himself.

Once you devour a chocolate ganache-filled cupcake or the most decadent chocolate chip cookie on earth, and have practiced your lines several times, each pair will take turns acting it out for the class. The first round is rough, as there is no direction from the coaches. You simply have to wing it. And most don't know what to do or how to act, literally. It's the second and third rounds (when the coaches come in to help) that are most beneficial, and you can see the growth of just about each person.

But if you're looking for real one-on-One Direction, you're not necessarily going to get it here. This is not an intensive class. But it does get you in front of your peers and to loosen up. If you do it right, you're half in the bag by your turn.

Don't expect to walk away with a new acting career on the horizon, but do expect to feel more confident about speaking in front of people and not giving a damn about how you look. It might be the booze talking, but with an environment this fun, it's hard not to be anything but relaxed.

Book a Saturday class here.

(Photo courtesy of Russell Acting Studio)

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