Karen Mason Joins Staff At Theatre Arts Center in Bayside

Karen Mason, Broadway & recording star will be heading to Queens this summer to direct students in a Cabaret Workshop Camp for teens produced by the Theatre Arts Center in Bayside. On Broadway Ms. Mason starred in Sunset Boulevard, Mama Mia, Hairspray, and most recently, the Queens of Hearts in Frank Wildhorn's new musical, Wonderland. She will join other professionals such as, Angelo Fraboni from Jerome Robbins Broadway, Robbie Roby from Billy Elliot, Shannon Lewis from Sweet Charity, Penny Aynn Maas from Cabaret, Tony Gonzalez from Mama Mia, and Stephanie Klemons from In The Heights who teach and choreograph for the Theatre Arts Center's Summer Workshops & Camp. "To me cabaret is about the passion to sing and to share. I love working with young singers & actors because they are on the brink of their careers and are eager to share and learn" states Ms. Mason, who made her directing debut at the Center last summer.

In addition to the Cabaret Workshop, talented youth, ages 7-19 learn professional skills at a Musical Theatre & Dance Camp and a Teen Acting Ensemble. Auditions are being scheduled through April. The professionally based camp, in its tenth year in Queens, is in summer residence in Bayside at the 800-seat Professional Performing Arts Center at Queensborough Community College. They offer aspiring young singers, dancers and actors four weeks of performing arts classes with Broadway Guest Artists like Ms. Mason. "I'm looking forward to seeing what TAC has planned for the Summer of 2010," states EMMY Award winning television designer Dennis Size. "My daughter not only had an incredible learning experience last summer -- but also a fabulous time. She very much wants to attend this summer. Having seen your level of discipline and professionalism, plus how much my daughter matured, and her talent developed under your tutelage, I will definitely allow her to audition."

The four-week workshops attract talented students from NYC, Long Island and as far away as Germany and Brazil. Many graduates have been successful in landing roles On and Off-Broadway, at HBO Family, PBS Reading Rainbow, Nickelodeon, a developmental project for Disney and Music Theatre International, The American Girl Theatre, Live at the Apollo and The Soprano's. Long Island alumni Crystalyn Wynter was a 2009 finalist at Live at the Apollo, Melissa Goscinski was selected by Jennifer Hudson to sing a duet from Dreamgirls with her on NBC's Today Show. Many of their students have been accepted into NYC's LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, Frank Sinatra School for the Performing Arts, NYC Professional Performing Arts School, and other local Performing Arts programs.

Artistic Directors, Robert Laconi and Kristine Lewis brought the program to New York City from Bucks County Pennsylvania, where it grew out of the Bucks County Playhouse. Ms. Lewis is a partner in Lewis & Fox Casting and Mr. Laconi teaches, produces and directs between NYC and Bucks County. Together they are able to attract a top-notch teaching staff, that often also teach at their Pennsylvania location.

When they were looking for a NYC home base, the 800-seat Professional Performing Arts Center at Queensborough Community College in Bayside was the perfect fit. Parents and students from the boroughs and Long Island are pleased to have a professional program in their own back yard, and parents from Manhattan like the suburban atmosphere of the CUNY campus. "This is an excellent match," says Susan Agin. Executive Director of Queensborough's Professional Performing Arts Series. "Our theatre, already the home of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and host to major artists like Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Ben Vereen & Frankie Avalon, is a wonderful professional learning laboratory for budding talent," states Agin.

The Teen Acting Ensemble begins June 28 and the Musical Theatre Workshop for ages 7-19 begins July 5. Both workshops are four weeks of serious fun. The fruit of all the hard work is public performances at the 800-seat Professional Performing Arts Center and the Shadow Box Theatre July 24, 25, 31, Aug. 1, 7 & 8.

Talented young performers interested in auditioning for the camp should call 718-595-2905 for an appointment. Out of town students can submit a video tape audition. You can also find information and request an audition on their web site at TheatreArtsCenter.com.


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