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Broadway stars launch educational theatrical arts academy

Published 11:35 am, Tuesday, August 23, 2011
  • Sarah Pfisterer, Mary Jo Duffy and Rick Hilsabeck. Photo: Contributed Photo / New Canaan News
    Sarah Pfisterer, Mary Jo Duffy and Rick Hilsabeck. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Renowned Broadway performers, teachers and Wilton residents, Rick Hilsabeck, Sarah Pfisterer and Mary Jo Duffy, announce the opening of their new school, Wiremill Academy at 49 New St., Wilton. Classes at the theatrical arts academy begin Sept. 12. There will be a launch party held onsite at the G & B Community Cultural Center, Thursday, Sept. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m.

"We are opening a school to educate children in music, theatre and dance," Duffy said. "This has been a dream to start a school like this. Our launch party is about introducing ourselves to the wider community, and to other local theatrical organizations, so that we may interface and become a part of the vibrant theatrical community."

The launch will feature vocal performances by the three co-founders and a handful of their private students. A video presentation of the new school, its grounds and classrooms will run throughout the event, which will be catered by Barcelona restaurant.

All three Broadway stars are thrilled to open Wiremill Academy as a way to bring the love of their craft and their extensive experience to a wider audience. They appreciate that the area has many well-established art theatre organizations, and view their school as a complement to groups like Wilton Children's Theatre and Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. Ongoing and recent budget cuts have meant many local school systems can no longer offer students a theatre program before high school. Wiremill Academy is an attempt to help meet the need for, and interest in, an education in the performing arts.

"We are parents in this area. We are all interested in exposing our children to things that might grow into a passion and in which they might have some talent," Pfisterer said. "We want the Wiremill experience, instead of being results oriented, to be more about the journey and the gift of self expression."

"Whether or not the child chooses this to be their life path, they can apply the communication skills, the confidence and the skills that make up a great part of a good education," Hilsabeck said. "We mostly just want them to have fun."

Hilsabeck, Pfisterer and Duffy all have extensive experience in the performing arts. Pfisterer starred as Christine Daae in more than 1,000 performances of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Phantom of the Opera" and also starred as Magnolia in "Showboat." As a Metropolitan Opera semi-finalist, she has sung with symphonies around the world.

Hilsabeck is a highly regarded actor, singer, dancer and teacher with more than 30 years of experience starring on Broadway, national tours, the concert stage, as well as the dance world. He has had a long tenure with internationally acclaimed Hubbard Street Dance Company as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. He headlined as The Phantom in "Phantom of the Opera."

Following years of performing on Broadway, internationally and in film and television, Duffy discovered the joy of teaching. She directs 60 children each summer for the Wilton Children's Theater and has run her own summer theatre workshops for middle and high school age children.

Classes at Wiremill run from Monday to Thursday beginning at 3:30 p.m. They feature private voice, acting and dance classes, as well as classes in musical theater for first grade through high school. There are creative dramatic classes for 4 and 5 year olds and instruction in stage combat and mime. Acting classes begin in third grade. For more information, or to attend the launch party, visit www.wiremillacademy.com or call 203-544-9494