Performers Theatre Workshop, headquartered at 1 Pierson Rd. in Maplewood, has been a fixture in Maplewood for decades, bringing high-quality theatre training to local kids and connecting them with agents, managers and casting directors in New York through its Broadway Showcase. Recently, we asked Dean Kravitz and Elisabeth Spiotta Kravitz at PTW to tell us more about this local gem.
What is PTW?
Performers Theatre Workshop, located in Maplewood, is one of the metropolitan area’s leading performing arts training centers. At PTW, students, ages three to adult, can take a variety of classes in all performing areas, and proceed at their own pace and level. There is an enormous sense of community as well as a respect for the individual, which nurtures the young artist and prepares him or her for life on or off the stage.
When were you founded?
Performers Theatre Workshop was established in 1983 by Esther and Howard Kravitz, Juilliard graduates and longtime educators and performers who found themselves driving all over New Jersey and New York to give their two children all the lessons and classes young budding performers need. They created PTW to fulfill every student performer’s need to have all classes “under one roof.” They gathered top instructors who were active performers in the field, provided a strong classical training curriculum, mixed it with warmth and caring, and created an artistic community that has become “the theatre home” of thousands of dedicated students for over thirty three years.
Who are the principals and what are their qualifications?
Dean Kravitz, PTW Executive Artistic Director, began his studies at age five on the violin and added piano at age seven. After his piano debut at Carnegie Recital Hall at age 11, Dean received the Van Cliburn award for piano performance at age 13. He studied violin, piano, composition, and scoring at the Eastman School of Music where he won the Duke Ellington Award for Outstanding Arranging and Composition. Dean also received the highest score in the BMI Musical Theatre Songwriting competition in 1986.
He graduated with honors from Yale University in 1987 where he received a BA in Composition. At Yale, Dean composed, orchestrated and musical directed the full length musical, “Experiments”, which was performed at Yale commencement. Also at Yale, Dean studied orchestration with Jacob Druckman (from Julliard faculty) and composition with Maury Yeston (composer of “Nine”). Dean has also studied jazz improvisation with the legendary jazz alto saxophonist Phil Woods. He has studied vocal pedagogy and voice therapy at Westminster Choir College and choral conducting at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Dean is a New Jersey Certified Teacher, received his Masters in Teaching in 2008, and is currently a Choral Director for the School District of the Chathams.
With his production companies, Dean Kravitz Music (DKM) and Elasticmusic, Dean has composed, orchestrated and sung/played for over 150 National and Regional TV/Radio commercials for major advertising agencies in NY, Boston, Dallas, and California for products such as Pepsi, Toys R Us, McDonalds, Reebock, Motorola, Lady Footlocker, Hefty, Blue Cross/Blue Shield & Clairol. Dean has composed, orchestrated and arranged music for several cartoons on Nickelodeon’s “Nick Jr.”, as well as the music that premiered the TV Land network. He currently still has music played frequently on the air.
Elisabeth Spiotta Kravitz, Executive Program Director, grew up in Maplewood, NJ and currently lives here with her husband and twin boys. Elisabeth majored in Education and Psychology and minored on English at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA and completed graduate studies in Special Education and Adolescent Counseling at Lesley College in Cambridge, MA.
After years of teaching in the Boston Public Schools and Administering the Education Program in residential treatment centers in MA, Elisabeth returned to the NY/NJ area and worked as both a social worker assisting adults with mental illness at Fountain House in NY, and as a music producer with a music production house in NY and NJ.
What classes do you offer?
PTW offers over 87 classes on Saturday and throughout the week including classes in Voice, Song Interpretation, Musical Theatre Performance, Jazz/Hip-Hop, Tap, Ballet/Modern, Stage Acting, Acting for TV and Commercials, and Comedy & Improvisation, Sight Singing, A Cappella Singing, and Audition Preparation. PTW offers Broadway Kids, “Jr. Jr.” Division and Jr. Division for its youngest students as well as advanced classes and special performing groups: Showtime, Triple Threat, Show Production, Encores, Broadway Bound, Ovations, Performers, and Troupe. Private lessons are also available in voice, acting, dance, guitar, bass, piano, songwriting, music theory and audition preparation.
NYC Broadway Showcase:
During the mini-semester between Fall and Spring, PTW has a showcase which we rehearse at PTW and perform in NYC. This showcase is by invitation or audition only. In this show, cast members will perform three songs. Students get a chance to sharpen and hone new and emerging skills, and PTW’s teachers will help then reach the next level as a performer while preparing for the show.
PTW invites key industry agents, managers and casting directors to see the showcase. A number of PTW students have found their agents or managers and have also peeked the interest of casting directors as a result of performing in our Mid-Winter Broadway Showcases. Many PTW students share with us that the NYC Broadway Showcase helps them make some of their biggest breakthroughs as performers!
PTW Summer Camp:
PTW offers two three-week sessions for young performers, June 26 – July 14 & July 24 – August 11th. Our Junior Camp welcomes performers ages 4-8 and our Senior Camp welcomes performers ages 9-18, with classes organized by age group.
Older Camp Session 1: Select a concentration in Musical Theatre, Voice, Acting or Dance and perform a featured number on stage at a NYC Cabaret! Extended camp students will perform in an additional number.
Older Camp Session 2: Focus on technique in PTW classes and workshops with industry professionals. See two Broadway shows in three weeks and go to a pool party! (All included in tuition)
Our Junior Camp combines singing, acting, and dancing to introduce and establish the building blocks of performing, foster creativity and nurture self-esteem. Through positive and imaginative class experience, these young performers develop confidence in singing, acting and dancing, strengthen their skills and have lots of fun!
Where do you hold classes?
Weekday classes are held in our studios at 1 Pierson Rd., Maplewood. In order to accommodate our expansive class selection, PTW’s Saturday home is at St. George’s Church, 550 Ridgewood Rd., Maplewood.
What’s the class schedule?
Weekday group classes meet after school, 3-9pm, and Saturday classes meet between 9am and 6pm. Broadway Kids (ages 3-4) and Jr. Jr. (5-6) classes are held Saturday mornings and Tuesday afternoons. Private Lessons available daily, scheduled around the student’s availability.
Classes start as low at $295 per 10 week semester. Payment plans and early registration discounts are available.
What’s the website address and/or email to use to contact and register for PTW?
Photos are from PTW’s recent Broadway Showcase in Manhattan: