Rising Star Arts to offer acting classes in Astoria

By Bill Parry

An Astoria-based program, known for bringing theater residencies to Queens schools and community organizations, will begin offering acting classes to the public this month.

Rising Star Arts will launch an arts education program that will use professional actors leading specialized training sessions for students of all ages, from toddlers to adults and even senior citizens beginning March 25.

RCA founder Dina Comolli has been taking theater to schools, like Aviation High School, Queens Vocational and Technical and the Henry David Thoreau School, since 2010.

“I started doing the residencies because there’s no more art taught in school,” Comolli said. “It’s important to me because the arts, particularly theater, saved my life in high school. It gave me my voice and direction and now I’m able to teach what I love and that is a blessing.”

Comolli, a resident of Astoria for 13 years, teaches the students Shakespeare and has them write and perform their own plays. She made the decision to offer public classes based on popular demand.

“So many students and parents ask about continuing classes with us, tell us about a sibling or friend who wants to study acting,” Comolli said.

The classes will be taught by Queens professional actors over a 10-week period at the Broadway Dance Studio, at 31-08 Broadway. The programs range from music and drama for the 5-and-under set to a team-taught acting technique and improvisation class for adults and all courses culminate in a show. The training sessions will help both the student and the teacher.

“I’d always wanted to increase opportunities for Astoria actors, so I’m especially excited to be employing local professional actors to teach local aspiring actors,” Comolli said.

She will teach an on-camera commercial technique class for teens.

“I acted in over 30 commercials and these classes should help teens make commercial auditions turn into callbacks and bookings,” she said.

The 10-week program costs $300 for kids and students and $365 for adults and seniors. Any student who participated in the school residencies qualify for a 10 percent discount.

“I’m on a bit of a learning curve in regards to the market, but enrollment is picking up,” Comolli said, adding that eventually she would like to provide scholarships to some of the student from the residency program.

“It’s very important because the arts build character and we’re so disconnected in this digital age we’re in with all the cellphones and other distractions,” Comolli said. “With theater, you can’t make it without each other and an audience. It teaches you skills that will help you interact with others and that will help them get jobs later in life.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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