Some interesting items from my inbox

Jeanna de Waal, founder of Broadway Weekends.
Jeanna de Waal
By Ronald B. Hellman

Once in a while, something interesting shows up in my email inbox. It’s often hard to spot, since it’s surrounded by offers to reduce belly fat, regrow hair, lower blood pressure, increase income, improve one’s sex life — among many other dubious offers. But this one caught my attention.

It was from Jeanna de Waal, a working New York actor — with credits including “Wicked,” “Kinky Boots,” “American Idiot,” “Finding Neverland,” and “Waitress”— and founder of what she calls “the first and only musical theater camp experience for adults” — namely Broadway Weekends.

Along with three friends, de Waal has created an opportunity for non-professionals who want to act, sing and dance as part of an ensemble.

“No special ability is required, and perfection is not the goal,” she says.

The program is geared for adults — no age restrictions, as long as you’re at least 21 — who want to experience “the fun and joy of performing.”

Broadway Weekends has conducted two “intensive” events so far, run by theater professionals, with the next one set for Labor Day Weekend. At a cost of $790, it includes tickets to a Broadway show and a backstage tour. Coming up this July 2 is a “Sunday Fun Day,” for $290, with guest teacher Thayne Jasperson from the original cast of “Hamilton.” Both three-day events will take place at Pearl Studios in Midtown Manhattan. As a special promotion, a 20 percent discount is offered using the code “ThePlay’sTheThing.” Go to www.broadwayweekends.com for more information and to get tickets.

For you reluctant types who still feel the urge to perform, this may be a good time to see what opportunities are available on our local stages. The community theaters tend to hold auditions months in advance of rehearsals, perhaps in an effort to secure the services of the limited supply of experienced actors. Most groups take the summer off — exceptions include Maggie’s Little Theater (Middle Village), “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat;” Rockaway Theatre Company (Fort Tilden), “The Producers” and “The Elephant Man;” and Saint Gregory’s Theatre Group (Bellerose), “The Little Mermaid.” Check out Spotlight on Stage and Deb’s Web for notices.

In July and August, a number of theater festivals take place, but you’ll have to cross the river to Manhattan to find them. LocalTheatreNY.com has some listings. Queens is still waiting for someone with initiative to produce something similar here — after all, we only have a population of at least 2.3 million!

The Queens Council on the Arts emails the question “need money for your art?” Grants are available for nonprofit organizations, so it would be a good idea to get in touch with them to find out the eligibility requirements.

On the literary front, Bayside resident and Crocheron Park tennis regular Steven Jay Griffel has had his fifth novel published, “The Ishi Affair.” Unlike the previous four, all e-books, this one’s a paperback, a blessing to an old-fashioned technophobe like me.

Now that the hyperbolic awards season has ended with the Tonys, let me offer some advice from the late Julie Harris, a five-time Tony-winner: “Take the work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.”

Contact Ron Hellman at rbhofc@gmail.com

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