featuredBy Carisa Biesecker

Proving that two minds are better than one, Take 2 The Stage creator Janet Frenkel and Music Showcase owner Heather Ochalek have partnered to create the community’s first Florida Academy of Performing Arts.Here, those with aspirations for the performing arts have the chance to gain the direction and preparation needed for the hard-nosed industry, giving residents the chance to come that much closer to their dreams through the first-hand experience and industry connections of Frenkel, who will be the artistic director, and Ochalek, gaining the title of executive director and president of the board. Run out of Music Showcase, located at 402 Oakfield Dr. in Brandon, the pending 501(c)(3) organization will provide guidance in acting, film, television, musical theatre, orchestra, rock band, jazz band, chorus, show choir and public speaking. Helping Hollywood hopefuls navigate the industry, classes featuring the entertainment business and plans for a performing arts career will also be showcased, as well as casting workshops, where at actors will be exposed to opportunities for auditions and growth in the field.According to Frenkel, the idea was ignited “to provide a higher level of training to all kids and adults as well. We don’t want money to stop any child from pursuing their dreams.”Conceptualized by Ochalek last spring, who sought out and hired Frenkel to oversee the six theatre programs to be offered, the foundation is meant to be an extension of Music Showcase. The two entrepreneurial-minded women decided that through a charity-based foundation, they could help hundreds, if not more, on their way into the industry or just have a chance to delve into the arena of the performing arts. It would also offset the lessened appearance of the arts cited in schools and within the homes of the homeschooled, allowing the foundation to reunite students to a part of education that is so needed in relation to the well-roundedness of a child’s psych. “We felt like this was a really great way to become a stronger force in order to give back to the community,” adds Ochalek. “This academy will be a foundation to grow and build the arts in the community. We are really trying to build it as a local support system, providing an outlet for local community theatres such as the Village Players or StageDoor,” where actors can broaden their experience or the community theatres can be aided in set design or direction. With 10 instructors at the helm, all having some form of experience in the realm of the performing arts, the Florida Academy of Performing Arts is seeking corporate sponsorships to fund the programs offered for those who cannot afford them as well as two annual scholarships for high school seniors who plan to continue on in the field. Scholarship applicants would have to hold a high grade point average, have involvement in one of Music Showcase’s programs and have to complete a community outreach project. One lucky student, Blake High School senior Tiffanie Ellis, is already on her way to achieving her goals, as the foundation is hosting a benefit concert for her on Saturday, October 10, with times to be announced, to raise funds for her attendance at the American Musical & Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York. Staff from the Atlanta-based Broadway Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that provides guidance and classes in regard to Broadway, will be on-hand to hold a question and answer session for those in attendance. “We are trying to bring all of this kind of access to the area,” comments Frenkel. The foundation is planning its first production to be that of Annie, unveiling to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 4, 5 and 6, at the Winthrop Barn Theater, located at 11349 Bloomingdale Ave. in Riverview. Into The Woods will show the following weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 11, 12 and 13. All times are to be announced.For more information on upcoming performances or a listing of programs offered under the Florida Academy of Performing Arts, visit www.musicshowcaseonline.com, clicking on “Programs” or call 685-5998, Frenkel at 244-8669, e-mail take2thestage@gmail.com or visit www.take2thestage.com.

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