Acting Academy for Kids
It’s Time to Watch Your Stars Shine!
by Veronica Badzey
True to the world of theater, Acting Academy for Kids’s past year has been filled with both heartache and joy. Since 2008, Stephen and Maggie Zygo have operated their professional acting and film school out of the Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano, but last year received word that the venue would soon be closing its doors. The news came on top of a diagnosis of Stage 3 cancer for Maggie the same day their 2nd son was born. With so much on their plates, the fate of the beloved acting school seemed uncertain. Despite these many challenges, Stephen and Maggie have emerged stronger than ever, ready for a progressive 2017 full of new beginnings.
“We’ve been doing our best to manage all of this change,” says Stephen. “It’s been a unique juggling act. As a leader in the performing arts community for kids and teens, we’re committed to maintaining our reputation of excellence and are excited about the next chapter,” he enthuses.
March 31st will see the Acting Academy’s last classes taught at the Camino Real Playhouse, but instead of a final curtain call, the impending closure ushers in a new era. Maggie and Stephen have found a new “forever” home at a fantastic location in San Clemente close to Avenida Pico and the 5 Freeway inside the Holiday Inn Express.
Designed in grand 1920’s Hollywood style, the spacious building is in the process of being converted into a fully functional theater, complete with a TV/film studio, recording studio, concession area, dressing rooms, a costume shop and rehearsal rooms. Registration is already open for Spring Session, and classes begin April 10th at the new “Z Playhouse.” The school has also filed for non-profit status and is actively seeking donations to help defray build-out costs.
Stephen and Maggie have also joined forces with Community Roots Academy in Laguna Niguel, which recently invested substantial resources in new technology and infrastructure for its facility. Community Root’s 400-seat theater offers an ideal setting for the Acting Academy’s spring musical theater production of Beauty and the Beast, as well as the school’s popular Performing Arts Summer Camps, which start the first week of June. These week-long classes for kids, ages 4-13, feature fun themes like Hawaiian Moana, Harry Potter, and Beauty and the Beast, and will be held at Z Playhouse, Community Roots, and the Acting Academy’s newest location — OC Music and Dance in Irvine.
Started by Charlie Zhang, CEO and founder of Pick Up Stix, OC Music and Dance is Orange County’s only non-profit community music school. It hosts several professional music, dance, and theater groups, including the Pacific Symphony, of which Mr. Zhang is the top donor. Acting Academy for Kids was handpicked to represent the dramatic arts department at this dynamic new school, and will be providing classes in musical theater, TV, and film.
The film school at Acting Academy for Kids has grown from its modest beginnings into an 18-week conservatory program, complete with its own website – AA4Kstudios.com. The curriculum includes 36 hours of instruction, a mid-term report for each student, experience in crewing a film, and the opportunity for students to act in their own short films. Each film premieres at a Red Carpet Gala at San Juan Capistrano’s Regency Theater where students see themselves on the silver screen! Students receive reels of their work, professional IMDb (Internet Movie Database) credit, and the opportunity to work with professionals in the industry to gain a well-rounded experience as TV/film actors.
Despite all the struggles of the past year, Acting Academy for Kids has only grown stronger, and is more deeply committed to its mission than ever. “This year has given us an amazing opportunity to change a lot of young kids’ lives,” explains Stephen. “Our vision is to launch all three of these locations, with education still being the heart of what we do . . . teaching kids the arts through learning and having fun at the same time.”
Acting Academy for Kids | Ages 4-17 | ActingAcademyForKids.com | 949.427.0072