Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 6:05 am | Fair 39º


Dos Pueblos Students Make ‘Glee’-ful Day Trip to Los Angeles

The school's Acting for TV/Film class gains VIP access and information from industry insiders

“It was the highlight of my senior year, maybe even the highlight of my high school years,” Dos Pueblos High School senior Frida Franco said after a day in Hollywood with teacher Clark Sayre’s Acting for TV/Film class.

Students in the class got a rare firsthand glimpse into the inner workings of the entertainment industry during a full-day excursion Wednesday to Los Angeles.

The day began when Dos Pueblos and Young Playwrights Festival alumnus Shauna McGarry took students on a tour of the Dexter set at Sunset Gower Studios. After working with Sayre in the Young Playwrights program, McGarry went on to New York University’s screenwriting program, became a script coordinator and writer for the award-winning series 24, and currently serves as script coordinator for Dexter.

In a post-tour question-and-answer session, McGarry focused on show business from a writing and newcomer’s perspective.

For lunch, students met with actor Jason Alexander, who offered the celebrity perspective.

Alexander is best known for playing the iconic role of George Costanza on Seinfeld. He and Sayre met while performing on Broadway in Merrily We Roll Along.

Alexander answered questions on topics ranging from acting and comic techniques to advice on how to break into the acting business today. He also shared many of his experiences as an established TV, film and Broadway actor and director.

Freshman Adrienne Nacsa got the seat of honor next to Alexander since she and her family have been avid Seinfeld fans for years.

“When I first heard that we’d get to meet ‘George,’ I nearly had a heart attack,” she said with a laugh, “but he was a really nice, down-to-earth guy, and he even gave me a hug.”

After lunch, students met and had a private question-and-answer session with Glee executive producer Dante DiLoreto, a graduate of Santa Barbara High School, and Glee director and San Marcos High School graduate Eric Stoltz.

The two Hollywood veterans, who met Sayre while doing theater in Santa Barbara, answered student questions ranging from “How did you like kissing Jennifer Lopez?” to “How do actors prepare for shooting an episode of Glee?”

DiLoreto’s career has included forming a film production company with Anthony Edwards and producing other shows with Glee creator Ryan Murphy. Stoltz has appeared in more than 100 movies and TV roles, starring in a good number of them. DiLoreto said he enjoys working with Stoltz because “he knows how to talk to actors so well. He can draw from his many years of experience as an actor.”

One main theme that arose from all of the question-and-answer sessions was that students today should create their own acting opportunities and not wait for agents and casting directors to come to them, as all had to do when they first started in the industry.

“The Internet is a great opportunity for you, but it’s also an opportunity for everyone else,” McGarry said. “The secret is somehow standing out from the crowd.”

Each guest also stressed the importance of not only “knowing the right people,” but maintaining those relationships and building a body of work of which to be proud.

“Building a good reputation as a hardworking artist who is easy to work with is critical in sustaining a career in TV/film and stage,” Stoltz said.

Thanks to DiLoreto and Stoltz, students were given a tour of the Glee sets, the first large group that has ever done so. Students wandered the sets, and took pictures and videos of settings, culminating in a trip to the place where most of the songs on the show originate — the music classroom. Students are not allowed to post any of these pictures or video until the episode comes out in May because there might be spoilers in some of the sets.

In addition, students got to experience the shooting of a scene with characters Quinn and Lauren. Ashley Fink, who plays Lauren, spoke briefly with students, and Dos Pueblos alum Claire Gordon Harper, who happened to be working as an extra in that episode, stopped by to offer encouragement and say hi. Students were set to meet Dianna Agron (Quinn) between takes, but she was busy learning her lines for the next scene, which would be shooting in just minutes.

“Even that experience was a powerful one. It showed us how fast things have to happen in TV,” freshman Jesse Klein said. “We learned things that can’t be taught in a classroom. Most of the stuff we learned will stick with us for a lifetime.”

Although the group didn’t have time to meet with casting director Suzanne Gordan-Smythe, as originally planned, they ended the day at Miceli’s, a singing waiter restaurant in Hollywood where aspiring actors hope for their first big break — a break that students learned is not only hard to get, but also requires lots of hard work once that “lucky break” happens.

“Even though I don’t want to be an actor, it was good to see how much work they put into their own career so I can see how much effort I need to put into my career choice,” senior Daniel Reveles said.

Sayre plans to take a group of theater students to New York City next spring, which he promises will be “just as exciting.”

— Clark Sayre is a theater teacher and director at Dos Pueblos High School.

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