It's the Woodstock of the acting biz, the college career day of working thespians, it's Actorfest `97, which bills itself as "the ultimate source for performance-related services and career insights."
Saturday, Nov. 8, 9 AM-5 PM, will bring experts from New York's film, TV and theatre world to more than 100 booths at the Marriott Marquis Hotel (West 45th St. at Broadway) to share tips of the trade. Participating in seminars and panels will be agents, casting directors, and producers.
Seminars, produced and hosted by Back Stage editor Sherry Eaker, will also offer insight. "Making It In Commercials" (9 AM-10:30 AM) will be paneled by casting director Stacy L. Seidel (Liz Lewis Casting Partners) and feature actress Anne Bobby (Merrily We Roll Along) and Lesley Freedman, a casting director from the McHale Barone Audio Agency. From 11 AM-12:30 PM, a second Commercials seminar will be given, this one hosted by Arista Baltronis (Grey Advertising) and featuring character voice performer, Mary Elaine Monti and Steve Schaefer of Donna De Seta Casting. Both seminars will also feature two "prominent New York agents."
There will also be two "Making It On Broadway" seminars, which examine "the techniques and tactics of the casting process." The 1-2:30 PM slot will feature moderator Stuart Howard (Howard Associates) and director Gerald Gutierrez (The Heiress), Rosemarie Tichler (Public Theatre artistic producer), musical director Michael Rafter (Gypsy) and actress Debra Monk (Company, Steel Pier). The 3-4:30 PM slot offers moderator Tara Rubin (Johnson-Liff Casting) joined by Vinnie Liff (the "Liff" of Johnson-Liff), director Scott Ellis (Steel Pier) and choreographer Rob Marshall (Damn Yankees, Kiss Of The Spider Woman).
Actorfest `97 will also offer an exhibit hall of 100 booths on the fifth floor, filled with acting, voice and dance coaches, headshot photographers, trainers, and temp agency reps. Budding thespians can even be professionally videotaped. Spokesperson David Weiss (of Howard Sherman Public Relations) told Playbill On-Line (Oct. 16) the ActorFest is always "a very vibrant scene...with so many tips for the actors." More than 1,500 people attended the previous year's event.
Sherry Eaker, editor of Back Stage magazine and producer/moderator of Actorfest `97, told Playbill On-Line at the time of the previous ActorFest, "I love doing this. I really feel for the New York actor; it's so tough out there. And this is the first event of its kind -- it's a trade show, one-stop shopping for the actor."
Tickets to the whole shebang, including the exhibit hall, are $35. Separate admission to the exhibit hall, sans seminars, is $10.
For information, call the Actorfest `97 Hotline at (212) 536-1465, or write (money order only) to Back Stage Actorfest Tickets, 1515 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10036.
-- By David Lefkowitz