Visiting Artist: Jeff Passero

Musical Theatre and Drama students could not have asked for a more experienced practitioner in their field with which to work than Jeff Passero. The New York City resident is renowned as a casting director, technique teacher for both acting and auditioning, producer, director, actor and singer on stage, in film and in television. Over the course of an afternoon, he ran students through their paces. And he started at the beginning.

He first gave them self-confidence. “When you say your name, it is the first representation of who you are,” Jeff offered to one of the first students up. “Every time you take a step back, as you just did, it means you are equivocating. That you’re not sure you want to be here.”

He then helped them express their character’s physicality. “This is called sitting,” he demonstrated for the next student who had performed stiffly in one place. He shifted his weight from one leg to another. “If your feet are not nailed to the floor, it gives you life.”

And he had each and every student focus on to whom they were singing or speaking and why. “Did you have a personalization in your mind of who you are talking to?” Jeff asked a student who just performed a monologue from Jitney. “Very fine work. You had a point of view and it was full. But I would have liked to see you challenge the person to whom you were speaking. I was yearning to feel your power. Play the intention with strength so you don’t come off as a victim.”

“There’s a triad to life on the stage. You have to have an objective: what do you want. You have to have an emotional justification: why do you want it. And you have to have intention: how are you going to go about getting what you want. As Stella Adler taught, don’t speak until it feels truthful.”

And he made each student feel comfortable enough to find the truth in their performances. “Remember, there are no mistakes,” he told students. “There are only lessons to be learned.”

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