Original Productions


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The Original Productions Division of The Children’s Acting Academy was established tocreate and develop ground-breaking original shows for stage, television, audio & film. It is spearheaded by Jason Grant Shela & Mimi Stuart.

If you wish to submit your original production for consideration, please send a cover letter, short biography, script and for musicals (audio files of songs and lyrics) to this email caaoriginalproductions@gmail.com. Please allow 3-4 weeks for us to reply.

 

 

Our Shows So Far 

out of my comfort zone

Out of My Comfort Zone: Middle school, New York City. Everyone’s got a secret. Josh and Rachel have been best friends since second grade, but their relationship is about to change. The Viper has an online blog dedicated to exposing people’s innermost secrets and he’s just found out the whopper of them all. Performed by a cast of 15 young teens, Out of My Comfort Zone is about self-identity, gender, love, expectations, stereotypes, cyber-bullying, and friendship. Out of My Comfort Zone pokes holes in school stereotypes and suggests that finding your comfort zone sometimes comes at a price. It’s more uncomfortable to be something you’re not than to be who you are. Directed by Mimi Stuart and Ivy Vale.

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Rock ‘N’ Roll Dance Party Revue is a fast-paced hour long journey through the Rock N Roll decades of the 50s & 60s with short historical narrative depicting specific events. Original choreography to the classic American & British hits of the day. The Show is aimed at performers 5-11 years old. This is the first part in a series of productions; the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, 00s.
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Secrets of Columbine: The survivors of the Columbine High School Massacre speak out on the violence of that day, coping with grief, anger and spirituality. What could have stopped the shooting and how to prevent similar tragedies? Shootings like Columbine and Sandy Hook are happening more and more. If you think it needs to be addressed then come for this docu-drama.

About the Directors

Jason Grant Shela, Director of Original Productions, was born and raised in London, England. He received his theatrical training at The Sir Michael Redgrave Theatre. He won an international scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Baruch College, City University of New York. He then earned a master’s degree in International Relations from New York University. Jason received a Steven Spielberg Scholarship for international study at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland and a post graduate scholarship at Yale University.

Jason has directed and produced many shows in New York, Memphis & Mississippi. He has received multiple ASCAP awards for original music composition. He has produced and composed original music for Fox Soccer Channel and has licensed music for shows on HBO, Sirius and independent features.

Jason is currently developing entertainment for both traditional media and the new alternative digital media arena. He was creative director for the stage production of ‘Mirror Mirror, The Other Side of Marilyn’ (a Drama about Marilyn Monroe). He directed and produced the audio sitcoms of Bless this House & Never Mind the Quality, based on the classic British TV comedies. He was the founding producer & creator of ‘Britfest’ a live celebration of British music, comedy & culture. He has produced and directed musical tributes to John Lennon, George Harrison, Mick Ronson & The British Invasion. At the Children’s Acting Academy he has produced such wide-ranging plays and musicals as ‘Out of My Comfort Zone,’ ‘And a Child Shall Lead,’ ‘Secrets of Columbine,’ & ‘Rock N Roll Dance Party.

 

Mimi Stuart, Artistic Director, has been acting and entertaining audiences since she was 10 years old, and professionally since she was 15. Mimi performed Off-Broadway as a lead in The Mandela and Guilty Innocence. She has performed in summer stock as Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker as well as in other leading roles. Mimi toured the U.S. and Canada in musicals such as My Fair Lady, Godspell, Cinderella, and Pajama Game. Mimi was on daytime TV as Dixie’s nurse in All My Children and on nighttime TV as the lead in Ghost Stories. She has been in almost 20 movies and her voice can be heard on several voice-overs. Mimi received her BFA in Acting from York University in Toronto and her MFA in Acting from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Brunswick, studying under William Esper.

Mimi was the Artistic Director at Saginaw Overnight Camp, directing two shows a summer and teaching drama and improv classes. She taught acting at Kean University and voice and speech at NYU and Weist-Barron. She was the originator of The Children and Teen Musical Theatre, and Voice and Speech Program at HB Studio. She has also directed shows for the last three years at Saints John and Paul in Larchmont, taught the drama class at the Thornton Donovan summer camp, and recently started teaching after school drama in the New Rochelle and Mount Vernon school districts.

Mimi started to teach and direct for Monica May at The Children’s Acting Academy in 2000, and became sole owner four years later.  She is thrilled to see her students grow year after year, both artistically and academically.  Many students have gone on to study at the four major performing arts high schools in NYC, and to star and appear in Broadway shows.

Stuart Strutin had a love for film and theatre as long as he could remember. He had a subscription to Variety in High School, put on puppet shows in his garage and shot 8mm short film in his backyard in elementary school, and his mom always said he put on quite a show in the womb. Stuart went to the University of Buffalo and studied film under luminaries of the avant-garde film movement such as Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, and Steina and Woody Vasulka.  While in Buffalo, he produced sold-out shows of  ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ and ‘Godspell’ at the Katharine Cornell Theatre.

After graduating Magna Cum Laude, his first job in the film industry was working for the documentarians David and Albert Maysles, where his job consisted of everything from working with the famed artist Christo to buying Wonder Bread for commercials they were shooting.

His next position was in the logistics department of the show ‘3-2-1 Contact’, a production of the Children’s Television Workshop; producers of ‘Sesame Street’.   Most of the show was filmed on location, and coordination with the writers and interpretation of the script was essential to producing every episode of the show.

Stuart spent over seven years at Troma where he handled theatrical distribution for feature films, wrote the first draft of ‘The Toxic Avenger’ and the screenplay for the ‘The First Turn-On’, associate produced several other films, and created marketing campaigns for original productions and acquisitions.  One of the most valuable lessons he learned there was to never say no, and realize that nothing is impossible if you have a big enough imagination.

After leaving Troma, he went to Vestron, and handled theatrical distribution for Lightning Pictures during an exciting time in the independent film industry.  Vestron released the first sell-through VHS ever; ‘Michael Jackson’s Thriller’, and had the highest grossing independent Film of all time when it was released; ‘Dirty Dancing’.

After leaving Vestron, he formed Panorama Entertainment in 1987, and has been responsible for acquiring, marketing and selling numerous award winning independent films of all types to theatres, on VHS, and DVD, digitally, and to television.

In addition to running Panorama, lately he has been driving his daughters to and from soccer and dance, and helping his wife Mimi Stuart build the Children’s Acting Academy and Company into one of the top acting schools in New York.

 

Ivy Vale is a writer, musician, artist and native New Yorker. She wrote the book, lyrics and co-wrote the music (with husband Rick Reil) for Out of My Comfort Zone, a new rock musical which premiered at The American Theater of Actors in New York City in February 2015 and had a sold-out initial run. The musical was produced by The Children’s Acting Company (CAC). Vale co-directed the show with CAC Artistic Director Mimi Stuart. The Huffington Post called Out of My Comfort Zone “a singing, dancing powerhouse punctuated by dialogue that rings true and real,” and noted, “The humor in the song lyrics is brilliant…The dialogue sparkles as brightly as the song lyrics.” In addition to The Huffington Post, NY1 News ran a piece on the show, as did The Advocate and GLAAD.

“We were driven to write Out of My Comfort Zone as a way of making a strong statement against bullying, specifically bullying that targets any child or teen who may be perceived as gay or identify as LGBT,” says Vale. “There is a clear need for reality-based material for young teens who want to see shows that reflect their own lives and deliver characters they can relate to. The songs, influenced by everything from The Who’s Tommy to ’60’s girl groups to The Beastie Boys, really resonate with our twelve to fourteen year old cast.”

Back by popular demand, Out of My Comfort Zone will return for an additional 10 shows in June 2015.

Vale’s plays have been selected and produced by GI60: The World’s First International 60 Second Playwriting Festival, in New York and the UK. She is the primary singer/songwriter and founding member of The Wyld Olde Souls, a female-fronted psychedelic folk band, who have been nominated for multiple music awards by The Hollywood Music in Media Awards and The Indie Music Channel Awards, including a nomination for Best Album. The 2013 UK Songwriting Competition selected ‘Maybe’ (written by Vale) as a Semi-Finalist. Their song ‘Give it to You’ (written by Vale/Reil) is in the documentary Who Shot Rock & Roll: The Film, which premiered at The TriBeCa Film Festival. In addition, the song ‘Anything’ (written by Vale) was featured as the theme song for the UK play ‘Marilyn’ (about Marilyn Monroe, written by Chris Savery) which premiered in NYC at the Midtown International Theater Festival in 2013. The band’s last album, Ensoulment (My Generation Productions), garnered numerous 5-star reviews nationally and internationally.

Ivy grew up watching her father, Michael Vale, on Broadway, in movies and on TV, but he is best remembered as the lovable Fred the Baker in the long-running Dunkin’ Donuts ‘Time to Make the Donuts’ commercials, which ran for over 15 years. She is a Founder and the Creative Director of My Generation Productions, a new company dedicated to creating and producing innovative work to raise awareness and mobilize social action through music, drama and comedy. She graduated from The School of Visual Arts (BFA) and The High School of Music and Art (now LaGuardia).

 

Rick Reil is an accomplished singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and recording engineer.  He co-wrote the music for Out of My Comfort Zone (with wife Ivy Vale) and is the Musical Director. He is a member of The Grip Weeds, a popular psychedelic pop-rock band whichhas released 7 full-length CDs, toured the US and Europe, and garnered significant radio/internet airplay, including songs on Little Steven’s Underground Garage and Sirius Satellite Radio.

The Grip Weeds’ song “What’s in Your Mind” (written by Rick) was licensed by CBS Television to promote its critically acclaimed series Criminal Minds. A few years ago, Rick joined the reunited lineup of the legendary ‘60s group The Left Banke, best known for their classic pop hit ‘Walk Away Renee’ for their reunion tour. He is producer and founding member of the psychedelic folk rock group The Wyld Olde Souls.

He is Co-Owner of House of Vibes recording studio in Highland Park, NJ, whose client list includes Mark Lindsay, The Smithereens, John Hawken (The Strawbs), Graham Maby (Joe Jackson, Marshall Crenshaw), and The Dough Boys. Rick also runs a satellite recording studio, The House of Rock Opera, in NYC. He is currently a Mentor to young students at Individual University where he teaches recording, guitar and drums.

He is a Founder and the Music Director of My Generation Productions, a new company dedicated to creating and producing innovative work to raise awareness and mobilize social action through music, drama and comedy. Rick graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law.