Teacher and Coach

Writer, director and instructor for Santa Monica Dance Center’s Musical Theatre Summer Camp:  Each year I wrote and composed an original musical for the campers to learn and perform in (year one was “Fantasy, A Musical” and year two was “Sleepy Hollow”). Even though everyone in the camp (ages 6 – 17) would eventually get a part in the show, they all had to go through an audition process and call back. After casting, we spent the next two months rehearsing and building sets, culminating with a weekend of performances for family, friends and guests. 

Member of original creative staff of Camp Bravo, a CA. performing arts camp: Conducted classes in mime, comedia, musical theater for children 10-18 – Aside from my own classes, I helped create and oversee two of the camp’s more popular activities, the trust circle and mask making. And just like the camp from SM Dance Center, each session of Camp Bravo ended with a show. I made it clear to all my students, especially the most reluctant, that no one was going to be forced to do anything they didn’t want to do. By the last day, everyone was participating. It was great. 

Member of Original Cast of Hallmark’s Zoobilee Zoo: Toured nationwide for over 15 years as Bill der Beaver, part of the original cast of Hallmark’s award winning children’s television show Zoobilee Zoo, performing shows and interacting with thousands of young people at the events as well as at children’s hospitals

Teacher and director at Suhaila Salimpour’s International Dance Studio: Currently teaching weekly classes in stage presence and emotional insight (for adults) at SSID and continue to be a part of Suhaila’s multi-level training program

Private classes – teens and adults (on-going)

Plays written by Sandey Grinn

Picklehaus, a musical:   A group of singers and their new piano player perform at the truly posh Picklehaus Hotel. Even though the group specializes in love songs, off stage they seem to have no clue as to what any of those words they sing mean. That proves especially painful for the pianist who falls in love with the beautiful and mostly lovable soprano, especially when her European boyfriend comes to the see the show. An autobiographical piece that my father originally said should be called “Schmuck!” and at the time he was right. Many drafts later the piece is now ready for workshop and eventual performance.

Shrew!: Taming of the Shrew meets Italian Comedia in one lazzi filled act. From the moment Kate and Petruchio meet, their “love” brings out the Bard’s speech them, making their words as difficult to understand to the rest of the cast as their behavior is to us. Played to full and happy “houses” for over five years at both Northern and Southern Renaissance Faires.

The Ceramic Cow, by Maryland Brown:  A scene by scene parody of The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams. Performed with great success at the North Hollywood Arts Festival.

Couples, a comedy:  Nine two-person plays, eighteen characters all performed by a six actor cast. Enjoyed an extended run to full houses at Theatre Geo, Hollywood, CA.

Amen:  God’s in the sound booth, calling the light cues (‘let there be light”) but on this production of the Bible, even before page two, all the women threaten to quit the “show”, unless they are allowed to tell their own stories in their own way. He agrees and just when he thinks it can’t get any worse for the Judeo-Christian Patriarchy, God’s own mom shows up to help out. Received mainly rave reviews in two different successful runs, in Hollywood, CA.

Foretold:  One story told in four different styles, Messerling, Mamet, Shakespeare and finally as a musical. Not surprisingly, by the third go round, the women are getting suspicious. Ready for workshop and eventual performance.

My Personal History & Philosophy of Theatre Education

The musical drew me to the stage when I was six.  My mom bought me my first piano and we started going, four times every year, to see musicals at the Music Center in Los Angeles.  Musicals will forever remain my favorite form of theatre.  I love the theatre with all my heart and I am the happiest any time I get the opportunity to work in it and share my love for it with others. And even though I personally grew up with no fear of the stage, I know how scary some of its elements can be to others and that’s why whenever I’ve taught anyone (especially children and teens) any aspects of theatre  — and especially Musical Theatre — I’ve come from a place of gentle encouragement, never force.  I’d like to think that my enthusiasm and genuine passion has gone a long way towards encouraging and even empowering the most reluctant in each group.

What I hope to communicate to everyone wanting to work in the theatre, whether on stage or behind the scenes, is this:  The theatre is more than just a room with chairs and some wood; it’s a temple, a magic place where stories can come alive through word or music; it’s a sacred place, one with a long, rich, colorful history that we all really should know. Should want to know!  And these are the first lessons: To love it, to respect it, to treasure each moment we get to be a part of it.  Because of that, regardless of what I’m teaching, I always will begin the first day standing on center stage making sure they know that, to me, this spot beneath my feet can be the most magical and most powerful place there is on earth. The stage: our center, our source, our home.

I strongly believe that both solid technique and honest, moment-to-moment real life presence are not only equally important, but are essential to anyone hoping to affect or move or inspire or tickle an audience. One element gives you the skill to form and polish a diamond; the other gives you the power and ability to share it with others. Natural talent is fine and those who have it are blessed but natural talent without technique is unfocused at best and totally ineffective at worst. There needs to be an clear understanding, appreciation and knowledge of the technique of the craft itself — regardless of whether it be song or script, dialogue or dance — and the only effective way to truly learn any technique or skill is through repetition and practice. There is just no short cut. One has to do the work. And the same holds true learning how to be present, to be emotionally honest and to learn how to fully connect with an audience from the stage. For the last four years I’ve worked primarily with dancers, mostly professionals, and what is true for the dancer is true for any performer; it doesn’t matter how proficient one is at one’s craft, if one cannot make an honest and real connection with their audience, one might as well be dancing alone in their room. If you can’t tell the story, it doesn’t matter how good that story is.