BY CARY GINELL
On Saturday, October 11, aspiring theater arts students will get a valuable chance at learning tips about performing when Tony-award winning actress Faith Prince presents a master class on musical theater. The class, which is being sponsored by Of Note Productions, will be held at the Grant R. Brimhall Library that morning at 9 a.m. The only requirements are that students, who are drawn from a lottery, must be age 14 or older and in the ninth grade or beyond.
Prince, who won a Tony for her performance as Miss Adelaide on Broadway in the 1992 revival of “Guys and Dolls,” has since found teaching as satisfying as performing. Five years ago she founded Minimoon Productions, a studio in Sacramento where she and fellow actress Natasha Burr provide personalized coaching and guidance to actors looking to expand their skill sets. Prince has since given master classes in as far reaching areas as Australia and at the St. Louis Cabaret Conference.
Prince approaches her classes from the point of view of not just a professional actress, but as a life coach. “I’m concerned with each person in front of me, looking at them as a puzzle,” she said by phone last week. “Then I try to assess what I think they really want, and sometimes that’s very different from what they think they want. I’m a really good listener. I think that’s my best quality as a teacher.”
Prince’s analytical approach reflects her upbringing. She was born in Augusta, Georgia, but was raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, the daughter of a nuclear engineer. “Some of my approach is like that,” she said. “I love puzzles, and I break things down really well.”
For Prince, personal growth is the most important thing students learn in her classes. “Some of the students who were the least talented grow the furthest in other ways,” she said, “and for me, that is as rewarding as helping a really talented person become more talented. Most people don’t know there is a route to get what you want, which can be different for each person. But you have to plan for it, whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, or a party planner. They all have their routes, and being an artist has a route, too. I think a lot of times people believe this myth that anyone can walk on a stage and either you have it or you don’t. I think there is much more of a science to acting than people realize.”
Prince studied acting at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. But despite having valuable help from her teachers, she never had a mentor in the industry. “That’s one reason why I am doing this, because I don’t think I ever had anybody like me. I would have loved to have been able to call up somebody and say, OK, I’m having this issue with a director or a casting person or my agent and ask them what I should do. I would have loved that.”
One thing that Prince impresses upon her students is that no one should strive for perfection. Everyone has flaws, and to succeed, one has to try and use them. “I don’t believe you can mask them,” she said. “You should strive ‘to be,’ which is what you want to do as a performer; being present, showing up, being comfortable, and carving out your space. There can be no masking. It will show up. What I try to do is get my students to use where they’re at and to know where they’re at.”
Prince also teaches her students self-awareness. “If I had been aware that I probably knew my own talent better than anybody, I could have done a lot more for myself. I was waiting for some Svengali to get me on the right path. It’s like the Karate Kid movies – you look into the water and you see yourself. You know you better than anybody. It took me a while to realize that.”
Information about Faith Prince’s master class can be found at ofnoteproductions.com, where you can also purchase tickets to see her cabaret act at Agoura High School on October 10.