A quick glance at Vashti Fairbairn’s resume is telling. At local theatre company Fighting Chance Productions, she has directed the critically lauded Little Shop of Horrors and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, both of which magically combine music with dramatic arts. At her own Music Box Music and Theatre Academy, Fairbairn, along with a team of dedicated teachers, does the exact same thing on a daily basis. Children’s group classes give little ones as young as 6 months old a chance to strut their stuff on the dance floor, belt out their favourite show tunes, and learn to tickle the ivories like a seasoned elephant sitter. Private lessons are open to adults as well, and expand the instrumental scope to include strings, music theory, and the speaking arts. The latter comes in handy during the school’s drama clubs, which teach kids 3 years and older how to use their imaginations to create real-life and fantasy scenarios. Outside of their educational programs, the facility entertains visitors to the River Market with free music and theatre performances in the Music Box Presents series.
At Vancouver Acting School, experienced coaches impart the skills necessary for a marketable career in the world of film and television. Training within the rooms of a working casting studio, proteges practice in a small black-box-style theatre and rooms outfitted with cameras, gaining the courage to recite monologues in front of Stanley Park's discriminating squirrels. Part- or full-time classes teach audition, voice, and improvisation skills as students learn to transform imagination into an outline for success.
A companion studio, the Vancouver Young Actors School, teaches younger artists the same classic and contemporary techniques, building both their self-confidence and a solid artistic foundation for future work. In the past, the school's training has led students to land appearances on Nickelodeon, Syfy, and the Family Channel.
Victoria Academy of Dramatic Arts’ 11 instructors share more than two centuries of combined experience in the entertainment industry, heading up a yearlong, by-audition acting program designed specifically for television, film, and commercial work. Not everybody is ready to make the plunge into the screen, so the school also runs smaller-scale workshops appropriate for all experience levels that cover casting dos and don’ts, career guidance, and summoning the willpower to meet James Cameron’s third eye. The Actor’s Makeover course tightens audition material into 15 minutes of pure emotional power, and part-time intro classes accommodate day jobs.