Cultural Arts Playhouse has been fostering the development of up-and-coming actors for more than 15 years. At its Musical Theatre and Acting Academy, students from 1st–12th grade hone their on-stage skills by taking classes on singing, acting, and improvisation under the tutelage of an experienced teacher. Kids get to show off these skills in full theatrical productions, with main-stage shows opening up auditions to the entire community so people can see their neighbors' acting chops and dusted-off fake skulls. Cultural Arts Playhouse alumni have found success in New York and throughout the country, appearing in HBO's The Sopranos, and such Broadway productions as Les Miserables and Aladdin.
Two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee Johnny Mathis drapes traditional holiday songs in the golden tinsel of his tenor. From elegant pop classics such as “Chances Are” and “Wonderful, Wonderful” to his storied take on “The Christmas Song,” Johnny’s inimitable lilt has given listeners an oasis from passing fads such as spandex jazz for nearly six decades. On an anniversary tour celebrating 56 years of melody making, Johnny greets fans with an effervescent smile and the world’s luckiest microphone, crooning Yuletide carols that evoke toasty hearths and mistletoe canoodling, and that warm the ears like a hunting cap filled with spiced cider. Built to adorn a 1930s movie palace, the Paramount Theatre's art-deco mosaics, carved-glass fountain of light, and gilded sculptural details firmly prevent the evening's fuzzy feelings from escaping the auditorium.
STEP Preschool's teachers don't just shape kids cognitively—they also develop them physically. That's because the state-licensed preschool employs multitalented staffers who lead clinics in soccer, T-ball, gymnastics, and other sports to help refine the motor skills and kinesthetic learning of children aged 2–5. Physical education boasts as integral a role in the curriculum as reading and writing, math, technology, and other academic areas that prepare kids for kindergarten and a tenure-track professorship.
During Group and Cuddles and Strokes swim sessions, the aqua aces at Saf-T-Swim equip bipeds with the skills and safety techniques necessary for conquering liquid-filled lands. Group classes sport student/instructor ratios as small as four to one, giving each floater more personalized attention as he or she learns to glide through the water more gracefully than a troupe of manatee ballerinas. Buyers can purchase multiple Groupons to allow families and friends to gain aqueous footing in the same welcoming environment among their peers and other swim scholars.
Margaret E. Kabacinski treats patients like family, hosting each personal appointment inside Northport Skin Fitness's cozy bungalow. A licensed aesthetician, certified laser technician, and holistic health expert, Kabacinski oversees a team of technicians who specialize in using lasers to decimate unwanted hair or keep faces glowing as warmly as a recently microwaved sun.
Rookies Sports Club performs a full-court press on the senses, sporting a menu with a mouthwatering array of grilled and fried snacks and displaying 10 television screens that allow fans to survey the scores around the league. The whole baseball squad or the Russian Olympic go-kart shot-putters can share an order of 50 Rookies signature wings ($38), swaddled in a choice of eight sauces. The Bronx Bomber steak burger creates a favorable matchup against offensive hunger pains, boasting a lineup of chopped sirloin, caramelized onions, applewood bacon bits, and blue cheese ($15.99). Rookies Sports Club also stocks a frosty collection of craft beers for a postgame celebration/commiseration, from the Belgian Gulden Draak Triple Ale to the coppery Keegan Ales Hurricane Kitty IPA. While nursing a glass of Black Dog Ale, guests can listen to sports commentators pontificating over their choice of game from a set of cordless speakers.
Diane Garetano's school—whose curriculum covers piano as well as other instruments—was an immediate success in the first year. She was renting space to accommodate her ever-expanding student body and the pianos that kept sprouting extra keys. Today, The Piano Studio for Kids imparts instrument skills at two locations. The school also has evolved in terms of technique, with instructors now incorporating even more methods built on fun, structure, and positive reinforcement. Once a year, students may elect to show off the fruits of these labors, with admission free of charge at a recital culminating in certificates, gift bags, and applause.