As a native of the Dominican Republic, Claudette Munné loves merengue beats—but as classical pianists, she and her husband Massimiliano Facchini also cherish traditional piano pieces by European composers. To celebrate these dual passions, the pair arranged a series of fresh, merengue takes on old classics, a project that resulted in a sold-out two-piano show at Carnegie Hall and an interview with NBC.
Revamping traditional piano music isn't the couple's only collaboration, however. They also worked together to found Belle Arti Center for the Arts, a music school that caters mainly to children. Their toddler classes focus on training young ears and building a sense of rhythm that moves beyond freestyle clapping. During private lessons, they train students on instruments from the guitar and violin to woodwinds. Their classes follow a semester schedule, with each semester session culminating in a recital for family and friends.
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.
Each day during the Story Improv workshop, students ages 5–8 will enact the adventures of a children's storybook. The On the Spot: Improvisation session, best for students 8–14, will have students acting without scripts in order to build their quick wit and confidence. During the intensive two-week Piece Makers class, budding actors, playwrights, and directors ages 8–14 will create and perform their own original piece of theater. After learning many of the exercises and games used by the Irondale Theater Company, the class will become its own acting troupe and debut their show. This workshop includes pizza dinner for the players followed by post-performance refreshments for all.
While winter is the best time to engage in "Internetainments" such as solitaire, lonelitaire, and playing charades with your mirror, today's deal will get you back out into the physical world for a little human interaction. For $27, you get one ticket to see the Atlantic Theater Company's production of Ages of the Moon at the Linda Gross Theater in Chelsea (a $65 value). You can use your Groupon to see any performance during the show's run (January 12 to March 7, 2010), so long as there are tickets available. Check out the theater's calendar of show dates and times here.