Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with an instructor as the teachers assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Renovated in 2011, the Museum of Making Music showcases a permanent display of hundreds of unusual and vintage instruments charting the progression of song-crafting from 1900 to modern times. Five museum galleries present popular music, innovations in instruments and their manufacture, and marketing and distribution techniques in five eras throughout the 20th century. Racks of gleaming instruments line the cases, as well as more eclectic pieces such as double-neck guitars, the crossbreed GuitarViol, and an ancient, forgotten instrument whose name is always whispered: the "clarinet." The museum is dotted with interactive exhibits, giving visitors the chance to craft their own tunes on the exhibit's drum kits or keytar.
At the age of 5, Natalie Costa’s daughter was cute, lively, and photogenic—reason enough to give show business a try, she thought. But with no one to guide her and her daughter through the maze of booking auditions and getting representation, she found herself out thousands of dollars on useless portfolio shoots and manager fees. In response, Costa founded The Performers Academy, modeling the friendly, welcoming atmosphere on the dancing school she loved as a child. She made sure to stock it with instructors who had the inside knowledge she could have used at the outset: all professional actors, directors, and producers with lots of experience in film and TV and a special focus on children’s programming.
The academy caters both to kids seriously trying to break into the business and to casual enthusiasts who find performing a liberating way to build self-confidence. Age-appropriate classes deal with such key topics as managing audition stress, honing improvisational comedy skills, and projecting loud enough to be heard over that giant gong that somebody keeps bumping into.
The adage that "there are no small parts, just small actors" rings truest at The Center Stage Studio, where budding thespians of all ages get their share of the spotlight. Under the experienced wand of director Tracey DiMiceli, a seasoned performer and theater instructor who also helmed Malibu's prestigious "Fitness by the Sea" summer camp, young actors develop the skills to sing, dance, and deliver heartfelt Tony Award acceptance speeches in a wealth of classes and camps.
In the family-tailored musical theater camps, which feature themes reflecting popular musicals and children's shows, lil' thespians learn the fundamentals of theater technique—including blocking, projecting, and stage direction—and cultivate skills that boost self-esteem and critical thinking. Camps end with a public performance where every child gets a spot in a major musical number and receives a speaking role, curbing the theatrical tradition of jealous prepubescent understudies.
When the lights flicker on and off at The Gourmet Detective, there's no cause for alarm?it's all just part of the show. The interactive murder mystery dinner theatre injects a three-course meal with whimsical performers who blend comedy and drama into a vintage whodunnit. Each show transports its captive audience to the era of film noir, wrapping them into a dark, twisting narrative scored with live music from a lounge singer. The scene is set as guests mingle with the characters at a pre-show cocktail hour, then step into the seedy restaurant those characters run. When the first players are bumped off at the start of the meal, everyone in the crowd becomes equally gumshoe, witness, and suspect. Throughout the dinner, guests can either sit back and enjoy the show or gather clues by talking with the characters who serve each course between the scenes. The evening culminates in a reveal of the real culprit, as well as the audience's most inaccurate guesses.
UltraStar Cinemas cossets moviegoers in cushy seating as they enjoy Hollywood hits alongside buttery servings of popcorn. Film buffs can peruse the current showtimes to handpick an action-packed flick, romantic comedy, or chilling thriller featuring inexplicably aggressive hamsters. The concession stand outfits moviegoers with snacks, drinks, and buckets filled with warm kernels, keeping stomach grumblings to a minimum during showings and providing crunchy projectiles in case of sudden younger-sibling attacks.