"After working with Larry, I feel we've really accomplished something," she says. "He understands the material, but it's not simply that he's cultured and knowledgeable. He's also supportive, and that's not true of all acting teachers." Singer is not a coddler, Pines emphasizes, but at the same time he manages to make actors feel they're on the right track. "That's so important for me," she says, adding that his insightful direction has helped her nail auditions.
Stephanye Dussud, who has taken Singer's scene study class for 13 years, asserts, "Larry is really good in allowing us to work in our own style, rather than imposing something on us. He has amazing intuition and is able to target problems that get in the way of the work."
Singer is committed to the idea that each actor has individual needs and there is no one-size-fits-all method. He defines his technique as eclectic, incorporating a range of approaches, maintaining that it's important to provide students with a number of choices.
Singer coaches actors who are preparing for an audition or who have been cast in a film or TV program and need help with their performance. The goals can range from enhancing the clarity of their work, to analyzing the character and the character's arc, to simply toning down a performance for the camera. On occasion, his role is largely that of morale booster, reminding actors that they were hired for who they are. "Actors are often worrying over the issue 'What does the director want to see?' " he says. "I have to keep telling the actor, 'The director wants you.' "
Singer's scene study classes have 18 to 20 students, from 22 to 69 years old, with an array of backgrounds and experience. No audition is necessary, though he interviews all potential students, hoping to see "intelligence, openness, an ability to articulate, and a willingness to learn," he says. In each class, three to four scenes are performed, and after each one the students explain what they were working on and the rest of the class is encouraged to comment on "the actors' choices and the execution of those choices," Singer says. "This is all done within guidelines. I don't want the actors who have performed to ever feel defensive."
Larry Singer, Larry Singer Studios, 81 White St., New York; (917) 327-5406; www.thelarrysingerstudios.com
Favorite Scene Study Teacher Runners-Up:
- Matthew Corozine, (212) 592-4138, www.matthewcorozinestudio.com
- William Esper, (212) 904-1350, www.esperstudio.com
- Jason Bennett, (212) 777-7603, www.jbactors.com
Favorite Acting Coach Runners-Up:
- Maggie Flanigan, (917) 606-0982, www.maggieflaniganstudio.com
- Jason Bennett (see above)
- Rosalyn Coleman Williams, (646) 374-8403, www.rozactingcoach.com