Beginnings...see how it all started!
Beginnings was founded in the summer of 1984 by Peter Sklar, (Ed.M. Harvard University), as an experimental musical theater clinic for 37 young people from New York's Westchester County. It was and remains the only performing arts program in the world to introduce a holistic student-centered approach to the pursuit of success in the professional entertainment field. It is also the only performing arts program in the world to culminate in a professional showcase at a major Off Broadway theatre in New York City, with each student appearing as a soloist.
In its early days, the program was open to virtually any aspiring young performer who applied. Soon, nation-wide television and newspaper coverage followed, attracting thousands of young people from nearly all fifty states and Europe.
As demand grew for the program, workshops were added in London and Stratford, England, (2004); and more recently in Hollywood, California, (2008).
Early in his career, Mr. Sklar began to observe fundamental differences in the young people he worked with in terms of their willingness to make the essential personal changes in their lives necessary for success. Those who could were far more likely to subsequently engage in the realistic pursuit of their dreams. Those who couldn’t usually found it impossible to turn fantasy into productive choices and effective action.
To determine this in advance, Mr. Sklar began the practice of limiting Academy invitations to those selected on the basis of a short personal interview. His effort then, as now, was to assess which aspiring performers seemed most amenable to act upon his belief that the happiest and healthiest young people are the most marketable.
At the academy, this view is reinforced by the large presence of Broadway stars, television and film actors, on-set film and television coaches in Hollywood, major New York and Los Angeles casting directors, agents, writers, directors, choreographers, and members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England. All of these professionals teach regularly at the Academy, and enthusiastically
enforce Mr. Sklar's philosophy in their classes, coaching sessions, and lecutures.
Sessions last six (6) days/five (5) nights and encompass all levels and all styles of performance, from training in Broadway acting, dance, and voice in New York, to classes in British theater and workshops with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England, and acting for film and television in Hollywood.
All classes are taught by working professionals in the industry, and each workshop focuses on realistic career options and pursuits, the development of healthy nutritional and lifestyle habits, and positive self-worth.
Young people interested in attending must participate in a complimentary lecture and interview.
At least one of the student’s own parents must attend, with the exception of those sixteen years of age or older.
As of this printing, less than twenty (20%) per cent of more than three thousand (3,000) yearly interviewees are invited to the Academy.
Those who decline an invitation for any reason, may re-interview the following year, although second invitations are statistically rare.
About Peter Sklar
Ed. M. Harvard University
Director, Beginnings Academy
Peter is the founder and director of the Beginnings Academy. He has devoted the past three decades developing his own musical for Broadway entitled The Kid Who Played the Palace, (Original Director, Bill Martin, Broadway’s The Lieutenant: five-time Tony nominee).
He is a nationally-known speaker, educator, author, talent scout and producer with three decades of experience discovering and working behind-the-scenes with young performers such as Sarah Jessica Parker, (HBO’s Sex & The City), Hunter Parrish (Showtime’s Weeds; “Jesus,” Broadway’s Godspell, Broadway’s Spring Awakening), Zachery Ty Bryan, (Home Improvement), Reese Witherspoon, (Legally Blonde, Walk the Line), Ashley Bashioum, (The Young and the Restless), Lori Loughlin, (Full House), Mischa Barton, (Fox TV’s O.C.), Alex Winter, (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Lost Boys), Rick Schroder, (Silver Spoons, NYPD Blue), Ricki Lake, and hundreds of others.
His work to date has been the subject of five feature-length articles in The New York Times, along with numerous feature articles in The New York Daily News, New York Post, Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal / Constitution, Kansas City Star, as well as on numerous ABC, NBC and CBS local and nation-wide news and entertainment programs including E! True Hollywood Story, Bravo Channel, Donahue, Good Morning America, etc.
In 1984, Mr. Sklar founded the famed Beginnings Academy in upstate New York. Currently, workshops take place every year in New York, Hollywood, and London. His publication, Winning Monologues from the Beginnings Academy, (Samuel French/Baker’s Plays), is a standard text in many high school and college theater departments, as well as a resource for numerous talent agencies and casting directors.
Brother of world-renowned flutist Pamela Sklar, Mr. Sklar studied concert piano at New York’s Juilliard School of Music and was a career musician. He holds a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard University, with a concentration in adolescent development and counseling. His protégés and/or discoveries include thousands of successful young performers.