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Journey Into Acting Begins at Wilton Drama School

WILTON, Conn. – The three founders of Wiremill Academy , Wilton's new drama school, agree their goal isn't to crank out the next generation of Jonathan Groffs and Kristin Chenoweths to star on Broadway.

Instead, this trio of Wilton residents and professional actors would be perfectly happy if none of their young charges ever stepped into the spotlight on any professional stage.

"At a voice lesson you can have a parent ask you if their child 'has it,' " said Mary Jo Duffy. "Would you say that about your son that plays soccer? Sometimes it can just be a beautiful journey and lesson in and of itself."

Duffy, along with Sarah Pfisterer and Rick Hilsabeck, is gearing up to play Pied Piper to children from age 4 through high school who want to study singing, acting and movement just for fun, or maybe as an eventual career.

The trio, with résumés that include stints on Broadway and roles in national touring productions, plans to open the doors of the new drama school Sept. 19.

"There is a real need for this," said Pfisterer. "There are a lot of wonderful performing opportunities in the area, but not a lot of places for training. This is a place for young people to make the journey. It's a safe place to do that."

As planned, the Wiremill Academy journey will include acting tutorials, musical theater classes, stage combat lessons and even a foray into mime, taught by Hilsabeck.

Eventually, as the school grows, class groupings may switch to experience levels. But for now they will be centered on performers' ages. The teachers believe that can benefit everyone. For example, someone with a lot of performing experience can learn a lot from a person who has never been onstage if the "old pros" are open to the idea that learning comes from a variety of sources, said Pfisterer.

"It's similar to sports," said Hilsabeck. "We want each other to succeed. And we want to help stress it's not all about having a tough skin. It's about pushing each other to succeed."

And for the three teachers it's also about taking their experience and sharing it with the next generation.

"Theater people like to support each other," said Pfisterer. "Today in schools everything is so result-oriented. We want kids to think outside the box. Let's learn from each other. Let's enjoy the journey."

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