For five years, I’ve been blessed to work with Nikki and Chadd at PDP. And in that time, as Nikki’s unofficial Boswell, I’ve done my best to chronicle the many chapters of her career as a performer, producer, promoter, and teacher.
With that in mind, today’s post will be rather bittersweet, as I’m writing the close to one of those chapters.
As I’ve written before, Nikki’s acting classes were an early and important part of my growth as a PrimaDonna. She’d taught them for twelve years (with me around for the last five of them), and in that time we’ve worked with some incredibly talented kids and adults. We’ve seen actors grow and evolve, we’ve seen personalites come alive… it’s been a great experience.
Still, there’s a saying about all good things. And with the new year, as we resolved to continue our return to the production work that’s the heart of PDP, we made the decision (following the earlier closing of our marketing division) to end the classes as well, and to end them on a high note. So, with the help of Robb Garcia (whose G2E Creative Space generously agreed to host us), we announced our final group acting classes.
In retrospect, I’m not sure we were entirely prepared for the response we received. Oh, we thought we might have some people asking us to reconsider, but the outpouring of love and support? That was unexpected. It was humbling. And it was not a little inspiring. It’s a rare gift to know how much your work really matters to people, so in that respect we were gifted indeed.
The greatest support came from the students who signed up, a nice mix of newcomers and alumni. Our kids’ class included Alyssa Flores, Abbie Gentry, Evan Materne, Jose Munoz, Promise Pitman (Nikki’s mini-me in the film VOSOT), and Jordan Wolf; for the adult class, we were joined by Dora Olivia Esquivel, Kathy Feinstein, David Dean Gomez, Elena Jensen, and Teri Poindexter (who first worked with Nikki and Chadd in a Vacation Bible School play last year). Through Nikki’s lectures, through vocal and physical exercises (it wouldn’t be one of Nikki’s classes without “Go Bananas”), and through the rehearsal and taping of commercials and film scenes (including a piece from one of Nikki’s early films), they committed their time, energy, and enthusiasm to the class, and it paid off in their performances.
As with all of our past classes, those performances would ultimately be showcased before a panel of industry professionals. And so we found ourselves downtown at the Zumbro Lounge, with family and friends as guests. For her last panel, Nikki had assembled quite a lineup. Robb and Chadd were there, of course, along with filmmakers Erik Bosse and Taylor James Johnson, agent Tory Christopher, The Renaissance Guild co-founder Paul Riddle, Jr., and the Cameo Theatre‘s Dave Cortez. They did a great job guiding the actors, who in turn did a fantastic job onstage.
(Full disclosure requires me to admit that I was up there too, filling in for an actor who unfortunately had to drop out of the class for work-related reasons. I played the Tim Roth character in a scene from Four Rooms, alongside Dean in the Antonio Banderas role. And while I guess I did OK, looking back, I really wish I’d tried playing it with a Lightman Lean.)
In the end, it was a quintessential PDP acting class. From students to parents to panelists, there was that spirit of mutual support we’ve always tried to foster and embody. And really, I’m not sure we could ask for a better way to end this era. For one more round, actors grew and evolved, and personalities came alive. It was a near-perfect ending.
As we were leaving the Cameo, in a kind of Walk Into The Sunset, I asked Nikki how she felt about the classes finally being over. She answered that she felt really good about it. She’ll have a few limited-engagement events in the future, a workshop here or a seminar for parents there. But as for regular classes, that chapter is at last closed.
Time to open the next one…
And so, on behalf of PDP, our thanks to all the students, parents, and panelists who helped us make this final session a success. And our thanks to all the students, parents, panelists, friends, colleagues, and readers who have supported the classes, and us, through the last twelve years. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.
And we hope you’ll continue to follow us in this ongoing adventure, wherever it leads.
Until the next page, “be seeing you…”