Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark D. Kaufmann.
Mark D., let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My business partner Dan Fishbach and I first worked together teaching a summer musical theater program at USC. That was 2002. Finding we had a similar philosophy about musical performance, we continued the conversation onward. Dan and I wear multiple hats in the performing arts. We both direct, here, New York and San Francisco, mostly, and teach at various schools and conferences around the country. We coincidentally both taught at AMDA L.A. for a couple years.
A little over a year ago Dan brought up the idea of forming a studio in Los Angeles dedicated to the specific skills of theatrical musical performance. Our professional work, combined with our teaching experience made it a natural fit. Colleges have programs, so our focus is on both professionals looking to tune up their skills and prepare auditions, and High School students looking for a solid foundation in the basics of the art. We believe if students acquire the right tools early, they can avoid unhelpful habits.
We are currently offering our “Lab” class, which has students at all skill levels. As we grow, we will expand to have both beginner and advanced classes, along with musical scene study. We will also offer master classes with Broadway musical actors we know who are happy to support our venture.
Has it been a smooth road?
We learned a key to starting up such a studio is letting the world know you exist. We have spent a good deal of time getting the word out through our website (www.lamts.com), Facebook page, advertising on the “Backstage” website, and the distribution of printed materials. Word of mouth in the community is also vital. It took several months, and then response began to come.
Dan and I are both lucky to have former students who felt they benefitted from their study with us, who have popped in for classes. They aren’t with us consistently, because they get theatrical work–which is actually the whole point!
Temperamentally, our partnership has no drama; we get along famously. That’s great for the overall health of the studio. I don’t believe any business is always smooth sailing, so it’s valuable to have a partner you can rely upon.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Los Angeles Musical Theater Studio (LAMTS) – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Dan and I set up the business together in an equal partnership. We both have our eyes on the finances and make all decisions together. Our professional lives overlap somewhat, but having worked with many different shows and casts, different sets of references compliment to widen perspective. Usually just one of us will teach a particular class, but occasionally we “tag team”, each teaching the same class on alternate days. Our different perspectives in addressing performance have been illuminating for the students. Since we’re on the same page in principle with the art form, our different styles mesh, rather than confuse. I don’t know any other class or school that offers that aspect.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I moved to Los Angeles a couple decades ago, having grown up in New Jersey, and attended Northwestern University in Chicago. Dan grew up in L.A. and attended Kenyon College. For my part, L. A. was always a goal having spent a lot of time in New York City, I always thrived on the diversity and creativity. Those things around here, too…with better weather. The exchange of ideas from so many different viewpoints of culture and experience is a source of constant inspiration. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer writing (another of my career hats.) Whenever I feel mentally sluggish from staring into the screen, there’s always somewhere fresh to go. I’m lucky to live at the beach, but I love investigating corners of the city, finding a new street, a new building, garden or restaurant and the people living their varied lives. There’s always something fresh.
I probably join an ever-increasing chorus of moans about the traffic. It’s a wonderful city and many many many (okay, one more 🙂 many people want to be here. Can’t blame them. (But it was a little easier in the 90’s.)
- The Lab is $40/class, or a package of a 4-class cycle for $150.
- Address: 4634 Van Nuys Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
- Website: www.lamts.com
- Phone: (310) 421-1970
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: lamusicaltheatrestudio
- Twitter: @lamtstudio
Instructors: Mark D. Kaufmann in glasses and blue plaid shirt, Dan Fishbach in short sleeve blue shirt. Students: David Kim, tall in red shirt, Jesseal Amelia in glasses and red plaid shirt, Ann Rajkumar in green/yellow print shirt. Accompanist: Laura Wiley.