By Janee Law
From Stage to Screen, a Huntington-based performance art academy owned by Gene Forman and wife Jenn, has been growing nonstop since its inception nearly a decade ago. During that time, it’s helped students grow as actors and discover who they are.
Now, the academy is looking forward to kicking off its 10th annual summer season this month.
Forman said everything changed for him in June 2006, when his brother, Wayne, died in a car accident.
With the support of Jenn, who was just a friend at the time, Forman decided to pursue his passion for acting and dream to open a school for it by founding From Stage to Screen. The inaugural July 2008 season had eight students.
“Out of this tragedy, I opened up a studio, got married and had three children,” Forman, of Greenlawn, said. “I try to honor him each day, and be a better person. That’s why I think we’ve been successful, because we do it for the right reasons.”
With experienced instructors from all over the country, the academy now has over 400 students starting at age 6. Each class has around 250 students.
The 589 West Jericho Turnpike academy offers classes for dance, vocals, musical theater, and television and film, with summer camp programs and musical theater class for adults.
“Kids travel from all over Long Island to come to our studio, I can’t even tell you how proud and honored that makes us feel,” Forman said. “It’s wonderful and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.”
The academy, which has been nominated for a Tony Award in theater education, has hosted productions across Long Island, including at Five Towns College, and beyond, such as at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center for Performing Arts and Disney World.
“It’s a competitive environment. These kids are going to the best colleges in the country, and we work on their audition tapes,” Forman said. “Even if they don’t pursue acting, we help them with their interviewing skills for their college interviews, or for job interviews once they’ve graduated. It is an all-encompassing environment.”
Gearing up for the 10th annual season, Forman said he is honored and grateful to have had a significant impact the lives of others.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know that you could play a role in somebody’s life in a positive way, even if it’s a little bit,” he said. “We’re making contributions to the kids that come to our studio and they’re leaving a little bit better than when they came in, and not just as performers, but as people.”
The academy’s annual Variety Show, hosted June 10 at Candlewood Middle School, will honor the 10th annual season. Upcoming academy performances include “The Wedding Singer” on July 21 at Five Towns College.