A long awaited prayer has been answered for the Faulkner Academy of Arts. Dean "Doc" Cato has joined their staff as the new Artistic Director, voice teacher and drama coach for their Junior Repertory Theater. To celebrate and to introduce him to the wider community, they are offering free theater coaching classes August 28 and September 4 from 4 to 7:30 p.m. called "The Art of Audition" for youngsters ages ten to eighteen. It is to prepare actors, singers and anyone interested in theater for auditions, as well as working behind the scenes.

These two three hour classes will be an opportunity to learn "everything it takes to produce a show", says Cato, "and all at no charge." He plans to include acting methods, character analysis, blocking, set and lighting design, upstaging, a little history of theater and stage managing. He said, "You should not be afraid to come if your interest is not acting because there are many behind-the-stage tasks that can enchant young Thespians like building sets, gathering props and helping the actors with make-up, costumes and reading lines." Cato went on to say, "If you don’t want to be on-stage, come and talk with me and I’ll find a place for you."

The Academy has long sought someone experienced to teach voice but who also comes with extensive experience and background in theater. Cato’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is from Sam Houston State University with a major in Musical theater workshop, voice, dance and musical theater cabaret. He has sung in places like Carnegie Hall and the Bellagio Theater in Las Vegas. He sang and traveled as the lead singer with the Glen Dorsey 15-piece orchestra out of Dallas/Fort Worth for over ten years and currently sings as lead vocalist with a jazz quartet called Summertime Gin. He comes highly recommended as a solid Christian and currently leads the praise/worship at Renewal Ranch. His theater experiences include too many to list but "A Christmas Carol", "Glass Menagerie", "Lil Abner" and "Oklahoma" are just a few he has starred in.

After "The Art of Audition" classes, students will be encouraged to audition for free on September 8 at 4 p.m. to become a member of the Junior Repertory Theater. This "open cattle call" will not just be for the "Audition" students, but for anyone age ten to eighteen who would like to try out. Cato said, "They won’t need anything prepared. I want to see how they think, both in reading and in improvisation." If chosen for the Junior Repertory Theater, there would be a $100 fee and they would immediately go into production with rehearsals every Monday evening until two performances of a play that will be given November 15 and November 22. The play will be selected once Cato knows how many students win a spot and the kind of talent he will have to work with. It promises to be fun for all. For more information, call the studio at 501-339-7401 or to talk with Cato directly, call 501-849-4740

The Academy also announced Kelly Griffin is the Director for their new production of "Wait Until Dark". This very talented Director, Producer, Videographer, Editor, and Visual Effects Supervisor for P. Allen Smith helps create two television shows and commercial content with a small production team. He is active in the local film community as a filmmaker, having worked on numerous short and feature films in and around Arkansas. He collaborated on the feature film "Anyone" in 2011 that went on to win the platinum feature award at Indie JamFest in Louisiana. Be sure to call 501-339-7401 for an audition time for this play. Auditions are set for Saturday, August 30 at the Academy, 2201 Washington, Conway.