Bay Ridge has talent, and a local academy is helping to find and hone it.
The M Center, which is dedicated to the performance art, has a center right here in the neighborhood called the Bay Ridge Vocal Academy.
Founded by Bay Ridge resident Mary Elizabeth Micari, who also teaches there, the facility is geared towards instructing students both young and old on how to sing, act and gain confidence as they expand their skill set.
“We run a theater company called the Genesis Repertory Ensemble and this is the educational branch of it,” said Micari. “I had a studio here in Bay Ridge on 83rd street for a couple of years. It was a small space so now we’ve moved to Christ Church on Ridge Boulevard. We are teaching there in the performance area.”
Micari has been teaching voice since about 1998 and has been in Bay Ridge for about 10 years, teaching voice and acting as well as creating plays. Director Jay Michaels also teaches at the academy.
The Bay Ridge Vocal Academy has a wide range of students. “The youngest student we have is nine and the oldest is 62,” Micari said. “What is unique about our singing and music program is that it’s very intense and high quality. We try to make people really achieve their goals so it’s professional level training here in Bay Ridge.”
Twice a year, the academy puts on performances. “We do a Christmas performance and an end-of-year performance where we bring everyone to Manhattan to do a show so they can experience off-Broadway, so that’s special too,” Micari said.
Micari is proud that her young students go on to high levels of success. “Most of our students do really well,” she said. “I’ve helped students into LaGuardia, Mark Twain, and all kinds of shows out here and in Manhattan, and we invite all skill sets.”
Older students have excelled as well , including the reigning champion of Bay Ridge’s Senior Idol held at Xaverian High School and hosted by State Senator Marty Golden.
“My oldest student, Emmy Pai, won the Senior Idol competition last year,” Micari said. “She is also working in the city more and doing a cabaret act with another student. They’re both above 55 and they’re really good. For now, it’s a way to keep them involved in the business and the thing they love the most. They’re serious musicians. They never miss a lesson.”
The Bay Ridge Vocal Academy offers weekly private lessons, which are an hour long for adults and 45 minutes long for children. It also provides weekly classes for adults and children where everyone is mixed together.
Micari praised Michaels’ skill and passion for teaching acting.
“Jay’s great. He’s been directing for 30 years and has been teaching for a very long time,” Micari said. “He’s also a professor at Kingsborough Community College and teaches speech communication. He’s really great with kids. He brings out the best in people and they really admire him.”
Micari is proud both of her students and where her institution is headed. “I think people in Bay Ridge may not know us, but I do believe the people that are serious about singing are in my studio or want to be in my studio,” she said. “ It’s great to see the kids get into these great schools. When a kid is really interested in this field, they really pursue it. We’re so lucky to have them.”
Classes begin on Monday, September 11 at Christ Church, 7301 Ridge Boulevard. Registration is ongoing, but students receive discounts for registering early. For more information, visit themcenter.wordpress.com or email email@example.com.