Parent Testimonials

As a parent there have been many forks in the road and times I have thought this is crazy, this acting stuff.  I had no idea if Maika was even talented and she was sacrificing more and more time to it.  I was not sure if it was healthy or would ever go anywhere.  AND I was driving her everywhere plus working full time (we live in Santa Barbara).  When it came to the end of her class I had thought we would back way off the acting and focus more on dance or whatever in Santa Barbara.  But that night when she won the BEST ACTRESS AWARD I couldn’t tell her no.  I truly was in shock (as was she). I thought coming from you, Gary Spatz, she won best actress?? So honestly that revived my energy to help my daughter follow her dream. Without you, she would not be filming a movie right now.  And really I shouldn’t emphasize the award so much because it was the classes and the feedback she got from the teachers that were invaluable.  So a big thank you Gary (and awesome staff)!

I am so happy that things are going well for you.  When Maika finishes filming we will come down and see you!

Dixie Buckley

Dixie Buckley

Gary Spatz’s: The Playground is simply the ‘creme de la creme’ of children’s acting schools!! With acting coach extraordinaire Gary Spatz and his talented crew, Porschia has received the best training from the best children’s acting school in the business! From Gary’s impressive credentials to The Playground’s simulated TV Studio Set, you won’t find a ‘Young Actor’s Conservatory’ like this anywhere in the world! So if you’re serious about your child’s acting career…this is THE school to attend!

Geralyn C. Adler

Like many parents I thought that my daughter would be a “natural” without having to do the “hardwork” but I quickly learned how wrong that thinking was! Without the coaching, mentoring, instruction and pure repetition you provide success in this business could not be achieved or would be significantly delayed.

Thanks again.

Richard Barbarossa, Father of Ashley Abbott

Gary,

I just wanted to let you know how thankful we are to you. I hadn’t seen Paris perform since she had auditioned for The Playground last year. I was so impressed by her performance and the way she handled herself. I was blown away! I had a hard time holding back the tears. It is so amazing to see what a great job you and your teachers have done with Paris over the past year. As a parent it is such a blessing to see your child blossom and gain confidence in her self. She has gained so much from her experience at the Playground.I believe this experience will have such a positive affect on her in so many aspects in her life.

After the interview I expressed to my husband how well Paris had done and that whatever the cost, whatever the effort, The Playground has been all worth it. Our little tiny nine year old could fill a room with so much personality and expression. My experience watching her last week was priceless. Thank you so much for everything. You have been so helpful and generous of your time. You have been so supportive of Paris and her future. Whatever her future holds, we will be very grateful that we have all had this experience.

All the best,

Ann

Dear Gary, if it weren’t for your expertise and an outstanding judgment of character, Ani would have never ventured acting! Moreover, she owes all her audition nights and performance nights to you and your amazing staff.

Our deepest thanks and warmest wishes to all of you at the Playground!

Grateful parents of Ani Helia O. (Playground actress)

An awesome find! We’ve tried many different studios since our arrival in California two years ago. We’ve learned that there are a million different ways you can spend your money to educate your children in the entertainment business, but when we found The Playground we knew we were in the right place. At this studio you can feel the genuine enthusiasm that everyone has for your child to do well and the staff provides the most professional experience I have come across anywhere. When we found The Playground my thought was: ‘Finally, someone who really knows how to
teach, who cares about the kids as individuals, tracks their progress and gives professional feedback you can trust!’ This is exactly what we were looking for.

Cindra Barnes

6 years ago today was Ryan’s last acting class at The Playground. Gayla, you taught Ryan more than just acting, you taught him how to be a confident individual. Thank you Gary, for creating such a wonderful place for kids and parents alike. Ryan loved it there and so did I. And I know that I made some wonderful friends (Peter, Tripp and Tammy).

Jennifer DeRose

I just wanted to thank you and your staff for always taking the time to answer (even lame) questions and for all the great advice.  I also wanted to let you know how positively we regard The Playground.  Your staff is amazing!  (The patience of saints!)  It is rare to see so many genuinely nice people in one place.  The kids have so much fun.  Ours has made so many great friends and adores his instructors (Bob and Kelli are awesome!). Honestly, we never imagined he would get called by an agent, or this soon.  But he was so well prepared at the interview.  He wasn’t even
nervous doing a “cold read”.  He said that he learned how to do these things at The Playground. Even his teachers have asked what’s up. They say he seems more outgoing and eager to read aloud, with a lot of added drama. We explain that it must be the acting classes… So, we hope we can continue sending our little guy to The Playground for many years to come.  And, again, just wanted to let you know what a special place you have created.

Very Sincerely,

Eve Balembois, Sebastien's mom

“I’ve never heard my daughter, Ashley, say, “I don’t want to miss my acting class!”, until she started taking classes at “The Playground”. Gary, Gayla, Lee, Faran and the rest of the wonderful teachers at the Playground have been instrumental in building her self-esteem. She goes to auditions with so much confidence, because she has learned how to analyze scripts on her own. She can now perform improvisations without panic. When she feels kind of nervous at an audition, she does the exercises that she was taught and it calms her down. We are so grateful to have found “The Playground” through our manager. “The Playground” doesn’t ever promise you a job or agent, but they help you build the skills necessary to attain what you’re hoping for (getting agents & managers, booking auditions, etc.) She has an incredible amount of fun in her classes, but learns so much at the same time. Her classmates have become some of her great friends– Everyone there is like family to us now. Parents hang out while their kids are in class, exchanging pleasant stories about auditions, so the parents have fun as well.

Much gratitude to you and the staff, and thank you so much for such a great and productive experience at “The Playground”!

Aurora Argota

Hi Gary,

I wanted to thank you and Gayla for a wonderful experience at The Playground.  Deciding to take acting lessons was not something we took lightly.  It was completely new to us, since Marissa had never expressed an interest in acting, and it was a big commitment of time and money.  I am SO glad we did it!  Marissa loved every minute of it and has learned so much about herself in the process.

Many people have dreams of becoming famous actors, and of course it would be awesome if that happened for her.  I was happy to give her the opportunity to try something new, but my hope was that if nothing else, she would gain the skills, confidence, and poise that one needs in life to speak in front of others.  She got that and more from your program.  Thank you very, very much for a truly wonderful experience.  I loved that we always saw you there and that you would take the time to chat with the kids and parents.  Andrew was a pleasure to see each week; he is a terrific young man.  Gayla, well there aren’t words to tell you how we feel about her. I’ll start by saying we ADORE her.

Not only is she a wonderful acting coach, but she made it fun, exciting, and safe to try new things. She truly “gets” kids and it shows.  You are so lucky to have her, and she is a huge part of what made Marissa’s first foray into acting the amazing experience it was.

Susan Laschi

Ally loves the “PLAY”ground! She looks forward to her classes and wishes they were everyday. She has learned so much and she says she never wants to leave! We love Gary. He is wonderful! He’s always available to talk to the parents and genuinely cares about every student.

The Espinoza Family

Gary,

I just wanted to share with you and your staff how much Sean’s everyday life has been changed for the good. Sean’s improved with school and his shyness and overall confidence is wonderful. This truly is a thank you letter.

Sincerely,

Terry & Kimberly Fall

Gary,

My wife and I appreciate everything you have done for Harrison, and look forward to what else he will learn in his advanced, and professional classes. He loves it all, and he even studies at home with his little brother Preston.

Thank you all again,

Harrison, Marni, and Anthony Thacher

Gary Spatz is the best acting coach we’ve ever had. He is so inspiring and caring about his students it’s amazing. We learn so much each week and every week is a different experience. The teaching staff is really great, too. They give you constructive criticism and help us be prepared for all kind of situations in the audition process. The private coachings are really great and every time we called Gary he was always there for us.

Justin and Dean Misch

Dear Gary,

We can’t believe one year has passed. Initially we were skeptical about enrolling Westin and Cassidy in acting class, but now we know that we made the right decision. Their school teachers noticed an improvement in their communication skills since they started with you.

They both have learned patience and perseverance through this process and the need for the kids to have a work permit is a strong incentive to keep their grades up. It has been a positive experience for them and they can’t wait for Saturdays to come.

You and your staff are very supportive of them. We are looking forward to another great year with you!

Sincerely,

The Mills Family

Our experience at Gary Spatz’s Playground has been an abundance of positive energy and love. My 11 yrs old daughter is developing important acting skills and growing as an expressive young lady. Gary has the energy of a fun filled kid, a passion for the business and a compassion for his kids and their families. Thank you Gary, Eric, Lee, Andrew, Diana, Gayla, and staff for this great experience and opportunity.

Much Love,

Channing Lou and Lesli

Gary, your Playground is simply UNIQUE! Your genuine dedication, care and well-grounded personality radiates towards your students in a way that they unfold their wings to greater heights. You have created an acting conservatory that not only enriches all students artistically but also emotionally and socially.  We enrolled our son and daughter with the simple hope of nurturing their talents and quenching their thirst for acting, but in less than four months, they acquired enough confidence and skills to meet with agents and audition well.  Indeed, The playground is a well thought out conservatory, crafted intelligently and with the best interests of all students in
mind.  Students are not only exposed to real lights and camera recording studios but also to a very talented staff that deliver various acting experiences, personalities and talents. Thus, making The Playground a very special place to be in.

Thank you Gary,

Joseph and Ileana
The proud parents of Andre and Abigail

Hi Gary!

Hope all is well with you and your family. I was just looking at your face book page and thought to tell you that Kera won first place for all around at the Orange County Academic Pentathlon! That is of all private and public schools in Orange County, she had the top score, amazing right? I am still shocked when I think about it. Attached is a current picture if you would like to post the news in face book.

I also wanted to tell you that I have seen a marked improvement in her verbal acting skills, I don’t know if you remember but she was the lead in a film that went to Cannes and she didn’t talk in the entire film and was a bit awkward putting emotion with words when she first saw you. Your instructors are great, she really enjoys herself when she goes to class. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Daphne

Gary,

Thanks for returning my call on Monday.  I’m sure you have a very busy schedule, so we (Greg, Quintin and I) appreciate you taking the time to call us back.  When we were told about the performance night a few months ago,  and I was excited to see how Quintin would handle the experience.  I’ve been in sales for years, so I understand the importance of being able to speak in front of a group of people with confidence.   When Quintin was offered the opportunity to participate in your program, we agreed because Quintin loves to act…  but secretly I wanted to make sure Quintin could successfully and confidently speak in front a peers, classmates, and in the future, potential clients or co-workers.

So fast forward to performance night.  In preparing Quintin, we told him to have fun and be himself.  To “Just go with it” and enjoy the experience.  I told him that because this was his first audition, he probably would not receive any calls and that didn’t matter.  As long as in his heart he did his best, then really that what matters…  If you remember we were speaking with you when Quintin came out of the audition.  He said, “I nailed it” and I could see how proud he was of himself.  It was exciting to see his enthusiasm.  Greg, Quintin and I left your wonderful business feeling good. It was nice to see Quintin feeling proud and having the confidence that he has the
ability accomplish anything.  As we walked to the car, Quintin mentioned that he forgot his lines.  He said, “Mom, if I would of gone back to the memorized monologue, than it would not have made sense, so I did what my teachers told me to do and I made up a few lines so it flowed and went back to the lines I memorized and everyone laughed.”  I told him, “Good Job”, but Greg and I both said inside (pessimistically) that he really won’t get any calls now…

To our surprise, we were wrong.  On Sunday, we received our first call and on Monday, we received (5) more calls from Talent Agencies/Managers wanting to represent him.  We heard on several calls that Quintin’s performance was one of their favorite performances.  It was so unexpected…  Feeling very overwhelmed, that is when I put a call into you.  I just wanted to take a minute to share our experience with you.  We want to thank you for having the vision to create an environment that allows kids to discover their potential.  We want to thank your staff for teaching and encouraging Quintin.  He loves going to playground and is excited to share with us what he is learning.  Honestly, the “realist” in me is not really sure if this will go anywhere professionally for Quintin, but I do know he has overcome one of the biggest obstacles/fears that most people face… Speaking in public…  And for that, I am very grateful.

I will keep you posted on our progress.

Warmest regards,

Patty M

Hi Gary –

I’ve got some good news about your recent student (and my daughter), Nika F. She graduated the advanced program this winter, and signed up with a management company, Carman Hall Entertainment. To my best understanding, this is a small, starting up group – but we liked the owner, Morgan Terrelle, for her energy and evident connectedness with the industry, and figured out working with her would be great experience for Nika. Morgan is helping Nika choose an agent; we have one representation offer so far but per Morgan’s advice plan to meet with 1-2 more agents so Nika can have best-working representation.

You might have heard it many times by now, but there were two things that Morgan said made her call Nika same day after the audition and offer her representation: Nika’s performance during the audition and the fact that she completed a year of training with you. We got similar feedback out of Nika’s meeting with an agent who immediately agreed to represent her. Needless to say, Nika’s ability to perform came straight from her diligent work in The Playground.

Morgan highly recommended that Nika gets coaching prior to major auditions, and no surprise in the short list of suggested coaches you are on the top. Getting coached by you is Nika’s clear preference! So it’s likely that we will ask you for appointments in months to come.

Cheers,

Mike F

My daughter, Taylor G,  has wanted to be an actress since the age of 3 and I have always been very skeptical of the industry.  Even with my skepticism,  I decided to enroll Taylor in the “The Playground Conservatory”  after being approach by a Spatz team member.  Taylor completed the beginner’s class taught by Scott and Rebecca.  They were great and gave consistent feedback on her progress.  More importantly,  Taylor had fun and really enjoyed the class.  Gary was also great with making the sure his presence at the classes was a priority.  He had an open door policy and was extremely helpful with anything parents needed.  After the beginner’s class,  I enrolled Taylor in the advanced class taught by Nick and Rebecca.  Even though she enjoyed the class and I was told she was talented,  I still didn’t’ reach out to any agents to represent her.  After 2 months of the advanced class,  Taylor was noticed at The Playground and received calls from agents and management companies.  She ended up with 5 offers for representation!  This happened without a head shot or a resume!  🙂 The training they provided for Taylor was the key along with the training they provided for me as a parent. 🙂  When I had questions, the team responded quickly and Gary personally answered my phone calls and returned emails when I reached out to him.  I am extremely appreciative of the entire team for the opportunity that my daughter now has.  I went from being skeptical to being a complete advocate of the program.  I would recommend the program,  even if you don’t want your child in the entertainment industry.  It is a fun environment where my daughter’s public speaking skills and confidence were enhanced, along with making friends she will have for years to come!

Thank you to each of you on “The Playground” team!

Lakisha H, Mother of Taylor G

We really want to thank you for your teaching Jillian at the Playground. Because of the Playground, Jillian got an agent (Kathy Keeley from Jana Luker) and has had six jobs this year alone! This weekend, she worked on a short film, and the director, Chris Krebsbach, gave her so many complements about how well she was able to act and take direction. She was impressed that Jillian understood so much of the terminology of the industry and told us she could tell Jillian had received excellent teaching. Chris really gave us great feedback about Jillian and we gave all the credit to you and the Playground. We cannot thank you enough for your help. Jillian loves acting and it has truly given her a direction in life. We can only hope one day Kassie will have the same opportunity to study at the Playground.

Take care, and hopefully our paths will cross again if Jillian ever gets a feature film or a job on as a series regular.

Thank you.

Denyse and Tim Nation

“The great thing about filming a film is that you will all have your final days shooting AND you always know that you will be back for the premiere.” Thank you @garyspatztheplayground for an amazing acting experience and production for the last 2 years. I will miss you all and can’t wait for the premire! Also thank you for the most amazing classmates @madster56 @shaniiiee @rawr_for_us

Edaan M

Hello Rebecca,

I am so glad that we saw you yesterday and were able to tell you about what a great experience Michael has been having at The Playground since you signed him up last August! He has learned so much there. Not just great acting techniques, but everything from public speaking to self-esteem. He is also grateful that you recommended Kids Management! He really enjoys being on set and is learning about how the entertainment business works from behind the scenes. As we told you yesterday, he was booked for background work in an Apple commercial and while there was upgraded to a principal role!! He was more than ecstatic to make $2,500.00 for running down the hall!! I think he has really found his passion and he hopes to do much more work in the future!

Thank you for everything

Nicole S

Gary, We just wanted to say thank you for everything that you and your entire staff have done for our daughter, Elsa Hanson. Obviously, it is exciting that Elsa has now signed to be represented by a top modeling and theatrical agency. But, we see even more important benefits in the way Elsa’s self confidence and ability to articulate herself, have grown. Her ability to overcome the natural fear, that we all seem to innately possess, to stand up and express oneself in front of an audience of
strangers, will probably help her very much-regardless of what she chooses to do with her life.

The success of your vision for “The Playground” is much deserved!

Sincerely,
Sherod & Jane Hanson