About Monty Silverstone - Actor, Teacher & Writer

Excerpts From San Diego County Newspapers

Acting coach hits his mark in Solana Beach
Written by: Tawny Maya McCray
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Actors of all ages encouraged by local teacher – Coast News
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Longtime actor, RSF resident and father of actress Alicia Silverstone to hold acting classes in RSF

Rancho Santa Fe Review
- By Arthur Lightbourn

Silvestone was born in London and grew up in London's West End, "right in the heart of the theater district." He still retains, what he describes as, "a South London accent, not like Michael Caine's but not far away." His father owned "a good old English restaurant, fish and chips, steak and kidney pies and the like."

Monty Silverstone started acting at the age of 10, singing songs at people's doors and doing impersonations.

As a child, he studied at the famed Italia Conti Stage in London and soon was acting in repertory theaters in London and Bristol.

He auditioned for the Artful Dodger in the original version of "Oliver" with Alec Guinness, but lost out to one of his Conti classmates, Anthony Newley.

Later he said, "A fellow who ran a group of young actors and dancers put me in his show and liked me so much he wanted me to go on tour, but my parents wouldn't let me because I was too young. And the reason they wouldn't let me go also was I had to go work in the restaurant business with them...at 14. They were short of help. So they pulled me out of school. I was the cook and my acting career was over.

"So I vowed if ever I had any children who were interested in theater, I would do my utmost to make sure they got what I didn't have...and to push them forward."

When his daughter, Alicia, was 8 and beginning to show a theatrical flair, he took some photos of her and presented them to a modeling agent in San Francisco. Within a week, his wife, Didi, was accompanying Alicia on auditions. He was the discoverer of the talent and Didi was the backstage mom," he said. "Alicia went on to get a number of auditions and got loads and loads of work (as a child model...until she was 12 when she ran out of jobs because now she was in a new [age] group."

"What to do?" he thought. When Silverstone then saw his daughter perform in a middle school play, he said to his wife, "She's got a tremendous amount of ability. She's not just a model; she's going to be an actress."

He arranged for Alicia to take acting classes, first in the Bay Area, with an instructor he contracted to come in from Hollywood, and then in Los Angeles.

"Believe it or not, in the first showcase she did, she was discovered immediately."

Eventually, he said, because of Alicia's work, "we had to move down there to Beverly Hills and sign her up to attend Beverly Hills High."

When Alicia's film career began to take off, Silverstone said, "I had to find something to do with my time, so I started up acting classes again, four to five a week, from Jerry Beal in Beverly Hills, and scene study work with Patrice Barrie, Rick Sevy, Arlene Golonka and the American National Academy of Performing Arts.

"You name it, I did it. Improvisation classes, method acting, scene study, cold reading, monologues..."

Meanwhile, in 1993, his daughter, Alicia, starred in her first film, "The Crush," a thriller in which she played a 14-year old femme fatale, followed in 1995 with starring roles in "Clueless" and "The Babysitter."

Silverstone played a British party guest in "the Babysitter" and later guest starred as the clairvoyant George Daisley in the television series, "Unsolved Mysteries," hosted by Robert Stack.

"So with Alicia well on her way," he said, "it was time for me to go back up north because my father was getting older, in his 90s, and my son, David, was going back there to college."

In the Bay Area, he began auditioning for parts in stage plays and musicals in various community theaters.

"I hadn't been on stage since I was 14, so when I got the lead part as Birdboot in "'Real Inspector Hound' [produced by the Side of the Hill Players), I was amazed," he said. "But I always wanted to play Fagin in 'Oliver.' You see, I was too old to play the Artful Dodger, I was in my 60s now, right; so I auditioned for Fagin and got the part in the E.T.C. Theatre production of 'Oliver' in San Francisco. Then anytime Fagin came up in any other theaters, I got those parts too." He played Fagin in 150 performances in six different productions of `Oliver' in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Monty also has a daughter, Kezi, in London, England who sings-dances-writes music-acts, and currently has a CD just released.


Movie star's father passes on family craft

By Amanda Daniels
- Community News Writer

RANCHO SANTA FE - During World War II when Monty Silverstone was about 10, he and a friend used to ask neighbors in the English countryside if the duo could entertain them for a few shillings. "We gave them a song," Silverstone said. "I used to do impressions - impersonations like Humphrey Bogart, Charles Boyer."

Silverstone kept acting until a touring troupe hired him a few years later, but his parents said he was too young to travel and they needed him to work in the family restaurant. He lost interest in acting.

Many years later, when his youngest daughter, Alicia Silverstone, showed an interest in theater, he helped her pursue show business. He also took up acting again. She went on to star in "Clueless" and "Batman & Robin." He went on to star in hundreds of plays.

Monty Silverstone is sharing what he's learned by teaching classes in Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

"I can train anybody not to be shy, as far as talking to the public."

He said the skills he learned when he was younger helped him later in business. As a child he performed in the London Underground. He studied at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. As an adult he owned restaurants, worked real estate and property development and trained sales people.

He sold his business to move to Los Angeles in 1990 with Alicia and his wife, Didi Silverstone. On a recent day, classmates rehearsed their scenes in front of each other while Silverstone offered suggestions and praise on movement, mannerisms and intonation: Props get in the way. What you do with technical difficulties is you talk over it."

Many of his students are there for fun and have studied acting before, but Silverstone welcomes beginners, he said. Usually he opens a course with a technique he calls line lifting. Students pair off and sit opposite one another. They look into each other's eyes for a few moments, and then they get a script and start reading while holding the gaze.

"you feel something looking in someone's eyes, it doesn't matter what's on the paper. It's marvelous to watch."

He said everyone can act. "It just has to be brought out."


RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS-

By Molly Nance
- Staff Writer

RANCHO SANTA FE - Moments before an actor walks on stage, butterflies flitter in his stomach. Once his eyes get acclimated to the limelight, he shines. But what happens when he misses his line, or if his co-star draws a blank stare? Monty Silverstone has the answers.

His credentials as qualified acting teacher stem from his tenure in show business, which started when he was "yay high" in London, England.

The first item in Monty's lesson plan was eye to eye reading. Monty explained that this is different from a cold reading, which is when an actor receives a script in hand during an audition, without any preparation, and attempts to get into character on the spot.

Eye to eye readings are intended to improve the actor's skills of connecting with their co-star, also serving as a handy director's tool.

This reading is when the two actors look at each other eye to eye, developing their rapport. "It's a chance for me to analyze each actor in the group. From here, I know who to pair them up with and which scene to assign them to," said Monty.

There are two specific rules during a reading that Silverstone strictly enforces. First, both actors have to make eye contact when delivering each line.

Secondly, the actors who are receiving the lines cannot look down at the script for their next line. They must maintain eye contact.

"To start, I use easy scripts with one liners." He also leads the class in improvisation exercises and explained why improvisation is a crucial skill to conquer.

"In case you forget your lines, adlib. Don't think about the exact words, but keep what you are going to say in context of what you are supposed to say."

Monty and Alicia Silverstone