Acclaimed talent scout will reach out to aspiring dancers, singers and actors


AUBURN— Renowned New York talent scout Peter Sklar knows a thing or two about helping aspiring child stars achieve success. His list of proteges includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon and Mischa Barton, along with many current and former Broadway, TV and film actors, singers and dancers.

Reality shows like “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have springboarded some of the most talented kids in the nation into super stardom. But with so much available talent, what really sets one child apart from another?

Sklar believes an arts career is about two things: self-image and health. He maintains that these qualities outweigh looks, training, connections and even talent.

He will explain how his views are in synch with the needs of top New York and Hollywood agents and casting directors at a lecture for aspiring teen dancers, singers and actors, and their parents on Wednesday, May 18, at The Dance Center.

Even though the “Earning a Living in the Arts” lecture is free, reservations are required. For reservations, email [email protected]

Nobody under age 6 will be admitted with or without a parent, and no persons under age 18 will be admitted without their mother, father or legal guardian.

“The people who sit behind the table are trying to decide two things — do they like you and do they believe you,” Sklar tells young audiences. “If you don’t feel good mentally and physically, you won’t open up and show us who you really are. When that happens — no matter how good you are, how pretty, or who you know — we’ve already lost interest.”

Citing a dramatic rise in smoking, drinking, drugs, eating disorders and other self-destructive behavior among so-called “happy” teens, Sklar said he marvels at how often these activities secretly co-exist with good grades, good behavior and virtually every other outward sign of stability.

“The kids I interview are the smartest and most talented, the highest achievers in the nation,” Sklar said. “And they’re often the most unhappy, unhealthy and least employable.”

Sklar has a master’s degree in Education from Harvard University and four decades of experience to his credit. He has been the subject of multiple feature-length articles in the New York Times, was interviewed on “E! True Hollywood Story,” appeared as a guest expert on “The Phil Donahue Show,” and has had his work presented on the Bravo Channel, “Good Morning America” and other media outlets.

He is developing an original musical based on his experiences, titled “The Kid Who Played the Palace,” to be directed by William Martin, of Broadway’s “The Lieutenant” and recipient of five Tony Award nominations.

The Dance Center is at 140 High St., second floor of Great Falls School.