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Belleville News-Democrat, The (IL)
April 28, 2005
Section: Lifestyle
Page: 1C

PETER SKLAR HELPED STARS ALONG THE WAY
Teri Maddox

Peter Sklar started his career as a piano accompanist in New York City theaters and a children's vocal coach. Many of his former students have become well-known actors and singers.

Sklar coached Sarah Jessica Parker for about two years in the early 1980s. The teen-ager had just made a name for herself as star of the Broadway musical "Annie."
"She was a wonderful kid," Sklar said. "She was one of the brightest, most spontaneous, energetic kids I've every worked with. She was funny. She was perceptive. She was very genuine. In my conversations, I still use quotes from Sarah Jessica Parker when she was 16 or 17.

"There was no question for me and the other adults that she worked with that she was going to be successful. I'm surprised it took as long as it did."

Today, Parker is best known for her Emmy Award-winning role as a sex columnist in the HBO series "Sex in the City." It ended last year after six seasons.

Sklar also served as vocal coach for Ricky Schroder in the early '80s. The fresh-faced boy actor had just appeared in "The Champ," a movie with Faye Dunaway and Jon Voight.

"(Schroder's mother) wanted me to accompany him, coach him and help him sing," Sklar said. "And I tried really hard to do that. I don't think he would be embarrassed by this at all ... It really wasn't the direction he was meant to go in. I think he knows that. He's extremely talented as an actor."

In 1982, Schroder became known to many Americans as young Ricky Stratton in the TV sitcom "Silver Spoons." Most recently, he appeared on the ABC drama "N.Y.P.D. Blue."

For the past 20 years, Sklar has operated the Beginnings Workshop in upstate New York. Hundreds of young people from all over the country have attended its theater and related classes.

Students in the early '90s included Reese Witherspoon, an actress best known for her starring role in the 2001 comic movie "Legally Blond."

"She went to my workshop, and I think that was one of her first experiences out of Tennessee," Sklar said. "I remember her, but I don't remember much. She was about 12, and she smiled a lot."



Copyright (c) 2005 The Belleville News-Democrat