By Gabriela Resto-Montero and Nicole Bode
MURRAY HILL — Students at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts found themselves in the middle of a real life drama on Monday when a fire broke out in the basement of the school.
The fire started in the basement of the building on Madison Avenue and East 31st Street shortly after 12:30 p.m. Monday, while classes were in session, officials said. Students were evacuated from the 6-story building immediately, with some wearing full stage makeup and others in costume, witnesses said.
"I ran around telling people to get out," said theater student Christopher Cooper, 23, who was on the second floor when the fire broke out.
Fire officials said there were no reported injuries.
Battalion Chief Chris Boyle said the school's principal had safely evacuated all of the students before fire units arrived on the scene. He said the fire was confined to a single storage room in the basement.
The exact cause was still under investigation, he said. It was brought under control by 1:39 p.m., fire officials said.
The damage in the building was also confined to the basement, he said.
Students said the basement houses the tech room where students prepare their stage sets, and added that the school was preparing for a tech rehearsal tonight for their new production of the play, "Sisters," by David Storey. The dress rehearsal was set for tomorrow.
The school, which has locations in New York and Los Angeles, claims alumni including Paul Rudd, Kim Catrall, Adrian Brody and Grace Kelly.