Meet the ArtsBridge team. You’ll be glad you did.

College arts expertise. Extraordinary passion.

 

Halley Shefler

Founder & President

Halley Shefler HeadshotAfter experiencing the college admission process as an artist, student, instructor, admissions director, and parent, Halley believes that talented young artists understand that they must fully commit to furthering their development – particularly given the competitive admissions environment. For this reason, Halley developed a structured program of college preparation, training, coaching, and real world engagement with a special faculty of acclaimed performing artists and instructors. The goal is to help young artists identify and successfully apply to the program that best suits the needs of each individual in order to further student development within a college setting.

ArtsBridge was founded in 2008 by Halley Shefler, who previously served as Dean of Enrollment for The Boston Conservatory, Director of Admissions for Boston University’s College of Fine Arts School of Music, and Director of Academic Affairs for the Longy School of Music.

Halley attended a pre-college program at the Juilliard School before earning her undergraduate degree at Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters degree at Boston University. She is an accomplished flutist who has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, the former Opera Company of Boston, and the Harvard Chamber Orchestra.

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Shaun Ramsay

Vice President

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With over 13 years of leadership experience in higher education enrollment, admissions, and student affairs at multiple music colleges, Shaun Ramsay joined ArtsBridge in 2016 as Vice President. At ArtsBridge Shaun works with students on all aspects of the college admissions process including artistic assessments, artistic growth opportunities and advice, building college lists, audition and interview preparation, application support, and guidance on preparing for both the artistic and academic requirements for college admission.

Shaun most recently served as Assistant Director of the School of Music for Admissions and Student Affairs at Boston University. Previously he was the Assistant Director for Recruitment at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and Admissions and Student Services Coordinator at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Shaun’s work at Eastman, BU, and Longy allowed him to work with thousands of students applying to college and graduate school, and has given him a keen understanding of the arts admissions field.

Shaun has presented widely on admissions and enrollment at conferences including the National Association of College Admission Counselors, the Performing Arts Admissions Roundtable Conference, and the New York State School Music Association, as well as at numerous high schools and universities nationally and internationally. He received degrees in music performance and economics from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Massachusetts respectively.

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Ariel Strasser

Vice President, Artistic Programs

Ari Strasser HeadshotAri Strasser joined the ArtsBridge team in 2012. She brings expertise in working with individuals and groups of students on the artistic components of preparing for summer programs, portfolio reviews, auditions, and prescreening recordings. She is passionate about working with high school students on the college admissions process and leads all ArtsBridge summer programs, audition workshops, and artistic evaluations.

Prior to her time at ArtsBridge, Ari taught general music education in Marblehead, MA. A Minnesota native, Ari is a graduate of the BFA Musical Theater program at The Boston Conservatory and is an active performer as a pianist, singer-songwriter and actor. Ari’s first album, Crooked Line, was released in November 2013, and she is currently recording her second album, TheLight, to be released in spring 2018. See more at arielstrasser.com.

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Erika Hess

Senior Portfolio & Visual Arts Admissions Consultant

Erika b Hess is an artist and admissions professional with extensive experience in higher education art school admissions, including portfolio building, portfolio reviews, and application reviews. Over the past seven years, Erika has worked at Massachusetts College of Art & Design, University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design and has taught courses at Boston University. She has attended dozens of National Portfolio Days across the U.S. and has reviewed countless portfolios for admission to BFA programs.

Prior to her work in admissions, Erika obtained her MFA from Boston University and lived in NYC working as an artist and artist assistant. Her work has been exhibited nationally. She is also co-founder of MUSA Collective, an artist collective and gallery in Boston, MA. Erika is passionate about working with creative students. She brings her knowledge of art admissions to help students and parents understand what admissions teams are looking for and to help you become the most competitive candidate possible.

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Matt Denis

Essay Coach & Editor

Matt Denis received his B.A. in Creative Writing from Purdue University and an MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts Boston. His stories have appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Buffalo Almanack, and Breakwater Review. When he’s not teaching or writing, odds are high that he’s riding his bike, eating pizza, or spending time Minnesota with his fiance, cat, and two dogs.

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“Some students are taught by professionals, and those people are great, but they don’t necessarily know what colleges are looking for. ArtsBridge programs are led by top college faculty.”

—  Halley Shefler, ArtsBridge Founder & President

ArtsBridge Faculty

 

 

Heather Benton, Head of BFA Acting, Montclair State University

Heather Benton is an actor/ director that specializes in integrated approaches to actor training and physical theatre. She has created and/or performed original and devised work in New York City: Performateria: Immersive Theatre Festival(Blessed Unrest), undergroundzero festival (Chasing Immortality: A Performance LectureAutomotiveHalf Awake and Falling Through the Sky), East River Commedia (Serenade and Philosopher Fox, The Magnificent Cuckold), Theatre Trouve (Living with Betty).Regionally: Montana Repertory Theatre, Missoula, MT (Dark Matter: Underking 1 and the Code of Light). University/ Conservatory Theatre: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York, NY (Paradise Ridge: a Lopahkin Development, House on Fireand Dark Matter) Kenyon College (Blood: of Brothers and Sisters) and Montclair State University (Sentience, Sex, Love and Information, Penance: Ghost of Don Juan). Acting Credits:National Tours: Montana Repertory Theatre (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Trip to Bountiful). Regional Theatre: American Repertory Theatre (Highway Ulysses dir. Robert Woodruff and Children of Herakles dir. Peter Sellars), A Contemporary Theatre, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Village Theatre, Luna Stage, Children’s Theatre Company etc... Benton is the Program Coordinator for the B.F.A. Acting Program in the Department of Theatre and Dance at MSU. Previously, she was a member of the core faculty and the Head of Movement at theAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, NY. She is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and the Devising Chair for Region 2 of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Benton received her MFA in Acting from American Repertory Theatre/ Moscow Art Theatre at Harvard University.
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Vicky Bussert, Director of Music Theatre Program & Professor of Theatre, Baldwin Wallace University

Victoria Bussert balances the professional and academic worlds  dividing her time between an active career as an award-winning free-lance director while holding the position of Director of Music Theatre for Baldwin Wallace University. Nationally, her work has been seen at Manhattan Theatre Club, York Theatre, New World Stages, Goodspeed Opera, Playhouse Square, Portland Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Beck Center for the Arts among others. Her international credits include Friar Tuck in Russia, The Who's Tommy in Brazil, the Danish Premiere of Avenue Q (2012 Reumert Award Nomination) and the European Premieres of LIZZIE and [title of show] for the Fredericia Teater in Denmark.Recent productions include the award-winning ISF/GLT SWEENEY TODD; along with CARRIE at the Beck Center and MURDER BALLAD at Playhouse Square.
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Salvatore Champagne, Director, Division of Vocal Studies & Professor of Singing, Oberlin Conservatory

Salvatore Champagne has appeared in opera houses and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe. His career began in 1988 when he was chosen to be the tenor soloist in a European tour of Leonard Bernstein's Songfest conducted by the composer.  Immediately thereafter he joined the ensemble of the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe, Germany, appearing in a wide range of leading lyric tenor roles.  For the next ten years he was engaged as guest artist in many of Europe’s finest opera houses, among them the Opernhaus Zürich, Opéra du Rhin, Teatro Bellini, and the Bayerische Staatsoper. In addition to his opera performances Champagne has appeared in recital and concert with such performing organizations as the London Philharmonia, Cologne Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. His singing has been recognized with numerous awards, including prizes at the Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition and the International Singing Competition s’Hertogenbosch, as well as grants from MUSICA, the Sullivan Foundation, and the National Institute for Musical Theater. In 2004, at the suggestion his teacher and mentor, Richard Miller, Champagne joined the voice faculty of his alma mater, Oberlin College Conservatory, where he now serves as Professor of Singing and Director of the Vocal Studies Division.  He is currently a much sought after teacher and gives lectures and master classes throughout the United States.  Mr. Champagne’s students have won many prestigious competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions, and appear regularly with premiere performing organizations throughout the United States and abroad.
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Alison d’Amato, Assistant Professor of Vocal Coaching, Eastman School of Music

Pianist Dr. Alison d'Amato is passionately engaged as performer and teacher in the full spectrum of collaborative musical genres, particularly skilled in song and text-based genres. A valued colleague and innovative mentor, she is Artistic Co-Director of Florestan Recital Project, Assistant Professor of Vocal Coaching at Eastman School of Music, Program co-Director of Art song Lab, and Lecturer in Voice at University at Buffalo. In all these activities, Dr. d’Amato is dedicated to energizing the relationships and communication inherent in music and bringing students’ love for their music to the forefront of their projects. Alison has developed several projects that explore interdisciplinary collaborations and new approaches to the performer-audience relationship. Since 2003, Alison has been Artistic Co-Director of Florestan Recital Project (www.florestanproject.org), engages audiences and artists in a broad spectrum of art song collaborations through performances, recordings, and mentoring. From 2007-2015, she was a Founding Faculty member of Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI), a summer program for innovative performance and interdisciplinary study. In 2011, she co-created the Art Song Lab (www.artsonglab.com), a program that facilitates creative interaction between writers, composers, and performers from around the world to advance the genre of contemporary art song. Alison has been a guest artist at The AmBul Festival (Sofia, Bulgaria), SOURCE Song Festival, Boston Conservatory, Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, SUNY Fredonia, and Dickinson College. In addition to traditional masterclasses in collaborative repertoire, Alison has shared classes with colleagues in Humanities, musicology, poetry, composition, and performance disciplines. Recent recording projects include The Complete Songs of Virgil Thomson (New World Records) and Music for Violin and Piano by Joseph Achron with violinist Michael Ludwig (Naxos). Recent concert activities feature programs at the Schubert Club (St. Paul, MN), premieres with Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), Wordsong, and the Buffalo Chamber Players, and recitals with acclaimed soprano Tony Arnold.

McCaela Donovan, Assistant Director of the School of Theatre, Boston University

McCaela Donovan is an Elliot Norton and IRNE award winning actress, theatre educator, and audition coach and is thrilled to be here with the ArtsBridge team. She has served as Associate Artistic Director and founding member of Bridge Repertory Theatre of Boston. She has performed Off Broadway and in various regional theatres, including Primary Stages, NYMTF, ArtsEmerson, The Huntington Theatre Company, American Repertory Theatre, Speakeasy Stage, Gloucester Stage Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Lyric Stage Company, New Repertory Theatre, Company One, Stoneham Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Reagle Music Theatre, and the Children’s Theatre of Sioux Falls, SD. A member of SAG-AFTRA, AEA and SAFD, she has worked and taught at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Boston Conservatory, Emerson College, Dean College, Emmanuel College, Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts. McCaela is also working towards a master’s degree in Urban Affairs at BU and is grateful to be a proud member of the BU School of Theatre. Go Terriers!

Rick Edinger, Music Director, Assistant Professor of Theatre, Shenandoah University

Rick Edinger is an accomplished music director, vocal coach, pianist, and actor. He began his career as a performer, appearing in the 2004 Tony nominated Broadway revival of “Pacific Overtures” and the Broadway benefit concert production of “Children and Art: A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim on the Eve of his 75th Birthday.” Regionally, he has performed in Symphony Space’s “Wall to Wall Sondheim,” Roundabout Theatre Company’s 40th Anniversary Gala at Chelsea Piers, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company, and many houses across the United States and Europe. His television appearances include “As the World Turns,” “Love Monkey,” and “Starved.” He has also been featured on the 2004 Broadway revival recording of “Pacific Overtures” with PS CLASSICS and “Wall to Wall Sondheim” with XM SATELLITE RADIO. Edinger has served as music director, coach, and accompanist for numerous educational institutions. He has been a guest music director at New York University Tisch School of the Performing Arts and served on faculty at The County College of Morris and The College of Saint Elizabeth. Other institutions and projects include The City University of New York- Hunter College, Bronx Opera, Coópera: Project Opera of Manhattan, Brightest Star School of the Performing Arts, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company, and The Talent Company. He has also worked as a collaborative pianist with Broadway performers and singers from the Metropolitan Opera, English National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, and more. As a vocal coach in New York for over 10 years, Edinger’s former and current clients have performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on national/ international tours, and in regional houses across the globe. Edinger received his training at Manhattan School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Brooklyn College, and Hunter College. He has studied piano with Gerardo Teissonniere and Geoffrey Burleson and studied voice with Mignon Dunn, Joan Caplan, and Maitland Peters. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.
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Byron Easley, Associate Professor & Head of Dance, NYU’s New Studio on Broadway (Tisch School of the Arts)

Byron was awarded the 2011 Society of Director’s and Choreographer’s Joe A. Callaway Award and an Audelco Award for excellence in choreography for the Off-Broadway production of Langston in Harlem.  A two-time winner of Atlanta’s Suzi Bass Award in choreography for the Alliance Theatre’s productions of Sophisticated Ladies and Jelly’s Last Jam, his work as Choreographer, Assistant Choreographer and/or Assistant Director has been represented at Ensemble Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory, Cleveland Playhouse, Arizona Theatre Company, Baltimore Center Stage, The Goodman Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, City Center Encores, North Shore Music Theatre, Hartford Stage, Trinity Repertory, Two River Theatre Company, Pioneer Theatre Company and the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. As a performer, Byron has been seen on the PBS Dance in America Special Fosse, and the series Broadway: The American Musical.  He has been a featured player in the Broadway companies of: Fosse, Play On, Oh Kay, and The Tap Dance Kid, in addition to numerous national tours, regional productions, TV specials, commercials, industrial shows and films.  Prior to joining the Department of Drama’s New Studio on Broadway, Byron was a full-time faculty member at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama - teaching dance.

Sandy Faison, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School

Sandy Faison is Assistant Principal of Drama and Technical Theater at the “FAME” school, LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and performing Arts in New York City, where she has taught acting, musical theater, and Career Management, and produced over forty major productions of plays and musicals in all three of LaGuardia’s theaters, including its continental eleven-hundred seat main stage.  Sandy,  in tandem with the efforts of her superb staff, have turned out scores of award-winning young artists and, indeed, winners in the prestigious Young Arts Competition year after year and Presidential Scholars. Sandy holds a BFA from Hamilton College, a Master of Educational Theater from NYU Steinhardt, and a principal’s certificate from City College of New York.  She became a teacher after a chocked full forty-year career in show business that included two-and-a-half years on Broadway in the original role of “Grace Farrell” in Mike Nichols’s spectacular production of “Annie,” and original Broadway runs of “Is There Life After High School,” “Charlie and Algernon,” and “You Can’t Take It With You” opposite Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst. Sandy was directed by Alan Pakula in the film “Sterile Cuckoo,” starring Liza Minnelli, Sydney Lumet in “Prince Of The City,” starring Treat Williams, and Michael Chapman in “All The Right Moves,” starring Tom Cruise.  Sandy recurred on two television series, “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” and “Anything But Love.”  She guest-starred on episodic television more times than she can remember and was a regular on the soap opera hit, “The Edge of Night.” Amidst it all, Sandy managed to produce two critically acclaimed original musicals at the renowned Goodspeed Opera house in East Haddam, Connecticut.  John Forster’s “Both Barrels,” and Craig Carnelia’s “Actor, Lawyer, Indian Chief” played to sold out runs in Goodspeed’s Norma Terrace Theater.  Sandy’s commitment to new material reflects the primary passion she has always had for discovering and developing new young artists.  Developing tomorrow’s talent today remains her motivation, intention, and heart’s desire.  Sandy is the Artistic Director for ArtsBridge 2.

Michael Hanley, Assistant Professor of Voice, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Hanley is a sought-after pedagogue, combining his experience as a classical singer and teacher into well-rounded classical and musical theater teaching styles. His students have achieved success in a variety of genres including musical theater, opera, and commercial music. From 2013 to 2015, Hanley served on the faculty of Syracuse University's Department of Drama and Setnor School of Music, where he taught voice, voice for musical theater, and musicianship courses. Hanley was most recently seen at the Aspen Music Festival in 2015, performing the role of Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, and as a guest artist with Penn State Opera Theatre in La Bohème. Other notable credits include James Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray (Aspen Opera Theater Center, 2014), Spinelloccio in Gianni Schicchi (Aspen Opera Theater Center, 2013), and the title role in Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor (Eastman Opera Theatre, 2010). Hanley is actively engaged in academic research and recently presented his work Bridging the Gap between Theatre Voice Training and the Male Singing Voice with colleague Jared Trudeau at the Fall Voice Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also studied entrepreneurship and the integration of entrepreneurship in Conservatory curricula as a Kauffman Entrepreneurial Scholar at the University of Rochester. Hanley holds a B.M. from the Eastman School of Music and an M.M. in voice pedagogy and performance from Penn State University. Hanley was a 2016 NATS Teaching Intern and maintains private voice studios in Boston and New York. Additionally, he serves on the voice faculty of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Michael will be teaching voice in ArtsBridge 2 this summer.

Lynn Helding, Associate Professor of Voice, USC Thornton School of Music

Lynn Helding recently joined the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music as Associate Professor of Practice in Vocal Pedagogy. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Singing and author of the journal’s “Mindful Voice” column, which illuminates current research in the cognitive, neuro- and social sciences as they relate to music teaching, learning and performance. Ms. Helding is a thought-leader within the dynamic field of contemporary voice science, or vocology and was elected to head the founding of the first vocology association, PAVA, incorporated in 2014 as a 501(c)(6) non-profit association. She was the 2005 recipient of the National Van Lawrence Fellowship, jointly awarded by the NATS Foundation and the Voice Foundation to those who have “demonstrated excellence in their profession as singing teachers, and have shown knowledge of voice science.”
Lynn Helding’s stage credits include the title role in the first American production of Luigi Rossi’s Orfeo, and leading mezzo-soprano roles with Harrisburg Opera, Nashville Opera, Tennessee Opera Theatre, and Ohio Light Opera. A deep commitment to art song led her to create such projects as Made in America, a narrative song recital of works by eighteen American composers which toured Italy, France, England, Germany, Spain and Australia and Iceland, and the theatrical performance piece This is My Letter to the World, a song recital which she assembled using spoken fragments of Emily Dickson’s letters interspersed with Dickinson songs by composers Aaron Copland, Jake Heggie, William Bolcolm and Lori Laitman, which premiered at the Brook Center for Music in New York City. Her highlights in chamber music include the title role in Schoenberg’s Perrot Lunaire, broadcast on Nashville Public Television, and Good Night, written for Lynn Helding and the Baltic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra by Icelandic composer Thorkell Sigurbjornnson, which premiered at Miller Theatre’s “New Works” series in New York.Lynn Helding studied voice at the University of Montana, in Vienna, Austria, and at Indiana University, where she was the first singer ever accepted to pursue the prestigious Artist Diploma in Voice. She earned her master’s degree in vocal pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and completed the Summer Vocology Institute of the National Center for Voice and Speech in Salt Lake City, where she has returned as guest faculty. Her voice teachers have included Esther England, Dale Moore, and Chris Arneson, and voice science mentors Scott McCoy, Ingo Titze and Katherine Verdolini-Abbott. Previous to USC, she taught voice at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, and served twenty-two years as Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Performance Studies at Dickinson College.

Quin Gordon, UNCSA School of Drama

Quin is a professional theatre director recently transplanted from the NYC. His NYC directing credits include: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sonnet Repertory Theatre), The Dinner Party (Lincoln Center Institute), Babette’s Feast (World Premiere-Threads Theatre Co.), Hot Cripple (Seeing Place Theater), Things We Want (TheatreLab), Red Light Winter(DPVCT), Modern Love (Theatre Row), The Power of the Crystals (NYC Fringe Fest). Regionally he has directed Shostakovich's Hamlet (Aspen Music Festival, John Mauceri-conductor). Quin is a graduate of The New Actor's Workshop where he trained under Mike Nichols, Paul Sills, and George Morrison. He received his BFA in directing from UNCSA where he now serves on the faculty teaching acting and directing and serves as the Director of Recruitment. At UNCSA he recently directed Stephen Adley Guirgis' The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Vaclav Havel's The Memorandum and CP Taylor's Good with an orchestra of 20 onstage. He has also directed workshop productions of Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well, Two Gentlemen of Verona and Othello.  
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Kevin Kittle, Associate Head of Acting, Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts

Kevin Kittle has worked as Joseph Chaikin’s assistant director and with Arthur Miller and Sam Shepard for the Signature Theater Company. He has directed numerous productions and readings in such New York City theaters as The John Houseman, The Neighborhood Playhouse, The Harold Clurman, Ensemble Studio Theater, ArclightChashama, HERE, Sullivan Street Playhouse, The Zipper, The Gene Frankel, the 45th Street Theater, and The Irish Repertory Theatre, as well as regionally. His most recent productions include In God’s Hat at Playwrights Horizons Peter Jay Sharp Theater for Apothecary Theatre Company, Beyond the Pale (nominated for Best Director and Best Production at the 1st Irish 2009 Theatre Festival), The Medicine Show at CSV (Flamboyen), Animals at The Connolly, and A New Television Arrives, Finally, at Theater 54. At The Greenwich Street Theatre, he directed the world premiere of Jamie Linley’s Dirty Works(critical acclaim in New York City and at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Philip Ridley’s The Pitchfork Disney, both as resident director of Stiff Upper Lip, as well as Joe Penhall’s Some Voices with The Villar-HauserDevelopment Fund. Other credits include: And Mirasaki Danced (starring Michael Warren Powell) for Circle East, the New York City premiere of Carter Lewis’s Soft Click of a Switch at The Flatiron Playhouse, and TheBCam at the FlamboyenWatching and Waiting at The Judith Anderson, The House of Yes at The Currican, and Life During Wartime(2001 Off-Off Broadway Review Award for Outstanding Production) with Inertia Productions as their resident director. As co-developer and dramaturge-directorKittle has worked on Burnt, with Rhett Rossi at The Present Company Theatorium, David Dannenfelser’s When Words Fail… at The NY International Fringe Festival (the script of which is published in Plays and Playwrights, Vol. One), and Peter Handy’s East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which was a finalist in the Samuel French One Act Festival and is published by Samuel French. His Los Angeles production of Chet Whell’s Economic Subterfuge, starring Jason Huber, was nominated for an LA Weekly Award. Kevin is an assistant professor of acting and the director of Performance Ensemble in the BFA program at Mason Gross, and is an associate director of the Youth Theater of New Jersey, where he teaches in their Summer Theater Institute in residence at Juilliard.
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Gary Kline, Assistant Head of Acting/Musical Theater, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama

Gary Kline is Professor and Assistant Head of Acting and Musical Theatre at Carnegie Mellon University. He has taught private singing and music theatre courses such as Cabaret and Acting A Song for Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious School of Drama since 1990, where he currently oversees the Vocal Curriculum. He is the artistic director of ArtsBridge Summer Musical Theater. In demand as a teacher, Gary has taught Master Classes at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) in Sydney, Australia, the Torggler Vocal Institute at Newport University, the Flying Swan Program at Wesleyan University, The Broadway Theatre Project at FSU, The Performing Arts Project at Wake Forest, and Perry-Mansfield Arts Camp in Colorado. Gary has taught some of the most highly-skilled Broadway Performers at CMU, including Tony-winners Christian Borle (Peter and Starcatcher) and Patina Miller (Sister Act/Pippin), as well as Patrick Wilson (The Full Monty), Chris Hoch (Beauty and the Beast), Kirsten Bracken (Follies), Megan Hilty (Wicked), Kyle Beltran (In the Heights), Bradley Dean (Spamelot), Renee Goldsberry (Color Purple) Donna Lynne Champlin (Sweeney Todd) and dozens more. Regionally, Gary has appeared in leading roles in Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Night Music, 1776, The Civil War, Man of La Mancha, Secret Garden, The Laramie Project, and Fiddler.  He’s also sung with the Pittsburgh Opera and soloed twice with the Pittsburgh Pops under the direction of Marvin Hamlisch. Gary is a graduate of the Dana School of Music (YSU) and the CMU School of Music.  He has studied Acting at Stanford U. with Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, and Ann Jackson, as well as with Johanna Merlin and Victor Garber in NY.  His CD “Lucky” includes duets with friends Billy Porter, Patrick Wilson, Sally Mayes, and song legend Margaret Whiting.  Gary is a member of Phi Mu Alpha, Actor’s Equity, and NATS.  He is thrilled to be working with Halley and the great faculty and students at ArtsBridge!
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David Pepin, Keyboard 1/Assistant Conductor, Wicked Broadway

David Pepin joined the Wicked orchestra on Broadway in January 2017 after a three-year appointment at Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio where he was associate professor of music theatre. Prior to teaching, he was an active member of the Broadway community as music director/conductor of Bring It On The Musical, as well as conductor, pianist or sub on such shows as Kinky Boots, Wicked, The Addams Family, Shrek The Musical and RENT. From 2001-2009, he toured with the National Tours of Wicked, Bring It On and RENT . He maintains an active role in education and academia, keeping close ties with Baldwin Wallace and other major music theatre programs around the country, as well as many summer intensive music theatre camps. He is a vocal coach, audition and rehearsal pianist, and a music director for new shows in development.
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Joe Price, Program Director, University of Minnesota Guthrie Theater BFA Program

Joe Price works as director, actor, and fight choreographer across the country. He spent eleven years at the University of Kansas City as Associate Head of Acting for the MFA Actor Training Program, and he is now the program director at the University of Minnesota/Guthrie BFA Actor Training program. Joe will be the Artistic Director of ArtsBridge Summer Dramatic Acting.

John Simpkins, Head of Musical Theatre, Penn State University

John Simpkins has recently directed the World premieres of Legendale (Denmark’s Fredericia Teater) and Raging Skillet (Theaterworks Hartford – starring Dana Smith-Croll, Marilyn Sokol, George Salazar).  He directed the three-time Drama Desk nominated Off-Broadway production of Bloodsong of Love:  The Rock and Roll Spaghetti Western (by Joe Iconis) at Ars Nova.  He also directed Iconis’ The Black Suits at LA’s Center Theatre Group (Kirk Douglas Theatre – starring Annie Golden, Will Roland, Veronica Dunne).  New York credits include the Off-Broadway productions of The Bus(59E59 Theatre); ReWrite (Urban Stages); The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks (Theatreworks, USA- Lucille Lortel Theatre); Things to Ruin (which he co-conceived and directed productions of at Second Stage, Le Poisson Rouge, Zipper Factory, Joe’s Pub, Ars Nova, NYMF) and The Black Suits (SPF at the Public Theatre – starring Annie Golden, Jason Tam, and Krysta Rodriguez). Regional productions include Legendale (Human Race Theatre Company – starring Max Crumm); Quartet (starring Elizabeth Franz); The Black Suits (Barrington Stage – starring Ben Platt); Hairspray(North Carolina Theatre – starring Dale Hensley, Dirk Lumbard); Damn Yankees (Engeman Theatre – starring Andre De Sheilds, Felicia Finley); A Wonderful Life (Engeman Theatre); Annie (Sacramento Music Circus- starring Mark Zimmerman, Jim Walton, Adinah Alexander); Cabaret (Sacramento Music Circus- starring Teri Ralston, Jacquelyn Piro, Max von Essen); Evita (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma- starring Kate Chapman, Eric Michael Gillet, Dan Cooney). John is the former Artistic Director at Sharon Playhouse – where his direction included Merrily We Roll Along (starring Jason Tam, A.J. Shively, Lauren Marcus); Big River; Falsettos (starring Kyle Barisich); Les Miserables; Judge Jackie (starring Klea Blackhurst); They’re Playing Our Song.  A strong supporter of the development of new work, he has directed workshops/ readings/ productions of Georgie:  The Life and Death of George Rose (starring Ed Dixon); True Love (Sarah Schlesinger/ David Evans); Adam Lives (Goodspeed Opera House); Hellraisers (Barrington Stage); Fantasy Football, the Musical; All the Kids Are Doing It; When the World Ends (Nick Blaemire- Ars Nova); Ripper (NAMT); Party Come Here (David Kirshenbaum/ Daniel Goldfarb); Go-Go Beach (NYMF – 37 Arts); Pool Boy(Tsakalakos/ Allard); Next Thing You Know (Berkshire Theatre Festival); Queen Esther (Merkin Hall); Half Married (Cunningham/ Antin); Plastic! (Maddock/ Iconis/ Jacobs - York Theatre), 29 (Alter/ Newman), Lyrical Langston Hughes (New Triad- Lincoln Center), Blood Drive (Rachel Sheinkin), Beasts and Saints (Mindi Dickstein) and Like You Like It (Buck/ Acquisto). Prior to joining Penn State, John was a member of the music theatre faculty at New York University - where he directed Sweet Smell of Success, Floyd Collins, A Man of No Importance, The Fix, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Violet, Urinetown, Merrily We Roll Along, Parade, Fiorello! and A New Brain.  His production of Parade was preserved and is on reserve at Lincoln Center’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive.  He holds a Bachelor of Music from Miami University and a Master of Arts from NYU.
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Patty Thom, Chair of Voice, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Patty Thom is currently the Chair of Voice and Opera at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, a position she has held since 2003. Previous to that she was the Director of Music at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA, a boarding high school for young performing and visual artists. She was also Director of the New England Conservatory at Walnut Hill in a partner program with the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. In addition to her administrative role at Boston Conservatory, she teaches studio voice and performance skills classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels and co-directs the Vocal/Choral Intensive summer program for young singers. Ms. Thom graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1980 with a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance. In 1985 she received a Masters of Music in Vocal Accompanying from Boston University where she studied piano with Allen Rogers and Anthony di Bonaventura and accompanied and coached in the voice studio of Phyllis Curtin. She continued her affiliation with Miss Curtin both at Boston University and at Tanglewood as Head Vocal Coach of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists' Vocal Program and as instructor of voice and a member of the accompanying staff at the University. Ms. Thom has given concerts and masterclasses around the world and is a regular presenter at the National Classical Singer Convention. She is currently on the Board of Visitors at the Walnut Hill School and the Advisory Board of Boston Opera Collaborative. A native of North Dakota, she lives in Boston.
Ralph Zito

Ralph Zito, Department Chair & Professor of Acting, Syracuse University

Ralph Zito has been the drama chair at Syracuse since 2010. Before Syracuse, he was the chairman of the voice and speech department of the Juilliard School's drama division. As a voice, text and dialect coach, he worked on and off-Broadway and for several national tours, as well as many regional theaters. Ralph will be teaching acting at ArtsBridge this summer.


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