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 Lecture, Automotive, Half 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.
Professor and Director of the A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma. Go Sooners! Following a long acting career in New York and around the world, Ashton earned his MFA in Directing with an emphasis in Musical Theatre from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in 2010. He then went on to coordinate the Musical Theatre Performance program and serve as Associate Chair and Academic Director for the nation’s largest Theatre Department at Columbia College Chicago. He’s had the privilege of working with students that have gone on to Broadway, National Tours, Regional and stock theatres all over the country.
Ashton's acting credits include three seasons on Broadway in Susan Stroman’s annual A Christmas Carol starring Tim Curry, F. Murray Abraham and Jim Dale, and he was featured in the National Touring companies of The Producers (US and Tokyo), Fiddler on the Roof with Theodore Bikel, the Tommy Tune revival of Grease! with Adrian Zmed, Sutton Foster and Marissa Jaret Winokur, Will Rogers Follies, I Love New York, and My Fair Lady (Europe). Ashton has also played roles in many regional productions around the country including: Titanic (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma), The Music Man (Little Theatre on the Square), The Spitfire Grill (Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Arkansas Rep.), Forever Plaid (Flat Rock Playhouse, NC), Joseph…Dreamcoat and Cats (Ogunquit Playhouse, ME), West Side Story (Westchester Broadway Theatre, NY), Kingdom (World Premiere with the Denver Center Theatre Company), and he earned his Equity card in The Secret Garden at the Paper Mill Playhouse.
His directing work includes Hello, Dolly!, Disney's Beauty and the Beast and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at The Little Theatre on the Square, [title of show] and The Marvelous Wonderettes at Open Door Theatre in Chicago, Bye Bye Birdie and Annie Get Your Gun for the Wilmette Starlight Theatre; Anything Goes, Orpheus Descending, Urinetown and Godspell at CCM, and Rent, Victor/Victoria, Oklahoma!, Once On This Island, and Sweet Charity at Columbia College Chicago, and most recently Legally Blonde for the University of Oklahoma. Professor Byrum earned his undergraduate degree in Musical Theatre from Catawba College. Originally from Winston-Salem, NC, he and his wife, Gina, and their 10-year-old son, Dylan, moved to Norman, OK, from Oak Park, IL.
Steve lives in Minneapolis with his brilliant wife Georgina Stoyles and amazing
daughter Zoey. He has been part of the faculty for the University of Minnesota /
Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program since 2005, teaching Play Analysis,
Acting Shakespeare, Auditioning, and Period Styles, and has directed several
Shakespeare productions at the university and regionally. Acting credits include
roles at the Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, and Pennsylvania Shakespeare
Festivals, Hope Repertory (Holland, MI), Riverside (Iowa City), and at Chicago
area theaters. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Steve received his M.F.A.
from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theater Training Program and was
a founding member of the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express (now the American
Shakespeare Center), taking part in four of their tours as both an actor and director.
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.
Michelle Chassé began teaching ballet, jazz, and musical theater dance at the Conservatory in 1994 and is a professor of theater. She became resident choreographer and musical theater dance coordinator in 2000 and chair of musical theater dance in 2013. She currently teaches ballet, jazz, and musical theater dance classes, as well as the musical theater senior dance emphasis course.
Chassé trained with the Boston Ballet School and Maestro Vincenzo Celli and was on scholarship at the School of American Ballet. She graduated cum laude with a B.F.A. in dance performance from Boston Conservatory, where she was the first recipient of the prestigious Ruth Sandholm Ambrose Award and later received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. She has studied and performed with ballet, concert dance, and Broadway legends from around the world.
Chassé has directed and choreographed numerous productions for the esteemed musical theater program at the Conservatory, including Candide, The Wild Party, and The Pajama Game, for which efforts she has received critical acclaim within Boston and New York ranks. She received a 2014 ArtsImpulse Best Musical nomination for her direction of Boston Conservatory’s On the Town and was awarded Best Choreography for the same production. Her work on Le Cabaret Grimm, featured in the 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival, earned her an honorable mention at that festival’s awards ceremony, and in that same year her concert dance piece Red Smoke Rises was performed by Boston’s Urbanity Dance company at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Chassé created and continues to direct the acclaimed Boston Conservatory Musical Theater Dance Intensive (MTDI) summer program, which is attended by dance students from around the world. Her continued choreography and stage direction for such internationally recognized ensembles as the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus have received accolades from audiences and critics alike.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Arclight, Chashama, 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 Flamboyen, Watching 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-director, Kittle 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.
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!
Prior to UNCSA, Cameron was an assistant professor of acting and head of BFA acting at the Theatre School at DePaul University. Prior to that he was an assistant professor in the school Drama at Carnegie Mellon University, he also lectured on African American Theatre. Cameron has coached and taught actors of all ages for over ten years in: Acting, Shakespeare, Text Analysis, Improvisation, Stage Movement and Stage Combat. Professional directing credits include: Shakespeare in Love, Fences, Othello, Twelfth Night, Pericles, Underneath the Lintel, and dozens of staged readings.
Regional Theatre Credits include: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, Notre Dame Shakespeare, Michigan Shakespeare Festival, MeadowBrook Theatre, Plowshares Theatre company, Stages Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Boarshead Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Water Works Theatre, Quantum Theatre, Off the Wall Theatre, City Theatre, Bricolage and No Name Players.
Notable roles include: Benedick in Much ado about Nothing, Othello in Othello, Dogberry in Much ado about Nothing, Booth in Topdog/under dog, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest, Crooks in Of Mice and Men, Captain Jack Absolute in The Rivals, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Leslie in The Hostage, Hud in Hair, Cleante in The Imaginary Invalid, Roma in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Bill Walker in Major Barbara, Vershinin in Three Sisters, Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Sam in Blues for an Alabama Sky, Cory in Fences, Canewell in Seven Guitars.
Joe Olivieri is Head of Acting in the Department of Theater at UCLA. Before joining the faculty at UCLA, he was Head of the MFA and BFA Acting Programs at West Virginia University. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). Joe recently appeared in the world premiere stage adaptation of It’s A Wonderful Lifeat West Virginia Public Theatre, where also played the role of Greg in the 2017 WVPT production of A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia. Other regional theatre credits include Denver Center Theater, PCPA Theaterfest, San Jose Repertory Company, Pittsburgh's City Theater, Carnegie Mellon Showcase of New Plays, and the American Conservatory Theater, where he received an MFA in Acting. He is a founding member of Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice, California, where he acts and has directed several award-winning productions. Joe is the author of Shakespeare without Fear: A User-Friendly Guide to Acting Shakespeare, and FLIXACTING: Illustrating Acting Skills through Film Performance, a media-rich e-Book. Joe is the proud father of Luca and Tessa Olivieri.
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.
Bruce Roach is an actor, director and educator whose work has taken him across the U.S. and abroad. He is an M.F.A. graduate of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. Favorite roles he has performed include Iago, Leontes and Richard III. His diverse directing credits range from Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan to Tracy Letts and Suzan Lori-Parks. He recently directed Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London for the BFA program in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater. He has been teaching and directing in the program since 2010. Bruce studied acting with Austin Pendleton, George Keathley, Jim Wise and Brant Pope. He studied Shakespeare technique with John Basil, Lynn Redgrave and Barbara Redmond and holds an M.F.A. from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.
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.
Ingrid Sonnichsen has acted professionally for over forty years in regional theaters such as the Huntington, ART, and the Charles (Boston), the Guthrie (Minneapolis), Mark Taper Forum and LAAT (Los Angeles), Long Wharf (New Haven), and Ford's Theater and the Kennedy Center in D.C. and the Pittsburgh Public Theater. She's worked on Broadway (Best Friend), Off-Broadway (Dylan and Measure for Measure), and in numerous commercials and voiceovers, both national and local, as well as ten seasons of summer stock. She was a member of the casts of Shear Madness for over ten years, doing the show at the Kennedy Center, in Boston and in Pittsburgh. Ms. Sonnichsen taught acting for almost twenty years at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and previous to that for three years at the American Repertory Thea. at Harvard in Cambridge, Ma. She taught acting in Japan for SKD and directed in South Africa (WE and Them) a play which ran in Durban, Capetown and Johannesburg for over two years. She was awarded a Certificate for Distinction in Teaching from Harvard, and the Henry Hornbostel Award for Teaching from the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon. She co-authored The Source, a guide for Actors in the New England Region and a book on taxes, Buy This Book - It's Deductible published by Baker's Plays. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota, and a Master's in Acting from Wayne State University in Detroit.
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.
Catherine A. Walker is an associate professor of music in the Department of Musical Theatre and has worked extensively as a music director, conductor, vocal coach, pianist, educator, and clinician for over 35 years. Walker serves annually as a mentor and judge for the national Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Vocal Academy. Other music direction credits include: The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle; The Augusta Barn Theatre’s production of Shenandoah starring Robert Newman; Island Center Productions, St. Croix, USVI; Three-D Productions National Touring Company; Derby Dinner Playhouse, Louisville; Red Barn Playhouse, Saugatuck, Michigan; and Farmers Alley Theatre, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Walker was the featured pianist for “Wicked Divas” with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and “Family Night at the Movies” with the Saginaw Symphony Orchestra. She has also served as the music director and pianist for various cabaret performances including “An Evening with Lauren Kennedy” and “An Evening with Scott Coulter.”
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.