Please note: not all faculty are currently teaching at ArtsBridge programs.
Pianist and Vocal Coach Jason Aquila is the Music Director for the Voice Performance program
at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory. He recently prepared the BW production of Dido and
Aeneas, which he also led from the harpsichord. Jason has served as coach and assistant
music director for many recent productions at Baldwin Wallace, including La Boheme, Hansel
and Gretel, La Finta Giardiniera, The Tragedy of Carmen, Dialogues of the Carmelites. Il
Matrimonio Segreto, and The Rake’s Progress.
He has performed with acclaimed artists including soprano Jennifer Rowley, mezzo-soprano
Mary Ann Hart, flutist Donald Peck, American Horn Competition winner Andrew Pelletier,
violinist Xiang Gao, and various members of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Jason has served as an official collaborative pianist for the International Horn Symposium, and
for the Music Teachers National Association Convention.
Jason received a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Florida Southern
College, and a Master of Music degree in Accompanying and Chamber Music from the
Cleveland Institute of Music.
Before joining Baldwin Wallace, Jason served as the Coordinator of Accompanying at Western
Illinois University for 10 years.Enter answer here
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.
Julie Boyd is an accomplished Actor, Educator, Director and Coach based in New York City. She has decades of experience at the highest levels of University training programs and is the Director of the Fordham Summer Musical Theatre Workshop. New York acting credits include "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (Roundabout/PBS) directed by Jerry Zaks, and "Noises Off" (Broadway) directed by Michael Blakemore. Regional theatre includes productions at Long Wharf, the McCarter, the Kennedy Center, Williamstown, the Goodman, and the Guthrie. Boyd also works extensively in film and television. She received her BFA from the University of Utah and her MFA from Yale Drama School. Her in-depth knowledge of acting and training sets her apart as one of the best in the business whether she is teaching, directing or acting. Her gentle approach, coupled with her rigorous work ethic are her hallmarks of excellence.
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.
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.
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.
Helen Farmer (she/her) regional credits include: Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Stratford Festival, Crossroads Theater, The Classical Theatre Lab, Shakespeare in the Rough, Theatre and Co, Dorset Theatre, and Co-Lab Arts. New York theatre includes work with Ensemble Studio Theatre, Project Y Theatre, Boundless Theatre Project. Recent projects include: the US premiere of Kotryna Gesait’s Cocoon
and the audio pod cast series "The Lovely Dark"
. Originally Canadian, Helen was trained as an improviser at Keith Johnstone’s Loose Moose Theater, worked at Toronto’s Second City and is a veteran of several Fringe Festival shows. A Meisner trained actor Helen received an MFA in acting from Rutgers University’s MGSA. She pursed Meisner teacher training under the tutelage of Kevin Kittle (formerly of MGSA) and spent several years working alongside him while at Rutgers. Helen is a certified Alexander technique teacher and was part of ArtsBridge’s inaugural GapYear program, where she taught Movement for the Actor. After 9 years at Rutgers teaching in both the BFA and MFA programs, Helen has recently started a new role as the Head of Acting at the Molloy University/ CAP 21 program in New York.
Julie Foh is a CT-based voice, text, and dialect teacher and coach. She holds an MFA in Voice and Speech from the American Repertory Theater’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. She has coached projects for Marvel, Play On Shakespeare, Irish Repertory Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, McCarter Theatre Center, Westport Country Playhouse, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, BEDLAM, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Tectonic Theater Project, NY Stage & Film, Second Stage, New Georges, A.R.T., The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, American Players Theatre, and others. She has taught at UConn, Penn State, Rutgers, A.R.T., Harvard University, the Moscow Art Theatre School, Webster University, the National Theater Institute, University of the Arts Helsinki, the Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Larry Singer Studios Summer Conservatory, and The Performing Arts Project. Additionally, she has taught workshops internationally in Montreal, Dublin, and Singapore. She also holds a BA in Theater Studies from Duke University and is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework® and a Master Teacher of Knight-Thompson Speechwork. She is co-author of the book, Experiencing Speech: A Skills-Based, Panlingual Approach to Actor Training.
Melissa Foster is an educator, voice specialist, theatre artist, researcher, and speaker. As a voice teacher, she specializes in musical theatre, pop styles, the history and performance of hip-hop, and opera/musical theatre crossover.
Foster is Associate Professor of Instruction in the Musical Theatre area of the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University. She is on faculty for The CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute with a focus on “Teaching Pop Styles,” she is a rap and R&B coach for Rock the Audition, and she is a resident vocal consultant for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has also been guest faculty for Broadway Breakthru, IHSTA, Stagelighter, The Cherubs Program, and she serves as artist in residence for the ArtsLink Foundation.
Foster has taught countless masterclasses and workshops around the world. Highlights include a co-taught, live-streamed Masterclass with world renowned opera legend, Renee Fleming. Foster’s Presentation of “Rocking the Singing Boat: Pop, Rock, Singer Songwriter, Folk, Country and R&B Styles” has been seen in numerous venues nationwide -- most recently in San Francisco, South Bend, New York, Chicago, Palo Alto and Birmingham. Upcoming guest lectures include multiple universities including Temple, Goshen, Samford, and Oakland. This summer, Foster is presenting at the National conference for the National Association of Teachers of Singing with a 4-hour featured workshop on Hip-Hop and Accessibility. Internationally, Foster is a Visiting Artist and Master Technician for a coalition of institutions and universities in Xi’an, China, Guangzhou, China, and Hong Kong. She is the Chair of Voice for the Musical Theatre Educators Alliance and is also on their executive committee.
Currently, Melissa is writing a book entitled “Hip-Hop: Rap and R&B~ A Performers Guide” (release date 2023) (Rowman and Littlefield Publishing). She lives in Chicago with her Husband Matt, and their 9-year-old daughter, Viva.
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.
Neal Gupta [he/him] is a NYC based director, actor, cultural worker, & activist. Directing credits include 26 by Ang Bey (The Strides Collective) & When We Dead Awaken (The Gallery Players). Associate Directing credits include the upcoming, Running by Danny Pudi (East West Players/Hypokrit) & Bollywood Kitchen (Geffen Playhouse). Assistant Directing: A Small Fire, starring Bebe Neuwirth, (Philadelphia Theatre Co), Tear a Root from the Earth (BRIC & New Ohio). Neal served on the panel for the 2021 Terrence McNally Playwriting Award and is a part of the SDC Observership Program. Neal will begin teaching a course in devising at the BFA Acting Program at Rutgers University in the Fall where he will also direct a devised piece in the Spring. Training: BFA Acting, Rutgers University, Mason Gross. Shakespeare’s Globe. Interlochen Arts Academy.
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.
Colleen Longshaw Jackson is a Cleveland, Ohio native. She is currently the director of community partnerships and programming at Cleveland Play House. At Cleveland Play House, Jackson was part of the team to develop and implement the CARE program (Compassionate Arts Remaking Education). CARE is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. CARE uses theatre education to teach social emotional competencies and to increase English Language Arts scores in the K-12 student population.
Jackson is a Certified Trauma Professional, a certification she uses in conjunction with anti-racism and equity, diversity and inclusion facilitation and training. She works to dismantle white supremacist culture within organizations by helping organizations to identify existing ideologies and work to destroy the root of oppression and systems in place to keep them thriving.
She is an inclusion, diversity, equity and access training facilitator and trainer. She centers her EDI work around helping arts organizations and educational institutions. Her group facilitation techniques help to navigate communication around difficult topics and create a plan to keep those lines of communication open. She helps organizations with strategic planning and empowers faculty, staff and students.
Jackson became a member of the Actor's Equity Association in 2003 and continues to work as a professional actress. Her work as an actress and commitment to the craft make dismantling oppressive systems within theatre a burning priority and one which she is passionate about improving.
Credits include: "Kiss Me, Kate" (National Tour), "The Groove Factory" (New York Music Theatre Festival), "Hairspray" (Northshore Music Theatre, Porthouse Theatre), "Pipeline" (Cleveland Play House), "The Full Monty" (Northshore Music Theatre), "The Piano Lesson" (Cleveland Play House), "Starmites" (Porthouse Theatre), "Made in America" (Dobama Theatre), "A Christmas Carol" (Great Lakes Theatre), "The Color Purple" (Karamu House), "Dreamgirls" (Cain Park), "Once On This Island" (Porthouse Theatre), "Big River" (Porthouse Theatre), "Avenue X" (Cain Park), "Godspell" (Porthouse Theatre, Cain Park), "Aida" (The Beck Center), "The Buddy Holly Story" (Carousel Dinner Theater), and "Twelfth Night" (Ohio Shakespeare Festival).
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, Theater Row Theaters, Ensemble Studio Theater, HERE, Sullivan Street Playhouse, and The Irish Repertory Theatre, as well as regionally. His most recent productions include Bitter Greens at 59E59, Hot Season at The Sheen Center for Strange Sun Theater, Blood Potato at the Clurman and In God’s Hat at Playwrights Horizons Peter Jay Sharp Theater for Apothecary Theatre Company, and Beyond the Pale (nominated for Best Director and Best Production at the 1st Irish Theatre Festival). At the Greenwich Street Theatre, he directed the world premiere of Jamie Linley’s Dirty Works (critical acclaim in NYC and at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Philip Ridley’s The Pitchfork Disney, both as resident director of Stiff Upper Lip. Other credits include: 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, Kevin has worked on This is the How, with Rhett Rossi at The Playroom Theater, 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 was nominated for an LA Weekly Award. Kevin served as Associate Head of Acting and the Director of Performance Ensemble at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University until 2020.
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!
Associate Professor of Acting and Directing UNCSA
Assistant Professor, Head of BFA Acting The Theatre School at DePaul University
Assistant Professor Carnegie Mellon University
Directing credits include: Richard III (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Down in the face of
God (UNCSA), Fences (Resident Ensemble Players Rep) A movie star has to star in black
and white, Suddenly last summer (UNCSA), Othello, Twelfth Night, Pericles (Notre Dame
Shakespeare) Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Theatre Company: Academy for Classical Acting)
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet (DePaul University, fall 2016), Seven Guitars, Once on this
Island (Carnegie Mellon University) Underneath the Lintel (12 Peers theatre).
Theatre Credits include: Teatro Vista, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Kennedy
Center, Resident Ensemble Players, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Shakespeare
Festival, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, Michigan
Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
Acting: Notable works include: Benedick in Much ado about Nothing, Othello in Othello,
Dogberry in Much ado about Nothing, Booth in Top dog/underdog, Mercutio in Romeo
and Juliet, John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest, Oberon in A Midsummer
Night’s Dream, Hud in Hair, Cleante in The Imaginary Invalid,
Bill Walker in Major Barbara, Cory in Fences.
Television: The Orville, Chicago Med,
Film: Widows (directed by Steve McQueen), The world without you, Sister Carrie
Voice-overs and commercial: Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Honey Nut Cheerios, Dodge Ram,
PBS, TD Bank, The Pennsylvania Lottery and Subway.
Russian-American soprano Dina Kuznetsova has attracted considerable attention for her outstanding musicianship and captivating stage presence and has graced the stages of many of the world’s greatest opera houses. From the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Gianni Schicchi with Sir Antonio Pappano), Staatsoper unter den Linden (Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Daniel Barenboim), Wiener Staatsoper (Juliette with Claude Schnitzler) and Bayerische Staatsoper (the title role in Rodelinda with Ivor Bolton) to the San Francisco Opera (Pamina in The Magic Flute with Donald Runnicles) and Metropolitan Opera (Samaritana in Francesca da Rimini with Marco Armiliato), Kuznetsova has earned the reputation as one of today’s most compelling sopranos.
The Guardian said of her performance in Rusalka, “Dina Kuznetsova is glorious in the title role, unleashing torrents of sound and emotion in ways that are breathtaking,” and called her Butterfly “gleaming, penetrating and arresting.” Opera News wrote of her Tatiana: “Dina Kuznetsova gave a striking performance. She projected her versatile soprano with great agility and strength,” and Anne Midgette called her “a standout… with her warm, clear voice” (The Washington Post).
An alumna of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s young artist program, Kuznetsova went on to star in a number of new productions at the theater, including Cunning Little Vixen, Rigoletto and, marking her role debut as Tatyana, Eugene Onegin opposite Dmitry Hvorostovsky under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis. Since that debut, she has built a name as an outstanding interpreter of Tchaikovsky’s leading lady, attracting acclaim from her many subsequent productions. Other highlights have included Desdemona (Otello) with the Gulbenkian Orchestra under Lawrence Foster, Alice Ford (Falstaff) at Glyndebourne under Vladimir Jurowski (available on DVD) and CioCio San in Anthony Minghella’s production of Madama Butterfly at English National Opera under Gianluca Marcianò and, in original version, at Atlanta Opera and Pittsburgh Opera. Kuznetsova reprised her Rodelinda for the Bolshoi Theatre in Richard Jones’ production under Christopher Moulds, a production that won the prestigious Golden Mask award.
Slavic and Russian repertoire has been central to Kuznetsova’s career. Her roles have included the title roles of Katya Kabanová (Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile, Staatsoper Hamburg, Opera New Zealand), Rusalka for the Glyndebourne Festival under Sir Andrew Davis (followed by performances in Teatro di San Carlo, Naples and Opera Montpellier) and Jenůfa in Jorge Lavelli’s production for Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile.
Kuznetsova’s notable orchestral engagements include appearances with National Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Radio France, Sydney Symphony, Gulbenkian Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, among others. A keen recitalist and chamber musician, Kuznetsova appeared regularly at both the New York Festival of Song and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She is featured as part of the Music@Menlo series of CDs performing songs by Dvořák, Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff. She has performed at numerous chamber music festivals throughout the country, including La Jolla Music Festival, LaMusica in Sarasota and Moab Music Festival.
As a recitalist, she was praised by New York Concert Review: “Six Romances, Op. 38, of Rachmaninoff were given dramatic, projective performances by world-class singer Dina Kuznetsova, with Mr. Tchaidze.” San Francisco Chronicle said of her recital: “Soprano Dina Kuznetsova, accompanied by Derek Han, was a splendid soloist, singing with fervor and beautifully judging the small hall’s acoustics—each vocal attack was scaled for maximum impact without a hint of oversinging.”
Kuznetsova is a long-standing member of New York Festival of Song Artist Council. Kuznetsova joined the CIM faculty in 2018.
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.
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.”
Catherine Weidner is a professor in the Schol of Music, Theatre & Dance at Ithaca College. She is a teacher, professional director and actor. She served as Chair from 2013-2021, and as Interim Director of Ithaca College’s London Center in 2021-2022.
Her professional directing includes multiple seasons for Theater at Monmouth in Maine, including Two Gentlemen of Verona, Othello, As You Like It, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. For the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, she served as Voice and Text Coach for Joe Calarco’s Shakespeare’s R&J, and appeared on stage in Little Women, Third and Other Desert Cities.. Other professional credits include directing a one-person Henry V for Austin Shakespeare, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma for Nebraska Repertory Theatre; Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, and Merry Wives of Windsor for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and Or, by Liz Duffy Adams at Caffeine Theatre in Chicago. For Ithaca College, she has directed Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Company and Cabaret. As an Equity actress she has worked at The Kennedy Center in A Streetcar Named Desire with Patricia Clarkson, Amy Ryan and Noah Emmerich, directed by Garry Hynes; at Center Stage in Baltimore in Blithe Spirit, and Mary Stuart; and at Arena Stage in Washington, DC in The Heidi Chronicles, directed by Tazewell Thompson. Her film credits include The Night House featuring Rebecca Hall, There is a Hole in the Ground by Aidan Cronin, and One by Le Wang. She has worked at The Guthrie Theater under Garland Wright, Theatre de la Jeune Lune under John Clark Donahue, the La Jolla Playhouse under Des McAnuff, and with Bread & Puppet with Peter Schuman. She holds a BFA in Acting from Ithaca College and an MFA in Directing from the University of Minnesota, and trained at Complicite in London, The Second City in Chicago and The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. For ten years she was the Program Director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at the George Washington University, offering a one-year MFA in Classical Acting under the leadership of Michael Kahn. From 2007- 2013 she taught Classical Acting and Heightened Text at The Theatre School at DePaul University, where she served as Head of BFA Acting. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC). Related writing projects include: an iambic pentameter adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel The Woodlanders, a comic operetta libretto of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s masterpiece The Rivals, and an adaptation of George Eliot’s novel Silas Marner for families and young audiences.
Sara Whale attended the Juilliard School before joining Ram Island Dance and the Maine State Ballet where she performed, taught and choreographed for both Portland, Maine based companies. During her career she has performed dance works by Charles Weidman, George Balanchine, Linda MacArthur Miele, Randy James, Daniel McCusker, Jeff Duncan, Dan Wagoner, Buffy Miller and Doug Varone. She has been the recipient of grants for choreographic and educational development in dance from the Maine Community Foundation, Maine Arts Commission, The Libra Foundation and The King Foundation. Sara moved to Cleveland in 2007 after earning a BFA in Graphic Design from Pacific Northwest College of Art. As a proud member of the Cleveland dance community she has choreographed, taught and performed with Meg Louise Dance, Dancing Wheels, Marquis Dance Project, Ohio City Theatre Project, the annual Playhouse Square Dance Showcase, Great Lakes Theatre and Verb Ballets. Sara has been an Assistant Professor of Dance at Baldwin Wallace University since 2010, where she teaches all levels of ballet and modern dance technique, Improvisation and Choreography, Dance Pedagogy, and directs fyoo zh en, the annual dance concert, and the Testing Ground Series which features danceworks-in-progress and text/movement based performances.
Kevin Wilson is a master voice teacher, clinician, and 21st-century vocal
pedagogue. His teaching is influenced by over 18+ years of study of
anatomy and physiology, historical pedagogies, voice and speech, and
acting. Kevin joined the Boston Conservatory's voice faculty in 2008 and is
the Director of Vocal Pedagogy and is an Associate Professor of Voice. He
teaches applied voice for musical theater and vocal performance students,
as well as the courses Structure and Function of the Singing Mechanism,
Vocal Pedagogy, and Applied Teaching Practicum. He also serves as
director of the Conservatory's annual Vocal Pedagogy Professional
Workshop and as an instructor in the Musical Theater Dance Intensive and
Kevin’s students have performed in venues ranging from the Metropolitan
Opera, Chicago Lyric, New York City Opera, Handel and Haydn Society,
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Baroque, Oregon and Carmel Bach
Festivals, to off-Broadway and regional theaters and tours throughout the
world. His current and previous students have appeared in
Broadways; Moulin Rouge, A Bronx Tale, Cats, Beautiful, Kinky
Boots, Gigi, Rocky, Mamma Mia, Once, Dr. Zhivago, Hamilton, Lion
King, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, The Bands Visit,
Cinderella, Avenue Q, Evita, School House Rock, and Pipe Dream. As well
as numerous national tours including Once (1st and 2nd National
Tour) Chicago, Camelot, Wicked(1st and 2nd National Tour), Hamilton,
Frozen, On Your Feet, Cinderella, Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia, Peter and the
Star Catcher, A Chorus Line, Shrek, Rent, West Side Story, Evita, and
many more. His students appeared in Grease: Live and in the new West
Side Story movie to be released this Fall. His students have been finalists
and winners in the Tafelmusik Baroque Competition, Metropolitan Opera
Auditions, the NATS Boston/National Voice Competitions, and received
multiple prestigious regional nominations and awards for performance.
Kevin travels the world as a clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer and gives
master classes and lectures on vocal health and musical theater and
classical pedagogies. He often lectures on Genre Fluid Singing™ and
Changing the Filter ™ discussing how to prepare students to vocally make
adjustments for a variety of singing opportunities from Classical to
Contemporary Musical Theater. He has presented at National Association
for Teachers of Singing National Conference, and the Pan European Voice
Conference, In addition to over 100 Masterclasses, he has been an artist in
residence with Arizona State University, Columbia College, and Southern
Arkansas University. In 2019 he received the honor of being named Master
Teacher for the prestigious National Association for Teachers of Singing
He holds a Masters in Vocal Pedagogy from the New England Conservatory
and the Bachelors of Music in Voice from the University of Central
Oklahoma. He continued his music studies at the University of Missouri
Kansas City Conservatory, in vocal anatomy and physiology at Boston
University Sargent School of Health, and studies in voice and speech with
Kristin Linklater and Catherine Fitzmaurice.
In addition to this teaching at Boston Conservatory, he teaches graduate
Vocal Pedagogy at Boston University, voice at Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (M.I.T.) and was previously on the voice faculty at the American
Repertory Theater at Harvard, Marymount Manhattan College, and Brown
University. He maintains private studios in Boston and New York City.