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

College arts expertise. Extraordinary passion.

Halley Shefler

Founder & President

After 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.

Halley is a Professional Member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association).

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Shaun Ramsay

Vice President

With over 15 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 advising, academic planning, 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, and is an alumnus of the New England Conservatory Prep division.

Shaun is a Professional Member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association).

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Ari Strasser Headshot

Ariel Strasser

Vice President, Artistic Programs

Ari 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 her second album, Motivation, was released in October 2018. See more at

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Hannah Uher

Director of Program Operations & Client Relations

Hannah Uher joined ArtsBridge in 2018 as Director of Program Operations & Client Relations. In this role she is involved in all planning aspects for ArtsBridge Summer programs, workshops, and ArtsBridge Artistic Assessments, as well as supporting students and families working with ArtsBridge on the college consulting process. A Marietta, Georgia native, Hannah is a recent graduate of Brandeis University where she double majored in Theater Arts and History. At Brandeis she gained significant experience as a stage manager, with credits including Fefu and Her Friends, Intimate Apparel, Leveling Up, and Macbeth. For her senior thesis, Hannah created a set design for a new play, Lucid, that explored environmentally conscious and sustainable design in theater.

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Jeannette Guillemin

Senior Portfolio & Visual Arts Admissions Consultant

Jen’s passion is to help people identify and focus personal values, creative interests and unique gifts in order to achieve their educational, professional and personal goals. With a background in arts leadership, counseling and teaching, Jen has 20 years of experience in recruitment, admissions, portfolio development and academic leadership in higher education. She has mentored thousands of student-artists and has spearheaded many arts initiatives at the BU College of Fine Arts, serving as inaugural director of arts leadership and innovation, interim director of the BU School of Visual Arts and as founding director of the BU Visual Arts Summer Institute, a pre-college arts program for high school students. Her professional collaborations have led her to teach in prisons and homeless shelters, to create community engaged projects in Boston and to publish research on cultural entrepreneurship and the creative economy. Co-founder of a startup, Creative Re/Frame, she works with educational institutions, municipalities and organizations to strategically integrate arts and creativity for powerful impact. She teaches courses in leadership and cultural entrepreneurship at Boston University and presents widely, most recently on the TEDx stage, on the topics of arts, business and social impact. Jen holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Geneseo and master’s degrees in both Arts Administration and Counseling from Boston University.

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Matt Denis

Essay & Writing Consultant

Matt Denis received his BA 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, Carolina Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, and more. He lives in Iowa with his wife Katie, dogs Yuni and Beau, and cat Scout.

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Clarice Sobon

Performing & Visual Arts Research Assistant

Clarice is a Chico, California native where she worked with the Blue Room Theatre company and Laxson Auditorium. In 2018 She received her BA in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in directing and dramaturgy from University of California San Diego. While there she had the honor of working on the graduate production of A Raisin in the Sun and The Amelia Project: a new play in development. She is thrilled to join the ArtsBridge team and put her research skills to use in her role as Performing and Visual Arts Research Assistant.

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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.

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.

Michelle Chassé, Head of Musical Theater Dance, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

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 CandideThe 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.

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 (, 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 (, 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, Associate Teaching Professor of Music Theater, Carnegie Mellon 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.

Sandy Faison, Neighborhood Playhouse

Sandy Faison is a graduate of The Neighborhood Playhouse, where she studied with Sanford Meisner  She holds a BA from Hamilton College and a Master’s degree from NYU’s Steinhardt School Of Education.  On Broadway, she created the role of Grace Farrell in ANNIE and was in the original companies of Is There Life After High School? by Craig Carnelia and Charlie and Algernon by Charles Strouse, as well as the award winning Broadway revival of You Can't Take It With You opposite Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst and NP graduate Elizabeth Wilson. Her numerous regional theater credits include leading roles at Hartford Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse and The Folger Theater in Washington. In film she worked with directors Sidney Lumet (Prince of The City), Michael Chapman (All The Right Moves starring Tom Cruise), and Alan Pakula (The Sterile Cuckoo, starring Liza Minelli).  On television, she had starring roles in two soap operas: The Guiding Light and The Edge of Night. She had a recurring role on NBC’s The Days and Nights Of Molly Dodd, and was a regular on the first season of ABC’s Anything But Love, starring Jamie Leigh Curtis and Richard Lewis. Her many guest star appearances include roles on Quantum Leap, Scarecrow and Mrs King, The Wonder Years, Grace Under Fire, CoachPros and Cons (with James Earl Jones), Party Of Five, Eight in Enough among many others. She has produced original works in Los Angeles, ( LA Times Critics Choice Award ), off-Broadway,  and at the Goodspeed Opera House. For the past 13 years, Sandy has been an acting teacher at LaGuardia High School Of Music and Art and Performing Arts (The Fame School). In 2010, Ms. Faison became the coordinator of the Theater Department at LaGuardia. In 2011, she became the head of both drama and technical theater and in 2014 was promoted to Assistant Principal of Theater. During her tenure at LaGuardia she has produced over 39 plays, musicals, talent shows, and industry showcases. Ms. Faison coaches actors privately in NYC and is honored to teach an annual workshop at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Sandy is the Artistic Director for ArtsBridge Summer Musical Theater 2.

Roger Grodsky, Professor of Musical Theatre, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Roger Grodsky is a tenured professor of musical theater at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and is the musical director and vocal coach for CCM’s musical theatre training program. He has served as musical director and conductor for CCM's productions of Oklahoma!PassionSpring AwakeningHello AgainAnything GoesTwo Gentlemen of VeronaWonderful TownThe Pajama GameCabaretOn the TownThe Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Boys from SyracuseSongs for a New World, CandideDracula: The Game of Love (world premiere), Grand HotelMy One and OnlyMan of La ManchaThe Secret GardenThe Hot MikadoCyrano and Babes in Arms, among others. Grodsky has also supervised CCM’s frequent appearances with the Cincinnati Pops (Erich Kunzel and John Morris Russell, conductors). Their collaboration, Patriotic Broadway, was televised nationally on PBS and a CD was recently released of the Pops’ Superheroes! Concert. He created and directed CCM’s widely praised production The Revue Review and has published the first in a series of articles for The Absolute Sound entitled “Golden Age Broadway Musicals on Record.” While on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory, he conducted Sweet CharityThe Human ComedyNineGrand HotelRuddigoreAssassins and High Button Shoes. For six years he served as musical director for Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Grodsky has conducted national tours of CabaretMy Fair Lady and Hello, Dolly! As well as The Most Happy Fella with the original Broadway revival lead, Spiro Malas. For several summers he has worked for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization in New York City on the restoration of select shows (including The King and IOklahoma!, Too Many Girls and The Boys from Syracuse), many of which were performed around the world in honor of Richard Rodgers’ centennial birthday celebration in 2002-2003. In 2003, he adjudicated America’s Junior Miss, which was broadcast nationally. In 2009, he presented a paper about his restoration work at the Song, Stage and Screen IV Conference in Washington, D.C.

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, Professor of Voice, USC Thornton School of Music

Lynn Helding is Professor of Practice in Vocal Pedagogy at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music. 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.

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.

Lise Houlton, Minnesota Dance Theater, Artistic Director

A native of Minneapolis, best known for her effortless, fluid style and dramatic sensibility, began her dance career with MDT, then moved at the age of 19 to the world renowned Stuttgart Ballet under the leadership of Glen Tetley. After joining American Ballet Theatre, she danced principal roles and worked closely with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, Gelsey Kirkland, Kevin McKenzie and others.
Gary Kline

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!

Mark Madama, Associate Professor of Musical Theatre, University of Michigan

Before starting his tenure at Michigan, Madama worked as a director, writer, and actor throughout the world. He has been one of the resident directors at Music Theatre of Wichita for over twenty years. He has also worked regionally at such theatres as The Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, Studio Ensemble Theatre in New York, Casa Manana Musical Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Theatre Under The Stars, Kansas City Starlight, Theatre Memphis, and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. Madama’s production of Tintypes, in which he played a leading role as well as directing, was awarded “Best Production” at the Dundalk International Theatre Festival in Dundalk, Ireland, with Madama awarded “Best Director” honors as well. His Tintypes also had the honor of representing the United States as the first American theatrical production to be presented in the Eastern block countries of Czechoslovakia and Poland after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Madama co-authored a new version of the 1927 musical Good News!, which has now been performed in over three hundred theaters in the United States, plus numerous international productions. He also wrote the book for the musical White Cliffs of Dover, which toured throughout the U.S. for over two years. Madama has had the opportunity to teach master classes in many of the top performing arts studios, high schools, and universities throughout the country, and continues to coach many professionals on upcoming auditions.

Joe Olivieri, Head of Acting, UCLA

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, Assistant Conductor, Wicked on 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.

Bruce Roach, Senior Lecturer, BFA Actor Training, University of Minnesota

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, 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.

Ingrid Sonnichsen, Artist Lecturer in Acting, Carnegie Mellon University

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, 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.

Catherine A. Walker, Associate Professor of Musical Theatre, University of Michigan

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, 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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