Were you in A Winnie-The-Pooh Christmas Tail? Since this is the 25th year of Pooh Bear at VYT, we are looking for all of our past alumni from A Winnie-The-Pooh Christmas Tail.
If you are a current alum of Valley Youth Theatre or if you'd simply like to make a donation please make your selection below.
After graduating from college at Texas Christian University with degrees in Journalism and Spanish, I worked as a news reporter for two years for CBS in the Texas/Oklahoma region. Then God answered a huge prayer and blessed me with the role of studio manager at Seacrest Studios, the tv and radio station at the children’s hospital in Dallas with the Ryan Seacrest Foundation! I work on mission every day to bring joy to patients through fun, therapeutic tv programming and I use the skills I developed at VYT every day!
I was in seven different shows at VYT, my first at 8 years old in 2004. In addition to shows throughout the years, I also participated in the youth theatre troupe, Playmakers, and the teen volunteer organization, VYTeens. More than anything, I consistently stayed and continue to stay connected to the VYT staff and friends I made there, people who have become family!
Alana graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Master’s Degree in English. She sang throughout her undergraduate studies and acted in a few independent films. She holds many memories from VYT close to her heart her experience began in the late 1980's or early 1990's as the White Rabbit in ALICE AND WONDERLAND, a role she returned to in a later VYT production. Her favorite role was Lucy in VYT’s first production of THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. She was involved in numerous other productions until 1997 including ANNIE, SLEEPING BEAUTY, and CINDERELLA, participated in VYTeens and sang in the touring group.
VYT Shows: 1990-1991 Alice in Wonderland 1991-1992 Sleeping Beauty 1991-1992 Alice in Wonderland 1992-1993 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 1993-1994 Annie 1993-1994 Cinderella 1995-1996 Little Women
A graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University, she is currently living in New York City and is pursuing an acting career. She has appeared in numerous shows, films, and TV pilots. "Special thanks to everyone at VYT for inspiring me to pursue my love of performing."
THE WIZARD OF OZ(Ensemble) and THE SOUND OF MUSIC (Sister Sophia) both at the Herberger Theatre Center. She also appeared as Deborah Sue in BYE BYE BIRDIE.
After VYT, performed in Chicago at Phoenix Theatre then attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. Recent credits include the nat'l and int'l tours of Dora the Explorer Live! (Isa) and Go Diego Go Live! (Bobo). She is a proud member of Actors Equity Association. Alessia recently recorded an album for Kid Concoctions with the pop group NFUSION Music videos to be aired nationally on PBS beginning this christmas season.
For more on her adventures check out www.AlessiaThompson.com.
Dorothy in The Wiz at the Herberger, Dina in Schoolhouse Rock Live!, Apache Dancer in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Was in VYT's first ANNIE production at The Herberger Theater Center in 1997. Other VYT shows include CINDERELLA, GREASE, and THE WIZARD OF OZ. Recent roles include wrangling child actors in THE LION KING on Broadway and playing the Wicked Witch of the West in THE WIZARD OF OZ in Philadelphia.
Attended The University of the Arts where he appeared in many faculty, senior and student choreography shows working with such chorographers as Christopher Huggins, Roni Koresh, Scott Jovovich (Fosse Original Cast) and local Philadelphian Dance Company Brain Sanders' Junk. Alex will be graduating May 2005 with a BFA in Jazz Dance Performance with Honors.
Alex has appeared as Alonzo/Understudy Munkustrap with Troika Entertainment's North American tour of CATS.
See photos of Alex as Alonzo and Munk in the touring production of CATS.
In the summer of '07 Alex performed in Naked Boys Singing in Provincetown, MA. After that, he performed as Action in the 50th Anniversary European tour of WEST SIDE STORY. He is currently a Swing in the first national tour of A CHORUS LINE.
Alex is proud to have been a part of the Valley Youth Theatre and thanks all involved with the productions he was in for furthering his love of performing.
After Graduating from New School for the Arts and Academics in 2005, Alex moved to Florida to intern with Walt Disney World as a Character Performer and Parade Dancer. Upon returning to Phoenix she performed over the next few years with Nearly Naked Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre, Desert Stages, and Tempe Little Theatre, during which she received 2 ariZoni nominations. Alex then moved to Los Angeles where she took a break from acting to pursue modeling. Most recently she returned from living in Japan where she modeled and wrote for her blog. Next up - New York City! Check out her website and blog at www.alexandrabrewer.com
Alex appeared in THE HOBBIT and CHARLOTTE'S WEB during the 2003-2004 Season at VYT.
Alex shares, "Some of my favorite theatre memories are with VYT as a young actor I learned so much! Such amazing, talented, and wonderful people have been a part of VYT, I'm blessed to have been on that stage."
THE HOBBIT and CHARLOTTE'S WEB 2003-2004 season
Alyson played Belinda Cratchit/Female Ensemble for three seasons with Actors Theatre of Phoenix’s annual production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. In 2007 she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Alyson started acting when she was five years old after watching a Shirley Temple film. Her early training began with the Omaha Theatre Company for Young People, and the Omaha Community Playhouse. She moved to Phoenix in 2001 and her favorite roles include THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Sarah Mae, Phoenix Theatre/Cookie Company), THE MIRACLE WORKER (Helen Keller, Scottsdale Community Players, Maxie Honorable Mention), WAIT UNTIL DARK (Gloria, Tempe Little Theatre, AriZoni nomination), and 102 (Laura, Is What It Is Theatre, original drama). Alyson's VYT credits include CHARLOTTE'S WEB (Ensemble), A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL 2004 (Eeyore), JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (Narrator, AriZoni Nomination), and A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD (Mouse, Squirrel, Mole).
Annie is currently Associate Editor of the Daily News-Sun and Northwest Valley Newspapers, living in El Mirage.
Annie married Adrian Boon (alumni Alana Messinger's cousin!) and several of her bridesmaids and wedding guests were dear VYT friends.
Recently wrapped filming a feature film in Phoenix called Kids in America starring Topher Grace and Anna Faris, produced by Universal and Imagine Entertainment. Annie has the principle role as the Sobbing Girl, and earned her SAG eligibility.
See Annie's IMDb entry.
Her first show at VYT was PINOCCHINO in 1991 playing along side her brother, Sam Karstens (also an alumni). She was part of the "construction crew" that cleared out and built the basement theater at Tower Plaza Mall. Annie continued in VYT plays for more than six years, performing as Anne in ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, Virginia in the CANTERVILLE GHOST and Marty in the very first GREASE.
I'm currently going to school at Emerson College in Boston, MA. I'm pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre.
OLIVER! - Oliver CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY- Charlie THE WIZ - Ensemble JACK AND THE BEANSTALK - Man in the Moon HONK! - Bullfrog A WINNE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL - Eeyore SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK LIVE! - George ALICE IN WONDERLAND- King JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT - Simeon, Levi TITANIC - Stevedore YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN- Linus GREASE - Eugene INTO THE WOODS- Narrator THE WIZARD OF OZ - Uncle Henry/Ozian
After VYT, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from ASU with a BA in Theatre. After that, I travelled doing theatre and ended up living in New York for 5 years and working as an equity actress. Today, I am married with a cute fur baby Lulu and am a full time real estate agent. I still perform occasionally in the Valley and co-host a new theatre podcast, "Chewing the Scenery."
My first show at VYT was Peter Pan in 2000 and I played an Indian. I spent most all of my time in high school at the theatre doing 14 shows, being a member of VYTeens, and interning and teaching at summer camps and after school programs. Favorite roles would include Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, Sally in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown and Babette in Beauty and the Beast (ariZoni Award). Most recently, I directed/choreographed A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail in 2018 and 2019.
Ashley was the lead in THE LITTLE MERMAID at Valley Youth Theatre and is currently pursuing acting roles in LA where she has an agent and a manager.
"Asijah Pickett is honored and excited to be returning to VYT for the VYTal Telethon. She has previously been featured on the Celebrity Cruise Ships as a lead vocalist including their newest billion dollar cruise ship the Celebrity Edge. Asijah has appeared in several musicals and productions around the United States. Credits include
Pippin: Phoenix Theater, Hairspray: Quisisana Resort, and Crazy For You: Hale Center Theatre, just to name a few. Asijah's accomplishments include two National Youth Arts awards for her role as Dorothy in The Wiz and singing as a contestant on the Fox television series American Idol."
Peter Pan The Wiz Annie Hairspray
I graduated from Arizona State University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre and have performed professionally at Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Broadway Theatre, the Medora Musical, Dollywood, and recently got off of Disney Cruise Lines in April of this year!
I performed in Legally Blonde in 2012and Seussical in 2013, as well as dance-captained West Side Story in 2014.
Currently resides in New York City. His most recent role was Cleopatra in Shakespeare's ANTONY and CLEOPATRA. Graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York City, in March of 2006. At AADA, performed in DOLLY WEST'S KITCHEN, MOONCHILDREN, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GENTALMEN, THE SHADOW BOX, THE THREE ANGLES, and BOYS' LIFE.
WEST SIDE STORY, OLIVER!, THE WIZ (both productions, ariZoni award), JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, CINDERELLA, GREASE, A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL, TITANIC (ariZoni award). Also a member of VYT Troupes, Improv, and directed "SNOOPY: THE MUSICAL" at summer camps.
After attending Arizona School for the Arts, Bransen went on to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre at The Boston Conservatory. Upon graduation, he was cast in Maria Friedman's production of MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG at the Huntington Theatre in Boston and became a member of Actors' Equity Association. He currently resides in NYC.
Past VYT shows: 13 The Hobbit Grease A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail Alice in Wonderland Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day Annie Hairspray Freckleface Strawberry
Byron hit the road in September 2007 with the national tour of My Fair Lady, which ended in Tempe at Gammage Auditorium in June 2008. He was in VYT's production of West Side Story.
I graduated from University of Michigan in 2016 for Musical Theatre, and have been very fortunate to perform on and off Broadway for the last 4 years.
Broadway: The Lion King, Off-Broadway: This Ain’t No Disco (ATC), Spamilton (Swing/ Dance Captain). Regional: Pittsburgh CLO; Aida, South Pacific. Go Blue! Ig: i.amandus
Aida, Legally Blonde, The WIZ
A graduate of American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Casey is now a working, professional actor based in New York City. Recently, he starred in professional productions of GREASE, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, PIPPIN and in touring companies of POCHAONTAS and SLEEPY HOLLOW. Casey's first stage experience was as Grandpa Joe in CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY back in 1990. He also starred as the Pied Piper in THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN. (VYT) was the center of my universe for the time I was there. Thank you for helping to plant the theatre seed in my mind so many years ago."
Chad performed with VYT’s Improve Troupe for two seasons, interned and directed at summer camps, and helped start VYTeens and participated in it for three years. He moved to California in 2007 and graduated from San Diego University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, where he majored in public relations. Chad moved to LA to work in the entertainment industry as an actor and public relations specialist. Chad played Toad in VYT’s A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD(AriZoni Award WINNER), the Cat in HONK! (AriZoni Award Nominee), Joe in SCHOO HOUSE ROCK LIVE!, Geppetto in PINOCCHIO (AriZoni Award WINNER), Tweedle Dee in ALICE IN WONDERLAND (AriZoni Award WINNER), The Funky Monkey in THE WIZ, Mike Tee Vee in CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, Fagin's Boy in OLIVER! (AriZoni Award Nominee), Yorick in THE LITTLE MERMAID(AriZoni Award Nominee), and many more!
Since my time at VYT I have performed in shows at the Black Theatre Troupe and Phoenix Theatre. I have directed, stage-managed, choreographed, casted, produced, and more at Black Theatre Troupe and else where in the Phoenix valley, including for a middle school after school program. I have traveled the country as the production manager for One Drop of Love, a one-woman multi-media show that examines the concept of race in America and how it impacts our most intimate relationships. I have also been seen having dynamic talk back discussions on topics of race after the viewing of films or performances. I have received my bachelors, masters, and PhD in Social Work and teach in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University where I am the Associate Dean for Inclusive Design for Equity and Access in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions & a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Social Work. I continue to be engaged with the theatre and arts community and can be heard discussing race and the theater on the AZ based podcast, Sippin' Tea in the Balcony.
The Wizard of Oz (dancer/ensemble) The Wiz (Addapearle) Sound of Music (deck audio) Bye Bye Birdie (stage manager)
Successful television and movie actress, Chelsea starred in the ABC Family (now Freeform) sitcom Baby Daddy as Riley Perrin from 2012 - 2017. She finished in the top 3 during Season 12 of ABC’s DANCING WITH THE STARS and also has many television credits on the Disney Channel, including JONAS as Stella Malone, and The CW. Among her movie credits are BRATZ: THE MOVIE where Chelsea sang two songs on the film’s soundtrack.
Chelsea began her career at VYT as Marta in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. She also performed in PETER PAN, THE WIZ, CINDERELLA, OLIVER!, SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK, TITANIC and her favorite role of all time as Mary Lennox in THE SECRET GARDEN.
I just finished my first year at the University of Texas at Dallas, studying global business (and hopefully minoring in film studies). I also took a voice class last semester and have signed up for the musical theater workshop at UTD next semester.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL(2007), CHARLOTTES WEB (2007), A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL (2003-4), and PINOCCHIO (2004) Backstage crew for CINDERELLA (2008) and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (2006) Keyboardist for INTO THE WOODS (2004)
I am currently living in LA where I have pursued a career in Musical Theater and Film. I recently finished working as a mianstage singer with Disney Cruise Lines as well as performing for a year at the Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan. Since moving to LA I have been featured in various musicals including MISS SAIGON, THE FULL MONTY, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Dames DAMES AT SEA, THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG, THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. I am currently working on making the transition from stage to screen, and intend to focus primarily on film in the future.
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, GREASE and WEST SIDE STORY
Columbus toured with Stomp and as a backup dancer for Britney Spears. He appeared in ER, American Dreams, That's So Raven, and Judging Amy.
Columbus Keith Short recently starred in the feature film Accepted with Justin Long (2006). See the IMDb for more about Accepted. Since doing Accepted Columbus has the done the following:
The Trunk (2009) Sabastian Coltrane
Armored (2009) Ty Hackett
Cadillac Records (2008) Little Walter
Quarantine (2008) Danny Wilensky
This Christmas (2007) Claude Whitfield
Stomp the Yard (2007) DJ
Save the Last Dance 2 (2006) Miles Sultana
Columbus starred at Valley Youth Theatre as The Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
Cooper currently lives in NYC and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association. A native of Scottsdale, Arizona, Cooper loves singing, pizza and making new friends. He also holds his BFA in Musical Theatre from The University if Arizona.
Some credits include: Newsies, Spring Awakening, Bat Boy, Avenue Q, The Little Mermaid, The Fantasticks, Urinetown and many others.
Cooper was most recently seen on the largest cruise ship in the world: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas in Hairspray as Link Larkin and soared above audiences in Flight: Dare to Dream.
Cinderella - 2008 AIDA - 2008 Peter Pan - 2009 Charlie Brown - 2009 Grease - 2010 Pinkalicious ASM - 2010 Pooh - 2010 Annie - 2011 Hairspray - 2011
Courtney is the General Counsel of The LIVEKINDLY Company, a New York-based global plant-based food start-up. Previously, she was the Associate General Counsel - Litigation for global consumer goods company Unilever, where she worked for seven and a half years, and prior to that she worked at two New York City law firms for almost a decade. Courtney graduated from New York University with a B.A. in political science and creative writing in 2000, and from Georgetown University Law Center with a J.D. in 2003. She was editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Law Weekly, senior articles editor and line editor of the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, published in the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, recipient of the Michael Feldman Advocacy Award, and student member of the admissions committee. She has a daughter, Oakley, born in 2007, who she is raising in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC
Courtney played Doc in VYT’s very first production, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. Her other favorite roles include Giant's housekeeper in JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, lead female in RUMPELSTILTSKIN, the Witch in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, and Jo in LITTLE WOMEN. Courtney also stage managed many shows and directed AFTER THE BALL:THE SEARCH FOR CINDERELLA while still in high school. She was regularly involved in VYT from 1989-1996 and served as president of VYTeens.
Since doing theatre with VYT:
-Arizona State Champion in Duo-Acting and National Finalist in Drama (Speech and Debate)
-Scholarship recipient to the USC School of Theatre
-Received Phi Beta Kappa at USC and double-majored in Theatre and Psychology, minored in Mathematics and Comparative Literature
-Made her feature film debut as a high school fan-fiction writer in the award-winning dark comedy CYXORK 7 with Ray Wise and Paget Brewster
-Has starred in several other independent features with Debi Mazar, Leslie Ann Warren, and John Heard
-Currently does animation voiceover (has voiced many cartoon characters)
-Also runs a Los Angeles based academic tutoring company in which she has helped students attain 2400s on their SATs, gain admission to Ivy League schools, and ace a wide range of high school and college level courses
-Currently resides in Westwood, CA with her maltese Sorsha and is an avid yoga practitioner and a vegan.
Played Stepsister Joy in CINDERELLA (1997)
Lately, I have been busy running my new Web Design and Social Media Business. I started it from the ground 2 years ago and now work full time for myself providing affordable media and marketing services to local businesses around Arizona! Thanks for having me, this has been a fun project during Quarantine.
Annie, Hairspray, VYGlee
Danya is a recent graduate from Boston University with a BFA in theatre arts, where she specialized in acting, directing, and writing. Danya currently resides in New York City where she is working hard at her career in film and television. Danya is involved with a lot of comedy in the city, including doing a lot of improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Past VYT credits include WIND IN THE WILLOWS (Rat), A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL(Kanga), and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY(Mrs. Salt).
He now lives in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife and son.
Though having left theatre to pursue a career in software development, Dave's times with VYT are among his most cherished memories. Introduced to theatre by fellow alumni Joel Cranson to serve as Stage Manager for a production of THE WIZARD OF OZ, he returned again for a second trip down the Yellow Brick Road at the Herberger Theater.
David moved to southern California in 2003 and has never stopped acting, performing in six plays a year. His California credits include THE PRODUCERS, THE HOBBIT, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, PICASSO AT THE LAPINE AGILE, THE LYING KIND, NOISES OFF, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, ROCKY HORROR SHOW SANTA CLAUSE CONQURES THE MARTAINS, TAMING OF THE SHREW, STAR WARS: A NEW MUSICAL and THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPERE ABRIDGED. He has directed several shows and is a proud member of Improv Shmimprov (www.shmimprov.com). Dave started performing with VYT in 1996 in WEST SIDE STORY. In PETER PAN he played Mr. Darling and a pirate, and his performance as Willy Wonka still has children laughing. He won an AriZoni award for his direction of VYT's THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES in 2001. VYT audiences best know Dave for his portrayal of the lecherous disc jockey Vince Fontaine in all three productions of GREASE (1997, 2001, 2004). He won an AriZoni for HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINES WITHOUT REALLY TRYING and three Maxie awards for Best Up and Comer, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Direction of a Comedy.
All-Star and Collegiate Cheerleader. Just finished competing Feb 2011.
Attended The Art Institute of Phoenix for Fashion Marketing 2007-2011.
QSpeak Theater in Phoenix 2008-2010
Currently reside in Austin, TX pursuing to work in film specializing in costume/wardrobe/styling & set dressing. Getting a styling company started with a partner called OverDosed Styling.
Improv Troupe (2003-2004) ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2003 - Frog Footman, Executioner) CHARLOTTE'S WEB (2003 - Ensemble, Uncle) PINNOCHIO (2004 - Bernado the Baker) Costume Assistant for JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT & TITANIC
Equity Stage & Screen Actor based in New York. Credits include Disney, Netflix, and Off-Broadway. Producing, writing, and directing, for fun.
Cats NARNIA Joseph Bye bye birdie Cinderella
Lizzy enjoys raw food, healing, singing, school, loving life, growing, learning, LOVING.
CINDERELLA, WIZARD OF OZ, ANNIE, SECRET GARDEN (tech)
Off-Off Broadway- Blossom Squiggy & The Goldfish, International - Celia As You Like It (Italy), The University of the Arts - Hattie Laundry & Bourbon, Penny You Can't Take it With You, Featured Einstein’s Dreams (NY Workshop), Ensemble Wit and Athena Fire of the Gods. Film Credits include Roxxxanne Kingdom of Rock Diane Betrayal. Upcoming: Affordable Apartment. B.F.A. Musical Theatre, The University of the Arts.
The Wiz, Honk!, Grease, Bye Bye Birdie, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
I graduated from ASU with a BM in Musical Theatre in 2018 and moved to New York City January 2019. I have been performing around the country in various summer stocks since 2015 and I most recently performed at The Phoenix Theatre Company as Liesl in The Sound of Music, and in the Ensemble of the new musical, Americano!
I have done 4 shows at VYT. Ensemble in Shrek 13', Ensemble/Dance Captain in Seussical 13', Velma in West Side Story 14' and Lucinda in Into The Woods 15'. I also assistant choreographed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2015.
Emily graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson with a major in Fine Arts and minor in Sociology and Journalism. She has an amazing dog named Juno and is in a band called A&M and working on a demo. Emily appeared in VYT’s production of ANNIE, played Lucy in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, Snoopy in YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN, and Marty in GREASE.
Emily is employed by Disney Cruise Lines as a main-stage entertainer and is close to her good friends Cinderella and Snow White, along with several other Disney favorites. She was featured as one of the "Doo-Wop" girls in VYT's 2001 production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, followed by THE WIZ in 2002, CINDERELLA, and TITANIC, which received an AriZoni Nomination. Emily has also performed with other local theatre companies, including Phoenix Theatre, Tempe Little Theatre and Gilbert's Hale Theatre. She toured Italy with a production of Caterina's Son.
In November 2014, Emma Stone made her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in CABARET, but her acting roots took hold at age 11 as Otter in VYT’s THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS (2000). She was in 16 other shows including TITANIC (2003), CINDERELLA (2002), OLIVER! (2001) and three productions of A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL (2000-2002).
Emma's past show credits with VYT (as Emily Stone) include Otter in The Wind in the Willows (ariZoni Nomination and Drama Beat Award), two seasons as Eeyore in A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail (ariZoni Nomination), Old Queen Maude in The Princess and the Pea (ariZoni Award), Portia in Cinderella (ariZoni Award, Maxie Honorable Mention), and ensemble roles in both productions of The Wiz. Emma's most recent VYT credits include Stewardess Robinson in Titanic Dot and Mother Swan in Honk! Rabbit in A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail Great Mother in The Little Mermaid Dori in Schoolhouse Rock Live! Tweedledum in Alice in Wonderland Ensemble/Wives in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Since my time at VYT, I attended university where I received my B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology. I then received my M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Along the way I was able to intern at incredible places like the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.
These days, when I'm not working, I enjoy cooking a new recipe, tinkering with some electronics, or doing something active outdoors.
Hairspray (Ensemble), The Wiz (The Wiz), Legally Blonde: The Musical (Ensemble), How I Became a Pirate (Sharktooth)
Ian M White is an actor and producer based out of Los Angeles. He got his BFA from NYU Drama with a minor in producing. Favorite roles include: Billy Grey in Edward Albee's 'The Goat or Who is Sylvia' as well as originating the role of Brian in Steve Yockey's play, 'Mercury'. At age 21, Ian produced his first feature film, Kill the Monsters. It premiered at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco to a sold out crowd at the historic Castro Theater. That film played at 12 festivals around the world and was recently sold to Breaking Glass Pictures for distribution! Earlier this year, his short film PERFIDY. was released - of which he wrote, produced, and starred in! Ian is very passionate about making art for and about the LGBTQIA+ community and hopes to make the world a more beautiful and loving place in doing so! Ian is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and Actor's Equity Association!
Little Shop of Horrors - 2008 Seussical the Musical - 2009 Annie - 2011 Hairspray - 2011
Since VYT have had the opportunity to perform some of my favorite roles all around the country, TiMoune in Once on this Island, Sarah in Ragtime (three times) and Amy in Rock the Presidents. Currently, I work as a concert vocalist and I stay home during the day with my two daughters.
I performed in several shows at Valley Youth Theatre including CATS, Little Shop of Horrors, Aida and High School Musical. Behind the scenes I worked as a dresser on even MORE shows Like Grease, Joseph (twice and), Cinderella (twice) and Beauty and the Beast in conjunction with Phoenix Theatre.
I played Dainty June in a production of Gypsy at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL. It stars Patti Lupone as Mama Rose and Jessica Boevers as Louise. Directed by Lonny Price, Musical Direction by Paul Gemignani.
See a photo of Jen in Gypsy with Patti Lupone.
Otherwise, I will be a senior Musical Theatre major at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (CCM) in Cincinnati... graduating in March! woo hoo! Then off to New York City...
VYT credits include Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Milkmaid in Oliver, Ensemble of Grease, Stepmother in Cinderella, Ida Strauss in Titanic.
Brita Filter is the Moana of Manhattan. From the Big Island to the Big Apple, this curvy, fierce queen fuses campy drag with uptown funk. Lighting up the stages of New York City every night of the week, Brita has developed her signature “anything but pure” style - putting a naughty twist on otherwise innocent topics.
Prior to her meteoric rise to drag superstardom, Brita grew up as a child performer named Jesse Havea in Phoenix, AZ performing on many valley stages including Valley Youth Theatre, Childsplay and the Phoenix Theatre Company. Eventually Jesse studied acting at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and began performing in various regional and national productions.
Jesse landed the role of a stepsister in the musical production of Cinderella and on the last night he met a girl named "Brita" and decided to make "Brita Filter" his stage name. He then returned to New York City and started his journey as Brita Filter!
In 2018, Brita won the Best Host three times and the Entertainer of the Year awards at the Annual Glam Awards. She has performed alongside Katy Perry on Saturday Night Live and Alan Cumming on Broad City and, of course, most recently competed in season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race placing 9th overall in the competition with is currently nominated for 13 Emmy Awards.
Cinderella The Wiz Titanic Beauty & The Beast
I am currently in L.A. and have been on CRIMINAL MINDS, Disney, Nickelodeon, and done several voiceovers for new movie ENDERS GAME and a new animated project on Nickelodeon.
THE HOBBIT WILLY WONKA PINKALICIOUS ALICE IN WONDERLAND
McClean studied at Southern Utah University (home of the Utah Shakespearean Festival) on a one-year Shakespeare performance scholarship. When the money dried up, Joe moved to NJ and worked as a carpenter while finding his way into the NJ and NYC theater scene. During this time, he was chosen to study at the Royal National Theater studio program in London, England, and spent two years on the road acting in U.S. national touring children's theater.
His love for movies brought him to LA in 2005 where he started Red and Tan Productions with Sarju Patel, premiering his first feature film THAT FALL (written, produced, and starring McClean) in 2006 at the Dances With Films Film Festival. Red and Tan’s award-winning, stylized-comedy, “MONEY PLEASE!” about the fall of the American economy, played a dozen film festivals in 2009, and went on to appear in place of coming attractions for the film THE COMPANY MEN at Cinebarre Theaters in 5 U.S. cities. Red and Tan's short film TRAVESTY (written and produced by McClean) garnered film festival nominations for Best Dramatic Short Film and Best Actor in a Short Film. Other shorts written and directed by McClean are COFFEE CONNECTION, ANOTHER DAY, SWITCHAROO, JUST ANOTHER JOE, BOY TALK, and HOW TO MAKE A DAVID LYNCH FILM.
LIFE TRACKER, McClean's first feature film as writer and director, starring another VYT alumn, Matt Dallas, will be released on October 15th, 2013.
At Valley Youth theatre, Joe participated in PRINCESS AND THE PEA(1997), JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (1997).
With a BA in theatre from Grand Canyon University, Joel has also been seen in such shows as NOISES OFF(Lloyd), BUS STOP(Dr. Lyman), KING LEAR (Kent), and as Scrooge in the Amlin Gray adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
His most recent involvement with VYT was as Monsieur D'Arque (the asylum owner) in Valley Youth's collaboration with Phoenix Theatre Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. He also had the honor of understudying Stuart Ambrose's role of the Beast.
"Thank you, VYT, for continuing to make young people's dreams come true on stage."
Joel's first experience with VYT was at age 16 when he was cast as the Scarecrow in the 1996 production of THE WIZARD OF OZ. He went on to do other VYT shows such as CINDERELLA (King), ANNIE (Rooster), A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TALE (Tigger), and BYE, BYE, BIRDIE (The first show in the new Valley Youth Theatre Fall of 1999).
After her time at VYT, Jordin became the youngest winner in American Idol history at 17 and released a self-titled debut album that went platinum. Her music career took her around the country in a whirlwind tour of one award show after another, winning titles including Overall Spotlight Winner in the Gospel Music Association in Washington, D.C., Alice Cooper's Proof is in the Pudding Contest in Phoenix and placed in numerous other national contests.
Jordin received a Grammy nomination in 2008 for “No Air”. She went on to star in the Broadway casts of In the Heights in 2010 and Waitress on Broadway in 2019. She first appeared with Valley Youth Theatre as a Poppy and an Emerald City dancer in The Wiz in March of 2002. She appeared in Cinderella at the Herberger Theater Center in June of 2002 and again when Valley Youth Theatre staged The Wiz there in August.
Juan’s first audition and show for VYT was for the 2002 production of CINDERELLA, cast as the role of Coachman/ Guard. Following CINDERELLA he was cast as Emerald City/ Ensemble in the 2003 production of THE WIZ. Later that summer Juan was a counselor for VYT’s summer camp. After performing with VYT, Juan went on performing at other community theaters. In 2006 Juan then sang and played the violin with ASU Mariachi for two and a half years, also performing at the Mariachi Conference in Tucson, Arizona with Pedro Fernandez and Linda Ronstadt. Now, Juan is attending College America to get his associates degree for Medical Specialties he will be graduating in April of 2013.
CINDERELLA (2002 - Coachmen, Guard) THE WIZ (2003 - Emerald City, Ensemble)
Currently, I am a student at ASU studying Global Management. I graduate this Spring 2018! I plan to pursue my Master's degree in the fall at Thunderbird School of Global Management. When I'm not at school, I work at Free Arts for Abused Children of AZ in Downtown Phoenix.
I performed in Princess & the Pea as Princess Minerva and in Charlotte's Web as the Sheep. My time at VYT was one of the most wonderful and formative experiences of my youth!
Originally from Chandler, Katie currently resides in Dallas, Texas pursuing a career in Public Relations at The Richards Group. Her mantra, "Tiny but mighty," powers her attack to communication challenges of any size with tenacity, determination, and extra inch of compassion.
Before joining The Richards Group, she spent five years in Los Angeles working on the Emmy Award-winning television show, Extra, and is a proud graduate of Pepperdine University and certified in dispute resolutions by the Strauss Institute. With a heart for service, Katie serves multiple nonprofits and loves to travel the world, proving that even small things can make a big impact.
Main Stage Productions: Molly in Annie (2004), Piglet in A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail (2004), Lollipop Guild Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz (2005), Child Ensemble in Beauty and the Beast (2006), Lucy Pevensie in Narnia (2007), Ensemble in 13 (2009) Playmakers Troupe: Little Red Riding Hood and Gretel in Fairytale Courtroom, Ugly in Honk Jr., Little Lucy in The Orphan Train
I am married to Joe Casey, also a VYT alumni. We live in Denver, CO with our three sons (Aiden, Quinn and Rory). I currently teach Visual Arts part time and just installed a dance studio in my home. It inspired me to recently launched an online dance studio called Cartwheel (fun + accessible dance lessons for all). I love VYT!!
I have done numerous shows: performing, directing and choreographing! A few of my favorites include: The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Secret Garden, and Peter Pan.
Katie really enjoyed her time at VYT, it is a great place to learn to be confident and be responsible.
She went on to do film around the valley. She also spent some time traveling around the US to work at Renaissance Faires.
Currently she is managing attractions in the Scottsdale area.
"Thank you VYT for all the opportunities"
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Oompa Loompa), PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (Peasant) Backstage: THE HOBBIT, PRINCESS AND THE PEA, BYE BYE BIRDIE
While I was still in high school, I worked for Phoenix Theatre in three of their contracted plays: PICNIC, I LOVE A PIANO (ariZoni nomination) and BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS. In the fall of 2006, I moved to St. Louis, Missouri to pursue my B.F.A. degree in Musical Theatre at Webster University's Musical Theatre Conservatory in the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.
My first show at VYT was the fairy tale BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I also performed in TITANIC (ariZoni nomination), ANNIE, GREASE, INTO THE WOODS, THE WIZARD OF OZ (ariZoni award) and Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEASE (ariZoni Award).
Kendell moved to California with her family in 2000 and attended Idyllwild Arts Academy, a boarding high school for the performing arts. From there she attended Marymount Manhattan College in New York City majoring in Theatre Arts Producing and Management, with a minor in Arts Administration. In 2009 she received her Professional Degree in Arts Administration from New York University. Kendell has worked as the Press Associate for Theatre and Arts with Springer Associates Public Relations, Marketing and Press Assistant at AllStars Youth Arts Center, Producers Assistant to a Tony Award winning Broadway Producer, and Development Associate with NYC's TADA! Youth Theatre. Kendell is currently the Group Sales Manager at New Jersey's leading theatre company, Paper Mill Playhouse.
Kendell appeared in VYT’s A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL in 1996 and CINDERELLA in 1997. She also worked for VYT as a counselor for their summer arts camp in 1999.
Writing music, still playing piano, living life to the fullest with my wife and three step-kids and two of my own
'95-'96 season PINNOCHIO, ANNIE WARBUCKS, WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL, Drums and Set Construction Mgr for RANSOM OF RED CHIEF, WEST SIDE STORY
I am currently the co-artistic director and founder of Arizona Regional Theatre- the newest Equity House in Arizona.
Bye Bye Birdie Cats Narnia
Kimiko graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan as a musical theatre major and was honored to represent the Musical Theatre department in the school's "Collage" performance in October, 2006. She was a 2007 NFAA youngARTS Winner in Theater and one of fifty youths nominated nationally to be a 2007 Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She graduated from Boston Conservatory and played the role of Thea in the national tour of Broadway's 2007 Tony award winning Best Musical SPRING AWAKENING. VYT audiences enjoyed Kimiko for over seven years, as Demeter in CATS, Ursula Merkle in BYE BYE BIRDIE for which she received an ariZoni Award, Aunt Sponge in JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, and Turtle in A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD, Young Frog and Squirrel. She also performed as Ayah in THE SECRET GARDEN, ensemble in the joint VYT/Phoenix Theatre production of Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD: INTO THE WOODS. She is currently starring in the hit Netflix series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK.
Kristen is an active member of the local independent film community and works primarily as a director, editor, actor, writer and sound mixer. She is married with two lovely daughters who are now old enough to join Valley Youth Theatre as well! :)
Kristen was part of Valley Youth Theatre in 1991, first in the role as the Chef in SLEEPING BEAUTY and then as the Golden Goose in JACK AND THE BEANSTALK (where she had to wear a giant goose head and sing a solo song about golden eggs!)
Krystina began her professional career in Crazy for You at Phoenix Theatre after performing with VYT, starring as Susan in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL and part of the Voices of VYT in 2007 - 2008. After one year of study at Arizona State University in musical theatre, she landed a role in the first national tour of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical Spring AWAKENING, which traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada for two years until its close in 2010. Krystina lives in NYC and played the role of Dora in the original reading of the off-Broadway musical FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY written by Julianne Moore. Krystina is a proud member of Actors Equity Association. Visit her website at www.krystinaalabado.com
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL as Susan and part of the Voices of VYT in 2007-2008.
Laura lives and works in LA and recently completed the film Bryan Loves You with George Wendt and Tony Todd.
View Laura's Internet Movie Profile Database entry.
Laura (Gasparac) appeared in VYT's THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (2001) and was a member of the inaugural season of the VYT Performance Troupes.
Lauren is the former Director of Education and director of the Playmakers Performance Troupe at VYT. She completed graduate school at ASU with a teaching certificate in Theatre Arts and has a B.A. in Theatre Arts & Psychology from Iona College in NYC.
Lauren appeared in productions of ANNIE, BYE BYE BIRDIE, CINDERELLA, MACBETH, RUMPELSTILTSKIN, WEST SIDE STORY, and A BROTHER'S GRIMM TALE. She has also directed shows including THE GLASS MENAGERIE, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, ONCE UPON A MATTRESS, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, CHARLOTTE'S WEB, RAPUNZEL, and THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA.
After VYT, I taught voice for a few years and traveled around Europe for a few months. Now, I am an Assistant Branch Manager at a mortgage company and have a wonderful husband and a two year old son. Thank you Bobb (and everyone else I worked with) for helping to make me the successful and happy person I am today!
WIZARD OF OZ - lead dancer, RANSOM OF RED CHIEF - Mrs. Hicks, A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL (first production) - Stage Manager/set design Summer Workshop, ALICE IN WONDERLAND - Assistant Director, and many, many others!
Graduated from University of Arizona with a BA in History and Pre-Law, currently working in recruiting/staffing and just started taking voice lessons again.
Hairspray Peter Pan
I have had troubles with health but through my faith in Jesus have gotten through it. I have decided to become a youth pastor and am currently working on that. I had planned on transferring to GCU for Biblical studies but decided not to for now just to get my health under control.
I played a Lollypop Guild member in 1998's WIZARD OF OZ, I played Mang the bat in the 2000 production of The JUNGLE BOOK, I played a Workhouse boy/Fagin boy in OLIVER! in 2001 (Zoni Nomination) and Middle Earth Chorus in THE HOBBIT in 2003
Mary attended the New School for the Arts and Academics Charter High School here in Arizona. She left for NYC after high school to participate in a Summer Acting Intensive at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. She was accepted to the full time program after the Summer Intensive and afterward studied at Ron Stetson Studios. She lived and worked in NYC as a professional actress for four and a half years. She is honored to be celebrating her tenth year as a member of Actor's Equity. While pursuing her acting career, she completed a Bachelor's degree in Human Services, a Master's Degree in Professional Counseling with a Concentration in Expressive Art Therapy, and is a Licensed Massage Therapist. She now lives in Arizona and is grateful for the experience to have been the former Chief Executive Director of the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts for five and a half years and is currently on the volunteer Board of Directors for the Spina Bifida Association of Arizona (SBAAZ).
Mary thoroughly enjoyed participating in her first Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) production in 1997 as Charlotte in CHARLOTTE'S WEB. She gained just as much enjoyment out of playing the Wicked Fairy in SLEEPING BEAUTY.
Matt started his acting credits in the 6the grade with Alpha Omega Publishing doing Short Films for Home School Curriculum, and also did Public Service Announcements for the City of Chandler. Matt now is working for Disney Cruise Line on the ship "The Magic" as an Entertainer. He's a great friend with Goofy, Captain Hook and The Beast from Beauty and the Beast. He is having the time of his life doing what he loves to do, making people smile.
Columbus Keith Short recently starred in the feature film Accepted with Justin Long (2006). See the IMDb for more about Accepted.
His VYT credits include CINDERELLA, THE WIZ (Spot Operator), "Asher" in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, "Officer Lightoller" in TITANIC, "Artie and Mr. Hull" in ANNIE and Vince Fontain's sidekick "Flip McDoogle" in the preshow for GREASE. Matt also did an Independent Film done by another Alumni, David Chorley.
Starting as a member of VYT’s performance troupes and later appearing in four main stage productions including GREASE (twice), THE WIZ and TITANIC, Max Crumm is now living his theater dreams in New York City. Currently, he is starring in the lead role of Matt in THE FANTASTICKS, which is the longest-running musical in the world. Max won the lead male role, Danny, in NBC's GREASE: YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT! and starred for one year in the 2007 Broadway revival of GREASE. Crumm has also appeared in movies including a role in EASY A (which co-starred VYT alumna Emma Stone).
After graduating from high school, Megan moved to NYC to pursue her degree in Musical Theatre and performed professionally both on cruise ships and in a variety of regional productions. In 2017, Megan moved to Sun Valley, Idaho after accepting a position at Sun Valley Community School. She currently teaches Elementary Dance, Middle School Music, choreographs the High School productions and runs the Middle School Drama Program. Additionally Megan is an associate director, choreographer, and actor at a variety local theatre companies and owns and operates her own princess party company called Pixie Dust Parties Idaho.
Cinderella ('07 / '08) - Ensemble Seussical ('08 / '09) - Ensemble Peter Pan ('09 / '10) - Jane / Indian You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown ('09 / '10) - Sally Willy Wonka ('09 / '10) - Mrs. Beauregarde Annie ('10 - '11) - Lilly St. Regis Freckleface Strawberry ('11 / '12) - Emily
Just two months after HSM closed, Megan flew on a whim to New York, where she auditioned for HAIRSPRAY on Broadway and got called back twice for Tracy Turnblad. Since then, Megan knew she was meant to pursue a professional career in acting. She graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University's Katherine K. Herberger School for the Arts in 2009, earning her BA in Theatre/Acting. Other credits and favorite roles include: Penelope Pennywise in URINETOWN (ASU/2008), Mom & other roles in UNSTOPPABLE ME! Tour (Phoenix Theatre's Cookie Company/2011), Ferris the Tooth Fairy in a new work, SEASONS (Mesa Encore Theatre/2013), and Doris in DAMN YANKEES (Hale Centre Theatre/2013). After auditioning and being called back for the national tour and numerous regional productions of HAIRSPRAY around the country (and understudying the part in Phoenix Theatre's production in 2010), Megan was finally cast as Tracy at Mesa Encore Theatre in 2012 (AriZoni nomination–Best Actress) and then again at Hale Centre Theatre in 2013. Both productions sold out and received great reviews. Currently represented by Dani's Agency, Megan plans on building her film/television résumé and knows she will be relocating to either New York or Los Angeles in the near future.
Megan got her start with VYT playing Aunt March in LITTLE WOMEN THE MUSICAL (2007) and was next seen dancing on lunch tables as Martha Cox in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL (2007) at The Herberger Theatre.
She recently performed in Summer of '42 and A TREE GROWN IN BROOKLYN at the famed Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut (where Annie premiered in 1977).
Starred as VYT's first ANNIE in 1994.
Yichao graduated summa cum laude from ASU with his BA in Theater and English in 2010. He started and ran a youth theater company, Clopet Theater, in AZ for a year before moving to LA for his MFA in acting at California Institute of the Arts.
Since leaving AZ, Yichao has continued teaching, acting and playwriting. His play "hide/seek" won 2nd place at the Kennedy Center's American Colleges Theater Festival, and was a semi-finalist at the O'Neill Theater's National Playwriting Conference. In 2012, he was a member of Core Company at the Orchard Project in NY, and an invited fellow at the National Cabaret Conference at the O'Neill in CT.
He recently worked as an actor for Trusty Sidekick, a Theater for Youth company in NYC dedicated to new, innovative works for young audiences.
In 2012-2013, Yichao will be teaching the institute improv class at California Institute of the Arts.
When Yichao's back in Arizona, he can often be spotted teaching and performing at the Jester'Z Improv theater.
Yichao has performed in: WIZARD OF OZ (1998), OLIVER! (2001), THE JUNGLE BOOK (2006), NARNIA (2007), A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL (2007), JOSEPH AND THE TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (2008), PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (2008), AIDA (2009), and the HaHa's Improv Troupe (2006-2007). He played in orchestra for CATS (2006) and Asst. Stage Managed MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (2009). Yichao started volunteering and interning with the Education department and Jessica Graeber in 2006 and worked as a teacher's assistant for several years. In 2009 and 2010, he taught acting for the summer camps and directed one of the summer camp shows (HONK JR. and ARISTOCATS). Yichao also was the intern and musical director for the Playmakers, and also Asst. Director for the Haha's.
Michelle Vezilj is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and comedienne.
Recent credits include: opening for the multi-award winning Frank Turner, performing a musical stand-up set at The Comedy Store, and playing for a sold-out crowd at the iconic Troubadour in West Hollywood.
Additionally, her #MeToo inspired single FIRE GOES TO DIE was described by PopMatters as “open, vulnerable, and fiercely outspoken” and by Broadway World as “profound and timely”.
Michelle also wrote original music for the SXSW feature film selection, LUCKY, directed by Natasha Kermani and produced by Epic Pictures (THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT).
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Beauty and the Beast Secret Garden A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail James and the Giant Peach A Year with Frog and Toad Bye Bye Birdie CATS Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Graduated with a BFA from the Boston Conservatory.Played Mustardseed in Diane Paulus's THE DONKEY SHOW at the ART (original cast). Recent Commercial: Amazon.com and VerizonPrint/Runway-Puma, Reebok, Mitchells, Navigare, etc. Currently in the national tour of the Tony award winning play WAR HORSE.
Joseph in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, Christopher Robin in A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL, Tootles in PETER PAN.
I am currently teaching English and Drama at Hillcrest Middle School in Glendale, AZ. I am nearly finished with my Master's Degree in Educational Leadership, as well. I have been honored to be selected as one of five 8th grade English teachers in the United States to be a Master Teacher with the BetterLesson.com and NEA Master Teacher Program.
In addition to teaching, I sing in the band Flying Standby that was featured on two of Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding albums.
Performed as A-Rab in the ariZoni winning WEST SIDE STORY in 2000 at the Herberger.
Nick first got the acting bug while watching a children's tour of Cinderella and has been performing in theatre ever since, starting with Valley Youth Theatre, Greasepaint Youth Theatre, Stagebrush Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, and Theatre on the Hill in Westminster, Maryland. Some of Nick's favorite roles are Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Tony in West Side Story, Anthony in Sweeny Todd, Able in Children of Eden, Jack in Into the Woods, My Way and Route 66, along with Man 2 in the Maryland premier of Songs for a New World. Nick next performed at the Tokyo Disney Resort, then made the big move to New York, where he resides with his fiancé, and where he has performed in the showcase production of The Flood and staged readings of The Man Who Would be King and Frankenstein: A New Musical, which appeared off-Broadway. Nick was part of the Regional Premier of Altar Boyz at the Mason Street Warehouse playing the role of Abraham the show is moved to 37 Arts Theatre in New York City with an all star cast that included Hunter Foster, Christiane Noll and Steve Blanchard. “VYT opened up the doors to theatre to me,” Nick explains. “I started with VYT in 8th grade and am living in NYC and theatre is my life. If you want a great place to get involved in theatre and learn the discipline that goes with it while making lifelong friends, VYT is the place. Thank you VYT for giving me my start that was once a dream and now is a reality.” To keep up with Nick, visit him at www.nickcartell.com.
I am graduating this December from Arizona State University with Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Minor in Family and Human Development. After graduation, I hope to work as a pediatric nurse. Throughout my time in college, I've continued to do theatre when I could, and participated in ASU's all-female Acapella group, the Pitchforks.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2015 - Wife/Female Ensemble), Grease (2016 - Ensemble), Shrek (2017 - Elf/Rat), Annie (2018 - Grace Farrell), Freaky Friday (2019 - Adult Ensemble/Mrs. Luckenbill/Florist/Mom), and Matilda (2019 - Ensemble).
After high school, I made the difficult decision to take a break from theatre in order to pursue my passion for photography. The many friends I made over the years at VYT always encouraged me to follow my dream of being a professional photographer and helped me get to where I am today. Assisting the tech crew with lighting and experiencing the set up of a show laid a foundation for how I light models in my images. And all of those little photo-shoots in the red room and cast party's have now evolved into a career.
I moved to Santa Barbara, California after high school in 2009 to attend Brooks Institute of Photography. I will be graduating Brooks in 2012 with a BFA in professional, commercial photography.
CATS (Mungo Jerry) HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL(Jock) JOSEPH AND THE TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (Ruben) AIDA (Egyptian)
After earning her BS in Business Management at ASU, Samantha now enjoys working as a Scenic Artist for Pacific Event Productions in San Diego, CA. She is also co-founder and owner of SamjenArts – a small business specializing in original fine art and home décor.
VYT gave her the inspiration to take risks and pursue what has become a life defining career in the arts!
Samantha Kneale Taylor had the pleasure of acting onstage at VYT in ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2003), PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (2001), and as a cast member of VYT’s Improv Troupe for several years. She later went on to participate in 13 other VYT shows as a backstage tech. Her favorites include TITANIC (2003), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2005), and two productions of THE WIZ (both in 2003). It was her work at VYT as a tech that led her into a career in theater and scenic arts.
Sarah moved to Los Angeles in 2005 and has been acting and modeling ever since. Sarah has appeared in many national television commercials including: Fancy Feast, TJMaxx, Ross, Chase Bank, US Army, Hoover, Cafe Latte, and XBOX. She has also been successful in print work appearing in national advertisements for Coke, Verizon, Apple, and several others. Sarah is represented by the Osbrink Agency in Los Angeles and is currently staying busy auditioning for commercials and television.
Sarah Masi started out at VYT as a member in the touring performance troupe and also the improv comedy troupe. She then moved on and played one of the sisters in the mainstage production of THE LITTLE MERMAID at Valley Youth Theater and was a Wife in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT at Herberger Theater.
Sean played the title role in Nearly Naked Theatre's production of Tommy on the Phoenix Little Theatre stage. He attended the Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles and summer programs with the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He works as an actor in film and theatre, and as a vocalist/songwriter. His first album, which he wrote and self-produced, was released in 2007. Sean performed in TITANIC playing Captain EJ Smith. He started with VYT in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE SECRET GARDEN and BYE BYE BIRDIE.
past roles include: I Am My Own Wife (Charlotte et al., BLK BOX PHX), Parade (Leo Frank, Arizona Regional Theatre & Mesa Outback Theatre, AriZoni Nom), The 25th Annual Putnam…(Leaf Coneybear, Phoenix Theatre, AriZoni Award & Encore Awards), Lucky Stiff (Harry, ABT), Sunday In the Park with George (George, ASU), Santaland Diaries (David, ABT & FUSE Productions), Cabaret (Emcee, FUSE), Pageant (Miss West Coast, ABT & Off-Broadway, Original Cast Recording), and Into The Woods (The Baker, Quisisana). Author: Our Kiki: A Gay Farce, The Unusual Engagement of Chester Pringle and You're It! Web series’, “Acting Up” (ISN Best Actor Nom.) and “Tucker Talks.” Director: “Dating In Retrograde”(NYC Winter Film Awards best series finalist), Our Kiki: A Gay Farce (NY Intntl. Fringe), The Mitten (HVTI), As Bees In Honey Drown (ART), [title of show], Altar Boyz, The 25th Annual Putnam… and Pageant (ABT). Seth has produced many concerts and fundraisers, and is currently working with a new local production company, Brock Pro Entertainment. Seth teaches private virtual acting lessons. Thanks to friends, family and my love, Sime. Seth is a proud member of AEA. www.SethATucker.com
The Secret Garden, The Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast
She currently is living in New York City, and has been for the past couple of years. The first job she booked was the national tour of Camelot. Since then, she's been performing regionally in shows like ANYTHING GOES, BRIGADOON, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, and most recently A CHRISTMAS CAROL, in New York City.
Shelley was part of the first production of THE WIZ, and shortly after performed with VYT at the Herberger in CINDERELLA.
Since graduating with her BFA in musical theatre from the University of Arizona, she moved to NYC and got an agent. She soon returned to AZ for Arizona Theatre Company's HAIR where she was in the ensemble and received her actors equity card. Following HAIR, Stefanie was immediately cast in the national tour of WICKED.
Stefanie is currently on the Broadway national tour of WICKED as Ensemble/Glinda and Nessarose u/s.
Stefanie performed as Lily in VYT's production of ANNIE in 2004. She also performed in VYT/Phoenix Theatre's joint production of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in 2005.
I am about to start my junior year in college as a Musical Theatre Major at the University of Arizona!
I have been apart of 6 VYT productions. Favorites being Grease, Wizard of Oz, Shrek, and Little Women!
Stuart has numerous stage, concert and television credits to his name. He has appeared in CAMELOT, starring Michael York (Sir Lionel/Lancelot U/S) THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, starring Val Kilmer at the Kodak Theatre in LA (Ramses U/S) 110 IN THE SHADE at Pasadena Playhouse (Starbuck U/S) ANNIE GET YOUR GUN(Frank Butler) Carousel (Billy Bigelow) and WEST SIDE STORY (Tony), to name just a few. He has appeared with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra alongside Dick van Dyke, Judy Kuhn and Jodi Benson, the Atlanta Pops, and the Indianapolis Symphony with Sandi Patty. Stuart has made multiple appearances on GUIDING LIGHT and AS THE WORLD TURNS. In 2006 he released his first solo album featuring new music by LA and NY based songwriters along with a few covers, and a unique five-part a cappella arrangement of Amazing Grace. Stuart is proud to be a Sergeant in the Marine Corps' 2nd Battalion 23rd Marines in Pasadena. He is married to film/television actress Megan McNulty and they live in LA.
Stuart made his debut with VYT in the VYT/Phoenix Theatre co-production of Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in 2005. He is proud to have worked with VYT and would recommend it highly to any young actor looking to work hard and do great theatre. For more information visit www.StuartAmbrose.com.
Suzanne is a theater director, musician, and piano teacher living in Los Angeles. She is currently the Co-Artistic Director of Sacred Fools Theater Company in Hollywood where she has much of her work in the last two years, including Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays, the world premiere of The Gas House, and the late night sketch show Serial Killers. Other directing credits include: TRUE GENIUS, QUILLS, THREE MORE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS and TITANIC. Suzanne has worked as an Assistant Director at South Coast Repertory (DUMB SHOW), The Old Globe (THE CONSTANT WIFE), and Center Theater Group (SOLOMANIA: TAKING FLIGHT). She recently received a Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Observership to assist at Pasadena Playhouse. In 2004, she graduated with a BA in Theater and Dance from Chapman University.
PINOCCHIO (Blue Fairy), Originated the VYT role of Rabbit in A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL, THE WIZARD OF OZ (Witch), THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (Ensemble), LITTLE RED AND THE HOODS(Maggie), THE SOUND OF MUSIC (Frau Shmidt), WEST SIDE STORY (Velma)
I have been living and working in Los Angeles for the past 4 years. My work has been primarily as an actor, which is a dream come true! A working actor in LA... That's me!
As I get older (and since COVID-19 has hit this energetic, artsy city HARD) I do love the idea of not being LABELED... So I like to call myself an "artist", "a creative" or (gasp) an "entrepreneur". A jack of all trades, if you will! I LOVE learning, sewing, fashion, design, business, psychology, writing, public speaking, days in an office, I love it all. My goal in this life is to pursue happiness, whatever that may lead to. With that said, the theatre will always be my first love, and I have VYT to thank for giving me the SPACE (literally) to fall in love with it!
Lastly I will leave ya with a favorite quote:
"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper." -W. B. Yeats
My first show at VYT was Pinocchio in 2004. I did 9 shows at VYT and was a part of the VYTeens for a couple seasons. My favorite memories most likely all take place in the hallways and wings of The Herberger Theatre. What a SPECIAL experience it was to be performing in such a gorgeous venue...I felt like a Broadway star every day I got to go to rehearsals and performances. I look back on this period of my life fondly. Exploring, playing, finding my voice, and finding my confidence was ALL done at/with Valley Youth Theatre and the special community it brings together.
After falling in love with theater at VYT, Taylor pursued acting in New York for five years before getting married and starting a family of her own. While in New York, she studied acting at Pace University and was lucky enough to be apart of some amazing pieces of New York theatre including some Off-Broadway and in the UK.
Winnie the Pooh (woodland friend, Piglet), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (oompa-loompa), The Wizard of Oz (munchkin), Beauty and the Beast (ensemble), The Prince and the Pauper (maid), Hairspray (Penny Pingleton) Also did VYTeens and Playmakers Troupe where she played Cat in Honk Jr. and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet
Taylor is currently living out her dreams and studying Acting at Pace University in New York City. She is apart of their International Performance Ensemble, and has performed in various Pace productions such as A MISCAST CABARET 2013 and 2014. Off-Off Broadway: PRICELESS (directed by Tamilla Woodard) Off-Broadway: THE WEAVERS (directed by Julian Mesri) International: THE WEAVERS (London)
A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL (Woodland Friend, Piglet), CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Oompa-Loompa), THE WIZARD OF OZ (Munchkin), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Ensemble), THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (Maid/Ensemble), HAIRSPRAY (Penny Pingleton). Also performed with VYT's Playmakers Troupe where she played Juliet in ROMEO AND JULIET, VYTeens, and VYGlee.
Since that time, besides having performed in a great many shows in the Phoenix area, I have moved to Los Angeles and been one of the founding members of the Porters of Hellsgate Theatre Company, a Shakespeare theatre company committed to bringing the immortal words of the bard to a new generation of theatre goers. I have played many roles in many plays with this growing company, Richard II being one of my favorites. Most recently, I have directed and produced our hit production of HAMLET, and played Rosencrantz in the same show, as well as the Rosencrantz in Tom Stoppard’s ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, which we presented in repertoire with HAMLET. A lot of what I know about theatre, I learned at VYT.
I started at VYT in ‘97 as a chorus member in GREASE. After GREASE, I performed in ANNIE, VYT's first production at the Herberger Theatre Center, as Officer Ward and various other roles. The next show at the Herberger, I played the Wizard of Oz in the play of the same name, and when we lost the space in the Tower Plaza Mall, I helped with the building of the new theatre that stands today. While we were in the church, I did everyone’s holiday favorite A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL as Winnie the Pooh, a “Waltzing Nazi” in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, and served back stage as deck manager for YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN, all at the Herberger. Once the new theatre was built, I performed in the inaugural production of BYE, BYE BIRDIE, where I played Mr. Johnson and the Tenor in the Quartet, a role that, in large part, led to my playing and singing one of my favorite roles, Archibald Craven in THE SECRET GARDEN. I fulfilled a dream of mine and got to work with Jon Gentry when he directed me as Badger in THE WIND AND THE WILLOWS. I had seen Jon in ATP’s THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ABRIDGED front-row center when I was in high school, and, long story short, I knew I wanted to be an actor from that moment on. After that came The Teen Angel in GREASE at the Herberger, and the last show I did with VYT, though certainly not the least, was TITANIC, where I had the great pleasure of playing Wallace Hartley.
Chef Tommy D’Ambrosio is a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and has over a decade of fine dining experience. He was also crowned Chopped Champion on The Food Network in January of 2019 on the episode Tacos & Tequila!
Being born and raised in Arizona, Chef Tommy was happy to come back to his hometown and start, own, and operate one of the fastest growing food truck experiences in Arizona. Chef Tommy has also lead Aioli brand into the winners’ circle of state & national competitions such as Arizona’s Burger Battle, Phoenix Devoured, and Scottsdale Culinary Classic Events.
Aioli Gourmet Burgers and Catering started with a food truck and something delicious to deliver; it has now grown into multiple food trucks, fully catered experiences, and The best burger joints in Phoenix located at 32nd Street & Shea in Paradise Valley, 7th st and Bell, and Litchfield and Camelback
Gosling/ Fair Goer charlottes Web Lollipop Guild Wizard of oz Whinny the pooh Christmas Story Mogley Jungle Book
Todd MacIntyre has performed as a featured soloist and in ensemble at such notable venues as the Kennedy Center, Billboard Live Tokyo, Koussevitzky Music Shed, Seiji Ozawa Concert Hall, Orpheum Theater, Herberger Theater, Gammage Auditorium, Chandler Performing Arts Center, Chase Field (Diamondbacks), and USAirways Center (Phoenix Suns). He has been a featured soloist with the ASU Symphonic Choral, Scottsdale Community College A’cappella Choir, and has been hired extensively for profit and non-profit concerts alike throughout California, Arizona, Hawaii, Colorado, Virginia, Illinois, Washington DC, Eastern Canada, Saipan, and Japan.
As a vocalist, Todd has studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Arizona State University, and Royal College of Music (UK) working with such notable vocalists as Gary Durham, Franc D’Ambrosio, Lorenzo Malfatti, Matthew Larson, Phyllis Hoffman, Anne Elgar Kopta, David Britton, and Stephen Roberts.
Todd has worked as a model in national print campaigns for PetSmart and Dillard’s. Todd has also performed with Tokyo Disney, Holland America Line cruises, Arizona Broadway Theatre, and The Phoenix Opera. He is an ariZoni Best Actor award recipient and two time nominee.
Todd graduated from Arizona State University Summa Cum Laude having studied Economics and Musical Theater.
Todd performed in VYT's productions of CINDERELLA (2002) and THE WIZARD OF OZ (2005).
Tommy trained at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York last year, and recently transferred to The University of Arizona to complete a BFA in Musical Theatre.
PETER PAN, WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOLOLATE FACTORY, GREAST and PINKALICIOUS.
Peter Pan was my last show to tech before I became a police officer for the Chandler Police Department. I have been there ever since.
I started at VYT in 1996 as tech crew for A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail in the basement of Tower Plaza. From there I did The first Herberger production, Annie then I played the Tinman in Wizard of Oz at the Herberger. Years later I played Thomas Andrews in the Production Titanic where I won a Zoni award. After Titanic I was the technical director for seven seasons building 17 sets and running the tech crew for many more from Neverland to OZ, from Middle Earth to The Hundred Acre Wood and everywhere in between.
After VYT, Vince signed with Dani's Agency and has been in films like TRASNAMERICA, THE CONTROLLER, JAKE'S CORNER, STAR POWER, DOLLY'S DINNENR and LIKE YOU SAID IT. In addition to film, Vince has landed numerous commercials and public service announcements like "Expect the Max", AMVets, and Valley Metro. Vince was recently featured in MYFM magazine.
Follow Vince's career at his website, www.VinceReign.com, or his IMDb entry.
Vince has appeared in several notable VYT shows: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, GREASE and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.
After graduating from Shadow Mountain High School in 2012, I moved to Chicago to pursue a professional performance career. I was heavily involved in the commercial dance community and found my way to Orlando dancing at Walt Disney World. After many years with Disney, I started auditioning for television and landed a few featured roles back in Chicago as well as national print campaigns. I found my lifelong dream on the VYT stage and the confidence to never give up and the being told “No” is never an option. I would like to thank Bobb, Karol, and Mr. Mark for their unconditional love and support.
Peter Pan 1999, 2009 Oliver 2000 Cinderella 2001 Winnie the Pooh 2001,2005,2006 The Wiz 2002/2003 Pinocchio 2003 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 2004 Snow White 2005 Charlottes Web 2006 Hairspray 2011
Recently, Whitney recorded her first EP which can be found on CD baby, Itunes, and the PMN. She also recorded her first music video for her song Storm Warning due to be released in November of 2006. Whitney is currently working on her full length debut album which you can find in March of 2007 which will include the song she wrote, "You Won't See Me Crying", featuring Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms!
Watch Whitney's music video.
Whitney Steele's first show at VYT was The Canterville Ghost playing the role of Rebecca. She also performed in A Winnie The Pooh Christmas Tail playing the role of Kanga and in the first Grease production playing the role of Patty Simcox. Whitney was also seen in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as well as the first Bye Bye Birdie production.
Wolfram Ott is now a New York based lighting designer, currently working as a lighting designer and lighting director with the New York firm, The Lighting Design Group. The Lighting Design Group, the largest television lighting design firm on the East Coast, is a consortium of designers specializing in broadcast studio design, exterior and remote location design, the design and installation of permanent broadcast lighting systems and designs in architectural settings. The Lighting Design Group has won numerous Emmy Awards for both our “Design” and “Team Technical” work.
Wolfram has been with LDG since the fall of 2009, primarily serving as an assistant lighting director at CNN New York, and CNN’s sister network HLN. At CNN and HLN he has served as a lighting director or assistant lighting director on a wide range of shows including Anderson Cooper 360°, Larry King Live, and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Away from CNN Wolfram has also been a lighting director for a variety of cooking shows including Five Ingredient Fix, Kelsey’s Essentials, and Emeril’s table.
In 2011 Wolfram received his first Emmy Award nomination for his work as assistant lighting designer and lighting director on MSNBC/NBC News’ Education Nation 2010.
Wolfram again worked as assistant lighting designer and lighting director on NBC News’ second annual Education Nation in September of 2011. The design earned Wolfram and his colleagues a News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Lighting Direction and Scenic Design.
Wolfram just completed work on the third annual Education Nation, and Democracy Plaza 2012 Live From Rockefeller Plaza both for NBC News, as well as ABC''s DICK CLARCK'S ROCKIN' NEW YEARS EVE.
In addition to his television work, Wolfram has also worked extensively in theatre, and dance in New York and regionally.
Wolfram first appeared with Valley Youth Theatre as a member of the male ensemble for JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. He was also seen in TITANINC (John Astor), CHARLOTTE'S WEB (John Arable), and THE HOBBIT (Gollum) for which he received his first AriZoni Award of Excellence. In Wolfram's time with VYT he was also a member of the improv troupe, and was intern working with the Lowell Afterschool Playhouse. Wolfram also had his first taste of technical theatre while working for Valley Youth Theatre, having worked as an electrician and follow spot operator for a number of shows in his time there.
I am starting my third year at ASU in Barrett, the Honors College. I am involved in ASU choir, Timmy Global Health, and I also volunteer at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I am on the pre-med track majoring in biomedical sciences and plan to become a doctor. Additionally, I have a minor in musical theatre which has allowed me to keep the arts in my life while pursuing a degree in STEM.
I was in 10 productions during my time at VYT: Grease (Ensemble), Winnie the Pooh (Kanga), Secret Garden (Alice, Dreamer), Wizard of Oz (Ensemble), Shrek (Fairy Godmother, Mouse), Little Women (Meg), Annie (Ensemble, Cecile, Boylan sister, Mary), Newsies (Nun, Bowery beauty), Freaky Friday (Student Ensemble, Gretchen’s mom), and Matilda (Miss Honey).
During the years I was with VYT and after, I was able to work with many theaters around the valley, including The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hale Centre Theatre, Mesa Community College, Mesa Encore Theatre, Actor's Youth Theatre, among others. I am currently represented by the Leighton Agency and have worked on various film, television, and commercial projects throughout the past five years. I intend on pursuing more projects out of state when time permits!
In addition, I graduated from Arizona State University in 2019 with a Bachelor's in Communication and a minor in psychology. This upcoming fall, I will be pursuing my Master's in Communication & Leadership at Gonzaga University.
Peter Pan, 2009 (Lost Boy) West Side Story, 2014 (Consuela)
After VYT got a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Miami and worked as a performer out of NYC. My time as a performer took me on national tours as well as a year spent in South Korea. I am now a theatre teacher at a middle school in Dallas, Texas! I still love going to shows and think about my time at VYT often as I introduce young people to the world of theatre every day <3
VYT Credits: Actor- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- Grandma Josephine A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail- Pooh and Kanga Oliver!- Mrs. Bedwin/ Adult Ensemble Cinderella- Joy HONK!- Maureen, Snowy, Frog Schoolhouse Rock Live!- Shulie The Princess and the Pea- Esmeralda Smythe The Wiz- Aunt Em & Pit Singers Titanic- Alice Beane Grease- Rizzo Tech Crew- Snoopy! West Side Story Grease Orchestra- Little Shop of Horrors Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail
Kelli James is celebrating 45 years in the theatre this year and has been seen in many award winning productions including the original Tony Award winning Broadway production of Les Miserables where she was the first American actress to play Eponine. Other notable productions include The Rocky Horror Show in San Francisco, Evita directed by Hal Prince, The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chess, Aspects Of Love (Robby Award nomination) and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring as The Narrator opposite Donny Osmond. She has International concert credits that have taken her around the world including Alfie Boe Live, A Gala Concert For Hal Prince, Jason Robert Brown In Concert, Home For The Holidays with Anthony Crivello, The Henley Festival and The Night Of 1000 Voices (Royal Albert Hall/London) where she worked with Glenn Close, Len Cariou, Sarah Brightman, David Essex and Sir Tim Rice just to name a few. Local Phoenix, Arizona audiences have seen her as Mrs. Potts in Beauty And The Beast, Follies as Carlotta, Cinderella as The Fairy Godmother and in Gypsy as Mama Rose. All roles received an Arizoni Nomination for Best Actress, a Broadway World nomination for Follies and Gypsy and an Inspirational Award for Cinderella. Kelli has been teaching and directing from her studio, The Broadway Advantage in Scottsdale, Arizona for 18 years and won several awards, including an Arizoni for her direction of Les Miserables for TheaterWorks, YouthWorks in 2016. Many of her students have gone on to great success as Broadway and National Tour actors in productions of Dear Evan Hansen, Waitress, Spring Awakening, Beauty And The Beast and How The Grinch Stole Christmas as well as National recording artists
and Television/Film actors. This year will mark the 5th year directing The Broadway Advantage Intensive and concert in Red Oak, Iowa at The Wilson Performing Arts Center.
Kelli was a featured guest artist in a couple of VYT shows- Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast and Fairy Godmother in Cinderella
Michael Thompson is currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona. Following VYT's production of Hairspray, Michael was caught head banging in the Arizona Broadway Theatre's Rock of Ages. He managed to not get too much whiplash so he could be in Phoenix Theatre's productions of The Scottsboro Boys, Kinky Boots, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. He has spent the past 5 years working with Childsplay; he has done in house productions at the Tempe Center for the Arts before they made the move to Herberger Center. In addition to the in house productions with Childsplay, he has had the privilege of doing two national tours with the company, and he had the honor of playing Peter in Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats this past year. He has done staged readings at the Festival of New Works at Phoenix Theatre, the new workshop/reading series at Arizona Theatre Company, and so on. He has choreographed for individual projects being produced in the valley; he choreographed for Soul of Broadway, a production of For Colored Girls that was presented at the Nash in the heart of downtown Phoenix, and Two Mile Hollow at Stray Cat Theatre where he also the assistant director. This October/November, Michael is in the process of starring in his one man show at Stray Cat Theatre, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, which will hold an intimate house pandemic style and the ability to be streamed from the comfort of your own home. When he's not on stage or in the theatre, he can be caught making funny faces and voices for his nieces and nephew's endless entertainment.
Since I’ve left VYT I have the honor to be working for Olive and Ivy in old town scottsdale. I also am enrolled to start at ASU in October 2020 to finish my degree in sustainability!
My very first show at VYT was The Wizard of Oz, as a lullaby league back in 1998! After that I was Gretel in The Sound of Music, Sad girl in Bye Bye Birdie, Earl the Squirrel in A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tale, a Fagons Boy in Oliver, Ensemble in The Wiz, Owl in A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tale, July in Annie, Ensemble in Grease, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Ensemble in The Secret Garden, Cinderella in Cinderella, Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical the Musical, and my last role was Marty in Grease!
I am currently a children's theater director outside of Denver, CO. Bob and I have 4 beautiful kids ages 4-14 who are all theater enthusiasts. I love sharing the love and joy of theater with a new generation of actors and actresses. It's truly my dream job and I feel like it's my calling in life. I will always be grateful for the wonderful lessons Bobb and VYT taught me!
I started with VYT in 1993 working backstage. My first show was The Adventures of Mr. Toad in 1995, and thenn I went onto Annie Warbucks, Ransom of Red Chief, Charlotte's Web (where I met my amazing husband, Bob!), Raggedy Ann and Andy, The Secret Garden, Bye Bye Birdie, Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, and Grease.
I have worked as a freelance opera singer in Europe since 2014. I am based in Salzburg, Austria and I will be getting married and moving to Oslo, Norway in Spring 2022.
Every show I did at VYT (9 total) was an amazing experience. I loved doing Annie and performing at the Herberger for the first time - learning how to work in a real theatre. Into The Woods was possibly the most fun experience of them all. The music of Sondheim was a wonderful learning experience, the production was so professional, and the cast was made up of some of the best friends I had. Being in the chorus of Grease and The Wizard of Oz was incredibly rewarding, and artistically The Secret Garden pushed me to a new level that ended up guiding me toward the career I have now in opera.
Leigh Ann Dolan is VYT's Director of Development and Communications. Leigh Ann is a multiple Emmy-winning television and film producer who has worked on commercials, station promotions and both scripted and non-scripted television before moving to television development at Original Film in Los Angeles. More recently, she was one of the producers on the E! late- night talk show, Busy Tonight. She has an extensive background in the non-profit arts world, having come to Valley Youth Theatre from the Phoenix Film Foundation where she served as Managing Director for the past 10 years.
“I love VYT for what it has done for the thousands of children that have stepped on its stages – including me! I am so proud to be a part of this Phoenix institution and I am excited to continue the magic.”
I am currently teaching Piano and Vocal lessons with the School of Rock, and am finishing a degree in Music Education so I can teach Choir.
Big Deal Wednesdays during How I Became a Pirate were my favorite part of coming to rehearsal, it was just a fun time.