Robert Laconi, Director
Kristine Lewis, Founder
Theatre Arts Center prides itself in the professional quality of the teaching staff for all classes and the summer Performing Arts Workshops in NYC.
Below is a partial list of artists who are currently on our roster or worked for us in recent seasons past.
KAREN MASON recently starred as the Queens of Hearts in the new Frank Wildhorm musical, Wonderland on Broadway. She was in the final Broadway company of Hairspray as the conniving Velma von Tussle and she originated the role of Tanya on Broadway in Abba’s Mamma Mia! She was awarded a 2002 Drama Desk nomination as Best Actress for that role. Her other leading roles include Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, which she performed to standing ovations on Broadway and in Los Angeles for three years; Mazeppa in Jerome Robbin’s Broadway; Rosalie in Carnival (Drama Desk nomination); plus featured roles in Broadway’s Torch Song Trilogy; and Play Me a Country Song. Karen won the Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance in And the World Goes Round, and starred Off-Broadway in her own show Karen Mason Sings Broadway, Beatles and Brian. Karen is an 9-time MAC Award winner and has won the MAC Award for Major Female Vocalist of the Year for six consecutive years. She has also won the 2006 Nightlife Award for Major Female Vocalist and three Bistro Awards. Karen has headlined Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Feinstein’s at The Regency, Rainbow & Stars, the Algonquin, Arci’s Place, The Supper Club and The Ballroom in NYC; The Cinegrill and the UCLA/ASCAP Concert Series in Los Angeles; The Plush Room in San Francisco; and Davenport’s in Chicago. Karen released her 6th CD, Right Here/Right Now, which won the 2009 MAC Award for Best CD. Other CDs include Sweetest of Nights; When the Sun Comes Out (2002 MAC Award for Major Female Recording of the Year); Better Days (featuring the 1998 Emmy winning song “Hold Me” by Brian Lasser); Not So Simply Broadway; and her live recording Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! (all on Zevely Records). Karen made her Directing Debut at Theatre Arts Center with the 2009 Cabaret Ensemble show, reprising that again in 2010. She performed and taught a Master Class in summer 2011. Visit her website at www.karenmason.com.
Scott Barnhardt is currently appearing on Broadway in THE BOOK OF MORMON and can also be heard on it’s Grammy-winning Cast Album. He was previously seen on Broadway in the Deaf West Revival of BIG RIVER at Roundabout. Other NYC credits include YANK! (The Old Globe Workshop), BYE BYE BIRDIE (ENCORES!) and BEHIND THE LIMELIGHT (NYMF). National tours include THE BOY FRIEND directed by Julie Andrews, BIG RIVER, the Detroit company of WHITE CHRISTMAS and the Japanese tour of DISNEY ON CLASSIC with the Tokyo Philharmonic. Regional credits include productions at Goodspeed Opera House, Paper Mill Playhouse, Cape Playhouse, Pioneer Theater Company, CT Repertory Theater and Hangar Theater. Scott is a graduate of Wagner College and the Orange County High School of the Arts. Other credits include directing The Who’s TOMMY at his alma mater, choreographing a production of MAME at Mac-Haydn Theater and serving as the Associate Director/Choreographer for PLAID TIDINGS at The Gem Theater in Detroit. He has also taught master classes for Wagner College, Wellesley Theater Project, Broadway Classroom and Theater 360.
Tony Gonzalez most recently Tony was featured in the Broadway and the Toronto production of Mamma Mia. He performed on the 63rd Annual Tony Awards with the cast of “Mamma Mia!” and has been with the “Mamma Mia!” family for the past five years. He is the Dance Captain & Swing in the Broadway Company. He has also been in the Broadway companies of “We Will Rock You”, “Joseph…” & “Saturday Night Fever”. Tony is thrilled to be a part of The Theatre Arts Center again this summer. Originally from Mentor, OH, Tony’s first choreographic endeavor was in the first grade when he created & performed an original solo piece to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl”. He graduated in 2003 from Otterbein College in Westerville, OH with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Musical Theatre & Dance Concentration. At Otterbein Tony was very privileged to work closely with Randy Skinner, Dan Knechtges & Stelle Hiatt Kane. Tony has enjoyed teaching with many musical theatre educational & outreach programs, namely, Camp Broadway.
Dennis Deal, Music Director, NYC – Dennis Deal is a writer, musician and director working in legitimate theater, music and communications. Recently he has produced 3 DVD’s for In The Classroom Media (I, Pencil; Plymouth: The Lesson of 1623 and Everyone’s Space with Scott Bakula (TV star of Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise), scored The Power of Choice, a biography of Nobel Prize economist Milton Friedman for PBS, and directed and arranged Mr. Bakula’s one-man musical show for Washington’s historic Fords Theater. For the past 15 years Deal has sung bass with the mixed a’capella group, The Accidentals, winners of the National Harmony Sweepstakes and numerous Manhattan Concert and Cabaret awards. Dennis has arranged over twenty albums of unrecorded theater music (Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Jerome Kern, Leonard Bernstein, etc.) for Ben Bagley’s Revisited Collection, featuring such notables as Alan Arkin, Nell Carter, Sandy Duncan, Georgia Engel, Ann Miller, Anthony Perkins, Lynn Redgrave, Chita Rivera and Katharine Hepburn. Off Broadway he’s done musical recreations for CBS LIVE! at the Minetta Lane Theater and directed his own comedy The Bad and the Horrible at The Triad. He co-wrote and directed the New York Fringe Festival production Tri-Sci-Fi and directed Attack of the 50 Ft. Walt Whitman at Mabou Mines. But Dennis is mostly recognized for his award winning 50’s musical send-up, Nite Club Confidential, which he has directed Off-Broadway, on London’s West End and in Los Angeles.
Matthew Rossoff, Musical Theatre / Tap – This is Matthew’s second year choreographing for TAC and is thrilled to be back. Recently, Matthew was the Dance Captain/Swing in 2012 Tony nominated JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at the Neil Simon Theater. Before moving JCS to Broadway, Matthew spent a season at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival performing in JCS, as well as Clarius in Camelot. JCS also went on to play the La Jolla Playhouse. He spent 18 months on the North American tour of Fiddler on the Roof with Topol and Harvey Fierstein. Other theater credits include: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (August Wilson Theater, N.Y.C.), Disney’s When You Wish (Theatre Under the Stars, TX), A Chorus Line (Coastal Carolina, SC), White Christmas (Carousel, OH), Guys and Dolls (Drayton), West Side Story (Citadel/Theatre Calgary), Hello, Dolly! and Fiddler on the Roof (Vancouver Playhouse). Matthew has danced on several films including Reefer Madness (Showtime) and Once Upon a Mattress (ABC/Disney). As a choreographer and teacher, Matthew worked on Soul Kitchen (Joe’s Pub, N.Y.C.), High School Musical (Paper Mill Playhouse, associate), BC/EFA’s Broadway Bares and has taught Tap workshops at The Juilliard School, Circle in the Square and Broadway Connections. Matthew is also a certified yoga instructor. He has a Theater/English degree from UBC (BA) and also trained at Circle in the Square.
Shannon Lewis, Theatre Dance / Jazz - Ms. Lewis was most recently seen on the 2012 Tony Awards alongside host Neil Patrick Harris in the much acclaimed opening number “What if Life…?” For the past year she was seen on Broadway playing the role of Miss Krumholtz in How to Succeed… starring Daniel Radcliffe, Nick Jonas and Darren Criss. Other Broadway: The People in the Picture (Warsaw feature); Curtains (Mona Page); Sweet Charity (Ursula), The Look of Love; Contact (Standby: wife, Girl in the Yellow Dress, Girl on Swing); Fosse (I Gotcha); Candide and Crazy for You (Vera). National Tour: A Chorus Line (Sheila); Pippin (Fastrada). City Center Encores! Fanny (Claudine); Damn Yankees (Dance Captain); Sweet Adeline; Tenderloin; Regional: Leap of Faith (Susie Raylove); Contact (Girl in the Yellow Dress) at Asolo Rep; Carmen (Juanita) at La Jolla Playhouse; Pippin (Fastrada) at Goodspeed; Damn Yankees (Lola) at North Shore; A Chorus Line (Sheila) at TUTS.
Shira-Lee Shalit, Film & TV Acting – In May 2007, Shira-Lee Shalit was chosen by Steven Spielberg out of 12,000 directors, as one of 12 Finalists for the Fox/DreamWorks TV show, “On The Lot.” While on the show, Shira-Lee wrote and directed 3 films: Check Out, Beeline and Open House. Shira-Lee’s feature film directorial debut was A-List, a comedy starring Daphne Zuniga, Sally Kirkland, Renee Taylor and Damon Shalit. A-List won the Audience Award at the 2007 Milan International Film Festival, the Gold Remy Award for Best Comedy at the 2006 Worldfest Film Festival in Houston, TX, and was selected for the LA Women’s Directors Film Fest, the Miami International Women’s Director’s Festival, and profiled as one of the IFP East’s Project Involve Awardees. Born in South Africa, Shira-Lee grew up in Houston, Texas, where, as a high school senior, she was awarded the prestigious Presidential Scholar of the Arts Award in Acting, and performed at the White House for the President. She also won the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Award. Shalit graduated from NYU with a BFA in Acting, and received her MFA in Directing at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division. While at Columbia, Shira-Lee wrote and directed her first short film, Full Cycle, which was named a Finalist in the Student Academy Awards. In May 2008, Shira-Lee was hired to direct the powerful dramatic piece, Open Air, written and produced by David Paterson (writer/producer – Disney’s The Bridge to Terabithia.)
Robbie Roby, Musical Theatre, Jazz – Robbie was Dance Captain for Broadway’s BILLY ELLIOT and recently performed Damn Yankee at Paper Mill Playhouse. He was Dance Captain/Swing for the original production of Hairspray: Las Vegas, performing with Tony Award winning actors Harvey Fierstein and Dick Latessa. Robbie returned to Hairspray as the final dance captain and swing for the Broadway production. He was cast as an original member in the US national tour of Starlight Express. As part of the show, Robbie was invited to perform at TUTS’ American Musical Theatre Awards for Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber and former President George Bush and his wife. Regional credits include: Beauty and the Beast (Michigan Opera Theatre, North Carolina Theatre, and the MUNY), Empire (Stamford Center for the Arts), Young Zombies in Love (NYCFringe), and South Pacific (Casa Manana). In 2005, Robbie served as Dance Captain/Swing for the US national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Techincolored Dreamcoat, as well as Remount Supervisor for the second national company. In 2006, Robbie became Dance Captain/Swing for the 1st national tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot. He can be heard on cast albums of Joseph and the Technicolored Dreamcoat and Carols for a Cure, Vol. 9 and 10. He was seen in the world-premiere of Idaho, the 2008 award winner for best musical in the New York Musical Theatre Festival and also served as Audition Supervisor for the Broadway-hit Billy Elliot. He was featured in the 2009-2010 national tour of Fiddler on the Roof.
Stephanie Klemons – Stephanie was a Dance Captain, Swing and Carla understudy in the 2008 Tony Award Winning new musical, In The Heights. She began with the show Off-Broadway at 37 Arts where the cast all received Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Ensemble Performance. Her current projects include Bring it On. She has appeared in two other Off-Bway shows Automatic Superstar and Repo: the genetic Opera. She was in the cast of the 1st National Tour of Bombay Dreams. Other favorite credits include back-up dancing for Don Omar at Madison Square Garden and doing a commercial with Ciara on Nickelodeon. Stephanie is also starting a not-for-profit called Katie’s Art Project which brings art classes to children’s wards in hospitals. Stephanie was born in Colts Neck, NJ and graduated with a B.A. in Genetics and Micro Bio Research and a B.A. in Modern Dance from Rutgers University.
Michael O’Donnell – Michael is a veteran Broadway actor having performed in six Broadway musicals including Spamalot, where he had the privilege of working with acclaimed director, Mike Nichols and Monty Python member, Eric Idle. Other Broadway credits include The Pajama Game with Harry Connick Jr., The Roundabout Theatre’s revival of Cabaret, Wonderful Town, Lincoln Center’s Carousel and Victor/Victoria starring Julie Andrews. Mr. O’Donnell is also a writer and director. His first feature film comedy, Moving Mike, is currently being screened at film festivals across the country and abroad.
Devin Brain - Actors Conservatory Play Director – Devin is an MFA graduate of the Yale School of Drama and a Brooklyn-based director and adapter. He served as the artistic director of the Yale Summer Cabaret in 2011 where with a small ensemble he developed Rose Mark’d Queen, an adaptation of five Shakespeare histories (Henry V, Henry VI parts 1, 2, 3, and Richard III) which he also directed for the 2012 TAC Actors Conservatory. In 2001 he spent a summer working with Chinese high school students in Szechwan, China to create original pieces about the state of their city’s environment. While in Chicago he developed and directed a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that toured the city parks and incorporated by teen and professional actors. In 2010 Devin and a small ensemble adapted The Phoenix, a short story by the best selling young adult author Isobelle Carmody that explores the joy and agony of teenage imagination for the Yale Summer Cabaret. A proud member of the Chicago based company The Hypocrites, Devin has also worked at Yale Rep, The Manhattan School of Music, The Public Theatre, Yale Cabaret, The Hypocrites, The Neo-Futurists, Barrel of Monkeys, and the Asolo Repertory Company. His adaptations include The Phoenix (from Isobelle Carmody’s short story), The Serpent Woman (from Gozzi’s play), Splintered Idylls (from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King), Euripides’ Orestes, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, and Phantasia and Wyrd’s Sybaritic Shadow Show (from Something Wicked This Way Comes). www.devinbrain.com