Abby Nathan (she/they), since 2022
Abby had been obsessed with the theatre since she was in middle school. She was awarded her AA, BFA, and is half way through her MA, all focused in acting and production. Abby teaches consent based and trauma informed teachings, also upholding an anti-racist classroom. When Abby isn’t teaching full time, they’re with their two pitbulls Millie and Finn.
Abby Tincher (she/her), since 2022
Abby is a Studio East alumna and two-time YAPI graduate, who started in camps and Mainstage productions several years ago and hasn’t left since. She has experience assisting and choreographing in camps at the Studio and has enjoyed every second of it! Abby has performed in several Mainstage shows, including ‘Twas the Night, Into the Woods, Seussical the Musical, and more. She is excited to be part of the team and to help young artists grow.
Adrian Cerrato (he/him), since 2022
Adrian Cerrato is an actor, director and educator in the greater Seattle area. Some of his favorite roles include all four lovers (Lysander, Demetrius, Helena, and Hermia) in Off Road Shakespeare’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Beast from SecondStory Repertory’s production of Charles Way’s Beauty and the Beast, Lord De Winter and Jussac in Book-It Repertory Theatre’s production of The Three Musketeers. He also teaches numerous classes in the area including improv, musical theatre, and Dungeons and Dragons. He is also greatly amused by wowing kids with his vast repertoire of accents and dialects and referring to himself in the third person.
Aimee Hong (she/her), since 2014
Aimee is a Music Director, Accompanist, Conductor, and Voice and Piano Teacher. Some of her favorite musicals she’s Music Directed are “Into the Woods”, “Heathers the Musical”, “Godspell”, “Sweeney Todd”, and “Big Fish.” She has MD’d/worked at Bellevue College (where she is also an Adjunct Music Professor), Seattle Pacific University, Village Theatre, The Seattle Rep, Seattle Children’s Theater, Studio East, Reboot Theatre Company, Renton Civic Theater, Bainbridge Performing Arts, Lesser Known Players, Burien Actor’s Theatre, Second Story Repertory, and St. Luke’s Theater Company. Previously she taught with the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Opera. She studied Music Education at Western Washington University.
Alanah Pascual (she/her), since 2022
Alanah Pascual is a proud Filipina/Cuban American actor, director and playwright from San Diego, CA. Alanah has acted with Book-It Repertory Theatre (The Bonesetter’s Daughter), Theatre22 (Or and Alice in Wonderland), ACT (A Christmas Carol), PFP (The Rain Shadow Dispatch and For the Living), and Cornish College of the Arts (Everything’s Fine). Her original play, Make America Call My Mom and Tell Her I’m Doing Okay premiered in the Strawberry Theatre Jam Festival with Strawshop Theatre. Alanah is so grateful for the stories she gets to play in and the people she gets to tell them with.
Allan Batchelder, since 1995
Allan Batchelder has been with the Studio since its second year, which makes him feel really, really old. It’s funny that while he looks every day of those many years, Lani hasn’t aged a minute. Well, life isn’t fair. Allan has worked with students from pre-K through retirement, teaching classes ranging from Play Analysis to Stage Combat, and from Mask to Shakespeare. He has also directed over sixty plays in various schools around the Seattle area (and two or three here at Studio East). Allan is a former member of Actors’ Equity Association, a former stand-up comedian, and former owner of a lustrous head of hair. He has two Master’s degrees, two dogs, a cat, an impossibly patient wife, an alarmingly normal son, and a bum knee. As Steven Wright once said, “you can’t have everything…where would you put it?”
Amanda Burke (she/her), since 2022
She is honored to be joining the Studio East team this fall, after working as both an assistant lead and a teacher for their summer camps. Amanda is a Studio alumna who participated in a wide-variety of classes, camps, mini-YAPI, and Mainstage productions (Wizard of Oz, Seussical, and Les Miserables). She has acted in numerous Seattle and Bellingham regional theaters, including “Jake’s Women” (Mount Baker Theatre Repertory), “A Christmas Carol” (SecondStory Rep), “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” (Seattle Public Theater), and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (Seattle Musical Theatre). She has also studied acting at Shoreline Community College and the American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory. Amanda is excited to share her passion for acting with young artists!
Ashley Rose Klimper (she/her), since 2020
As a Studio East Alum, Ashley is excited to be back at the Studio, this time as a teaching artist. Ashley graduated from Circle in the Square Theater School in New York City with a certificate in musical theater. While she was in New York, she worked as a teaching artist for local public schools. Ashley has taught in over 5 states and 20 cities bringing theater to all communities while working with Missoula Children’s Theater. Born and raised in the beautiful PNW, Ashley is thrilled to be back in the Seattle area doing what she loves most!
Brad Walker (he/him), since 2018
Seattle born and raised, Brad is a proud AAPI actor, director, teaching artist, and an alumnus of the University of Washington. Notable acting credits include: Little Shop of Horrors (Harlequin Productions), Above Between Below (Seattle Children’s Theatre), The Matchmaker, A Charlie Brown Christmas (Taproot Theatre), and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Village Theatre). Brad has also performed with Book-It Repertory, Seattle Public Theatre, and StoryBook Theater. Off stage, Brad has directed many school plays at Sacajawea Elementary, Bryant Elementary, and St. Francis of Assisi Middle School, and he teaches with Studio East and Seattle Theatre Group. Along with being a full-time theatre artist, Brad is also a professional Dungeon Master, and runs games of Dungeons & Dragons for students and adults alike. www.walkerbrad.com
Buddy Todd (they/them), since 2014
Buddy has acted and directed throughout the Seattle region with organizations like Pork Filled Productions, SecondStory Repertory, Renton Civic, Theatre 9/12, Stone Soup Theatre, Edmonds College, Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theatre, FantasticZ, and more. Favorite roles have included Fairy Godmother in Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Jack in Into the Woods, and Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Buddy has directed Todd: A Radio Play at Studio East and has been a teaching artist here since 2014, often teaching improv, comedy, one-act creation, and more. Buddy has an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University.
Cassie Fitzgerald (she/her), since 2017
Cassie is the Production Stage Manager at Studio East and loves working with students of all ages in the Mainstage and Education programs. She graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a B.A. in Theatre and History and is currently pursuing her Masters in Arts and Culture Management and Marketing through the University of Denver. She has worked at Taproot Theatre, Second Story Repertory, Fifth Avenue, Seattle Musical Theatre, Seattle Public Theatre, and The Phoenix Theatre.
Catherine Ballantyne (she/her), since 2022
Catherine Ballantyne is a professional actress, singer, and dancer originally from Redmond, Washington. Catherine started performing at four years old where she eventually trained in the arts of dancing, singing, and acting. She finds immense happiness performing! She graduated with her BFA in Theater-Acting from UC Santa Barbara where she also received a BA in Film and Media studies. Catherine has a passion for sharing her love of the performing arts and she can’t wait to share this joy with her students! Catherine currently teaches students in the pre-k and elementary school kids. Favorite past roles include Malvolio (Twelfth Night), Irina Nikolayevna Arkadina (The Seagull), and Miss Rona Lisa Peretti (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee).
Cheyanne Chadwick (she/her), since 2022
Cheyanne is so excited to be a part of the Studio East team. She has been neck deep in children’s theatre and theatre education since she was a child herself in 2006. Cheyanne has BAs in Theatre Education and Elementary Education from the University of Montana and loves making space for children to explore and create. Cheyanne believes that collaborative storytelling like theatre is one of the world’s most positive forces for good. When she isn’t at summer camp, Cheyanne teaches kindergarten in Seattle Public Schools, stage manages for Hello Earth Productions, and runs games of Dungeons and Dragons for her friends. Cheyanne lives in West Seattle with her beloved dog, Lady.
Chloe Cook (she/her), since 2022
Chloe has acted and taught throughout the Pacific Northwest, all while holding an iced coffee! Favorite roles have included the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Petra in A Little Night Music, and Natalie in Next To Normal. She has taught and directed with Seattle Performers, Expressions School of Performing Arts, and Bella Note Music Studios. Chloe has a performance degree from the University of Idaho and (almost!) a Masters in Elementary Education. Since her days as a daycare assistant in the baby room, Chloe has had a passion for education and working to help children find their home in the arts!
Claira Eastwood (she/her), since 2022
Claira Eastwood is a teaching artist, actor, director, and designer who got her start in performing arts in programs just like Studio East! She has worked in theatres across California and Washington, and specializes in theatrical movement and play devising. Past credits include acting in A Wrinkle in Time, doing lighting design for The Sound of Music, and directing Our Town. Claira is thrilled to be joining Studio East and can’t wait to share her love of theatre and performing arts with new artists!
David Dryfoos (he/him), since 2019
David Dryfoos is a multi-faceted professional musician. He graduated from University of the Pacific with a Bachelor of Music in Music Composition. In addition to being a composer, he is a theatrical music director, piano accompanist for choir, solo voice, and solo instrument, sound designer, and Foley artist.
Donny Gersonde (he/him), since 2023
Donny Gersonde is a local teaching artist originally from San Diego! After attending Coronado School of the Arts he went to The Hartt School where he worked towards his BFA in Musical Theatre. He teaches Tap, Musical Theatre, Jazz and Audition Prep. Formerly for the Coronado School of the Arts, and also was dance coordinator for the advanced performing arts program at Coronado Middle School. He is a freelance dance teacher at many places across the county.
Emily Beckley (she/her), since 2017
Emily is thrilled to be part of the teaching team at Studio East. She has worked in Early Childhood Education since 2005 and was a dance teacher for several years before that. Emily is a seasoned performer and has been on stage at many local theaters, including Seattle Musical Theater, Renton Civic Theater, Burien Actor’s Theater, and Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater. Originally from Southeast Texas, she now lives in Renton with her husband, Brian and her son Calvin.
Emma Gillaspie (she/her), since 2021
Emma is a Studio East Alum and is glad to be back and a part of the Studio East team! She has performed in theater, dance, and music since she was 7 years old and is a graduate of the Studio East YAPI and Village Theater Institute programs. She has a love of Shakespeare and tap dancing that has shown itself through her BA in English Literature from Western Washington University and her time as the President of the WWU Tap Dance Club. She started teaching as a teacher’s assistant at Issaquah Dance Theater and has been teaching kids skills in the performing arts ever since.
Fiona Cochran (she/her), since 2022
Fiona is an actor, teacher, songwriter, and Shakespeare enthusiast. She believes the arts have the power to unite and uplift people. Fiona studied Shakespeare at Oxford University and attained her B.A. in English and Theater from Northwest University in 2021. During her undergrad, she acted, directed, taught dialects, and performed Improv. She has acted and worked with Taproot Theater Company, and her performing highlights are: Under Milkwood, As You Like it, The Women of Lockerbie, Peter Pan, and Taproot’s Road Show Company. When Fiona is not working in theater, she writes stories, conducts research papers, and writes songs. She heartily believes in arts education for all ages and lifestyles to empower others to tell their own story. || Photo credit: Walter Borbridge
Gilly Kelleher (she/her), since 2019
Gilly Kelleher is a teaching artist, actor, director, designer, dialect coach, and writer: a thespian-of-many-hats. She graduated from the Foothill Theatre Conservatory before completing her BA degrees in Drama and English (with a Creative Writing Emphasis) at the University of California, Irvine. She grew up in England & the Bay Area, giving her unique preparation for the weather in the Pacific Northwest. She can be seen teaching and performing all around the Seattle area. Favorite roles include Dromio of Ephesus in Comedy of Errors (Last Leaf Productions), Romaine Patterson in the South Bay reading of the global premiere of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later (City Lights Theater Co.), and Nurse in Romeo & Juliet (TSMGO). Gilly often finds that her interests in writing, language, and theatre intersect in working with young artists, and she delights in working with students on exploring their creativity. Offstage she can often be found reading, drinking coffee/tea, or playing various tabletop games, including Dungeons & Dragons.
Helen Roundhill (they/them), since 2018 (Studio Alum)
Helen is a multidisciplinary theatre artist based in Seattle. As an actor, designer, playwright, and dancer, they have worked at theaters throughout the Pacific NW including Intiman, Seattle Public Theater, and The Seattle Rep. Their favorite styles to perform are classical theatre, ballet, farce, and drag. Their favorite colour is yellow, favorite author is Terry Pratchett, and favorite mythical creature is a Dragon. For fun, they play ttRPGs and snuggle their rabbits, Sergeant Shadwell and Madame Tracy.
Isaac Levin-Delson (he/him), since 2021
Isaac is a Studio East alum and YAPI graduate, and he is overjoyed to join the team as a teaching artist. Isaac’s deep love of theater was cultivated from a young age at Studio East by many of the current and past faculty, so he is eager to pass on the inspiration he received to the next generation of Studio East students. Isaac has developed leadership and mentoring skills through internships with Studio East and the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s youth program, as well as Seattle Opera’s Teen Vocal Studio. Isaac’s performance credits include productions with Studio East, Seattle Opera, and Seattle Historical Arts for Kids, as well as numerous school productions. He has performed at the Boston Early Music Festival, Berkeley Festival of Early Music, and Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall.
Isabel Gleason (she/her), since 2022
Isabel Gleason is a Music Director at Studio East and is so excited to be a part of the team! Coming from the Midwest, Isabel is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a Bachelor in Music Education with an emphasis in voice. She has gained experience working with students from ages 5 to 55 in voice, piano, musical or choral direction through the past decade. She is passionate about creating exciting and educational musical theater for all!
Jasmine Francis, since 2020
Jasmine is a recent graduate of Western Washington University and is so excited to be back at Studio East! She holds a BA in Theatre with concentrations in Acting and Playwriting and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. Her biggest passions are theatre and music. Jasmine has been playing piano for 14 years and fell in love with music direction and accompaniment during her time at WWU. She had the privilege to accompany and be in the orchestra for both A Christmas Carol, and Peter and the Starcatcher on the WWU mainstage. Past performing credits include 1776, Love/Sick, Sweeney Todd, Legally Blonde: The Musical, and Julius Caesar.
Jessica Hamilton (she/her), since 2021
Jessica is so thrilled to be teaching with Studio East. She is a graduate of Central Washington University where she earned her BFA in Musical Theatre. She loves all aspects of theatre and performing and has a huge passion for tap dancing and song writing. She has performed and directed with the Missoula Children’s Theatre, and worked on other various performing arts projects around the PNW. She discovered her love for teaching with the Village Theatre Kidstage after spending several years as a student herself in the program, and then completing their Arts Education Internship program. She is so grateful for the impact theatre had on her life and would nothing more than to strive to pass that same impact and inspiration onto future students that she teaches!
Joey Sponseller (he/him), since 2023
Joey Sponseller is an actor and teaching artist from Ventura, California. He graduated with an MFA in Acting from Rutgers University, and is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association. Previously, he has enjoyed working with underprivileged students for several years in New York City. Some of his favorite acting roles include Celia in As You Like It, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Ivan in Art, and Sam in Fully Committed, a one-man show with 40 characters. Joey lives with his wife in Burien, and is a proud uncle of 11 and counting.
Julia Hilmo (she/her), since 2022
Since 2016, Julia Hilmo is an actor director, playwright, improviser, and occasional choreographer. In 2022 she graduated from Northwest University with a bachelor’s degree in English with a focus on theater. At Northwest, Julia wrote for, and partially directed a student production, Rise Up. A lover of literature, Julia enjoys delving into the richness of scripts as a performer and director to further bring stories to life. Julia has been a teaching artist for a variety of theater programs and workshops around the east side, working with students ages 4 to 19. Julia is thrilled to meet each young artist and to share her love of theater!
Julia Gorordo (she/her), since 2017
A passionate Studio East kid of over a decade, Julia is thrilled to be working as a Teaching Artist! She was raised in Snohomish, WA, and now teaches Choir at Monroe High School and Park Place Middle School. Julia studied Music Education and Classical Voice at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, graduating with a BM in 2020. When it comes to theater, she’s done everything from performing to running tech to stage managing and more, but her true calling is teaching and music directing. Her teaching is often inspired by Orff Schulwerk, and the concept that students learn how they play. She tries to incorporate this into every teaching position she has, bringing the natural process of playing and having fun into learning.
Julie Grant – MFA, MAP, MSW: In her 23-year career as a professional Equity actor, Julie performed at major regional theatres throughout the West Coast and Midwest, including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, A Contemporary Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Sacramento Theatre Company, Seattle Children’s Theatre, American Player’s Theatre, Group Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Bathhouse Theatre, and Pioneer Square Theatre. As a freelance teacher, director, and coach since 1985, she has worked with young actors from grade school through college, focusing primarily on Shakespeare, Vocal Production, and Musical Theatre, including 11 summers with the Studio East YAPI program, and 4 years with Core Theatrics. As a mental health professional, (Masters Degrees in Psychotherapeutic Psychology and Social Work) Julie is committed to the holistic wellbeing of young artists, and has developed and implemented programs specifically designed to cultivate and strengthen emotional and psychological resilience in young adults.
Kate Hess (she/her), since 2022
Kate was raised on Mercer Island but possesses none of the interest in the outdoors that such an upbringing would suggest. She has happily worked in theater and television since her graduation from Drew University with a degree in Theatre Arts and Music. She also studied acting at the Webber Douglas Academy in London. In New York, she produced and acted in several plays and performed improv at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre. At UCB she created her one lady Masterpiece Theatre parody “Murder Abbey” which was named one of the top Downton Abbey parodies in The Daily Beast and called a “cri-de-coeur” by Slate. She has appeared in Law and Order: SVU, Children’s Hospital, and The Goldbergs. She has most recently taught at Dramakids of South King County and volunteers with the 826 organization promoting literacy with elementary school students.
Kathryn Rearden (she/her), since 2022
Kathryn is a singer, dancer, writer, and all-around theater enthusiast. She has been involved in theater for as long as she can remember and is thrilled to be passing on her love of the arts here at Studio East. She has worked as a dance instructor and camp counselor in Montana on and off since 2014 and spent much of her time in college working in vocal studios and performing in one-act plays. Having graduated from Montana State University with a BA in psychology and writing, Kathryn is overjoyed to be getting back to her true passion, theater. Past performing credits include Hairspray, Footloose, The Sound of Music, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and White Christmas.
Katie Jarvis Shomler (she/her), since 2022
Katie Jarvis Shomler has been immersed in the theatre since she can remember. She grew up in southern Oregon near the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and loved taking advantage of every chance to soak up quality theatre and be involved with all the performing arts. She has both a B.A. and an M.A. in Theatre from Brigham Young University and specialized in Acting and Theatrical Movement. She is a certified Tap Dance instructor and enjoys teaching all ages. Some of her favorite experiences professionally include directing over 80 youth from ages 7-18 in Mary Poppins, Acting in Happysaddness (A comedy about Mental Health), and doing voice-over work for Martian Studios. Her favorite aspect of Theater is that it helps us all understand each other and communicate better, and isn’t that what life is all about?
Kaylee Rooklidge (she/her), since 2022
Kaylee is a musician, singer, and composer from the Pacific Northwest with a strong musical theatre background, both onstage and offstage. She has come to love the behind-the-scenes work of teaching or accompanying the music of a show or playing in the pit orchestra just as much as being in the spotlight! A few of her favorite past roles include Liesl in The Sound of Music and Cinderella in Into the Woods, and one of her most rewarding theatre experiences was playing keyboard in a pit orchestra for West Side Story! Kaylee is classically trained in piano and voice, and also has a rich background in choral singing. She graduated from Northwest University in 2022 with her bachelor’s in Contemporary Music Industry and is pursuing opportunities in music composition and production.
Kaysy Ostrom (she/her), since 2015 (Education Director & Studio Alum)
Kaysy is an actor, playwright, director, and teaching artist from Seattle, Washington and she is the Education Director at Studio East! She is an alumni of Studio East, a graduate of SMU with a BFA in Theatre Studies (with an emphasis on acting, playwriting, and directing), and a graduate of Seattle Children’s Theatre’s TAT Lab: a teaching artist training program. You may have seen Kaysy acting around town with StoryBook Theater, Secondstory Repertory, Hello Earth Productions and more. Her plays have been produced in Boise, Dallas, and New York City and she regular directs Studio East Mainstage shows. But, her favorite thing to do is teach theater. She is passionate about arts education and inspiring the next generation to be creative, confident, and compassionate through training in the performing arts. Whether a student ends up on Broadway or chooses a different career, Kaysy believes that theater education is an enriching experience for every student to explore the arts, learn important life skills, grow as humans, and make amazing memories.
Kim Douthit (she/her), since 2011
Kim was born and raised in Redmond, Washington. She relocated to New York for school, attending Hofstra University and receiving her BFA in Theatre Arts with a specialization in performance. After working professionally in NYC for a number of years as an actor, director and playwright, Kim attended LAMDA to study Classical Acting and Shakespeare. She started working as a teaching artist in 2009 and discovered a new love of educating children in the arts. She loves working at Studio East. It is a privilege to work with other artists and educators who are so passionate about theatre and to help students on their artistic journey. In her spare time she also works as a Paranormal Investigator and loves learning about history and hanging with ghosts.
Lani Brockman (she/her), Founder & Artistic Director
Lani is the Executive Artistic Director of Studio East and holds degrees in Children’s Theater and Theater Performance. In addition to her artistic duties, Lani directs for the Studio Mainstage as well as writes and directs for StoryBook Theater, the Studio’s popular series of musicals for young audiences. She and her writing partner, Susan Bardsley, recently won a national award for their musical Emperor’s New Clothes. Favorite productions she has directed include Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Little Women, I Never Saw Another Butterfly and Quilters.
Matthew “Mr. Matty” Sythandone (he/him), since 2022
Matthew is a native Seattleite and graduate of Cornish College of the Arts. He holds a BFA in Theatre with an emphasis in Musical Theater. He has worked with Seattle Rep, Dandylyon Drama, and Broadway Bound. As a teacher, he hopes to grow creative, courageous, and compassionate students that uplift one another. Through teaching, directing, and performing in youth theatre, he hopes to change the world. Previous acting credits include: Road Company Actor with Taproot Theatre (virtual and in-person), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Seattle Children’s Theatre).
Matthew Triplett (he/him), since 2019 (Studio alum)
Matthew has been performing in musicals since he was seven years old and spent 7 years as a Studio Rat. His favorite roles with the Studio include playing Jean Valjean (Les Misérables), Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), and Bottom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). He has a BFA in History from Whitman College but he continued his theater education into college, performing in several of Checkov’s farces as well as playing Clotaldo in Calderón de la Barca’s Life is a Dream. He was also the president of the Whitman College Improv team and is skilled in clowning and comedy. He got so much out of his time at the Studio and cherishes the opportunity to give back!
Marina Clever (she/her), since 2022
Marina is a choreographer and arts educator from the Pacific Northwest. She studied theatre and dance education at Western Washington University and has worked with students of just about every age in schools and theatrical programs in the Bellingham and Seattle area. Her favorite choreography credits include Big Fish (Squalicum High School), Cinderella (Sehome High School), and Mamma Mia (Squalicum Musical Theatre Institute).
Meg Thompson (she/her), since 2022
Meg has been a “theatre kid” her entire life. She grew up as a teen participant of Bellevue Youth Theatre (BYT) and then continued as a volunteer and staff member there for nearly 20 years, where she had the privilege of watching young people grow through the art of theatre. She has been an Actor, Director, Stage Manager, and Costume and Makeup Designer for dozens of shows in the Seattle area. In addition to BYT, Meg has been seen on Seattle stages with Stone Soup Theatre and Young Shakespeare Workshop. She is a founding member of Copious Love Productions, and is on the Teaching Artist faculty for Seattle Children’s Theatre, Stone Soup Theatre, and Seattle Rep. She is thrilled to be working in youth theatre, sharing the transformative power of artistic expression with young people and future generations.
Megan D. Connell (she/her), since 2018 (Studio alum)
Megan is a proud Studio Alum who you will rarely find without a coffee in her hands and junior mints somewhere. She earned her degree from UNLV in Stage and Screen Acting and spent a handful of years performing in Las Vegas on The Strip and in film projects around the area. Since back in WA she has performed professionally with StoryBook Theater and random films and commercials. Megan experienced first hand how arts training has not only helped her with her acting career, but other aspects of her life as well and is honored to get to pass that down to new generations. Watching her students light up as they reach a goal has been HUGE and has lit up a part of her heart she didn’t know she had. She firmly believes her choreography, classes and camps are way fun and dares you to find someone to prove otherwise.
Melissa Bryant (she/her), since 2016 (Studio alum)
Melissa is always delighted to return to Studio East every summer. She’s participated in numerous SE programs since 2003 as a teen and young adult, and is honored to be on staff as a teaching artist. Melissa taught second grade and coached competitive High School Speech and Drama in eastern Montana. Since 2016, she has been back in the PNW teaching second grade in Sammamish and continues to spend her summers sharing her love of theater with students in the greater Seattle area. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms. The most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”
Rachel Custer (she/her), since 2022
Rachel is thrilled to be joining the Studio East team for the first time! She has been working in theatre since 2009 as an Actor, Director, Teacher, Writer and Stage Manager. An Army brat transplant from California, most of her stage work has been based in San Diego, San Francisco and Sonoma Valley. Some favorite show experiences include Boozin’ With The Bard (NMC San Diego), Romeo and Juliet (Actor’s Basement Sonoma), Sister Cities (Narrowway Stage Company) and ‘nightmother (Trinity Theatre Company). Her teaching style combines neurodivergent ABA techniques, an outdoor Reggio Emilia curriculum style and a love of having fun while learning! She has a BA in Acting from Sonoma University and is loving exploring her new home state: hiking recommendations welcome!
Rebecca Herivel (she/her), since 2019
Rebecca Herivel is a musician, actor, and teaching artist. As a performer, she specializes in cross-genre work, particularly in using music to enhance storytelling in non-musical theater works. Rebecca lived for drama club in elementary and middle school and is passionate about bringing the same life-changing experience she had to her students. Raised in a musical family, her lifetime joy of music making is combined with technical excellence to provide students with the best tools possible to find their voice, and have plenty of fun doing it! In addition to her work as a teaching artist, Rebecca teaches private voice and low-brass lessons and can be found performing with various theater companies throughout the Seattle area.
Simon Pringle, since 2010
Simon is a professional actor and a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Simon emigrated to America in February 2010. Theater credits include King Lear and Beowulf at The Arches Theater, Jackie or The Submission at The Tron Theater, San Diego, What The Butler Saw, Medea, Beauty And The Beast, Hurlyburly, and Uncle Vanya at The New Athenaeum Theater, A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Oslo, Norway and The Beams Are Creaking and An Ideal Husband at Seattle’s own Taproot Theatre Company.
Film credits include Leverage, Zig Zag Love, Sweet Fanny Adams in Hyperspace Eden and Taggart. Voice credits include Time For Drama at BBC Scotland and The Company of Heaven at Pacific Lutheran University. Simon holds a Masters Degree in English Literature from the University of St Andrews and has worked extensively for the Shakespeare Schools Festival in the United Kingdom. Simon is on faculty for Studio East’s Young Actor’s Professional Intensive program and directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth for the Teen Ensemble. Simon is married to local girl Anna Lee who grew up in Issaquah. They have two sons, Alasdair Caleb and new arrival Francis James.
Sadie Wendt (she/her), since 2023
Sadie is a queer and neurodiverse woman originally from Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO with a BA in Theatre. She’s been involved in theater for over 15 years, and has most notably worked at The Children’s Theatre Company, Illusion Theatre, and Stages Theatre Company, among other professional and community theaters all around the Twin Cities of MN. Sadie has worked with children as a fellow performer, as a Pre-K/Preschool teacher, and as a nanny for many years. She will strive to give neurodiverse children a place to safely and energetically express themselves. Her main goal is to create a safe and creative space for exploration.
Sonja Usher (she/her), since 2022
Sonja is an Actress and Studio Alum who grew up taking various classes and workshops, along with performing frequently on the Studio East Mainstage. With skills and work ethic obtained at the Studio, she won a scholarship to successfully earn a B.A. in Theatre Performance at Northern Arizona University, where she graduated with high honors in her department. Now, she is working professionally with experience in Theatre and Film. Some of her favorite roles include Belle in Beauty and the Beast (Studio East), Constance in King John (NAU), and Piglet in Winnie the Pooh (StoryBook Theater). Sonja attributes her achievements to her training at Studio East and is so excited to pass on what she’s learned and learn from her students as well!
Vincent Milay (he/him), since 2022
Vincent Milay is a Graduate of the Pacific Conservatory in California. He has worked in Seattle as an actor and producer for the last 14 years. Most notably, he was nominated for best Supporting Actor for his role as Orin in Little Shop of Horrors with Reboot Theatre Company. Some favorite roles have been: Pirelli in Sweeny Todd, and most recently as Cliff in Cabaret. This is his first time Directing with Studio East.
Vincent J. Orduña (he/him), since 2016
VJ did his post-graduate in Directing at The National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York City and is currently the Theatre Manager at the Mountlake Terrace High School Performing Arts Center. Before that, he was the Education Outreach Manager & Artreach Coordinator for Studio East. He spent 14 years as Cultural Arts Coordinator for the City of Renton where he also managed the Carco Theatre and ran their Annual Summer Teen Musical Program. He was also the Executive Director for Seattle STAGERight Theatre (2015 Gregory Award Winner for Outstanding Musical).
As an actor, VJ has performed with theaters in areas such as Harlequin Productions, Village Theatre, Taproot Theatre, Bellevue Civic Theatre, Showtunes, Seattle Musical Theatre, and Tacoma Musical Playhouse among others; and his Directing resume includes several regional and area theatres including SecondStory Repertory, Renton Civic Theatre, and Seattle Musical Theatre.