EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

PAGE O'CONNOR

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For over ten years, Page has been helping young people grow into artists by providing a nurturing environment in which to train, develop and be heard. As the parent of a performer herself, Page originally became involved in the arts to help create a positive place for her own child to study. But quickly, her dedication and business savvy became apparent, and she was asked to become a co-owner, business director, and company manager of her daughter's studio-a position she held for six years before founding CAPAS. Page is mentor and den mother to all her students, believing very strongly that every child has something special to offer. Her greatest joy is advising students and helping them succeed in all aspects of their lives. Page is regularly called on for help with everything from audition preparation, to fashion help. And, having supported her own daughter through the many joys and challenges of growing up in the arts, she is well positioned to mentor young people through everything from social conflicts to college auditions. It can be very difficult to navigate the world of performing arts training. Page created CAPAS to provide a safe, challenging and professional space for students to explore their creativity, take risks, and excel. If you put the positivity and heart back into the process, the results will speak for themselves. 


DIRECTORS

NICOLE SARRO - Director of Operations

A native of Los Angeles, Nicole began her professional career in real estate working first as a marketing assistant for a land development corporation and then transitioning to the commercial field as a project coordinator for a team of the South Bay's top brokers.  Following an "aha" moment, she went back to school to complete her BFA in Musical Theatre and transitioned into an acting career.  She toured with In The Heights and some of her favorite regional credits include: Gypsy (Mama Rose), Les Miserables (Madame Thenardier), Xanadu (Melpomene) and Legally Blonde (Paulette).  Proud member of Actors Equity & SAG-AFTRA. Nicole now plays the role of a lifetime: Mommy to her 3 year old daughter, Paloma.

 

CALEN KURKA - Director of Dance Company
Lyrical, Jumps/Turns

Originally from Canada, Calen is thrilled to be a part of the CAPAS faculty. Also on faculty at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, Calen has taught across Canada, the U.S., Japan, and Ireland. Calen serves as a judge and master class instructor for Open Call, and is the founder and Artistic Director of Pushing Progress Dance Company. Calen's performing credits include being an original member of the first national tour of Jeff Amsden's acclaimed, A Few Good Men Dancin', and performing with recording artist, Carmella. His favorite stage credits include: Tokyo Disney, The Sound of Music (Capt. Von Trapp), Little Shop of Horrors (Seymour). In addition he can be seen in the “Live! at Broadway Dance Center" video series "Turns and Turn Combos,” dancing with choreographer Danny Herman, and heading his own instructional video "Floor Work with Calen Kurka and Chris Hale.”

 

JOHN WAGNER - Director of Musical Theatre Company
Musical Theatre, Tap, Mixed Dance, Group Voice

John recently graduated from New York University with a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts Administration and also holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah University. John is the Artistic Director for Summer at the State, a summer theatre in connection with the State Theatre Center for the Arts in Southwestern, PA. He is also the co-founder of Larger Than Life Shows, a NYC based production and entertainment company. His directing and choreography credits include: Gypsy, Mary Poppins, Hairspray, The Producers, 42nd Street, The Nutcracker, Cats, Sweet Charity, Beauty and the Beast, and Legally Blonde. He is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association and his performing credits include: Spamalot, La Cage Aux Folles, Gypsy, All Shook Up, A Chorus Line, Anything Goes, Chicago, 42nd Street, and Footloose.


FACULTY

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Laura Black
Private Voice/Piano
Laura Black holds a Master of Music in Opera/Musical Theatre Performance from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts.  Passionate about all genres of music, she has had the privilege to perform musical theatre roles as well as operatic roles across the country.  Favorite roles include Julie in Carousel, Graziella in West Side Story and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi.   Laura was as the soprano soloist with St. Barnabas on the Dessert, performing numerous works including Faure’s Requiem.   She also had the pleasure of performing Beethoven’s Ninth with the Winston-Salem Symphony.  Laura originated the role of Juliet in David Chesky’s Juliet and Romeo, performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Laura is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.   

JOE BYRNE
Operations Associate

Joe is thrilled to be joining CAPAS on the administrative side of things! As a performer, Joe is a member of Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and has appeared on the first season of The Knick on Cinemax, and the final season of HBO's Boardwalk Empire (Co-Star). Some favorite musical theatre credits include a tour of Fiddler on the Roof (Motel) two productions of A Little Night Music (Henrik) A Christmas Carol (Young Scrooge) and Funny Girl (Ziegfeld Tenor). Joe is currently pursuing his Master's Degree in Social Work.

KATIE CLAIRE - Company Team
Kids on Broadway, Musical Theatre, Tap, Production, Mini MTC

Katie Claire holds a BFA from Shenandoah University in Musical Theatre and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Theatre Pedagogy emphasis in Dance/Movement and is a proud member of AEA. Katie has appeared in numerous regional productions. Some of her favorites include: The Producers, Nunsense, Guys and Dolls, The Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast and Footloose.

As a choreographer, Katie choreographed Urinetown, Carousel, Cabaret, High School Musical, Spring is Here, and Pajama Game at Five Towns College; Shout! The Mod Musical, 13, How to Eat Like a Child, School House Rocks, and Dear Edwina Junior for the John Engeman Theatre Children’s Ensemble.

Katie was an Associate Professor of Dance and Movement at Five Towns College and then transitioned into teaching Children’s Theatre at the John Engeman Theatre in Northport Long Island.

CHRISTIAN DUHAMEL - Company Team
Private Voice, Group Voice, Advanced Audition Technique

Christian Duhamel is a theatrical Swiss Army knife. As a member of AEA, the Dramatists Guild, the BMI Lehman Engel Music Theatre Workshop, and the Off-Broadway Alliance, he works professionally as an actor, playwright, composer, director, music director, choreographer, and vocal coach. After attending the acting program at the Theatre School, DePaul University, Christian returned to his passion for music and completed his BFA in Acting – Musical Theatre at Wright State University. Since then he has worked at theaters across the nation including Seattle Children’s Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, The Human Race Theatre Company, The Ordway, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. In New York, his work has been seen at Symphony Space, the PIT, the Duplex, 54 Below, and the Metropolitan Room. Honors and Awards: Oriental DreamWorks Songwriting Resident; Music Theatre Ventures’ Young Creators Award; Puzzle Theatre Festival Select; Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Awards for Lyrics, Music, and Playwriting, B-Side Productions’ New American Musical Award (finalist); the David Mark Cohen Playwriting Award (finalist); and The National Playwriting Award (finalist).  Originally from Kellogg, Idaho, Christian grew up just south of Seattle, but now calls New York City home.

KERRI FORD
HipKidz, Dance Combo, Tap

Kerri is co-founder and managing director of Dance.Laugh.Learn. a music, movement and drama program for kids, and she is a performer who specializes in theatre for young audiences (TYA). She is an alumna of the educational theatre program at NYU where she graduated with a BS, along with a certification to teach theatre in the state of NY. She has performed with a long roster of theatre companies who make it their mission to provide educational shows and assemblies to both children and adult audiences including: Winceyco, ArtsPower National Touring Theatre, Arithmitickles, and Periwinkle Theatre for Youth. 

LYNNE GROSSMAN
Ballet

Lynne Grossman has decades of performing and teaching experience, and currently serves as the Dance Auditions Coordinator for the Department of Theatre and Dance at Montclair State University. She has also taught at New Jersey Ballet, Front-n-Center for Performing Arts, Sharron Miller’s Academy for Performing Arts, and The Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. While on faculty at The University of Texas at Austin, she received the College of Fine Arts Teaching Excellence Award.  

Lynne’s early dance training began with Fred Danieli at the Garden State Ballet. She was then fortunate to meet and study extensively with renowned master teacher and choreographer, Gabriela Darvash, performing ballets such as Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Walpurgis Night.  Her professional career continued with the Israel Ballet, Austin Ballet Theatre, Sharir Modern Dance Company and the Texas National Dance Theatre as co-founder and Director of the Academy. Lynne danced roles in classics such as, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, and Sleeping Beauty. She was honored to perform George Balanchine works including, Serenade, Symphony in C, Concerto Borocco, and Valse Fantasie.  And also performed works by Doug Verone, David Parsons and many original pieces by contemporary artists. At Radio City Music Hall, Lynne performed in over 300 shows as both a ballet and jazz dancer. 

CHRIS HALE
Ballet

Chris Hale is Associate Director, and Director of Education at Pushing Progress Contemporary Dance, which launched in the fall of 2009 and whose mission is to revolutionize the way we train in dance. Chris has served on faculty at Broadway Dance Center, Steps and Dance New Amsterdam. As a renowned master teacher, Chris travels around the U.S. and Canada, and was recently on faculty at the ABT New York Summer Intensive. Professional credits include “KTU's Miracle on 34th Street” where he performed with recording artists: Mary J. Blige, Deborah Cox, Tamia, Gloria Gaynor, and Michael Jackson. In 2002 he had the pleasure of performing with international singing sensation, Anastasia at the FIFA World Cup Final Draw in Korea. Chris also appeared on "Sex and the City" playing opposite Kim Catrall.

His years of experience with the GYROTONIC® methodology has hugely influenced his teaching and brought a heightened awareness to his own dancing. Chris is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

COURTNEY JORDAN
Ballet, Jazz, Pointe

New York native Courtney Jordan, earned a BFA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College, under the direction of Katie Langan.  She has performed works by Christopher D'Amboise, Murray Louis, Anthony Ferro, and Maurice Brandon Curry.  Ms. Jordan was company manager for Matthew Neff, and continues to work with him on his many projects.  She has been an instructor at Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, Pulse PAC, Broadway Dance Center, and David Sanders Dance Dynamics.

LISA KASSAY BOAG - Company Team
Dance Combo, Kids on Broadway, Jazz, Tap

Originally from Lewiston, NY, Lisa is now proud to call Maplewood, NJ home. Lisa received her BFA in drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the arts.

As a performer, Lisa is a proud member of AEA, & has appeared in the Broadway national touring companies of Mary Poppins and Hairspray, serving as a Dance Captain for both. Other national tours include, My Fair Lady, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical, Cats, and Show Boat. Regional productions include, Grease, All Shook Up, High School Musical, 42nd Street, and Anything Goes. Currently, she is a member of Midtown Direct Rep- a company of Broadway performers, who live in the SOMA area.

As a choreographer, Lisa assisted in staging the regional premiere of Hairspray at North Shore Music Theatre in MA. She has served as assistant choreographer on the national tour of Miss Saigon, and choreographed productions at Pittsburgh CLO, the Mac Haydn Theatre, and industrials for Mercedes-Benz China.

Lisa has taught master classes all over the country through Broadway Dance Connection. Most recently, Lisa has served as the studio manager, and lead instructor at Dance with Miss Rachel in NYC’s TriBeCa neighborhood, specializing in song and dance for children 18 months through eight years old. At the university level, Lisa taught a semester at the Shanghai Theatre Academy in China.

Lisa’s most recent accomplishments have been earning a Master’s degree in public relations and corporate communication from NYU, and becoming a mom to baby Jasper!

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HILARY NICOLAI
Ballet

Hilary began her training at age 8 and was dancing professionally with the Indianapolis Ballet Theater by age 14. She trained at The Chautauqua School of Dance, The Washington School of Ballet, The Rock School of The Pennsylvania Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet School and The School of American Ballet before joining the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York City. 

As a student at SAB, Hilary appeared in Christopher Wheeldon’s Le Voyage and participated in the New York City Ballet Education Department’s Lecture Demonstration program, performing Peter Martin’s Eight Easy Pieces, Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Cortege Hongrois and Puss n’Boots. Hilary danced principal roles in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, under the tutelage of New York City Ballet's Patricia McBride and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and performed in Petipa’s Giselle and Balanchine’s Serenade, Western Symphony, La Source and Four Temperaments.

Hilary is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Writing from Columbia University where she graduated cum laude and lives in Montclair, NJ with her husband and three children.

KAELA O'CONNOR - Company Team
Musical Theatre, Tap, 
Advanced Audition Technique, Private Coaching

Kaela O’Connor is very excited to be part of the CAPAS team! She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), holding a BFA in Musical Theatre, and is now living the dream in NYC!  While attending CCM, she was frequently called upon to teach all levels of Tap, Jazz, and Musical Theatre Styles within the Musical Theatre and Dance departments.  Kaela was also credited as the Associate Choreographer for the department's production of "Carrie, The Musical" in addition to serving as the Choreographer for her Freshman and Senior Showcases, the latter of which was presented for industry professionals in NYC.  She has had the opportunity to perform with companies such as: The St. Louis MUNY, Broadway Cares, The Fort Wayne Philharmonic, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Cedar Fair Entertainment.  She can also be seen in a Pepsi/NFL commercial featuring Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback, Andy Dalton.  Kaela is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association and is also a proud big sister to Roxie and Finnigan, the dogs.

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VANESSA PARVIN
Private Voice/Piano

Vanessa Parvin is the soprano for MAC Award-winning vocal quintet Marquee Five, recently described as “The Manhattan Transfer for the new millennium". With Marquee Five, Vanessa has appeared at NYC’s 54 Below and numerous venues across the country. Before joining Marquee Five, Vanessa enjoyed performing in numerous musicals in NYC and regionally, sometimes lucky enough to share the stage with Broadway legends like Ben Vereen. Favorite roles include “Cinderella” in Into The Woods, “Marsinah” in Kismet, “Irene” in Hello, Dolly!, and “Jenny” in The Threepenny Opera. She also had a blast with other members of Marquee Five appearing at the Goodspeed Opera House as part of the “Angel City Four” in City Of Angels. Vanessa has been featured in a number of shows for Disney, and has been a professional holiday caroler for over a decade. She holds a BA in Music (Voice) from UCLA and a MFA in Theater (Acting) from Brooklyn College. Off the stage, Vanessa has enjoyed a variety of jobs as musical director and voice coach for theater camps and music programs on both coasts. She has been teaching private voice and piano lessons in South Orange since 2006. 

JP SARRO
Acting and Acting for the Camera

JP is thrilled to join the CAPAS acting faculty. JP has appeared in commercials, film and television (most recently, “Orange is the New Black”) as well as stages across the US. Favorite theatre credits include: Hairspray, The Full Monty, Les Miserables and The Odd Couple. JP is a graduate of Emerson College and co-founder of Sweet Sarro Productions. He has taught his moviemaking workshops to kids across the nation; most recently at CAPAS. A proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA, JP is the happy husband to Nicole Sarro and proud dad to CAPAS student, 3 year old Paloma!

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JILLIAN SCHOCHET
Kids on Broadway, Dance Combo, Hip Kidz

Jillian is so excited to be joining the CAPAS faculty here in the great state of New Jersey where she began her performing career as a young child! She received her BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University in NYC and has spent over a decade as a professional performing artist all over the globe. As a proud member of the Actors Equity Association she has performed in prestigious NYC and regional theaters including The Theater at St Clements (off-Broadway) and The Papermill Playhouse. Additionally, she has sung the National Anthem for the NY Knicks, spent a year headlining a luxury cruise liner, and performed as 80’s popstar Debbie Gibson’s swing in a large scale Cirque production. Jillian is extremely passionate about using her talents and experience to work with children of all ages and help them experience the joys of artistic expression and performance!

JOSEPH HILL
Adjunct: Private Voice/Piano, Musical Director

Joseph Hill graduated with the Master of Music degree (MM) in voice from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. A native of Arkansas, he earned a Bachelor of Music (BM) degree in vocal performance from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, where he also held the prestigious post as campus organist at the Daniel Memorial Chapel, presiding over its newly installed C. B. Fisk, Opus 121 pipe organ.  Mr. Hill has appeared as vocal soloist with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem and has made other solo appearances with Amherst Early Music and the title role in Handel's Solomon with the Choral Arts Society of New Jersey.  He has appeared with the Vertical Player Repertory (Caccini's La Calisto), Metropolitan Opera Guild (Tolomeo in Handel's Cesare), Gotham Early Music Scene (various concerts), and Operamission in NYC (Narciso in Handel's Agrippina). He was selected as a finalist for the National Opheus Vocal Competition, where he won the Orpheus Handel Award.  He has performed regularly with period ensembles La Fiocco and Vox Fidelis, and made his Off-Broadway debut in 2010 in Guy Frederick Glass’ The Last Castrato. Mr. Hill is in his twelfth year as Director of Music and Organist at the Community Presbyterian Church of Mountainside, NJ.

ELISABETTA SPURIA
Jazz

Elisabetta Spuria is originally from Italy, where she grew up and started her professional career as a dancer/choreographer. 

Since moving to New York City, she has been working with such artists as Mariah Carey (“Charmbracelet World Tour”) and Michael Bolton (“Only A Woman Like You Tour”) as both associate choreographer and assistant director. 

She has been an assistant choreographer, dance captain and performer in numerous theater productions including; Footloose, Nights on Broadway III, and the operas Carmen, Candide and Aida. Elisabetta has worked and collaborated with directors and choreographers like, Josh Bergasse, AC Ciulla, Andy Sandberg, Andrew Goldberg, and Michele Assaf. Elisabetta was the choreographer of the regional premiere of Spring Awakening (ReVision Theatre/TheatreC), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (LIVE Asbury Park), Hair directed by Andrew Goldberg, Chicago at the Michael D. Palm Theatre in CO, The Who’s Tommy directed by Carlos Armesto, Tess A New Rock Opera (NYMF), disOriented, a play by Kyoung H. Park (Peter Jay Sharp Theatre), the Off Broadway play Zelda at the Oasis, Standby (NYMF), Madame Infamy (NYMF), Billy Lewis Jr.’s Jealousy (music video).

Elisabetta was associate choreographer for the PBS children show, “The Electric Company” and for ABC’s 2010 “One Life To Live” musical episodes. In addition, Elisabetta travels extensively to teach master classes and workshops throughout North America and across the globe; she has also been a guest teacher at Broadway Dance Center and at Steps on Broadway in NYC.

KRISTEN "KT" TUNNEY
Production Manager

Kristen Tunney originally hails from Pennsylvania, but is presently delighted to be a transplanted resident of New Jersey.  She is in her second year of a Master’s in Performing Arts Administration at New York University and has her fingers crossed for graduation in May of 2017.  Before joining the CAPAS family, KT’s employment history included such positions as theatre manager, company manager, stage manager and production manager.  She likes to manage things. While attending grad school full-time and working at CAPAS, Kristen is also proud to be a founding member of the production team that manages annual summer productions at the State Theatre in Southwestern, PA.

JITKA VESELA
Jazz, Hip Hop

Jitka is a dancer, model, teacher and choreographer specializing in lyrical, hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary dance.  She is a member of the Elements Community Dance Group and graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague with a major in choreography and trained further at Steps on Broadway in New York.

As a performer, Jitka has appeared in music videos with Victoria Jones, Jaclyn Rose, and Harley; in commercials for Subway, Hanes, American Apparel, T-Mobile, Heineken, and Bud Light; and on film in “Frances Ha,” 2011.

Since 2009, Jitka has been a judge in Prague’s biggest annually-televised dance contest, “Dance Group of the Year.”

Jitka has choreographed for festivals, television, fashion shows, dance groups and theater and served as a judge for dance competitions.

AIMEE WILLIS
Private Voice

Aimee Willis holds a BA from UCLA and a MM from Northwestern. Her operatic career started at the young age of 22 when, directly out of college, she became a leading soprano at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Germany. She has performed with famous conductors all over the world, including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Jiri Kout, Richard Buckley, Carlo Rizzi, Christopher Keene, and Fred Scott. In her concert work, she was fortunate to be included in Guiseppe Sinopoli’s first Carmen with Agnes Baltsa, accompanied by The Danish Radio Orchestra and broadcast in Copenhagen, which she then reprised in Berlin with Baltsa, Neil Shicoff and Denyce Graves. Also under the baton of Sinopoli at the Santa Cecilia in Rome, Aimee performed Parsifal with Waltraut Meier and Rene Kollo.  At the Interlaken Festival in Switzerland, Ms. Willis sang selections from Porgy and Bess with one of the great portrayers of Porgy, Simon Estes.  

In addition, Aimee sang numerous performances at the Berlin Philharmonic, including Bach’s B Minor Mass and St. Matthews’ Passion. Since returning to America, Aimee is creating a buzz with her critically acclaimed portrayals of the title roles in Salome (Atlanta Opera) and Tosca (Opera Fort Worth). Other acclaimed roles include, Fidelio(Leonore) at Atlanta Opera, Eugene Onegin (Tatiana) in Russian with the Hawaii Opera and Atlanta Opera, The Marriage Of Figaro (The Countess) at Hawaii Opera, Un Ballo in Maschera (Amelia), and Don Carlo (Elisabetta) both at Arizona Opera.