Faculty and Staff Biographies
A champion of arts integration, Host served as a consultant for the Pennsylvania Department of Education and worked with the Maryland State Board of Education. As a teaching artist, she served in multiple residencies including the Maryland School of Theatre and Dance Artist Teacher Institute, the Prince George’s County Artist Teacher Institute, the 21st Century Teaching Institute and the Global Arts Integration Network. She taught in residence at the Riverside International School in Prague, Czech Republic in 2016 and was invited for a return engagement as their dance scholar-in-residence. As a choreographer, she set work on the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company of Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as the Momentum Dance Company from Panama. The University of Maryland-College Park commissioned her piece, “The Decadent Ball,” which was selected for performance on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. In addition to a national and international presence as an educator, performer and choreographer, Host is an advocate for student success and has extensive experience in accreditation, fiscal sustainability and facilities and production management.
Jason Ammons is an Assistant Professor of Scenic Design. Specializing in scenic and costume design, he has designed several shows for the Oak Ridge Playhouse in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee. His work has been accepted into the Istanbul International Puppet Festival and he has been recognized for excellence in scenic design as an emerging artist by both the South Eastern Theatre Conference and the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology. His work has been exhibited at the Bohemian National Hall in New York, NY. He holds an MFA with an emphasis in Scenic Design from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He received undergraduate degrees in Art and Anthropology also from the University of Tennessee. He served from 2000 to 2008 in the United States Navy as a member of the 7th Fleet, Destroyer Squadron 15, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.
Jill Matarelli Carlson
Acting, Movement, Stage Combat
Jill Matarelli Carlson is a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors. She has worked as an Entertainment Cast Member for Walt Disney World and co-founded the Odyssey Express Touring Theatre Company, whose goal was to bring quality theatre experiences to children in the Chicago-land area. Carlson has worked professionally all over the United States as both an actor and fight choreographer. She staged the violence for the world premiers of Chalk at the Chicago Cultural Center and The Gray Ghost and Gray Ghost Voices in Virginia. She received an MFA in Acting with a Movement Concentration from Western Illinois University and is a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher. Favorite roles include Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!, Matron Mama Morton in Chicago, the title role in Antigone, Mrs. Walker in Tommy, Amy in Company, Lindsay in Some Girl(s), Tigerlily in Peter Pan and the Herald in Marat/Sade.
Introduction to Theatre/Global Theatre
John Carlson teaches Introduction to Theatre (Distance Education and Face-to-Face), Global Theatre and Theatre History. He received a BA in Communications from Salisbury State University in Salisbury, Maryland, an MFA in Acting from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois and an NC State Teacher’s License, K-12 from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He has toured the Midwest with a children’s theatre company through Western Illinois University. At ECU, he has performed in The Tempest, Oklahoma!, Cabaret, The Underpants, Kiss Me, Kate!, Coriolanus and other productions. In the summers of 2009, 2010 and 2011, John taught ECU students in Italy for the College’s Italy Intensive Program. During this time students visited Rome, Venice, Sienna, Florence, and other Italian cities. In the summers of 2016 and 2017, he taught acting and theatre history courses at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea.
Theatre for Youth, Theatre Education
Patricia “Patch” Clark is the coordinator of the Theatre for Youth and Theatre Education programs. She is the founder and Director of the ECU Storybook Theatre, which tours to schools, libraries and festivals and appears as part of ECU’s Arts Smart and Family Fare Series. She has directed many children’s theatre productions including Willy Wonka, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, James and the Giant Peach, Seussical the Musical, The Stinky Cheese Man, Charlotte’s Web, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Jungle Book, and The Secret Garden and written and directed original works including Tales From Around the World, My Hero Reaching for the Stars, The Runaway Bear, All Aboard America! and All Aboard South America! Most recently she has directed Treasure Island, The Little Prince, A Christmas Carol, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hobbit, and School House Rock Live! She has worked as both teacher and consultant for public and private schools and the Virginia Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Richmond. During the summer of 2012, she traveled to the Kurdistan region of Iraq with the YES Academy to work with children in theatre.
She has acted in a number of productions including such roles as Bianca and Scrooge’s Niece in Othello and A Christmas Carol, respectively, for the American Revels Company. She has appeared in numerous ECU/Loessin Playhouse and ECU/Loessin Summer Theatre productions including My Fair Lady, Inherit the Wind, A Doll’s House, Misalliance, Our Town, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, A View from the Bridge, Crazy for You, Grease, Footloose, Yerma, Grapes of Wrath and the Crucible. She directed the Off-Broadway premiere production of Katmandu at the John Houseman Studio Theatre. She is the author of Intergenerational Arts in the Nursing Home (Greenwood Press) and co-author of Seniors on Stage (Praeger Press.)
Clark received the Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award presented by the UNC Board of Governors in 2013-2014, the Scholar-Teacher Award in 2012-2013 and the ECU Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2011-2012.
Directing and Acting
Bryan Conger is an Assistant Professor of Directing and Acting. He teaches Directing I & II, TV/Film Acting, Acting I, Professional Preparation, and Advanced Acting. Bryan is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and has spent much of his professional career working in regional and educational theatre. He has a BA in theatre arts from Indiana University Northwest and an MFA in directing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has spent the last eight years in North Carolina as an artistic administrator and educator. He served as artistic associate at Triad Stage in Greensboro for five seasons where he directed The Mystery of Irma Vep, Deathtrap, Dirty Blonde, Pump Boys and Dinettes, A Christmas Carol, My Fair Lady; tick, tick . . . BOOM! and Billy Bishop Goes to War. Bryan next served as the interim Artistic Director at Cape Fear Regional Theatre where he directed Caroline; Or Change. He has also directed at several venues in NC and some favorite credits include Godspell (Guilford College), Into the Woods, Oklahoma, Balm in Gilead (UNCG), Souvenir (Paper Lantern Theatre Company), Gidion’s Knot (Bartlett Theater), and Young Frankenstein (ECU). Bryan made his NYC directing debut with world premiere of the play, Skeletons (Broadway Bound Theatre Festival). He has served as adjunct faculty or a guest artist at of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Greensboro College, Elon University, Guilford College, and Marshall University. Please visit www.bryanconger.com to learn more about his work.
Teal Darkenwald teaches jazz, ballet and modern technique classes, dance composition, and a variety of science-related dance lecture courses. She has been a guest artist at Ballet Philippines, Visceral Dance Center, Radford University, the University at Buffalo, Glendale Community College and Salve Regina University and has taught dancers in several notable companies including the Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Arizona, Boston Ballet and BODYTRAFFIC. Her choreography has been performed at venues including Dance Theatre Workshop (now known as New York Live Arts), the Alvin Ailey Theatre in New York City and the Cultural Center for the Philippines in Manila. For many years she served on the faculty of Magnus Midwest (formerly Joffrey Midwest) and Magnus Northwest each summer where she taught contemporary and jazz and staged choreography. Darkenwald’s research focus in dance science involves the 3D kinematic analysis of movement and functional supplement training. She serves as the faculty mentor for the ECU Dance Science Club where she also leads a study abroad in collaboration with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Darkenwald’s publications include a chapter on the theatrical jazz dance artist Jack Cole in Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches. She has received several grants and awards for her scholarship including the Teaching Grant Award, the Research and Creative Activity Grant, the Alternative Text Award and is a two-time recipient of the Regional Artist Project Grant. In addition to teaching, Darkenwald serves on the advisory board and has performed with Balasole Dance Company in New York City. Her professional affiliations include involvement in the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, the National Dance Education Organization and the American College Dance Festival Association. Prior to moving to North Carolina, she taught at the University of Arizona, Glendale and Scottsdale Community Colleges and Ottawa University. Additionally, she served as Co-Director and Resident Choreographer for Physical Graffiti Dance Company. Darkenwald earned an MFA in Dance with an emphasis in Choreography from the University of Arizona and a BFA in Dance Performance and BS in Exercise Science from the University at Buffalo in New York. Prior education and certification includes a 480 hour one-on-one Pilates training program, a Zena Rommett Floor-Barre® Intensive, an IFTA Indoor Cycling certification and a holistic health coach certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
John Dixon has been exploring dance via improvisation, choreography, teaching and performance since 1985. He received an MFA in Dance with an emphasis on Experiential Anatomy from the University of Washington and a BA in Dance in Choreography and Performance from the University of Maryland. Dixon has been on faculty at Texas Woman’s University, Cornish College of the Arts and the University of Washington, and has taught classes and workshops at festivals, colleges and universities across the country. His choreography and collaborative projects have been presented at numerous venues throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as in Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. Dixon has performed nationally and internationally with Kei Takei’s Moving Earth, Stephanie Skura’s Cranky Destroyers and the Seattle based dance-theater company 33 Fainting Spells, among others. He has performed with improvisational dance artists Lisa Nelson, Steve Paxton, Nina Martin, Karen Nelson and Danny Lepkoff and was a founding member of the collaborative improvisation ensemble, ROOM with composer Stuart Dempster and movement artists Sheri Cohen and Tonya Lockyer. In addition, Dixon is featured in the critically acclaimed dance film, Measure, by Dayna and Gaelen Hanson. Measure was the first dance film screened as a part of the New York Film Festival can be seen as a part of the Dance for Camera DVD. Dixon is an active maker of dance films and his work has been screened throughout North America as well as in Europe and Japan. He currently teaches choreography, improvisation, modern technique, anatomy for dancers and Introduction to Dance.
Acting/Voice and Articulation
Tracy Donohue specializes in acting and vocal production for actors and has worked professionally as an actress with the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, the International Theatre in Vienna, Austria, and summer stock companies. She has acted in the ECU/Loessin Summer Theatre where she had the opportunity to act with Kim Hunter and Orson Bean in Painting Churches, Pat Carroll in Nunsense and with Ronnie Gilbert in Quilters. Tracy received a BA in Theatre at the University of the Pacific. She trained at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and earned an MFA in Acting from the University of California, Davis. She is a member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA). She serves as a vocal coach for Storybook Theatre. During her tenure at ECU, she has directed numerous workshop productions. Recently, she has been studying Writing for Solo Performance. She teaches a class in it and performed her own solo piece, Home in Greenville, NC in 2014.
Jessica Doyle-Mekkes is the vocal coach for the Musical Theatre BFA program. In addition to applied voice, she teaches Intro to Musical Theatre Voice, which explores the structure and function of the voice, as well as stylistic approaches to the many genres in the musical theatre repertoire. She holds a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance and an MM in Opera Performance from Central Michigan University. She is a Level III Certified Teacher of Somatic Voicework™ and a member of both the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Voice Foundation. Doyle-Mekkes specializes in teaching Contemporary Commercial Voice, with a special interest in Rock/Pop vocal techniques. While pursuing her graduate work, she was a member of a faculty committee for Musicians Health and Wellness. Vocal health and fitness remain at the forefront of her teaching. Prior to returning to graduate school, she spent a decade working as a vocal coach and performer throughout the United States mainland, in Honolulu and for two years in Seoul, South Korea. In addition to coaching voice, she is an active performer in both the classical and musical theatre arenas. Favorite roles include Maria Rainer in The Sound of Music, Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and Rose Stopnick-Gellman in Caroline or Change.
Gregory Funaro has worked professionally as an actor in New York City and all over the U.S. in regional theatre, summer stock and national tours. He holds a BA in Theatre from the University of New Hampshire, a master’s degree in Theatre History from Brown University, an MFA in Acting from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, and is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. His ECU/Loessin Playhouse acting credits include 1776 (Ben Franklin), Our Town (Stage Manager), Brigadoon (Mr. Lundie), Play It Again, Sam (Bogart), Big River (The Duke), Guys and Dolls (Nathan Detroit), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Melvin P. Thorpe), Grease (Vince Fontaine), As You Like It (Jaques), My Three Angels (Joseph), Damn Yankees (Applegate), The Rivals (Jack Absolute), The Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio), Romeo and Juliet (Tybalt), Much Ado About Nothing (Don Pedro), My Fair Lady (Henry Higgins), Inherit the Wind (Hornbeck), Of Thee I Sing (Fulton), Arsenic and Old Lace (Mortimer), Hello, Dolly! (Vandergelder), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Marcus Lycus), The Tempest (Duke Antonio) and The Time of Your Life (Joe). Funaro’s ECU/Loessin Playhouse directing credits include The Importance of Being Earnest, Hedda Gabler, The Imaginary Invalid, The Underpants, The Crucible, Orpheus Descending, The Elephant Man, Crimes of the Heart, Dracula, A Streetcar Named Desire, Las Meninas, Medea, and Sense and Sensibility. He is the instructor of the two-year professional actor training sequence in Meisner Technique. He is also a published author whose works include the New York Times bestselling Odditorium series of children’s books from Disney-Hyperion, as well as the forthcoming House of Night and Day and Forest of Light and Dark from HarperCollins.
Tommi Galaska received a BFA in Dance Performance from East Carolina University. She teaches all levels of jazz dance and is the co-director of the newly-formed ECU Jazz and Tap Performing Company. Her professional work includes James Kelly Choreography Project in Chicago (dancer), ECU Summer Theatre (Robber Bridegroom, Peter Pan and The King and I), North Carolina Theatre (42 Street and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). Her choreography credits for the ECU/Loessin Playhouse include Dance 1999-2006, Gypsy, A Chorus Line, Hair, The Pajama Game and Godspell. For the ECU/Loessin Summer Theatre, she choreographed Ain’t Misbehavin’, Damn Yankees, Always Patsy Cline, Smokey Joe’s Café (director), Footloose and Guys and Dolls. She is the founder/choreographer for Multiple Choices for the Children, a jazz dance benefit for Duke Children’s Hospital, which celebrated its 20 year Anniversary last year.
David Ingram began his training in Kingsport, Tennessee under Karen Gibbons-Brown. After graduating with honors from Butler University, he performed with Louisville Ballet under Bruce Simpson and North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) under Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. He has performed the works of choreographers including George Balanchine, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Val Caniparoli, Sean Curran, Mark Diamond, Nacho Duato, Nicolo Fonte, William Forsythe, Adam Hougland, Sasha Janes, Alun Jones, Alonzo King, Pete Lay, Robert North, Jon Prichard, Andre Prokovsky, Domy Reiter-Sofer, Dwight Rhoden, Choo San Goh, Uri Sands, Ben Stevenson, Twyla Tharp and Anthony Tudor. Ingram’s choreography has been performed at Charlotte Ballet, Fort Wayne Ballet, Chautauqua Institute, Louisville Ballet and the Kentucky Governor’s School of the Arts. He was a founding member of Empujon as well as a guest performer with Sinergismo. He holds an MFA in dance from Hollins University in association with the Forsyth lab in Frankfurt, Germany. He is currently an assistant professor.
Dirk Lumbard has taught dance, theatre dance and scene study at NYU’s CAP 21, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), North East Carolina Prep School, and at masterclasses at University of Michigan and Sarah Lawrence. He is the recipient of Stratford Theatre’s Tyrone Guthrie Award, Canada’s Stage Door Award, and Chicago’s Jefferson award. He served as Assistant Choreographer for the Broadway and London West End productions of On Your Toes and co-choreographed the Off-Broadway production of Dames At Sea. His director/choreographer credits have included productions at The Guthrie Theatre, The Paper Mill Playhouse, St. Louis MUNY, Pioneer Theatre and Cape Fear Regional Theatre, among others. He assisted famed choreographer, Agnes de Mille with productions of Rodeo and The Informer at American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey and Winnipeg Ballet Company, creating tap/step-dance sequences, which the company still performs. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, Lumbard produced and directed gala benefits including Dance For Life at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and a fashion/ variety benefit at Carnegie Hall for Designers Against AIDS. As a performer, he has appeared on Broadway in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Music Man, Imaginary Friends, On Your Toes, Barnum and Sugar Babies. Off-Broadway credits include Dames At Sea, Flora the Red Menace and She Loves Me. National tours credits include The Wizard of Oz, Grand Hotel, Crazy For You and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He has performed in numerous theatres around the country and numerous productions regionally at North Carolina Theatre and Cape Fear Regional Theatre. He’s performed on television on Home Improvement (which he also choreographed), Deadline and Alice In Wonderland.
Theatre History and Dramaturgy
Jen-Scott Mobley holds a doctorate in Theatre Studies from the City University of New York Graduate Center and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Theatre Criticism from Brooklyn College. She has worked as a production dramaturg in university settings and as a freelancer in New York City, where she worked for companies including the Public Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and the White Horse Theatre Company. Her publications include numerous reviews in Theatre Journal, Shakespeare Bulletin, Ecumenica and Theatre Survey as well as her book, Female Bodies on the American Stage: Enter Fat Actress (Palgrave 2014.) Her essay “Melodrama, Sensation, and Activism in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined” is forthcoming in 2016 in the Critical Companion to Lynn Nottage (Routledge). Mobley is an active member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) as well as the American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR), the American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS) and Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America (LMDA) and is the Immediate Past President of the Women and Theatre Program. Prior to graduate work, Jen-Scott worked regionally as an actor; among her favorite credits is her work at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival.
Dance and Dance Education
Marissa Beth Nesbit is Assistant Professor and coordinator of the Dance and Dance Education programs. Prior to joining the faculty, she completed a PhD in Art Education at the Ohio State University, where she was awarded both the Graduate Associate Teaching Award and the Manuel Barkan Dissertation Fellowship. Nesbit has extensive experience teaching dance in K-12 schools through programs with the North Carolina Dance Theatre and the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she was Director of Dance Education. She holds an MFA in Dance from Texas Woman’s University and a BA in Psychobiology from Pitzer College.
Galina Panova is a graduate of the Perm Choreographic School and Ballet Academy in Russia. Her professional career includes Principal Ballet Artist with the Tchaikovsky Opera House in Perm and the Kirov Opera and Ballet in St. Petersburg. As a Principal Star Guest Artist, Panova has performed with the Vienna Staats Opera, the Ballet du Louvre, and in many companies across the United States. Her classical repertoire includes Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and many more. At the age of eighteen, she won a gold medal at the Varna International Ballet. She appeared on Broadway and in London in the leading role in On Your Toes, choreographed by Balanchine. She studied with Ludmilla Sakharova, Galina Ulanova, Natalia Dudinskaya, Sulamith Messerer, Nina Timofeyeva, Alexandra Danilova and Birgit Cullberg. She has taught in the Staats Opera, Jerusalem University of Music and Dance, the Bejart School of Switzerland, Rome Opera House and at Texas Technical University. At ECU, she teaches ballet and pointe.
Assistant Director, Stage Management
Jeni Parker serves as Assistant Director and area coordinator of the Stage Management concentration. Parker worked at a variety of theatres including Theatre Memphis, Circuit Playhouse, Memphis Black Repertory Theatre, Ohio Valley Summer Theatre, Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre, The Harrell Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Charlotte Repertory Theatre. She received a Memphis, TN Theatre Award for Best Set Dressing for her set design of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress. She received an MFA in Production Design and Technology from Ohio University, and a BA in Architecture and a BA in Theatre Design from Lehigh University.
Reid Parker has served as Technical Director for Theatre Memphis, Memphis Black Repertory Theatre, Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre, Ohio Valley Summer Theatre and Mars Hill College. In 2001, he won the AACT Southeast Regional award for best set design for The Beauty Queen of Leenane. He holds a BA in Communication and Theatre Arts from Western Carolina University and an MFA in Production Design and Technology from Ohio University.
Aimee Radics serves as vocal coach and accompanist for the Musical Theatre Techniques courses in the BFA Musical Theatre Concentration, working closely with Michael Tahaney to facilitate the combination of acting and vocal technique through song interpretation. In addition, she teaches Freshmen Musical Theatre Fundamentals and Senior Special Topics, a class she is developing that focuses on Repertoire and Musical Theatre Audition Preparation. Radics enjoys working closely with students as music director for the student-run 5th Street Players. Her teaching, coaching and music directing styles are all process-oriented, with an emphasis on strengthening musicianship and encouraging thorough research and preparation of style. Radics holds a bachelor’s degree in music and theatre as well as a Master of Music in Musical Theatre and Opera Conducting from Ithaca College. Between and throughout educational pursuits, she worked extensively as a music director, coach and pianist/conductor in regional, cruise ship and education theatres across the country. Professional highlights include Cortland Repertory Theatre, Big Arts Herb Strauss Theatre, Post Playhouse, Florida Studio Theatre and Norwegian Cruise Line, with favorite music directing and conducting credits including Next to Normal, 9 to 5, A Chorus Line, [title of show] and Sunday in the Park with George. An eternal student, Aimee is a member of the Musical Theatre Educator’s Alliance and continues to pursue professional development opportunities to stay up-to-date on the industry to best serve her students.
Voice and Articulation/Acting Area Coordinator
Prior to joining the ECU faculty, Natalie Stewart taught voice and speech in such distinguished programs at the University of Texas at Austin, Brandeis University in Boston, Bowling Green State University in Ohio and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. In Utah, Ohio and North Carolina, she has acted in numerous productions. Her roles include General Cartwright in Guys and Dolls, Doris in Damn Yankees, Hypatia in Misalliance, Eliza in My Fair Lady, Rita in Educating Rita, and Cherie in Bus Stop. She received an MFA from the Theatre Voice Coaches and Trainers Program at the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado. Stewart teaches voice and speech and serves as the Dialects and Vocal Coach for ECU/Loessin Playhouse productions. She is a member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association.
Michael Tahaney is the BFA Program Coordinator for the Musical Theatre concentration. He earned a BA in Theatre Arts at the University of Central Florida and an MFA in Musical Theatre at San Diego State University. His graduate studies were completed after a lengthy professional career where he performed internationally in European tours, on cruise ships, at Walt Disney World, on regional theatre stages and in the world premiere of the Tony Award-winning Thoroughly Modern Millie. He is a member of Actors’ Equity and has been recognized by PBS for outstanding musical theatre performance. Favorite roles include Bobby in Company, El Gallo in The Fantasticks and Hermocrates in Triumph of Love. In addition to teaching musical theatre BFA concentration courses, he enjoys performing with his students and fellow professional actors. During the ECU academic seasons and the ECU/Loessin Summer Theatre he has appeared in Damn Yankees, Smokey Joe’s Café, Guys and Dolls and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. He directs and has collaborated on many benefits, galas and special event revues regionally and nationally.
A gifted professional pianist and music director with over a decade of experience in the cruise entertainment industry, Evan Whitfield has accompanied and musically directed countless domestic and international vocal entertainers and instrumentalists, including Louise Dearman, London’s West End Broadway star, as musical director of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tell Me On A Sunday for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in 2014. Other musical theatre productions he has directed or performed for include Avenue Q, Sunday in the Park with George, Working, The Fantasticks, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Threepenny Opera and Bye Bye Birdie. Whitfield has worked as a musical theatre vocal coach and accompanist at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts in New York and as a private school music teacher for the Dublin School in New Hampshire. As a performing artist, his many years of cruise work has taken him all over the world, and he has completed three world cruises on Cunard’s famous ocean-liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth from 2005-2008. In 2015 he was asked to headline his own Piano Entertainer show for Azamara Club Cruises, resulting in several performances of his own arrangements of Broadway classics, Liberace show-stoppers and classical and Latin music. As a jazz pianist and composer, he has recorded several independent jazz albums under his own name, and recently he was nominated for “Best Jazz Song” from his 2011 album Hillbilly Interstellar Travelogue, for the 12th Independent Music Awards. He holds a Masters of Music in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
Jeff Woodruff has been the Theatre Management instructor and Managing Director of the Playhouse and Summer Theatre since joining the staff in 1998. He has a BFA from ECU and an MA (Arts Management) from American University in Washington, DC. In the intervening years between graduating and returning to his alma mater, he has amassed considerable experience with a wide variety of performing arts organizations. This includes two large-scale touring companies, the Opera Company of Boston and the Frank Holder Dance Company; and two presenting organizations, Wolf Trap and the (Jacksonville) Florida Theatre Performing Arts Center. He has also worked with arts service organizations such as Southern Arts Federation, Affiliate Artists and the Georgia Council for the Arts/Arts in the Atlanta Project. In his current position, he oversees all aspects of marketing, front-of-house operations, and finances for the School of Theatre and Dance, the Playhouse, and the Summer Theatre. He also devotes considerable time as an ex-officio member of the Friends of the School of Theatre and Dance and as an advisor to the Student Government Association, Fine Arts Funding Board.