Kara Branch (Costume Design) is a New York City based costume designer and fashion stylist for theatre, film and print. Her designs have been seen extensively across the United States. Kara recently earned her first Broadway credit working on the costume team of the musical Soul Doctor. A native of Mundelein, IL, she began her passion with costumes, theatre and film in high school as fashion student. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. In addition to her undergraduate studies at Western Michigan, Kara studied fashion in London, England at American Intercontinental University allowing her to apprentice under industry leading professionals and develop extensive clothing construction and design skills. After completing her undergraduate studies, Kara attended the University of California, Davis where she obtained a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Costume Design. During her time as a professional designer, Kara has worked for prominent theater's in New York City and California including The Juilliard School, New York Theater Workshop, California Musical Theater and The Flea Theater. Additionally, she has designed several productions around the country including musical productions of The Who's Tommy, The Music Man, Into the Woods, Alice in Wonderland and Fiddler on the Roof; dramatic productions The Mysteries* (with musical direction by Billy Porter), Hamlet, Come Hell and High Water, Dinner with the Stevensons and Leaving Iowa; and the film Cinaphelia.
Hannah Johnson-Walsh (Theater) has been working in New York City since 2012 as a freelance stage manager and as a teaching artist with Roundabout Theatre Company. In addition to her work with the Y, she is currently the production stage manager for EMIT (Educational Mobile Immersive Theatre). As a teaching artist, she enjoys fostering student interest in the design and technical elements of theatre. She has a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.S.ED in Educational Theatre from The City College of New York.
Christopher Johnston (Theater, Props and Wigs) received a BFA in Theatre Arts with a Minor in Education from Hofstra University and a Masters of Arts at the CUNY School of Professional Studies in Applied Theatre. He has worked as a drama facilitator and arts educator for organizations such as TADA Youth Theatre, Primary Stages, Einhorn School of Performing Arts, The YMCA of Greater New York, Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village, Wingspan Arts, and currently serves as the lead teacher of Lower School Drama at Riverdale Country School. He has developed dozens of customized curricula that have been used in many NYC Public Schools for the purpose of general education enhancement and reaching students with alternative needs. Additionally, Chris has served as a props and wig designer for a number of Off-Broadway and Regional Productions around the USA. He is proud to be the West Side YMCA’s Community Arts Teen Theater Collective Director as well as Resident Props and Wig Master.
Annalisa Ledson (Dance) is a teaching artist, performer and choreographer based in Brooklyn. She's taught in the public schools, after school programs and summer camps for over a decade. She has created and performed in new works at BAM, The 14th Street Y, Joe’s Pub, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Windhover Performing Arts, Stonington Opera House, The Tank, Under St. Marks, Mark Morris and The Actors Fund Arts Center among others. She is on the artistic committee and co-producer for National Choreography Month and an associate artist with THEATRE 4the PEOPLE. A recipient of Excellence in Acting & Choreography Awards from Drew University. She is thrilled to be a part of the teaching artist team at the YMCA!
Cynthia Mace (Theater/Acting) Actress CYNTHIA MACE is a dedicated teacher of the craft and popular mentor. She has created roles for authors Barbara Hammond, Murray Schisgal, Lee Blessing, Oliver Mayer, John Mighton, Robbie Baitz, and Tony Kushner. Recent credits: Mrs. Dudgeon in The Devil’s Disciple at New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Phyllis, in Sideways (World Premier) for the La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Des McAnuff. Other credits include: The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet for Yale Rep, Ada in Safe Home for The Women’s Project, Stevie in The Goat or Who is Sylvia? for the Mark Taper Forum (Garland Award, Best Actress). Also for the Mark Taper Forum, Harper in Angels in America (Pulitzer Prize) Millennium Approaches and Perestroika (World Premier,) directed by Oskar Eustis with Tony Taccone. She portrayed Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest opposite Lynn Redgrave for the Papermill Playhouse, Sally opposite Lynn Redgrave in The Mandrake Root, (World Premier) for San Jose Rep. and stood by for Ms. Redgrave in her final role Nightingale Off Broadway at The Manhattan Theatre Club. FILM: Michael Clayton, The Alphabet Killer, Blast From The Past, When A Man Loves a Woman, Fearless. TV: L&O SVU, Onion News Network, Weapons of Mass Distraction, Icebound, and Murphy Brown.
Ashley McQueen (Dance) graduated with a BFA in Dance from Webster University (St. Louis, MO) and is currently pursuing her MFA in Dance from Hollins University, Class of 2018. While in St. Louis, McQueen performed with Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company for two seasons and was twice invited by ANNONYArts to independently choreograph/direct two evening length concerts at Satori, An Artist Space. As a Kranzberg Exhibition Series Guest Artist, she choreographed Laune, a site specific dance performance on rideable lawnmowers for Laumeier Sculpture Park. Since moving to New York, McQueen founded Smashworks Dance Collective and has performed with ShawnBibleDanceCo., Sans Limites Dance, Eunoia Dance Ex, Artistic Abandon, and Bom Diggs. She presented work at HeForShe Arts Week NYC, Dance Astoria Festival, Take Root at Green Space, Tiny Dance Festival, Amalgamate Artist Series, Sans Limites Dance Winter Concert, Marie-Christine Giordano Salon Series, and BIPA Festival of Cultures. McQueen’s choreography has been presented at the Dance St. Louis Spring to Dance Festival, American College Dance Festival, St. Louis National Dance Week, and Regional Dance America SERBA Festivals. She set works for companies such as The Big Muddy Dance Company, Arova Contemporary Ballet, Alabama Dance Theatre, and Southern Danceworks. McQueen received the Monticello Award/full tuition scholarship to attend the National Choreography Intensive as both a dancer and choreographer. She currently directs/choreographs for Smashworks Dance Collective while working as a Guest Artist for Notes In Motion Outreach Dance Theatre, teaching for Pure Barre West Village, and performing in the New York area.
Megan MacPhee (Dance/Theater) Choreography credits include: Washington DC's Opera Alterna, Beggar’s Opera and The Perfect Game at Catholic University, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Romeo and Juliet: A Rock n Roll Adaptation at New Milford High School, NJ. Megan is also a ballet teacher with Grace Theatre Workshop and an acting teacher at two studios in midtown Manhattan. Professionally, Megan is a member of Actors Equity Association; National Tour and Regional credits include Nickelodeon/Broadway Across America, Hairspray, My Fair Lady, Pinkalicious, West Side Story, and Steel Magnolias. Megan is also a professional voice over artist, she has a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre and trained at London Dramatic Academy.
Meghan K. Murphy (Stage Manager) Graduated from Montclair State University with a BFA in Theatre Production and Design with her focus in Stage Management. She has worked on many productions over the years from Dance, Drama, and Musical Theatre. She has just returned back to New York from San Antonio, Texas where she worked as a stage manager for SeaWorld. While there, Meghan worked primarily with the Characters from Sesame Street.
John Prestianni (Music) has been a freelance Musical Director, accompanist, club date musician and composer in New York City for over 20 years after getting his BFA from SUNY Purchase. He teaches vocals and accompanies dance classes at LaGuardia High School, NYU, the American Theater Dance Workshop, and is the singing teacher at both the Acting Studio/Chelsea Rep (out of Shetler Studios) and the Neighborhood Playhouse. He has been a teaching artist for many other schools, colleges and master classes in New York City and abroad. John has also been the Musical Director of Kids Company at the West Side Y for 10 consecutive shows, as well as Music Specialist for YMCA Arts Camp for 6 summers running. As a composer, John has created 2 original children's musicals for BCT (Brooklyn Children's Theater) with Eric Mark Olson; 'The Golden Contender' and 'A Pie-Rats' Tale'. This August in Dallas TX (2014), a full scale production of 'Elsie Janis and the Boys' is being mounted (written with CJ Crittenden), which is a musical tribute to Elsie Janis who entertained troops during WWI. Past project include 'The Black Dahlia' with Richard Sabellico at the York Theater in 2008 (featuring Emily Skinner and Aaron Lazaar), and 'The Vaudevillian' with Brian Henry (produced by Chelsea Rep).
Devra Seidel (Music) is a classical pianist, actor, singer and musical director. She is currently the musical director for Kids Company Showcase, a children’s theater company of the West Side YMCA in Manhattan. While participating in the Alushta, Ukraine Summer Master Classes Devra was chosen to perform for their televised concert. Ms. Seidel has accompanied and performed with Sandra Joseph, Broadways’ ten year Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera. Devra is also a member of TAPNYC Theatre Company in New York and was recently seen with the Broadhollow Theatre as Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, as Abigail Adams in 1776 and as Willy in The Gifts of the Magi. Other favorite roles include Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof and Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Devra is the musical director for an upcoming production of ‘Your name on my lips’ in the Midtown International Theatre Festival. She has a Bachelors’ of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a Masters’ of Music from the Manhattan School of Music.
Heidi Stallings (Theater) believes in the power of creating connections between diverse communities through the disciplines of Drama, Opera, and Musical Theatre. As a professional actor, singer, and dancer, Ms. Stallings has appeared on Broadway and in the National Tours of CATS as Grizabella, directed by Trevor Nunn, ZORBA as Sophia, directed by Joel Grey, and EVITA, as Eva Peron, directed by Harold Prince. For Maspeth Town Hall she has directed, Into the Woods, Jr., Beauty and the Beast, Jr., Annie, Jr., Fiddler on the Roof, Jr., The Music Man, Jr., Dear Edwina, Jr., Guys and Dolls, Jr. In addition, she has lent her voice to multiple award winning animated specials for HBO, PBS, and The Family Channel. A teaching artist for over 20 years, Ms. Stallings is currently on staff with The New Victory Theatre, The Roundabout Theatre Company, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, and Disney Theatricals in New York City. She is a member of AEA, SAG, AFTRA, and ASIFA-East. Ms. Stallings holds a BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University in Music and Drama.
Alana Marie Urda (Dance) has worked as a professional choreographer and teacher in NYC for over 10 years teaching in a variety of programs including The Trinity School, The West Side YMCA and Bridge for Dance Studios. With a BFA in dance from FSU, Alana is Assistant Director of The Trinity School After School Program and is Choreographer for the West Side YMCA’s Professional Kids Company and The Events in Orlando, FL. Alana is also Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Amalgamate Dance Company, Inc (ADC) where she has envisioned and produced a range of distinguished dance events, charity projects, and educational workshops. Her work has been celebrated in renowned NYC venues including Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Series, Boston University, BBKings, The Times Center, Ailey Citigroup, MMAC and Merce Cunningham Studio and tours both nationally and internationally. She is an Artist in Residence at Bridge for Dance and a grant recipient of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Her extensive freelance highlights include choreographing for Lily Chiam’s debut album concert in Asia and Off-Broadway productions, Dear Mr. Rosan / Cherry Pit Theatre, Fiddler on the Roof Jr / The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater and Angels, the Musical / Duke Theatre. She has worked with artists such as Peter Kalivas, Ronnie Demarco, Suzanne Farrell, Dan Wagoner, and Jawole Zollar. Alana is thrilled to be in her 6th year as teaching staff at the West Side YMCA.
Owen Weaver (Music/Percussion) Through a combination of original music, improvisation, and collaboration with leading composers of his generation, percussionist Owen Weaver’s “intensely focused” (Gramophone) performances combine the forces of rhythm, noise, beauty and stasis while seeking the musical potential in everyday life. He uses recycled objects, homemade instruments and electronic sounds to construct a kaleidoscopic sound world ranging from the visceral to the sublime, clangorous to hypnotic. Owen has been featured in the NYC-based Wordless Music Series, MATA Interval Series, Fast Forward Austin, two Nonclassical Records SXSW official showcases, and National Public Radio’s All Songs Considered. A diverse collaborator, he has performed in Europe, South America and throughout the U.S. with Mantra Percussion, Glenn Branca Ensemble, NEWSPEAK, and others including performances with Conspirare: A Company of Voices for a PBS television special and Grammy-nominated album. A passionate educator, Owen has taught at Texas Lutheran University, the University of Texas at Austin, Yale University, the Hartt School and Rikers Island Correctional Facility.
Christopher Weston (Lighting Design) is an award-winning Lighting Designer. Most recent productions include Greatest Pirate Story Never Told (Snapple Theatre Center), Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (LaGuardia Performing Arts Center), Man of the Hour (Metropolitan Playhouse) Noodles Astray (La MaMa). New York theaters include Signature, Alvin Ailey, Kitchen, John Houseman, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 59E59, Cherry Lane, 3LD, 45th Street Theatre, Abingdon, Queens Theatre in the Park, Dixon Place, and many more. Regional productions include Mrs. Mannerly (Penguin Rep), Logomaniacs (Actors Shakespeare Company) Proof, Having Our Say (Hangar Theatre), and The Color of Flesh (NJ Rep). International: T.E.L.O.S. (European Biennial in Athens, Greece). He has an MFA in Lighting Design from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a BFA in Performance Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition to lighting theater and dance, Chris has designed for interiors, architecture, fundraisers, weddings and other events. He is a Teaching Artist for Roundabout Theatre Company.