Teachers

Come to The Center and be yourself!

OUR AMAZING TEACHERS

Michelle Van Doeren

(Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Pittsburgh)
Dance Faculty
Michelle Van Doeren began her early dance education at Point Park University’s pre-professional program and later went on to five years of intensive study at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center in New York. In the interim, she received a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She has held faculty appointments at Steps on Broadway (New York), Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts High School and fusion2 (Philadelphia). She has taught master classes at L’Université de Nancy (France), Hawaii National Dance Convention (Honolulu), and for numerous dance programs in the New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia regions. Her choreography has been featured at Point Park University, Steps on Broadway (New York), The Elan Awards with Ann Reinking (New York), The Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, fusion2 (Philadelphia), Carnegie Mellon University, Indiana University of PA, and Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts High School, among others. Her professional performing credits include Norwegian Cruise Lines, Pittsburgh Musical Theatre (formerly Gargaro Productions), Dance Theatre Dayton, The New Dance Collective (Danbury, CN) and performances at numerous New York venues, including The Elan Awards, First Night New York, Steps Faculty Showcases and the Best of Broadway Dance Center at Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Michelle currently holds faculty appointments teaching jazz with Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts and Carnegie Mellon University’s pre-college program and is looking forward to a new adventure with Pittsburgh’s Center for Theater Arts beginning in September 2018.

Aubrey Luttrell

(Chemical Engineering Howard University)
Dance Faculty
Miss Aubrey Luttrell has been teaching, coaching, and choreographing since she was just 15. Since then, she has devoted each day to sharing her talent with the underprivileged kids in her community. Miss Aubrey’s dancing took its shape under master instructors like Leslie Anderson-Braswell (ballet), Terence Greene (modern), Crystal Frazier (hip hop), and Assane Kante (African). She has danced on stages across the East Coast and has been recognized for her performance quality on many occasions. As a chemical engineering student of the prestigious Howard University, Miss Aubrey had the opportunity to choreograph winning routines for competitions and pageants. She also performed alongside notable singers like the late, great Natalie Cole before she graduated. Aubrey’s unique background allows her to combine science and dance to build a very systematic approach to teaching her students to move their bodies. She applies this methodology to her Hip Hop classes at The Centre for Theater Arts.

Jessica Marino

(B.A. Point Park University)
Dance Faculty
Jessica Marino is a professional dancer, educator, choreographer, and arts advocate born in Lehigh Valley, PA. She is a collaborator with Staycee Pearl Dance Project and SHANA SIMMONS DANCE and founding company member of Continuum Dance Theater.  Jessica has a diverse arts administration background as partner to Linda Reznik of River City Artists Management and Development Director of Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange. She is thrilled to be on the teaching staff at University of Pittsburgh and a CTA faculty member, with musical choreography credits including CTA’s Zombie Prom, Music Man, Singing in the Rain, PIPPIN, and Camp Rock.

Elizabeth Calvert

(Dance Performance Degree Point Park University)
Dance Faculty
Elizabeth Calvert, originally from Northern New Jersey, began ballet at the age of 8 under Nancy Volpe. She spent her summers studying at the Rock School, Nutmeg Conservatory, Orlando Ballet, and Boston Ballet.
She went on to attend Point Park University, graduating with a degree in dance performance with a ballet concentration. While at Point Park, Elizabeth studied with great teachers such as Nicolas Petrov, Peter Merz, Dana Arey, Tamar Rochelle, and Ron Tassone. She also had the opportunity to perform in many works such as Nicolas Petrov’s Romeo and Juliet and Ron Tassone’s A Fosse Retrospective and be featured in George Balanchine’s Serenade.
After graduating, Elizabeth danced with Ballet Theatre of Maryland for three seasons becoming a demi-soloist for the 2018/19 season. She was featured in many ballets such as The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet. While there, she taught ballet and jazz for Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s school. She had the opportunity to teach many levels of ballet, but was able to focus on beginning and intermediate levels. She also became certified in beginner and intermediate pilates mat through Power Pilates.Elizabeth is happy to be back in Pittsburgh and pursue her love of teaching dance and pilates!

Billy Hartung

(B.F.A., Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, Point Park University)
Executive Director

Billy received his BFA in Theater Arts in 1993 and later returned for his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction in 2008, both from Point Park University. Billy has taught Acting and Musical Theater for The Performing Arts faculties of The Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), The Pennsylvania Governors School for the Arts and the CMU pre-college program. He is also an active member of the Arts Education Collaborative (AEC) and is the Executive Director of the Center for Theater Arts.

As an Actor Billy has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, in films, television and in regional theatres throughout the country including:

The movie musical “CHICAGO” (Miramax). The 75th Annual Academy Awards (ABC) and The 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center Honors (CBS) with over 1000 performances on the Broadway stage to his credit, Billy has been featured in the “Original Casts” of three Broadway Musicals. Side Show, Footloose and – Minnelli on Minnelli:  Live at the Palace Theatre.

Locally he has performed with the Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, The City Theater, The Pittsburgh Playhouse and Front Porch Theatricals.

Alivia Vereb Owen

(B.A. Point Park University)
Dance Faculty

Alivia received her B.A. in Dance from Point Park University. She is an instructor, director and choreographer for the CTA. In addition, Alivia has been a dance instructor for Carnegie Mellon University, Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh and Regional Dance America. She has choreographed for Stage 62, South Park Theatre, Keystone Oaks and Baldwin High School. Alivia has performed throughout the Pittsburgh area for the Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, Pittsburgh Playhouse and West Virginia Public Theater. This summer, Alivia had the amazing opportunity to choreograph Spitfire Grille and Floyd Collins for Front Porch Theatricals.

Jessica Savitz

(B.F.A. Ohio University)
Acting, Improvisation, Musical Theater Performance Workshop

Jessica Savitz has a BFA in theatre performance from Ohio University. In addition to her classes at The Center, she also teaches acting at The Heritage Players. Besides teaching, Jessica has a huge passion for directing. Recently, she directed Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day at Stage 62 and Mame at The Heritage Players. Jessica was the assistant director for Front Porch Theatricals’ production of The Spitfire Grill and their production of Floyd Collins. She was also the assistant director of Kinetic Theatre’s production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Front Porch Theatricals’ production of The Light in the Piazza as well as Stage 62’s production of Next to Normal and The Rocky Horror Show

Laura Daniels

Music Director
Laura Daniels is a Pittsburgh native and has a varied background as a musician, teacher and actress. She has music directed and taught musical theater for more than 30 years, with the last nine at CTA. Other schools include CLO Academy and Kids Theater Works. Favorite music directing credits include Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The FantasticksYou’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Godspell. Acting credits include You Can’t Take it With You (Alice), Pirates of Penzance (daughter) and Top Girls (Lady Nijo). Laura is co-music director of Temple Sinai’s Mostly Musical Shabbat and is glad to have been a presenting artist for Gateway to the Arts. She has also played in the orchestra pit for musicals, performs solo piano/vocal, and has sung back-up vocals for John McDonald as well as Mark Milovats’ Children’s Miracle Network Christmas shows. Laura recorded the piano tracks for cabaret versions of songs by John Hayes, including I’m a Song, which she co-wrote. She is a member of MTAP (Musical Theater Artists of Pittsburgh), a group of artists who collaborate to write new musicals.

Lorraine Serra

(University of Southern California)

Lorraine Serra has been with The Center for 6 years, as Music Director for the Pathfinder School program in Bethel Park. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, she attended University of Southern California, then worked as a musician and singer for 20 years in recording sessions, touring Europe, working in nightclubs and with Big Band Orchestra. Lorraine appeared in numerous productions as a member of the Burbank Civic Light Opera in Los Angeles. She currently enjoys her role as a teacher with special needs students, as well as teaching private students piano, guitar, and voice, and leading worship and choral groups.

Lisa Marinacci

(BHA Carnegie Mellon University – Drama, Music and Creative Writing, MAPW Masters in Professional Writing Carnegie Mellon University)
Vocal and Musical Theater

Lisa Marinacci recently returned home to Pittsburgh after performing, writing and producing in NYC, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She began working professionally at age 5 in role of Gretel in the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera’s production of The Sound Of Music. She spent the next 15 years studying at The Center for Theater Arts and performing throughout Pittsburgh on stage and in commercials, and also alongside jazz guitarist Joe Negri as a featured singer at events such “Jazz for Juniors.” She went on to study drama, writing and music at Carnegie Mellon University where she earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. While living in NYC, Lisa traveled back and forth to Pittsburgh to co-produce her first album with Joe Negri titled “Waiting For Spring.” She went on to co-produce Snoopy, The Musical!!! in Hollywood, CA, also appearing as Peppermint Patty. During her time in Los Angeles, Lisa created the web series “Welcome to California!” and also began workshopping her original musical, The Devil And Daisy Jane, which received a professional workshop production in Hollywood and went on to win Stage Scene LA’s Best New Musical award. Lisa is ecstatic to be teaching at The Center – a place that always did and still feels like home.

Alex Robertson

(B.Mus. Duquesne University)
Accompanist: Voice and Musical Theater

Pittsburgh native, Alex Robertson, has been an active music director and accompanist in the Pittsburgh area since 2007. He has musically directed productions for South Allegheny High School for the past three years. As a touring musician and songwriter, Alex has performed to audiences across the country and been featured in the Vans Warped Tour. His music can be heard on Spotify,105.9 The X, Kerrang Radio (U.K) and Root Sports Pittsburgh.

Skylar Bunk

(B.Mus., Piano Performance Duquesne University)
Voice and Musical Theater

Skylar Bunk is a pianist, conductor, and educator working in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Currently, he is pursuing his Master’s of Music Degree in Piano Performance and Collaborative Studies at Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music. His graduate work also includes a secondary concentration in Choral Conducting and research emphasis in Embodied Music Cognition. Additionally, he is studying at
Carnegie Mellon’s Marta Sanchez Dalcroze Training Center and is a candidate for the Certificate in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from Duquesne University, as well as a Certificate in Piano Pedagogy. As an educator, Skylar has served in a variety of capacities. He has worked extensively with preschool students and collegiate music majors, has taught piano in both private and classroom settings, and coached vocalists in a wide range of styles. From behind the podium to the front of the classroom, Skylar’s teaching is greatly influenced by his work in Dalcroze Eurhythmics and cognition research. He has performed a diverse span of repertoire in both solo and collaborative settings

Nancy McNulty

(AEA) has an MFA from The Actors Studio Drama School at New School University. She lived and worked in NYC as an actor, teacher and dialect coach for 15+ years before relocating to Pittsburgh. Pace University, Community College of Rhode Island and Pittsburgh’s Shady Side Academy Jr. School are among her teaching credits. Nancy’s dialect work includes Hand to God at City Theater and Big Fish The Musical at Front Porch Theatricals. Pgh acting credits include Pittsburgh Public Theater, Quantum Theater and the role of Lisa in the film “Where’d You Go, Bernedette?” directed by Richard Linklater. Nancy is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio.

Robin Gibson

(B.F.A. Acting, Masters of Library Information of Sciences)
Robin Gibson has her Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting and her Masters of Library Information of Sciences.  Robin teaches Theater and creative dramatics in our Special Actors program at Pathfinder and also on location at CTA. Before coming to The Center, Robin served as a children and young adult librarian for eight years.  In the library field, she had the opportunity to introduce all ages to acting, self-expression and appreciation for the written word.  She is enthusiastic to work with the high caliber of dedicated students that come to learn at The Center.

Jessica Mariotti Tomsic

(B.M., M.M. West Virginia University)
Voice Faculty

Jessica Mariotti Tomsic originally from Cleveland, Ohio, is a classically trained lyric coloratura soprano, having earned a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Vocal Performance from West Virginia University. She has performed professionally in many genres of music, from classical to Christian contemporary, musical theater to gospel, across the United States and in different venues in Europe. She especially enjoys learning new roles and developing new characters. In addition to performing, Jessica created a vocal curriculum for private and group study and maintains a studio.  Many of her students have gone on to pursue singing as a career. She loves teaching at The CTA and helping students grow on their creative path!

Thespina Christulides

Ms. Christulides holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music with an Outside Area in Opera and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Otterbein University

Thespina Christulides is a classically trained soprano with broad involvement as a professional musician, performer, and educator. Having six years of experience teaching private voice, she recently joined the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University as adjunct faculty. An active recitalist and soloist, some of her favorite stage credits include Musetta in La Bohème, Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Mrs. Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera, Juliet in The Little Sweep, Emma Borden in Lizbeth, Lady Angela in Patience, and Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!. She sings with the Professional Core of Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh as well as Voces Solis and the Yinzer Singers plus conducts the choir at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church and the Children’s Choir at Southminster Presbyterian Church. Various high schools and organizations have hired her to assist their musical and choral programs by serving as a guest conductor, vocal coach, clinician, audition adjudicator, and section leader. Most recently she was the music director and pit conductor for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Keystone Oaks Middle School. She has studied under the tutelage of the esteemed Carol Vaness, Jane Dutton, Sari Gruber, and Patricia Wise and coached with James Lesniak, Mark Trawka, Gary Arvin, and Piotr Wisniewski. Ms. Christulides holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music with an Outside Area in Opera and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Otterbein University.

Jennie Van Mastrigt

(Masters in Voice Performance, Boston University)
Accompanist: Voice

Jennie Van Mastrigt has been teaching voice and musical theater for the past 15 years. She received her Masters in Voice Performance from Boston University. Jennie has taught choir and voice at the high school and collegiate levels. Currently, Jennie teaches private voice, serves as director and musical director at the Grand Theater in Elizabeth, and is music director at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church. She has taught musical theater and been a voice accompanist at The Center for Theater Arts for the past 10 years. Jennie taught private voice at Point Park University for 5 years and served as music director for several high school musicals. When she lived in Boston, her high school choir performed at Carnegie Hall. Following their performance, the choir was asked to perform at the Olympics in Sydney, Australia. They performed at several venues during the 2000 Olympics. Jennie is looking forward to another exciting year at The Center.