Teachers' Bios

Austen Anderson

Austen, originally from Washington Sate, received his B.F.A. in theater from the University of Idaho. He has been working with Northwest Children's Theater since January of 2015. He strives to help students find their own voices, while exploring who they are at their core.

Amy Aronson

Amy teaches musical theatre at NWCT, PHAME Academy, and Spotlight Musical Theatre Academy and works as a private piano teacher and audition preparation coach.  She received her Single Subject English Teaching Credential at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2012, her BA in Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California in 2009, and is currently working toward a M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at Portland State University. Amy grew up in California, began playing piano at four years old, and took the stage as a dancer, actress, and singer by the age of six. Her biggest dream is to see Hamilton on Broadway.

Laura Bryan Birn

Laura loves working with NWCT students as an on-camera/acting essentials class instructor. She received her BFA in drama from the University of Southern California's acting conservatory program and has also studied theater at Northwestern University. Laura made her television series debut on "The Young and the Restless" where played the role of Lynne Bassett, the perpetually love-sick-and-single secretary, for 17 years. During off days from "Y&R," Laura made time to appear in guest-starring roles in episodes of other series, movies of the week, and feature films. In addition, she has amassed numerous theatre and commercial credits before and during her time at "Y&R."

Dustin Brown

Dustin has spent practically his entire life in the theatre; his childhood involvement in his local community and university theatre departments led to a lifelong passion for the performing arts. He has performed across the country at International Thespian Society Festivals, American College Dance Festivals, and multiple community, educational, and professional venues. He received his Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography from Missouri State University. Dustin was honored with several awards, including best actor, best male dancer, and best choreography and has enjoyed working as a choreographer and dance instructor for Metropolitan Performing Arts Academy and NWCT.

Jenny Bunce

Jenny has been a teacher and performer at NWCT since 2010, and is also NWCT's Marketing & Development Associate. An East Coast native, Jenny graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2010, moving to Portland shortly thereafter. Though she has been performing in many capacities her whole life, she remembers her humble theater beginnings as a first grader as a Lost Boy in Peter Pan. In her non-NWCT life, Jenny is an avid backpacker, runner, and photographer. Jenny thinks there is no better job in the world than working with children, because it'd be hard to find a job anywhere else where you can become a dinosaur, a queen, a robot, a jungle creature, a mime, and a monster all in the span of 10 minutes.

Sam Burns

B.A. (theater) PSU degree in progress, Marymount College. Actor: Jack Oakes Theater, Stark Raving, OCT, Portland Actor's Ensemble, Mt. Hood Repertory Theatre, Disneyland, NWCT. Teacher: NWCT Outreach & classes.

Amanda Clark

Amanda joined Northwest Children’s Theater’s teaching team last winter, and has enjoyed leading both weekly classes and day camps in several schools. She holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Southern California, and has completed studies at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the British American Drama Academy in London. She is currently active in the professional theatre community, appearing regularly onstage throughout the Portland area. Amanda hopes to inspire a lifelong passion for theatre and the arts in all of her students!

Laura Wheatman Hill

Laura holds a BA in English and theatre (directing) and a MAT (drama, English) from Willamette University.  She taught with the Woodburn and Centennial School districts in Oregon and in Philadelphia for four years.  Besides NWCT, Laura has worked with Spotlight Musical Theatre Academy, New Moon Productions, Temple University, and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.  She trained with Shakespeare and Company and has taken playwrighting workshops from Jose Rivera and Tony Kushner.  She grew up taking rigorous drama classes and loves teaching dedicated drama students.  Besides theatre, Laura loves reading and playing outside.

Elizabeth Hayden

Liz has been teaching drama to young ones for over 15 years. She began teaching Fairytale drama in Santa Monica in 2003. She currently teaches drama at West Hills Montessori school,  NWCT, and Lakewood Theatre. When she isn't devising shows with children, she is devising shows with her theatre company Hand2Mouth. She has a B.A. from Southern Oregon University and an MFA from Northern Illinois University in Performing Arts.

Matt Haynes

Matt Haynes has called Portland home for 10 years. He has taught numerous classes through NWTCS including both on-site and outreach programs. Matt trained in theatre at Skidmore College (BS in directing) and at the Dell'Arte International School Of Physical Theatre (professional training program). He is the artistic director of The Pulp Stage theatre company and an audiobook narrator on the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). Matt has also had the pleasure of appearing on the NWCTS stage in the company's productions of Redwall and Frankenstein.

Mandana Khoshnevisan

Mandy Khoshnevisan just moved to Portland from the San Francisco Bay Area, where she's been teaching and performing for many years. She graduated from Stanford University with an MA in English and a minor in drama. Lately, she's been working in schools with grades K-12: directing mainstage plays and musicals, and teaching acting, singing, and improv. She's also an actor, a musician, and a puppeteer, and she's been studying, teaching, and performing improvised theater for over 15 years. Mandy loves working with kids in the theater because they're smart, funny, and obvious, and because they tell amazing stories.

Lisa Gilham-Luginbill

Lisa started directing skits and One Acts in high school and has loved exploring theater with kids ever since!  She's been a teacher at Northwest Children’s Theater for several years, and before that she was a camp counselor and on-site director at Tilikum Day Camp.  Lisa has a degree in Music from Whitworth University with a minor in Theater.  She is also an active member of the Portland performing arts world and can be seen onstage throughout the year in the city.  Lisa loves being totally immersed with kids in the world of make-believe and storytelling!

Peyton McCandless

Peyton is an actor, singer, teacher, and Global Somatics™ Practitioner who until very recently hailed from St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from Macalester College with a B.A. in Theater and Music, and within a year began directing and teaching young people K-12 at Ashland Productions in Maplewood, MN. She loves children’s theater because it allows her to give to others the kind of wonderful theater experiences she had as a young person herself, which made her the person she is today. Fun fact about Peytie: she is always reading at least 4-5 books at a time, and has a tendency to hoard her favorite pens.

Sarah McGregor

Sarah is a Portland-based actor, writer, singer and teaching artist.  She's been seen around town with Portland Playhouse, Broadway Rose, Northwest Classical, Willamette Shakespeare, CoHo Productions and others.  She teaches and directs young performers ages 7-18 and encourages creativity and collaboration.  Sarah holds an Acting Certificate from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC and an MA in Theatre Arts from Portland State.  She's a proud Washingtonian and an aspiring cat lady.

Carrie Morgan

Carrie hails from the great state of Alabama, but is happy to have made her way West. She teaches First Stage and Drama Club classes at NWCT. Some of her favorite West Coast credits include: Carrie the Musical (Stumptown Stages), Young Frankenstein (Lakewood Theatre Company) The Light in The Piazza, and A Christmas Carol (Portland Playhouse). Carrie holds her BFA from Samford University where she studied Musical Theatre and the art of throwing the perfect party.

Eric Nepom

Eric is an original Oregon resident and happy to back in the Portland area.  With almost 20 years teaching and over 30 years acting, Eric has enjoyed performing in the Portland area and beyond. A teacher of science and theatre (with a specialty in improvisation), Eric spent a lot of his educational career in the classroom, but as years went by he moved into outreach education and non-traditional programs. Professionally, Eric has enjoyed a full career on stage (primarily in Shakespeare's works) and in film and television. Currently you can find him teaching a myriad of subjects at Northwest Children's Theatre and performing and teaching improvisational theatre all over the world.

 

Boyd Nunley

From piano to Steelpan and back, Boyd grew up with the Blues of St Louis followed by apprenticing on Steelpan for two years in the Caribbean. Returning to school fifteen years later, Boyd is wrapping up a Bachelors in Music Education at Portland State and devotes his time to helping out in the public schools. While teaching private in home lessons and Montessori preschools for the past five years, he continues his mission to teach the tools kids need to create their own compositions. Boyd advocates Musical Theater being a mandatory curriculum
 in elementary public schools because it incorporates all art forms for children to explore.

Maddy Ross

Maddy has been teaching and performing at NWCT for the past 9 years! She received a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and a minor in German with honors from Willamette University in Salem, OR. At Willamette she was active in the Chamber and Jazz choirs as well as the opera department. Maddy is an active performer of classical and jazz music in the Portland area. She performs with Mark and Don Play Jazz, a local jazz duo and sings at First Presbyterian Church in Portland. In addition to her work at NWCT, Maddy teaches private voice and piano lessons at Resound NW in NW Portland. She was last seen on stage at NWCT in The Little Mermaid as a Mermaid Sister and a trumpet-playing Havana Girl. Maddy enjoys teaching theater classes of all ages and styles!

Kelly Stewart

Kelly has been a performer most of her life.  After receiving a theater arts scholarship at CCC, she began performing constantly. She has worked with Lakewood, The Portland Spirit, NWCT, Sylvia's Dinner Theater, Musical Theater Co, Jane, Murder for Sale, Oregon Symphony, and toured Asia with the USO .  Kelly is the proud winner of an OTAS and Drammy Award, both for "best leading actress in a musical."  Her love for children and the arts have inspired her to teach at NWCTS for the past 13 years, where she is the director of Kid's Company NW and the Educational Associate.

Joellen Sweeney

Joellen is a performer, teaching artist and proud Portland native. She holds degrees in Theatre and Spanish from Willamette University, where she also pursued extensive training in vocal music.  She has taught and assisted for several years at NWCT and served for five years as a theatre counselor at the Young Musicians and Artists Camp. Joellen has been seen onstage with Post5 Theatre, Third Rail Mentorship Company, the Dramatic Vocal Arts Ensemble and the NWCT mainstage. Perhaps most importantly, Joellen is a graduate of NWCT’s training programs; she’s thrilled to be a part of the teaching team that taught her to love theatre in the first place!

Camille Trinka

Camille is a Portland-based actor, singer, dancer, and teaching artist. She has a BFA in Musical Theater from The University of the Arts. Camille has been in shows at NWCT, Broadway Rose, Lakewood, Live On Stage, and Theater in the Grove. She recently appeared as Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical at NWCT. Camille has been happy to call NWCT her second home for so many years, beginning classes when she was 8 years old! Camille has been a teacher at NWCT since 2010.

Jen Waters

Jen has been working in educational theatre for 13 years. A native of Corvallis, OR, Jen received her BA in Speech Communications with an emphasis in Theatre from Oregon State University, and began teaching and directing as the Assistant Education Director, at the Majestic Theatre. Since moving to Portland, Jen has taught for Young Players and then NWCT for 6 years. Jen is also a member of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance, as well as being the Marketing Coordinator for Experience Theatre Project- an immersive theatre company in Beaverton, OR.

Jessica Zodrow

Jessica completed her B.A in Theatre Arts from Southern Oregon University in 1998. In 2010 she earned her Master’s in Theatre Education from N.Y.U.  From 2010-2014 she worked with at-risk youth,in special education classrooms and managed a conservatory in the Bay Area. She is passionate about both the art form of theatre and the benefits of studying the art form- such as community building, empathy growth and learning how to laugh all the time. Since March 2014- she has taught camps, directed play-labs and is the Outreach Coordinator for Title 1 Schools here at the amazing Northwest Children's Theater.

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