Meet Our Teachers

2018-2019 School Year

 

John Smith

John Smith

Teacher: John Smith is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music, Boston, MA; Vatican School of Music, Rome, Italy.

Background: John has been musically active for over forty-eight years and has participated in over 1,100 productions as the musical director, accompanist, conductor, vocal coach, or teacher of music appreciation. He specializes in musical theatre vocal coaching and is a sought after show pianist, composer, and solo artist. His resume includes performances with Connie Haines, Shelley Berman, and the late Tom Poston and Harvey Korman. John is a four-time recipient of the M.T.A. Award for Outstanding Musical Direction/Conducting.



Wrenn Goodrum

Wrenn Goodrum

Teacher: Wrenn Goodrum is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA in Theatre-Acting). She is also an recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Pedagogy from Rhode Island College (2007).

Background: Wrenn Goodrum has decades of professional experience directing and teaching young people. She founded All Children’s Theatre in Providence, RI where she taught and directed shows for twenty-two years. In all, Wrenn has over thirty years of experience working with youth and has directed/produced over 200 plays. In 2009 she moved to NC to be closer to her family and started another company, Activate Community Through Theatre. She is excited to be starting her seventh year with Matthews Playhouse! Wrenn believes in the "POWER of Youth to Create, Imagine, Grow, Develop, Learn and Showcase their Talents."


Emily Witte

Emily Witte

Teacher: Emily Witte received her Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre, from Baldwin Wallace Conservatory in Berea, OH.

Background: In addition to her work here at Matthews Playhouse, Emily is a Voice Teacher at Charlotte Latin School and also has her own private voice studio. She also acts locally. She protrayed Blanche in Bonnie & Clyde at Matthews Playhouse and Martha in 1776 (at CPCC). Outside of Charlotte, Emily performed as a Showgirl in multiple readings/concerts of Ghostlight: The Musical with Carolee Carmello, Rachel Bay Jones, and Phillipa Soo (Mint Theatre/The New 42nd Studio). Emily’s "primary focus is to help students build self-confidence through musical theater, teach them what it means to work as a team to understand someone else’s story and how to express themselves through that."


Stephanie Nicholson

Stephanie Nicholson

Teacher: Stefanie Nicholson received her BFA in Theater/Performance from the University of Georgia.

Background: Stefanie has toured professionally with Patchwork Players in Columbia, SC and has been teaching and directing in the Charlotte area for over fifteen years. Since joining Matthews Playhouse in 2003, Stefanie has taught summer camps and directed year-long theatre classes. Stefanie loves working with children and "believes theater promotes teamwork, builds self-confidence, and strengthens imagination." 


 

 

 

Susan Messner

Susan Messner

Teacher: Susan Messner received her BA in Music Education/ Vocal Performance from Rutgers University (NJ)

Background: While teaching music K-12 for 25 years, she also served 11 years as Vocal Director for Great Valley High School Drama Guild which won numerous best musical awards at the Bucks County Playhouse during her tenure. She was a founder and director of MKM Productions, a theater performance company for young people in southeastern Pennsylvania. She currently teaches private voice and piano and began working with Matthews Playhouse in early 2018.
Susan believes it is important to set "high expectations" because in her experience she feels "most children welcome the challenge and cherish the result."


Cassie Prodan

Cassie Prodan

Staff Member: Cassie Prodan (MPH’s Production Manager) was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance from Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC

Background: Throughout college and after graduation, Cassie worked at various theatre companies in both South and North Carolina, including the Revolutionary War outdoor drama Horn In The West in Boone, NC. A stage manager by trade, Cassie also has experience with costuming and wardrobe, props design, directing, and stage combat. Cassie is thrilled to be a part of the staff here at Matthews Playhouse and is looking forward to another great year! 
 

Jessica Tyler

Jessica Tyler

Teacher: Jessica Tyler received her BA English/Drama–Queens University of Charlotte; Graduate Certification Theatre Education (K-12) and Middle Grades Language Arts from UNCC

Background: Jessica first fell in love with theatre right here at Matthews Playhouse at the age of 14 while teaching summer camps and she decided to pursue it as a career. At Queens University, Jessica created the first cooperative partnership between the college and a nearby elementary school, directing a version of the Wizard of Oz. For the past seven years, Jessica worked as a middle school theatre teacher and founded the Banks Trail Theatre company. Jessica couldn’t be more excited to be back at the Playhouse teaching this coming school year!

sarah atwell300

Sarah Atwell

Teacher: Sarah Atwell received her BA in International Studies with a Minor in Dance from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

Background: New to Matthews Playhouse this year, Sarah loves the movement side of Musical Theater. She enjoys the choreographic process from beginning to end. From teaching fundamentals in the classroom to the final bows on stage, Sarah is passionate about seeing it all come to life. Outside of Matthews Playhouse, Sarah has choreographed for various middle and high school shows, including Grease, Jr., Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella, throughout the triangle area and is currently teaching contemporary/modern classes at local studios.  

 

Sarah Gardner

Sarah Baumgardner

Teacher: Sarah Baumgardner is a graduate of Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, VA where she received her BA in Vocal Performance and a BS in Psychology. She has done Masters work in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and received a Masters of Divinity from Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, OH.

Background: Sarah has thoroughly enjoyed providing private music instruction and vocal coaching over the past 15 years in New Jersey and Ohio, and is thrilled to now be on staff at Matthews Playhouse! An avid sacred music performer, Sarah is most often found singing for local church events, and is the Minister of Music for a Charlotte area congregation. She has also enjoyed being a featured soloist with the Westminster College Choir, the National Honors Choir, and she has prepared roles for opera and musical theater. Most importantly, Sarah’s passion is in encouraging others to explore their musical gifts and she brings that enthusiasm to each class and lesson.

 

June Bayless

June Bayless

Teacher: June Bayless is the Founder AND Artistic Director of Matthews Playhouse. June received her BA in Theatre (w/an emphasis in Directing) from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Master’s in Theatre (emphasis in Theatre management and Creative Dramatics) from Penn State.

Background: June worked professionally in theatre as an actress, stage manager, company manager, and director in PA, NYC, MO, and NC as well as doing some commercial work as an actress. Before starting a family, June worked as a producer at the PBS station in State College, PA. She returned to Charlotte in 1989 and worked as the Director of Education at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte where she also taught classes, created an outreach program, and performed as an actress. Wanting to pursue her directing career, June started Matthews Playhouse in 1995 and has since directed over one hundred children, adult, and class production shows.