Studio Instructors


AMY FRANKLIN LEONARDS | B.A. Performing Arts & M.S. Education
Director of Ballet

Originally from Louisiana, Amy Franklin Leonards graduated with a BA in Performing Arts from Centenary College of Louisiana. Upon graduating, Amy moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the arts. After spending a few years in L.A., Amy moved to the Bay Area where she finished her teaching credential and MA in Education.  Amy is currently a Credentialed Teacher with Visions in Education and the Director of Ballet at Lamorinda Theatre Academy. She also maintains a professional performing career. Some of her favorite stage roles include Cheryl in THE TAFFETAS (Altarena Playhouse & Diablo Actors Ensemble), Ariel in FOOTLOOSE! THE MUSICAL (CCCT), Lady Larken in ONCE UPON A MATTRESS (The Playhouse, San Anselmo), Jellylorum in CATS (Woodminster), Maggie in A CHORUS LINE (PCRT), Marian in THE MUSIC MAN (PCRT), Rose in the World Premier of ENCHANTED APRIL (PCRT), and most recently Hope in ANYTHING GOES (PCRT). Amy has international, national, and regional commercial and print credits including Ford, LegalZoom, LeapFrog, Salesforce, Rodney Strong Winery, and Silver Oak Winery to name a few. Along with being a professional actor, singer, dancer, and educator, Amy is also a devoted wife and a mother.


Allison ParaisoALLISON PARAISO
A Los Angeles native, Allison has been teaching many styles of dance and musical theatre all over Los Angeles County and Orange County since 2001. She has been teaching, choreographing and directing in the East Bay since 2014. East Bay choreography and director credits include Seussical (DTC), Spring Awakening (DTC) and Peter Pan (DTC). Some performance credits include: Oklahoma (MTW), Hairspray (MTW), Hello! My Baby – world premier! (Rubicon Theater Co.), Carousel (Reprise!), Meet Me in St Louis (MTW), Long Beach Orchestra Holiday Celebration, Kiss Me Kate (CCPA), and Smokey Joe’s Café (CCPA). She has performed for many great causes such as: Help Is On The Way (REAF), S.T.A.G.E. (AIDS benefit), Broadway In The Park (MTW), Broadway Under the Stars (Reprise!), Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and St Jude’s. She has been fortunate enough to work alongside talented artists such as Lee Martino, Florence Henderson, Patrick Cassidy, Bruce Vilanch, Valerie Pettiford, Jason Alexander, Carole Cook and George Wendt. When Allison is not teaching or performing she’s growing her own business, Images Imagined Photography, specializing in headshots, theatre and dance photography.


Annette BrownANNETTE BROWN | B.A. Dance
Annette first stepped into the dance studio when she was seven years old in her hometown of Moraga, CA. Over the next 10 years she studied, competed and performed dances in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, modern & several other world dance traditions while dancing at the California Academy of Performing Arts. Annette went onto Stephens College in Columbia, MO as a dance major where she studied under one of the world’s greatest women in Tap – Roxane Butterfly. In 2001, Annette was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which forced her to part with her tap shoes long enough to obtain a B.S. in Journalism from San Jose State University and recover physically. Once better, Annette traveled the world, taking and teaching dance classes throughout Europe & Australia. Annette currently lives in Walnut Creek, CA with her husband, Dave, & her son, Sam, who was born in 2013. Outside of the studio, Annette works as a freelance writer, plays the fiddle & has recently taken-up clogging. Annette’s teaching style reflects all that she has learned & come to love through her many years of dance. In addition to teaching fundamentals, her students will be exposed to different dance traditions and histories from around the world while also building self-confidence through improvisational dance & choreographed performance. Above all else, Annette hopes to instill an appreciation for music & dance, & the life skills and relationships that are acquired in the studio. Annette is grateful to be welcomed into the Lamorinda Theater Academy family!


Carmen HansonCARMEN LESSA | B.A. Dance
Stage Manager
Carmen recently graduated San Francisco State University Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor of Arts in Dance with an emphasis in Musical Theatre.  A Fairfield native, she began studying ballet at age four with Solano Civic Ballet. She trained vigorously there for nine years, later dancing with the Benicia Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Ballet Wichita. In high school, Carmen took taking tap and jazz at Dance Direction, headed by Lisa Clark, whose Lisa Clark Dancers reached the quarter-finals in America’s Got Talent.  Carmen has also attended the esteemed Actor Training Program at Solano College where she performed in HOW TO SUCCEED… and THE PRODUCERS as well as leading roles in ROMEO AND JULIET and EURYDICE.   Carmen has been seen all over the bay area in various shows including: THE MUSIC MAN and OKLAHOMA! (CCMT), SINGIN IN THE RAIN (DTC), SPAMALOT and THE DROWSY CHAPERONE (TVRT), ANNIE (Berkeley Playhouse), CHICAGO (PCRT), and A CHORUS LINE (DMT).

 


Jacque WilsonJACQUE WILSON | M.S. Opera Performance
Jacque is hailed as a “passionate singer with beautiful warm tones”. She has more than ten years of teaching experience including three years spent as a musical theater voice faculty at the University of Southern Maine.  She is a California native who spent the last decade performing and teaching on the east coast. Jacque holds a Master’s degree in opera performance from The Boston Conservatory and a Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge. She was the alto soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, under conductor Bernard Haitink.  Favorite opera roles include: Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), LaCiesca (Gianni Schicchi), Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), and Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana).  Favorite Musical Theatre roles include: Julie Jordan (Carousel), Sarah Brown (Guys and Dolls), and Pitti Sing(The Mikado).

 


Jacquie DuckworthJACQUIE DUCKWORTH | B.A. from UCLA
Jacquie is a Bay Area actress who recently appeared as Annette in Town Hall Theatre’s God of Carnage and the San Francisco Bay One Acts. Favorite roles include Mrs. Boyle in Mousetrap (Altarena), Dame Van Tassel in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (SF Shakespeare Festival) and King Edward in Henry VI, Part III (Actor’s Ensemble of Berkeley). In addition to stage work, Jacquie has appeared on-camera for commercials (Blue Shield, Youthful Gold), industrials (Safeway, AAA), television (I Almost Got Away With It), and film (The Game, Who Wants to Go to Heaven). As a performer and educator, Jacquie toured schools throughout the state bringing history to life with Live Oakes Educational Theater’s Complete Condensed History of California and Coyote Tales.   She has directed student productions and taught acting and improvisational performance for San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Town Hall Theatre, Girls Evolve and Adventure Theater. As a guest lecturer at City College of San Francisco she taught improvisation, creative thinking, and team collaboration. Jacquie is a graduate of UCLA and studied directing, British dialects, and audition techniques at Berkeley Rep and acting Shakespeare with Cal Shakes.


Liz WhitneyLIZ WHITNEY | MS.S Music
Received her Masters Degree in Music with a Vocal Performance Concentration from the University of Northern Colorado in 2006 and has since owned and operated a thriving voice studio catering to elementary school aged through adult students. Liz’s teaching, as well as her singing, places an emphasis on Body Mapping, which is the study of our mental representation of our body’s size, structure, and function. She is deeply inspired by Body Mapping because it teaches singers to become educated about and think independently about their bodies and voices and helps singers avoid injury. Liz teaches a wide variety of genres but places an emphasis on musical theatre as she feels that it is an accessible hybrid between classical and pop that is a cornerstone in developing technique. In addition to teaching technique, Liz aids students in learning to sight read, understand music theory, refine stage presence, overcome performance anxiety, learn new repertoire, & prepare for vocal competitions/auditions. She prides herself on her ability to work with singers at differing ability levels & with differing personality types.


Savannah Stratton
SAVANNAH STRATTON |
B.S. Digital Film Making & Video Production
Savannah Stratton has been passionately studying theatre and dance for over twenty years. A Walnut Creek native, Savannah has taught at various dance studios and drama camps throughout the East Bay since 2008. Over the years she has performed with several local theatre companies including Town Hall Theatre, Tri-Valley Repertory, and Diablo Theatre Company. Savannah holds a special place in her heart for musical theatre, dance, and film. Savannah pursued her Bachelor’s of Science in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production at the Art Institute, working alongside filmmakers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento regions. Learn more about her works at www.savannahstratton.net

 


Sierra DeeSIERRA DEE | B.A. Piano Performance & Music Education
Music Manager
Sierra Dee found her passion for musical theatre at the age of 16. She was called in to accompany her first show, “The King and I,” and immediately fell in love with the music, the people and the experience of theatre. Since then she has worked her way up from accompanist to a Musical and Vocal Director working in the Bay Area. She works with many different companies including Contra Costa Civic Theatre, Douglas Morrison Theatre, Tri-Valley Reparatory Theatre, and Pacific Coast Reparatory Theatre. Beyond working as a Musical and Vocal Director for theatre companies, she also is the Musical Director for Cal State East Bay – she plays and directs the musical theatre classes while also musically directing their winter musical each year. As the oldest of five, she has always had a soft spot for children and truly feels that teaching music to children is the greatest gift someone can give. She enjoys giving her students a basis for understanding music whether it is for piano, voice, or musical theatre. While she majored in classical piano performance at Cal State East Bay, she soon realized that teaching music to all ages was what she wanted to do. She recently decided to go back to school and is attending San Francisco State University to get her Bachelors of Music in Music Education to have a degree that better suits her career.


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ALYSSA COVER | B.A. Dance Pedagogy

Alyssa is thrilled to be part of the team at Lamorinda Theatre Academy. She received her Bachelor’s degree in American Dance Pedagogy from Oklahoma City University. Recently, she moved to the Bay Area with her fiancé and their sweet dog, Ghost. She is currently working on her getting a Master’s degree in arts and theology at the Pacific School of Religion. She is fascinated with understanding how dance intersects with all aspects in life including spiritually and religion. Beyond her academic studies, Alyssa has had the opportunity to teach creative movement, ballet, tap, and jazz to a wide variety of dancers. She loves to share her knowledge and passion for dance with her students, and seeks to bring joy into their lives though dance.

 


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EMILY RADOSEVICH | B.F.A. Drama

Emily Radosevich is a Lafayette native and is thrilled to back in her hometown teaching acting at LTA! She’s a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she received her BFA in Drama.  At NYU, Emily worked on various film and TV projects including the quirky web series “Dorm Therapy” and was seen as Mary 1/Elsa in Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play. After graduating, Emily spent much of her time on the East Coast creating roles in new works such as Clare in The Upper Room (IRT @ The New Ohio), Clarice in These Bodies are Garbage (The Shop Theatre), and Jennie in Island Girls (Theatre for a New City).  Since moving back to the Bay Area in November, Emily has worked with A.C.T., The Playwrights Foundation, Indigo Films, and Novato Theatre Company.


WILLEM LONG | M.A. Acting

Willem is an AEA member, Actor, Educator and Activist native to Lafayette. Favorite accomplishments this past year include: puppeteer for one of the nation’s largest opera houses, devising a macabre retelling of PINOCCHIO, acting in a physical theatre production of THE TEMPEST (for which he received an LA Stage Scene award and Broadway World nomination for best featured actor), as well as acting in a National New Play Network world premiere at Capital Stage in Sacramento. His work in Drama therapy with Autistic students has shaped his perspective on the power of transformative performance. He created an Arts Education Program for students with special needs, called the Lyric Foundation Arts for Autism Education Program. Willem holds an MA in Acting from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at University of London.


DANIELLE AVERSA

Danielle has been lifelong performer, singer and dancer. Originally from Boston, MA Danielle studied at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before moving to New York to pursue a career in theatre, film and television. In New York Danielle studied voice with an apprentice of Cornelius Reid, a well-known vocal pedagogue specialist in the bel canto technique. Her theatre credits include originating the roles of Jenny in MUSE at the Manhattan Repertory Theater, Mildred in HAIRY APE at the Boston Center for the Arts, television episodes of Brain Games and On the Case with Paula Zahn and a national commercial for Verizon Fios. After moving to the Bay Area a few months ago, Danielle was thrilled to find Lamorinda Theatre Academy and is looking forward inspiring the next generation of performers. As a teacher she strives to create a fun and dynamic environment to help students develop their confidence in a supportive and nurturing space. In addition to her performing experience, Danielle also draws off her experience as a 200hr Yoga Alliance certified instructor and in January she began an Alexander Technique teacher-training program at the Alexander Educational Center in Berkeley.


ALLISON MENELEY | B.A. Drama

Allison has been performing around the Bay Area for the last 5 years and is thrilled to be joining the Lamorinda team! She graduated with her BA from UC Irvine where she participated in their New York Program working with some of the best in the city. Allison is a former dance instructor from Tiffany’s Dance Academy and has been directing, choreographing and performing with Bay Area Children’s Theatre for the past two years. She is currently pursuing her teaching credentials for elementary and applying to Masters programs in Theatre Education.

 

 


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JAQ DALZIEL | M.F.A. Dance

Jaq grew up in Florida as a ballerina but upon moving to Alaska, all that changed to modern dance and musicals! Jaq has  been teaching dance and choreographing since 2008. Jaq started choreographing professionally with Alaska Theatre of Youth’s production of Alice in Wonderland and teaching dance intensives at their Summer Conservatory. Since then, Jaq has choreographed with Palo Alto’s Children’s Theatre, Wild Berry Productions, OutNorth Theatre, Cyrano’s Playhouse, Bay Area Children’s Theatre and now, Lamorinda Theatre Academy! Jaq obtained an MFA in Dance from Mills College after spending a year in Chicago performing with Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble.  Currently, Jaq is a resident artist at SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts, dance program creator and lead at Brave Trails Camp and is a teaching artist at multiple East Bay schools and studios.


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MICHAEL CAVANAUGH

Originally from Idaho, Michael has been directing and teaching in the Bay Area for over 6 years.  Aside from directing, Michael has a background in Clown, Puppetry, and Physical Theatre with degrees from the University of Utah, the University of Connecticut, and Dell’Arte International.  Michael has taught and directed around the Bay for several theatre companies and school organizations.  Michael is currently directing Twelfth Night with a home school group in San Mateo.  He was assistant director of The Taming o the Shrew with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and directed their green show “The Taming School”.  He directed Ramayana at Civic Arts Stage Company, and Asistant Directed their Alice in Wonderland.  Michael is a member of Actor’s Equity, UNIMA-USA, and Puppeteers of America.  Michael is a Resident Artist with the San Francscio Shakespeare  Festival and an Emerging Artist at the California Shakespeare  Theater.


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JEFF TEAGUE

Jeff is excited to join the teaching staff at Lamorinda Theater Academy and grateful for the opportunity to share his love and passion of dance with others. He has Choreographed and Directed at theaters throughout California including Alameda Civic Light Opera, Contra Contra Costa Music Theater, Diablo Light Opera Company, Bracebridge Dinner in Yosemite, Bay Area Educational Theater Company and Inland Valley Repertory. Favorite productions include RAGTIME (DLOC/Shelly Award), HAIR, AIDA and EVITA (ACLO), and DAMN YANKEES (CCMT-Shelly Nomination). He was Executive/Artistic Director at ACLO and Associate Artistic Director at IVRT. At his time at ACLO he created a successful adult educational dance program that included focused on theater related dance styles and audition preparation. He is proud of many his students who are now performing and teaching professionally throughout the U.S. Jeff also taught at the Westlake School of Performing Arts and currently choreographs for the Davis High School Jazz Choir.  As a performer he worked for 4 years at the Curtain Call Dinner Theater in Tustin, Ca performances including Hello Dolly choreographed by Jim Bates, My Fair Lady choreographed by Al Gilbert and They’re Playing Our Song choreographed by Wanda Richert-Preston, among others. He performed in NO, NO, NANETTE (LaMirada Civic Light Opera) Directed by Teri Ralston, choreographed by Mark Knowles and starring Susan Egan. He was seen as Rex in BABES (RK Productions) starring Stephanie Block. He was also in THE PAJAMA GAME (California Music Theater) Directed by Glen Casale, choreographed by Carl Jablonski, starring Pat Harrington, Mary Jo Catlett, and Patti Colombo and THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER as Beverley Carlton (Inland Valley Repertory) starring Nedra Volz. Other favorite roles include The Snake, Balleader and Narrator in THE APPLE TREE, Scarecrow in THE WIZARD OF OZ and Henry Potter in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Jeff is also the Youth Director at Elk Grove Methodist Church where he shares his passion of faith and inclusion with people of his community.

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