Faculty & Staff


Jennifer Agbay headshot.

Jennifer Agbay

Jennifer Agbay (she/her/hers) is the director of dance for The Hanover Theatre Conservatory and celebrated founder of Ballet Arts Worcester, whose production of The Nutcracker graces the stage at The Hanover Theatre each November. She received a Bachelor of Science in Dance and Dance Education from New York University. While in New York City, Jennifer worked with several professional companies including The Washington Square Repertory Dance Company and the New York City based “Ballet for Young Audiences.” Agbay was the director of dance at the Performing Arts School of Worcester and directed/choreographed the Worcester Youth Ballet Company. While at PASOW, Agbay founded and directed Company X, created for professional dancers. The company made its debut in 2005 at the PASOW theatre. She was selected by Pulse Magazine as one of Worcester’s 25 to watch in 2005. In addition, Jennifer won both the 2016 and 2017 TAMY Award for “Best Choreographer” for her work with Shrewsbury High School.

Naomi Bailis, conservatory faculty

Naomi Bailis

Naomi Bailis (she/her/hers) is an award winning theater teacher, director and actor. She offers the wealth of over 30 years of experience at the professional, collegiate and high school levels. Committed to helping her students continue their acting training, Naomi’s students and coaching clients have been accepted to the top conservatories in the US and overseas, including, Juilliard, University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon, University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, USC, NYU, Elon, Penn State, Syracuse, Ithaca, Point Park, Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, RADA and others. 

Jake Berger, conservatory faculty

Jake Berger 

Jake Berger (he/him/his) is an artist with over thirty years of experience acting, directing and teaching theatre.  He received his B.S. in Theatre from Emerson College and his M.F.A from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has also trained with Shakespeare & Company, The Barrow Group, The Sandra-Feinstein Gamm Theatre, Dody DiSanto and Patsy Rodenburg. Jake has acted with Advice to the Players, Saco River Theatre, New Century Theatre, The Actors’ Shakespeare Project, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Shakespeare & Company, Maryland Shakespeare Festival, Zeitgeist Stage and Fort Point Theatre Channel. On screen, he has been seen in web series, independent films, commercials, and industrials throughout New England. He has directed for the education programs of The Maryland Shakespeare Festival, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and Shakespeare & Company. As an educator, he has taught on the faculties of Virginia Commonwealth University and The Webster Conservatory in Saint Louis. Jake is currently in training to be certified as a PRA, an Associate in the voice/speech/presence methodology of master voice teacher Patsy Rodenburg. Jake is also a monologue/audition coach and an ESL teacher. He currently resides in Pawtucket, RI. 

Ryan Bernier (Faculty)

Ryan Bernier

Ryan Bernier is a director, teacher, writer, and was recently an Artistic Director for The Second City. Directing credits at Second City include Dream Freaks Fall from Space, Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno, the Jeff Award-winning We’re All in this Room Together (Best Revue, Best Director), A Clown Car Named Desire (Jeff Award Nominated) and America: All Better!! at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Helen Hayes Award-Nominated). Additionally, Bernier has directed productions in Chicago, Boston, Nashville, DC, LA, New York, Tokyo, Beijing, Vienna, Brussels, and on the ocean. He was head writer on several Comedy Central Digital Shorts. He is proud to be a Performing Arts Manager for the Boys and Girls Club in Boston. Ryan was awarded Suffolk University’s “10 Under 10” honor and also teaches at Emerson and Columbia College

Sarah Callinan headshot.

Sarah Callinan

Sarah Callinan (she/her/hers) is an accomplished performer of opera, oratorio, musical theater, big band, and traditional jazz throughout the US and abroad. Some favorite performance highlights include: Cosi Fan Tutte with Opera Carolina, Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Arizona Opera, Carmen with Michigan Opera Theater, Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute with Boston Lyric Opera (tour), Blondie in the “Star Trek” production of The Abduction from the Seraglio with Salt Marsh Opera, the Texas premiere of The Hotel Casablanca, The New Moon and Orange Blossoms with Light Opera of New York, and a recital tour of Sweden as the winner of the Jenny Lind Competition for Sopranos. In addition to her extensive performance career, Sarah is a gifted teacher whose students have been accepted to collegiate music and theater programs, young artist programs, community theater productions, and district/all-state festivals. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Sarah was the Choral Director and Theatre Arts teacher at Holy Name High School from 2015-2020. Her teaching philosophy is: It’s not my students’ job to understand everything I say, it’s my job to figure out how to say things in a way my students understand.

Saharra Dixon, conservatory faculty

Saharra Dixon

Saharra Dixon, M.A., C.H.E.S. (she/her/hers) is an applied/community-engaged theatre artist, certified health education specialist, arts-based researcher and a Dean’s Ph.D. Fellow in the Department of Health Promotion & Policy at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Originally from southern New Jersey, Dixon began her artistic training at New Freedom Theater in Philadelphia, PA, one of the oldest standing Black/African American theaters on the East coast. There she studied Black acting methods, African dance and tap dance. She has performed in numerous productions across Philadelphia and New York City. Dixon received her M.A. in Educational Theatre – Applied Theatre at New York University (NYU) where she assisted in the Theatre and Health Lab, completed a study abroad in Dublin, Ireland focused on building meaning and community through drama, and directed several plays with young people. She has partnered with multiple organizations and institutions in applied theatre for health programming including Spellbound Theatre Company in Brooklyn, NY and Camba, Inc. She received her B.S. in Health Behavior Science from the University of Delaware. She’s developed her own artist-researcher-activist praxis incorporating health and wellness into her artistry. She loves working with youth to help them develop as artists and creatives through a community-based approach rooted in what Bell Hooks calls a “love ethic.”

Robb Gibbs, conservatory faculty

Robb Gibbs

Robb Gibbs (he/him/his) is one of Worcester’s newest residents having lived in NYC for almost fifteen years.  Robb has been teaching around the country for over nineteen years for studios, schools, companies, conventions, and master classes.  He began his training in Arkansas with classical piano, private voice, and dance.  Robb is now a proud alumni of AMDA NY as well as a member of AEA and Impact Dance Adjudicators.  He has been seen Off-Broadway, around the country, and Canada in an extensive array of shows.  His favorites include A Chorus Line and 42nd Street, both directed by members of the original Broadway casts.  Robb is thrilled to be joining with The Hanover Theatre Conservatory to spread his love of the performing arts.  

Sharon Hart headshot.

Sharon Hart

Sharon Hart(she/her/hers) has been involved in Theatre for most of her life. She is an actor, playwright, educator, and director. She has trained and performed in Los Angeles, Seattle, Northampton and Boston. She holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Masters of Art in Theatre Education from Emerson College. She has taught at Wheelock Family Theatre, Brookline Adult & Community education as well as with various companies on the West and East Coast. She is very interested in using Theatre to promote social justice and to empower kids to be their unique selves.

Jilanne Hobson, conservatory faculty

Jilanne Hobson

Jilanne Hobson (she/her/hers) is a highly trained dance instructor in tap, jazz, musical theater, and ballet with over 25 years of experience teaching all levels of dancers. She received her Bachelor of Performing Arts at Oklahoma City University under the direction of Jo Rowan. Jilanne then went on to work professionally in various settings, including the Costa Classica cruise line, at Opryland USA in Nashville, and as a featured performer at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City for Anita Mann Productions. She trained at The Edge Dance Studio in Los Angeles and also assisted Tony Capolla on the Joe Tremaine Convention circuit. Besides being a dance instructor, Jilanne is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, who treats patients ranging from pediatric to geriatric in gross motor activity, balance, coordination, and strength training. Jilanne is also a Les Mills Certified fitness instructor, teaching classes in Body Combat and Body Flow.

Jamie Irwin Brown headshot.

Jamie Irwin-Brown

Jamie received her training at the Allegheny Ballet Academy and Boston Ballet with several summers spent studying at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. She was selected to perform corps de ballet roles in Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and was invited to tour in BBII’s production of Snow White. She went on to dance with Indianapolis Ballet Theatre and the Boston Dance Company where notable roles included the title role in Cinderella, Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker, and Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie and Minkus pas de Trois. Over the past several years, Ms. Brown has enjoyed sharing her passion as a teacher, choreographer and rehearsal coach for studios throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Her students have established themselves with professional ballet companies, in television and on Broadway, as well as continuing on to major in dance at prestigious universities.

Sarah Katarina headshot.

Sarah-Katarina (SKooJ Core-O)

SKooJ brings her knowledge and talents to the performing arts with experience in performance, choreography, instruction and adjudication. She created the Boston Community Dance Project (BCDP), a professional collective expressing their passion of storytelling through contemporary and fusion movements. BCDP’s work can be seen at NYC Dance Week, NYC Carnival, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival and their annual August show. SKooJ is the former Artistic Director of the Boston-based Static Noyze Dance Company (World Of Dance: NYC/NJ Champions and 5x Best Theme Winner), a theatrical hip hop company that has performed for Governor Devaul Patrick, Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition and colleges throughout the country. Her choreography and direction have been featured on HGTV, NESN, The Dr. Oz Show, WayFair.com commercials and MTV. She has collaborated with TedEX Boston/Philadelphia, New Balance, Broadway in Boston, LA’s own Club Jete, Carnival Choreographer’s Ball Anniversary Show and Salty Bovine Films. In addition, SKooJ travels the country adjudicating for a variety of elite dance competitions. Most recently, SKooJ joined the faculty of Artistic Dance Exchange and assists Brian Friedman at his RADIX Dance Convention classes. SKooJ has choreographed for music videos and concert tours with such artists as Tamara Rodriguez, Erene, Lucia Marie, Makio, Bad Rabbits, Ari B and more! She recently showcased her acting talent in movies “Basic Math” starring Cameron Diaz, “TED2” with Mark Wahlberg and “Patriots Day.” SKooJ has inspired thousands of movers around the world, and she will continue to mentor the next generation.

Erin Kearney headshot.

Erin Kearney

Erin Kearney (she/her/hers) is the education administrative assistant at The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Erin is also a proud stage manager, working with THTC’s Youth Summer Program the last three summers. As a freelance stage manager and theatre artist for the last six years, she has worked at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Boston Theater Company, The Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at The American Repertory Theater, Playhouse on Park, Hartford Stage and The Ogunquit Playhouse. Favorite past productions include Cabaret (directed by Otis Sallid), Metamorphoses, And Speak I Will (directed by Tina Packer), first regional productions of both Billy Elliot and Million Dollar Quartet (Ogunquit Playhouse) and The Pirate Princess (American Repertory Theater). Erin holds a BA in both Mediated Communications and Spanish from Stonehill College.

Michelle Leibowitz, conservatory faculty

Michelle Leibowitz

Michelle Leibowitz (she/her/hers) is a theater artist, director, choreographer and teacher with over 30 years of experience.  Michelle attended the Long Island High School of the Performing Arts as a Dance Major and Musical Theater minor. She then attended Binghamton University where she received her BA in Theater. After moving to Massachusetts, Michelle had the opportunity to teach Drama at Wellesley Middle School, Holliston High School and Hopkinton Middle School. Michelle has Directed and Choreographed many productions at local schools as well as community theaters throughout MA. She has also had the opportunity to perform in community as well as regional theaters throughout MA. Recently, Michelle has begun working in film and television. She has done background work with major studios in MA and NYC. She has also had principal and featured roles in several independent films and TV series.

Linnea Lyerly Headshot.

Linnea Lyerly

Linnea holds a B.A. in Vocal Performance/Arts Administration from University of Maryland, College Park. Since moving to New England in 1998, Lyerly has worked in the Shrewsbury Public Schools as an Extended School Care teacher and Classroom Aide. She has been a Music Together parent at Pakachoag since 2004 and was so excited about the program and its benefits, that in 2005 she completed the Music Together teacher training. As the younger of her two children reached elementary school age, Lyerly was happy to be able to continue her involvement with Music Together by joining Pakachoag’s roster of Music Together teachers starting in the Fall of 2010.

Charlotte Mcnutt headshot.

Charlotte McNutt

Charlotte began her studies of classical ballet in northern Virginia where she had the opportunity to study with many wonderful teachers including Thomas Russell, Edward Caton, Leon Folkine, and Oleg Tupine. She then went on to study and perform with the National Ballet of Washington, D.C., under Frederick Franklin and Ben Stevenson. In 1972, she moved to Annapolis, Maryland and became a founding member and dancer with the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis, now Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Maryland’s only professional ballet company. While performing with BTM, she danced many roles including the DewDrop Fairy, Grandmother, Arabian, Snow, Flowers, and Mother Gigone in the Nutcracker, and created such roles as the lead Temptress in Artistic Director Edward Stewart’s 11th Commandment and the mother in Three Faces of Eve. Other roles include the Queen in Sleeping Beauty and the nurse in Romeo and Juliet. Charlotte served as School Administrator for the Ballet Theatre of Maryland School and taught there until 2006. She also worked as Ballet Mistress and Rehearsal Assistant for the Ballet Theatre of Maryland under the direction of the founding Artistic Director, Edward Stewart. In 2012, she moved to Massachusetts and was excited to be able to share her love for teaching with Ballet Arts Worcester, and now The Hanover Theatre Conservatory.

Meghan Montaner headshot.

Meghan Montaner

Meghan Montaner (she/her/hers) is the president of The Hanover Theatre’s Conservatory & Education Division. In addition to her role in helping to open The Hanover Theatre in 2008 and The Hanover Theatre Conservatory in 2017, Montaner is a trained dancer, singer and actress. For 13 years, she was the artistic director, producer and choreographer for the Grafton High School Theatre Department, where she made significant strides in production quality, student involvement and audience participation. She was the program director and intensives program coach for the Westborough Players Club Children’s Musical Theatre Workshop from 2003 to 2009 and previously taught classes for the Foothills Theatre Children’s Program. Her work with the Worcester Public Schools garnered a Community Partner Award in 2012 and the Goddard Scholars Community Partner Appreciation Award in 2014. Montaner’s ground-breaking Adopt-A-School Program, started in 2013, gained national attention for its achievements in incorporating arts into the core curriculum. In 2014, she was asked to present the program at the Broadway League’s Education and Engagement Forum in NYC. Montaner holds a master’s degree in theatre education from Emerson College, where she was awarded the Dean’s Fellowship Award. She is also a 2017 Worcester Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award recipient.

Mark Mummert headshot.

Mark Mummert

Mark Mummert (he/him/his) is cantor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester and assistant director / accompanist for the Worcester Chorus. As a professional singer, Mark has performed with the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival, The Worcester Chorus, Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, the Bach Choir Houston, Houston Chamber Choir, CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) and St. John’s Schola Cantorum. Mark has also appeared on stage in “Pirates of Penzance” (Frederick), “Oklahoma” (Will Parker), “Applause” (Dwayne), “Carousel” (Enoch Snow) and “Anything Goes” (Billy). As collaborative pianist, Mark has appeared in concerts with Arlene Auger, Pamela Cooper-White, Deborah Ford, and the vocal studios of Joan Patenaude Yarnell, Robert Grooters, and Jane Shivick. Mark studies voice with Jane Shivick. Artistic management for Mark is provided by Seven Eight Artists.

Kim Pheymannicie headshot.

Kim Pheymannicie

Kim Pheymannicie (she/her/hers) is a trained theatre technician and stage manager from the Boston theatre scene. She has worked on numerous productions and concerts with Stoneham Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Reagle Theatre as a stage manager and lighting technician. She has worked with theatre educational programs at Stoneham Theatre and Groton School as a production manager, stage management mentor, and has taught workshops in lighting, makeup, and design. Kim received her Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology with a concentration in Technical Theatre from Fitchburg State University, and a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Emerson College. She was a two-time semi-finalist in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival for stage management. She currently works at North High School in Worcester teaching mathematics.

Olivia Dambrosio Scanlon headshot.

Olivia D’Ambrosio Scanlon

Olivia D’Ambrosio Scanlon (she/her/hers) or Livy Scanlon, is a Worcester-based playmaker: a versatile theatre professional working as a producer, director, actor, and teaching artist. She has served in these capacities with organizations including The [email protected], New Rep, Commonwealth Shakespeare, Trinity Rep, Asolo Rep, Paper Mill Playhouse, Hartford Stage, and Bridge Rep, which she founded and helmed for five years, and where she received a 2019 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director and a 2018 IRNE Award for Best Actress. During her tenure at Bridge Rep, Olivia was featured in the Boston Globe and on WGBH, among other news outlets, and had a short essay published on the HowlRound Theatre Commons. Olivia teaches acting in the Department of Humanities + Arts at WPI, and the Department of Theater Arts at MIT, where students and faculty selected her for a 2018 Levitan Teaching Award. A transplant from Cambridge, Livy was appointed to that city’s Mayor’s Arts Task Force, and is a proud Board member emeritus of the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund. A current member of the board of StageSource, and a card-carrying member of Actors’ Equity, Livy earned her MFA from Brown University / Trinity Rep, and her BA from Amherst College (summa cum laude). She now lives in Worcester’s canal district with her wife, Rachel, and their rescue pup, Rusty, and serves as both Artistic Director of The Hanover Theatre Repertory and Managing Director of the Worcester BrickBox Theater in the Jean McDonough Arts Center.

Brenda Shepard headshot.

Brenda Shepard

Brenda has been the House Lighting Designer and Head Electrician at The Hanover Theatre since 2008. Having been bit by the lighting bug in college, Brenda earned her BA from UMass Amherst in Communications with a minor in English as well as an unofficial minor in Theatre. She obtained her masters in Broadcast Production at Boston University. Over the years, she’s created designs for corporate events in arenas and theatres across the region, designed for numerous dance concerts, busked more music shows than she can count and even did a play in a crazy barn with barely enough power to turn on 6 lights at any given time. Brenda has also taught for the Smith College Theatre Department as the Lighting Supervisor. After graduate school, still hooked on lights, she became a Systems Integrator for Barbizon. She designed the lighting and rigging systems for the new Boston Catholic Television studios, designed and installed an energy retrofit project for the Boston Opera House and created the lighting systems packages for MASS MOCA out in North Adams. After many years with Barbizon, the stage beckoned her back and she found her new home at Hanover Theatre. She looks forward to acting as a mentor to new students and helping them to develop their eye in the art of lighting.

Meredith Stypinski headshot.

Meredith Stypinski

Meredith Stypinski (she/her/hers) is a Boston-area Equity actor known for her chameleon-like qualities, playing everything from power lesbians to shy bookworms! Meredith’s approach to teaching and coaching draws upon a combination of techniques she acquired while studying at the Boston Conservatory of Music at Berklee, as well as those she picked up through years of performing. She works with her students to build a strong technical foundation with a wide variety of tools that actors can draw upon for inspiration and guidance. Meredith focuses on connecting the interstitial moments found in each piece to create specific, fully-realized, and truthful characters.

Ana Luisa Thompson Konopka headshot.

Ana Luisa Thompson-Konopka

A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ana Luisa graduated from the Maria Olenewa State School of Dance, the official School of the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro. The Olenewa School is internationally recognized, with graduates performing in major Ballet Companies throughout the world. While a student there, Ms. Thompson-Konopka was chosen to perform in Coppelia and La Sylphide with the Company of Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro. She also danced professionally with the Brazilian Modern Dance Company, Companhia de Danca Rio. Thompson-Konopka served on the faculty at the Performing Arts School of Worcester from 1998 until 2004 where she was a former Ballet Mistress, Assistant Director and Director of Curriculum working under the direction of several known names as Dierdre Miles-Burger and Richard Rein. She choreographed ballet, modern and contemporary pieces for the Worcester Youth Ballet Company and PASOW’s The Nutcracker. Thompson-Konopka has performed in numerous productions of The Nutcracker; she was guest artist with the Melrose Youth Ballet, Dance It Up and PASOW’s since 1997 dancing the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Arabian Princess and Spanish Soloist. Thompson-Konopka has completed the DAVID HOWARD Intensive Dance Seminar for Teachers in 2000 and participated in Boston Ballet’s Adult Summer Camp. She has been the Ballet Mistress at Ballet Arts Worcester for many years.

Cameron Patrick Ward, conservatory faculty

Cameron Patrick Ward

Cameron Patrick Ward is an actor, director and teacher who couldn’t be more excited to rejoin The Hanover Theatre team after a brief hiatus. He has performed at a handful of venues including Universal Studios, Tropicana Field, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, the Jean McDonough Arts Center (for THT Rep’s 2022 production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth) and, of course, The Hanover Theatre itself where he portrayed Gaston in The Hanover Theatre Youth Summer Program’s 2018 production of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast. He has also helped direct several youth theatre productions at The Hanover Theatre (The Music Man and The Music Man Jr. in 2019) and the Palace Theatre in Manchester, New Hampshire. Cameron is a recent graduate of Dean College, having earned a BA in Theatre with a concentration in Acting as well as a minor in History.

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