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Faculty

RANDY (KRAVITZ) ELMAN
Creator/Artistic Director

Randy is the Creator and Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Conservatory. At 5 years old, Randy began her performing career as she sang in the Catskills with her parents Esther and Howard Kravitz (who were both Julliard graduates). Growing up, she sang with the Howard Kay Orchestra and performed in countless shows along side such notables as Jeff Blumenkrantz (How to Succeed, Damn Yankees, Into the Woods), Robert Downey Jr. (Chaplin, Iron Man), Todd Graff (Baby, Camp), casting director Marc Saks (The Good Wife, Person of Interest, 3x Emmy Award Nominee), Jill Geddes (Evita, Disney, Into the Woods), and many others.

 

She is professionally and personally proud of her students who have gone on to performing careers on Broadway, T.V., and Music as well as those who have become Agents, Managers, Directors, Teachers, Musicians, Writers, and Producers. Former students include: Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire,Dawson’s Creek), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserable, Devil Wears Prada), Cathy Trein (Hair,Grease, Gypsy), Nicole Leach (Fame, Shining Time Station), Alison Maloof and Samantha Stoller (Agents at Abrams Artist Agency), Megan Dryfuss (Mama Mia), Brandon Uranowitz -Tony Nominee-(American in Paris, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,Falsettos, Baby it’s You), Amy Englehardt (Grammy nominated band The Bobs), and Kathryn Alison (Aladdin) just to name a few.

 

From 1985 through 2009, Randy served as Artistic Director for Performers Theatre Workshop, a performing arts school for young people. There, she developed a thorough and well-rounded training program geared toward creating the quintessential performer. In addition to over-seeing a dynamic core curriculum, she incorporated guest artists and special workshops to continually challenge students.

 

As an instructor, she has taught song interpretation, voice, tap dance, theatre dance, and audition technique. She has served variously as producer, director, and choreographer for both cabaret shows and book musicals. Additionally, she has been a judge for the Papermill Playhouse Rising Star Awards. Her own background as a child performer makes her keenly sensitive to the needs and concerns of young performers. Her guiding ambition is to pass on her love and passion for the theatre to young performers so that they may take the skills they have learned and use them throughout their lives.

MARY BRIENZA AEA • WGAE • ASCAP
Assistant Artistic Director

Writing credits include co-creator, co-writer, and principal songwriter for The Chalks, The Chalks Television Project for Lifetime Television and Big Ticket Entertainment, the comic monologue collection A Woman Possessed, special material for the dance theatre piece Dance, Dialogue, Reflections, co-writer for the sketch comedy show Girl Talk, web content for thechalks.com, and contributing writer and songwriter for the satiric political cabaret series, The Thalia Follies, at Symphony Space. She shares book, music and lyric writing credits for the musical The Chalks: An American Family In 3 Chords which was the recipient of a grant from the Lucille Lortell Foundation as well as Holidays with The Chalks at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre.

 

Performance credits include Leave It To Me (Off Broadway), Dance Dialogue Reflections with the A&G Dance Company (Dance Theatre Workshop), guest appearance with Jump Rhythm Jazz Project (Kaye Playhouse), the solo comedy A Woman Possessed, the sketch comedy trio Girl Talk, as well as productions of 42nd Street, My One & Only, and Mame. At Symphony Space she has appeared in Wall-To-Wall Cole Porter, Wall-To-Wall Broadway, Bloomsday On Broadway, Helpers (Thalia Reading Series), and is a recurring cast member of the political cabaret series The Thalia Follies. For the past 12 years she has appeared extensively as her songwriting alter ego Judeen Chalk of the country music sister act The Chalks, and has been seen and heard on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, radio markets across the U.S. as well as Belgium, Sweden and Guam, and stages throughout the country.

 

As an educator, she is a respected teacher of tap dance, jazz, and theatre dance at levels novice through professional. She has served on the faculty for Broadway Dance Center, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jacque D’Amboise’s National Dance Institute, and American Theatre Dance Workshop. She has taught throughout the country for Dance Educators of America, Dance Masters of America, and Robert Christopher’s Dance Teachers Seminars. She is currently an adjunct teacher and choreographer for New York City’s High School for Performing Arts.

 

As an educator, she is a respected teacher of tap dance, jazz, and theatre dance at levels novice through professional. She has served on the faculty for Broadway Dance Center, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jacque D’Amboise’s National Dance Institute, and American Theatre Dance Workshop. She has taught throughout the country for Dance Educators of America, Dance Masters of America, and Robert Christopher’s Dance Teachers Seminars. She is currently an adjunct teacher and choreographer for New York City’s High School for Performing Arts.

Christina Cruz
Managing Director

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Christina has been choreographing, directing, and teaching for the Musical Theatre Conservatory since 2019. In the fall of 2023, she became the Managing Director. 

Christina began dancing at the age of 3 and always had a passion for musical theatre, ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical. After graduating from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in English and Psychology, she decided to go back to school for Musical Theatre at Florida School of the Arts.  Christina attended Montclair State University where she received her MA in Theatre Studies. Post graduation, her dance background expanded to include ballroom dancing and she became a member of the National Dance Council of America. She is a certified ballroom dance instructor and judge throughout the United States Terpsichore Association in American Rhythm, American Smooth, International Standard and Latin. She is thrilled to be able to share her love of musical theatre with her students. 

Christina is also the administrator/producer of Montclair State University's Theatre Night Awards and Professional Development workshops. She also is an adjunct dance faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University. 

 

GUEST ARTISTS

Brandon Uranowitz AEA

Brandon is an American actor who was nominated four times for a Tony Award and won in 2023 for his role performance in Leopaldstadt. He was also nominated for his roles in An American in Paris, Falsettos and BurnThis.

Uranowitz trained at NYU and had roles in off-Broadway productions prior to being cast in Rent. He was part of the ensemble cast of Evita at the Papermill Playhouse, held the roles of Richard in Richard III and the King of France in All's Well That Ends Well at Classical Studio, the role of Cardinal Bellarmin in Galileo at The Skirball Center, the role of Dante in Only Children at The Abe Burrows Theatre, the role of Feste in Twelfth Night at the Kirk Theatre, and the role of Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs / Broadway Bound at the Old Globe.

In the jukebox musical Baby It's You!, Uranowitz played the role of Stanley,the blind composer and son of Florence Greenberg as played by the Tony Award Winner Beth Leavel.

 

Brandon also had minor appearances in the television series Law & Order: CI, As the World Turns, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Soul Man.

He grew up in New Jersey and was a student of Randy Elman for over 10 years.

Dwayne Clark  AEA • SAG/AFTRA

Broadway credits include Smokey Joe’s Café (Adrian), Tarzan,Urinetown, In the Height (Benny), The Color Purple and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. National tours: Smokey Joe’s Café and Rent (Collins), tick, tick…BOOM! (Michael) Dwayne has been seen on television on the drama Serious Money, Live From Lincoln Center as Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess and on Great Performances – My Favorite Broadway The Love Songs, and as the NYU Student Boyfriend in the film Eat Pray Love. As a vocalist, Dwayne has appeared with the Tempations and the Four Tops and was a winner of Amateur Night at the New York’s famed Apollo Theatre.

Jeff Blumenkrantz  AEA • SAG • BMI

Jeff began his career as an actor, performing on Broadway in Into the Woods (1987), Threepenny Opera (1989), Damn Yankees (1994), How to Succeed in Business… (1995), and A Class Act (2001), Sweeny Todd, Bright Star and on TV/film in Joseph … Dreamcoat, Will and Grace, all three Law and Order series, and the Great Performances (PBS) telecast of Candide in Concert, Hercules (2023).

 

It was Audra McDonald’s recording of his song “I Won’t Mind” (lyrics by Annie Kessler and Libby Saines) that jumpstarted his songwriting career. Since then, Jeff received a Best Original Score Tony nomination for his songs in Urban Cowboy, and his one-act pieces, Woman with Pocketbook and Precious Little Jewel, have been performed at several regional theatres around the country. Additionally, he has received song commissions from both Carnegie Hall and the Guggenheim’s Works and Process program. Most recently, his songs have been recorded by Sutton Foster, Rebecca Luker, Victoria Clark, Lauren Kennedy, and Megan Mullally.

 

Jeff is a recipient of the Fred Ebb Award, the BMI Harrington Award and the Dramatists Guild Jonathan Larson Memorial Musical Theatre Fellowship. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and a longtime member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. In 2005, he published a songbook of his music and produced The Jeff Blumenkrantz Songbook Podcast, which featured live performances of those songs. The podcast episodes can still be heard by visiting iTunes or www.jeffblumenkrantz.com. Jeff also produced and hosted The BMI Workshop Songbook Podcast, featuring never-before-available music by members and alumni of the acclaimed musical theatre writers’ workshop. It, too, can be found on iTunes or at www.bmiworkshopsongbook.com.

Bethany Pettigrew

Bethany performed in the German National Tour and Broadway productions of CATS in the roles of Sillabub and Rumpleteazer. She has been the co choreographer of the CHS musical for 15 years and was the associate choreographer in the most recent Broadway production of Godspell. Bethany is a casting director and baby wrangler for clients such as Huggies and Walgreens.

Faculty

James Harvey

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James Harvey is a musical theatre composer, lyricist, and performer. His one-man show, The Bald Faced Truth: Comedy Songs by James Harvey, addresses such timely issues as the #resistance, cats, and male pattern baldness. As a musical comedian, James has performed at New York City venues like 54 Below, The PIT Loft, Club Cumming, Sidewalk Cafe, The West End Lounge, and The Triad.

 

James wrote the book, music, and lyrics for The Crack in the Ceiling, a darkly comedic musical about a single mother, her son, and their kitchen ceiling. The show was presented at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and the New York International Fringe Festival, where it received the award for Overall Excellence in a Musical.

 

 A member of the BMI Musical Theater Writing Advanced Workshop, James is currently writing the music for a show about the U.S. Supreme Court. He is also writing the book, music, and lyrics for a musical about Amazon.com.

 

In addition to writing and performing, James is a sought-after music director, vocal coach, and accompanist, working for such companies as Tada Youth Theater, A Class Act NY, and the American Musical Theater Academy. James studied music composition at New York University on a scholarship from composer Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Little Shop of Horrors).

Stephen Purdy

Stephen Purdy is the director of the American Musical Theatre Academy of New York and Artist-in-Residence at AMTA London. He is known as the author of the book "Musical Theatre Song: A Comprehensive Course" published by Bloomsbury and available at Bookstores online and everywhere. He is the founder of The New York Vocal Coaching Studio and spent many years on musical theatre faculty at Marymount Manhattan College and other higher education institutions. His students have been cast in the Broadway and touring companies of virtually every majoy Broadway musical in the last 15 years including WICKED, KINKY BOOTS, THE LION KING, JERSEY BOYS, BILLY ELLIOT, IN THE HEIGHTS, HAIRSPRAY, AVANUE Q and many others. His credits include musical director and conductor of a number of Broadway, off-Broadway, National and European tours and he regularly gives master classes and worships at universities and arts institutions throughout the US and around the globe.

Rachel Black Spaulding  AEA • SAG/AFTRA

Rachel’s performance career spans Broadway, Off Broadway, regional theatre, summer stock, and film. She has shared the stage and screen with such luminaries asRoger Daltrey, Barbara Cook, Hal Linden, Roddy McDowall, Tony Randall, Chita Rivera, Frances Sternhagen, Jennifer Tilly, Ben Vereen, and more. She has had the privilege to work with numerous renowned directors including Woody Allen, Susan Stroman, the late Mike Ockrent, Graciele Daniele, and Gordon Hunt.

 

After taking a career hiatus to start a family, Rachel recently stepped back on stage as Vita in Eileen Atkin’s Vita and Virginia at Luna Stage to rave reviews! Other favorite productions and roles include: Broadway’s A Christmas Carol (Mrs. Cratchit),Shmulnik’s Waltz (Feyla), Troylus and Cressida (Andromache), The Mandrake(Lucrezia), Damn Yankees (Lola), A Chorus Line (Val), Oklahoma! (Laurie), The Land of Dreams (Helen), Rags (Rosa), the movie Bullets Over Broadway (Three Deuces Girl) among others.

 

Additionally, Rachel currently serves in the Literary Association at Luna Stage. There she works with the Director of Play Development evaluating incoming script submissions, providing input to create each season, and working directly with playwrights on new scripts in both acting and directing capacities.

 

Rachel has studied with some of the most lauded teachers in the industry includingWilliam Esper (Two-year Meisner Program), John Basil (Shakespeare), the latePierre LeFevre (Masks), Fay Simpson (actor’s movement/Yale Faculty), and Bruce Kolb (voice). She began a BFA at SUNY Purchase, left to work professionally, and then completed her degree by earning a BA in Theatre with honors from State University of New York Empire.

 

Throughout her career, Rachel has also worked as an instructor teaching and coaching acting and voice in private and educational settings. She loves sharing her passion for and teaching the craft of theatre!

Steven Ted Beckler  AEA

BROADWAY credits: The Most Happy Fella – Lincoln Center (Pasqualle standby), Beauty and the Beast (Wed. matinees Gaston, Beast understudy). NATIONAL TOURS: Original Cast of The Producers – Las Vegas Co. (Max, Roger , and Franz understudy),Radio City Christmas Spectacular – The Grand Ole Opry (Santa Claus), The Producers – Leo Co. (Franz & Roger understudy), Beauty and the Beast – Los Angeles (Beast Standby, Gaston understudy). OFF BROADWAY: Tovarich – The Vital Theatre, Little Kit – The Vineyard Theatre. REGIONAL: Over 30 musicals across the country. TV/FILM & several national COMMERCIALS. House of Cards.

Heather Holcombe

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Heather Holcombe is an experienced voice teacher with a specialty in Musical 
Theater, repertoire, vocal technique,and college audition coaching. She is adept at seeing the whole picture and skillfully preparing and guiding the student and parent through the arduous and confusing year of Musical Theater auditions. As a child, Heather worked with such accomplished performers as Gordon MacRae and Tommy Tune. After graduating Temple University with a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, she performed opera throughout the country and sang as a featured guest artist with symphonies in the U.S. and Canada. Heather is currently on the vocal faculty at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. and owns a private studio in Summit, NJ. She has 35 years experience training emerging Musical Theater artists and preparing them for the complicated and daunting process of auditioning for musical theater conservatory and university programs throughout the nation. Her extensive knowledge of the programs and their audition requirements as well as her keen ability to select pieces that showcase the performers’ individual strengths have allowed her to help her students go on to graduate from such esteemed programs as: Boston Conservatory, Emerson College,

Hanne Ladefoged-Dollase

Danish born, Hanne Ladefoged-Dollase, is a sought-after singer, teacher and lecturer in New Jersey, who has taught voice for 23 years on both sides of the Atlantic. She has been on the Voice faculty of the Ridgewood Conservatory since 2004, and has been affiliated with the Bergen Academies as a voice coach since 2005. Her students have been accepted at prestigious voice programs, such as Manhattan School of Music, NYU, Michigan State, UCLA, Westminster Choir College, among others, and regularly perform at celebrated venues like Lincoln Center, NJPAC, The Stone Pony, The Bitter End, as well as with various opera companies.

 

In Seattle she was the artist-in-residence at several performing arts high schools, and served as voice coach and musical director on an array of musicals. In addition to a busy performing career, she was also the director of previews for the Seattle Opera Guild and lectured and sang with Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program for several seasons. In the New York area she has served as musical director for Pippin (Bergen Academies)Fame, Grease (Acting-A-Part) and Into the Woods (Lead Pac).

 

As a performer, Hanne enjoys a multi-faceted career as a recital, oratorio and opera singer that has taken her as far as Europe and as close as Carnegie Hall. Recent roles include the Goddess Erda (Das Reingold) the title character in Julius Cesar, and Marcellina(Marriage of Figaro), as well as premiering new opera works. . She especially enjoys performing with her own group, Beowulf Consort, a chamber ensemble that tells stories through music.

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