Instructors

INSTRUCTORS

Christa and Scott Laska

Scott&ChristaFor the past eight years, Christa and Scott have had the distinct pleasure of working at something that they truly love – teaching theater. In 2010, a year after their son Jack was born, they relocated to Haddonfield from NYC, in the midst of careers as performers. Soon thereafter, they fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening Haddonfield Theater Arts Center. With a focus on building confidence in students of all ages through teaching the true collaborative process of the theater, HTAC has grown into the award winning, premiere facility for theatrical instruction in the South Jersey area.

With over thirty years of professional experience between them, Christa and Scott have worked in all capacities with some of the industries finest talents. They have BFAs in Acting and Dance, respectively from Marymount Manhattan College and Scott also attended the British American Dramatic Academy where he studied under Ian Woodridge, Irina Brown, Diana Quick, and Fiona Shaw. Throughout the years they have had the honor of performing for Tony award winning composers ranging from Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie) to David Bryan (Memphis), and with the likes of Shirley Jones, Matt Cavanaugh, David Parsons, Barbara Simon, Alice Ripley and Rosie O’Donnell.

After spending her childhood as a member of the Children’s Ballet Theater in Philadelphia, Christa trained under Katie Langan, Merle Holloman, Virginia Johnson, Chet Walker, Milton Myers, Pat Simon, Jamie Cheetham, and Ginger Prince, to name just a few. She originated the role of Mora in STOLEN at The Ensemble Studio Theater directed by Barbara Simon-Strouse, which ultimately landed in London where it played at the Landor Theater. Christa originated the roles of The Bride in Deep Song at Intar Theater in NY, and Marion in Shoe Palace Murray at The Bernie West Theater in NY. Christa has had the privilege to work alongside Lynne Taylor-Corbett (Tony nominee for SWING! The Musical) as assistant director of HATS! The Musical, based on the Red Hat Society, and also assisted Miss Taylor-Corbett on the original productions of Flight of The Lawnchair Man, Mud Donahue & Son and Wanda’s World.

They have extensive voiceover, film, commercial and television credits, including General Hospital, All My Children, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, Disney’s ENCHANTED just to name a few. Through all of this, they have found that none of their accomplishments hold a candle to what they have achieved here at HTAC over the past five years.

Josh Totora

JoshTotoraBackstageMainJosh Totora is an actor, musician, and teaching artist in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of Rowan University with a B.A. in Theatre Performance, Josh has performed with many area companies including the Wilma Theater, Backseet Productions, and EgoPo Classic Theater. As a teaching artist, composer, and music director he has worked with McCarter Theatre (Princeton, NJ), Hammonton Youth Theater (Hammonton, NJ), and Learning Stages (Glassboro, NJ). Josh is the resident artist with Little Fish Theatre where he has helped develop their touring education programming, and is a member of the children’s rock group Rock the Boat.

 

Benjamin Sterling Cannon

instructors_9_100878332Benjamin Sterling Cannon is a former Soloist of the North Carolina Dance Theatre, and has starred in International / National touring and regional productions of A Chorus Line, The Who’s Tommy, Joseph…Dreamcoat, Blues in the Night, and Smokey Joe’s Caf� to name a few. Mr. Cannon made his Broadway debut in Disney’s The Lion King, starring as the comically maniacal hyena Banzai. A well sought after multidisciplinary Arts Educator, he is the founder of look(see , a producing organization that nurtures self – discovery and personal authenticity through the performing arts. look(see creates and produces original theater and music projects and programming that challenge, uplift, and inspire. Benjamin is currently a guest resident Director / Choreographer for The Children’s Theater Company (NYC) , and the Director of Education and Resident Director / Choreographer at the Westchester Sandbox Theater. Mr. Cannon collaborated with 2009 Grammy Nominated, international musician Uri Caine, and vocalist Barbara Walker to co- write Work it Out (credited as Andrew Sterling Cannon) , for Caine’s Bedrock / Plastic Temptation album. He has created original choreography and commissioned ballets for Opera Roanoke, Philadelphia’s D4N Repertory Ensemble, and Delaware’s Christy Awards for Excellence in the Arts. Most recently, he has directed Mainstage and Young People’s Theater productions of The Last 5 Years, Little Shop of Horrors, Little Women the Musical, 101 Dalmatians, and Alice in Wonderland.

Elizabeth Hawkins

Elizabeth has spent over 15 years working with children with special needs.  She attended LaSalle University where she graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and dual certification in Special/ General education.  She spent several years as a special educator in Hawaii, Virginia and New Jersey where she worked with children with a wide range of disabilities.  She has taught in varied school settings including self-contained and inclusive classrooms.  She has also provided ABA therapy support in the home and daycare settings.  In 2009 Elizabeth went on to complete her Masters of Science in Education with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at Temple University in Philadelphia.  Today, she continues her work with children with special needs focusing more specifically on the autism population as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She is excited to be a new addition to the HTAC family.

Zachary Wiseley

ZachZachary Wiseley is a musical director and piano accompanist who lives in Collingswood, NJ. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, where he studied journalism and film while pursuing music and theater on his own, he currently works freelance for the University of Pennsylvania’s Theatre Arts Program.  He has performed musical theater at Society Hill Playhouse in Philadelphia, and at Player’s Theater and Dixon Place in New York.  A veteran of children’s theater programs himself, he has worked as musical director for the all of Collingswood’s youth and community musical theater programs as well as the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, and has performed theater for children at Philadelphia Plays and Players and the Garden State Discovery Museum. He is a founding member of Pilot Light Theatre Company, and also works as a choral accompanist. Finally, he is one-third of the improv-musical duo, “Suggestical” which regularly performs totally improvised musical comedies in and around Philadelphia.

Katherine Perry

Katherine Perry is a Philadelphia based actor, improviser, and teaching artist. She grew up in North Jersey in the woods with the cows and antique shops, and moved to Philadelphia in August 2010. Her mother grew up in Collingswood, so she is not stranger to the area! Katherine holds a BA from Lehigh University in both Psychology and Theatre, and studied with the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. As a teaching artist Katherine works with the Arden Theatre Company, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, and Theatre Horizon – most notably as part of their Autism Outreach Programming. Katherine is the star and creator of a one-woman show that parodies musical theatre classics.

Adam Ratcliffe

Adam Ratcliffe (Acting for Adults) is a Philadelphia native and in 2002, graduated with a BA in Theater and Communications media. At that time, Adam left his job working under Via Sikahema and John Clark in the NBC sports department and headed to NYC to seek a life enveloped in acting and honing his craft. He lucked out with an auspicious introduction to a scene study class led by Law and Order star Vincent D’Onofrio, who immediately took a liking to Adam’s innate aptitude to instantaneously create sense memory with almost any character. He studied several years with the star of “Full Metal Jacket”, “Men in Black” and “The Cell” (to name only a few), and within two years landed a principle role on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, as Jimmy the tow truck driver. He quickly became a member of both SAG and AFTRA in 2005, and in that same month he landed a starring role in his hometown in a three million dollar indie film entitled “Consequences”, renamed for national distribution by TLA “Playroom”. The film won Best Horror Film in the NYC/LA International Independent Film Festival and best director for Olivier-nominated Stephen Stahl, best known for writing and directing Lady Day, the renowned play that toured all of Europe and is based on Billy Holiday, now coming to Broadway again this year of 2012. Adam again teamed up with Stephan Stahl in a well-received off-Broadway play Straight to Hell, based on a novel of a heroine addict from Wildwood, New Jersey. Adam was given mention in the New York Post for his extremely realistic performance of a junkie criminal who is forced to face the grueling task of recovery in the face of desperation and despair; even the award- winning director Stahl was moved to tears. Adam has since appeared as a lead in many national TV shows, such as Six Degrees on ABC, starring alongside Josh Charles, known for his role in Dead Poets Society, Four Brothers and S.W.A.T. He had a lead recurring role on The Guiding Light, as Officer Burg for several months, as well as a lead in an ESPN documentary of the “Cinderella Man” the Jimmy Braddock story. His next role was as Officer Jones in yet another local Bethlehem and internationally-distributed film Bereavement, a sequel to Steven Mena’s award-winning Malevolence. The sequel starred Michael Beihn and John Savage. Adam Ratcliffe also wrote the original screenplay entitled “Philly Kid” and sold the rights to Adam Mervis and Warner Bros. and executive producer Joel Silver, along with Dark Castle/After Dark Pictures. Adam Ratcliffe was paid for story by credit of this nationally-distributed film, now on demand. He also played a small role on HBO’s hit TV series, ‘Boardwalk Empire’ in Season 4, Episode 10. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2043349/

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