Mary Joy Nelson is thrilled to see her vision for professional youth performing arts training come to fruition in the creation of InnOVATION Arts Academy. Ms. Nelson teaches in the Musical Theatre Certificate program at the University of Kentucky and completed her graduate studies in vocal performance at UK Opera Theatre. This year, she will teach the Musical Theatre Showcase class and serve as musical director for Once on This Island for the Department of Theatre and Dance. As a vocal coach, music director, and casting director, she has worked on numerous musical productions, including the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance (Hair 2015, A Christmas Carol 2013, Spring Awakening 2013), KCT Summerfest (Legally Blonde 2012), and UK Opera Theatre children’s choruses and children’s operas (South Pacific 2015, Little Nemo in Slumberland 2014, Les Miserables 2013, Brundibar 2012, La Boheme 2007/2011, The Little Prince 2004 and It’s a Grand Night for Singing 2004-2015). She received a master’s degree in Vocal Performance in 2006 and will graduate with a doctorate in Vocal Performance this December. Ms. Nelson served as the Youth Coordinator for the World Equestrian Games, assisting Global Creative Connections in preparing 156 students to perform in the opening ceremonies of the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY, 2010. In partnership with Global Creative Connections, Ms. Nelson has prepared children’s vocal ensembles to perform for former President Bill Clinton at the Lexington Speech and Hearing Foundation Gala and for Laura Bush at the “Day Among Friends” literacy event in Lexington, KY. Ms. Nelson founded the Academy for Creative Excellence preparatory program at the University of Kentucky under UK Opera Theatre, beginning with Broadway Bound programs in 2007. During her time at A.C.E., the program received numerous awards and several students realized their Broadway dreams at early ages, landing major roles in national Broadway productions (Audrey Bennett, Sound of Music National Tour 2015-16, Brooklyn Shuck, Annie, Matilda, Tuck Everlasting, Les Miserables on Broadway 2014-16, Sydney Shuck, Annie National Tour, 2014-15). Ms. Nelson has been teaching youth and children in the performing arts for over 20 years. She is active as a vocal instructor in Lexington, KY, maintaining a private studio of classical, crossover and musical theatre students. Mary Joy Nelson would like to thank the board of InnOVATION Arts Academy for investing and believing in her vision to create excellence in performing arts training for the children of Kentucky. You have made a way!
Colleen Ireland comes from the Garden State of New Jersey. She has performed throughout the United States and internationally, showcasing her talents in a variety of styles of dance. Highlights of her professional career include sharing the stage with Andrea McArdle who played Annie in the original broadway cast; the Gatlin Brothers, John Byner, Trinity Broadcasting Networks. As a professional dancer, Colleen starred as Cleopatra at Caesars Palace in Atlantic city, New Jersey and opened forThe Apprentice in Atlantic city. Ms. Ireland has participated in many outreach arts efforts, showing love and compassion through dance in orphanages in Russia, China, and Jamaica. She has taught dance and has choreographed for the Northern Kentucky Theatre and Dance Department, The Cincinnati Ballet Academy and the School for the Creative and Performing Arts in Lexington, KY. Colleen holds her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Northern Kentucky University. She has spent summers training at the Boston Ballet and Ballet Magnificat in Jackson, Mississippi.
Eric Henniger received his BA degree in Theatre & Cinema Performance from Asbury University in 2010. During his time at Asbury College, he was an actor in numerous productions. He has also performed with BCTC, UK Theatre and Actor’s Guild. Eric currently has directed an educational setting at the KidStuff theatre program at SoAcres Christian Church, and for the CHC theatre group for 1st-12th grades. Eric co-owns the Darringer Studios film production company and has directed numerous theatre and film productions. His recent film projects include On the Rocks for the Los Angeles Film Studies Center.
Gabrielle Barker is from Lexington, Kentucky and has her bachelors in vocal performance from the University of Kentucky. She most recently played Miss Andrew in the Lexington Theatre Company's production of Mary Poppins. She as also performed the roles of Cosette in Les Miserables, Johanna in Sweeney Todd, and The Doll in the Tales of Hoffmann with UK Opera Theatre. She is a current studio artist with Kentucky Opera and will be singing in the chorus of their upcoming season. Last year, she performed in their outreach program “Exploring the River Region” and in their production of Showboat. Gabrielle barker won the 2016 VSA International Young Soloist award and performed at the Kennedy Center this past May. Ms. Barker has been a competitive figure skater since age 7 and is working on becoming a certified ice skating coach. She enjoys knitting, crocheting, playing with her three dogs, ice skating, and singing in her church choir.
Marcus Thomas is a music instructor on both the private and classroom level for Innovation Arts Academy. He is currently in programs for both Music Education and Composition at the University of Kentucky to be completed in December of 2016. Marcus has been teaching music for three years in many settings, including a growing private vocal studio, music directing a production of Elf Jr., and assisting with the summer 2016 production of It’s a Grand Night for Singing at the University of Kentucky. Marcus recently completed training in the Orff-Schulwerk method and is now fully certified at the first level. He has received many awards over the years at the University of Kentucky, including the John Barnes Chance Composition Award and the Brett and Jackie Scott Choral Award. Marcus is very excited for the upcoming inaugural year of InOA and is grateful to be given the opportunity to be part its staff.
Mary Grogan holds a MA in English Education, and an MA in Theatre from the University of Kentucky. Her research interests lie in Musical Theatre villainy, the cognitive sciences, and Audience Response Theory. Some of her directing credits include: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, Kaufman & Hart’s You Can’t Take it with You, Silhouettes of Broadway: A Musical Revue, Seven Deadly Sins: A Musical Revue, Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story, and Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy. Other recent notable credits: Assistant Director UK Opera Theatre’s The Phantom of the Opera, “Outings: A Ten Minute Play” (writer/director,) presented at the Kentucky State Fair as part of their 2012 New Kentucky Works series, film acting debut as “Piper” in the independent film Jane’s Everlasting Heart Condition. She currently teaches courses such as Intro to Theatre and Musical Theatre History at the University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, and BCTC. She has taught high school drama and arts history courses, as well as Theatre in Diversion classes through the Fayette County Juvenile Court system. She has taught at the BCTC Upward Bound Program, directing their end-of-summer Talent Show at the Singletary Center for the Arts and receiving their “Most Influential Teacher” Award in 2013.
Jack McIntyre is from Lexington, Ky. He received theatrical conservatory training at the North Carolina School of the Arts and graduated from the HARTT School with a B.F.A., after studying abroad in England. He has been certified by the Society of American Fight Directors in stage combat styles of hand-to-hand, rapier-dagger, broadsword, and knife. Mr. McIntyre has done extensive performing as an actor, with specializations in physical acting, Shakespeare and classical theatre. Credits: Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra, Mercutio Romeo and Juliet and Aslan inThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, with fight choreography credits for both Shakespearian works. He was also the fight choreographer for Cats at Lexington’s Opera House in 2008. Jack holds his masters in education and is a para-educator at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. He has worked with children and young adults for the 16 years in school and on the stage.
Alberta Labrillazo has taught theatre at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) for the past 18 years. She serves on the KDE Content Advisory Committee- Arts & Humanities Theatre/ Drama and has been honored as Arts Educator of the Year by the National Society of Arts and Letters. She received her BA in Theatre at UK and has served as the director of the Lexington Shakespeare Apprentice Program for three seasons as well as having directed over 50 productions including Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, Cats, Oliver!, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, Les Miserables School Edition, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Peter Pan, Once on This Island, and Greater Tuna. Miss Labrillazo has spent her summers in San Francisco directing for the Bay Area Educational Theatre Company. She is thrilled to be working with the Broadway Bound staff and students for the third year.
Michael Graham is an actor/director from Brooklyn, NY who began acting and writing plays as a teenager. He performed in local plays throughout New York City, such as The Last Supper, Gangster's Paradise, Royal Rumble, and Othello. Through these performances, he began to cultivate the art of storytelling and began to write his own plays. During his college years, Michael produced plays and television scripts, creating a television program Souled Out which aired on CTN, 2000-2002 and gained national syndication. Mr. Graham has directed and produced original and licensed plays in schools and theatre companies throughout New York, Texas, Kentucky, Alaska, Oregon and California. Some of his favorite directing credits: One Night With the King, 2006 @ FPG (Harlingen, TX); Blessing In Disguise, 2008 @ Love Chapel (Brooklyn, NY), Anna's Perfect Party and The Amazing Magician's Marvelous Mistake, 2010 @ The Lexington School (Lexington, KY), Mike's Crazy Life, 2013 @ Hafod Primary School (Wales, UK). His television acting and producing credits include National Geographic Channel, The Game Show Network and VH1. Mr. Graham has also done extensive work in the short film industry. After directing a plethora of short films (Midnight Religion, SA-GA films; In the Cross Hairs, Metro Motion Media; Epidemic, E-Films; Swedish Fish TV, The Lexington School Media,) Michael was called to direct the South African feature length film, Justice Is Justice. A man of many artistic talents, Michael also enjoys designing original clothing, and owns his own fashion design company (GRAPES, 2005). “Mr. Michael” is excited to bring his creative energies to the students of InnnOVATION Arts Academy.