Teaching Artists

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Ashleigh Blevins (Musical Theatre, Voice)

Ashleigh Blevins began her singing career at the age of three, performing for packed stadiums with her father's country western band, which headlined and toured with some of the biggest names in country music in the 80s. She earned a BA in Vocal Performance from Eastern University in Philadelphia, PA, where she holds many performance credits in local theatres and opera houses. In 2007, Ashleigh married the man of her dreams and moved to St. Louis, where a humbling stint at Starbucks led to the opportunity to perform benefit concerts at The Sheldon and work for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Ashleigh has taught voice and theatre for over ten years. She also has expertise in early childhood education and working with students with disabilities. Ashleigh teaches in the upper school of the Miriam School in Webster. She has also taught for South City Community School and STAGES St. Louis, where she coached private and group voice, held music and theatre residencies in numerous schools in the St. Louis area, and directed/music directed many musical productions. She originated and now directs the children's music ministry at The Journey - Tower Grove, where she also serves as a worship leader. She is a published composer, a recording artist, a proven educator, and a fierce advocate for her students to be transformed and to transform others through the power of music and the performing arts..  


Tim Eidman (Musical Theatre, Dance)

Tim Eidman is a St. Louis native and is so excited to back at GCPA for the summer! He is a graduate of St. Louis University High School and Loyola University Chicago. While in St. Louis, Tim trained in dance at COCA and was a Muny teen. In college he was a dance and theater double major. While in college he studied ballet and modern and was able to dance works of Petipa, Folkine, Bournonville, as well as Graham, Duncan, and Humphrey. Tim is an alum of the London Dramatic Academy where he spent a semester studying acting under Kathryn Pogson. He attended the School at Jacob’s Pillow where he worked under the direction of Chet Walker studying the technique and repertoire of Bob Fosse. Professional credits include: A Jazz Happening with Lucie Arnaz (Jacob’s Pillow); Oklahoma and The Addams Family  (Tibbits Opera House); The Producers, The Bardy Bunch, and Mary Poppins (Mercury Theater Chicago). This summer and fall he will be embarking on a Disney Cruise Line as a dancer through 2018. Thank you to the entire GCPA team for this opportunity!! 


Marty Fox (Musical Theatre, Voice)

Marty is native of Bremen, IN (right near nowhere), but moved to St. Louis with his wife, Stephanie Fox, in 2010.  Prior to that, he was a successful actor, music director and vocal coach, working in and out of New York City for nearly a decade.  He attended Simpson College, a small liberal arts school in Indianola, IA, where he received a Bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance and Piano Performance.  He has coached singers and actors from LA to NYC.

Since moving to St. Louis, Marty has had the privilege of working with a number of local theatre companies - GCPA, Stray Dog Theatre, Insight Theatre, STAGES St. Louis, STAGES Performing Arts Academy, Echo Theatre, Hot City Theatre, and New Jewish Theatre to name a few - in both performance, music directing and accompanying capacities.  Some of his favorite shows & roles include West Side Story (Tony), Falsettos(Whizzer), 1776 (John Adams), Guys & Dolls (Sky Masterson), As Bees in Honey Drown (Evan Wyler), Footloose (Willard) Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy Smith), and Sweeney Todd (Tobias Ragg).  Marty is also the Principal Accompanist for the Gateway Men's Chorus (www.gmcstl.org), a local 501(c)3 organization, dedicated to affirming and promoting gay culture through excellence in musical performance and education.

From 9-5, you can find Marty masquerading as an A&D Account Executive with Professional Office Environments in Maryland Heights.  He and Stephanie are the loving parents to Moose & Sammy, two highly rambunctious and remarkably loudmouthed Beagles.


Stephanie Fox (Musical Theatre, Dance)

Originally from Oklahoma, Stephanie graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Music: Music Theatre.  After moving to New York, she continued her education privately at studios including Jen Waldman Studio, Kimberly Vaughn: Kimberly Vaughn Performance Studio, Broadway Dance Center, and Steps on Broadway. 

Stephanie has choreographed many shows across the country including: White Christmas, Pump Boys and Dinettes, Godspell, Annie, Oliver, Seussical, Annie Get Your Gun, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Ruthless.  As an educator, she has taught dance, musical theatre, song interpretation and audition technique in St. Louis, Oklahoma, and Indiana at studios  including ArtWorks Academy, Range of Motion Dance Studio, Round Barn Theatre, On Broadway Productions, Poteet Little Theatre and Oklahoma Childrens Theatre.  The past 3 years she has taught with STAGES PerformingArts Academy both in technique classes and at St. Louis area schools in their Outreach Department.  Currently, she is on the Dance Faculty at COCA as well as choreographer for Chaminade College Preparatory School.

A proud member of Actors' Equity (Stephanie Long), Stephanie has performed across the country at theatres including: The Round Barn Theatre, Mt. Washington Valley Theatre, Shawnee Playhouse, KJK Productions, Cortland Repertory, College Light Opera and Group Theatre Too.  Some favorite credits include: National Tour: Junie B. Jones (May); Regional: Thoroughly Modern Millie (Millie), A Chorus Line (Diana and Maggie), Nunsense (Sr. Robert Anne), Godspell (Robin), Grease (Jan), Titanic (Alice Beane), Pump Boys and Dinettes (Rhetta), and White Christmas (Judy).

Jenalyn Hampton (Musical Theatre)

Jenalyn recently graduated summa cum laude from Missouri Baptist University. While working on her B.S. in Business Administration, she minored in Theatre and participated in several performing arts groups including a drama ministry group, praise ministry groups, and choirs. Her passion for the arts began when she was little and continues to grow. Some of her favorite performances are Wendy Jo (Footloose), the title role in Annie, Cassie Cooper (Rumors), Wendy (Peter Pan), and Sally Applewhite as Mary Hatch (It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play) where she was nominated for the Irene Ryan Award for Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 5 in 2016-2017. Jenalyn has received extensive training in the arts including various techniques, styles, genres, analyses, and collegiate-level performances. Jenalyn enjoys working with the children’s productions at her church and is thrilled to be a part of GCPA to teach kids the powerful impact of the arts.


Robyn Hartley (Dance, Musical Theatre)

Robyn Hartley is a former dancer with the Alabama Ballet. Along with her training in ballet she has had performing and teaching opportunities in musical theatre with various groups and high schools both in the midwest and the south. She is passionate about passing on her knowledge to the next generation and creating a positive environment in her class where artistry can grow and individuals feel free to explore. She has been teaching performing arts for over 20 years and is currently living in St Louis with her three children.




Ashreale McDowell (Dance)

Ashreale McDowell is a native of St. Louis, MO. She discovered her passion for dance her junior year of high school, at Central Visual and Performing Arts. She was rewarded with a pre­-professional scholarship to COCA. Through the tough struggles of starting dance at a really late age, COCA helped her grow and develop her   technique. She received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Webster University. It was at Webster where she was able to not only deepen her training as a dancer, but discover her artistry as a mover and performer. She has had the wonderful opportunity to work with artists such as Alicia Graf, Antonio Douthit­ Boyd, Kirven Douthit­ Boyd, Leonard Cruz, Jimena Paz, Jessica Taylor, and Alana Marie Urda. She has performed with The Black Rep and The Muny. Ashreale has also studied and performed in Italy. She is a teaching artist with Springboard and COCA. She was a company dancer with Beyond Measure Dance Theater, under the direction of Alicia Sunshine Gbaho. Ashreale is currently a company dancer with Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, under the Executive and Artistic direction of Arica Brown.

Maggie Niven (Acting, Musical Theatre)

Maggie Niven is a graduate from Stephens College with a BFA in Theatre Arts and an emphasis in directing.  Maggie hails from Kansas City, where she grew up loving theatre and learning from her two theatre parents (Kip Nivenprofessional actor and Beth Reiff Niven, Stage Manager).  She has just returned to the Midwest after living in Phoenix, Arizona for a year working at Theater Works as the first ever Constance W. McMillin Fellow in Directing and Youth Education. 

Maggie has directed shows such as: Love, Loss and What I Wore and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, as well as assistant directing shows like, To Kill a Mockingbird, In the Village of the Brothers Grimm, and Once Upon a Mattress.  In the future, she hopes to receive an MFA in directing and become a professional director and educator.  Maggie is ecstatic to be joining the GCPA team and looks forward to starting a new chapter of her life in St. Louis.  

Bojana Knezevic (Acting and Movement)

Bojana Knezevic was born in Kotor, Montenegro. She earned her B.A. with honors at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, Montenegro. After several years working in theatre and television, her interest in theatrical body movement led her to Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France, where she earned her Masters. During this time she developed her unique acting style based on a focus on the human body and movement, and she gained work experience to specialize in Movement Dynamics, Movement Analysis, Neutral Mask, Gestual Languages, Comedia Dell'Arte and Half Masks, as well as applied technique to Dynamic Approach to Poetry, Painting, and Music, Tragic Texts, Chorus and Hero, Bouffons, and Theatre Clowns. After graduating, Bojana returned to Montenegro and began working as a Movement Coach and Teacher at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, Montenegro.

As an actress, Bojana was a part of the Montenegrin National Theater ensemble from 2006-2016, where she performed her most significant and award-winning roles including Tiresias (Antigona),  Ruth BB Night (Motifs of Report of Herrnburg), Anica and Bishop (Encyclopedia of Lost Time), and Doris (Seven Deadly Sins).

Since moving in St. Louis, Bojana works as free artist and mother of two beautiful girls, Sena and Zara.


Lori Pagano (Musical Theatre, Voice)

Lori Barrett-Pagano earned her Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Washington University in St. Louis.  She has been teaching voice for over 20 years – currently as an adjunct voice faculty at St. Louis University, privately out of her home, as well as voice and musical theatre classes at STAGES Performing Arts Academy.  

Lori enjoys singing numerous styles of music and has performed with musical theatre, operetta, and opera companies as well as being a worship leader at her church.  Locally, she has performed with The MUNY, STAGES St. Louis, Union Avenue Opera, Echo Theatre and SIUE Summer Showbiz.  Regional credits include The Minnesota Opera, North Star Opera, Minneapolis Musical Theatre, Theatre in the Round, and The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company. Her most enjoyable performing is to sing and dance around the house with her actor/singer husband, Paul, and her most precious stars, son, Xavier, and daughter, Kalia.


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Paul Pagano (Acting)

Paul Pagano, a native of St. Louis, received his BA in Drama from Washington University and Masters in Theatre Education from Fontbonne University.  As an actor, Paul has had the opportunity to work with the Guthrie Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Children’s Theatre Company, Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, Hey City Theatre, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, the MUNY, STAGES St. Louis, HotCity Theatre, and many others.  He has worked with Hunter Foster, Kathy Fitzgerald, Peter Michael Goetz, Anne Bogart, and Dan Goggin.  Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association since 2001. As an instructor, Paul has taught at COCA, the Utah Shakespeare Festival Teen Acting Intensive, St. Louis University High School, and STAGES Performing Arts Academy. When not on stage or in the classroom, Paul’s favorite roles are being a husband to wife, Lori, and father to budding stars, Xavier & Kalia. 



Kristianna Pirrie (Musical Theatre, Acting, Voice)

Kristianna previously studied Theatre and Music at Drury University, but has now moved back to her hometown and studied Music Education at Missouri Baptist University. Kristianna has been a performer for almost 15 years, beginning primarily with dramatic and comedic acting. She grew to love the arts and became highly involved in her high school theatre and music programs, community theatre, The Patt Holt Singers of St. Charles, All State and International Thespian Festival Productions, Honor Choirs, Chamber Choirs, District and State Solo Competitions, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the St. Louis Cappies Critics Program. Among other awards, Kristianna was blessed to receive acceptance to the OpenJar Institute in New York City and an award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical from the St. Louis Cappies Critics organization for her role of Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. She is currently a part of Union Avenue Opera's Crescendo Program and a member of both the American Choral Directors Association and National Association for Music Educators. In her spare time, Kristianna is blessed to be a part of the GCPA team and excited to give back to the arts community of St. Louis by working with young performers of the future!


Vanessa Roman (Acting for Film)

Vanessa Roman has been working in the film and theater industry for the last 18 years.  She studied film and video as well as creative writing at Webster University, and worked with several of the professors on their professional projects as casting director, actor and producer.  In 2001, she joined the staff of City Players Theatre and began working as their literary manager, often joining the directing and stage managing team for many productions in addition to serving as dramaturge.  In 2003, Roman had her first play produced by First Run Theatre and she joined the team as resident director and literary consultant, helping new playwrights take their works from page to stage.

After several years working as an actor, Roman decided to start making her own films.  She wrote, produced and directed a short horror film, "Play Dead" in 2009 that went on to win Best Horror Short and Best Juvenile Actor at the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase.  The short played in film festivals in Toronto, Germany and around the country. The following year, she produced and directed a second award winning short film called "The Inheritance" which won Best Experimental film at the Toronto Female Eye Film Festival. After that followed many projects where she produced, directed and acted in various film and theater productions.

In 2015, Roman took on her first feature film, "The Importance of Doubting Tom", a romantic comedy she wrote, produced and directed.  She hired five Los Angeles actors as well as many local actors and shot the film in the University City Loop, highlighting some of the areas small businesses. She hopes to get this film in theaters soon. Roman often directs and acts for Clayton Community Theatre, one of her favorite companies.  Last year, she was nominated for nine Theater Mask awards for the production of "The Women" that she directed. Her passion has always been working with actors and helping them find their voice on stage and screen.


Laura Roth (Musical Theatre, Dance)

Laura Roth is a native of Jacksonville, IL and a summa cum laude graduate of Southeast Missouri State University where she earned a BA in Dance and a minor in Religious Studies.  In addition to teaching at GCPA, Laura teaches at STAGES Performing Arts Academy and COCA andchoreographs community and high school musicals regionally.  While attending Southeast, she danced with pH eXchange Dance Theatre under the direction of Philip Edgecombe and Hilary Peterson and choreographed multiple works for Southeast's main-stage productions. Laura now dances professionally with Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company under the direction of Jennifer Medina, has had the pleasure of working on freelance projects with ANNONYArts and Masterworks Chorale, and recently coordinated The Dance on Film Project, St. Louis.

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Jeana Smith (Dance, Musical Theatre)

Jeana began dancing and singing at four years old. At the age of nine, she became a member of the Actor's Equity Association and moved to New York City to perform the role of the Balloon Girl and the Understudy to Baby June and Baby Louise in the Broadway revival of GYPSY starring Tyne Daly. In 2001, Jeana received her BFA in Musical Theatre and a Minor in Dance from Millikin University. Jeana then moved back to NYC to dance on scholarship at Broadway Dance Center. During that time, she had the incredible opportunity to tour the country assisting jazz dance legend, Frank Hatchett. She also performed in the Equity Ensemble at the Muny Opera from 1996-2004. Some of her favorite shows include: 42ND STREET, FUNNY GIRL, HELLO, DOLLY!, DAMN YANKEES, and PETER PAN.

Jeana has been teaching dance and musical theatre to children ages 3-18 for over fifteen years. She is currently on staff as an instructor of Musical Theatre, Tap, Theatre Dance, Jazz, and Early Childhood classes at the Gerri Stretz Professional Dance Center in St. Louis, MO. Jeana has spent the past 8 summers teaching musical theatre camps and choreographing youth musicals at STAGES Performing Arts Academy in Chesterfield, MO. She has been honored with numerous awards for her choreography at dance competitions both regionally and nationally. She has choreographed STAGES Performing Arts Academy’s Broadway Performance Workshops of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (2008), THE ARISTOCATS (2010), 101 DALMATIANS (2011), THE JUNGLE BOOK (2012), CINDERELLA (2013), and SLEEPING BEAUTY (2014) . Jeana also choreographed the St. Louis Chapter of the American Parkinson Association’s annual fashion show from 2003-2007, and has assistant-choreographed the Tellerettes for the St. Louis Teen Talent Show in 2013 and 2014. Jeana is thrilled and overjoyed to share her love and passion for performing with all of her students, as well as her own two young children.


Jasmine Spencer (Hip Hop)

Jasmine Spencer, a St. Louis native, is a hip hop dancer and choreographer. She has been dancing since the age of 14, she studied various styles of dance while a member of the Belleville Elite Dance Academy competition team. One of her favorite honors was the Honor Roll Scholarship from Monsters of Hip Hop. From there, Jasmine attended Missouri State University where she studied Dance and was the president and choreographer of the university's Essence of Hip Hop Team. While back in St. Louis, she assists Anthony "Redd" Williams and acts as Assistant Artistic Director/ Instructor at COCA, Instructor at Renee Johnson's Dance Studio and Renee's Dance Floor. Jasmine is also a choreographer for the University City High School Golden Girl Dance Team and happens to be a featured dancer for local St. Louis hip hop recording artist, Mai Lee. Jasmine has performed with Lee at many local events and is featured in the singer's "Lowkey" music video. 


Sarah Vlodek (Musical Theatre)

Sarah has had a passion for performing from a very young age, beginning dance lessons at the age of 2, and being in her first musical at the age of 7.  Sarah recently graduated from Waldorf University where she earned both a B.A in Musical Theatre and a B.A in Vocal Performance.  Sarah discovered her love for directing and teaching when she directed her first one act play in high school, and since then she has taught private voice lessons, worked as an ensemble assistant for the St. Louis Children’s Choirs, and co-directed the Musical Theatre Showcase at her university.  Sarah has attended several summer vocal intensives where she has performed in many scenes and full length operas including Don Giovanni, Little Women, and Susannah.  Sarah has also performed in many musicals, with a few of her favorite roles being Mother in Ragtime, Pennywise in Urinetown, and Cathy in The Last Five Years.