Get to Know Us
Precious few get the chance to experience a single moment of profound clarity, when time stands still long enough to catch a fully-focused glimpse of your purpose in the world. Audrey Kaplan, the founder of Applause, has had two such moments. The first took place at 11, in the audience of the original production of Annie, when she discovered her destiny to be a performer. The next was at the 1995 opening of Applause, a theatrical training school and Upper East Side institution for the past 25 years.
After years of performing on stage and television, and nearly a decade as a New York City public school teacher, Audrey merged her passions for theater and education by founding Applause. She has directed and produced hundreds of productions at Applause, while also coaching many children for professional work and auditions for performing arts schools and colleges over the years.
Applause success stories include Sebastian Stan, Skylar Astin, Erich Bergen , Sas Goldberg and Max Jenkins to name just a few of the former students who have become headliners in the entertainment business. Not only a training ground for actors, singers and dancers, Applause has also produced some of the busiest and most respected writers, directors and producers working in TV today.
Starting out as a modest enterprise in the performing arts, Applause has steadily expanded over the past 25 years. Its staff of more than 50 expertly trained instructors offer a wide-ranging curriculum that reaches more than 4000 children annually, providing beginning to pre-professional training in acting, musical theater, dance and film acting.
But it is her charitable work that Audrey considers her greatest contribution to the performing arts community. She has awarded hundreds of scholarships over the years to deserving children without the means or opportunity to nurture and hone their artistic talents. Many of her scholarship recipients have gone on to professional careers, as well as some of the most prestigious performance arts programs at universities across the country.
Audrey’s personal and professional mission is to make lifelong lovers of the arts. She's just as happy if her former students go into the business professionally, or go on to support theater through their patronage or by assisting groups and foundations that help the arts flourish and reach as many people as possible.
Audrey’s educational background includes the Yale Shakespeare program at Oxford University and Carnegie Mellon's musical theater program. She received her B.F.A in Drama from Tulane University. She earned a Master’s Degree in Education from New York University.
Anthony, an Applause alumni of 17 years, feels blessed to be training young people in the same place where it all began for him. He has been a part of the Applause faculty for the past 13 years, and is now the head of the wildly successful Applause Film Department, as well as Creative Director for the entire company. Having trained at the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, as well as a Film and TV career that has expanded over a decade, Anthony is happy to be able to share his knowledge and experience with a whole new generation of young artists, and teachers alike.
Danicah is overjoyed to be part of the incomparable Applause family! A Long Island native, she found her love of the arts early on, and has had the privilege to act professionally in both movies and on stage since childhood. She earned her BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University where she also trained in film, photography and directing! After joining the Applause staff in 2014 and working in almost every department Applause has to offer, she is thrilled to have finally landed at the place she calls home; the Film Department. She absolutely loves kids and adores making movies, and couldn't imagine a more fulfilling way to spend her day then to bring all of her her knowledge, energy, and passion to this next generation of young actors!
Katelyn is so happy to be a part of the Applause team! Katelyn grew up watching and performing in shows on Long Island and always knew she wanted to have a career in an environment that inspires and encourages a passion for the performing arts in children. After graduating from Dartmouth College with a BA in Theater, Katelyn moved to NYC in 2015 and joined the Applause team in early 2017.
Kristina began choreographing at the young age of eight for a captive audience of teddy bears. Her love of theater and dance brought her to the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU where she earned her BFA with honors in Theater. Since graduation she has been lucky enough to pursue her two greatest passions, performing and teaching. Recent performing credits include: Nice Work If You Can Get It (First Nat'l Tour), The Marks You Leave (FringeNYC), God Hates This Show, and High School Musical. As a commercial dancer she has had the honor of dancing alongside recording artists Nicki Minaj, Neyo, Lady Sovereign, Maor, and Taleb Kwali.
A New Haven native, Sean has been involved in the arts since childhood. He is a graduate of Pace University, where he received a BFA in Musical Theatre. Sean has performed in both regional and NYC houses, but his true passion lies in educational theater. He spent three summers as the Associate Director of a musical theatre summer program in New Haven, and is so grateful for the opportunity to further his career here in NYC at Applause.
Warren is happy to be the head camera operator at Applause New York. He is from Boston Massachusetts and has a bachelor's degree in Film. He is proficient in and owns all of the latest devices pertaining to video production. Whether he's creating great promos for dance, musical theater, or creating epic films, he is thankful to be part of such a vibrant, and professional community where he gets to help kids find their voice.
Alex is thrilled to be a part of the Applause team! Hailing from the great state of Texas, Alex has always fostered a deep passion for the arts. She was fortunate to find theatre at a young age and has never looked back. She moved to New York City as soon as she could in order to pursue her life long goal of a career in arts administration. Alex is a proud former student of Texas A&M University, where she earned her bachelor's degree in Communication and Theatre.
Lisa Krainik is a dancer/performer, yoga teacher, stage manager, and producer. A New Jersey native, Lisa moved to New York City at 15 to study at Ellison Ballet under Edward Ellison and worked privately with Alexandra Wells and Laura Careless. She has performed works at Radio City Music Hall, the New York City Center in NYC, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., among others. When she isn’t stage managing, Krainik produces a monthly comedy show at Under St. Marks Theater and teaches at CorePower Yoga.
Brian has been teaching in the New York City area for over 10 years! He is a local Upper East Sider, and is excited to be teaching down the street at Applause. Brian moved to New York in 2004 to study Musical Theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy on the Upper West Side. He has been a member of Actor’s Equity Association since 2006. He’s toured the country with productions of High School Musical, 9 TO 5 & The Book of Mormon, along with over 20 regional productions throughout the country. He loves sharing his passion & knowledge of theatre with his students.
JOHN FISCHER - has been a music director and pianist in NYC for the past 19 years. Most recently, he music directed the sold out run at Feinstein’s/54 Below for Tony Award winner Alice Ripley and Tony nominee Emily Skinner’s cabaret show, UNATTACHED, in addition to the live CD recording of the show. This summer marked his sixth season as the music director for the highly acclaimed musical theatre program at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires. For the past eight years, John has served as music director for the BROADWAY’S RISING STARS and BROADWAY ORIGINALS concerts at Town Hall. He is also a regular fixture at Feinstein’s/54 Below, music directing everything from Sondheim to Schwartz, in addition to the award winning 54 SINGS series (APPLAUSE, MACK & MABEL, KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN). Other NY credits include pianist for the recent Broadway revival of WEST SIDE STORY, pianist/conductor for TALK OF THE TOWN Bank Street Theatre, TAKE ME ALONG Irish Rep, NAKED BOYS SINGING New World Stages. Associate MD: AFRICA AND PLUMBRIDGE and ESPRESSO TRASHO NY Fringe Festival, BROADWAY BACKWARDS II & III American Airlines Theatre. Regional Music Director credits include HELLO DOLLY, FUNNY GIRL, THE KING AND I, GYPSY, NO NO NANETTE, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, PETER PAN, OLIVER among others. John has had the pleasure of working with such well known artists as Judy Collins, Kate Winslet, Mickey Dolenz, Jennifer Holiday, Michele Lee, in addition to scores of Broadway performers.
He has been on staff as a music director or accompanist for Applause NY, AMDA, HB Studios, The New School, The Growing Studio, and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
Maxx Reed is a multi-genre movement artist & educator, choreographer & director, as well as a multi- medium filmmaker based out of NYC. Originally from Memphis, Maxx is trained in styles spanning from classical ballet to hip hop. Performance credits include: Broadway debutSpiderman: Turn off the Dark; music videos: Michael Jackson’s “Hold My Hand” & Beyonce’s “Who Run The World (Girls)”; television: ABC’s Dance War: Bruno vs Carrie Ann, “The Tony Awards”, & “American Music Awards” with Usher; and, film: Michael Jackson’s This Is It. Choreography clients include: Mariah Carey; musicals: Claudio Quest & “Nikola Drops the Beat”; and music videos for SEE. When off stage, he’s behind the camera as filmmaker & founder of Esotericam Productions, for which director & producer credits include: TV series Live at Gramercy Park, series documentary Broadway Dance Dreams, and short films “Pas de Carole” & “The Sonnet Project”. With the art of movement & filmmaking, Maxx aims to show compassion through choreography & creative collaboration–– emphasizing his role as a dance educator and multi-platform storyteller.
Paul Pilcz is psyched to be a part of the ever growing and expanding Applause NY family! Paul received his BFA in Musical Theater from Montclair State University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. While attending MSU, he spent what would have been his sophomore year on stage in NY as Harvey Johnson in RoundABoutTheater Companies first ever revival of Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway. Since then, he's made appearances on HBO's Mildred Pierce (Tommy), HBO's Boardwalk Empire (Hemmings) and as a recurring guest star on FOX's Gotham (Sonny Gilzean). Other favorite credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Barfee) at Bucks County Playhouse, Martin Charnin's "Something Funny's Going On" (Various Characters) at 54 Below and Shoja Azari and Shirin Neshat's independent feature film, Simple Little Lives (Jayson). He's looking forward to another amazing year with Applause and can't wait to get working on all of Applause's new films to come!
Martha Lavery graduated from Hofstra’s Honors College in 2014 with a BA in Dance and Minors in Film Studies/Production & Psychology. At Hofstra, she performed & choreographed for MoVoM, Danceworks, and Imani Dance Ensemble, and spent a month dancing & performing in Italy at Toscana Dance Hub. Post-graduation, she has performed for 50+ choreographers & dance companies (modern, contemporary, performance art, hip-hop, etc) and has been commissioned to create over 30 original pieces (aside from weekly class choreography/workshops/master classes) for various showcases, competitions, and video projects in the greater NYC area. Notable performances include SummerStage in Central Park (splitting the bill with Abraham in Motion), winning the Audience Favorite choreography vote at Uptown Rising at Bridge For Dance, and students performing her choreography at Carnegie Hall. Last October, she spent several weeks in China as part of the US dance team for the CBA’s China Hoops basketball tournament. She currently teaches dance in public school/charter school/studio/open class settings to kindergarten students through adults in Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Jazz, Heels, & her “genrefluid” style, and continues to produce her own choreography for both stage and film.
Alexandra is a New York transplant and is so excited to be back for her second year with Applause! Growing up in Los Angels she always had big dreams of moving to NYC. After graduating from Concordia University Irvine with a BA in Theatre, she packed her bags and made the move. Now a proud member of the New York chapter of The Theatre 68 Crew Company , she has also performed and assistant directed off -broadway at St. Lukes theatre in their production of Lilli Marlene and It Came From Beyond. She is so excited to be back and mold the young minds of the theatre community.
Lauren Storm is a New York based Dancer/Choreographer. Originally from Ohio, Lauren grew up as a competitive dancer and has trained in various styles including ballet, acrobatics, hip hop and more. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where she was a member of the Varsity dance team winning 2 National titles and 3 World titles in hip hop and pom. After graduating, she danced with Exhale Dance Tribe and choreographed/instructed at dance studios, high schools and colleges. Lauren has performed and choreographed in the US and China. She just completed a regional tour dancing with artist, JLine and is excited to be joining the Applause teaching staff!
Lauren Capkanis was born and raised In New York City and is an alumnus of Applause. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting at Emerson College in Boston, and has since been in New York City doing multiple theatrical shows, commercials, and voiceovers. Lauren also substitute teaches Middle School-High School “Scene Study” at The Calhoun School on the Upper West Side, as well as monologue coaches young children and teenagers part time. Lauren was a huge fan of Applause performing there as a student and is now super excited to be passing down the learnings to young new talent!
Alejandro Senior is a music director in NYC. After receiving his Bachelor of Music in music education from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, and moving to New York City to pursue his career in music, Alejandro has worked for NYU, Transcendence Theatre Company, and several training conservatory programs around New York City. His passions lie in educating students in the art of musical theatre, as well as directing musicals from the pit.
Michael Ryan, originally from right outside of Boston, is a New York based Actor/Singer/Teacher. Some favorite past credits include Newsies 1st National Tour (Jack/Davey understudy), Les Miserables (Enjolras), The Who’s Tommy (Cousin Kevin), Spring Awakening (Hanschen). He has a BFA in musical theater from Pace university and has taught musical theater classes and college audition prep all over the country.
Nick Wilders is embarking on his second year in NYC, and elated to be doing that alongside the incredible staff at Applause NYC! He is originally from Mechanicsburg, PA but his credits as a musical director, pianist, singer, and orchestrator span the globe. He most recently completed his second summer with Theatre Workshop of Nantucket as Music Director/Johnny Casino for GREASE. Other regional theatre credits include FOOTLOOSE, SEUSSICAL (Theatre Workshop of Nantucket); MARY POPPINS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Northern Stage); THE FANTASTICKS, ROMEO & JULIET (Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival) and PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (Kitchen Theatre Company). NYC/National Tour credits - JERSEY BOYS (2nd National Tour), MEDICINE: THE MUSICAL (HERE Arts Center), SMILE! (Triad Theatre), POWER OVER POTUS (Laurie Beechman Theatre), and performances at 54 Below, Rainbow Room, and the Ziegfield Ballroom. He has been a very proud member of the music team for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an extraordinary organization focusing in providing funding for AIDS organizations around the country. Nick is also co-founder of Accidental Productions, a company focusing in cabaret entertainment that performs regularly at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. As a teaching artist, Nick has had amazing opportunities to work in theatres and schools around the country, ranging from Brüka Theatre in Reno, NV to Ithaca Montessori School in Ithaca, NY. Other teaching credits include CAP21 Musical Theatre Conservatory, The Growing Studio, Broadway Classroom and Camp Broadway. He is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace University, tree-climbing enthusiast, and well-intentioned amateur chef. Check out www.nickwilders.com for more info!
Emily has been performing professionally for 8 years now. For 6 months she traveled the country performing in the National Tour of Fame. She was also part of two original off broadway shows called A Never Ending Line and Medicine: The Musical. Regionally Emily has been able to perform in some great productions of West Side Story, On Your Feet, Hello Dolly, Evita, A Christmas Story, The Bodyguard and more. She has also been teaching dance and musical theater for over 10 years and loves the opportunity to share her love for the arts with the younger generation when she is not performing.
Joey Dippel earned his BFA in Musical Theatre from University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where he choreographed the college’s productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Street Scene, Into a Lamplit Room (world premiere), and his class’ showcase in NYC. As a performer, he has worked at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Bucks County Playhouse, Weston Playhouse, the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, and Pioneer Theatre Company. He has directed/choreographed for Broadening Theatrics (A Chorus Line: The One Project), the Broadway Dreams Foundation, New York Musical Theatre Factory, New York Theatre Barn, Staten Island Academy, and the Children’s Musical Theatre of San Jose. As a dance coach, he teaches and consults for Polish Your Passion NYC (www.pypnyc.com). @jjskinnydippz
Sari Strickler Breuer joined the APPLAUSE family in 2000. She has choreographed many shows including Hair, Godspell, 13, Fiddler on the Roof, and numerous APPLAUSE reviews. Her professional performance credits include the European Tour of West Side Story and the National Tours of Oklahoma and Kiss Me Kate. Besides choreographing for APPLAUSE, Sari is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist specializing in Dance/Movement Therapy as well as a Licensed Social Worker. She works as a therapist in New Jersey specializing with Deaf families.
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Tony Guerrero has made NYC his base for fifteen years.
Tony currently serves as faculty and class creator at Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Cspezio Arts Center.
As a choreographer, Tony blends the exciting styles of today’s commercial and nightlife world with the sense of purpose, setting and motivation of theatre.
Tony co-choreographed Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York” at the NY Knicks Opening Night Halftime Show at Madison Square Garden, as well as several numbers for the NY Knicks City Dancers and Brooklynettes.
Last Fall, Tony joined JT Horenstein (in partnership with Broadway Dance Center) in co-choreographing and leading Team USA in the TenCent “Just Dance” television presentation in Shanghai, China.
Additional stage/industrial and NYC nightlife choreography credits include Barter Theatre (Associate Choreographer,) Icons 3D at the Post Office Cabaret (Provincetown, MA,) New York’s Get Out Magazine Awards, Fashion Forward 2010 at New World Stages, Times Square Marriott Marquis, New York’s Triad Theatre, and the 2014 Napa Auto Parts National Summit, and several music videos and self-produced nightlife presentations.
As a seasoned performer, Tony has spent ten years on roster for the NY Metropolitan Opera as a dancer, actor, fighter and stunt performer. Most recently, he performed as a featured actor/dancer in the critically acclaimed Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, as well as the lead dancer in the new Gala production of David McVicar’s Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci.
Tony toured nationally as the Latin feature in the Broadway production of Saturday Night Fever (plus the original Las Vegas company,) and completed three world tours of West Side Story (Bernardo.)
Tony’s worked under such theatre staples as Arlene Phillips, Rob Ashford and Joey McKneely.
Other theatre credits: Rock Stars NYC (Off-Broadway,) Man of La Mancha, Guys and Dolls, Urban Cowboy, Evita, Tommy, La Cage… and Copacabana.
Recording artist performances include Pitbull, The Lonely Island (feat. Nicki Minaj,) Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Lisa.
Favorite TV/Film: “Orange is the New Black” (Ahmed,) “SNL,” “The Get Down,” The Wolf of Wall Street, “Younger,” “Quantico,” “Person of Interest” and HBO’s The Normal Heart.
Tony has been directed by the likes of Baz Luhrmann, Ryan Murphy, Amy Heckerling, Jodi Foster and Martin Scorcese.
Proud member of SAG/AFTRA, AEA and AGMA.
Renee began dancing at the age of 3 and quickly fell in love with training and performing. While growing up in Sacramento Renee trained with CORE Dance Collective and then went on to study Dance and Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles. During her time in LA she danced with FastCo LA, co founded Audacity Dance Movements, and worked in the commercial dance industry appearing in adds for UGGs, the Grammy’s, and more. Renee currently dances with DanceWorks NYC and spent the past summer as the dance director for WBT Camps in LA. She loves bringing together her passion for dance and working with kids and is excited to be going into her second year with the Applause dance companies!
TiAna Hester, founder of Hester Dance Company, is a Bay-Area born and raised California girl. She started dancing at 6, began her technical training in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Ballet, and Contemporary at 9, and danced competitively by 12. TiAna has danced for artists such as Sean Kingston and was a featured opening dancer for Kevin Hart's Laugh at My Pain comedy stand up at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, CA. She has also danced in music videos for artist such as Mann, Zion-I, Kevin Mikal, and more. In 2012, while further pursuing her career in dancing and instructing in New York, TiAna performed at the "One Night Only" L'Oréal Paris & Consumer Goods Forum with the legendary Aretha Franklin. She has taught classes and choreographed for main stream artist such as Justine Skye and has also choreographed for Sevyn Streeter. TiAna has been featured on Pix 11 news for "International Happiness Day" for her choreography to "Happy" by Pharrell with Banana Skirt Productions, and has been recently featured in the New York Post and Harper's Bazaar Edtiors as "Favorite Fitness Instructors."
Ron was a child actor and by age 7 he was already training in stage combat. At a young age starred in an independent film which required performing several minor stunts.
Ron graduated from Brooklyn High School of the Arts where he was awarded performing on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre and where he won two city-wide playwriting contests.
As a teen-ager Ron found his second home at Applause where he trained for many years playing one lead after another.
Ron appeared in several feature films and last year had the honor of working with Tony Danza performing at 2018 Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting.
Ron is thrilled to join the Applause staff as an instructor and giving back to the place that made him so happy in his youth. He is thrilled to be teaching and working with so many directors who taught him as a young man.
Samantha Simone is so excited to be joining the Applause team! Samantha is a recent alumni of Columbia University’s MFA Acting program. She is also a certified teacher, and has been teaching for the past 4 years in public and after school programs. Samantha can be seen on the TV show “Blue Bloods” on CBS, and on the fitness program The Daily Burn. For updates and information check out www.samanthanicolesimone.com.
Hannah is ecstatic to be a part of the Applause family! Originally from Michigan, Hannah received her Bachelor of Music in Music Theater from Oklahoma City University. She is currently pursuing her Master's in Fine Arts at Brooklyn College. She has taught children all across the United States, as well as Canada, Guam, Japan, South Korea, and Bahrain. As a teaching artist, she loves to see her students explore and learn about an art form that is her true passion!
Sarah Sosland is so excited to be joining the Applause NY team! She received her Bachelors in Film and Television at Boston University while spending her free time pursuing theatre and comedy. After graduating, Sarah trained at the Upright Citizen's Brigade, the Brooklyn Comedy Collective, The Barrow Group and several other theaters across the U.S. She has been working in NYC as a filmmaker, actor and comedian since 2018, but is most proud of her recent endeavor: becoming a foster dog mom! She is so pumped to work with the most talented and passionate kids in the world here at Applause NY.
Ana Marcu is an actor, singer, dancer, musician and music director from Souther Oregon, now based in New York City. She graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Musical Theater. She most recently toured with the Orchestra Japan in the Japan concert tour of Disney on Classic from 2018-2019 performing songs sung by Pocahontas, Jasmine, Moana, Miguel and others. Performing credits include: New York & Off-Broadway: Gogol (Todd Almond, Josh Schmidt); Georama (Playwrights Horizons); 90210! THE MUSCIAL! (Theatre 80); Regional & Tours: Man of La Mancha (Arizona Theatre Company); Million Dollar Quartet (Norwegian Cruise Lines); As You Like It and Georama (The Great River Shakespeare Festival); Peter Pan and Hairspray (Syracuse Stage); The Music Man (Oregon Shakespeare Festival). Music Directing and Teaching credits include The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Syracuse University, MD/Pianist); Georama (Pianist); Disney On Classic (Music Captain); Syracuse University Drama (Vocal/Acting Coach); Vibe Arts Camp (MD); Studio Roxander (Dance Teacher); NYC Coach and Accompanist. She is so excited to be joining the staff at Applause this semester!
James is an actor, singer, and pianist. As an actor he has worked on the American-premiere of BOTTICELLI IN THE FIRE (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.), THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Shakespeare Theatre Company), THE LAST SHIP (Pioneer Theatre Company), SWEENEY TODD (Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival), JASPER IN DEADLAND (Prospect Theatre Company), & the national tour of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. He is also the resident vocal advisor at Beyond the Stage Studio in Plainview, Long Island as well as a theatre director and educator at Usdan Summer Camp for the Performing Arts.
Hannah-Jo is a Pittsburgh native and a proud graduate of Baldwin Wallace University. When not working at Applause, HJ is an actress herself. Favorite roles: Kristine A Chorus Line (Baldwin Wallace University), Mark's mom/Maureen understudy Rent (GatewayPlayhouse), Rita LaPorta Lucky Stiff (Americana Theater Company), and a lead vocalist with Viking Ocean Cruises. HJ was last seen as Frieda in the Charlie Brown Christmas Live! National Tour, a role she originated the previous year. HJ also competed for the title of Miss Ohio twice, coming home with the People’s Choice Award each year. Last summer, HJ directed and choreographed Seussical at the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket and is hoping to direct more in the future!
David Gomez is a New York City based theatre artist who specializes in musical composition, songwriting and crafting librettos for original new musicals. David is also a dedicated arts educator who most recently worked with Music Theatre Kansas City’s summer arts program as an arranger, choreographer, and a director. David received a BFA in Musical Theatre with a minor in Spanish from Pace University in 2014. He also graduated with an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program in 2016. David is stoked to join the top-notch team at Applause and to bring more songs and stories to NYC.
Hannah Stephens is so excited to be a part of the team at Applause! Hannah is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, where she graduated from The University of Montevallo with a BFA in Acting and ran the Stagedoor Youth Theatre Program. She has toured the country, performing, directing, and stage managing with both the Missoula Children’s Theatre and The National Theatre for Children. Since moving to New York two years ago, she has taught, performed, and directed all over the city. She is currently a resident director/teaching artist with the Play Group Theatre and Theatre [Untitled].
Jeff Ostermueller is an actor, singer, musical director, teacher, pianist, filmmaker and coach. Most recent credits include music direction for Peter and the Starcatcher with the St. Bart's Players and acting in the Take Ten Play Festival, both in NYC. As an actor, he is best known for touring with the musical Spring Awakening, working regionally around the US and at dozens of venues throughout NYC, as well as appearing in short films. Favorite Credits: Jean-Michel in La Cage aux Folles, Brad in Rocky Horror, L.M. in Pump Boys & Dinettes, Jamie in The Last 5 Years, and Franky in Forever Plaid. No work has been more satisfying than collaborating with NYU TISCH and BMI composers to develop new and original works. Outside of Applause Jeff has worked with Broadway Kids Auditions, A Class Act NY, Arkansas Repertory Theatre and the Water Coolers. BFA in Music Theatre, Elon University.
Ryan is thrilled to be a part of the Applause Family! His Broadway credits include Newsies OBC (Racetrack), Charlie and The Chocolate Factory OBC and The Book of Mormon. His TV/Film credits include “Person of Interest” (CBS) and Hail, Caesar!
Sas Goldberg is an actress and writer, known for Ocean's Eight (2018), Hair Brained (2013) and Are You Joking? (2014). She has appeared Off-Broadway in the Roundabout production of Significant Other and David Adjmi's Stunning (Lincoln Center). Other credits include The Best of Everything and The Urban Dictionary Plays. Sas was most recently seen recurring as Janice on the 2nd season of "Odd Mom Out" (Bravo), her other TV credits include "HAPPYish" (Showtime) and the upcoming "Search Party" (TBS). Goldberg received her BFA from the University of Michigan.
Uton is excited to be a member of the Applause team! He is an actor/singer/musician with extensive experiences performing at different venues such as NJPAC, Knitting Factory, The Bitter End, and The Stone Pony. He is beyond thrilled to be part of such a rewarding program and an awesome company!
Laura is thrilled to be joining the Applause family! She’s an Ohio native and graduate of The University of Michigan with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Laura was in the original broadway productions of Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella and the most recent production of Sunday in the Park with George. She’s also traveled the country with both the National Tour of West Side Story and Cinderella. Growing up as the daughter of a dance studio owner, Laura has always enjoyed teaching students of all ages the joy of dance!
Ronnie Rios, born and raised in South Florida, moved to NYC to study film at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Having made dozens of films and edited countless others, he is ready to pass on the knowledge he has acquired thus far to help others realize their dream.
Joe is thrilled to be teaching alongside the incredible faculty and staff here at Applause! Like too many performers before him, he was recruited into theater in 8th grade by a high school desperate to have children in their production of The Music Man, and from his first "Shipoopi" he was hooked. He is a proud graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music's musical theatre program who's professional work includes the national tours of Mary Poppins, Andy Blankenbuhler's Joseph..., and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as playing Pepper in the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia! As a teacher, he's had the pleasure of teaching dance and musical theatre masterclasses across the country, most notably as a guest faculty member for CCM's Preparatory Department.
Gordon Greenberg is a director and writer living in New York. He attended Stanford University and NYU Film School before joining J. Walter Thompson Worldwide for a stint as a producer/director of commercials. He has directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in London’s West End, written for television and stage, and developed, directed and produced new works for arts institutions across America.
His acclaimed West End revival of Guys And Dolls was nominated for six Olivier Awards. Greenberg co-wrote and directed the Broadway stage adaptation of Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn at Studio 54 for Roundabout Theatre Company, Universal Pictures Stage Productions, and PBS Television's Great Performances. He recently directed the the world premier of The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new Huey Lewis musical. Current projects include co-writing and directing The Secret of My Success for Universal Pictures Stage Productions, co-writing/directing the stage adaptation of Mystic Pizza with rock icon Melssa Etheridge and Sas Goldberg for MGM and Lively McCabe Entertainment, directing the North American premiere of Piaf/Dietrich for Mirvish in Toronto and The Segal Centre in Montreal, co-writing/directing Ebenezer Scrooge's Big [Your Town Here] Christmas Show! for The Old Globe and Bucks County Playhouse, co-writing/directing Dracula: A comedy of Terrors! for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, writing The Single Girls Guide (a new musical updating Jane Austen’s Emma to 1964), which he developed at Dallas Theatre Center, Ars Nova, Capital Rep and ASCAP, co-writing Port-Au-Prince, a NYSCA commission for The New Group, with Kirsten Childs, and the podcast Theatre Camp for Sirius XM On Broadway.
He is a member of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, The Writers Guild of America, The Dramatists Guild, and the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab.
Mark Saks is a five time Emmy nominated casting director in New York City. Saks’ notable credits include The Good Wife, Elementary, Madam Secretary, and Numb3rs.
Originally from Plano, Texas, Brandon is a southern boy transplanted into New York City. After spending 2 years at Pace University in Downtown Manhattan studying Musical Theater, he booked the International/National tour of American Idiot and spent 18 months traveling the world. Coming from an athletic background Brandon loves to play Baseball, Basketball, Ultimate Frisbee and still enjoys skateboarding from time to time. Having a deep passion for both music and acting, he is a singer/songwriter, playing multiple instruments including the Guitar, Banjo, and Mandolin. Finishing his four year B.F.A. degree in May of 2014, Brandon has gone on to continue studying at the prestigious William Esper Studio with Bill Esper.
Sean Grandillo grew up in Ohio and attended Ithaca College to pursue a degree in musical theatre. Grandillo later become a part of the original cast of Deaf West's production of Spring Awakening as the voice of Otto. He stayed with the company as they transferred to Broadway. In 2015, Grandillo also released his first single, New, for sale on iTunes. He has appeared in multiple film and television roles including Scream, Secrets and Lies, and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Kerstin Anderson is an American stage actress and singer. She starred as Maria Von Trapp in the 2015 U.S. national tour of The Sound of Music, for which she received warm praise. She made her Broadway debut as the alternate for Eliza Doolittle in the 2018 revival of My Fair Lady.
Marissa O’Donnell from Westchester, New York, made her Broadway debut at age 14 originating the role of Teen Fiona in Shrek The Musical. Prior to Shrek, she toured the country for two years as Annie in the “30th Anniversary” Annie tour including a record breaking holiday run at Madison Square Garden.
Erich Bergen is an American television, film and stage actor raised in New York City. He co-stars on CBS's Madam Secretary opposite Tea Leoni. He previously starred as Bob Gaudio in the Clint Eastwood-directed feature film Jersey Boys. Bergen played that role on stage for more than 1,000 performances in the Grammy- and Tony-winning Best Musical of the same name. He also performed with the 2012 Roundabout Theatre Company National Tour's production of Anything Goes as Billy Crocker. When not acting on screen, Bergen performs live shows as a solo singer and pianist, modeling his shows off the romantically old school feel of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
Jeff Heimbrock is an actor, writer, and comedian. You can currently catch him hunting witches in Wicked on Broadway at the Gershwin Theater. As a performer, you may have seen him in The Book of Mormon on Broadway, as Spot Conlon in the National Tour of Disney's Newsies, numerous appearances on NYC cabaret stages, or his legendary living room productions, which occasionally go viral. He has a small, but mighty following on Twitter, where his work has been pulled and featured on BuzzFeed, Food Network, BroadwayWorld, and Playbill. Jeff was raised in the chain-restaurant haven of Cincinnati, OH and currently lives in New York City with his daughter, Amandish (a 2009 bottle of Cabernet).
Skylar Astin is an Applause alumni. He made his Broadway debut in the original cast of Spring Awakening playing Georg. Later he became known for portraying Jesse Swanson in the Pitch Perfect movie series. Most recently, Skylar was seen playing the role of the Baker in Into The Woods at the Hollywood Bowl. Other theatrical credits include Rent (Hollywood Bowl), What We’re Up Against (Off-Broadway), How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Kennedy Center), & Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (New York City Center Encores).
Corey Cott made his Broadway debut as rabble-rousing newsboy Jack Kelly in Disney’s Newsies weeks after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. He then starred as Gaston in the Broadway revival of Gigi, and created the role of Donny Novitski in Bandstand on Broadway.
His regional credits include Miss Saigon, Jekyll and Hyde, and Jesus Christ Superstar. On TV, he can be seen in Madam Secretary, Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit and The Good Fight.
Gideon Glick has been seen on Broadway in To Kill A Mockingbird (Tony Award nomination), Significant Other (Drama League Award nomination), Spring Awakening and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and off-Broadway: The Harvest, Significant Other, Speech & Debate, The Few, Into the Woods, Peerless, Wild Animals You Should Know and Spring Awakening. His film credits include Ocean’s 8, Speech & Debate, Song One, A Case of You, One Last Thing…,Gods Behaving Badly. On TV, he's been seen in The Detour, Elementary, The Good Wife, Man Seeking Woman, Margot vs. Lily and Devious Maids. He can be heard on the podcast “The Message.”
Sebastian Stan is an Applause alumni now starring on the silver screen. He is most-known for his role of Bucky Barnes in the Marvel Captain America series. Stan studied at Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts and spent a year at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. Other credits include I, Tonya (2017), Logan Lucky (2017), The Bronze (2015), Once Upon a Time (2011), Black Swan (2010), and Gossip Girl (2007).
Jessica Queller is a TV writer/producer, author, and women’s health advocate. In 2003, while writing on Gilmore Girls, Jessica tested positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation, otherwise known as The Breast Cancer Gene. The test was relatively new, and Jessica was one of the first young women in the country to speak publicly about carrying the mutation. Shortly after testing positive, Jessica’s Op-Ed piece was published in the New York Times about the burden of knowledge that comes with carrying The Breast Cancer Gene. This article was the launching point for her acclaimed memoir, Pretty is What Changes (Random House, 2008). Jessica is passionate about helping women empower themselves with knowledge that can safeguard their health. She travels around the country speaking about BRCA, and has delivered keynote speeches for the annual FORCE conference in Florida, and the Bright Pink gala in Chicago. She performed at The Basser Center for BRCA’s 2016 event in NYC: In our Genes: An Evening of Storytelling. Jessica is also a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of cancer prevention. She has appeared twice on Nightline, Tavis Smiley and NPR’s Morning Edition. Other appearances include Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, and a short documentary for Livestrong. She’s the recipient of the 2007 Lynne Cohen Spirit Award, the 2008 Val Skinner Hero Award, and the 2015 Get In Touch Woman of Strength Award. Jessica proudly serves on the Leadership Council of The Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. Jessica’s first love was dramatic storytelling, and that remains the passion of her life. She has had the privilege of writing for many iconic television shows including Felicity, Gilmore Girls, Ed, Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries and Vegas. She is currently a writer/executive producer on the hit show, Supergirl. Jessica is a native New Yorker who currently resides in Los Angeles with her daughter, Sophie.
Grey received Tony, Drama Desk, and Helen Hayes Award nominations for his performance in Mean Girls. He was fortunate enough to make his Broadway debut playing Elder McKinley in The Book of Mormon, having originated the role on the First National Tour. On television he guest-starred in the comedy series “Suburgatory.” Grey received his BFA in acting and musical theatre from the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama.
Mike Faist is a Tony-nominated actor for his performance as Conner Murphy in Dear Evan Hanson. Mike made his Broadway debut in Newsies-as an original cast member, he created the role of Morris Delancey for the regional premiere and continued through the Broadway transfer. He starred opposite Taylor Schilling and Peter Dinklage in A Month in the Country at Classic Stage Co (Dir. Erica Schmidt). Other theatre: Appropriate (Signature Theatre Company, Dir. Liesl Tommy). Films include: Mania Days (Dir. Paul Dalio, Prod. Spike Lee), Lake City (Dir. Aaron Fisher-Cohen), License Plates (Dir. Marc Lucas) and The Grief of Others (Dir. Patrick Wang)-which recently premiered this year at SXSW and had its international premiere in L'ACID program in the Cannes Film, and I Can I Will I Did (Nadine Truong).