Director of Education
TIFFANY FORD (Interim Education Director) is a director, producer, and teaching artist dedicated to inspiring intellectual, emotional, and artistic growth through theatre education. Tiffany came to American Stage after leading and expanding youth and adult outreach programs as the Education & Outreach Specialist at Asolo Repertory Theatre. Prior to her work with Asolo Rep, Tiffany spent seven years in Washington D.C., where she guided new and flagship youth programs for Imagination Stage and Washington Improv Theatre as a director, project manager, and teaching artist. She is also the Founder of Wobble Rocket Stage, Washington D.C.’s youth improv theatre. Her directing work additionally includes productions at The Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival, Art Stream, Source DC, Madcap Players, and The National Cathedral School.
Lecturer for the Mainstage Lecture Series
DEDEE ALECCIA (Lecturer for the Mainstage Lecture Series) Professor Emerita Dedee Aleccia received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Rosary Hill College and her two Masters’ degrees (in English and Art History) from SUNY Binghamton. For her Master’s degree in Art History, Dedee conducted on-site research on the Thomas Becket window cycle at Canterbury Cathedral in England. Dedee has held professorships at Broome Community College and Montgomery College and has served as adjunct professor at SUNY Binghamton, the University of Baltimore, and Eckerd College. Among the many literature subjects she has taught are world literature, British literature, the Bible as Literature, 19th century literature, modern drama, and Shakespeare. In art history she has taught such subjects as world art, Greco-Roman art, medieval art, Renaissance art, and 19th century art. She has served as director of Montgomery College’s Honors Program and has taught several honors courses. Awarded the opportunity to serve as a Smithsonian Fellow, she researched images of labor in 19th century art.
SARAH PULLMAN-ATANACIO (Teaching Artist) is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a BFA in Theatre Performance. As an undergraduate, Sarah spent three summers working for UM’s Camp Imagination Program as an instructor and director. She also spent seven years with the groundbreaking Flint Youth Theatre (FYT) under Executive Artistic Director, William P. Ward. Sarah served as an Apprentice Artist, performing in youth-centric shows and assisting in theatre classes for various age groups. FYT original production credits include SPIRE, STRANDS: THE LEGACY OF 9/11, MY SOUL TO TAKE, VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS, and ALL HALLOWS EVE. After graduation, Sarah moved to New York City where she worked as an actress, performing in such productions as WHATEVER AND DELICATELY, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, CASINA, CALAMITY JANE BATTLES THE HORRIBLE HOOP SNAKES, and SIMILARITIES. With American Stage Education, she teaches ages 5 through 12 in acting, improvisation, Shakespeare, and playwriting. Recent Tampa Bay acting credits include WHAT’S YOUR STATUS? (Jobsite Theatre), HOTBED HOTEL US (Early Bird Dinner Theatre), and AS YOU LIKE IT, TWELFTH NIGHT, CYMBELINE, and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival).
Jean E. Calandra
JEAN E. CALANDRA (Teaching Artist) started her professional career on stage as an Equity actor and singer with the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company. She received her BFA in Theatre and Music, and her MA in Theatre and Speech from the University of Nebraska. Her teaching experience includes assignments at the University of Regensburg in Germany; Middlesex University in London, where she taught the Drama Diploma Course offered jointly by Middlesex and the Royal Academy of Music and Drama; adjunct instructor at USF in the Communications Department and the School of Theatre and Dance; and drama/speech instruction in private and public schools in the Tampa Bay area. In addition to a long and diverse career as an Equity actor, Jean has participated in professional workshops led by Robert Cole (Michael Chekov Technique), Augusto Boal (Forum Theatre), Peggy Loft (Voice for the Professional Actor), and Marge Barstow (Alexander Technique), which has enhanced her scope and practice as a performance teacher for students of all ages.
BECCA MCCOY (Teaching Artist) is a proud 11-year member of Actors’ Equity Association who has performed on stages all across the country in Shakespeare to MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL, and everything in between. She spent several years living in Chicago, where credits included A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN at Illinois Theatre Center, SEUSSICAL (as the Sour Kangaroo) at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Drury Lane Oakbrook. She is the proud recipient of the inaugural People’s Choice MUSE Award through the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, and winner of the Broadway World Tampa Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Sleeping Beauty in DIENCHANTED! in the Jaeb Theatre at the Straz Center (where she was previously seen as Brooke, the working mom, in MOTHERHOOD THE MUSICAL). She has been awarded nationally in musical theatre through youngARTS and the National Society of Arts and Letters. Becca is a proud graduate of the theatre program at Eckerd College, and attended the British American Drama Academy at Oxford University. www.beccamccoy.com
KATIE CASTONGUAY (Teaching Artist) is an Eckerd College graduate with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. She has been a teaching artist at American Stage since 2007 and has performed in three of American Stage’s School Tour productions; Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Charlotte’s Web, and The Wind in the Willows. Recent acting credits include Fahrenheit 451, Hay Fever, Crimes of the Heart, and All New People, and The Last Night of Ballyhoo at Jobsite Theatre, Biloxi Blues at Stageworks and Musings of a Postmodern Romantic with Tampa Repertory Theatre.
SCOTT COOPER (Teaching Artist) is an Associate Professor and the Head of the Theater Department at Saint Petersburg College where he has directed Xanadu, Fools, Godspell, All in the Timing and The Laramie Project. He has also directed for Eckerd College. You may also know him as a guy who designs some scenery here and there (American Stage, Jobsite, Gorilla, Jaeb, Stageworks in the Tampa area). He is thrilled to be directing for the American Stage Teen Summer Institute and the Education department. www.scottcooperdesigns.com
Thomas D. Guthrie
THOMAS D. GUTHRIE (Teaching Artist) holds a B.M. in Music Education from Miami University – Oxford, OH and a M.Ed. in Secondary Education/Behavior Psychology from Xavier University – Cincinnati, OH. Thomas retired to St. Petersburg from Cincinnati, Ohio after a lengthy career teaching music (choral, piano, guitar, band), directing/performing theater as well as serving as a full time church organist. He has been recognized by “Who’s Who” Among America’s Music Teachers and prior to moving to St. Petersburg, Thomas taught ‘Music Theatre Voice’ and ‘Songs & Scenes’ at the Preparatory Department of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Early in his career, he spent several years as a freelance Music Director while residing in New York City. He has directed, produced, and musically directed well over 100 productions at theater-schools as well as at community, regional, & professional theatres. Beyond his formal education, Thomas was mentored by the late Ross Allen, Asst. Conductor of Broadway’s Les Miz, studied voice with Barbara Eubanks of the NYC Met and sang under the baton of James Levine, Robert Shaw, & John Rutter. Since moving to St. Petersburg, Thomas has directed, produced, accompanied, and/or overseen 19 productions in the past 4 years, accompanied for The Broadway Theatre Project, Three Broadway Tenors, Five Broadway Divas, and several local schools as well as served as an adjudicator for the Florida State Thespian Festival. He also coaches and teaches private voice from his home studio. This is the third summer for Thomas at the Teen Summer Institute.
CHRIS JUUL (Teaching Artist) ) has performed stand-up comedy and character acting for many years, completing a variety of improvisational courses taught under the direction of fellow Teaching Artists Gavin Hawk and Ricky Wayne at American Stage, and regularly performs improvisation comedy with his troupe, “As Per Usual.” He has also acted and provided voice characterizations in several award-winning educational videos for the Tampa Museum of Art (Greeking Out And Romanin’ Around The Ancient World) and (Get Surreal with Salvador Dali) for the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. Additionally, he teaches graphic design in an applied trades high school, garnering two “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” awards, a City of Seminole Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year award, and a 2012 State of Florida nominee for Teacher of the Year. He is an accomplished multi-media artist who has released several titles of his work featuring musicians Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, and Mickey Hart, among others. He studied film and graphic design at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and screenwriting and film production at Columbia College in Chicago, and holds an AA teaching certificate in vocational education from USF.
GAVIN HAWK (Teaching Artist) may be known to American Stage audiences as one half of Hawk and Wayne, who have performed their long-form improv shows It’s a Living, The Dumb Show and 321 as part of First Sunday Improv in the cabaret space for the past several years. Other acting credits include Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (freeFall Theatre), Hate Mail (The Studio@620),Circumference of a Squirrel (The Studio@620), Love, Bukowski(California Repertory Company), Cider House Rules: Parts I & II (California Repertory Company), Gross Indecency (Huntington Theatre), Over the Tavern II: King O’ The Moon (Studio Arena/Pittsburgh Public), and Refuge (Soho Repertory). Recently he formed his own non-profit theatre company called A Simple Theatre, and directed their past three productions; Death and the Maiden, Congratulations Joe, and Good Egg. In addition to acting and directing, he is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Eckerd College. He holds a Diploma in Acting from The Juilliard School Drama Division, and an M.F.A. in Acting/Directing from California State University, Long Beach. He is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.
MOLLY HEALY (Teaching Artist) is a University of South Florida alumnus with degrees in Theater Performance and History. This is Molly’s second year teaching with American Stage where she has run classes in improvisation for children, acting at PARC and assisted in one of the high school playwriting classes. Previously, she worked with Tampa Creative Camps as a teacher, stage manager, and director. As an actress, Molly has appeared in several productions in the Tampa area including Othello, R.U.R and The Waiting Room. She also toured many local elementary schools in American Stage’s School Tour production of Rembrandt Takes a Walk.
Jessica K. Scruggs
JESSICA K. SCRUGGS (Teaching Artist) is currently the Director of Musical Theatre at Blake School of the Arts in Tampa. Additional teaching experience includes the Patel Conservatory, Broadway Dance Center of New York City, Gateway Playhouse Acting School, New York Film Academy, Front and Center for Performing Arts, and Steps School of Dance. She also served as a resident director/choreographer for the Nickelodeon live shows on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Throughout New York, Jessica has worked as a director and choreographer for new plays, full-scale musicals, Shakespeare productions, short films and music videos. As an actress, Jessica appeared last year in OF MICE AND MEN at Stageworks in Tampa and has various Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway credits including ROOM SERVICE and THE LUNAR ACADEMY, and several original works. She has also had principal roles on “One Life to Live”, “30 Rock”, “3 Lbs.” and AMC’s “Rubicon”. Jessica graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City and holds her BA in Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. She has spent time training at CAP21 and The Actor’s Institute where she began her studies with master teacher, Allen Schoer.
Marissa Nicole Koch
MARISSA NICOLE KOCH (Interim Education Associate) studied Theatre and Performance at the Theatre Academy London, and graduated from the School of Theatre at Florida State University. Growing up in the American Stage education programs, she has a passion for performing and teaching, and has been a Teaching Artist in the Education Department since 2011. She has appeared in several productions, including LES MISÉRABLES (Cosette), PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Edith), SWEET CHARITY (Charity), SHE LOVES ME, HENRY V, GUYS AND DOLLS, and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. She currently lives in Sarasota and, when not on stage or in the classroom, enjoys crafting of all kinds, as well as enjoying the beautiful Florida weather.
PATRICK MCINNIS (Teaching Artist) has been a performer for over 25 years. He has performed locally in plays, musicals and, most recently, in his own one-man show, The Comedy Hypnosis Experience. In addition, Patrick performs with The Third Thought in the area’s longest running weekly improv show. He has completed intensive studies with Piero Proccacini, a Second City and Improv Olympic graduate, and Kevin Mullaney, former instructor at ImprovOlympic and UCB, along with several workshops. Patrick has been teaching long form improvisation since 2011.
LOGAN MECKLENBURG (Teaching Artist) holds a BFA in Theatre from University of the Arts. She has since performed on stage and television, directed theatrical events, and worked in casting. Upon her return to Florida she discovered her passion: using theatre as a tool to empower at-risk youth. Logan has also taught for Youth Arts Corps, Creative Clay, and Act Up! where she also serves as Creative Director.
SOOLAF RACHEID (Teaching Artist) is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts. She also holds an Education Certification in Florida. Soolaf has been teaching with American Stage since the summer of 2007, and has worked as a teaching artist for other companies including the Youth Arts Corps, ACT UP, and the Patel Conservatory. Soolaf currently teaches at Montessori Academy in Tampa and continues to work as an actor, stage manager, and touring artist. Most recently, Soolaf was seen in Ghostlight Theatre’s DURANG ONE ACTS WITH A TWIST, A NIGHT OF INAPPROPRIATELY FUNNY MOMENTS, and ALL IN A DAY’S WORK. Some of her favorite roles include Stranger (THE DOORS), The Dark Lady (ELIZABETH AND EDWARD), Lina/Edith (A DREAM PLAY), Peggy (THE HUNDRED DRESSES), Lenora (THE LONG CHRISTMAS DINNER), Zerbinette (SCAPIN), and Angel (WHEN YOU COMIN’ BACK RED RYDER).
JAMES RAYFIELD (Teaching Artist) has been a theatre educator for over thirty years. Most recently he taught at Blake High School for the Arts and at the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory. He holds an MFA in theatre from the University of Texas in Austin and studied acting in Los Angeles with Viola Spolin. He was selected as Theatre Teacher of the Year by the Florida Association of Theatre Educators in 1992 and Best Local Playwright by Creative Loafing in 1994. He has directed for Gorilla Theatre, Stageworks, Revolve Theatre, The Loft, Playmakers, School of Night, and Blue Scarf Collective. He also directed I Am a Cuban Sandwich which has been frequently seen at The American Stage. As an actor, he most recently appeared in Oliver Parker at the Silver Meteor Gallery and is in Time Keeper, a web series now it is second season.
AMY SWANSON (Teaching Artist) is a graduate of the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Theatre Arts. While at the University of Miami, Amy was a member of the University Women’s Chorale, an all-female choral group with a vast repertoire including Renaissance, folk and popular music. Amy is currently a substitute teacher with Pinellas County Schools and is a member of Chorus Angelorum, a St. Petersburg based a capella group focusing on Renaissance and popular music. She has been a Teaching Artist for American Stage since 2008.
RICKY WAYNE (Teaching Artist) was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has trained and taught at Children’s Theatre Workshop and American Conservatory Theatre in theatre and acting, and at The Groundlings in Los Angeles in improvisation and sketch comedy writing for many years. American Stage audiences might remember him as Carl from Opus in 2010 and Marc in Art in 2013. He continues to perform has one half of Hawk and Wayne, a long form improv duo with local actor and director, Gavin Hawk (The Dumb Show, 321, The Memory, New of the Weird: Live!, It’s A Living!, This Is A Comedy Show), at their artistic home, American Stage Theatre Company. Local theater credits include A Simple Theatre’s CONGRATULATIONS, JOE! and SPEED-THE-PLOW, and ON TIDY ENDINGS and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS at The Heather. A working television and film actor, select film credits include Eloise, When The Game Stands Tall, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Barefoot, Real Steel, Love and Honor and SWAT: Firefight. Select television credits include a recurring role on The Walking Dead, Chicago PD, Halt & Catch Fire, and Low Winter Sun. Other TV series and MOW include 12 Monkeys (series), Revolution, Treme, Army Wives, Burn Notice, The Glades, House of Bones, MonsterWolf and Charlie’s Angels (revived). He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association and is represented in the southeast Brevard Talent Group. He has been studying the Eric Morris approach of acting with Kathryn Laughlin at Performers Studio Workshop since 2007 and serves on Advisory Board of The Heather, a theatre company based in Ms. Laughlin’s building in Tampa.