YADA Founders, Directors, Designers, Artists & Team Members

Guided by their vision to create a musical theatre experience for YADA families that is second to none in production value, Lani and Kim consistently attract and employ top Los Angeles talent in all creative disciplines. The quality in each YADA production is apparent from the coaching and professional instruction provided by YADA directors to the top L.A. design talent that contribute to the look of each production.

The YADA Directors are all working professional L.A area actors, performers and musicians active in roles in theatre, television and other performance expression. The contributing YADA design team are also professional makeup artists, set designers, lighting designers and music supervisors. It is this "spare no expense, attention to each detail" that sets YADA apart in the crowded world of children's theatre companies. But it is this same passion that also attracts and creates a loyal base of directors and design talent that love YADA and are inspired by the YADA vision to impact the lives of the YADA kids they teach.

Lani Shipman

Co-Owner

Lani Shipman

Co-Owner

Lani was raised in Hawaii and is the fourth generation in a family of writers, dancers, singers, actors, producers and directors. A graduate of Beverly Hills High School, she received her BFA degree from the University of Southern California. Having received a wonderful children’s theatre experience, she feels that working with children now is her way of giving back all she was given. Lani is thrilled to be back in the Los Angeles area continuing to manage and administrate YADA while maintaining a career in acting improv and music. She believes each and every student at YADA is amazing and encourages them to follow their dreams.

    Kim Harrigan

    Co-Owner

    Kim Harrigan

    Co-Owner

    Kim has co-owned YADA for 24 years and has directed children for over 16 years in the Los Angeles area. She comes from a small town in Iowa where theatre was her life as a child. She started YADA in order to create a healthy, supportive environment for kids to play and have fun. Kim graduated from ASU with a BFA in acting and has performed in numerous productions. She worked as a dancer at Walt Disney World for five years and when she is not working at YADA, she enjoys adventure in the wild outdoors with her family.

      Lisa Gilbar

      Executive Director

      Lisa Gilbar

      Executive Director

      Lisa Gilbar was the Assistant Director for the 2001 Broadway revival of “Noises Off” and the 2005 Broadway premiere of “Monty Python’s Spamalot”. She directed the Patti Austin show “BeboperElla” at Lincoln Center, and has worked on multiple films, television shows, and New York and Los Angeles theatrical productions. A native of Los Angeles, Lisa began acting in musicals at the age of six and fell in love with the magic of the stage. Theatre was such an important part of Lisa's childhood and she is thrilled to be able to share a bit of that magic with more kids today. When Lisa is not at YADA or with her wonderful husband and little son, she can be found smiling behind the camera as a headshot photographer for Lisa Levy Photography.

        Dan Graul

        Dan Graul

        Chief Operating Officer and Director

        Dan Graul

        Chief Operating Officer and Director

        Dan Graul has been a teaching artist with YADA since Summer 2007. He also serves as Technical Director for the company and has designed and built many sets on the YADA stage across the years. Professionally, Dan has directed and co-created various theatrical productions and short films, including Wicca Please!, Magickal Monsters and most recently - Nerd Anarchy: The Spectacular D&D Musical! Dan grew up in St. Louis, MO and graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a BA in Theatre and a Minor in Dance. Before moving to LA, he spent some time living in New York City and travelling the country, working as an actor with various regional theatres. Dan can be found around the LA music scene playing guitar and singing with various rock n’ roll outfits – most notably psychedelic folk rock band Northern Strangers, a group Dan co-founded with his awesome wife Rebecca and her brother Will. In 2015 Northern Strangers released their second original album Where The River Goes, recorded and produced by Antoine Arvizu (Sublime, Ryan Bingham, Free Moral Agents). www.northernstrangers.com

          Scott Noonan

          Administrative Director

          Scott Noonan

          Administrative Director

          Scott is pleased and excited to join the family at YADA! Scott has been performing in theater and musicals since he was in grade school. During his college career he enjoyed singing in jazz, madrigal and concert choirs as well as singing in various opera roles. After receiving his Masters Degree in Vocal Performance he embarked on his professional singing career. For six years Scott was a performing member of the Artiste dell'Arte costumed opera program at the Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes. During that time he was also the vocal director for all of the entertainment programs at the Venetian. For the two years following his work at the Venetian Scott was fortunate to be able to travel the world on Celebrity Cruises as part of an all guy a cappella quartet singing doo-wop and barbershop music for the guests. Prior to moving to Los Angeles,  Scott was the Administrative Assistant to the Principal of the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas. Scott is currently the tenor section lead and featured soloist for Westwood Presbyterian Church and Music at Westwood.

            Emily Abeles

            Director

            Emily Abeles

            Director

            Emily Abeles is an actress, creative, and imagineer based in Los Angeles, CA, and is absolutely overjoyed to join the YADA family alongside such a wonderful artistic community. Storyteller by heart, Emily grew up studying ballet, answering movie trivia, and writing the occasional short story. She dove into the world of musical theater in highschool, and has since gone on to graduate from the University of California, Irvine with a BFA in Musical Theater, and perform regionally in the SoCal area. Some of her favorite credits include Wendy in "Peter Pan,"  Anne Shirley in "Anne of Green Gables," Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," and Millie Dilmount in "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Throughout her career, she's also had the opportunity to teach and spread awareness of the arts in several classroom, workshop, and theater festival environments throughout SoCal, including, but not limited to co-chairing the largest student run festival on the west coast. Aside from the stage, she tries to dive into as many of her second loves as she can, some of which include spending time with her rescue pup, Hashbrown, searching for the perfect slice of pie (which currently exists in San Marcos, Texas) and tap dancing. She thanks her family, friends, and YADA team for their support and encouragement.

              Bethany Baderdeen

              Director

              Bethany Baderdeen

              Director

              Bethany is a southern California native. As a huge advocate for education in Theater, Bethany holds a certificate from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in LA and a Bachelor's Degree in Theater Performance from UC San Diego. After marking her Los Angeles stage debut as a finalist in LA's Next Great Stage Star, her most recent credits include Mamma Mia at Sierra Repertory Theater, and Grease at The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage, Alaska. Repped by ATB Talent Agency across the board, she continues to perform and is so passionately delighted to step on over to the creative side, joining the YADA directing team!

                Jennifer Bennett

                Technique Instructor

                Jennifer Bennett

                Technique Instructor

                Jennifer Bennett is an accomplished singer, actress and educator. She has traveled the world with the international tour of Cats and performed in many regional theatres throughout the country. Some of her notable credits include: The Marvelous Wonderettes, Light in the Piazza, Guys and Dolls, Sunday in the Park with George, and The Full Monty. She has been a soloist at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops, Great Waters Music Festival, New Hampshire Dance Institute, Laurie Beechman Theatre and Rockwell Table & Stage. She is on faculty at AMDA College of the Performing Arts. Jennifer is a proud member of Musical Theatre Guild and Actors' Equity. She enjoys helping students find their unique voice within all styles of music.

                DEGREES
                M.M., Musical Theatre, Boston Conservatory at Berklee
                B.M., Vocal Performance, University of Southern California

                  Emily Bolt

                  Director

                  Emily Bolt

                  Director

                  Emily was born and raised in St. Louis, MO where she grew up surrounded by the arts, taking voice, piano, dance and acting classes.  She received her BFA in Acting from Missouri State University, and after graduation went on to tour with Missoula Children's Theatre for a year.  Since moving to Los Angeles, she's studied at many studios including UCB, Groundlings and Stan Kirsch where she is currently.  During the pandemic, she and her husband started a podcast called What's Your Movie which is starting its second season soon.  Emily is so happy to be part of the YADA family.

                    Katie Clarke

                    Director/Improv Teacher

                    Katie Clarke

                    Director/Improv Teacher

                    Katie arrived in Los Angeles in 2011 as a student of the USC Thornton School of Music where she studied Vocal Arts and was classically trained as an opera singer. Katie earned her Bachelor of Music in 2015, but developed a passion for teaching through her Vocal Pedagogy class, and went on to work primarily as a teacher. Alongside YADA, Katie works as the teaching assistant at Oakwood Elementary School. She also has developed her own business leading small groups of children and adults in Dungeons and Dragons games. Beyond her training at USC, Kate has had the privilege to train with Charlie Adler for voice over work, and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade for improv. Some of Katie’s favorite stage performance credits include: Anything Goes (Reno Sweeney), Into the Woods (The Witch), Beauty and the Beast (Belle), Pirates of Penzance (Mabel), Hippolyte et Aricie (Cupid), The Tempest (Angel), Iphigenie en Tauride (Priestess), The Miracle Worker (Annie Sullivan), Chocolate Cake (Annemarie), and The Foreigner (Betty). Katie also loves working in choral and voice over productions, recently she had the honor of being a part of the American premiere of the Kingdom Hearts Symphony at the Dolby Theater. Katie is so excited to kick off the fall with laughter and improv, and she is looking forward to helping each student shine and find their voice.

                      Tara Cox

                      Director

                      Tara Cox

                      Director

                      Tara Cox is an actress and educator.  She has been performing since she was a little girl at the renaissance faire, and grew up participating in community theatre and high school plays. Tara graduated from UCLA with a BA in Theatre, and her 14+ years of performance experience includes starring in plays such as "Comedy of Errors" as Dromio of Syracuse, singing and dancing in musicals such as Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights" as Vanessa, and studying improv with the Groundlings. She loves working with kids, whether its teaching them during the school year or directing them in films and plays over the summer. Children's theatre holds a very special place in her heart, and she is so excited to join the YADA team!

                        Emily Cunningham

                        Emily Cunningham

                        Director

                        Emily Cunningham

                        Director

                        Emily is a born and raised Texan who moved out to Los Angeles 5 years ago. She started performing across the city of Houston at age 9 and her favorite professional credits include Hurly Burly, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and Hairspray. Emily has an original web series she's focused on the last few years, "The Struggle is Real", and is a working independent film actor & writer. She's beyond jazzed to be a part of the YADA team and work with a truly awesome staff and kids!

                          Kalen Garnett

                          Director

                          Kalen Garnett

                          Director

                          Kalen recently moved to Los Angeles from New York City after graduating from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, New Studio on Broadway with a BFA in Drama. While in New York Kalen was last seen in: Grab Bag at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, Le Blanc at The Pit Loft, Tornadoland at Studio 54, and has worked on new musical readings at GMTW and Dixon Place; Kalen also recently shot a short film, Older Brothers. Kalen grew up in a community theatre where she gained her love for the arts, and eventually was afforded the opportunity to choreograph for the theatre's education program. She is excited to be joining the YADA team, and is excited to work with some brilliant kids and staff.

                            Brooke Olivia Gatto

                            Director

                            Brooke Olivia Gatto

                            Director

                            Brooke is thrilled to be a part of the YADA team! She is originally from Portland, Oregon and graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from California State University, Fullerton. Brooke got her start in regional theatre in Portland and has never looked back. Additionally, her experiences with the Young People’s Theatre Project allowed Brooke to share her love of theatre with others. Brooke is currently pursuing opportunities in the world of film, television, and theatre. Recently, she earned her first credit on a short film. She also performs at Disneyland, which has led to several exciting opportunities, such as Dancing with the Stars - Disney Night. Brooke believes there is a place for everyone in the theatre community, and is excited to help every student grow in both their confidence and craft!

                              carole gibbs

                              Carole Gibbs

                              Administrative Assistant

                              Carole Gibbs

                              Administrative Assistant

                              Carole has spent 35 years as a teacher in Drama, Speech, Journalism and English. As a Drama Director and Forensics Coach she was selected six times for “Drama Coach of the Year” and four times as “Speech Coach of the Year.” Her activities in the arts include, acting, technical direction and script writing. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from University of Missouri and received her Masters from University of Iowa. Carole has been the costume and prop designer for YADA for ten years and loves every minute.

                                Piper Gillin

                                Director/Improv Teacher

                                Piper Gillin

                                Director/Improv Teacher

                                Piper grew up in the Pacific Northwest where she performed in community theatre and with the "Short Shakespeareans" acting troupe. She transplanted to LA and earned a BA in theatre from the University of Southern California. She was a competitive dancer growing up, which led to her job at Disneyland dancing down Main Street, USA as a Parade performer. Piper has studied improv and sketch comedy at The Second City, UCB, and The Groundlings, and has many years of experience teaching youth improv programs at the Second City. Piper is a working stage, screen and voice actor, and is excited to share her love for the arts with the talented kiddos at YADA.

                                  Rebecca Graul

                                  Musical Supervisor & Director

                                  Rebecca Graul

                                  Musical Supervisor & Director

                                  Rebecca started playing piano for musical theater at 17 and has never stopped!  Aside from being YADA's music supervisor, she works regularly as a musical director, vocal coach, and pianist for theatre all over Los Angeles and is a Center Theater Group Teaching Artist. Rebecca campaigns for the accessibility of the arts, writing musicals for Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre tours and training teachers in Title 1 schools to develop sustainable theatre programs as a Teaching Artist in the Disney Musicals in Schools program.  She holds a BFA from Cal State Fullerton and has composed/produced music for films, commercials, webseries, musicals and tv shows, including 3 Best Film award-winners, a "Best Original Score" award in LA's New Wave Film Festival, a “Best Original Song Written For Film” nomination in Hollywood's Feel Good Film Festival, 3 nominations in Hollywood Fringe and a "Best in Fringe" award in Maui Fringe (2018), and ASCAP membership earned along the way.  She also has produced several albums (solo and collaborative) and performs regularly with the psychedelic folk rock group Northern Strangers.

                                    Marie Gutierrez

                                    Director

                                    Marie Gutierrez

                                    Director

                                    Born and raised in Los Angeles, Marie nurtured her love for song and dance from a young age. Marie graduated from California State University, Northridge where she received a B.A. in Cinema Television Arts with an emphasis in Media Management. Marie has found a passion in passing down knowledge to the next generation of the arts and has had students of all ages over the past decade. When not teaching or performing, Marie loves to adventure for great coffee and doughnuts! Favorite moments on stage include: Lincoln Center Theater’s The King and I (1st Nat’l Tour), In The Heights, H2$, Miss Saigon, Sweet Charity, Hello, Dolly! Proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

                                      Hayley Holmes

                                      Director

                                      Hayley Holmes

                                      Director

                                      Hayley Holmes is originally from Covington, Indiana. She was often seen tap dancing on the tennis courts, and was advised to join a local dance studio. Shortly after it was suggested she audition for a Competitive Dance Team in Champaign, IL where she soon found herself competing around the nation in all areas of dance (tap, jazz, acro, Musical Theatre, and lyrical). Winning such titles as Miss Showbiz, Broadway Bound, and First Place at several National Events. Eager to stretch her creativity muscles even further Hayley auditioned for every theatre production within a 60 mile radius, and loved every chance she had to step out on the stage (Annie, Music Man, Wizard of Oz).  When the opportunity presented itself to move to Los Angeles, Hayley quickly jumped on it and has been fortunate enough to work steadily in the Film & Television World ever since. She is so appreciative of everyone who supports her, and loves sharing her knowledge of the arts with the students at YADA!

                                        Celeste Jones

                                        Director

                                        Celeste Jones

                                        Director

                                        A recent transplant to LA from the east coast Celeste is thrilled to be joining the YADA team. Celeste is a proud member of AEA with years of professional theatre experience under her belt and she's always excited to bring her experience from the stage to her students. Some of her favorite roles have been Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Nessa in District Merchants, Sophie in Ruined, and TiMoune in Once on this Island. Aside from theatre Celeste has had the opportunity to star in a few short films and web series and even produced one of her own.  Alongside her own career, she's spent years teaching theatre, dance, and voice to students of all ages, cultivating a love for performance and creativity. She received her BFA from Howard University in DC and had the opportunity to study classical acting at the British American Drama Academy. She cannot wait to teach and learn from all of her YADA students. 

                                          Jeff LaGreca

                                          Director/Improv Teacher

                                          Jeff LaGreca

                                          Director/Improv Teacher

                                          Jeff LaGreca is a writer, creative director, teacher, actor, singer, puppeteer and improviser who resides in Los Angeles, CA. He has studied and worked with Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond, (30 Rock, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Second City) Adam McKay, (Anchorman, The Big Short) Todd Stashwick, (12 Monkeys) Mick Napier, (The Annoyance Theater, Chicago) Matt Besser (Improv4Humans), Matt Walsh (VEEP), Ian Roberts, (Upright Citizens Brigade) Gary Austin, (The Groundlings) and Hilary Stern, (The Groundlings). Jeff taught regularly with companies like Broadway Classroom, an educational program that lets middle school and high school students work on their craft alongside working Broadway professionals. Jeff has worked with the 52nd Street Project in New York City, where he taught, performed and made foam-core sets. He did four years with the Centre Stage program with Queens Theater in the Park, a playmaking program that teaches young people to write and perform their own work, from inception to production. The past three years, he has worked for Swallow Hill Music Association, developing their summer theater/music camps and collaborating with the students on creating original musical works. Jeff has directed and written tons of shows including Minimum Wage, a musical which made it’s Off Broadway debut in NYC and Bijou and the Bots, The Gargoyle Garden (a creepy new children's musical and Fringe NYC Excellence Award Winner!) And a contemporary re-telling of Prokofiev’s (The Trial of) Peter and the (Were) Wolf for the Astoria Symphony. He has just completed work on his first full length YA novel, and is writing a series of children’s books, Roger and Eugene Both Gave Me Thumbs Down, Milton’s Grabbers, The Pesky French Fry, The Gargoyle Garden and the recently published Hideously Heinous. Jeff also is a founder of the Denver Independent Comic Expo (DinkDenver.com) and plays in the nerd bands, H2Awesome! & Daenerys & the Targaryens with his awesome wife, Suze.

                                            Katharine Lerner

                                            Director

                                            Katharine Lerner

                                            Director

                                            Katharine is an Actor and Teacher in Los Angeles. Katharine has taught with A Noise Within, Treasure Trunk Theatre, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Camp Arena Stage and Camp Acting Manitou. Katharine trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade, Maggie Flanigan Studio, received her BFA from Marymount Manhattan College, and studied at the British American Drama Academy. Katharine loves teaching children and opening their imagination to all the possibilities of creation and joy!

                                              Hunter Lowdon

                                              Office Assistant

                                              Hunter Lowdon

                                              Office Assistant

                                              Hunter is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area where he performed at many different regional theaters including American Conservatory Theater (ACT), Broadway by the Bay, Hillbarn Theater and many others. He graduated from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and has since performed on stage and on screen in Los Angeles. He is proud to have been in the West Coast Premiere of David Rabe's new play Good For Otto and he can be seen singing and dancing alongside Pentatonix in the musical episode of Bones on FOX. He is excited to join the YADA family!

                                                Emmy Mattingly

                                                Director

                                                Emmy Mattingly

                                                Director

                                                Emmy is thrilled to be joining the YADA team! She grew up acting, singing, and dancing in Louisville, KY and has performed in professional theatres all across the country. Favorite Roles: Pinkalicious (Pinkalicious), Logainne (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Ermengarde (HELLO DOLLY!) Emmy is a proud Florida State University alumni earning a BFA in Musical Theatre. She has also performed as an Equity Principle Performer at Walt Disney World Florida in "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" and "Disney Jr. Live on Stage!". Shortly after moving to LA, Emmy was cast as a recurring guest star in the Disney Channel TV series “Liv and Maddie” (Liv 2/ Linda). She worked weekly on the set for all four of its seasons and performed in front of live studio audiences. She has also booked roles on networks Nickelodeon (“Knight Squad”), MTV (“Mary+Jane”, “Faking It)”, and YouTube Red Series (“WERID CITY”). Emmy loves working with children and is so happy to share her passion of the arts with your kiddos!

                                                  Lindsay Merrill

                                                  Lindsay Merrill

                                                  Director

                                                  Lindsay Merrill

                                                  Director

                                                  Lindsay grew up in Omaha, NE where she trained extensively and competed in all styles of dance before going onto study Dance Performance at Oklahoma City University and then receive her BA in Visual and Performing Arts from the University of Southern California. Before moving out to LA, she taught and choreographed for studios across the Midwest and performed with multiple dance companies in Oklahoma, Chicago, and finally LA. In addition to loving her work at YADA, creating shows with the magical little humans we call children, Lindsay is also pursuing her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and looks forward to integrating her love of dance, theatre, and performing arts education with her passion for exploring the human experience in unique and innovative ways. She believes in lifelong learning and continues to grow every single day through her relationships with each one of YADA’s little stars!

                                                    Alli Miller-Fisher

                                                    Director

                                                    Alli Miller-Fisher

                                                    Director

                                                    Alli has a BA in Musical Theatre from Ball State University with a minor in Choreography and Women's Psychology. She has been teaching children since she was a child herself and has her whole heart in the development of these tiny humans becoming rockstars on stage because they feel like rockstars! She is a freelance writer of Musical Parodies and Parody Songs for performers, and you may have seen her works at The Rockwell Table and Stage, Three Clubs, The Globe Theatre, and many more places around town! Alli is over the moon to join the staff at YADA and get back in the teaching game!

                                                      Ann Northern

                                                      Director

                                                      Ann Northern

                                                      Director

                                                      Originally from Virginia, Ann Northern grew up performing professionally at theaters and venues up and down the east coast. Since a young age, Ann has been an avid student of vocal performance, ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and all things dramatic.  She grew up learning from some of the best teachers in the country, and she won many awards in singing, dance, and cheerleading conventions throughout the east coast.  She then graduated with a BFA in Professional Acting and Musical Theatre from East Carolina University.  Ann performed and lived in New York City for 8 years, where she completed two Broadway National/International Tours:  Lincoln Center’s South Pacific and Shrek the Musical.  Her favorite credits include Millie (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), Mae (The Wild Party), Mary Warren (The Crucible), and Emily (Our Town).  After moving to Los Angeles with her Husband and miniature schnauzer, Ann found YADA and immediately felt at home!  Ann is currently an advanced student at Groundlings and UCB and is an alumni of The Meisner Technique.  Her classes have high energy and she loves working with children of all ages and capabilities!

                                                        Lindsay Pearce

                                                        Director

                                                        Lindsay Pearce

                                                        Director

                                                        Lindsay is Broadway's newest Elphaba! Lindsay saw Elphaba fly in 2009 and told her mom “that’s going to be me someday.” REGIONAL: American Idiot, Spring Awakening, Bare: A Pop Opera (Broadway World’s: Best Leading Actress in a musical), Romeo & Juliet, The Last 5 Years, For The Record: BAZ. TV/FILM: The Glee Project, Glee, Recovery RoadGrey’s Anatomy, and Sony Picture’s The Wedding Ringer.

                                                          Michael Orland

                                                          Musical Director / Pianist

                                                          Michael Orland

                                                          Musical Director / Pianist

                                                          Michael is thrilled to have been a part of the mega-hit TV show AMERICAN IDOL for 16 seasons as the Pianist, Arranger, Vocal Coach and Associate Musical Director both on FOX and ABC. In between those seasons were stints as  Music Director/vocal coach on LITTLE BIG SHOTS and FOREVER YOUNG both hosted by Steve Harvey.  Through these amazing opportunities, Michael has appeared on OPRAH, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD and a record number of appearances on THE ELLEN SHOW.  At the end of every IDOL season, Michael also accompanied the top 3 contestants to New York for appearances on  LIVE WITH KELLY & REGIS (and MICHAEL and RYAN) , CBS EARLY  SHOW, and concerts on the plaza for THE TODAY SHOW.  He has collaborated with music industry giants such as Burt Bacharach, Neil Sedaka, Diane Warren, Elton John, Dolly Parton, Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban all as a result of American Idol.  He also served as a pianist/coach  for the NBC summer series AMERICA’S GOT TALENT (Seasons 1 & 2) and a few seasons back AMERICAN JUNIORS and has Associate Produced two hit singles (GOD BLESS THE U.S.A. and WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE) for AMERICAN IDOL as well as the hit compilation CD from AMERICAN JUNIORS.

                                                          Michael began his impressive musical career in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts at the tender age of three, when he escorted each member of his family, one by one, to see “MARY POPPINS” and then sat down at the piano and played the songs by ear. Since this auspicious beginning, he has become one of the most acclaimed musical directors on the concert, theater, television,  and nightclub scene.

                                                          In addition to playing and conducting for many celebrities including  Kristen Bell, Erich Bergen, Sabrina Carpenter, Lynda Carter, Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande,  Tony-Winner Debbie Gravitte, Jennifer Holliday,  Roslyn Kind,   Barry Manilow, Maureen  McGovern, Katharine McPhee,  Idina Menzel,  and the late  Wayland Flowers & Madame and the legendary Kaye Ballard, Michael played for the hit shows “FORBIDDEN BROADWAY”, “RUTHLESS!”, and “WHEN PIGS FLY” in Los Angeles.  He made his Hollywood Bowl debut accompanying the iconic MGM star Ann Miller.

                                                          Prior to AMERICAN IDOL, television appearances have included The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Leeza, The Maury Povich Show, The Wayne Brady Show,  and Geraldo. He also appeared on the hit sitcom “THE NANNY” performing an original song co-written with Roslyn Kind. He also played a pianist (it’s a stretch) on the WB sitcom “WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU” and the UPN sitcom HALF & HALF.

                                                          For 13 seasons, Michael also musical directed one of the touring companies of the RADIO CITY CHRISTMA SPECTACULAR starring the world-famous Rockettes.  And he is now a published author in the best-selling book “Chicken Soup For The American Idol Soul”

                                                          For the last ten years Michael has also musical directed the Lythgoe Family Productions of the UK-famous “Panto Style” Theatre experience at  The El Portal Theatre,  The Pasadena Playhouse and Pasadena Civic Auditorium  including CINDERELLA starring Shoshanna Bean, SNOW WHITE starring Ariana Grande, ALADDIN starring Jordan Fisher,  SLEEPING BEAUTY starring Disney’s Olivia Holt & Garrett Clayton and Lucy Lawless, and PETER PAN starring Sabrina Carpenter & Chrissie Fit.

                                                          An accomplished songwriter, his songs have been featured on several daytime soaps and primetime shows. On recordings, he can be heard on Debbie Gravitte’s “Alan Menken Album” and “MGM Album”; Rita McKenzie’s “Ethel Merman’s Broadway”, “Ruthless! The Musical”, Roslyn Kind’s “Come What May” and produced and arranged several CD’s for cabaret artists.   Michael is currently working on a solo piano album due out one of these days as well as scoring music along with Dr. Staci Gruber for many projects for New York Times Best-selling Author Patricia Cornwell.

                                                          Some past  highlights include serving as Associate Musical Director on the exciting  NBC production of HAIRSPRAY LIVE that aired in December 2016 starring Maddie Baillio, Harvey Feinstein, Ariana Grande, Garrett Clayton,  Jennifer Hudson, Dove Cameron, & Kristin Chenoweth as well as the upcoming Netflix movie version of the hit Broadway show “THE PROM”, as well as being so proud to have been a vocal producer on the newly released Kristin Chenoweth album “FOR THE GIRLS” on Concord Records.

                                                          Please visit Michael's web site (www.facebook.com/MichaelOrlandMusic ) periodically for news updates and upcoming events. Twitter/Instagram:  @michaelorland

                                                            Amanda Perez

                                                            Amanda Perez

                                                            Director

                                                            Amanda Perez

                                                            Director

                                                            Amanda was a Director for six years In New York at ApplauseNY. While managing the after-school division she taught dance, singing, improv, acting for camera, and directed the musical theater workshops on the weekends to kids ranging from 5yrs-15yrs. After graduating from the prestigious High School of Performing Arts, Amanda went on to earn her B.F.A in Dramatic Performance at the College Conservatory of Music (CCM). She has been featured in national commercials and has appeared in several TV shows including Modern Family, Ground Floor, and Gossip Girl. Amanda has also appeared in various readings and plays in New York–her favorite being the New York premiere of Knives and Other Sharp Objects produced by The Public Theater. Amanda is thrilled to be living in Los Angeles continuing to share her love for theater with the incredible YADA students.

                                                              Liliana Rose

                                                              Director

                                                              Liliana Rose

                                                              Director

                                                              A Los Angeles native, Liliana was first introduced to theatre at age 6 through YADA! She evidently fell in love, and is still performing almost 20 years later. After her YADA days, she went on to earn her BFA in Musical Theatre at Texas State University. Subsequently, she performed at various theaters around the country as well as on the seas with Norwegian Cruise Line. When she is not on stage, she finds fulfillment in passing along her passion for theatre to the next generation of performers! Check out www.lilianarose.net for performance updates!

                                                                Jordan Segal

                                                                Technique Instructor

                                                                Jordan Segal

                                                                Technique Instructor

                                                                Jordan is ecstatic to be rejoining the YADA family as he was a student here from ages 9-14! Since his days performing at YADA he graduated from Pace University with a BFA in Musical Theater and stayed in NYC for 6 years pursuing theater. He got his feet wet teaching at Cheviot Hills Drama Camp and fell in love with teaching kids the magic of theater. He got to take part in HAIR produced by original producer, Michael Butler in 2007. Other favorite roles have been Leaf Coneybear(25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Seymour (Little Shop of Horrors), and Smee (Peter and the Starcatcher.) Jordan is thrilled to get to plant the theater seed in the place he grew his roots!

                                                                  Suzanne Slade

                                                                  Technique Instructor

                                                                  Suzanne Slade

                                                                  Technique Instructor

                                                                  Suzanne Slade is a transplant from NYC, where she has performed on and off-Broadway as well as in touring companies. Being a performer as a child, she realized early on that she had a love for helping other children learn the skills needed to be a successful performer. She has worked with kids in the theatre for 20 years through professional companies preparing students for college and/or a musical theatre profession. Suzanne is also a member of SAG-Aftra, as well as a dancer and photographer, specializing in actor’s headshots, and can be seen performing around LA with Bucket List Theatre Company, as well as playing with her band, The Damed. She is thrilled to join the YADA team!

                                                                   

                                                                    Molly Smith

                                                                    Molly Smith

                                                                    Director

                                                                    Molly Smith

                                                                    Director

                                                                    Molly grew up in Chicago, IL and as soon as she could began performing in local community theater. Between the ages of 8 to 18, she performed in over 20 plays and musicals. Molly recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Theatre. While in Chicago, she also studied improv at The Second City and performed in several short films. Two years ago, Molly moved to Los Angeles where she has since starred in various independent films and web-series’. Molly continues to study at The Imagined Life in Hollywood.

                                                                      Jacelyn Szkrybalo

                                                                      Office Staff

                                                                      Jacelyn Szkrybalo

                                                                      Office Staff

                                                                      Jacelyn is a recent LA transplant from the East Coast. She grew up in Connecticut, performing in youth and community theaters before finding her true calling in arts management and administration. She earned a BA in Theatre Studies with a minor in Business Fundamentals from the University of Connecticut before embarking on a career in company management in regional theatre. She has experience working in nearly every facet of production and administration, from stage carpentry and wig maintenance to fundraising and social media strategy. She recently completed her Master’s in Arts Administration at Carnegie Mellon University, where her capstone project focused on community programming for the Pittsburgh Public Theater. As a manager, she is committed to promoting initiatives of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as advocating for arts education. She is delighted to be joining the team at YADA!

                                                                       

                                                                        Brittany Thornton

                                                                        Technique Instructor

                                                                        Brittany Thornton

                                                                        Technique Instructor

                                                                        Brittany is a musical theatre performer and voice actor living in Los Angeles, CA. Originally from Houston, TX, she got her start when, at the age of six, she performed as "Ngana" in Theatre Under the Stars' production of South Pacific with Cathy Rigby. She has been performing ever since. She holds a BA in Music Industry Studies with an emphasis in Voice from California State University, Northridge. Favorite credits include Hairspray (Tracy), Into the Woods (Little Red Riding Hood), In the Heights (Daniela and Carla), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Logainne), and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown (Sally Brown). Brittany is beyond thrilled to be joining the YADA team and can’t wait to share her love for the theatre with the YADA kids!

                                                                          Devyn Ward

                                                                          Director

                                                                          Devyn Ward

                                                                          Director

                                                                          Devyn is so excited to be in Los Angeles and a part of the YADA staff! She was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and recently graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a BA in Acting Performance and K-12 Theatre Education. Devyn has been dancing since the age of 3 and has spent the last 4 years teaching ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop competitively and recreationally at a local studio. She's been acting since the age of 7 and has performed in some amazing shows like Spring Awakening, Pride and Prejudice, and Shakepeare's Love's Labour's Lost. She's also been doing improv for 7 years (her favorite!) and has performed in tons of shows including the Del Close Marathon in New York City. She's looking forward to training and performing in the improv scene in LA! She's taught theatre for 3 years and counting, and throughout her education training she discovered an immense love for Theatre for Young Audiences, and directed a mainstage touring TYA show at UNCo. Her favorite part of teaching theatre and acting is the life skills it teaches young people while also giving them room for imaginative play and creativity.

                                                                            Anthony David Ward

                                                                            Director

                                                                            Anthony David Ward

                                                                            Director

                                                                            Anthony is a Performing and Teaching Artist from Niagara Falls, NY. He realized his passion for theatre at a young age, and hasn’t stopped performing since! He has traveled the country with Missoula Children’s Theatre, where he was able to bring the magical world of Musical Theatre to a new group of kids each week. In college he studied Acting, Dance, Vocal Performance, and Psychology. He takes pride in being able to use all of his education in his craft, and his ability to teach others how to do the same. Some of his favorite performance credits include, Dan Goodman in Next to Normal, Charlie Brown in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Mitch Mahoney in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, as well as various roles in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, and Henry VI. He is extremely excited to begin his journey at YADA and cannot wait to begin teaching and inspiring!

                                                                              Rainer is thriving at YADA and we are so happy to have found such a nurturing, amazing place for
                                                                              him to learn.

                                                                              You guys are epic… So amazed by the work and love that goes into each and every production. You help your students grow and shine. You deserve all the applause. We are blessed to be part of the YADA family.

                                                                              Becoming part of the YADA family has been an amazing experience for David!

                                                                              Mutual love fest here!!!!

                                                                              Thank you so much. I have already enrolled Janey for the next season. She tells me that she wants to go to YADA forever!

                                                                              Skylar absolutely loves YADA and would not think of missing it. I enrolled her the very first day of registration so we should be all set!

                                                                              Our daughter is thriving and extremely happy in your program!

                                                                              Thank you again to you, all the teachers and Yada for this opportunity for Lourdes, her heart is so set on this.