Instructor Bios

Heather Hancock holds a Bachelor's degree in Theatre Education from the University of Utah. She taught Drama, Debate, Filmmaking, and Video Productions at Copper Hills High School for 15 years. She also taught Theatre School for Youth for 3 years and is currently a substitute teacher in Canyons District. She is represented by Urban Talent management and loves teaching, especially students who are as passionate about theatre as she is!

 

Amber Hendrix has a Masters in Education from University of Phoenix and used her skills to own and operate the Creative Arts Program for Kids at the Sugar Space for 5 years. The preschool provided learning experiences through the integrated creative arts, including movement, drama, music, visual arts and creative writing. She owns Hendrix Consulting, which offers integrated arts training for early childhood instructors, elementary teachers, and homeschoolers. You can see her online in "Storytime With Amber and Erin," on YouTube.

 

Nellie Kelly graduated from the University of Maine, Orono with a BA in Theatre.  She has been part of theatre since age 6 and has performed in over 70 productions.  Nellie has worked with children in theatre in many capacities including director, choreographer, vocal coach and stage manager. She just returned from a summer in Maine working at the Penobscot Theatre Company as stage manager for their children's program.  Nellie moved to Utah last fall and couldn't be happier to be part of the Utah Children's Theatre for another season!

 

Emily Wells holds a degree in Musical Theatre from Weber State University. She has taught several summer camps and after school classes at UCT, with favorites being Glee Club, All Tangled Up Musical Theatre, and Pirates and Fairies. She was awarded "Best Actress in a Musical" from Broadway World SLC for her portrayal of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Other favorite roles include Pattie in "Smokey Joe's Cafe" at Weber State University, Nancy in "Oliver!" and Hodel in "Fiddler on the Roof" at Centerpointe Legacy Theatre. She is excited to be teaching Acting and Musical Theatre at UCT.

 

Zach Vayo has been involved with UCT for the past 7 years. He has played a variety of entertaining roles, including Malvolio in "Twelfth Night," Gremio in "The Taming of the Shrew" and Wherret the dwarf in "Snow White." He volunteered as a teaching intern for a year, learning from UCT's best instructors. He has also taught several summer camps and after school classes over the last 2 years. Zach is currently an honors student at the University of Utah.

 

Meighan Smith is an accomplished actress, director and teacher and is the Educational Outreach Specialist for UCT. She was the theatre specialist at Wasatch Elementary for several years and also taught for the U of U Youth Theatre. She is also a hair and makeup designer. Recent directing credits include "Anne of Green Gables,""A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Rapunzel," and "Into the Woods Junior" at UCT. Favorite roles include Lady DeWinter in "The Three Musketeers," an evil stepsister in "The Masque of Beauty and the Beast," the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz," and Goneril/Witch/Calpurnia in UCT's Best of State Winning "Breakfast With Shakespeare." 

 

Caitlin Almond has a Masters in Communication and a Bachelors in Education from Pittsburg State University. She taught Theatre classes in Acting, Directing, and Technical Theatre at Coffeyville Community College and ran their Children's Summer Theatre program. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, she also taught Technical Production classes and was the scene shop foreman at Pittsburg State University. 

 

J.R. Cox has a degree from Montana State University's School of Film and Photography. He worked at Triumvirate Theatre as a Fine Arts camp instructor and developed and performed in the educational children's show "Fish On" at Alaska Children's Institute for Performing Arts. He has also done voiceover work for various industrial films and commercials. He is currently an associate producer at KSL News Radio.

 

Abbie Robles Dean has performed on the UCT stage for many years, most recently as Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet." Other favorite shows include "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Phantom of the Opera," "The Little Mermaid," and "Peter Pan." Abbie has also worked at Stillwater Academy and is excited to teach at Utah Children's Theatre.

 

Sean Sweeney has performed at UCT as Dromio of Syracuse in "Comedy of Errors" and Aesop in "Aesop's Fables," as well as in "Breakfast With Shakespeare," "Shakespeare Pop!" and "Henry V." He has also performed at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre and is a member of the Quick Wits Improv Troupe. In addition to teaching Improv at UCT, he is the technical director and assistant drama teacher at McGillis School.

  

Jana Lynne Cox is the Theatre School Administrator at Utah Children’s Theatre. She has a BFA in Theatre Arts with an Acting/Directing Emphasis from Utah State University. She has taught acting, singing, and playwriting and won the Very Special Arts National Young Playwright’s Competition for writing the musical “Dream Child” which was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. She has performed at Hale Centre Theatre, Desert Star Theatre, The Grand Theatre, and Utah Children’s Theatre. Jana has also directed or stage managed numerous productions. Favorite roles at UCT include "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Helena), "The Magic Fish" (Leenda the Fisherman's Wife) and the Best of State award winning “Breakfast with Shakespeare."

 

Amanda Smith has been performing on stage for 12 years. She received a full tuition talent scholarship to Western Wyoming Community College and is currently finishing her degree in Theatre Studies/ Early Childhood Psychology at the University of Utah. She was the lead teacher for the Early Childhood Education Center at the U of U and has also been a 4-H leader and judge. Amanda worked at Lehi Junior High for 6 years as a volunteer acting teacher and choreographer. She recently played Hermia in UCT's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and is the Box Office Manager at Utah Children's Theatre.

 

 

Tamari Dunbar has been acting on stage since she was 9 years old. She graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Theatre Arts. She has worked professionally with The Growing Stage Children's Theater in New Jersey and 12 Miles West Theater in Montclair, New Jersey. Locally, Tamari worked for St. George Musical Theatre as both an actress and the Artistic Director. She has also performed at Pioneer Theatre Company, Tuacahn, The Lyric Theatre in Logan, Sting and Honey, and Pinnacle Acting Company. She owns Sounds Great Studio, where she teaches private voice lessons and does private coaching for auditions. She has taught workshops for theatre companies in St. George and at Dixie State University. A choreographer for several shows, she taught ballet at Utah State University and at her own studio in St. George. She has also taught musical theatre classes for the U of U Youth Theatre and was the choir director for the Tavaci Children's Choir in Southern Utah. A mother of 3, Tamari is signed with Talent Management Group (TMG) and enjoys film and commercial work in addition to performing on stage.

 

Hannah Schweinfurth has a BFA in Theatre from Midwestern State University and an MFA in Performance and Pedagogy from Texas Tech University. She co-created the Theatre for Youth Program at KMC Onstage in Kaiserslautern Germany, where she taught acting and playwriting classes to youth and directed several productions. She also taught college acting courses at Texas Tech University. An actors equity membership candidate, some of Hannah's favorite roles include Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Miss Hannigan in Annie, and Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire.

  

Joanne M. Parker is the founding Artistic Director of Utah Children’s Theatre. She has written more than 100 plays over the last 30 years. She is a gifted director with a natural flair for fantasy, imagination and adventure.  Her boundless energy has been the directing force behind all UCT’s productions. She directs most of her own play scripts but has also directed many other plays, Broadway musicals and concerts. An original member of The Children’s Dance Theatre under the direction of Virginia Tanner, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Utah in 1970.  She is a talented performer, composer and author of lyrics for several children’s award-winning songs and plays. In 1997, Joanne Parker received the prestigious Limelight Award for her work at Utah Children’s Theatre, specifically for "her encouragement of young people participating in the performing arts and the opportunities given them to develop their talent."  She is the mother of five and a grandmother of eighteen.  Most of her family members are involved in theatre, music, film, television, art, writing and communications. 

 

 

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