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The faculty at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre is comprised of highly qualified teachers, each with extensive professional experience in their respective disciplines. 


James Brill ~ Meisner Acting Technique I

Headshot of Meisner 1 Teacher James Brill

Mr. Brill has been teaching acting in New York for over two decades both privately and at The Neighborhood Playhouse. In 1983 he graduated from The Playhouse where he studied acting with Sanford Meisner, William Alderson and Richard Pinter. After graduation he began his career as an actor and has worked in theatre, film, & television. Early on Mr. Brill was drawn to the idea being a Meisner instructor and began an apprenticeship under his artistic mentors from the Neighborhood Playhouse to learn the craft of teaching acting. In addition to being a faculty member at The Playhouse he has also taught at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC, and runs a successful private studio in NYC.

Sandy Faison ~ Meisner Acting Technique II & Music II

Headshot of Meisner 2 and Music 2 teacher Sandy Faison

Sandy Faison is a graduate of The Neighborhood Playhouse, where she studied with Sanford Meisner. She holds a BA from Hamilton College and master’s degrees from NYU's Steinhardt School Of Education and The City University of New York. On Broadway, she created the role of Grace Farrell in ANNIE—she can be heard on the original cast album. Other Broadway credits include the original companies of “Is There Life After High School?” by Craig Carnelia (original cast album) and “Charlie and Algernon” by Charles Strouse, as well as the award-winning Broadway revival of “You Can’t Take It With You,” opposite Jason Robards and NP graduate Elizabeth Wilson. Sandy’s numerous regional theater credits include leading roles at Hartford Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, The Folger Theater and five appearances at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. 

She has worked with film directors Sidney Lumet, Michael Chapman and Alan Pakula. On TV, Sandy had a recurring role on NBC's “The Days and Nights Of Molly Dodd,” and dozens of reoccurring and guest starring roles. She has produced original musicals in Los Angeles, (“Both Barrels” - LA Times Critics Choice Award), off-Broadway, and the Goodspeed Opera House.

Sandy is a retired Assistant Principal of LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts (The FAME School). During her tenure at LaGuardia she taught acting and musical theater for 13 years and produced over 39 plays, musicals, and industry showcases. She guided scores of talented young actors, some nominated for an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and/or SAG award. For the last four years, Sandy has been invited to teach a week-long acting workshop at London's Royal Academy of Music. She recently received a shout-out from one of her eminent LaGuardia students, Timothée Chalamet, during the NBC special Graduation 2020.

Gary Kingston ~ Meisner Acting Technique I

Headshot of Meisner 1 teacher Gary Kingston

Gary Kingston is a native of California, where he was a member of LACT in San Francisco. While there he appeared in a number of plays, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Present Laughter, and A Cry of Players. Later he acted in both Stockholm and London. In NYC he has appeared at Synchronicity Space, Playwrights Horizons and is a founding member of The Neighborhood Group Theater, where he played the lead in the original production of William Mastrosimone’s Air Guitar on Theater Row. He appeared regionally at The Schoolhouse Theater in Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer. Mr. Kingston is also a director whose work has been seen at various NYC venues including The Arclight Theater and Alice’s Upstairs. He graduated in 1981 from The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre where he studied with Sanford Meisner, Richard Pinter and Ron Stetson. Mr. Kingston was later trained by Mr. Meisner to be a teacher and has been a senior member of the acting faculty of The Neighborhood Playhouse for over 20 years.

Todd Susman ~ Voiceover & On Camera Acting

Headshot of Voiceover and On Camera teacher Todd Susman

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Todd Susman has been a professional actor for forty-eight years.  His latest features are “The Taking Of Pelham 123,” starring Denzel Washington, “You Don’t Know Jack,” starring Al Pacino, “The ‘A’ Plate,” starring Sam McMurray, and “The Discovers,” starring Griffin Dunne.  Todd has co-starred in a TV series six times as a series regular; he recurred in twelve more, including five years as “Officer Shifflett,” the town cop in “Newhart.”  Todd has done twenty-two television pilots, myriad Movies Of The Week, and performed in countless episodic television shows, voice-overs and on-camera commercials. He was the “Public Address Announcer” in the TV series “MASH” for eight years, and the “Man From Mitsubishi” on radio for eight years as well.  Todd starred as “Wilbur Turnblad” in "Hairspray" on Broadway and co-starred in “Old Jews Telling Jokes” at Westside Arts. He recurs as Jason Biggs’s father in “Orange Is The New Black” for Netflix and recently filmed episodes of “Blue Bloods,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and the CBS spinoff, “The Good Fight,” starring Christine Baranski.  Todd has written two plays that received EQUITY productions and rave reviews. His first play, “Locked and Loaded,” garnered additional raves and ran six months in its Los Angeles premiere.

John Tyrrell ~ Meisner Acting Technique II

John Tyrrell has appeared on Broadway in the original casts of Equus, The Merchant with Zero Mostel, and The Miser with Philip Bosco. Off-Broadway: The Crucible and Nora (The ArcLight Theater). National Tour: The Elephant Man. John’s regional credits include appearances at: The Schoolhouse Theater (where he was last seen as in Richard in The Seafarer), Cape May Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Shakespeare on the Sound, Merrimack Repertory Theater, Fulton Playhouse, and South Jersey Regional Theatre. He was nominated for a Boston Outer Critics Award (Best Supporting Actor) for Racing Demon. Television: Deadline. John is a graduate of The Neighborhood Playhouse, where he studied with the late Sanford Meisner.

Voice & Speech

Elizabeth Reese ~ Alexander Technique

Headshot of Alexander Technique teacher Elizabeth Reese

Elizabeth Reese, AmSAT, M.Ed, LMHC, is a certified Teacher of the Alexander Technique, a certified dressage instructor, and a licensed mental health counselor. Elizabeth has had a thirty year career as a teacher of mindfulness and kinesthetic awareness. She began studying the AT in 1981 with Marjorie Barstow and considered the work as a core part of her training as a dancer/choreographer/performer in NYC. She trained to be an Alexander teacher from 1991-94 at the American Center for the Alexander Technique. In 2004 and 2006, she completed year-long graduate courses for AT teachers, first with John Nicholls followed by Jessica Wolf’s course The Art of Breathing, based on the practices of Carl Stough. She completed her master's degree at Hunter College. In 2014, she was a research associate on a study exploring the significance of posture in performance, injury, relationship and emotional regulation, using horses as models, funded by the American Holistic Veterinary Foundation. She was a senior faculty member at AT-NYC, a certification program for Alexander teachers, and a co-founder/instructor at Postural Rehabilitation,a continuing education program for veterinarians using alternative care in treatment. Her Alexander workshops have been presented around the country and at several of the American Society for the Alexander Technique’s annual national conferences. Elizabeth is currently on faculty at Bard College Graduate Vocal Arts Program and maintains a private practice. Click here to learn more about Ms. Reese.

Colleen Smith Wallnau ~ Speech I & Speech II

M.F.A., Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, B.A., the College of New Jersey. Adjunct faculty Centenary College teaching Acting Workshop, Voice and Articulation and Film Appreciation. Taught at Gately-Poole Studios, New Jersey Governor’s School of the Arts, Guest Lecturer at Drew University and George School. Colleen appeared on Broadway as Mrs. Fodor in Crazy for You. She appeared Off-Broadway at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in the one-person show Mary Todd: A Woman Apart. Other Off-Broadway credits include: Joseph Papp Public Theatre, Soho Rep, Peccadillo Theatre, Mint Theatre and Ohio Theatre. Regional Credits include: North Shore Music Theatre, Papermill Playhouse, Asolo Theatre, Meadowbrook Theatre, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and Centenary Stage Co. Daytime TV includes Loving, Guiding Light, As the World Turns and All My Children. Colleen is a proud member of Equity, SAG, AFTRA and VASTA.

Lori Triolo ~ Voice & Speech (6WK Summer Program)

Headshot of Voice & Speech teacher Lori Triolo

Lori Triolo, a graduate of The Neighborhood Playhouse, has over 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry in both the US and Canada. Her career includes work as an actor, director, producer, and coach for both stage and screen. Born and raised in New York, Lori was an early force in the creation of The Belmont Italian American Playhouse in the Bronx, which showcased plays written and performed by underrepresented artists from diverse backgrounds. Robert De Niro, Talia Shire and Kenneth Branagh were among the board of directors. In Vancouver, she created the Evolving Arts Collective, which offered an affordable venue for local performing artists.

Lori is a certified teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®, which she has taught in conservatories, and university programs across North America, as well as in her own studio. She is also a teacher of the Meisner Technique.

Lori's impressive list of theatre productions includes critically acclaimed works such as Reborning, The Motherfucker with the Hat (Jessie nomination), Bug (Jessie nomination), Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball (Jessie nomination), Twelfth NightItalian American Reconciliation, Where’s Money, and Miss Julie. Her television and film credits include appearances in Balestra, Riverdale, Blackstone, Fringe, Supernatural, and Smallville. She has shared the screen with such luminaries as Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Quinn, John Hurt, Lynn Redgrave, and her mentor Brian Dennehy with whom she worked multiple times.

In addition to her theatrical work, Lori has created The Art of Awareness, a holistic approach to helping clients achieve deeper connections to themselves, their artistry, and authentic communication. She shares this work through the Women in the Director's Chair program, which she has proudly supported for thirteen consecutive years.

As a former board member of Women in Film, Lori received their Leadership in Education Award, which acknowledges excellence in the teaching of screen-based media.


Christine Dakin ~ Modern Dance I & II

Headshot of Modern Dance 1 and 2 teacher Christine Dakin

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Ms. Dakin was principal dancer and Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Dance Company.  A member of the company from 1976, she is known for her performance of Martha Graham’s roles and those Graham created for her in Rite of Spring and Phaedra’s Dream (partnered by Rudolf Nureyev) and for speaking/dancing roles created for her by Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson and Martha Clarke. She received a “Bessie” (The New York Dance and Performance Award) and the Dance Magazine Award.  She has produced evenings of dance at the Neighborhood Playhouse performing classic Graham solos, and presenting contemporary choreographers creating work with her. Ms. Dakin was a Fellow of Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Visiting Lecturer at Harvard University.  She wrote and directed the film La Voz del Cuerpo/The Body Speaks, which was an official selection of the New York Independent Film Festival, NewFilmmakersNY, and the Golden Door International Film Festival. Dakin teaches at the Ailey School, is teacher for Techniche di Danza Moderna (Italy), was on the faculty of The Juilliard School for a decade and is dancer/Associate Founder of Buglisi Dance Theatre. Her teaching, choreography and research have been supported by a Fulbright Grant, ArtsLink CEC and two Rockefeller U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture grants.  Her video of the Graham technique, ‘Terpsikon Vol 1’ is available on Vimeo on Demand in English and Spanish.

Ben hartley ~ JAZZ DANCE II

Action shot of Jazz Dance 2 teacher Ben Hartley leaping in the air

Ben Hartley is a director, choreographer, filmmaker, educator & Broadway professional. He recently wrote & directed the multi award winning short films Free and Early Mourning; both distributed by ShortsTV & Amazon Prime. Ben is currently working on his third short film about an aging hero of the gay rights movement and his first feature. He choreographed Held Momentarily for NYMF, Gypsy in Houston, TX, Hairspray in Stamford, CT, & Ballet Central UK. He served as Movement Director and/or Choreographer for twelve full scale productions for “The Fame School” NYC & a tribute to Broadway legend, Ben Vereen. Ben served as the Assistant Choreographer on the Broadway production of Enron & the reading of Robin & The Seven Hoods. He performed in Broadway & West End productions of The Little Mermaid, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Fiddler on the Roof, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Cinderella, & The Carman, Follies, Cats, & Fosse as well as regional productions of Hello Dolly, Pirates of Penzance, & The Most Happy Fella. Ben is the founder & director of The Broadway Experience.

Mary beth donahoe ~ JAZZ DANCE I

Headshot of Jazz Dance 1 teacher Mary Beth Donahoe

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Mary Beth holds a BFA in Musical Theatre with a double major in Spanish and a minor in Arts Administration from Ohio Northern University. Most recently, she was on the First National Tour of Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey and helmed by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw, as an ensemble dancer covering Cady Heron, Gretchen Weiners, and the Adult Woman. She has performed extensively at regional theatres throughout the country, including Mary Poppins at Paper Mill Playhouse with Denis Jones, multiple productions at Sacramento Music Circus, and as Katherine Plumber in Newsies at Westchester Broadway Theatre. Additionally, she has toured through 105 cities across the US and Canada with Mean Girls and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. She hosts dance master classes and vocal performance workshops for students of all ages and is a regular teaching artist at Performers Theatre Workshop in Millburn, NJ. 

Taeler cyrus ~ jazz dance (6WK SUMMER PROGRAM)

Headshot of Jazz Dance Teacher Taeler Cyrus


Taeler Cyrus, from Los Angeles, CA, graduated with honors from The Ailey School/Fordham University, with a B.F.A. in Dance. While at The Ailey School, she participated in numerous training intensives including Laban School in London, Impulstanz in Vienna, Jacob’s Pillow, and the American Dance Festival. Professionally, Taeler has danced with Ailey II, River North Dance Chicago, The Metropolitan Opera, and apprenticed with Complexions Contemporary Ballet. She has also performed at numerous international festivals including The Holland Dance Festival, Portugal’s Cistermúsica Festival, Finland’s Kuopio Dance Festival, and Vaison Danses, in France.

Taeler has called Broadway her home for the last several years where she originated roles in  After Midnight, An American In Paris, the latest revival of Hello, Dolly! and currently the revival of Sweeney Todd. She also had the honor of performing at the 2014 and 2016 Tony Awards.

Other recent musical theater credits include Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Paper Mill Playhouse, Oklahoma at Sacramento Music Circus as Dream Laurey, and performing in New York City Center’s Encores! series in their productions of Call Me Madam and High Button Shoes.

Taeler’s commercial credits include dancing for Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Mariah Carey in addition to appearing in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, MTV’s Video Music Awards, and America’s Got Talent.


Megan Campisi ~ Physical Theatre I & II

Headshot of Physical Theatre 1 and 2 teacher Megan Campisi

Megan Campisi is a performer, playwright and teacher who works extensively with her Brooklyn theater company, Gold No Trade. Recent work includes The Subtle Body, a bilingual comedy (English/Mandarin) about different interpretations of the human heart in 18th-century China. The Subtle Body was awarded a TCG Global Connections grant, was a semifinalist for the 2014 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and premiered at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre’s ACT Festival in an international collaboration with both Chinese and American performers. Other plays include: The Pinks (Collapsible Hole, Brooklyn), Floating Brothel (ACT Festival Shanghai; The Tank & Dixon Place, NYC), and Les Musciens de Brême (Avignon Festival). Campisi received the French Alfa and ADAMI prizes for new theater and the Yale Lustman Award for Artistic Achievement. She has served as adjunct faculty in the Yale University Theatre Studies department and Theater in Education department at the Shanghai Theatre Academy (one of the top performing arts universities in China). She has twice been a guest speaker on theater for the East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools. Campisi received her B.A. from Yale University and MFA (French equivalent) from L’Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in France. 

Brad Lemons ~ Stage Combat I & II

Headshot of Stage Combat 1 and 2 teacher Brad Lemons

Broadway: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang w/ B.H. Barry; Off-Broadway: Treasure Island, Macbeth, Evil Dead: The Musical, Hamlet, Othello, Where’s My Money, A Stone Carver; NYC: Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Wild Party. Regionally: White Noise, Oleanna, That Championship Season, King Lear, American Buffalo, Dead Ringer, Murder in the Cathedral, Klonsky and Schwartz, Old Clown Wanted. Film: Lies I told My Little Sister, Beyond Belief, Asylum Seekers, Bust, Elevator Music, Paralysis. Opera: Fanciulla Del West, Stiffelio, Simon Boccanegra, Carmen, Otello, Cosi Fan Tutte, Les Contes d’Hoffman, Don Giovani; TV: “All My Children,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He has taught at Juilliard, Mannes School of Music, New York Conservatory of Dramatic Art, Cornell University, Lafayette College, The Martina Arroyo Foundation, Southern Connecticut State University, New York Film Academy, Broadway Classroom and Circle in the Square Theatre School.


Kate chaston ~ Music I

Headshot of Music I teacher Kate Chaston

Kate Chaston has a BMus in Voice Performance from Boston University (Trustee Scholar) and is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse. While at BU she studied with renowned Wagnerian tenor Richard Cassilly and soprano Sharon Daniels. After graduating from the Playhouse, Kate continued her vocal studies with Bruce Kolb and Carolann Page, studied acting with Wynn Handman,and soon began performing across genres (credits include Blues for Mister Charlie with the National Black Theater of Harlem, Forbidden City Blues with Pan Asian Rep, Scrooge: the Musical at the Lambs Theatre, and Talkies at the Century Center). While pursuing her acting career, Kate also performed jazz standards and covers at local music haunts, and cabaret at Don’t Tell Mama. Ultimately, she landed back where she started, with music her top priority.

Now, as a singer/songwriter, Kate can be seen with her band at venues such as Rockwood Music Hall, Pangea, the Bitter End, and the Soapbox Gallery. She has had the honor of making music with some of New York City’s finest instrumentalists, including bassist Danton Boller (Roy Hargrove, Seamus Blake), guitarist Al Street (Robin McKelle, Kat Edmonson), and sax and guitar player Tony Jarvis (Fela, Sharon Jones). She also partnered with producers Scott Sharrard (Gregg Allman, Levon Helm) and Charlie Martinez (Steely Dan, Donald Fagen) to release a self-titled EP, which can be found on all streaming platforms.

Fully committed to professional development, Kate currently studies singing and vocal pedagogy with Aaron Hagan (Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainor, Gavin Creel). At the Neighborhood Playhouse, she teaches in both the Adult Conservatory and the Junior Program; she has a private vocal studio as well. Click here for more information about Ms. Chaston.


timothy d. Stickney ~ Shakespeare I & II

Headshot of Shakespeare 1 and 2 teacher Timothy Stickney

Timothy D. Stickney is a classically trained actor, writer, director and teacher. Classic in all respects, he is educated, apprenticed and experienced in the classic tradition of the theater. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Alumni of their production company. Mr Stickney's expansive career is a disciplined study of creative performance, fueled by his passion for story and informed by knowledge of history, myth, fable, current events, law and politics. 

Timothy's commercial success began with thirteen years on ABC Daytime. He was able to hone skills there as an actor and storyteller.  His career has cast him in theaters across the country including Chicago's Shakespeare Theatre Macbeth, Washington D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre Company Romeo and Juliet and Troilus and Cressida, Hartford Stage The Merchant of Venice, St. Louis Repertory Theatre Macbeth, The Public Theater King Lear with Kevin Kline, The Delacorte in Central Park The Taming of the Shrew with Morgan Freeman.

Mr. Stickney spent five seasons with the prestigious Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada; the only African American to be honored with such a tenure. Recently Mr. Stickney has appeared on Evil, Blue Bloods, Elementary, Instinct, Madam Secretary, The Good Wife, Punisher and Succession. Stickney's work has been recognized with several nominations and awards including an Audelco Award, four NAACP Image Award nominations, Soap Opera Digest Kudos and The Earle Hyman Award for Excellence in Classical Acting given by Take Wing and Soar Productions.

Timothy is always looking for ways to broaden the range of stories available to, for and about, people of color. He teaches workshops, and gives master classes on Shakespeare, theatre and the use of language and its power to reflect and transform. He is currently a faculty member at prominent east coast institutions.


Carmen Lamar Gonzalez~ Theatre History I & II 

Headshot of Theatre History 1 and 2 teacher Carmen Lamar Daehler

Carmen received a BA in Communications from Texas A&M University and a Masters in Theatre from Hunter College. She studied privately with renowned acting teacher Fred Kareman and is a proud member of the professional acting unions, SAG-AFTRA and AEA.  Professionally she has worked in New York and regionally as an actor, singer, director, and teacher. She has performed in cabaret venues throughout the city, including Feinstein’s, The Metropolitan Room, The Laurie Beechman Theatre, and Symphony Space. She has been a professional spokesperson for SONY, Panasonic, Toshibia,  Xerox and many other corporations. Carmen can be seen in the recurring role of Bomb Tech Carla Flores on the CBS hit series FBI. Coming from this rich and varied background in formal arts training and professional work in the industry, Carmen is able to combine these skills to provide a unique perspective to her classes here at The Playhouse.  Click here to learn more about Ms. Lamar Gonzalez.


Yao Obiora Dibia, LCSW, ACSW

Headshot of Licensed Social Worker Yao Obiora Dibia

Yao Obiora (he, him, and his) is a social work clinician, health and human rights advocate, and practitioner of healing centered experiences, and social justice. His forty years of post-graduate experience as a social worker has spanned many movements and causes. This has included developing, training and supervising the first ear acupuncture based program aimed to treat addictions at Lincoln and Harlem Hospital in New York City. Advocating and developing the first comprehensive housing program in the nation for persons with HIV/AIDS. Whether working with youth, adolescents; the mentally able; sexual assault survivors; substance disorders; and others. Yao Obiora has been afforded the opportunity to be with dynamic, dedicated people and exciting, innovative modalities and programs. Such as Harm Reduction Psychotherapy, Alternatives to Violence, Social Presencing Theatre, Soul-Centered Therapy, Focusing/Embodied Listening, AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy), Hakomi (Mindful and Somatic Based Therapy), Indigenous Focus Oriented Therapy (IFOT), and other trauma informed models.

In 2004 an initiative to educate and bring awareness to male sexual assault survivors was funded by the New York City Council. Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital’s Crime Victims Treatment Center was the prime mover in this effort. Yao Obiora gives presentations and training to community-based groups, agencies and organizations, and professional service providers. In addition to increasing awareness of the sexual abuse of boys and men he provides individual and group psychotherapy. A most exciting project is the partnership with Alliance of Families for Justice’s Self Knowledge Circles and the development of Songa Mbele (an initiative focusing on Young Men of Color and trauma/violence). He is an active member of ABSW; NASW; New York State Men as Allies Coalition; New York State Crime Victims Academy (Instructor); National Acupuncture Detox Association Board of Directors; and the Cures not Wars/Harm Reduction Working Group. He is a former member of the Male Survivor Board of Directors. And an active participant with the South-South Institute on the Victimization of Men and Boys, based in Cambodia. Recently he has begun collaboration with Reciprocity, an organization dedicated to providing wellness programs to LGBTQ youth.

Yao Obiora lives in the vibrant Dominican enclave of Inwood/Washington Heights across from the Old Dutch Dyckman Farmhouse in Northern Manhattan, with his cat, Gutta.

Prices, curriculum, and faculty subject to change.