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Our Staff

 Ann O’Grady, Ph.D. – Executive Director of RIYT

Ann O’Grady, the executive director and founder of Rhode Island Youth Theatre, has 40 years of teaching experience and holds a Ph.D in education from the University of Connecticut. In 1995, she was honored to receive the Milken National Educator Award. In 2009, she was named a RI Fellow by the RI Foundation.



Nancy Hillner250x250Nancy Hillner  Musical Director

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell with a B.A. in Music Education, Nancy made her Broadway debut in the critically acclaimed comedy, Dance With Me. She appeared OffBroadway in Nunsense, touring the country with the  likes of Phyllis Diller, Pat Carroll, Dodi Goodman and Joanne Worley, and performing in the National Tour of Neil Simon’s Rumors, with Peter Marshall and Patty  McCormack. Locally, she was a member of Charlie Hall’s Ocean State Follies and  Mixed Nuts, but her favorite production is her daughter, Amy. Nancy was a 2016 Tony Award Nominee for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award.


Fall/Winter/Spring 2018 Guest Artists & Staff

EmilyK122x122Emily Kaczmarek – Workshop Facilitator & Mentor

Emily is a New York-based playwright, librettist, screenwriter, performer, and Fantasy Works/RIYT alumnus! Her plays and musicals have been developed and produced by the Village Theatre (AFTERWORDS, with music & lyrics by Zoe Sarnak, will run this winter), Prospect Theatre Company, First Floor Theatre, New York Musical Festival, Musical Theatre Factory in residence at Playwrights Horizons, Wombat Theatre Company, This Is Water Theatre Company, New York University, and more. Residencies include the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Goodspeed Musicals (upcoming). B.S. Educational Theatre, NYU.

Zoe SZoe122x122arnak – Workshop Facilitator & Mentor

Zoe is a composer and lyricist. Works include: AFTERWORDS (with Emily Kaczmarek, Beta Series Production, Village Theatre), THE YEARS BETWEEN (with Kirsten Guenther, T-fellowship lab), A LASTING IMPRESSION (Off-Broadway 2012). In development: SECRET SOLDIERS (with Marsha Norman), GALILEO (with Danny Strong, Michael Weiner and dir. Michael Mayer), TEDDY & MAX (with Brian Crawley), A CROSSING (with Josh Bergasse). Awards include: Davenport Songwriting contest winner, NY Stage & Film’s Founders Award finalist, ‪Fred Ebb Award finalist, Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award Honoree, Women’s Project Lab Artist. Residencies include: ‪The Public Theater, Goodspeed, Williamstown Theatre Festival, ‪New York Theatre Workshop, Eugene O’Neill, McCarter Theater, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat. Music featured by: NY Times Live, Lilly Awards, and more. Education: Harvard, NYU.

Chelsea Cook Workshop Facilitator & Director of After-School Programs

Chelsea currently serves as the Resident Theater Director and Choreographer at Hopedale Memorial School in Massachusetts. Previously, she ran after school programming for the Narragansett School Systems.  In 2013, Chelsea was a member of the production team that won the Moss Hart Award for Best Youth Production in New England for NPMS’s rendition of The Wiz. Chelsea is a member of the acting ensemble for Ten31 Productions. During the summer months, Chelsea is a Collaborating Artist with the White Heron Theater Company in Nantucket. She runs educational programs that allow students to navigate their emotions using techniques that are taught by the theater arts. Chelsea has run summer programming at The Arctic Playhouse in West Warwick, The South County Guild in Wakefield, Narragansett School Department, and Narragansett Recreation Department. In addition, Chelsea has choreographed multiple shows at Providence College, including The Addams Family and What Dreams May Come. She has also served as choreographer for Festival 56’s production of Seussical the Musical in Princeton, IL.

Melissa Hayes Workshop Facilitator

Melissa grew up in Charlestown and graduated from Chariho High School. She is now a freshman at URI, studying theatre. She has a passion for musical theater and she loves working with children. Melissa has performed in–and costumed–multiple shows, in addition to co-directing and choreographing Peter Pan Jr. and James and the Giant Peach Jr. for RIYT.  She is very excited to work with RIYT again this Winter!


Sara Brusini – Workshop Facilitator

Sarah is a senior at East Greenwich High School, where she performs in annual musicals and the annual Cabaret. Outside of the theatre, Sarah can be found Irish stepdancing with Damhsa Irish Dance Studio, taking tap classes, and working with her school’s Computer Science Club. She also volunteers at the Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium when she’s not in school. This is Sarah’s second year as a RIYT staff member; she’s been performing with them since she was in 6th grade. Sarah loves being able to share her passions and inspire the next generation of Rhode Island Youth Theatre performers!

Additional  Year-Round Staff

Bryn Martin — Business and PR Manager / Makeup Design

Bryn is a homeschooled high school graduate, class of 2018 who graduated with high honors. She plans on attending college in the spring after spending a few months traveling the world this fall.  Bryn has been a part of Rhode Island Youth Theatre since 2011 and has learned much in her 7 years with the program. Her favorite roles include Beth March in Little Women, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella in Into The Woods. Bryn spends her free time doing yoga, helping animals, painting and going to the beach! Her favorite part of working for RIYT is getting to work with children and seeing them grow.

Jeanne Heston — Marketing Consultant & Webmaster (Freelance)

Jeanne has held marketing, managerial, sales, and UX design roles in various high-tech companies and has taught marketing courses at the college level. She grew up in Providence and was a member of the Classical High Drama Club. She holds a BS in Marketing Management and an MBA in International Business from Bentley University. Jeanne has been managing the RIYT website, writing web content, and creating email campaigns since 2010, initially as a volunteer.


Caroline300x300Caroline Bateson – RIYT Director of Education & Director, Lion King and Wizard of Oz

Caroline grew up in East Greenwich, where she spent many summers performing with Rhode Island Youth Theater. Caroline earned her Masters in Elementary Education from RIC and is a 5th grade teacher in Woonsocket. She is also part of the Teaching English as a Second Language program at RIC. She holds a B.A in Communications, with a minor in Theatre from Merrimack College. She has lived in NYC and performed in musical theater regionally and professionally. Caroline loves spreading her passion for theater to a new generation of RIYT kids. Her goal is to teach children to believe in themselves and have their own expectations of success. She hopes to give students the tools to follow their dreams and make a difference in the lives of others.

Program Staff Members

Sara Schatz Kott  – Guest Artist, Performance Coaching

As a casting director in NYC for over 7 years, Sara worked as an associate at Jay Binder Casting where her projects included Grease (1st National Tour & Broadway replacements), The Wiz (Encores Summer Stars!), Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs (Broadway revival), Vanities (2nd Stage, Pasadena Playhouse), The Marvelous Wonderettes (off-Broadway), Working (The Old Globe), Happy Days (Goodspeed, Papermill), Mask (Pasadena Playhouse), and the world premier of Trip of Love in Osaka, Japan (currently running off-Broadway).

Before joining Binder Casting, Sara was the director of casting at Richard Frankel Productions where she did additional casting for The Producers (Broadway, Vegas), The Fantasticks (off-Broadway), Porgy & Bess (West End, Broadway), and Company (upcoming Broadway). During her fours years at Dave Clemmons Casting she served as an associate casting director on multiple Broadway shows including Ring of Fire, In My Life, The Boy From Oz, Brooklyn, and Dracula. Even before that, Sara spent a brief but rewarding time as a performer during which her favorite role was playing Maureen in the National Tour of Rent (Original Collins Company). BA: Brandeis Univeristy. Sara is happy to be back in RI where she is now raising her 2 small kids, teaching at the company that introduced her to theater 25 years ago. For information about Sara’s private sessions, group classes, and coaching throughout the year, visit www.kottkreative.com/coaching.

Summer & Vacation Program Staff Members

Staff Patrick McCrossan 225x225Patrick McCrossan – Director

Patrick McCrossan is thrilled to be returning home to Rhode Island Youth Theatre for his 20th year! Prior to directing and choreographing with all the wonderful RIYT Youth for 11 years, Patrick was a student performer with Fantasy Works/RIYT for many summers. McCrossan currently teaches 7th grade theatre classes at Qualters Middle School (QMS) in Mansfield, MA, and co-produces QMS Drama, the school’s after school theatre program. He also choreographs Mansfield High School’s spring musical.

QMS Drama’s students and productions have been recognized on the state and New England levels through both the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild, and the New England Theatre Conference (Moss Hart Memorial Award for Excellence in Children’s Theatre, 2014 & honorable mention, 2016) for excellence in performance, technical theatre, stage management and design. His favorite Director and Choreographer credits include The Drowsy Chaperone, Legally Blonde, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek, Wiley and the Hairy Man, and The Outsiders. McCrossan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theatre from The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at Catholic University, and a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Emerson College.

board norma malachowski 245x245Norma Malachowski – Camp Manager

Norma has been actively involved in both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations for many years.  Driven by her commitment to build confidence in children, she is currently a Girl Scout troop leader—for 3 different troops– and is the Service Unit Manager for the Warwick Girl Scout organization. Norma has received awards from the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America for achievements in Catholic Scouting and organization. She is currently employed as both a librarian at Saint Rose of Lima School in Warwick and as a technology teacher at Saint Pius V School in Providence. Norma holds a BA in Psychology and an M.A.T in Elementary Education.  Her passion for all aspects of musical theater has been fueled by her involvement in Rhode Island Youth Theatre and her daughter’s theater aspirations.

Brooke Fennell 122x122Brooke Fennell – Director/Choreographer

Brooke just completed her freshmen year at URI, where she is pursuing a double major in Public Relations and Communications, with a minor in the Honors Program. She was named to the Dean’s List and is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma, URI’s chapter of the national honors society.  Brooke spends her free time weight-training and playing for URI’s Division 1 tennis team. She has been actively involved with RIYT for thirteen years; this is her fourth year directing and choreographing. She graduated from East Greenwich High School, where she was awarded “The Most Outstanding Senior”. Brooke has danced with many RI-based studios; she is trained in jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary and hip hop. Her favorite roles include Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables, and Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical. Her favorite part of her job is working with children.


 Rebecca Malachowski ­– Director/ChoreographerRebecca Malachowski250x250

Rebecca is a sophomore at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, working toward a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre, with a Secondary Education Minor. Rebecca has worked with RIYT for 6 years as a director and choreographer. She currently works as a Sound Designer in Residence at Center Stage Theatre Company in Washington, DC and as Treasurer for Redline A Cappella.  Rebecca also interns at The KIPP DC College Preparatory School for Choreography and is involved in her university’s productions.  After college, Rebecca plans to be an educational theatre director for secondary and higher education in DC.


 courtneyCourtney Roque

Courtney   is a 2017 graduate of Wheaton College (MA), where she majored in Theatre & Dance Studies with a concentration in Acting/Directing. Courtney spent a semester at the National Theatre Institute in Spring 2016, where she studied Acting, Directing, Playwriting, Movement/Voice, Design, and more. At Wheaton, she served as a Teaching Assistant in the Theatre department as well as an Intern for the Dean of First Year Students. Courtney graduated with honors, and is also the recipient of the “Lyon’s Pride Award,” given by the Dean of Students. Courtney began performing with Rhode Island Youth Theatre in 2004, and starting working as a Camp Manager/Marketing Director in 2012.

Matt O’Grady – Photographer/Videographer

Matt O’Grady graduated from Mass College of Art with a bachelor’s in Fine Arts, Integrative Media major. He is the owner of All Events Photo and Video.

Liz Paolella– Summer Production Manager

Liz is currently a sophomore at Rhode Island College majoring in Secondary Education  with a concentration in Social Studies.  She was in productions with RIYT from the age  of nine and is now returning as a staff member for her fourth summer.  Liz has designed  and painted sets for RIYT.  She has also stage managed and costumed various shows.   Liz is also a technician at Advanced Production and Design.


Adam Ramsey Technical Director and Lighting Designer

Adam is Owner and Production Manager at Advanced Production and Design. He
has managed technical aspects and design for companies like Cox
Communications, Buzzuto’s Incorporated, Rhode Island College, and Brown University.
He has also worked on shows like Jersey Boys the National Tour and Kinky
Boots through Show Motion Inc. His company, Advanced Production and Design,
aspires to bring new technologies and cost effective high quality rentals, equipment, and
knowledge to the industry. With expert designers and staff, he can make every
event a special memory.

Brian Roque122x122

Brian Roque ­– Stage Manager, Production Manager

Brian Roque is an sophomore at Emerson College where he is majoring in a BFA in Comedic Arts with a minor in Business Studies. He has worked with Rhode Island Youth Theatre for over twelve years.

He has performed professionally with theaters like Trinity Rep and Ocean State Theatre, has done voice overs for Hasbro and appeared in two short films that were shown in film festivals across the country.

Walter Sage – Pianist

Walter is a school social worker at the High Road School of Providence. He has been  with RIYT/Fantasy Works since 1994, and also works with Jamestown Community  Theatre.


Visiting Artists

Christine250.250Christine O’Grady  Director/Choreographer of Sherwood Forest

Christine O’Grady (www.christineogrady.com/) is a Rhode Island-bred Director/Choreographer, currently based in New York City.  A  proud  member  of  the  Stage  Directors  &  Choreographers  Society,  she  works primarily  in  musical  theater  and  enjoys  working  on  new  material  as  well  as revivals. Often,  Christine  collaborates  with  other  Directors  and  focuses  on  Choreography  or Musical Staging.

Christine  has  been  nominated  for  five  New York  Innovative  Theatre Awards  for  Outstanding Choreography/Movement  and  won  in  2011  for  The Gallery Player’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone. As Associate Choreographer on the  Tony  Award ¬winning  Revival  of  Hair,  Christine  trained  replacements  and remounted  companies  for Broadway,  as well  as  the National  and International Tours. She also choreographed the movement sequences in several plays including the world premiere  of  Mark  St.  Germain’s Dancing Lessons  (Barrington  Stage Company / Hartford TheaterWorks) and the Off¬-Broadway revivals of The Boys in the Band (Transport  Group)  and  The Glass Menagerie (Roundabout/Mark  Taper Forum).

Jeffrey Roberts — Music/Lyrics/Arrangements/Orchestrations Sherwood

Jeff was thrilled to be involved with RIYT creation of Sherwood! Currently the drummer for the 1st National Broadway tour KINKY BOOTS. Broadway credits: Kinky Boots; Off-Broadway: The Underclassman, Liberty, Working. National Tours: Shrek, Spring Awakening. He holds a Master’s Degree from NYU and a Bachelors Degree from Rowan University.

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