Sarah Hope: DIRECTOR/FOUNDER
Hi, I’m Miss “Happy” Hope! I created Hope Musical Theatre in 2000 when I moved back to the Bay Area from New York City. I graduated from New York University – TISCH School of the Arts. In New York, I conceived my own one woman cabaret show performing in New York, Palm Springs, San Francisco and the local Fox Theatre in Redwood City. I recently performed in the long running show Beach Blanket Babylon in San Francisco.
I have been creating shows with children for many years; in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and now all over the Peninsula! My goal is to bring the high caliber of New York Musical Theatre to Bay Area children. We have brought BROADWAY to the BAY AREA!! I am always amazed what children can create when given the opportunity, support and the tools! I created this unique program with high energy, high expectations and amazing results! To read more about Sarah Hope please go to HOPE-ENTERTAINMENT.COM
Sally Nordlund: Costume Designer/Costume Creator
I have had the joy of costuming for HMT since 2004 and I just love it! Theatre has been a very important part of my family’s life since our 3 children were young. Their childhood involvement gave me the chance to participate in many “behind-the-scenes” theatrical activities. Costuming has been my favorite. I have had the privilege of sewing and designing costumes for all ages: from elementary productions to high school historic reenactments. It is thrilling to see the joy on the actors’ faces as they put on their costumes and head out to perform. I look forward to sharing the magic of theatre with all of you.
Marissa Joy Ganz: Choreographer/Assistant Director
Marissa Joy Ganz is a Native New Yorker, Triple Threat! Performing since the age of 4, Marissa has performed in cities all over the world including: Paris/ Berlin/ Munich/ Vienna/ Bologna/ Toronto/ Vancouver/ New York/ Chicago/ L.A / San Francisco and Boston to name a few! Marissa originated the role of SUSAN in the World Premiere/ 1st National Broadway Tour of Disney’s HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL directed by Jeff Calhoun. She was also seen swinging the roles of DULCIE/ NANCY/ FAY/ MONICA on the National Tour of THE BOY FRIEND directed by Julie Andrews. European Tours: THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER and HAIR. Regional: HELLO DOLLY! choreographed by Mia Michaels. Additional Credits: Paper Mill Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Atlanta Theatre of the Stars, Westchester Broadway Theatre and Artpark. Marissa choreographed ANYTHING GOES for Curtain Call Performing Arts (Best Choreography nomination Broadwayworld 2013) and has also directed/choreographed productions of BYE BYE BIRDIE and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. For 15 years, Marissa has taught Master Classes, Workshops and Private Lessons in NYC and Nationally in Musical Theatre, Dance and Audition Preparation. Students now appearing on Broadway and National Tours! She is thrilled to be on her 4th year with Hope Musical Theatre, bringing NYC to the Bay! www.MarissaJoyGanz.com
Ilias Chrissochoidis: Pianist/Orchestra
Ilias is a composer and a research associate at Stanford where he also teaches music courses (http://www.stanford.edu/~ichriss). Working with Miss Hope and her talented students since 2004 has offered him just the right dose of excitement an academic needs in his life. He is HMT’s own music man for this and every other season! http://www.youtube.com/chrissochoidis
Chris Prinzo: Digital Media Editor/Choreographer
Chris is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Chris is an actor, host, producer and highly sought after director/choreographer, vocal instructor and performance coach. In addition to playing the role of Pepper in the Broadway production of Mamma Mia!, and starring in ABC’s High School Musical: Get in the Picture as a coach and judge to young hopefuls, Chris has appeared in films, television shows, and as an on-air radio personality. Chris is also a faculty member at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Los Angeles and teaches privately: providing one on one instruction, master classes, workshops and after-school enrichment programs nationwide. www.ChrisPrinzo.com
Jessica Chesbro: Junior Program Choreographer
Jessica Chesbro is excited to be joining Hope Musical Theatre this summer having just moved to the Bay Area from New York City where she has spent the last decade! Originally from Oklahoma where she attended University of Central Oklahoma, Jessica began performing at age four and began teaching dance and theatre at age 14. Jessica has been seen as a performer throughout the United States and her favorite roles include: “Jo March” in Little Women (Mt. Gretna Theatre), “Fantine” in Les Miserables (Music Theatre Wichita), “Maysie” in Seussical (Bucks County Playhouse), “Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun (Open Air Theatre), “Glinda” in The Wizard of Oz (Music Theatre Wichita), and “Silly Girl” in Beauty and the Beast (Alabama Shakespeare Festival). She has always had a passion for teaching and passing along the joy of theatre and the arts to children. She has taught voice, acting, and music theatre at The Studio of Performing Arts in New Canaan, CT and Acting Out! in New York City. She is currently getting her master’s in San Francisco in Expressive Arts Therapy so she can further use her passion for the arts to help and inspire children to be happy, healthy, and to explore their creativity! Because she has been teaching since a young age, she has seen her first students go on to do amazing things and nothing gives her more joy than seeing the impact the spark from performing can do in people’s lives and in the world!
Sophia Sears: Head Counselor
Hi! My name is Sophia Sears, and I am an undergraduate at Sonoma State University, where I am majoring in English with a concentration in Secondary Teaching. I started Hope Musical Theatre as a camper when I was 7 years old, and I came back each summer as a camper for as long as I could! Performing every summer in the Broadway style productions with HMT were some of the best moments in my childhood! When I entered seventh grade, I became a Counselor In Training (CIT), and volunteered at HMT for four years. I was then invited to work full time as Staff, when I became a Junior in high school. In total, I have been with Hope Musical Theatre for 11 years, and I have loved every minute of it! I also enjoy reading, creative writing, horseback riding, and spontaneity!
Emily Liberatore: Head Counselor
Hi, I’m Emily Liberatore and I’m very excited to join HMT as a head counselor this year!! I absolutely adore musical theatre and kids, so spending the summer at HMT is kind of a dream come true. I recently graduated Gunn, and I will be spending the next four years at UC Santa Cruz to study music and theatre! I have spent almost every summer of my life in a musical theatre summer camp, and Hope is exactly the kind of place that gives kids a chance to realize their passion. I also have a love for painting/makeup, thespian leadership, and comedy. I cannot wait to share these things I dearly love with campers all summer!! Thank you and hope for the stars!
Declan Flynn: Camp Counselor and Prop Master
I am proud to say this is my fourth summer working on props at HMT, and I am excited to see what projects I will be working on this year. I went to Gunn High School and took theater and stage tech classes all four years, and was involved in many productions on and off stage. This is where I got my start with props. I love theater and making things so props is perfect for me. I am studying sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I enjoy making all kinds of things, I like welding, wood working, painting, sewing clothing, and of corse making props! With the fun campers, shows, and counselors no two summers, sessions, or days at HMT are the same, so I can’t wait to see whats in store.
Jamie Buxton: Assistant Choreographer (Juniors Program)
Jamie Buxton is excited to spend the summer working with HMT with a wonderful group of teachers and students! She played Gretl and Liesl in different productions of this wonderful show and hopes to play Maria one day! Jamie resides in Brooklyn, NY where she is an actress/singer/dancer/pianist/teacher/writer. She performed in the European tour of Hair with Marissa, sang Gretel in the opera Hansel and Gretel opposite Jessica in Oklahoma, and she has worked for Disney Cruise Line, the New York Gilbert Sullivan Players, and as Peggy Sawyer in several productions of 42nd Street. Thanks to Sarah for the opportunity to teach, learn, play, and make music!
Geneva Harrison: Drummer
Geneva is a musician (drums, percussion, keyboards, etc), producer/arranger and educator. Raised on countless jazz records, live music concerts, theater productions, music lessons and dance classes from a very young age, she gained a deep affinity and appreciation for the performing arts and artistic expression from a very young age. In 2003, she began her studies at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. There, she studied percussion performance, finding her greatest influences amongst fellow percussionists, Brazilian/Latin music ensembles and peers in the famed jazz school. After a number of years touring and immersing herself as a live musician in Miami, Geneva moved to the SF Bay Area in search of an active and varied musical scene. She has had the pleasure and honor of playing at Carnegie Hall in New York City, with Terence Blanchard at SFJAZZ Center, Van Dyke Parks at Z Space Theater, at Yoshi’s Jazz Club, Ensemble/Opera Parallèle at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for the West Coast premiere of Ainadamar, at numerous music festivals across the country and in a number of the music industry’s most legendary recording studios. Geneva has also written for and been featured in Tom Tom Magazine, a publication that advocates the visibility of female drummers and percussionists. Her band, Bells Atlas, is her labor of love with 3 great friends and musical companions. You can find Geneva playing and recording all over the West Coast, and occasionally back East and across the country.
Brittany Danielle: Choreographer/Assistant Director
Brittany Danielle is delighted to be working with Hope Musical Theatre this summer, after spending the earlier part of 2011 performing in New York City! Best known as a performer, Brittany was last seen in Contra Costa Musical Theater’s production of Hairspray (Amber Von Tussle.) Other Reigonal credits include: Ilona in She Loves Me, and Brooke in Noises Off (Shellie Nomination- Center REP), Ulla in The Producers (Foothill Music Theater), Velma in West Side Story with American Idol’s Diana DeGarmo and Bebe in A Chorus Line directed by original Broadway cast member Kay Cole, (American Musical Theater of San Jose), Holly in The Wedding Singer (The Willows), and Eva Peron in Evita – Best Actress Award (Tri-Valley Rep.) Brittany has choreographed for the Children’s Musical Theater of San Jose (CMTSJ), and Marquee Productions. She is a very proud member of Actor’s Equity. Please visit BrittanyDanielle for more information!
Cassie Nordgren: Choreographer
Cassie is thrilled to return to California from NYC to join the Hope Musical Theater staff for summer 2010. She recently finished a run of GREASE! in Istanbul, Turkey playing the role of Patty Simcox. Other favorite performance credits include Sierra Repertory Theater’s Hello Dolly! and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Alice/dance captain), a dancer on Celebrity Cruise line’s CONSTELLATION, and the title role and dance captain in the national tour of Arthur, LIVE! Arthur Tricks the Tooth Fairy! Cassie is also an accomplished choreographer with regional credits such as Cabrillo Stage’s Jesus Christ Superstar and Sierra Rep’s Paint Your Wagon. A bay area native, Cassie grew up training at her mom’s dance studio, Castro Valley Performing Arts in Castro Valley, studying tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and lyrical. She has been teaching dance and musical theater since the age of 14 and LOVES working with children.www.cassienordgren.com
Jonathan Mackris: Assistant Head Counselor
Hi, I’m Jonathan Mackris, a senior at Palo Alto High School. Some of my fondest memories of past summers have been as a camper and counselor at Hope Musical Theatre. I’m excited to be returning this year as Assistant Head Counselor. The two roles I have enjoyed playing most recently have been Deputy Governor Danforth in The Crucible and Jack in Into the Woods. I have also worked many stage tech positions at the Haymarket Theatre. In addition, I am serving on the board of International Thespian Society Troupe #909. I am looking forward to sharing my love of theatre with the campers again this summer!
Molly Mackris: Assistant Head Counselor
Hi, I’m Molly Mackris. I’m a junior at Palo Alto High School. I have been with Hope Musical Theatre since 2003! I worked my way from being a camper to a counselor, and now I am proud to be a full-time Assistant Head Counselor. I have a passion for musical theatre. My favorite roles have been playing the lead role in Annie at Jordan Middle School, playing Snow White at the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, and more recently playing Cinderella in Into the Woods at Palo Alto High School. I’m looking forward to another fun summer at HMT!
Laurie Nordlund: Head Counselor
Laurie just completed her sophomore year at Vanderbilt University where she is a Sociology and Child Development double major with a minor in Spanish. Since the age of 9, Laurie has participated in numerous shows at the Palo Alto Children’s Theater. More recently, she was part of the ensemble in Vanderbilt Off Broadway’s production of Urinetown the Musical. This coming year she will be co-costuming VOB’s production of Nine and will serve as secretary for Vanderbilt’s Concert Choir. Laurie is extremely excited to be working with Hope Musical Theatre this summer!
Max Lelu: Assistant Head Counselor
Max is very excited to work on his first show with Hope Musical Theatre! Previously Max performed in Lend Me A Tenor (Henry Saunders), The Laramie Project (Jonas Slonaker, Rev. Fred Phelps), The Importance of Being Earnest (John Worthing) and My Fair Lady (Henry Higgins) at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco. Next year he will pursue a degree in Political Science at Boston College. Max would like to thank Sarah Hope for allowing him this wonderful opportunity.
Mark Goldstein: Percussionist
Mark Goldstein is a freelance percussionist based on the Peninsula. He holds a degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and has recorded and performed many types of music in venues throughout the world. Local audiences may recognize him from his appearances with the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra and The Redwood Symphony, or have heard him play with the Adlai Alexander group during the glory days of the Gatehouse in Palo Alto, or at Cafe Borone’s in Menlo Park when it first opened. Mark has also brought live music to CalTrain stations, and written and performed electronic accompaniments to silent movies at the Stanford and Castro Theatres with organist Dennis James. Mark is also a software consultant specializing in audio technology and has worked for Gibson Guitar, Sony, and the computer music labs at Stanford, UC Berkeley.
Sarah Liebowitz: Set Designer
Sarah Liebowitz has been working in Theatre for nearly 20 years. She has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from San Jose State University with a concentration in Makeup and Costume Design. Her past credits include work in costume, makeup, set construction and painting for: American Musical Theatre, Opera San Jose, San Francisco Opera, Mark Morris Dance Company, Hayward Little Theatre, The Aurora Theatre Company, Theatre Works, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, California Shakespeare Theater Chautauqua Opera, Spoleto Festival Opera, New Orleans Opera, Golden State Theatre Productions, as well as various high school and college productions throughout the Bay Area. She has also interned at the Museum of Costume in Bath, England. Sarah is excited to be returning to theatre after taking time off to work in the cosmetics industry and have her two beautiful sons. She is especially happy to have tackled her first landscape painting.
Kimberly Hinkley: Accompanist
Kimberley Hinkley began her musical studies at the age of four with Beatrice C. Roberts, in Castro Valley. Her love of music quickly grew as she got older and she developed interest in song-writing. At the age of 9, she composed her first piece, “Beyond the Roses,” which received excellent reviews in a statewide competition. While continuing piano studies and competitions, she became interested in singing, playing the guitar, and becoming a more well rounded musician. Kimberley currently teaches piano to students in the East bay and has played throughout the bay area at weddings, parties, liturgical services and musical productions. She feels very lucky to know the Liebowitz duo and blessed to have Matt as her voice teacher and both of them as her partners in musical adventures! She sends love to her family, including her nephew, Max.
Casandra Owen: Choreographer
Casandra Owen is currently in her third season as choreographer for Hope Musical Theater. She also directs and instructs in the Diaz Dance Program for Alameda Unified School District, and choreographs and instructs at Marin School of the Arts. Casandra has been classically trained in ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, and musical theater. In the past ten years, she has been teaching and choreographing for dance enthusiasts of all ages. She received her bachelor’s degree in dance from the School of Music and Dance at San Francisco State University and her masters of fine arts degree from Mills College in Oakland. If you would like to contact Casandra, she can be reached at: casandraowen at gmail.com