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Executive Producing Team


Laura Stevens (Executive Director/Producer) Prior to her work at MCT, Laura founded Vital Theatre Company in 1999, a non-profit organization that produces existing and original theatrical works for both children and adults. She served on the Board of Trustees through March 2002. Her Vital positions included Marketing Director, Development Director, and Production Manager for Vital Children's Theatre. She also created and developed a youth outreach program, Vital Voices, which integrated theatrical arts within elementary school curriculums. This program was supported by a generous grant from the Avon Foundation. As a director, her credits include: The Ransom of Red Chief, The Arrangement, Horsey People, Coming Back Home, Charity, Your Mother's Butt, Watermelon Boats, and Executive Dance. As an actress her recent credits include Lanford Wilson's The Madness of Lady Bright, Tennessee Williams' Purification and David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Television credits include "Guiding Light," "All My Children" and the host of the golf game show "Hole in One" on ESPN and the Golf Channel. Laura has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Miami University and has recently worked as an Account Manager for the advertising firm Berlin Cameron & Partners and as a Marketing Director for Video Monitoring Services International.



Bruce Merrill (Artistic Director/ Director) As Artistic Director and co-founder of Manhattan Children’s Theatre, Bruce has directed productions of The Snow Queen and Alice in Wonderland and both adapted and directed productions of Rikki Tikki Tavi and Aesop’s Fables. Prior to founding MCT, Bruce was Director of Children’s Theatre at Vital Theatre, where he directed The Selfish Giant, The Swineherd, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and The Last of the Dragons, The Snowmaiden (also adapted), earlier versions of Aesop’s Fables & Rikki Tikki Tavi, and oversaw four other Children’s Theatre productions. Other New York directing credits include: The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 (Gallery Players); Buried Alive, Betrayals, and before the war (all Vital Theatre Company); January 1, 1973 (American Theatre of Actors); Running from the Red Girl (Brass Tacks Theatre Co.); On My Sister’s Passport and Werewolf in Town (Theatre Studio-Inc.).

Before moving to New York, Bruce toured with Missoula Children’s Theatre for two seasons as a Tour Actor/Director. Each week, he directed and performed with 30-65 local children in more than 70 different towns, 12 states/provinces and 3 countries. In those two seasons, he directed over 3,500 kids in over 70 different productions of Pinocchio and The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen.

While in California, he served as Artistic Director for Peninsula Youth Theatre. There, he directed Crazy for You and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella; planned, staffed and oversaw the remainder of the seasons; and taught various workshops, classes and summer camps. He was also Education Director for California Theatre Center, where he also taught, directed and administrated weekly classes, an advanced Saturday Conservatory program, and the Summer Conservatories consisting of XX month-long programs across the Bay Area. While there, he also directed professional productions of The Elves and the Shoemaker and The Frog Prince. His other teaching experience includes: Missoula Children’s Theatre Performing Arts Camp (two summers as a Director and Private Drama Coach), Grandstreet Theater School (two summers as an Instructor and Director), The King’s Academy Junior High & High School (one year as a full-time Drama Instructor), and Children’s Theatre Workshop (one season as an Artist in Residence). He also developed a drama program as an independent consultant for Lynhaven Elementary School, which involved teaching drama to every student and producing a play with each grade.

Other directing credits include: Little Shop of Horrors (Bay Players), Fifth of July (Menlo Player’s Guild), How the Other Half Loves and The Woman at Dead Oaks (Santa Clara Players), Arsenic & Old Lace and Guys & Dolls (LaMoure Summer Musical Theatre), and The Yeoman of the Guard (Lyric Theatre – San Jose). Bruce holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Theatre Arts from Santa Clara University
and a Master’s of Arts from University of Montana, where he wrote his thesis, An Investigation of the Missoula Children’s Theatre Process and How It Promotes the Aesthetic Development of Children, directly on his experiences working with children.


 

Kristin Walter (Artistic Associate) most recently created the book and lyrics for MCT's production of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. As a co-founder of Spirit Productions, she directed, musical directed and choreographed after-school plays for Bay Area elementary, middle and high schools. She toured the country for a year with the Missoula Children’s Theatre, directing 50-60 children each week in a production of Pinocchio, and both directed and taught for the California Theatre Center Summer Conservatory Program. As a playwright her produced work includes adaptations of Edith Nesbit’s The Last of the Dragons, Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant and Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County which ran to sold-out houses at New York’s Vital Theatre Company, garnering rave reviews from the New York Times and the Off-Off Broadway Review. As an actress, Kristin performed with Bootstrap Foundation, Bay Players, South Hills Players, Missoula Children’s Theatre, California Theatre Center, and as one fourth of the Bits and Pieces Cabaret, which toured Montana and Idaho. For four years, Kristin was the Education Director of Peninsula Youth Theatre, where she ran the School of Performing Arts, the Outreach Program and the Stories on Stage Program, and for which she directed over 30 shows, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Once On This Island, and Schoolhouse Rock Live! She is currently the middle school drama instructor at Castilleja School and teaches private acting and voice lessons.


 

Natalie Epstein (Educational Consultant, Arts Coordinator NYC School District 26) As an arts educator, Natalie Epstein has developed and implemented interdisciplinary programs that integrate all of the arts -- music, dance, theater, and the visual arts -- with literacy. She has taught drama and directed Shakespeare productions involving elementary school students, conducted role-playing activities with high school students, and taught acting to college graduates and undergraduates. In addition, she has trained teachers and other staff in the implementation of arts integrated curriculum. As the Arts Coordinator for Community School District 26, she has both coordinated and conducted professional development activities for all of the districts’ teachers and worked closely with arts organizations to provide students and teachers with high quality arts education. Through the district's Co-Teacher Model Demonstration Program, teaching artists of various arts disciplines work with classroom teachers in 20 of the district’s schools to integrate the arts with curriculum. Ms. Epstein has a master's degree in educational theater from NYU, has received visual arts training at Parson's Institute, and has studied Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In addition, she has co-authored a guidebook of theater activities for the classroom which has been published by the Board of Education. In her capacity as grants writer for the central Board's Division of Funded Programs, and Community School District 26 she has developed successful arts-based proposals that partner arts organizations, colleges, and universities with various schools. Storytime, for example, is a Title VII program for K-3 ESL and general education students, in two D 26 schools, that links puppetry and book-arts with literature and social studies.



Robert Moulthrop (Marketing & Development Consultant) has held senior marketing and communications positions with KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and The City University of New York. He is a founding partner of Belmont Communications. A recipient of a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for prose fiction, his play Half-Life is currently in development.


 

 

Executive Design Team


Christie Phillips (Art Director) is excited to be working with Manhattan Children's Theatre for another season. Last season she designed MCT's productions of
Rikki Tikki Tavi, The Snow Queen, Aesop's Fables and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and loved each and every one! Her first experience with children's theatre was designing the summer season for the Theater for Young Audiences at Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts which included Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Casey at the Bat. In New York, she has designed "Bent" for the Flat Iron Playhouse, "Missing Something" for Passion Is Enough, "August November" for the Crescent Line Theater Company, "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" (2002) and "A Chorus Line" (2003) for the Scarsdale Summer Music Theater, and "Antony and Cleopatra" for the Oddessy Theater Ensemble. She also frequently finds herself working as a props master for companies like SOHO Rep, Synapse Productions, and the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. Children's theater, however, remains the genre she finds most rewarding, as she has spent great amounts of time working with children in the U.S. and in other countries and knows they make the best audiences! She finds them to be much more willing to use their imagination and much more forgiving of a divergence from the literal. Christie couldn't be more excited about the upcoming season and can't thank
Bruce and Laura enough for giving her this incredible opportunity!

 


Laura Maag (Technical Director) has been with Manhattan Children's Theatre since it's opening in October, 2002. Prior to her two years as a freelance carpenter and stagehand in New York, she spent three seasons as a Technical Director for Prairie Reparatory Theatre in Brookings, South Dakota. She also works at Playwrights Horizons and the New York Theatre Workshop and recently finished working on the deck crew for Far Away at New York Theatre Workshop.


 

 

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