Faculty & Staff
Samantha (Samm) Bower
Owner & Artistic Director
she | her | hers
Samm is an award-winning teacher, producer, coach, entrepreneur, and proud mother of three boys ages 9, 6 and 2. She holds a B.A. in Theater Education from Wagner College and is the 2021 recipient of Businessperson of the Year through the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. Samm established The Performing Arts Connection in 2007 as a way to bring theater and dance to the community and beyond.
Born and raised in Sudbury, MA, Samm has been coaching young performers for over twenty-two years. In 1998, as a freshman in high school, Samm founded The Friends of Broadway, a service-based traveling musical group that performs at venues all over the country. The Friends of Broadway have lent their talents to hundreds of performances to nursing homes, hospitals, and to charities like The Jimmy Fund and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to name a few. It was through the work with FOB that Samm discovered her true passion and purpose: working with young people in theater. In addition to FOB, Samm founded Metrowest Family Theater at age 16 and has directed over 25 musicals and plays with MFT since 2000.
In addition to her work with FOB, MFT, and TPAC, Samm has collaborated with Rounder Records ("Girl Authority", Executive Producer) and SteveSongs on various recording projects in the children's music industry. Over the years, Samm's students have appeared in regional theater, in national recording/commercial/film/TV projects, on national tours and on Broadway. She is grateful to collaborate on many TPAC projects with her husband, John Bower, a vocal coach and music director at the studio and Head of the Middle School at the Rivers School in Weston, MA.
In her free time, Samm serves on the board of HOPEsudbury, an organization dedicated to engaging the people of Sudbury in community-wide efforts to provide humanitarian aid to people in need, both at home and abroad. She is a proud Certified Coach with More Than Just Great Dancing and she enjoys participating in speaking engagements and coaching studio owners all around the globe in best business practices.
Samm teaches classes to all ages at the studio from our youngest performers in our Little Limelight Program all the way to adults! She frequently teaches master classes and directs our sister groups, Metrowest Family Theater and The Friends of Broadway.
Samm's favorite part about theater education is building self-esteem and confidence in her students and watching them soar on stage. She is extremely grateful and honored to be a part of your performing arts journey!
Alyson began dancing almost as soon as she could walk, having started her dance training at the age of 3. Throughout her dance career she has won numerous awards including four-time national dance competition champion in group, solo, and duet/trio categories. Her passion for dance unwavering, she attended Dean College and received her undergraduate degree in Dance and Fine Arts. Alyson is also an accomplished choreographer having choreographed numerous amateur and professional musical theater productions. Alyson has been at TPAC since 2013 and is certified by Acrobatic Arts. She has over twenty years experience teaching children in the Boston, Providence and New York areas and is beloved by her students for her lovable disposition and ability to instill confidence and positive self-image in her students.
Theater & Voice Department
Michaela is so excited to be joining the TPAC team! She has been performing in musicals since she was four years old, beginning with a production of Annie, where she was too young to play even the youngest orphan! While she loves her time on stage, in high school she discovered her real passion is for directing. Michaela is a graduate of Muhlenberg College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Music, with concentrations in directing and choral conducting. After graduating in 2019, she spent a year in Kentucky as the Learning & Creative Engagement Apprentice at Actors Theatre of Louisville. She also taught private voice and piano lessons at Kentucky Arts Academy, which she quickly adapted to a virtual platform with the rise of COVID-19. Originally from Haverhill, Massachusetts, Michaela is excited to be back home working as a teaching artist and choral conductor. She believes that the arts can be used to help students build confidence by learning about themselves and the world around them. She looks forward to helping each student have their time in the limelight!
Bio coming soon.
John has been teaching voice at The Performing Arts Connection since 2007. He holds a B.A. in music theory/composition and vocal performance and a minor in French language from Haverford College. In 2008, JB became the music director for the recording group "Girl Authority," that performed at venues nationwide and sold over 100,000 albums. He has also been an active music director and pianist for various community theater companies in the Metrowest area. JB currently works at The Rivers School where he is the Assistant Head of Middle School, directs the Middle School Select Chorus, and music directs the school productions. When not teaching, you can find JB singing first tenor in his semi-professional a cappella group, "Redline," golfing, and enjoying quality time with his three boys, James, Miles and Lucas.
Kaleigh Bradley is a choreographer at TPAC! She has recently obtained a Masters in Special Education with an Autism Spectrum Disorder Certification from Bay Path University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Dean College. She is a former Champion Irish Step Dancer and is competitively ranked on the regional and national levels. Kaleigh received national recognition from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for “Distinguished Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” for her role of Hope Cladwell in Dean College’s production of Urinetown, 2nd alternate for the Richard Maltby Jr. Award for Musical Theatre Excellence at KCACTF, and was an Irene Ryan Finalist. Kaleigh was chosen to attend The Broadway Theatre Project where she performed on the Norwegian Getaway and worked with notable artists such as Mandy Gonzalez, Michael Orland, Adriana McPhee, Austin Pendleton, and many more! As a member of Nazareth’s Trinity Choir she opened for the Radio City Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular and traveled to the Vatican in Rome to sing for the Pope. Kaleigh is a two-year Mix 98.5 National Anthem Finalist at the Boston Garden and the winner of “Medford’s Rising Star.” In her spare time, she loves to try new restaurants and spend time with her dog, Dash. Kaleigh’s favorite TPAC moments are “fancy news” and the strong sense of community, love, and support you feel from both the staff and the students. Woo!
Executive Director/Director of Special Events
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Courtney began dancing at the age of three, studying jazz, tap, ballet, and lyrical until graduating high school. While at Stonehill College, Courtney was on the dance team and was part of the dance club. In addition, she danced in several musicals during high school and college. After graduating from Stonehill and while living in Boston, Courtney continued her dancing at the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio, performing in several of the studio's semi-annual repertory shows. Since graduating from Stonehill with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in early childhood education, Courtney has worked within the field of early childhood development as an infant/toddler teacher, a preschool teacher, and as a developmental specialist in Early Intervention. Courtney is thrilled to be back at TPAC for her fifth year!
Director of Dance
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Carla is proud to be have been teaching at TPAC for over 10 years! She began dancing at age three in Colorado with training in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop, contemporary, and musical theater dance. Carla attended West Texas A&M University earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance in 2008. While there she helped run the University Dance Academy, taught classes for a studio in a nearby town, was captain of the Thunderette Dance Team, performed in The Nutcracker, and was the line captain and dancer in the musical "Texas". Upon graduation she ventured to Boston and began working at The Performing Arts Connection. She has choreographed for numerous youth musicals including Willy Wonka, Seussical, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Oliver, Alice in Wonderland, Dear Edwina, and more. She choreographed for two seasons of PROVE IT and received an EMACT award nomination for Best Choreography for Spring Awakening. In 2010 she helped form the Eclipse Dance Team. Carla's choreography has won various awards including 1st place Overall in their division, the Art of Dance Award, and the "Funtastic" award. She has also choreographed for Metrowest Family Theater, RJ Grey Jr. High, The Friends of Broadway, and OnStage Dance Company. She has performed with OnStage Repertory Dance Company, The Mill City Dancers, and Adagio Entertainment. She currently dances and performs with OnStage Dance Company and takes various dance classes around Boston. She continues her professional development by attending various dance conferences and trainings throughout the country. She loves teaching and sharing her love of dance with others!
Emma is so thrilled to be officially joining the TPAC team! She has been a counselor, choreographer, and director for the Summer Theater Workshops since 2018 and is so excited to join the dance department at TPAC for Fall 2021. Emma has been dancing for as long as she can remember. She trained in various styles throughout her childhood and adolescence at Lapierre School of Dance. She also performed with Contrapose Dance Company in their annual holiday show, A Christmas Toy Story, in the roles of head elf, wind minion, and little girl solo. Emma has recently received her BA in psychology and Theatre and Dance Studies from Wheaton College, MA. At Wheaton, Emma was a member and captain of the Dance Company, where she gained valuable experience in performance, choreography, and leadership. She was also a member, treasurer, and captain of the tap dance group on campus, Tap Out Loud. She also performed with the theatre department and served as a dance captain for their production of Once On This Island. Emma received the Theatre & Dance Studies Award in Dance, 2021 for her work with the theatre and dance department. Over the past few years, Emma has further developed her love for choreography and has gained valuable experience through her work with the Dance Company and Tap Out Loud, TPAC’s Summer Theatrer Workshops, and Beyond the 4th Wall in Cambridge. She is so excited to share her love for the performing arts with everyone at TPAC! Woohoo!
Myla is thrilled to be joining the TPAC team! Growing up, Myla always found herself drawn to the performing arts. From starting dance lessons at four years old, to proudly embracing her self-proclaimed “theater geek” title in high school, her early life has been filled with wonderful, creative memories. Myla is a graduate of Ursinus College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater. While Myla considers the stage as her home, she also holds a strong passion for utilizing theater as an educational tool. Through the support of her advisors and peers, she was able to prosper this interest of hers by creating a comprehensive curriculum plan for high school aged students to learn about theater for social justice. Myla is excited to start her post-graduate adventures with TPAC and looks forward to creating a safe and exciting environment for students to shine in!
Director of Theater
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Sarah is beyond excited to be joining the TPAC team! Originally from the Seattle area, she has taught around the United States and in France. She holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she was living prior to this position. Sarah has performed at a variety of regional venues including the Seattle Opera, Benaroya Hall, the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, and the Dr Phillips Center. She has taught at theaters, arts programs, community centers, daycares, schools, and preschools, with students as young as 2 and as old as 97. Favorite youth production credits include Lion King Jr, Willy Wonka Jr, and a collaboratively written musical about a dinosaur coming of age called Shlomodyssey. Good books, vegan food, and cross stitch are a few of her favorite things. Sarah has already been blown away by the incredible kindness, joy, and talent from the students and staff at TPAC, and is looking forward to making memories and getting to experience what makes this place so special. Fun Fact: Sarah is a fluent French speaker and has been to 27 countries.
Zoe is absolutely thrilled to be joining the team at TPAC after directing in our Summer 2017 Theater Workshops! Originally from Franklin, MA, Zoe spent the last 6 years traveling in and out of New York City working at many regional theaters as well as traveling the world performing with Disney Cruise Lines. Zoe earned her BFA in Musical Theater in 2011 from The Hartt School of Music. As a proud member of the Actors' Equity Association, some of Zoe's favorite roles include Doralee in 9 to 5, Delee in Smokey Joe's Cafe, Elle in Legally Blonde, Penny in Hairspray, Cinderella in Into The Woods, and Mayzie in Seussical. On top of her love for performing, Zoe has also found passion in teaching and sharing her love of musical theater to kids! Zoe can't wait to push our students to make bold choices and find their own passion in the world of theater just like her teachers did for her. Let's do this, TPAC!
Hannah is a music educator, music director, and choral director in the Greater Boston Area. Hannah holds a B.A. in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. She was an active member and soloist of the Plymouth University Chorale, Chamber Singers, and New Hampshire Master Chorale. Hannah was an actor, assistant music director, and vocal coach for the Educational Theatre Collaborative (credits include Shrek! The Musical, The Sound of Music, and Oliver) and has worked as an actor, vocal coach, and music director for TIGER theater. While touring, she also worked as a public school music and choral teacher in Newbury, VT. Hannah is a member of NATS (National Association of Teachers’ Singing) and has over six years experience teaching voice, piano, and music to all ages and levels. Hannah’s focus is to bring exposure and awareness to the overall musician by learning and discovering the “whys” and “hows” of each individual's wonderfully unique instrument!
Katie is enthusiastic about joining the staff at The Performing Arts Connection as the Office Manager. She joins us from Native Plant Trust (Garden in the Woods), where she served as the Administrative Coordinator for three years. Working at the Garden sparked an interest in environmental issues and protecting the region’s native flora and fauna, and she plans to continue educating herself about conservation. Prior to that she was employed at Quadrum Gallery, a gallery featuring a carefully curated collection of designer jewelry, for twelve years. There she was able to indulge in her love of gemstones and all things sparkly. Her favorite part of working at Quadrum was meeting interesting artists and making personal connections with clients. Katie has two daughters ages 9 and 12, and is a proud dance mom! She has made her home in Framingham for the past 20 years after earning a degree at Framingham State University, studying Art History and Museum Studies. When she is not working she can be found traveling in her camper with her husband and girls, enjoying nature, or curled up with a good book. She is most looking forward to working at TPAC to learn more about the arts of dance and theater, and to watch children discover their own passions and thrive.
Gretchen is ecstatic to be joining the team for her first summer at TPAC! Originally from New York, Gretchen graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Fredonia State University. She just moved to MA this April to continue her career as an artist and educator. Gretchen has performed at numerous Regional Theaters including Shakespeare in Delaware Park, The Redhouse Arts Center, and the Woodstock Playhouse. She was also a performer on both Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Gretchen is an avid reader, lover of dogs, (especially her pup, Ophelia) and adventurer! She is currently planning her next BIG adventure for 2022 - getting married!! Gretchen is thrilled to be working alongside such dedicated and passionate students and staff at TPAC. She can’t wait to create some magic with these awesome students!
Amy Mersch has been dancing since the age of four. She grew up taking ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and pointe and continued her education at Dean College, where she was part of the Dean Dance Company, and their production of Anything Goes. She has been teaching dance for over 20 years. She has been at Dance Xtreme in New Bedford for the past 12 years teaching and choreographing for their competitive and recreational classes. She currently runs the contemporary and musical theater program, and has also choreographed and worked with the New Bedford High School competitive SSA and SATB show choirs. She has won numerous awards at the competitive level, and has continued her education taking classes with choreographers such as Chris Judd, Gil Duldulao, Brian Friedman and Tricia Miranda. Amy’s passion and love for dance has led her to TPAC. She’s excited to be here for her third season and can’t wait to work with all the talented, hard working kids!
Private Lesson Manager/Graphics
Alaina Montuori is an artist, educator, and songwriter who lives and works in Greater Boston. She graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University in 2012, with a focus on Community Arts. Her thesis project, connecting young writers with local illustrators and culminating in a printed publication was the winner of a Feast Mass grant in 2012. Since graduating, Alaina has been coordinating an after-school program in Brookline, Massachusetts, as well as teaching sculpture + graphic design in the SMFA@Tufts Studio Art Pre-College program and MassArt’s Summer Studios. She also owns + operates a small calligraphy/design studio, Extras by Alaina. I am so looking forward to joining the inspiring team at TPAC, and getting to know students + their families as they grow into amazing performing artists!
Allie Morales grew up in DeForest, WI, beginning her dance training at the young age of three. She quickly fell in love with the art form, training in as many genres as she could, everything from pointe to hip hop to modern. After many years of assistant teaching, performing competitively, and working with the DeForest Parks and Recreation Dance Program, she decided to expand her dance knowledge at the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities. Allie graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Health and Wellness Promotion in May 2020. While in school, she curated a dance and visual art collaboration show, fulfilled a teaching dance practicum with Ballare Teatro, choreographed works for five composition showings, and completed an arts administration internship at Lundstrum Performing Arts. She was also selected to perform in pieces by renowned choreographers, Robert Moses, Pramila Vasudevan, Eko Supriyanto, and Chris Schlichting, among numerous student-choreographed works. She was a featured soloist in Robert Moses’ “Cause” in December 2019, and the piece was chosen to compete at the American College Dance Association in March 2020. Since graduating, Allie has been a company member with Madison Contemporary Dance for two performance seasons and a dance instructor in Illinois for both recreational and competitive programs. Allie is thrilled to join the TPAC family and to get to know the Massachusetts dance community! She looks forward to sharing the joy of dance with her students and encouraging them to shine through their own unique voices and talents!
Alissa Schimmel was born and raised in New York where she discovered a natural passion for dancing and performing at a very young age. Alissa received her training at Footworks Dance Center, The Ulster County Ballet Company, Alvin Ailey, Steps on Broadway, and Broadway Dance Center where she was a Summer Intern and an Assistant for the Rockette Experience at Radio City Music Hall. Alissa holds a B.A. in Dance and Theater from Manhattanville College. She has choreographed and taught throughout New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Alissa has performed for Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Sandcastle Dinner Theater [Guam, Mariana Islands], and throughout the United States with Salazar Magic. She is a former member of the Greater New York Chapter of NADAA (National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts) and has taught dance teachers and students at numerous NADAA dance conventions. Although Alissa loves performing, her true passion is spreading her love of dance by teaching young performers. She is grateful to be a part of the TPAC faculty and looks forward to motivating her students to be the best they can be.
Ellie was born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts where she soaked up every opportunity she could get to be involved in theatre! From a young age she had her sights set on acting, directing, playwriting, costume design, and set design! She attended Skidmore College where she graduated with a degree in theatre, concentrating on performance and direction. She also attended the physical theatre program at the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy where she studied devising, movement, and mask work. Recently, she participated in the Orchard Project’s Core Company program where she was heavily involved in the production of new work and founded First Kiss Theatre Company, a (currently virtual) company dedicated to supporting emerging artists. She also teachers Performing Arts at The Rivers School and has such a passion for experimenting and encouraging students to try new things! Ellie cannot wait to see what this year will bring and is thrilled to be joining the TPAC family!
Lorae Wegner is an international touring dancer with The Expressive Movement Dance Company Season 6, 7 and 8, dancer for The Boston She Party's Production of Follies, choreographer, and dance instructor. Additionally, Lorae dances with Lowell's dance crew, Mill Advised who was recently featured in festivals at Boston Public Garden and Salem's "Dencity Sunday Soulcase". With a background in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Horton, and Lyrical, she brings diversity and versatility. Lorae grew up in a competitive dance environment and studied Dance and Arts and Entertainment Management at Dean College. As a dance major at Dean College, she performed with the Hip Hop team, “Synergy” and Step team, in various selective shows, and studied Modern Dance extensively at Roger Williams College. In 2017, Lorae joined The Expressive Movement as an apprentice and was promoted to company member. In The Expressive Movement, she studied and trained in Hip Hop and Contemporary, along with various street and partner styles. Lorae continues to branch out by teaching at local studios, theatres, and festivals, and taking classes all over New England. In addition, she travels internationally and learns from diverse teachers and choreographers, furthering her education. Lorae believes in supporting local artists by taking their classes; she aspires to use her Arts and Entertainment Management degree to help local artists and studios have a lucrative and fulfilling career in their unique art forms.
Lorae’s passion for dance is contagious; in her journey as a dancer as well as a Yoga and Reiki Practitioner, Lorae has learned about the healing qualities of movement and how her quality of being in her life affects her quality of dancing. Her philosophy of dance encompasses the whole person, emphasizing a positive flow of energy inside and outside the classroom. She believes in the power of a supportive community to help artists move beyond self-imposed barriers to reach new levels of skill and foster a love for art, the world and ourselves. Lorae feels immense gratitude to teach at The Performing Arts Connection in Sudbury, and is motivated to help her students achieve personal goals-- whether it's a groove in Hip Hop, a left split or preparing skills for an audition, Lorae is excited to guide her students to their next level!