FACULTY & STAFF
SAMANTHA (SAMM) BOWER
Owner & Artistic Director
Born and raised in Sudbury, MA, Samm has been coaching young performers for nearly twenty years. In 1998, as a freshman in high school, Samm founded The Friends of Broadway, a traveling musical group that performs at venues all over the country. FOB has donated hundreds of performances to nursing homes, hospitals, and to charities like The Jimmy Fund and the Make-A-Wish Foundation and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. It was through the work with FOB that Samm discovered her passion and purpose: working with young people in theater. In addition to FOB, Samm is the founder of Metrowest Family Theater and has directed over 25 musicals and plays since 2000. After graduating from Wagner College with a B.A. in Theater Education, Samm created TPAC as a way to bring theater to the community and beyond. 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 has recently enjoyed freelance writing for Dance Life Teacher Magazine.
In her free time, Samm currently serves as the president 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. Samm is an active comedic improviser in the Boston area. She is mom to three wonderful boys, James, 7, Miles, 4, and baby Lucas! She is grateful to collaborate on many TPAC projects with her husband, John Bower, a vocal coach and music director at the studio.
Currently, Samm teaches classes to all ages at the studio from our youngest 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.
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.
Neenah Cruz has danced for the past 24 years. She has received extensive training in Rhode Island from her amazing dance teacher, Hope Specht. She has also worked and trained with top choreographers throughout New York and Atlanta. Neenah has won many awards and titles throughout the U.S., including the "Judges Award of Excellence" from the United States Tournament of Dance. Neenah was privileged to be a part of two U.S. dance teams, performing with one of the teams at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Magic Kingdom, and Universal and for Fox News, the WNBA, and NBA teams NY Knicks and Philadelphia Seventy Sixers. As a member of the world U.S. dance team, she performed at the "World Dance Show" in Riesa, Germany against 30 other countries. It was there that Neenah became the Silver Medalist for her solo dance performance in the open category as well as a Silver Medalist in the duet category for her tap duo. Neenah has enjoyed teaching for the past 11 years throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Atlanta. Neenah respects all students and is ready to challenge TPAC students in order to help them achieve their goals as dancers and entertainers!
Executive Director/Director of Special Events
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
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!
Director of Theater
Danny is a graduate of The Boston Conservatory with a BFA in Musical Theater and an emphasis in directing. Danny studied with Samm from a young age, and loves coming back every year to continue to be a part of this amazing studio! Previous and upcoming TYA/youth theater directing credits include: Mulan Jr., Once On This Island Jr., The Little Mermaid Jr., Peter Pan Jr., Oliver (The Performing Arts Connection). Other directing credits include Disney’s On the Record, Aida, Peter and Alice, Almost Maine, Alice in War (assistant director) (The Boston Conservatory), Estrogen & Testosterone (45th Street Theater, NYC, World Premiere), BoCo Sings Alexander Sage Oyen (The Duplex, NYC). Danny is a founding member of the Create. Inspire. Change. Theater Company, whose mission is to provide theater to under served youth. He also serves as the company's Producing Artistic Director. Danny's favorite part about working at TPAC is seeing the growth of the students from year to year, as well as working with such an incredible staff!
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!
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!
Ashley began dancing ballet at age 3. Over the next two decades, she expanded her dance training to multiple styles including jazz, tap, lyrical, modern/contemporary, hip-hop and musical theater. She began dancing competitively at age 13 and received numerous awards in group, solo and duet/trio categories at regional and national competitions. Her first choreography role was for her middle school production of "Honk!" and she was later featured as a spotlight dancer in "West Side Story." At 16, she started teaching her own classes for an after-school dance program. Ashley attended Siena College in New York, where she received her B.A. in Psychology and Spanish Language. While there, she was a member of the Dance Team, which performed at sporting and community events. After college, she worked in special education as a behavior therapist and paraeducator for young children with intensive care needs. She also taught dance, yoga and movement classes to youngsters through enrichment programs. Ashley has been a TPAC faculty member since 2016 and has instructed and choreographed for students of all ages in the Conservatory program, Encore and Metrowest Family Theater. She hopes to inspire her students and make them shine through her motivational and fun classes!
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.
JESSICA "TARR" TARR
Tarr is beyond thrilled to be a part of the team again! A proud “original TPAC kid” to her core: from her first musical in 2000 (Annie) to FOB (Seasons 3–7, 10), to Camp SAMM as a camper and then a counselor, to Girl Authority and beyond! After stepping onto a stage for the first time at age three, the decades that followed have consisted of many productions, gigs and training to ensure she’d never be too far from stepping onto the next. Most recently, as a psychology major and musical theatre minor at Hofstra University, Tarr was a member of the ICCA award-winning Sigma’Cappella a cappella group. She was also briefly a member of the Westfield State University Competitive Dance Team, where they placed 1st in the Regional Championship and competed (and placed 7th) in the Walt Disney World hosted UDA College Dance Team National Championship. Tarr, most notably, was a member (aka: Rock n’ Roll Girl”) of Girl Authority. An American pop girl group band signed under the Rounder Records label from 2005-2010. With two albums and EP released, Girl Authority sold over 500,000 copies nationwide [reaching #9 on Billboard’s Top Kid Audio chart], toured nationally, and opened for artists such as The Jonas Brothers, Jesse McCartney, and the Dresden Dolls. Tarr has been cast in many musical theatre productions on both regional and community level, involved in additional recording gigs, and has appeared in both film and television. Some of her all time favorite credits include: Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing.. (MFT), Asaka in Once on this Island (MFT), Martha Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (Trinity Repertory, Co.), Sara Crewe in A Little Princess (MFT), Ensemble in Seussical (North Shore Music Theatre) and Star To Be in Annie (Weston Friendly Society).