Summer Theater Workshop Faculty & Staff
Instructors vary depending on the session and show
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, 5, 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!
Music Directing Team
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," which 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 Head of Middle School and music directs the school productions. When not teaching, you can find JB golfing or enjoying quality time with his three boys, James, Miles and Lucas.
Music Directing Team
Becca is absolutely ecstatic to be joining the TPAC summer crew! She had a blast getting to know a number of incredible students during Season 14 at the studio. She was welcomed so warmly with (socially distant!) open arms; she is excited to bring that positive, upbeat energy to the summer festivities at TPAC. Becca has been a musical theater performer since she was six years old and holds a B.S. in Expressive Art Therapy from Lesley University. In addition to singing, Becca beatboxes and plays 6 instruments! As an avid participant in college a cappella, Becca enjoyed developing her knowledge of vocal technique, arranging music, and becoming a confident performer and she was inspired to enter the world of teaching. As an educator, Becca worked with the non-profit “Tunefoolery”, a wonderful organization for adult musicians in mental health recovery. She ran weekly workshops, taught one-on-one coaching, and had the opportunity to perform all over Massachusetts. She currently works as a Piano, Guitar, and Voice teacher, serving many students in the greater Boston Area. Becca can’t wait to spend her summer at TPAC! Fun fact about Becca: She is a diehard baseball fan and worked for the Boston Red Sox for 3 seasons doing Photography!
Kayleigh Cyr graduated with a B.A. in dance with honors from Salem State University in 2017, and is TPAC alum since day 1 in 2007 (and before)! Kayleigh started as a camper in 2000 and went from camper to intern to counselor to choreographer! At Salem State she was heavily involved in both the theatre and dance departments. Her choreography has been adjudicated at The American College Dance Association conference, and in 2017 she received a “Distinction in Choreography” Merit Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and The Creativity Award from Salem State's Center for Creative and Performing Arts. Kayleigh now lives in Orlando, Florida and works for The Walt Disney World Company (Resort Activities/Trainer), Gaylord Palms Resort and Water Park (Entertainment), and Legoland Florida (Entertainment). Kayleigh looks forward to coming back home every summer, and cannot WAIT to see both new and old faces. Fun Facts: Used to give safari tours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, loves nachos, and her favorite movie is Hannah Montana: The Movie.
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!
Emma is so excited to be back for her third summer at TPAC, this year as a choreographer! Emma has recently graduated from Wheaton College, MA with a double major in Theatre and Dance Studies and Psychology. While at Wheaton, Emma was a captain of the dance company and the tap dance group and participated in various productions with the theatre department. At Wheaton she was able to foster her creativity and love of performing and she is so glad she is able to continue pursuing this passion at TPAC. Emma’s favorite part of TPAC is how welcoming and inclusive everyone is, from the staff to the kiddos! She loves the way she can share her love for the theatre in such a warm and supportive environment. Emma is looking forward to all the great shows this summer and can’t wait to be back! Woohoo!
Fun Fact: Emma will definitely not win a hula hoop contest against Zoe this summer as she is a horrible hula hooper.
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. 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 so jazzed to be back for her fifth summer at TPAC! She is quite literally obsessed with her TPAC summers and can't wait to direct the fabulous and talented kids! Zoe is originally from Franklin, Massachusetts, has her BFA in Musical Theatre from The Hartt School and has her Masters of Theatre Education from Emerson College. Zoe spent five years living in New York City, traveling worldwide as a performer, including touring the Mediterranean singing for Disney Cruise Lines. On top of her Musical Theater and Acting classes at TPAC, Zoe is also the Musical Theatre teacher at The Rivers School in Weston. Zoe loves the positive, inclusive vibes TPAC brings out in her students and can't wait to see that translate onto the stage! Fun Fact: Zoe is ready to WIN the hula hoop contest this year. She's trained her whole life for this moment. Bring it on!
Music Directing Team
Amelia can’t wait to be back at TPAC for her sixth summer! During the year, Amelia teaches music in the Salem Public Schools. She is originally from Madison, Wisconsin, but she has lived in the Boston area for twelve years. She has a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from DePauw University, a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory and a post-baccalaureate certification in Music Education from Gordon College. Amelia looks forward to her summers at TPAC every year because of the awesome students and staff, positive environment and getting to be surrounded by all things musical theater! Fun fact: Amelia plans to dress up for every theme day this summer!
Music Directing Team
Hannah is so excited to be back for her third summer with TPAC! Hannah is a private voice teacher, voice coach, piano teacher, and music director in various locations throughout the Greater Boston Area. She is currently an active singer at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and has been a soloist at various church locations throughout New England. Hannah holds a B.A. in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH and has over eight years’ experience teaching voice, piano, and music to all ages and levels. She 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. 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! FUN FACT: Hannah was born and raised in Vermont but has absolutely no clue how to do any sports related to snow and cold (i.e. skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowshoeing). She also has not remedied any of this as an adult.
Summer Studio Manager
Hannah was born and raised in Natick, Massachusetts, where she spent most of her childhood playing sports and Irish Step Dancing. That was until middle school, when she took her first drama class and completely fell in love with theatre. Some of her favorite roles include Mrs. Gibbs in Our Town, Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, and Paulette in Legally Blonde. Hannah will attend The University of Michigan in the fall of 2021, where she will earn a BFA in Theatre Performance: Acting. Along with theatre, Hannah is a massive cinephile, lover of indie folk music, and a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur. She is super excited to join the fantastic team at TPAC and watch all young artists/students grow on their performing arts journey!
Jenna is very excited for her first TPAC summer! Originally from Northborough, Massachusetts, she found TPAC by a happy accident through the wonderful Pod Squad program and can’t wait to see what will happen next! Her favorite part of being at TPAC and working with the kiddos is seeing how confident and proud they become of their stories and how quickly they become a team when working on something fun. Her other favorite part is working with all the amazing people here! Fun fact: Jenna is confident she can beat Zoe in the hula hoop contest because she won a hula hoop contest at a family reunion twelve years ago.
Mary is so excited to be back for another fun-filled summer at TPAC with her famous backpack and tie-dye shirts in tow! As an alumnus of TPAC’s Summer Theater Workshops as well as Conservatory Program, Mary is grateful for the opportunity to teach kids the same joy of performing, friendship, and self-expression that she learned here herself. Mary is from Sudbury, MA, but currently lives in Saratoga Springs, NY where she is pursuing her Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work at Skidmore College. In addition to academics, Mary is an active member of the Skidmore Theater Company as well as Skidomedy, one of Skidmore’s comedy groups. She loves all things theater — from writing to performing to teaching. Mary’s favorite part about working at TPAC is watching the students grow as people and performers in the fun, inclusive environment that the studio fosters.
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 summer season and can’t wait to work with all the talented, hard working kids!
Directing & Choreography Team
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!
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.