ARTISAN ACADEMY INSTRUCTOR BIOGRAPHIES


 

Eric GelbEric Gelb

Instructor: Musical Theatre Analysis, Marking Your Script

 

Eric is a NYC based musical theatre director, producer and educator. He is a recent graduate of New York University, where he studied Educational Theatre, and is delighted to be working with Artisan Theater to help students hone their musical theatre technique! 

 

Broadway/Off-Broadway: WICKED (Stage Management Intern), HEAD OVER HEELS and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Co-producer). Recent Directing: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, LEGALLY BLONDE, MARY POPPINS, MAMMA MIA!, and XANADU. Regional: Walt Disney World Entertainment, The Rose Theater (Omaha, NE), Maples Repertory Theatre (Macon, MO). His book for young people about theatre, GROWING UP IN THE WINGS, is available wherever books are sold. Eric is an Equity Membership Candidate. 

 

Eric's work operates under four pillars: ensemble, safety, candor and understanding. He has a soft spot for students who are considering pursuing theatre professionally—he believes that theatre class is “life class.” Even if his students never take another class again, they’ll use acquired skills for an interview at their dream college or for a job at an ice cream parlor. Eric provides a nurturing environment for students to embrace the uncomfortable (not unsafe), giving them tools to achieve more than they thought possible.

Jenna LasantaJenna Lasanta

Instructor: Dance, Dance, Dance!

 

Jenna is a graduate of University of Texas at Arlington with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in dance. Jenna has over 25 years of dance experience around the metroplex, including Casa Mañana, Haltom High School, Tarrant County College, and UTA. She also choreographs for local high school dance and theatre departments. Jenna is starting her 5th season as a dance instructor for Encore School of Dance, in Saginaw. She finds joy in helping her students gain control of their body and experience the therapeutic qualities of dance.

Christina MajorChristina Major

Instructor: Improving Your Vocal Technique, Connecting to Your Audience

 

Christina Major, soprano, is an American Dramatic Coloratura / Spinto soprano who is known for her Italianate sound with versatile agility. Her current repertoire is focused in the Verdi Soprano repertoire as well as Puccini and many symphonic masterworks composers. Hailed by many notable national publications, she has become known for her ability to tie people in wonderful knots with her vocal shadings. “When she enters Jerusalem disguised as a soldier, Abigaile, immediately sends chills down one’s spine as she uplifts a fearful voice to sing, Christina Major is nothing short of astounding in this extremely demanding soprano role.”

 

Recent engagements with the Greenville Symphony and the Flint Symphony with famed Maestros Edvard Tchivzhel and Enrique Diemeke were postponed due to the pandemic. Previous performances of Lady Macbeth and Abigaille in NABUCCO in the Bay Area San Francisco were met with great critical acclaim. Prior to that she sang the title role in NORMA during the 2017-18 Season and reprised that challenging role in December 2018, at the Iconic Teatro Colón opera house in Buenos Aires. She has appeared with a number of opera companies, including the Midsumer Mozart Festival, Fort Worth Opera, Knoxville Opera, Nevada Opera, Rimrock Opera, Opera Coeur d'Alene, Amarillo Opera, and Santa Fe Opera. She performed Elettra in the well noted Packard Humanities / Opera San Jose production of Idomeneo. She was a resident artist at Opera San Jose for 3 years. Christina has been a guest artist with symphony orchestras such as the National Philharmonic, Delaware Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Colorado Music Festival, Fairbanks AK Symphony, Florida Bach Festival, Greenville Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Dallas Symphony Chorus, Duke University Chorale, Winston-Salem Symphony, and Symphony Silicon Valley. Her concert repertoire includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, the Brahms Requiem, the Verdi Requiem, Carmina Burana, Mozart's Mass in C minor, Mahler's Symphony No. 2, and Poulenc Gloria among other works. Ms. Major was a Grand Finalist at the 2012 and 2013 Irene Dalis Vocal Competition, a grant recipient from the Licia Albanese Foundation and the Gerda Lissner Foundation.

 

Christina is utilizing this pandemic time to hone and work on her craft, and help others do the same to keep the arts ALIVE! She has created an online persona as the “Toilet Paper Diva” to lift spirits and send messages as well!

 

YouTube: clmsoprano

www.christinamajor.net

Alli Ryan MotleyAlli Ryan Motley

Instructor: Broadway Buddies, Broadway Basics

 

Alli is a New York City based Equity Actor, Director and Producer. After graduating from New York Film Academy, she performed in dozens of shows all over the world from Florida to New Zealand. She went on to help direct and choreograph an NYC production of BRING IT ON with Tony-winner Tonya Pinkins which led to directing many musicals all over the country. In 2018, she started her production company, A.R. Productions and has produced feature films, off-broadway shows, music videos and more! She most recently produced and starred in the Off-Broadway production of LOVE AND YOGURT. Teaching is one of Alli Ryan’s passions, she is ecstatic about helping shape the next generation of performers. Who knows—she may even drop into Texas (her home state), to meet her students in-person! She always tells her students, “If you’re going to be creating, dreaming and loving anyways; create, dream and love BIG.”

Renee NorrisRenee Norris

Instructor: The Online College Audition, Acting & Movement, Playwriting

 

Renee is entering her 25th year as a Theatre Educator. She holds a degree in Theatre and in English from Texas Wesleyan University. She has taught and directed at Haltom High School, Casa Mañana, and CATS in Arlington. She has choreographed for Texas Wesleyan University and Ft. Worth Shakespeare in the Park. Renee has performed in shows at Circle Theatre, Stage West and Ft. Worth Shakespeare in the Park. Renee’s passion is preparing her students for their next level of education, performance, or life.

Crystal SalazarCrystal Salazar

Instructor: Acting & Puppetry

 

Crystal received her BA in Theatre Arts at Texas Wesleyan University with a minor in Psychology. She is currently the theatre teacher at Meacham Middle School and has loved building the new theatre program. She also teaches for the Children’s Ministry Team at Harvest United Methodist Church. Crystal is bilingual, loves costuming, and has had the pleasure of being an IATSE Dresser (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) for Dallas Summer Musicals for the LION KING and HAMILTON Tours. Crystal’s goal is to use theatre as a tool to help students find their identity and creative spirit.

D'Aubrey SchwakeD'Aubrey Schwake

Instructor: Acting & Business for Film, Television & Stage

 

D’Aubrey graduated from the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts with a degree in Film and Television acting. She has played the role of Princess Winnifred the Woebegone in ONCE UPON A MATTRESS and Audrey in THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. After a small hiatus having her two sons and beating breast cancer, she is back and ready more than ever to jump back into the world of theatre / film and television.

John WilkersonJohn Wilkerson

Instructor: Auditioning for Musical Theatre, Singing for the Actor, Musical Theatre History

 

John has directed and produced many shows including the critically acclaimed production of STATE FAIR at The Palace Theatre in Historic Grapevine. Other shows he has directed include: MAN OF LA MANCHA, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, HELLO DOLLY, OLIVER, THE SECRET GARDEN, BRIGADOON, PHANTOM, MY FAIR LADY, and many others including 17 productions at Artisan Center Theater. John has served as the Artistic Director at Artisan Center Theater and as the Producer and Artistic Director of the Firehouse Theatre. John currently works in DFW as a freelance director / actor / singer / teacher. He appeared in the original Broadway Cast of STATE FAIR with John Davidson and Kathryn Crosby. His other Broadway and national touring credits include PETER PAN with Cathy Rigby, BRIGADOON with John Schneider, MAN OF LA MANCHA, SOUTH PACIFIC and Off Broadway in ABBY'S SONG with Paul Sorvino. John’s other New York credits include BOYS FROM SYRACUSE, NEW MOON, FATHER FLANNIGAN'S DREAM and CONFLICT OF INTEREST. John has appeared throughout the United States and Canada at many premier regional theatres including playing Emile Debeque in the critically acclaimed Dallas Theatre Center’s production of SOUTH PACIFIC, for which he was nominated for a Leon Rabin award. Some of his regional credits include: Don Quixote in MAN OF LA MANCHA, Frederick in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, Henry Higgins in MY FAIR LADY, and Tevye in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. John has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college, including at Behrend College in Erie, PA and at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Chris Gallego WongChris Gallego Wong

Instructor: Acting for Film & Television, The Professional Actor

 

Chris is an award-winning producer, director, editor, and actor who found his calling after attempting to fly off his parents’ couch with a red blanket tied around his neck when he was three. Although his original career choice was Superman, he opted for filmmaker when the whole flying thing didn’t pan out.


Chris studied acting and directing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and had the distinct honor of spending a semester studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. During his time at NYU, Chris trained with some of the most renowned actors from the worlds of stage and screen. He has performed at both Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.


After graduating from NYU, Chris earned his Actor’s Equity Card on a musical tour of JUST SO STORIES. Soon after, he booked his first minor role in the film Analyze That with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal. After spending three days on the set of a major studio film, Chris realized his future was in the film industry.


In 2005, he and his wife, Jennifer (his high school sweetheart—they met at Haltom High School in 1995), moved to Los Angeles. As a way to survive and raise funds for his first short film, Chris began working as an actor on television commercials. He worked on numerous national and regional campaigns, including Volkswagen, AT&T, McDonald’s, Dell and many, many more. He signed with a prestigious talent and management agency and soon booked his first guest-starring role on the Emmy-award winning hit show ER.


With his earnings as an actor, Chris funded his first short film and started his production company, The Edit Garage—named thusly because he was working out of his small apartment in Burbank, situated over a very noisy garage. Chris’ visual and directorial style began garnering attention, and he continued to work on progressively larger projects with bigger budgets.


Chris co-created a number of successful web-series, including the award-winning show Literally Dysfunctional, which is currently streaming on Amazon. Chris also directed the award-winning feature film My Name Is David, starring Keith Powell (30 Rock), Judy Reyes (Scrubs), and Adepero Oduye (12 Years a Slave). The movie premiered at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival and won “Best Feature Honorable Mention” at the San Francisco Black Film Festival. My Name Is David had an initial release on the Urban Movie Channel and was retitled Train Baby for its Amazon debut.


Most recently Chris was awarded the Papaya Films’ Bursary award for Best Emerging Director at the premiere of his powerful short film, SAVIORS. Premiering at the FirstGlance Film Festival in North Hollywood, SAVIORS went on to win three Best Short Film awards, two Best Director awards, three Best Actor awards for the leads, and numerous nominations. SAVIORS took the Silver Award at the Hollywood Independent Film Festival and was screened on the lot at Paramount Studios, Hollywood.


In 2019, Chris and his family created the YouTube channel Real Princess Sophia, starring his two daughters, Sophia and Maddy. In less than a year, their channel has over sixty thousand subscribers, and her Instagram @realprincesssophia has over fifty-two thousand followers. A family endeavor, Real Princess Sophia’s social media accounts strive to promote kindness, authenticity, and positivity.


Chris and his family moved back to Fort Worth in the summer of 2020 to be closer to family, friends, and where they grew up. They are thrilled to be joining the Artisan Center Theater family and being part of this incredibly talented community of artists and creators.