TEACHING ARTISTS

San Diego Junior Theatre Teaching Artists

Learn more about our teaching artists and their upcoming classes.

Daniel Woods

Daniel Woods was born and raised in San Diego, CA and holds a degree in Theatre from San Diego State University. During his time as an undergrad, Daniel specialized in directing and improv, teaching and directing in various settings. He is also a show performer with SeaWorld San Diego for their Halloween season. Daniel looks forward to continuing to inspire the next generation of artists both on and off stage.

CLASSES

Improv-olympics

Donny Gersonde

Donny Gersonde is a local performer and teaching artist! He teaches Tap, Musical Theatre, Jazz and Audition Prep at the Coronado School of the Arts, and is the dance coordinator for the advanced performing arts program at Coronado Middle School. He is also a freelance dance teacher at many places across the county, including Tap Fever Studios in PB.

CLASSES

Dancin’ with Donny: Classic Combos

Gina Barba

Gina Barba is a proud San Diego Junior Theatre alum who has been with the company since she could walk. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Santa Cruz in Community Studies and Theater and is elated to share her love of the stage with her students. Gina has taught in public schools around the country from New York City to North Carolina to California and is elated to return to Junior Theatre. Gina has spent the last 8 years working with SDJT as a Teacher’s Aide, Administrative Assistant and now as a Teaching Artist. She is thrilled to return to the Casa del Prado and SDJT.

CLASSES

When You Wish Upon A Star

Page to Stage: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Stories on Stage: The Story of Ferdinand

Hunter Brown

Hunter Brown is a Teaching Artist and performer based in San Diego. They have been studying acting/stage combat for 14 years, and teaching for the last four. They have taught at San Diego Junior Theatre, the Red Mountain Theatre Company and the Birmingham Children’s Theatre.

CLASSES

Fight Like The Avengers

Julia Giolzetti

Julia Giolzetti is an actor, teaching artist, mom, San Diego native and proud alumna of San Diego Junior Theatre. She holds a BFA in Theatre from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. For 2 years and almost 400 shows she performed Off-Broadway with the New York Times Critic’s Pick Drunk Shakespeare. Other New York theatre credits include over 15 Shakespeare plays, originating roles in 3 world premieres, and national ad campaigns. She taught theatre workshops in NYC at Gramercy Arts High School, City Lights Youth Theatre, the Manhattan JCC and as a one-on-one monologue coach. In addition, she led classes as supplements to performances with the all-female ensemble the Tempest Ladies in Istanbul, Turkey. Here in San Diego, she has taught at North Coast Rep, in many county classrooms with Playwrights Project, and toured multiple Shakespeare productions in local schools with Intrepid Theatre Company. Last year during lockdown, Julia created Sofa Shakespeare, a global project where anyone can perform 1 minute of a Shakespeare play from home. Her goal is to help students gain confidence, learn the art of performance, and have fun on stage.

CLASSES

Slapstick Shakespeare

Kandace Crystal

Kandace Crystal is a multi-hyphenate theatre maker and currently serves as the Artistic Director of American History Theater. Kandace spent 5 years working for Barbizon USA and is the creator of Theatre Alliance’s Roundtable series exploring issues that plague our industry. Additionally, Kandace developed a Podcast/Oral Documentary with Cloudcast Media entitled 8:46-The Catalyst for Change, in response to the disproportionate murder of black and brown people at the hands of police. You can find her performing around San Diego, most notably in the “Get Ross” commercials. Kandace graduated with a BFA in Acting from Florida State University and is a former mime.

CLASSES

JT Studio: Tips, Tricks & Tools for the Pre-Professional Actor

Kira Blaskovich

Kira Blaskovich is an actor, teaching artist, director and musical coach, working in San Diego for the last four years. Previous to California, she spent almost twenty years in New York City working as an actor and teacher. When she wasn’t working and playing in the NY Off-Broadway scene, she was able to help create and develop several theatre and music programs in schools from Brooklyn to New Jersey. Kira has worked with major theatre companies and companies no one has heard of – she’s acted with world-famous artists and with amazing hidden, unknown gems. She holds a BFA from The University of California at Berkeley and a Masters in Acting from The American Conservatory Theatre. Kira believes that theatre and music are about honesty of expression and vulnerability of self – two qualities that take confidence and commitment. Working with kids to help them find their confidence and voice is what it’s all about – well, and the fun!

CLASSES

Off the Top of Your Head

LaVon Wageman

LaVon Wageman was born and raised in San Diego, California. At a young age, she was immersed in the arts; from dancing ballet, tap, jazz, Irish, salsa and modern, to figure skating and performing plays and musicals at Francis Parker School and San Diego Junior Theatre. She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and graduated with a BFA in Drama. LaVon is a professionally trained voice-over actor, Upright Citizens Brigade improviser, UCLA trained screenwriter, singer and dancer. She has acted in off-Broadway plays in New York City, national commercials, television and film.

CLASSES

Teddy Bear Picnic

Dancin’ Disney

Leasa Thernes

Leasa Thernes is a Teaching Artist, award-winning Filmmaker and Choreographer. She has written, directed, and/or produced five short films. Her film: Basket of Sane, won awards for Best Surrealist and Best Experimental at the New York International Independent Film Festivals in New York City and Los Angeles, and was a participant in the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in Cannes, France. She has directed and choreographed numerous Ballets and Theatrical Productions. Her choreography won the Gold Medal for Group Dance and the Silver Medal for Solo Dance at the Maccabi Games (Jewish Olympics) in Boston. Leasa can be found teaching, choreographing and directing at Coronado Academy of Dance, San Diego Junior Theatre, the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, and at numerous after school theatre enrichment programs around San Diego county.

CLASSES

March of the Penguins

Toy Soldiers

Dance Theatre: Head Over Heels and Other 80s Hits

Marc Caro-Willcox

Marc Caro-Willcox is a San Diego Junior Theatre alum, currently teaching at SDJT and Helix High School. SDJT choreography credits: Newsies Jr., Tuck Everlasting, Seussical. Other choreography credits include: She Loves Me (Scripps Ranch Theatre), Mamma Mia! (Coronado Playhouse) In The Heights (Patio Playhouse), Little Shop of Horrors (San Diego City College), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (SDCC), Entrances and Exits (SDCC). Performance credits include: Shockheaded Peter and Supers (Cygnet), Hall Pass and Danny’s Story (Blindspot Collective), Avenue Q (OB Playhouse), A Chorus Line (Coronado Playhouse).

CLASSES

Rumble in the Jungle

Patrick Marion

Patrick Marion is thrilled to be getting back in person for classes and camps! Patrick has been teaching and performing with Junior Theatre since 2006. In addition to running his own private music studio, he has also taught and directed classes and shows for Young Audiences of San Diego, Francis Parker Upper School, and is the current accompanist for the Musical Theatre program at Grossmont College. Patrick frequently performs and directs music for productions at Diversionary, Cygnet and Lamb’s Players Theatres.

CLASSES

Your Audition Songbook

Sarah Siegel

Sarah Siegel holds a degree in theatre from San Diego State University. She began her theatre career in the San Francisco area, performing and directing for several years before moving to New York City, where she started two theatre companies and continued her work in both theatre and film. While in New York City, Sarah continued her training, studying under Milan Stitt and Lanford Wilson at the Circle Repertory Company. In addition, she worked as a private audition coach and acting instructor helping her students obtain roles on stage and screen. In San Diego, some of Sarah’s favorite places she has worked have been The Fritz Theatre, Stu Segall Productions, and of course as a teaching artist at JT, teaching acting and directing since 2002, where she has had the joy of watching so many students grow up and shine. When she is not teaching, she works as a certified integrative hypnotherapist and uses these skills to help her students discover their confidence and joy in being themselves.

CLASSES

Escape Room!

Shawn Foote

Shawn Foote comes to Junior Theatre all the way from Illinois. She graduated with a BFA in Theatre from Millikin University and spent most of her time in undergrad directing various plays and musicals. She also worked as the Director of New Works and the Artistic Director for the black box theatre on campus. Her time in undergrad was also spent leading camps and teaching children theatre in her hometown, and eventually teaching children theatre at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago before she graduated. Since graduation, Shawn spent time teaching pre-school and nannying in Chicago before joining us here. Shawn firmly believes in the magic of art and theatre-making, and she is elated to share this with the students of San Diego Junior Theatre!

CLASSES

Mini Play: Pete the Cat

Acting Up

Tammy Molenaar

Tammy Molenaar has been sewing and creating her whole life. She started designing costumes for San Diego Civic Youth Ballet about 13 years ago and has since moved into the SDJT costume department as well.

CLASSES

Backstage Pass Jr.: Coordinating the Costume

Backstage Pass Sr.: Coordinating the Costume