The NCT Drama School

Education Team & Faculty Teaching Artists

Our education department has over 30 years of experience in educating theatre for youth. You'll recognize many of our professional theatre artists from their performances in shows at NCT and from stages across Middle Tennessee. 

Every Teaching Artist participates in ongoing professional development to enhance their skills in drama instruction and inclusive teaching techniques. A background check is done for all staff and teaching artists, and they are trained annually in CPR and First Aid.


Staff Members

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Classes taught: Emerging Artists Program, Acting, Drama Makers

Alicia Lark Fuss joined NCT’s team in 2009 and became Director of Education in 2011. She directed Afflicted: Daughters of Salem and The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats, and Tomás and the Library Lady for the NCT main stage and directs the annual Emerging Artists Production for high school students. She holds an MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences from the University of Central Florida and a BA in Theatre Arts from Florida State University. Alicia previously worked at the Orlando Repertory Theatre and trained through the Kennedy Center Institute for Arts Management in Washington, D.C. Locally, Alicia serves as an adjunct professor at Belmont University and works with Museum Advocates and the Inclusion Network of Nashville. Nationally, Alicia is a proud member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors for Theatre for Young Audiences/USA.

What is your favorite picture book or YA Novel?
I regularly return to The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time-- two books that fill me with hope, and remind me of the power created when love and knowledge combine to create change. 

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Classes taught: "Roll" Playing, Myths & Legends, Staging Stories, Acting, Emerging Artists Company

Colin Peterson has been working at NCT since 2010, and is currently NCT's full-time Education Program Manager. He has worked with youth of all ages for more than 18 years. In his time as an educator, he has devised, scripted, and created unique curriculum to support student growth and instill empathy. It is his belief that all student's voices and ideas are valid and important, and more notably, it is paramount that those students KNOW that their ideas are valid and important. All of his work stems from this core principle. In his time as an Educator, he has worked in the classroom as well as an administrator and trainer of college-age interns, and 20+ Teaching Artists of varying skill levels--lifting up the students by guiding and encouraging their teachers through servant leadership. As with all art, if everyone feels open, comfortable, and safe they can do their best work. He believes that this is true with all ages, including adults. In addition to his teaching, Colin is also a “part-time professional” projection designer and has worked at NCT, Actor’s Bridge Ensemble, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and Nashville REP.

What is your favorite Theatre for Young Audiences experience?
I have the unique opportunity to have worked in the classroom and as a projection designer at NCT. In the classroom, I love it when a kid suddenly "gets it" -- you see the light in their eyes, and being excited with them, celebrating their joy with them. It's why I'll never give up teaching. 
A particular memory that stands out as a designer: The Wind in the Willows used a projected walk-in curtain, and the audience sat with a still image of the book cover for the duration of the 30 minute pre-show. But when the music started, suddenly, as if by magic, illustrated wind started to slowly move the reeds, and reflections played across the water in the image. Hearing the surprise of the kids in the audience react to that... that was theatre magic.

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Classes taught: Kids Company, Drama Makers, Saturday Classes

Jacqueline Komos(Jackie) is a local performer and teacher, and she currently serves as Nashville Children's Theatre's Education Coordinator. From Cleveland, Ohio, she moved to Nashville recently and has since performed with local theatres such as Street Theatre Company and Pull-Tight Players. While in Ohio, she performed in multiple shows with the Ohio Light Opera and toured with Columbus Children's Theatre. Favorite past credits include Luisa (The Fantasticks), Betty Schaefer (Sunset Boulevard), Lily (The Secret Garden), Woman 1 (Songs for a New World) and Belle (Beauty and the Beast). For her college senior thesis, Jackie traveled to Rwanda with Immaculée Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and devised a multimedia performance based on her story of survival and forgiveness.

What is your favorite Theatre for Young Audiences experience?
I am grateful for the opportunity to be a drama teacher and to utilize the performing arts to help youth achieve their full potential and discover all the possibilities life has to offer. My favorite part of my work is entering other worlds with my students and watching their imaginations ignite.

Faculty Teaching Artists

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Classes taught: Saturday Classes, Myths & Legends, Acting

Alex Drinnen, Bachelor of Fine Arts from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Some of his favorite shows include: The Little Prince (Children’s Theatre of Knoxville), Treasure Island (CTK), Three Sisters (Belmont University), These Shining Lives (BU), and The Whale (Verge Theatre). On top of acting, he is also a burgeoning playwright, with his one act play The Den of Dreams being produced as part of a directing festival at Belmont University, as well as his show The Family Marcher being produced with Woven Theatre in the summer of 2018. He has also dipped his fingers into the pool of design work, having projection designed professionally six times. He hopes to pursue design as a part of his theatrical career, as well as teach in the future, and give back to the community that so strongly has impacted his own life.

What is your favorite Theatre for Young Audiences experience?
When I was about 6 or 7, just when I started acting, I went to see a production of Stuart Little at the community theatre in my hometown. I was fascinated by all elements of the show and it cemented to me that that's what I wanted to do with my life. Seeing the animals come alive on stage through body and movement really inspired me and proved to me that this was what I wanted to pursue. Afterwards, I got to meet Snowball and Stuart Little and got to talk with them and go on stage with them, so that was an amazing experience that definitely sticks out.

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Classes taught: Musical Theatre Classes, Storybook Adventures, Myths & Legends

Andrea Kincaid is a teaching artist, performer, director, producer, and choreographer originally from the California Bay Area. She recently relocated to Nashville from South Carolina with her husband and two fur babies. She has enjoyed working in theatre and music education with students of all ages for over a decade and is very excited to be a part of the NCT team!

What is your favorite Theatre for Young Audiences experience?
Feeling all of the fun and excitement as children experience theatre for the first time.



Classes taught: Myths & Legends, Saturday Classes, Acting

Anna Elizabeth Michsch's select performance credits include Yente in Fiddler on the Roof, "Bob" in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged, Paula Thompson in Murder's in the Heir, and Cléante in Tartuffe.  Additionally, Anna Elizabeth has worked as an ASM for On the Verge and as scene shop foreman at Lipscomb University.  She has also been a summer camp intern here at NCT in 2017 and 2018 and is finally ready to stretch her wings as a Teaching Artist.  She has been acting since she was 3 years old and fully believes in the importance of sharing theatre with young people.  She can't wait to work with the amazing youth that will come to NCT!

What was a play that impacted you as a young person?
The Sound of Music was the first live show I ever remember seeing. It impacted me because it seemed like such a real story.  I had also, at the time, recently learned that my family was from Germany and Austria so I felt connected to the setting of the story.  My father had to explain to me what and who the Nazi's were and it broke my heart, at 7 or 8 years old to know that had happened in history and that it was not just a story on the stage.



Classes taught: Storybook Adventures, Fairy Tale Frenzy, Acting

Anna Lee McFadden is the Middle School Theatre Director at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, TN where she directs the Middle School musical and teaches drama classes to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (sometimes even Elementary!). She graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2015 with a BA in Theatre and a musical theatre minor--never expecting to fall in love with teaching theatre to kids of all ages! She got her start teaching at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte in North Carolina after graduation and hasn’t stopped since. Anna Lee is thrilled to teach at Nashville Children’s Theatre and to explore acting and imagination with more kiddos in the community!

What is your favorite YA Book?
Anne of Green Gables because I love her spunky spirit and the way she appreciates the little beauties in life.

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Classes taught: Improvisation, Myths & Legends, Staging Stories, Acting

Becky Wahlstrom's acting foundation comes from four years at The Chicago Academy for the Arts and she is a graduate of London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA). In addition, she's studied and practiced a variety of theater mediums in both Chicago and Los Angeles: story theater with The Piven Theatre Workshop, improvisation with Improv Olympics, commedia dell'arte with Tim Robbin’s Actors Gang, and writing/performing personal material with The Neo Futurists, Write Club Los Angeles, and Writer’s Bootcamp. Becky works professionally in theater, film, and television bouncing between Los Angeles, Chicago, and Nashville. She is dedicated to the idea that an arts education serves every aspect of a person’s life, and enjoys teaching all levels of artists from beginner to professional.

What is your favorite picture book or YA Novel?
Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece

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Classes taught: Junior Artists Production, Musical Revues, Saturday Classes

Catherine Birdsong, a proud member of SAG/Aftra, is so excited to be back in her hometown, Nashville! Catherine is a graduate of Belmont University with a degree in Musical Theatre. She lived in Los Angeles, CA for a few years, where she worked on the Disney Channel shows Pair of Kings and Kickin’ It!, as well as Mad MenVegas, and How I Met Your Mother. She comes to NCT having been a director, choreographer, and music director at The Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts in LA. Catherine has also been seen teaching at The Theater Bug here in Nashville. Her favorite roles include: Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, Betty Blake in The Will Rogers Follies, Ulla in The Producers, and Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

What is your favorite picture book or YA Novel?
Anne of Green Gables or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets... Can I have two?



Classes taught: Drama Makers, Storybook Adventures, Fairy Tale Frenzy

Chad Parsons hails from Philadelphia, PA and is a Theatre Artist who has attended West Chester University where he received his BA in Theatre with a concentration in Musical Theatre.  After graduation, Chad pursued his career as a professional actor, he has had the opportunity to perform at/with Norwegian Cruise Lines, Walnut Street Theatre, Fulton Opera House, Media Theatre and OCTC to name a few.  Chad is a two time Barrymore Award Nominee for his work in Fiddler on The Roof and Joseph . . Dreamcoat. After years of performing Chad turned to education and directing.  Chad has directed over 25 productions with children and recently has been directing professional actors in such shows as Wizard of Oz, James and the Giant Peach and Fiddler On The Roof.  Chad is excited to join the NCT family and will be going back to the classroom himself in August to gain his MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences from UNCG.

What is your favorite picture book or YA Novel?
I love the book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada.  It provides a constant reminder to me that our ideas are special and with the right amount of care and attention an idea can blossom into a reality.



Classes taught: Myths & Legends, Staging Stories, Storybook Adventures

Courtney Potter is beyond excited to be joining NCT this summer as a teaching artist. A Nashville native, she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Belmont University; she performs, directs, designs, writes, and teaches. She believes in the power of stories, and the importance that storytelling has on our society as a whole, as well as on the individual. 

What is your favorite picture book or YA Novel?
Reading was such a big part of my childhood, and narrowing down my favorites is no easy task. Classics such as Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and The Harry Potter series all had profound impacts on me. I’ve always been drawn to fantastical worlds where anything is possible if you believe hard enough- and that has stayed true into my adult life. The theatre is a place where we come to explore other worlds, and the only thing required to enter, is your willingness to believe.

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Classes taught: Acting, Treasure Trunk Theatre, Saturday Classes

ej Taylor is a long time educator and director in theatre.  She has developed, implemented and supervised multi-disciplinary arts education programming for children of all ages for over 30 years. In addition to teaching and directing, ej performed extensively with theatre companies in Northern California. ej is the former Assistant Director of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre and a graduate of American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. Since moving to Nashville in 2012, ej spends her time teaching, writing, creating wire tree sculptures and thinking big thoughts.

What is your favorite Theatre for Young Audiences experience?
I directed a production of The Elves and the Shoemaker, performed by 3rd-5th graders.  During a run, most of the cast was out with the flu so two crew members volunteered to step in and perform with scripts in hand and they all realized they could, and had solved the problem of the missing cast members themselves.

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Classes taught: Stage Combat, Staging Stories, Myths & Legends

Eric D. Pasto-Crosby is proudly a native of Nashville, but he graduated from University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.F.A. in performance.  He has performed with: Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Studio Tenn, Nashville Children's Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Stage One, Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, and People's Branch Theatre.  A loyal member of the Society of American Fight Directors and a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, he has taught at NCT for over six years.

What is your favorite picture book or YA Novel?
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is my favorite picture book and Treasure Island is one of my favorite YA novels.

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Classes taught: Staging Stories, Myths & Legends, Improvisation

Derek Whittaker, a native of Nashville, has performed professionally for just over twenty-five years. He holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Acting from UT Knoxville, as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre from MTSU (where he is currently an Adjunct Theatre Professor). Derek is fortunate to have performed and directed both around the country and around the world. Closer to home, his work has been seen onstage at Nashville Children's Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Repertory Theatre, Studio Tenn, and Chaffin's Barn. As a child, Derek saw his first show at NCT and even trained here briefly under local legend Ruth Sweet. He considers himself very lucky to be a part of the NCT family - sharing the magic of live theatre and encouraging young artists to think, feel, live, laugh and grow!

What is your favorite Theatre for Young Audiences experience?
I am always reminded of the power of live theatre when performing for young audiences. They have no agenda or expectations; they live in the moment and respond honestly. The atmosphere as the house lights dim at NCT is always incredibly charged with curiosity, creativity, wonder, and passion as young theatregoers bravely venture into the unknown to learn more about themselves, each other, and the world in which they live.

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Classes taught: Saturday Classes, Drama Makers

Jasmine Rose has been a teaching artist since 2014, and has loved every minute of it! She is also a pre-K teacher. She has always had a special place for the littles, but loves working with all ages! In her spare time she loves participating in community theatre. Some of her favorite roles include Brooke Wyndham in Legally Blonde,  Deborah Sue in Bye, Bye, Birdie, and Lamar in Godspell. She teaches because she hopes to spread the joy and benefits of theatre to the younger generation. She loves offering this opportunity to young people and really believes that theatre can change lives. It definitely changed hers.

What is your favorite picture book or YA novel?
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

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Classes taught: Drama Makers, Improvisation, Saturday Classes

Jordan Scott is a local teaching and performing artist who is proud to have been involved with various companies and schools such as Nashville Children's Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Street Theatre, Bethlehem Players, Pull-Tight Theatre, Currey Ingram Academy, and O'More College of Design. Jordan received her BA in Drama from the University of Arkansas with an emphasis in Acting. After graduating, she moved to Seattle, Washington and helped teach Improvisation with Seattle Children's Theatre. Recently, Jordan served as an Advisor for the Junior Youth Actors Guild in Franklin. Jordan also specializes in teaching various baking and cooking classes to students of all ages.

What is your favorite picture book or YA novel?
I absolutely love anything by Mo Willems.



Classes taught: Staging Stories, Myths & Legends, Acting

Jon Royal is a professional director, teaching artist, and actor with extensive experience in arts education and program development for Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and many others. Jon has also taught in partnership with the Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center’s TRIAD camp for kids on the autism spectrum. Jon holds a BA in Theatre from Middle Tennessee State University.

What is your favorite picture book or YA Novel?
Bud, Not Buddy or The High King are my favorite YA books.

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Classes taught: Actor's Studio, Drama Makers, Fairy Tale Frenzy

Kara Y. Kindall currently serves as the Theatre Chair at Nashville School of the Arts. She received a BS in English and Theatre from Austin Peay State University, an MFA in Theatre from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and an MA in Teaching from Trevecca University.  In 1999, the North Carolina Theatre Conference chose her as the state’s "Most Promising Theatre Graduate Student" and awarded her a grant to pursue Professional Theatre Management. That experience compelled her to return home to the Nashville area to join Mockingbird Public Theatre, where she served as their Managing Director for three seasons. In 2004, she joined with Theatre Faculty at Nashville School of the Arts. Professionally, she collaborates with Nashville Children's Theatre, Nashville Repertory Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, BellaLuna Theatre in NC, and Community SPIRIT Inc. in Adams TN, working as an actor, teaching artist, director, producer, and commissioned playwright.

What was the play that most impacted you as a young person?
Our Town taught me to be present and realize life as I live it.

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Classes taught: Drama Makers, Fairy Tale Frenzy, Storybook Adventures

Kelsie Craig grew up in Northwest Arkansas, where she fell in love with theatre and performance at a young age. After college, she went on to become an active member of the Arkansas theatre community. A resident of Little Rock until 2011, she was continuously involved in projects that brought education and the performing arts to young audiences. She loves helping children turn a story or a picture into a play or scene. The journey from the beginning of class to the end — and kids' ability to learn so much so quickly — is always amazing. And since moving to Nashville in 2011 she has been able to do just that! Kelsie loves collaborating with the students and other teaching artists at NCT. 

What was the play that most impacted you as a young person?
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was magical and hilarious and I thought, "I want to be up there."

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Classes taught: Drama Makers, Storybook Adventures, Staging Stories, Improv

Kyle Summers is a teaching artist and storyteller from White House, Tennessee. He received his BA in Theatre with Minors in Elementary Education and Speech at Carson-Newman University. Professionally,  served as a Teaching Artist and Camp Coordinator for Nashville Children’s Theatre. In August of 2017, Kyle moved to Omaha to be a full time Teaching Artist for The Rose Performing Arts for Children and Families. While there, he created curriculum using process drama, worked with students with minor to severe exceptionalities through The Monroe Meyer Institute, and served as the Accessibility Administrator. Kyle Summers was seen on The Rose stage in two world premiere productions: The Meaning of Maggie and Return to Niobrara and directed shows such as Disney’s Peter Pan, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. As Kyle continues his work, he aspires to implement theater techniques to create a safe environment for all students regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, or disability, and encourage students to create a more positive and accepting generation.

What is your favorite Theatre for Young Audiences experience?
My favorite Theatre of Young Audiences experience has been working with the Inclusion classes at The Rose Theater. Specifically seeing a particular student break out of their shell while performing in a Teens 'N' Theater production. This student wrote and performed their own monologue about balancing having autism and being a part of the LGBT+ community. While they were performing myself, other former teachers of theirs, and 85 additional audience members could not stop crying. Seeing this student truly find a home in the theater is truly the greatest gift. 

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Classes taught: Musical Theatre Classes, Saturday Classes

Morgan Fairbanks received her BAM from Belhaven University before moving to Nashville three years ago. Morgan has enjoyed working with students of all ages as a choreographer, drama coach, voice instructor, and teacher for over a decade. She's enjoyed being a teaching artist with Nashville Children's Theatre for the past three years as well as working with Davidson county schools through their side-by-side coaching program. Teaching is the perfect way for performers to hone their craft, and Morgan is grateful for the opportunity to practice so often with such amazing students.

What is your favorite Theatre for Young Audiences experience?
A kid once tried to quote Yoda and said, "To be or not to be, there is no try."  It was Star Wars Shakespeare at it's finest. I love the minds of my students, their creativity knows no bounds.



Classes taught: Junior Artists Company, Storybook Adventures, Saturday Classes

Rachel Hansen is so excited to be returning to Nashville Children's theatre. Rachel taught at NCT from 2010-2014, and she cannot wait to create art with the amazing campers again! Rachel earned her BFA in theatre education at Belmont University and has been the theatre teacher at Fairview High School for the last seven years. She has two children, Alvin, who is three, and Oliver who is three months. Rachel is a big Harry Potter nerd but truly loves all things fantasy. 

What is your favorite picture book?
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

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Classes taught: Junior Artists Production, Musical Theatre, Acting

Rona Carter has called Nashville Children's Theatre home for most of her professional career. Teaching came as a natural extension of her stage work. She has watched students go from children to young adults on their way to becoming performers themselves. Rona loves to help these students climb and find themselves at the top of their confidence. Young people can't wait to see what's next and jump into it with everything they've got! Her training was at Boston Conservatory in a triple major of Drama, Musical Theatre, and Dance. Some of her favorite roles include Bottom in Robin Goodfellow, Mayzie in Seussical and Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. But most of all Rona likes having fun and learning from her students who always bring so many surprises to the summer!

What was the play that most impacted you as a young person?
Seeing A Christmas Carol -- past, present, future... a story about making up for all of life's faults, and being able to change that.

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Classes taught: Emerging Artists Program, Musical Theatre, Acting

Shawn Knight has been teaching at Nashville Children's Theatre for over 15 years. At NCT, he has enjoyed playing Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, Horton in Seussical, and the title role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, among several other roles. For The NCT Drama School, Shawn teaches a variety of classes, has been music director of the Emerging Artist Production for the past four years, and runs the Musical Revue program. Shawn received an MA in English from Auburn University and an MFA in Theatre from the University of Louisville. He currently teaches at Belmont University and enjoys teaching theatre to students from age three well into adulthood.

What was the play that most impacted you as a young person?
I came to Nashville Children's Theatre in 3rd grade and saw Scot Copeland's production of Sherlock Holmes. What I remember most about that show is the tension between Holmes and Moriarty - it made me want to perform and taught me a lot about commitment onstage.

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Classes taught: Improvisation, Staging Stories, Acting

Shawn Whitsell is a father, activist, actor, producer, director, and playwright. He is the founder of the Destiny Theatre Experience and Focused Dreams Films. Shawn has appeared in Bud, Not BuddyHoles, The Watsons Go To Birmingham: 1963, and And in this Corner: Cassius Clay at Nashville Children's Theatre. When he's not onstage, Shawn can be found teaching drama at NCT or spoken word with Southern Word, Inc.

What is the play that most impacted you as a young person?
I saw a production of To Kill A Mockingbird in Alabama when I was a teenager that made me fall deeper in love with theatre.