2015 Summer Program Staff
Axel H. Alarcon (Counselor)
Axel H. Alarcon is an advertising undergrad at The University of Texas at Austin. He grew up in Houston where he gained four years of musical theatre and one year of one act play experience. Now he is a member of the Longhorn Band and the Longhorn Pep Band, as well as a member of Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity which performs as a men’s acapella group for many UT functions and faculty events. Outside of school he enjoys songwriting and performing with his band.
Ben Bazan (Director, Camp Paramount Session 3)
Ben Bazan is an actor, writer, director, and improviser who was raised in Rio Grande City, Texas and relocated to Austin in 2008 to attend the University of Texas. He graduated in 2012 and received his B.A. in Theatre and Dance. Ben acted in several main stage productions throughout his time there and most recently was seen as “Andres” in the bilingual premiere of Salt and Pepper at ZACH Theatre (B. Iden Payne Award Nominee: Outstanding Performer in Theater for Youth). In addition to performing, Ben has worked as a teaching artist with the Paramount Story Wranglers, taught literacy and diversity programs for Creative Action, and has served as an acting/playwriting teacher for the Performing Arts School at ZACH Theatre. During the daytime you can find him working as an Elementary School Guide at Acton Academy where he gets to hangout with some pretty cool kids.
Zoey Cane Belyea (Director, Youth Theatre Company)
Zoey Cane Belyea has been teaching theatre for 10 years. After many years of assisting, she interned at The Seattle Children’s Theatre Drama School and worked with them for several years on both advanced training and science integration programming. After graduating from Seattle University, she spent a year in AmeriCorps creating a pilot program for immersive arts integration at underserved elementary and middle school campuses in the Seattle Public School District. Zoey has taught and performed with the Paramount Story Wranglers since moving to Austin in 2013. She also teaches STEM Through the Arts and pre-show workshops for the Paramount as well as after school acting and scene study classes at other area institutions. She split last summer between teaching summer camps here in Austin and living at The Orchard Project, a creative retreat and development center for new work where she began work on a devised piece for young audiences. In Austin she creates, designs, and performs as a core collaborator with Gale Theatre Company and Mouth Radio. She’s excited to start the summer off working with the Youth Theatre Company and finishing it up with robots at Lamar Middle School.
Cole Blagdan (Counselor)
Cole Blagdan is a student at Bowie High School in Austin. This will be his third summer at the Paramount Theatre. In addition to working with Paramount, Cole has also volunteered at a local church camp for the past 4 years.
Anna Grace Carey (Counselor)
Anna Grace Carey is a recent graduate of Westwood High School, where she was a part of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy with a theatre focus. Her favorite roles include Miss. Adelaide (Guys and Dolls), Kendra (13), and Loud Stone (Eurydice). She will be attending Southern Methodist University in the fall to pursue a degree in Fashion Media with a minor in Visual and Performing Arts History.
Celina Chapin (Acting Teacher, Camp Story Wranglers)
Celina Chapin is a choreographer, actor, and teaching artist. She received her BA in Performance Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. Her choreography has appeared in several venues in Austin and was nominated for a 2014 B. Iden Payne Award for Gale Theatre’s “W.K.” She has performed at The Vortex, Hyde Park Theatre, and in a couple of upcoming major feature films. She has most recently taught for Paramount’s Story Wranglers, Conspire Theatre, Travis Country Correctional Complex, Gale Theatre, and Austin Children’s Theatre.
Martha Ruby Clark (Counselor)
Martha Ruby Clark recently graduated Vandegrift High School and is studying musical theatre in the fall. She became involved with theatre in when she was 10 years old and discovered Camp Paramount soon after. She is honored to have been awarded the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Award for “Best Featured Performer” for her role, Dinah Murphy, in South Pacific. Martha Ruby is happy to be a member of the Camp Paramount staff once again!
Bethany Lynn Corey (Acting/Creative Drama Teacher, Camp Paramount Session 3)
Bethany Lynn Corey currently serves as a Drama Specialist for AISD’s Creative Learning Initiative and is also serving as creator/director for In My Own Backyard with Pollyanna Theatre Company. Before that Bethany served as the Early Learning Manager for The Thinkery and premiered a new piece of Theatre for the Very Young in partnership with Trike Theatre. Bethany has worked nationally and internationally as an actress, director, and teaching artist. In May 2013 Bethany received her MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth & Communities from the University of Texas at Austin where much of her research surrounded the use of drama and theatre for children under the age of six. Bethany’s work in Theatre for the Very Young led to the creation of the SPARK! Theatre Ensemble. She also holds a dual B.A. in Music and Theatre for Children and Public Communications from American University.
Jessica Evans (Director, Camp Paramount Session 1)
Jessica Evans has been a teacher/teaching artist in central and south Texas for the last 6 years. She is the current Theatre Director at Westview Middle School, in Pflugerville ISD. This is her second year working with all of the fantastic performers at Camp Paramount, and she couldn’t be more excited to kick off this year’s amazing camp season!
Brian C. Fahey (Associate Director of Education & Outreach)
Brian C. Fahey joined the Paramount as the Associate Director of Education & Outreach in 2014 where he manages STEM Through the Arts and summer camp programming. Brian previously served as a Lecturer in the Theatre Department at Northeastern University and spent two years as the Classroom Program Director for Creative Action. As a teaching artist focused on arts-integration, he has worked with Drama for Schools throughout Texas and in Galena, Alaska. Prior to joining the Paramount, Brian served as a teacher for ZACH’s Arts Across the Curriculum program. As a director he has worked with Northeastern University, the University of Texas at Austin, Arkansas Governor’s School, Boston Children’s Theatre, ZACH’s Pre-Professional Company, and the Paramount’s Story Wranglers. From 2005-2010 Brian was Artistic Director of Gurnet Theatre Project where he produced theatre for both family and adult audiences and directed several Boston premieres including Bert V. Royal’s Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead and Adam Rapp’s Essential Self-Defense. His 2010 production of Louis Sachar’s There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, produced at UT Austin, won the B. Iden Payne Award for Best Production of Youth Theatre. He holds a BA in Theatre from Northeastern University and an MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities from The University of Texas at Austin.
Adriana Garza (Teacher, Film Acting Intensive)
Adriana Garza is an actor/producer who studied Fine Arts at Televisa in Mexico City and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood. As an actor, Adriana has appeared in several National commercials for Dodge, Bank of America, Burger King, and Reddi to Wip, to name a few. In 2009, she appeared in a commercial for Unicef’s Tap Project, which received eight International Awards and was a finalist at the Cannes Lion Awards in France. Through her production company, Adriana Garza Productions, she appeared as the lead character, Athena, in “The Experimental Witch,” which won Paulo Coelho’s International Film Competition and was based on his novel “The Witch of Portobello”, premiering at the Rome Film Festival. She is currently in post-production for her documentary, “And She Danced, Life After Loss.” Since her arrival in Austin after sixteen years in Los Angeles this native Texan has appeared in the 2013 Turbo Tax online campaign, a Health Baptist Systems commercial, competed in the San Antonio 48 hour film competition, and can be currently seen in a three spot campaign for Lowes, which she has the privilege of appearing in with her fifteen month old son. She will make an appearance in the season two opener of the TV series ‘From Dusk till Dawn’, which is based on the film of the same title and directed by Robert Rodriguez for his cable network ‘El Rey’.
Sarah Halle (Director, Camp Paramount Session 2; Acting Teacher/Dance Teacher, Camp Paramount Sessions 1, 3, 4, Camp Story Wranglers)
Sarah Halle is a Junior Theatre Studies Major at The University of Texas at Austin. She spends her time performing as a Princess Party Performer, as well as teaching/performing with The Paramount Story Wranglers. She is currently involved in the Cohen New Works Festival, The University Theatre Guild, and growing as both a dancer/yogi.
Ralph Hardesty (Teacher, Stand Up Comedy Intensive)
Ralph Hardesty is a die-hard Midwesterner who, after a series of indelible life mistakes, eventually wound up acting and doing standup in Austin. He was recently featured on American Canvas, a travel series hosted by Dave Holmes on the Ovation channel, speaking about comedy festivals and opportunities in Austin, TX. Hardesty has performed at festivals all over this great land including Fun Fun Fun Fest, Moontower Comedy Festival, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Ladies Are Funny Festival (though he is male, he is no less a lady) and the San Francisco Comedy & Burrito Festival, which was delicious. Moms love him.
Mitch Harris (Director, Camp Story Wranglers; Design Teacher, Camp Paramount Session 2)
Mitch Harris graduated with a BFA in Theatre Arts Performance from St. Edward’s University in 2013. He is an award-winning actor, a published playwright, a cultural and political journalist, a storyteller, and an arts educator. Throughout his undergraduate training, he taught arts-based afterschool classes, founded an in-school creative writing workshop group, and facilitated theatre camps around the U.S. He is currently an Actor’s Equity Association Membership Candidate and a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Mr. Harris joined the Austin Theatre Alliance full-time in 2013, where he runs the Literacy to Life program
Andrew Heger (Music Teacher, All Camp Paramount Sessions, Camp Story Wranglers)
Andrew Heger studied voice at the University of Texas and received a degree in Music Production with a minor in Public Relations. He is a worship leader at Metropolitan Community Church of Austin and also plays several other instruments whenever given the chance. “Working with the Paramount is such a rewarding experience and I’m looking forward to this year’s group of talented performers!”
Avery LaRue (Counselor)
Avery LaRue is a recent graduate of James Bowie High School in South Austin and will study vocal performance at the University of Houston in the fall. As a member of the Starlight Theatre Company, Avery has been fully invested in the production of more than 25 shows, including her major roles as Eva Perón in Evita, the Engineer in Miss Saigon, and Penny Pingleton in Hairspray. In addition to acting and singing, Avery enjoys the technical side of theatre and has experience in lighting and sound design, costuming, and prop design. Avery has served as an officer of the production company for three years, her third as Vice President and was selected to be a senior director, producing two shows, Cinderella and Southern Hospitality. Avery is very much looking forward to assisting with the Paramount Theatre Camp and working in a professional environment.
Jennifer Luck (Director of Education & Outreach)
Jennifer Luck received her MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities from the University of Texas at Austin and her BA in Theatre from Arizona State University. For almost 20 years she has taught theatre professionally in Arizona, New York City, Los Angeles, and Austin. She has worked with Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, The Herberger Theatre Center, Biz Kids NY, The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Kids on Stage CA, Azusa Pacific University, and she spent three years in the Education Department at Center Theatre Group/The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. She taught undergraduate acting and voice courses at the University of Texas, as well as the “Performance of Persuasion” at the UT School of Law. In Austin she worked with Theatre Action Project/Creative Action, the Theatre Academy at the J, Summer Wonders, ACE Academy and the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders before joining the Paramount Theatre in 2011. Jennifer is also a singer/songwriter, composer, director and actor. In 2009 she was named a Don and Elizabeth Doyle Fellow, recognized for her artistic ability in the area of Theatre for Youth. She is honored to direct the Paramount Academy for the Arts and to work with so many talented and inspiring young Austinites.
Eddie Lehwald (Music Director, Camp Paramount Session 3)
Eddie Lehwald has been playing music for as long as he can remember and is thrilled to join the Camp Paramount team this summer. He teaches piano at both the Lone Star School of Music and East Side Music School, and maintains a busy performance schedule in and around Austin.
Karly Powell Lewis (Dance Teacher, Camp Paramount Sessions 1 and 2)
Karly Powell Lewis a native of Austin, TX, attended Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio as a dance scholarship recipient where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Creative Writing. At Otterbein, Karly had the privilege of working closely with Broadway choreographers John Carrafa and Randy Skinner, and was chosen to represent Otterbein at the Jazz Dance World Congress International Choreography Competition. She recently relocated to Austin from New York City, where she was on the faculty for the Children and Teen Program at Broadway Dance Center. Karly has performed with Push Factor Dance Company, Silly Boy Productions, and worked as an assistant to Broadway Dance Center master faculty member, Michelle Barber, on various projects including the Pulse Dance Teacher Workshop, Choreographer’s Canvas, Broadway Dance Center Student Showcase and several industrial videos. While in NYC, she also taught at the New York Kids Club, the British International School of New York and other dance studios in the NY metro area. Karly is currently a teaching artist at Tapestry, ZACH Theatre, and is a member of Verge Dance Company.
Jane Maddox (Counselor)
Jane Maddox has an extensive background in theatre, musical theatre, performance and production. Although she has appeared in independent films and commercials, her true love is and always will be the theatre. She has been involved in a countless number of stage productions. Her award winning roles on stage include Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The Baroness Shraeder in The Sound of Music and, most recently, as The Girl in The Seven Year Itch. Jane works in special education for Hutto ISD. She also owns her own entertainment business, providing entertainment for parties and special events, where she performs as Marilyn Monroe and various fairytale characters (www.janeismarilyn.com). She loves singing with a big band and enjoys songs from that era. “Theatre is magic…no other medium compares.”
Elizabeth McQueen (Teacher, Song Writing Intensive)
Elizabeth McQueen brings songwriting experience and an extensive touring background to the Paramount Songwriting Intensive. After arriving in Austin in 2000 and creating a buzz in town with her group The Firebrands, McQueen joined the legendary Texas group Asleep At The Wheel in 2005 and toured with Ray Benson and his crew for eight and a half years. During that time she recorded six CDs with the band, and one solo CD, dueted with Willie Nelson and was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2014 she left the road and has since embarked on an artistic journey which has included new bands, vocal instruction, a DJ position at KUTX and podcast production. Her original songs and performances can be heard on her three (soon to be four) CDs, several movies and television shows. She is currently preparing an art installation titled “Infinity + Infinity” pairing her original pop compositions centering around the complexities of relationships with a psuedo-holographic, audience controlled visual experience.
Alec Mendoza (Counselor)
Cassadie Petersen (Acting/Creative Drama Teacher, Camp Paramount Session 4)
Cassadie Petersen has been working in professional theater for over twenty years, having made her equity stage debut at 8 years old. She received her BA in Drama from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, is a graduate of the National Theater Institute at the Tony-award winning Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and has studied at the St. Petersburg Arts Academy in Russia. While at Vassar, she received the Davis Projects for Peace Fellowship and created and implemented a theater program aimed at building confidence in young at-risk women in New Orleans. Cassadie has worked as a professional actor and theater educator in New York, Connecticut, Louisiana, the US Virgin Islands, and Los Angeles. In Austin, she has been a theater teacher and director with kidsActing Studio, ZACH Theatre and both AISD and private schools. She currently sits on the nominations committee of the B. Iden Payne Awards Council and is a founding member of Dual Tape Deck, a local film collective. She has also performed with multiple theaters including ZACH, Present Company Theatre, and Poison Apple Initiative and was nominated for an Austin Critics Table Award for Best Lead Actor in 2013 and a B. Iden Payne Award for Best Performer for Youth in 2014. She has spent the last year teaching with Paramount’s in the school programming and is so excited to come on board for her first summer here!
Matthew Rosenstein (Counselor)
Shanna Sorrells (Acting Teacher/ASL Instructor, Camp Paramount Session 2)
Shanna Sorrells is an Austin-based American Sign Language teacher and tutor by day, actor by night. She was most recently seen in ASL Films’ “Beyond the Embers,” and onstage in Los Angeles with internationally-known Deaf theatre troupe, Deaf West. She has taught acting, theatre, ASL, GED prep, and environmental science. She is thrilled to return to Camp Paramount for a second summer as an acting and creative drama teacher.
Ammon Taylor (Music Director, Camp Paramount Sessions 1, 2, 4, Camp Story Wranglers)
Ammon Taylor is a pianist, composer, and musical director with a background in classical and jazz music. He is the musical director of the Paramount Theatre’s Story Wranglers, and has been the musical director for various summer camps at the Paramount since 2012. Ammon is actively involved in Austin’s improvised theatre community, and teaches musical improvisation classes with the Hideout Theatre and Merlin Works Institute at ZACH. He has been the musical director of ZACH Theatre’s Pre-Professional Company since 2013. He was recently the pianist and composer for Puppet Cupboard’s educational musical, TRASH, at One World Theater, and ZACH’s 2013 production of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.
Gale Valley (Education & Outreach Administrative Assistant)
Gale Valley is from the state of Michigan and received a BS from Michigan State University’s College of Education and an MS from the University of Delaware. Prior to joining the Paramount Academy for the Arts in November 2014, Gale coached women’s college basketball for 30 years including stops at Duke University and the University of Texas. While at Duke, the team enjoyed tremendous success playing in four Final Fours. Gale grew up in a family dedicated to education as her father was a teacher and administrator and her mother was a teacher. One of Gale’s favorite quotes is: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin. She is happy to be involved in the Paramount Academy of the Arts that makes a difference in the lives of the youth of Austin.
Becca Westerkom (Design Teacher, Camp Paramount Sessions 1, 3, 4, Camp Story Wranglers)
Becca Westerkom graduated with TV and Radio Broadcasting degree from Texas State University in 2004. She moved to New York after graduation to work as a page at The Late Show with David Letterman. She was an Account Executive for KLBJ-FM for 5 years but resigned to start a family. She is a Story Wrangler for Literacy to Life and a stay at home mother of 2. This year will be her 4th summer teaching for the Paramount Theater. She has played various roles in all of Paramount’s Summer Camps including Design Teacher for Camp Paramount, Improv TA for Theater Academy and Story Wrangler for Camp Story Wrangler. She is a kid at heart that enjoys making costumes, acting, writing, singing (off key), improve, and stand up which she performs around town.
All camps will be at the Paramount and Stateside Theatres, located at 713 Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, TX