Faculty and Staff

Jorge Arroyo is an Adjunct Professor of Lighting Design and Lighting Supervisor for the Department of Theater and Dance. Montclair State University credits include Equus, Dance Works 2013, Penance: The Ghost of Don Juan, Dance Collage 2012, and Works-A-Foot 2012. Professional lighting design credits include theaters such as Westport Country Playhouse, La MaMa, Urban Stages, Intar, People’s Light & Theatre Company, The Actor’s Company Theater, New Jersey Youth Theater, Luna Stage, Shakespeare Sedona, among others. He has designed over 50 live events for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, working with such artists as BeBe & CeCe Winans, Jackie Mason, Stanley Jordan, Paquito D’Rivera, Rockapella, Wesla Whitfield, Toshi Reagon, Kenny Garrett, Ravi Coltrane, Regina Carter, Phoebe Snow, and many more. Additional events include Jazz at Lincoln Center featuring Alicia Keys, Monty Alexander, among others. He has a Master of Fine Arts from New York University’s Department of Design for Stage and Film and is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829

Shelley Axelson, is currently Assistant Professor of Music Education with responsibilities in conducting the Montclair State University Band and teaching courses in instrumental music education. Before coming to New Jersey, she held a similar position at the University of Indianapolis. She was also the Director of Bands at Central College in Pella, Iowa, Pasco Middle School in Dade City, Florida (co-author of the Secondary Music Curriculum) and Richardson Junior High School in Richardson, Texas. She received an undergraduate degree in Music Education from the University of South Florida, a Master's Degree in Conducting from the University of Michigan, and the Doctor of Music degree in Conducting from Northwestern University.
Heather Buchanan, is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities. She conducts the 160-voice Chorale, 60-voice University Singers, and 24-voice Vocal Accord. Choirs under her direction have won critical acclaim for their “heartfelt conviction,” “vibrant sound,” and for singing with the “crispness and dexterity of a professional choir.” In recent years, these choirs have collaborated with a variety of renowned artists including Meredith Monk, Mícheál ÓSúílleabháin, Tarik O’Regan, and conductors Neeme Järvi, Jacques LaCombe, and John Maucceri with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music (Australia), a Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and her Ph.D. from the University of New England (Australia). Her chapter “Body Mapping: Enhancing Voice Performance through Somatic Pedagogy” will be published in Perspectives on Teaching Singing: A celebration of Vocal Pedagogy in the 21st Century (Springer Publications) and launched in July 2013 at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Brisbane, Australia.

Gregory Dlugos has worked as conductor and/or music director, associate conductor, pianist and  keyboardist on numerous Broadway productions including Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Fosse, Sunset Boulevard, Chicago, Nine, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Phantom of the Opera among others. Between steady engagements, he performs as a substitute keyboardist, organist and conductor. As Conductor/ Musical Supervisor and faculty member in the John J. Cali School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance, he has conducted and/or supervised Side Show, Sweeney Todd, Sweet Charity, Closer Than Ever, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Carousel, Nine and Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party. As composer, he has written songs for several companies including IBM, American Airlines and McNeil Laboratories. He has worked as an arranger, orchestrator and dance arranger for such personalities such as Chita Rivera, Antonio Banderas, Betty Buckley, John Kander and Fred Ebb. His education includes a Bachelor of Music from The Hartt School of Music, a Master of Music in Composition from Montclair State University. He is currently compiling a book of original children’s music for use in elementary schools with collaborator Melvinia Garner.

J. Ryan Graves is Production and Facility Manager, Arts and Cultural Programming at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University. He has been a designer and production manager for over a decade. Prior to coming to Montclair State, he worked on several projects and tours with David Gordon, Bebe Miller, Mabou Mines, The Wooster Group, Ibrahim Quraishi and American Opera Projects. As Production Manager for Peak Performances at Montclair State University he has managed, developed and built numerous dance, theater, opera, music and installation projects, working with artists including Ridge Theatre, Bill T. Jones, Jan Fabre, Romeo Castellucci, Fred Hersch, Robert Whitman, and Wayne McGregor, among others.

Clay James is a three-time recipient of the American Regional Theatre Award for Outstanding Direction and Choreography; winner of the Moss Hart Award and the NHTA Award for Outstanding Choreography and currently serves as Coordinator of Musical Theatre at the University. He has directed and/or staged productions including Parade, A Grand Night For Singing, Cabaret, And the World Goes Round, The Full Monty, A Bernstein Tribute, Crazy for You, Side Show, Sweeney Todd, Sweet Charity, A Chorus Line, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Other Directorial and/ or choreographic assignments include those for St. Louis Muny Opera, Playhouse in the Park, North Shore Music Theatre, The Kenley Players, Resorts International, Walt Disney Productions. As a performer he appeared in over 40 productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, Regional and Summer Stock. His education includes a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Theatre with a minor in Music and an Master in Fine Arts in Directing from Florida Atlantic University. He is an active member in Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild and Stage Directors and Choreographers and is proud to be an honorary member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Lori Katterhenry received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees in Dance from Florida State University and earned a CMA from the Laban Institute of Movement Studies in New York City.  She has been the Program Coordinator for Department of Dance since 1986 and has been the Deputy Chair for the Department of Theatre and Dance since 2008. She is also the Artistic Director for the Montclair State Repertory Dance Company. Her works have been selected for performance at numerous Regional American College Dance Festivals and at three National American College Dance Festivals. She has been a guest artist at Rice University, University of New Mexico, Theater on Podol in Kiev, and Theatre et Mouvement Festival in Montpellier, France. Her work Undone was selected for performance in the HUMOR UNPLUCKED Festival in New York City.  She has traveled to Australia with members of the Montclair State School of the Arts, Montclair State dance students and alumni for performances and cultural enrichment in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Steve McCarthy is an Emmy Award winning Network Television News producer with 30 years of experience. He was a staff producer on programs such as 60 Minutes and Dateline before starting McCarthy Productions, Inc. in 2001. His clients include CBS News, NBC News, MSBC, CNBC, Charlie Rose, Dan Rather Reports and others, including corporations and trade associations. Since joining Montclair State University as Professional Staff, McCarthy has been executive producer of 5 webcasts on subjects including Bullying, The Arab Spring and 9/11. He has taken students to Bermuda, Tunisia, Austria, Italy and Jordan on reporting and documentary projects. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from SUNY at Oswego.

Michael Mahadeen, an educator, performer, and composer, works as Production Assistant for the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University and Assistant Director of the Symphony of Winds and Percussion at New Jersey City University. In addition, Michael serves as a Music Director for the Montclair State University Theater and Dance Department.  An active performer in the New York metropolitan area, he has performed off-Broadway for the After the Storm organization.  As a composer, Michael has had work performed by the Czech Radio Orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the Colonial Symphony, the New Jersey Region I Orchestra, and is known internationally for his scores to video games in the Wing Commander series.  Michael graduated with honors from the Cali School of Music, majoring in Music Education/Music Theory and Composition, and is a recipient of the New Jersey Distinguished Student Teacher Award.  Michael is a member of Phi Mu Alpha, MENC, and ASCAP.  His music is published by Bandworks Publications.

Debra Bergsma Otte is a Professor of Design. Her credits include design for regional, Off-Broadway and university productions, television, dance, puppet design for Henson Associates and industrial work. Recent productions include Burt Dow, Deep Water Man and Macbeth for Stonington Opera Arts, and The Old Settler at Luna Stage. On campus she has most recently designed the New Works Institute production of Silence, multiple additional dance pieces this fall, and Sweeney Todd.  She is the recipient of two Kennedy Center Gold Medallions for her work in arts education. Her Master of Fine Arts is in Design from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Jeffrey Rosolen is the production manager for the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, where he oversees 200 plus concerts, recitals, and special events a year. Jeffrey has a Bachelor of Arts from William Paterson University and is currently pursuing a Master of Art in Production Stage Management at Montclair State University.

Meg Zervoulis is an adjunct professor in the John J. Cali School of Music. She is a composer/arranger and a chamber music/concert pianist and conductor, helming Hotel Elefant, a new music ensemble in New York City. Her Off-Broadway works include Rated P…for Parenthood at the Westside Theatre and Chuckleball at the Snapple Theatre. Residencies that she has been involved with include The Paper Mill Playhouse, Midtown Direct Rep, and Montclair State University. Previous residencies/projects include Pittsburgh Ballet, Pittsburgh CLO, and the ASCAP/Disney Workshop with Stephen Schwartz. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors from Carnegie Mellon University and was selected internationally as one of 20 musical directors for the inaugural Goodspeed Opera House Musical Direction Intensive.  She is a member of Local 802 AFM NYC.

Montclair State University

Featured Student Performers

Melanie Ciappi (Stage Manager) is a sophomore as working towards her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Stage Management. She has worked on multiple shows including Dance Works '13, Rags, Closer than Ever, Rent, Wizard of Oz, and South Pacific.

Donna Foudy (Assistant Stage Manager) is completing her freshman year focusing on a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with a concentration in Stage Management. She recently completed work on Insula.

Devin Johnson is currently a senior completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre and has been tapping since the age of six. Professionally, he has performed for the New York The Duke Theatre in Manhattan, Surflight Theatre, The Merry Go Round Playhouse, The Dorset Theatre Festival, the D.U.M.B.O Festival in Brooklyn, Skidmore College, the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, NY as well as other venues across upstate New York. Montclair State University performances include Sweeney Todd (Tobias Ragg), A Chorus Line (Mark Anthony), Closer Than Ever, Arcadia, Side Show, Sweet Charity and Carousel. Devin recently had the privilege to perform an excerpt of Morton Gould's Tap Dance Concerto with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Ariel Rudiakov.

Mia Pafumi, a soprano, will be completing her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Performance at the John J. Cali School of Music in May of 2013.  Her roles in Montclair State University’s opera scenes include Tamiri (Il Re Pastore), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Carol (Tamanduá), and Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier). She performed the role of Ms. Wordsworth in Montclair State’s 2011 production of Britten’s Albert Herring, and premiered in the role of La Novia, in the fall 2012 opera workshop of Lorca’s Bodas de Sangre created by Jairo Duarte-Lopez and Michaela Eremiasova, under the direction of Jeffery Gall. She looks forward to performing the lead role of Blanche in Montclair State’s Main Stage Production of Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites this May. Mia spent her spring semester of 2012 studying abroad at the Conservatorio “Giuseppe Verdi” di Musica di Milano in Milan, Italy studying under professor of voice, Delfo Menicucci. She has performed the roles of Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Giannetta (L’Elisir D’amore) in Rome, Italy, in the 2010 Rome Festival Orchestra Young Artist Program. Mia plans to pursue a Masters in Vocal Performance.

Crystal Rodriguez graduated from a performing arts middle school and high school as a dance major. She has attended schools of dance including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the King Centre for the Performing Arts. She has also received scholarships for the Garden State Ballet Summer Intensive, the Freespace Summer Intensive, the Complexions Summer Intensive, and Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts Summer Intensive. She is a junior working towards her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance.

Nicholas Rodriguez is currently a junior in the Bachelor of Fine Arts - Musical Theatre program. He was recently featured in the NBC Dateline special, My Kid Would Never Do That…, which explored racism and peer pressure among students in public schools. After winning The American Idol Experience at Disney World Florida, he was allowed to skip the long lines and auditioned for American Idol in New York City during the summer of 2012. After receiving a “Golden Ticket” and positive reviews from Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Mariah Carey, he was sent to Los Angeles for “Hollywood Week” and can currently be seen on American Idol: Road to Hollywood. Montclair State University credits include The Break, Rags, Sweet Charity and last season’s critically acclaimed production of Kiss of the Spider Woman. A recipient of the Montclair State University Sterling Scholarship, he will next appear in the role of Black in the Montclair State production of Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party.

Tyler Rubin, “TJ”, is a junior composition major in the John J. Cali School of Music. He has studied with Robert Aldridge, Scott Richards, and Marla Meissner. In 2010, he was awarded first place in the New Jersey Arts Collective Pictures contest held at the Montclair Art Museum. He has composed for a variety of musical styles and mediums. Additionally, TJ is active as a woodwind performer, specializing in clarinet, flute, and saxophone.

Evan Ruggiero began dancing at the age of 5 in his hometown studio and by age 10, he was accepted into the famed New Jersey Tap Ensemble, under the direction of Ms. Debra Mitchell. He soon graced the stages of Lincoln Center, The Shomberg Museum of Harlem and The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, among others. Upon entering his sophomore year at Montclair State University while pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, Evan was suddenly diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer of the right leg. Enduring nine surgeries in a six month period and chemotherapy in an effort to save the leg, the cancer returned more aggressively than the original diagnosis. He was faced with the ultimate decision of amputation in order to stop the cancer and save his life. In spite of the physical setback, Evan held close to the dream of dancing and learned of the famed Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, a legendary Afro-American entertainer who taught himself to tap dance after losing a leg in a cotton gin accident at the age of 12. Bates performed twice for the King and Queen of England and became a regular on The Ed Sullivan Show appearing a record 58 times. Inspired by his story, Evan aspired to passing on his legacy. Within eighteen months after the amputation, and only two days after receiving his “peg-leg”, Evan was tapping again. He has appeared with the St. Louis Tap Festival, LA Tap Festival, New Jersey Tap Festival, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Tap World (film) and most recently American Idol (television). Montclair State University credits include Crazy For You, See What I Wanna See, A Man of No Importance, Sweet Charity, Children's Resources Miami Industrial, and Rags. Evan can soon be seen as Burrs in Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party and plans to graduate in 2014.