Director and choreographer Clay James teaches musical theatre in Montclair State University’s Departments of Music and Theatre/Dance. He came to Montclair in 2005 after serving as head of musical theatre for the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Miami. He has also taught at Florida Atlantic University, Miami Dade Community College and New World School of the Arts. His directing and choreography credits include the St. Louis Muny Opera, Playhouse in the Park, Shores Performing Arts Center, North Shore Music Theatre, and Walt Disney Productions, among many others.
Soprano Lori McCann holds a BM from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, MA degree from San Diego State University, and a DMA and Artist Diploma from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She has performed extensively in the United States and abroad appearing in opera, oratorio and recital. She has been featured with the Berliner Kammeroper and the Neue Opernbühne (Berlin, Germany) and with the Virginia Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Whitewater Opera, Sorg opera, Shreveport Opera and Pacific Chamber Opera in the United States. Her roles have included the Governess (Turn of the Screw), Fulvia (Ezio, Händel), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Countess (Le nozze di Figaro), Fiordiligi (Cosí fan tutte), Mimi (La Bohème), The Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), Giulia (La scala di seta, Rossini), Iphigénie (Iphigénie en Tauride, Gluck), Mary Warren (The Crucible, Ward), Jessie (Mahagonny-Songspiel, Weill), Second Lady (The Magic Flute), and Amor (Orfeo ed Eurydice, Gluck). Her repertoire includes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem; Mozart’s Requiem, Vesprae solemnes de confessore, and Regina Coeli; Händel’s Messiah and L’allegro ed il pensieroso; Bach’s Magnificat, Mass in B Minor, and St. Matthew Passion; and Debussy’s La Demoiselle élue; as well as world premieres of oratorios and works by many other composers. She has taught throughout the world and maintained teaching studios in several metropolitan areas including San Diego, Cincinnati, New York City and Berlin. Prof. McCann is the current President of the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and serves on the Board of Directors for the New York Singing Teacher’s Association.
Scott Davenport Richards holds a BA degree from Yale University and MFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. He is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson and Frederick Loewe awards. His works bridge many different forms of music and drama. In spring 2008, Charlie Crosses the Nation (music, libretto, orchestration), was performed by the New York City Opera as part of the VOX festival of new opera and A Thousand Words Come to Mind (written with playwright Michele Lowe) opened at The Zipper Theatre. A Star Across the Ocean, a work for four voices and orchestra, was premiered by the Montclair State University Symphony in 2007, featuring Tony Award-winner Chuck Cooper. His works for children include a number of commissions from Theatreworks USA: Corduroy (music, lyrics, orchestration), Sundiata! The Lion King of Mali (music, lyrics, orchestration), Island of the Blue Dolphins (orchestrations) and Junie B. Jones (orchestration). His play-scores have been heard at resident theatres around the country including The Public, The Old Globe, The Alliance, and Madison Repertory Theatre. Highlights include the world premiere of Lee Blessing’s Cobb featuring Oscar Winner, Chris Cooper and Delroy Lindo at The Yale Repertory and the United States premiere of Nikos Kazantzakis’s Christopher Columbus at the New Federal Theater. As an actor, Mr. Richards originated the role of Sylvester in the original Broadway production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
A voice the Ottawa Citizen has called “golden,” Canadian tenor Peter Gillis holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Juilliard School. His performance history is extensive, including regular engagements at Italy’s Festival Dei Due Mondi, his Carnegie Hall debut with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and appearances at the Kennedy Center with the Washington Opera. Among other venues have been the Opera Company of Boston, the Opera Orchestra of New York, the Lenox (MA) Music Theatre Group, Milwaukee’s Skylight Opera Theater, and the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston, SC. Canadian performances have included several Celtic Colours International Festival appearances, concerts with Symphony Nova Scotia, and a national tour of Canada with folk luminary Rita MacNeil. He has sung Tom Rakewell in Opera Nova Scotia’s The Rake’s Progress. Dr. Gillis also holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Indiana University at Bloomington. Part of the University faculty since 2004, he has taught at universities throughout the Metro New York area and maintains a private studio in Great Notch, NJ. Adjudicating activities have included the Nova Scotia Music Festival, the New Glasgow Music Festival, the New York Singing Teachers Association’s Young Professional Competition at Steinway Hall, and the Master Teachers Series at Dalhousie University and Acadia University.
Jan Prokop has sung to rave reviews throughout the United States, Europe, South America and the Middle East. Her performances have included concerts, oratorios, operas, musical theatre and cabaret. She has performed in cabaret with jazz pianist Frank Ponzio in Manhattan and released a CD of their performances called I Thought About You. Jan also maintains a private voice studio in Manhattan. Jan’s concern about the state of the arts in our current educational climate led her to become a trustee of Arts Horizons, a non-profit organization that touches the lives of over 30,000 children each year by bringing the arts into schools in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. As a teacher and singer, Jan is deeply interested in the quality of the singing experience and vocal instruction. She is active with the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS-NYC), a professional organization that is dedicated to the highest standards of singing through excellence in teaching and the promotion of vocal education and research. After earning a Master of Music degree at the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana, Jan received her Doctorate of Music from Indiana University.
Michael C. Rider is a voice teacher, coach and performer with a specialty in music theater techniques and the development of the belt voice. His students have been seen in New York City on and off Broadway. His students also perform as leads in regional theatre companies around the country and have also been seen around the world in Wicked (Tokyo), Broadway Bound Revue (Beijing), Beauty and the Beast and Last Five Years (Hong Kong). He has also worked collaboratively at the piano with performers for cabarets at The Duplex and Don’t Tell Mama’s in NYC and at several venues in Hong Kong. He has served as a music theater clinician at the Beacon School in New York and for the North East Theatre Festival for the EDTA (Educational Drama Teachers Association). Michael has appeared on stage in both opera and oratorio works by Mozart, Britten, Rossini, Handel, Haydn and Puccini. He has appeared in Guys and Dolls, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, Anything Goes, Brigadoon, Oliver!, and The Music Man. Michael is an alumnus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University (MM) and Penn State University (BM). He is also an active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Music Theatre Educators Alliance (MTEA), New York Singing Teachers Association (NYSTA) and the National Opera Association (NOA).
Ereni Sevasti is a singer, actor, musician and singing teacher whose performance highlights include The Visitor with Mandy Patinkin (Public Theater); The Bacchae (Shakespeare in the Park); Lili in Carnival! (Kennedy Center); The Sound of Music (Papermill Playhouse); Zorba the Greek (staged reading) with Antonio Banderas and Chita Rivera; Joan Baez in Search: Paul Clayton (Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse). Variety calls Sevasti “a real catch” who “never stops charming the audience,” while Broadwayworld writes that she grips you with her “strong belt and expressive phrasing.” Ereni holds the Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University where she studied with Christopher Arneson and Taina Kataja. She has studied with Broadway veteran and musical theater singing specialist Adrienne Angel. She is a student of singing teacher and voice researcher, Richard Lissemore, and has provided pedagogical demonstrations for his presentations for NATS, the Voice Foundation and the Singing Voice Science Workshop. She has completed the two-year Meisner Training program with William Esper. In addition to her busy performance schedule, Ereni also teaches piano and guitar.