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Performing Arts Academy

Outreach Program | Story

PAA launched a pilot outreach program in the summer of 2014 to serve students in a low-income Littleton, Colorado community. Now in its fourth year, our collaboration with Littleton Public Schools is thriving as we continue to reach at-risk children through high-quality performing arts and character building experiences that are typically inaccessible to them because of a lack of school or family resources. The after school programs for these 80-100 students at East and Field Elementary schools include 40+ total hours of curriculum-based instruction and programming time through rehearsals and voice, dance, and acting classes.  Each after school session concludes with 2 performances of a full-scale production for the community. Students receive snacks, a show CD, script, and a commemorative show T-shirt.  A student cast party celebrates the completion of the spring and fall programs with pizza, fruit, juice boxes and ice cream.

I continue to be amazed by PAA's professionalism, organization, and dedication to teaching our kiddos all about music, dance, theater and the performing arts. I also love how everyone at PAA makes this experience fun for everyone while teaching them the importance of hard work, teamwork and building relationships and connections with each other.” 

–Parent

Children in this underserved community typically lack extended music and arts opportunities because of limited home and school resources. PAA's spring and fall after-school outreach programs address these barriers by offering age-appropriate music and performance opportunities through immersive instruction and practice in singing, acting, dance, and basic music theory. Our experience and research shows that students benefit from PAA's structured but strongly nurturing environment of instruction, mentoring, accomplishment, camaraderie, and a boost in confidence. Two distinguishing components of PAA programs are ensemble gathering and small group time (which we call “families”) where we engage students in nurture values of character and community through leadership, sharing, building trust, and deepening friendships. Our core philosophy is that these influences positively impact each child's character and supports a holistic education that includes arts, individual development and cultural enrichment. PAA’s artistic, educational, and technical teams carefully develop programs and select these “Kids” Musical Theatre shows because of their suitability for the elementary age range and varied skill levels of the students. This will enable mastery of the show in the allocated timeframe and support a students’ sense of accomplishment.
PAA promotes positive social interactions through structured and non-structured activities in rehearsals, classes and gathering times.  The desired outcome is to lead our children and youth in a performing arts experience that enhances skills, unlocks their imagination, builds character, encourages collaboration, and fosters kindness, growth and learning. We seek to build these students through our core values of curriculum, character and community within the performing arts, ultimately changing the landscape of our culture in a positive way through children and youth.  It's an important aspect of the program and we focus on discussing these principles and values in a variety of ways at the beginning and end of each day as related to musical theatre subjects such as diligence, respect or humility.  This gives the students an opportunity to express themselves to each other in "family groups" and reinforce the learning and desired outcome in a positive and creative way.

“We had the BEST experience. My daughter has been anxious and not wanting to get on stage for the past several years. This was her first time in years and PAA made it a fantastic experience. She felt loved and comfortable. She was pushed gently out of her comfort zone while feeling valued and successful. Whatever you are doing is working!” 

–Parent

At both schools, 80% of students are in the Colorado free/reduced lunch program.  School Demographics: 55-60% Hispanic, 30-36% White, with the remaining percentage divided between Black, Asian, and American Indian. Many times, a student’s experience with PAA represents a life journey that is best expressed through their stories. The number of examples could fill pages, but the following is an example of one at-risk child we supported who benefitted from our outreach efforts in 2014. Marie took part in PAA’s pilot outreach program at East Elementary. This fifth grader had no trouble being heard.  Her impatient style of yelling, talking harshly, and trying to take control of situations did not go over well with fellow students or faculty. Like many of the students at East, Marie coped with difficult life circumstances. Her mother fled a warring nation, children in tow, while expecting Marie, and speaks little English. Her father is absent. Marie seemed lonely and longing to fit in. After a few days of “acting out,” Marie started responding to steady guidance and instruction from staff. Her attitude noticeably changed; she calmed down and began to understand the value of the collaborative PAA experience. By participating in the gathering times, she made friends. We leveraged Marie’s leadership potential by making her a “Dance Captain” for Jungle Book, a title she relished. The principal later mentioned that PAA had been a game changer for Marie that spilled into her academic year. The next summer we saw a different Marie, more attentive, trusting, cooperative, and grateful. Our hope is that PAA leaves a lasting impression on many more students like Marie as they explore their talents and gain confidence in their own development.

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John Boggs

John Boggs is a pianist, composer and vocalist based currently in Thornton, Colorado. He holds a DMA in Composition from the University of Colorado Boulder, a M.M. in Composition from the University of Michigan and a B.F.A. from Bard College. Previous piano instructors include German Diez and MaryAnn Griebling. He taught students of all ages and experience during his undergraduate and graduate studies.

At Bard College he studied voice with tenor Rufus Müller. He has sung such roles as Jamie in The Last Five Years, The Lecturer in Reefer Madness, and El Gallo in The Fantasticks. He teaches repertoire in the genres of musical theater, art song, pop and opera. He currently is a Choral Pro for both the Ars Nova singers and the St. John’s Episcopal Compline Choir. In 2016, John co-founded Renaissance and Contemporary a cappella group, Solis, to promote new works from local and national composers.

His music direction includes Pippin and Rocky Horror Picture Show with the Bard Musical Theater Company. In 2017 he music directed Centerstage Theater Company’s production of Godspell, and most recently their 2021 production of Theory of Relativity.

He has had composition premiers by such groups as the American Symphony Orchestra, University of Michigan’s Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir, DaCapo Chamber Players, Ars Nova Singers, the Columbine Chorale, 303 Children’s Choir (now Vocal Coalition), the Chamber Music Society of Ohio, and new music ensemble Contemporaneous. He is the co-founder/co-writer as well as the keyboardist and vocalist for experimental rock band Fifth Veil, and is delving into the world of film and interactive game scoring.

He also has experience teaching students with developmental disabilities. He provided accompaniment for Tapestry Theater’s productions of Elf, School House Rocks and Shrek Jr. He was previously employed with Imagine’s CORE day program, where he instructed group music classes using midi over wifi to create the feeling of being in a band and orchestra.

 

 

Amy Arpan

Amy Arpan has worked professionally as an actress, show host, variety artist, improviser, fight choreographer, clown, and director for 22 years.

She is represented by Radical Artists Agency, and you may have seen her competing in the ‘Dish Network Challenge’ and zooming along on an electric scooter in the ‘Colorado Lottery’ Commercials.

Past local credits include Ella Enchanted at the Arvada Center; Mrs. Soames in Our Town at Miners Alley; the Conductor and Engineer in The Polar Express; Madame Volange in Les Liaisons Dangereuses at Miners Alley; Characters in Crisis for the Colorado Police Departments; and directing Fright Fest and the Summer Illusion Shows at Elitch Gardens. She is also a local weekly Trivia and Bingo Host.

Favorite out of State Credits and Clients
include: Nickelodean, Royal Caribbean,
Disney Cruise Lines, & Cedar Fair Theme Parks , Shakespeare Carolina, ChickSpeare, The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte,.

In addition to Clowning around with her Ringling Brother’s Circus School training, she is also fond of Juggling, Improv-ing, Performing Magic, Balloon Twisting, Lip Print Reading, Stilt Walking, Mascot work, Puppeteering, Show Hosting, and Character Roaming. She has been the owner and principal performer for Amy Arpan’s Illusions And Confusions since its founding in 1998.

Katie Reid

Resident Acting Director

Katie is thrilled to be returning to her beautiful home state of Colorado after 15 years away performing and teaching professionally in NYC and Chicago. Katie holds a BFA in Musical Theater from The University of Oklahoma. In Chicago, Katie taught and directed in several performing arts programs, directing/music directing over 20 shows with ages K - 12, including multiple pilot productions with MTI and Disney theatricals. She also worked in events and development at American Theater Company and as Production Manager for the award-winning program, BRAVO Performing Arts, in Oak Park. Theater credits include the National Tours of South Pacific (Nellie Forbush), 'S Wonderful (Jane), and Annie (Ronnie Boylan). Regional theater: Nunsense (Sister Robert Ann), Last Five Years (Cathy), Marvelous Wonderettes (Missy), Princess and the Pea (Queen u/s), Land of Forgotten Toys (Queen), Full Monty (Pam), Ordinary Days (Claire), Broadway: The Big Band Years (featured singer), Sweeney Todd, and The Who's Tommy. She is excited to be a part of the PAA staff!

acting@paacolorado.org

 

Kathryn Dudley

Kathryn Dudley is a dancer, instructor, choreographer, and stage manager based in Denver. She attained her Bachelor of Arts in both Dance and Theatre from Gustavus Adolphus College where she received the Distinguished Dance Student Award and graduated with honors. Originally from Minnesota, Kathryn has worked with various theatres around the Twin Cities such as Children’s Theatre Company, SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development, and Daytripper’s Dinner Theatre. Some of Kathryn’s favorite performances were with ...and Company, of which she is a founding member. Along with the 4 other founding members, Kathryn choreographed, directed, produced, and performed in 2 shows for the MN Fringe Festival. Her work has also been featured in shows by Minneapolis Ballet Dancers, Zenon’s Zone Program, Sarah Hauss, and COHORTS. Kathryn is a company member, resident choreographer, and production manager for 21/40 Productions where she enjoys exploring every facet of the performing arts. As an educator, Kathryn is passionate about sharing dance with people from all walks of life and lives by Alvin Ailey’s famous words: "Dance is for Everybody”.

Jennifer Lillibridge

Jennifer Lillibridge came to Colorado from Los Angeles where she earned her BA in Theater Arts and Directing at Occidental College. For several years after college she was a proud member of Actors Equity and worked throughout the Greater Los Angeles area as an equity production stage manager and scenic artist for several prominent theater companies. Since moving to Colorado, Jennifer has been at D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School as their theater program’s director and costume designer. She and her husband Adam, enjoy creating stories and having wild adventures with their daughter Juniper and two dogs.

Jennifer Maggi

Jennifer Maggi grew up dancing in Orange County, California at the Pacific School of Ballet from the age of 5 to 18. Throughout her years there, she trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical/Contemporary, and Tap. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from California State University, Fullerton with an emphasis in Ballet and Modern. While completing her degree, Jennifer performed and choreographed for numerous professional dance shows and showcases as well as participated in the Limon Dance Intensive under Collin Connor. After graduating, Jennifer returned to Cal State Fullerton to choreograph the BFA Musical Theatre main stage productions of Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party, and Cry Baby. In 2014, Jennifer was cast as a performer at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California where she danced and portrayed famous Disney characters in the Pixar Play Parade, Paint the Night Parade, The Frightfully Fun Parade, and The Christmas Fantasy Parade. She moved to Denver in May 2019 and is so excited to join the team at PAA and share her passion for dance with her students.

Jana Wesson

Jana Wesson is thrilled to be back at PAA! As a former alumni, Jana is excited to be continuing with PAA as a staff of the outreach program. Since her last show in 2013 Jana has gone on to do community theatre at the Pace Center and Wesley Players Theatre Company, starring in shows such as Singin’ In The RainMary Poppins, The Music Man and many more!

McKensey Struzik

McKensey graduated from Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts with a BA in Acting and a Minor in Musical Theatre in 2016.  Since, she has taught children’s theatre at various studios in Virginia as well as in Colorado.  She has taught dance, private voice and group acting classes as well as choreographed, music directed many productions.  She has tap danced for 17 years and had the opportunity to study under tap dancers such as Savion Glover, Chloe Arnold, Maude Arnold, and Jason Janas.  She is thrilled to teach tap with PAA this year and can’t wait to get started.

Aria Faddis

Aria Faddis grew up in Boise, Idaho, and moved to Colorado in 2017. She began dancing at age twelve and has since discovered how much she loves to share her love of dance with children. Aria has a BFA in Dance with an emphasis in teaching from the University of Montana and spent one season dancing with Off Center Dance Company in Boise before relocating to Colorado.  Aria currently teaches at studios across the Denver Metro area as well as working as a choreographer for D'Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School. When she is not dancing, Aria is visiting as many National Parks as possible and enjoying exploring all Colorado has to offer.

Darin Drown

Darin Drown is in his 18th year teaching choir at Grandview High school in Aurora, CO in the Cherry Creek School District, and 30th year of teaching.  His choirs have consistently received the highest ratings at festivals around the United States and have been featured performers at the Colorado Music Educator’s convention several times.  In addition, Darin directed the 120-man Sound of the Rockies barbershop chorus to 7 medalist performances in international competition in the Barbershop Harmony Society, reaching as high as 3rd place.  Darin has traveled all over the world coaching men’s and women’s acapella quartets and choruses.  He also sings in Storm Front, the 2010 International Champion barbershop quartet.  He has been named Teacher of the Year in two different schools over his career, as well as a District Teacher of the Year.  He took over directing responsibilities for the Velvet Hills Show Chorus in Colorado Springs for the past three years.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Marie Snyder is so excited to be returning to PAA! She has been teaching musical theatre and dance for over 8 years at studios in New York City and across the country. She shares her passion for creativity and self-expression in the classroom and on the stage. Rachel has performed internationally as a vocalist with Aida Cruise Lines and regionally in roles such as Sherrie in Rock of Ages and Maggie in 42nd St. She continues her lifelong training in dance, acting, and theatre in New York, and loves to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of young artists.

Andrew McGlothen

Andrew McGlothen is thrilled to be back for his 2nd summer with PAA. Originally from Texas, Andrew has been fabricator, scenic painter, director and actor for over a decade. He’s had the privilege to work for companies like the Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities, Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids, Denver Comic Con, Visionbox Studio and many others. If you need something designed or created, he’s your guy. When not working in theatre Andrew is a Graphic Designer and coffee snob. He’d like to thank his husband and dogs for the support and PAA for the opportunity!”

 

Steph Holmbo

Steph Holmbo is an actress, dancer, singer, poet, creatoe. Steph received her BFA from New York University's Atlantic Theatre Company and worked off-broadway with the dance company Mitra Dance Collective for 3 years. Since moving to Denver she has performed at several theaters including Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Miners Alley Playhouse, Town Hall Arts Center, and originated roles in two world premiere musicals with Mitch Samu. In 2020, Steph wrote and performed in her one-woman show and again, creating a story around how we listen in a world where everyone is talking. Steph is passionate about storytelling, justice, and finding hope in especially difficult situations. www.stephholmbo.com

Melanie Ware

Melanie has been with PAA as their Properties Master for six years and teaching classes for five. Melanie received her BA in Theatre from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in May of 2016. Between Acting, Directing and Properties Design she has roughly 12 years of theatrical experience. Favorite PAA design credits include: You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown!, Tarzan, Mary Poppins and The Addams Family.

 

 

 

Stephanie Hesse

Stephanie is thrilled to join PAA, and is very proud of this group of talented kids!  With a BA in both Theatre and Dance from Colorado Mesa University,  Stephanie has performed with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Avatar Movement Dance Company, and in several musicals in the Denver area including 9 to 5, 42nd Street, Crazy For You, and West Side Story. Choreography credits include: A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder, Hello Dolly!, She Loves Me, 13: The Musical, and Disney’s Mary Poppins Jr.