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ABOUT PAA

Performing Arts Academy is a Non-Profit Theater Arts company based in South Denver/Highlands Ranch focused on creating community, building character, and inspiring excellence through performing arts education by bringing the transformative power of theatre to all people.

We strive to cultivate self confidence, enhance fundamental skills, and build the character of each participant no matter what their experience level. Under the tutelage of an experienced and professional faculty, PAA nurtures community values and appropriately tailors all educational experiences for each age group.

At PAA, we place a high value on the student experience and with that comes the responsibility to engage the student in dialogue around our core values: Curriculum, Character, and Community. In order to sustain a consistent method of instruction, our Teaching Artists create curriculums that follow or align with state standards for music and arts education. We also stress the importance of building an individual’s character through transformative experiences that can often lead to greater self esteem, leadership ability, service and acceptance of diversity. In addition, the value of being in community is simply allowing the student to recognize the connectedness we all share and how they function differently because of that awareness.

Our Mission

Create community, build character, and inspire excellence through performing arts education, and making the transformative power of the performing arts available to all people.

Our Vision

To transform our community and our world, through a generation of students who are confident in their self-worth, understand the importance of serving their community, and recognize the value in our individual differences.

What We Do

PAA provides performing arts education for students 3-years old through 12th grade in the south Denver metro area through high quality, character-building classes and musical theater shows.

Our History and our Future

 

The Performing Arts Academy (PAA) is located at 8817 South Broadway, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. In 2006, Dr. James Ramsey created a theater arts program that would engage 26 children and their families, inspiring them to reveal brilliance and to grow within their community.

In the south metro Denver area, PAA is unique, attracting students of all backgrounds and employing quality, seasoned professionals with degrees in music theater, music performance and music education. The teaching staff consistently designs and implements curriculum that delivers a high quality experience in performing arts for children of all abilities. Our educational model focuses on teaching confidence, cooperation, collaboration, creativity, and community through performing arts experiences.

PAA has grown from 26 students in 2006 to over 900 students in 2019. Facility needs for staff and faculty have been accommodated by the continued generosity of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, but our rapid growth will soon demand additional space. Staffing and program needs will expand proportionately, demanding skillful management to maintain steady and successful growth over time. Long term strategic planning options include but are not limited to:

  1. Building successful programs in music and theatre for children.
  2. Expanding into local schools to enhance music and theatre education.
  3. Developing community partnerships to support and sustain growth.
  4. Creating a safe space where students are inspired, nurtured and challenged to learn, perform and grow.

PAA continues its efforts to become a self-sustaining organization, with partnerships, fund-raising and grant writing supplementing the current model of “fee for services.”

Our Staff

Melanie Kirkpatrick

Melanie Kirkpatrick

Artistic Director

Samantha Leahy

Samantha Leahy

Registrar & Site Manager

Madeline Shaffer

Madeline Shaffer

Dance Director

Adam Lillibridge

Adam Lillibridge

Resident Production Manager and Technical Director

Courtlyn McCain

Courtlyn McCain

Resident Costume Designer

Dr. James Ramsey

Dr. James Ramsey

Executive Director

Taletha Pogge

Taletha Pogge

Financial and Operations Manager

Heather Bauer

Heather Bauer

Marketing Manager

Elisa Blair

Elisa Blair

Development Coordinator

Our Core Values

Character

Through Integrity and Leadership

  • Building confidence and nurturing self-esteem through transformative experiences for our students.
  • Inspiring an understanding of diversity that includes people of different abilities, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, faiths and backgrounds.
  • Cultivating leadership in our students by modeling and fostering a spirit of kindness, generosity, collaboration and teamwork.

 

Curriculum

Through a balanced approach

  • Creating an exceptional performing arts experience by setting a bar of personal excellence for both our students and staff.
  • Providing experienced and professional faculty who foster respect and acceptance while challenging individual growth.
  • Utilizing Colorado state curriculum standards to guide education and performance for each age group.

 

Community

Through engagement

  • Cultivating a community within a community by embracing diversity through shared experiences in the arts.
  • Giving back to the greater community through fundraising performances for scholarships and local causes.
  • Partnering with local businesses and other organizations through sponsorships and collaborations to create a “small village” for the performing arts that serves the surrounding public as well as our students, staff and families.

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Katie Reid Milazzo

Katie is thrilled to be returning to her beautiful home state of Colorado after 15 years away performing and teaching professionally, and she is very excited to be joining PAA! National Tours: South Pacific (Nellie Forbush), 'S Wonderful (Jane), Annie (Ronnie Boylan). Regional: 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), B’way: The Big Band Years (featured singer), Sweeney Todd, The Who's Tommy. BFA Musical Theater from The University of Oklahoma. In Chicago, Katie taught and directed at several performing arts programs, directing/music directing over 20 shows with ages K - 12. She especially loves working one on one with students and believes in the transformative power of theater for everyone!

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Melanie Kirkpatrick

Artistic Director

Melanie has worked with PAA in various capacities since 2015 and served as producer and director for the Wesley Players since 2013. She has a Bachelors in Theatre from Willamette University in Salem, Ore., and also studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. With a strong background in theatre education, administration and corporate event production, Melanie is thrilled to join the team at PAA. Thank you to the amazing Board, staff, parent and student community.

 

 

 

samSamantha Leahy

Registrar and Site Manager

Samantha serves as Director of Early Childhood Ministry at St. Luke’s UMC and supported Assistant Producer roles with PAA for the last 3 years. Samantha's 16 years of personal and professional experience coupled with her genuine love of children and strong integrity has allowed her to develop her passion for the care and tutelage of children. Samantha joins our team with strong relational skills with the ability to focus on others strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. She is grateful for the opportunity to join our PAA staff as she knows the impact creative outlets have on transforming the lives of children. Samantha resides in Highlands Ranch and leads many volunteer outreach programs through St. Luke’s. She is also the proud mother to two daughters, Keara and Ryann who attend CU Boulder.

You can contact Sam at 303-900-7041 ex.0.

Madeline Shaffer

Dance Director

Madeline Shaffer grew up teaching and performing with her local studio in southern Illinois. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Jacksonville University and then began working in NYC. While there, she choreographed the Off Broadway production of By Jupiter, worked for 2 years with the cult classic production of 420: The Musical, performed in a national tour, choreographed and directed a new musical, performed in front of the UN, and worked with several high schools and children’s programs choreographing shows and teaching classes. These high school programs include Stagedoor Manor where she has spent her summers choreographing for the past 6 years. While there she was able to work directly with the writer of Evil Dead the Musical to develop the World Premiere of a high school version for that show.  She has choreographed over 30 musical theatre productions and has over 10 years of teaching experience. She moved to Denver in September of 2019 and she is overjoyed to be the new Director of Dance for PAA.

dance@paacolorado.org

Adam Lillibridge

Resident Production Manager and Technical Director

Adam is excited to be a part of the PAA community! He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University. He lived in Los Angeles for six years where he worked as both a freelance scenic designer and as the Technical Director for classical repertory
theatre company, A Noise Within. His scenic design for their production of Noises Off received critical acclaim and a Garland Award nomination. He returned to his home state of Colorado in 2011. He has worked for nine years as both a home builder and with D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School as their technical director, director, improv coach, and head of the drama department.

He loves helping young people discover their creativity through the many avenues that theatre
offers. Adam lives in Centennial, and spends his free time singing The Wheels on the Bus with
his wife, Jennifer, daughter, Juniper and their two dogs Quigley and Fezzik.

tech@paacolorado.org

Courtlyn McCain

Resident Costume Designer

Courtlyn McCain received her bachelor’s in theatre design and technology from Western Kentucky University. During her time there, she focused on costuming, including designing and building costumes for many productions, as well as working in the campus costume shop.  She also studied costuming for film and TV with a research grant during her time at WKU.  Courtlyn worked in the costume department at the Colorado Ballet for a few seasons, and has been a costume designer for PAA since summer of 2018.  She is so thrilled to be a part of this team of incredibly talented people.

costumes@paacolorado.org

Dr. James Ramsey

Executive Director

James Ramsey is Executive Director for the Performing Arts Academy and Director of Music and Arts at St. Luke's UMC.  Previous engagements include college instruction positions at the University of Colorado, University of Denver, and Whitman College in Washington.  Additionally, Ramsey has also served as Artistic Director for the Wesley Choral Festival and Assistant Conductor of the Grammy award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus.

James earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Literature and Performance at the University of Colorado, Boulder, a Master of Music degree in Conducting at the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music Education at Middle Tennessee State University.  Mentors and teachers include Raphael Bundage, Joan Conlon, Vance George, Donald Neuen, Alfred Mann, and Samuel Adler.  Ramsey has served as the American Choral Directors Association’s Repertoire and Standards Chair for Community Choirs for both Colorado and the Southwest Region.  James resides in Littleton with his wife, Leigh, and their sons, Jack and Luke.

Contact Jim at drjim@paacolorado.org or 303-900-7041 ex.1.

TalethaTaletha Pogge

Financial and Operations Manager

Taletha Pogge has been an accountant for over ten years, specializing in accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll. She graduated from Walla Walla University with a degree in accounting. She volunteers in her community for a variety of non-profit organizations and has served on the PTO board at her children's school. Taletha's hobbies include hiking in Colorado's great outdoors, sewing, and knitting. She and her husband have lived in Colorado for 7 years with their two wonderful and energetic boys. She enjoys being active and participating in the community.

You can contact Taletha at 303-900-7041 ex.2.

Heather Bauer

Marketing Manager

Heather has a wealth of experience from over 10 years of working in marketing departments for companies of all sizes in a variety of industries. Her formal education in graphic design plus her years as a website developer create a unique set of skills that are ready to rise to every marketing challenge.

Having participated in many theater productions as a child, Heather is passionate about providing all children with the opportunity to experience performing arts.

Heather lives in Highlands Ranch with her husband and two daughters.

marketing@paacolorado.org

Elisa Blair

Development Coordinator

Elisa Blair is thrilled for the opportunity to be working with the Performing Arts Academy! She obtained a BFA in Technical Theatre from the University of Wyoming, which she has successfully used in stage managing, retirement finance planning, and coordinating PAA’s Stars in Arts Gala for the last 3 years and counting. Now, she can utilize her skills to help PAA while it continues to grow. Born and raised in Littleton, Elisa now resides in Highlands Ranch with her fantastic husband, three amazing step kids, a plethora of animals, and beautiful baby girl!

development@paacolorado.org