From Our Executive Director

Welcome to PAA!

I hope you will explore our website and learn more about the incredible program we have to offer. If you take one thing away from this site, I hope it's the understanding that,
PAA's programs do not focus on making the next broadway star.  However, we are focused on creating a connected community, developing and building each student's character, and inspiring  excellence through classes and productions.
That's not to say we don't have some incredibly talented students. We do! But instead of focusing on the extraordinary talent in our midst, we choose to place the emphasis on each individual's contribution within the community circle, and how critical each part is for the theatrical experience to succeed. This includes those backstage, onstage, and in director, choreographer, management, design, and technical positions. The applause at the end is for every person who participated, including those who are not visible to the audience.
Experiencing the power of collective achievement provides a foundation on which our students build an awareness of their place in our world, while growing through creative opportunities, and deepening their understanding that together, we become more than we are individually.

Dr. James Ramsey
Executive Director

Performing Arts Academy is a Non-Profit theatre 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 theatre 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 theatre 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 theatre, 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 1,300 students in 2022. Facility needs for staff and faculty have been accommodated by the continued generosity of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and area elementary and high schools. 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

Madeline Shaffer

Madeline Shaffer

Resident Dance Director

Katie Reid

Katie Reid

Resident Acting Director

Andrew Fischer

Andrew Fischer

Resident Music Director

Adam Lillibridge

Adam Lillibridge

Resident Technical Director

Cambel Rule

Cambel Rule

Resident Assistant Technical Director

Dr. James Ramsey

Dr. James Ramsey

Executive Director

Samantha Leahy

Samantha Leahy

Registrar & Site Manager

Taletha Pogge

Taletha Pogge

Financial and Operations Manager

Julia Tobey

Julia Tobey

Marketing Manager

Heather Bauer

Heather Bauer


Our Core Values


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.



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.



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.

 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Statement

PAA’s mission and vision is an inclusive one. Our core values reflect acceptance of all people, promotion of diversity, and leadership through service, kindness, and generosity. PAA incorporates teamwork and collaboration into every program, encouraging students to share their learning and talents with the public. 

PAA embraces values, policies and practices that ensure that all people are represented and treated fairly in the work of our mission, places of work, delivery of service, and community. We welcome the unique contributions that a more diverse collective sum of individual differences in views, abilities, experiences, knowledge, innovation, and self-expression brings. This includes but is not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented because of race/ethnicity, national origin, age, physical, mental, or emotional ability/disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, citizen status, genetic predisposition, marital status or religion.

PAA recognizes the critical role the arts play in our culture and national conversation, and accepts our responsibility to make positive change through our work, our practices, and our policies. Additionally, building an anti-racist culture requires intention and effort and we commit ourselves to the work of becoming an anti-racist and anti-oppression organization.


The Performing Arts Academy honors and acknowledges that it resides on the traditional territories of the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Peoples. We also recognize the 48 contemporary Indigenous Tribes and Nations who have historically called Colorado home.We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and to all those who have stewarded the land and water for generations. May this acknowledgment express PAA’s commitment to a better understanding of Indigenous cultures and building and fostering relationships with Native communities.

Stay in touch!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

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 theatre, 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 theatre Company. In 2017 he music directed Centerstage theatre 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 theatre’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 theatre 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 theatre Company and as Production Manager for the award-winning program, BRAVO Performing Arts, in Oak Park. theatre credits include the National Tours of South Pacific (Nellie Forbush), 'S Wonderful (Jane), and Annie (Ronnie Boylan). Regional theatre: 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!



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.

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!

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!”


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.

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 theatre 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 theatre companies. Since moving to Colorado, Jennifer has been at D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School as their theatre 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.

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.

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.

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 theatres 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

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.

Cambel Rule

Cambel Rule has been with PAA for three years working a assistant technical director in order to help bring imagination to life. Cambel attends Metropolitan State University of Denver. majoring in history and minoring in theatre. he looks forward to working on all of the great shows PAA has lined up this year.


Valerie Igoe

Her regional credits include The Other Josh Cohen (Denver Center), Beehive, the 60's Musical (Lone Tree Arts Center), Tomfoolery (Aurora Fox), Shout! The Mod Musical (Town Hall Arts Center), Rock of Ages, Annie and Footloose (BDT Stage), Annie, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, and The Full Monty (Rocky Mountain Reperatory Theatre), and Junie B Jones, the Musical (Arvada Center). Training: BFA Musical Theatre, Nebraska Wesleyan University. Valerie is a member of Actor's Equity Association.


Gavin Juckette

Gavin Juckette (He/They) is a non-binary teaching artist fresh off their 3-year stint in Valencia, Spain where they obtained their Masters of Music in Voice, with an emphasis in Production, from Berklee College of Music. With theatre and music degrees for a base, and 12+ years in the industry, Gavin is thrilled to expand their career to teaching the arts that they love so dearly. Along with songwriting and producing, Gavin is working to deepen their support of the LGBTQIA+ community, participating in outreach programs and involvement in organizations that share the same passion. Gavin hopes to take part in nurturing the musical community with their experiences from home and abroad while continuing to grow with every new experience. Brilliantly put by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."

Caleb Sporrer

Caleb is going to Texas State University for their prestigious BFA program next fall. Caleb will be there to talk about Caleb's audition experience from Pre-qualifications to acceptances.  For students thinking about applying for musical theatre and acting BFA programs, he will give an overview of his experience, the recommended timeline for the application and what students can expect from the audition process in general. If you aren't sure where to start for college auditions, this is a great opportunity to ask questions from a students who just successfully went through the process!


Kat Gabriel

Kathleen (Kat) Gabriel is a performer, artist, and educator who is delighted to be teaching with PAA and back in their hometown of Denver, CO.  Kat attended Denver School of the Arts and holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Drake University (Des Moines, IA); they also studied acting abroad for three months at the Moscow Art Theatre School through the Eugene O’Neill National Theatre Institute.  Kat spent nearly two years touring the US and Canada with the Missoula Children's Theatre where they taught, directed, and performed with local kids in shows like Blackbeard the Pirate and Snow White.  When they are not on or around the stage, Kat can be found drinking coffee, crafting, and/or petting the nearest dog.  Thank you to everyone at PAA and my family!


Tobi Johnson-Compton

Tobi Johnson-Compton has been dancing most of her life and has danced, taught, and choreographed throughout Colorado.  She has been teaching jazz, modern, ballet and tap for over 30 years around Colorado, most recently at PACE Center in Parker and The Arvada Center before that. She not only teaches and choregraphs but performs and stage manages as well. Her choreography credits include Disney’s Newsies with Inspire Theatre/PACE Center, where she was nominated for a Henry Award for choreography; resident choreographer for Overland High School, where her choreography was nominated for a Bobby G award for Sister Act; Mary Poppins, Lutheran High School; Shrek the Musical, West Side Story, Grease, and Sister Act with Inspire theatre/PACE Center. Performance credits include the premiere of Idris Goodwin’s 3 person play, Blackademics (Ann) and Tobi’s very first straight play! Musical theatre credits: The Addams Family (Grandma) and Tuck Everlasting (Ensemble) – Vintage Theatre; Mary Poppins (Ensemble), Spamalot (Laker Girl) and Hairspray (Cool kid) – Inspire theatre/PACE Center. Tobi enjoys everything about theatre and loves watching it all come together from behind the scenes putting it all together, to the heart and soul the performers bring to the stage.


Daniel Mason

Daniel holds a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Colorado.
He has studied T’ai Chi academically as well as practically. Daniel earned a
bachelor’s degree in Traditional Eastern Arts with an emphasis in T’ai Chi Ch’uan
from Naropa University where he completed a teacher’s training program. After
his studies at Naropa, Daniel began teaching in 1996 in Boulder, CO.
While implementing his Corporate Stress Management & Senior Citizen
Wellness Programs, Daniel has lead hundreds of people to experience the many
benefits of T’ai Chi.


Julia Tobey

Julia Tobey is thrilled to be back home in Colorado after 15 years living and performing all over the world. After graduating from Eaglecrest High School and earning her Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice with minors in theatre and dance from the University of Northern Colorado, she worked as a professional singer / dancer / actor / model / director / writer and producer in NYC, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Nashville, Orlando, Toronto and aboard cruise ships.Some favorite off-Broadway, TV, film and regional theatre performing credits include: TWELFTH NIGHT (Olivia), original cast MOD ROCK THE MUSICAL (Gillian), ABC pilot ST FRANCIS (Kandi), HAIRSPRAY (Velma) - Henry Award Nominee, BEAUTY & THE BEAST (Belle), BRIGADOON (Fiona), INTO THE WOODS (The Baker’s Wife), and CABARET (Frenchie). She is thrilled to be playing Betty and covering Jeannie in Miner’s Alley upcoming 2023 production of THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL with Piper Lindsay Arpan as director/choreographer and show Composer and Lyricist, David Nehls as music director.Julia completed five Principal Singer / Dancer and Vocal Captain contracts with Disney Cruise Line, Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland including the original cast of VILLAINS TONIGHT! (Cruella DeVil) by [title of show]’s Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell. With her international touring act inspired by The Andrews Sisters, The Beverly Belles, Julia has opened for Meghan Trainor, Katharine McPhee and Seth MacFarlane, appeared numerous times on Hallmark’s “Home & Family” TV show, and is a headlining act aboard Disney Cruise Line and Cunard ships and arts centers across the country. Julia sings with the female vocal trio Black Iris Collective as well. Julia is Founder of Give 5 Productions and works as a professional theatrical and corporate entertainment producer.  She executive produced Footloose at Parker Arts in 2022 and is executive producing Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville at Parker Arts in summer 2023.In 2016, Disney hired Julia to create, produce, triple cast, choreograph, direct, costume and maintain The Silver Lake Sisters. This live enhancement ran five shows a day for several months in Anaheim’s Hollywood Tower of Terror’s lobby before the attraction closed.She lives in Denver with her husband Heath and kiddos Lily Jean and Hudson Johnnie. She loves attracting hummingbirds to her yard and going on camping trips with her family.Oh, and she’s a big ol’ nerd who loves to laugh. Let's play!


Chelley Canales

Chelley Canales has been performing professionally in the Denver area and beyond for 25 years with companies such as Town Hall Arts Center, The Arvada Center, The Aurora Fox, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, Vintage Theatre and Theatreworks. She has choreographed youth productions at PAA, the JCC and American Academy and is thrilled to work with the hard working and talented cast of Moana, Jr.
Chelley also takes to the stage as a Benefit Auctioneer, helping non-profits raise funds for their missions.

Rebecca Givens

Vice Chair

Rebecca has more than 30 years of experience practicing law both in private practice and as in-
house counsel. Her areas of concentration include contracts, real estate and finance. Through
her years leading corporate legal departments, she is well versed in the legal challenges facing
Colorado businesses and in risk mitigation through inter-departmental collaboration. Rebecca is
currently a partner at Moye White LLP, which is a patron member of Colorado Business
Committee for the Arts, and she currently volunteers with Colorado Attorneys for the Arts on
their vetting committee. Rebecca holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of
Nebraska – Lincoln and a J.D. from Creighton University.
Rebecca is passionate about the arts and energized by youth. She sees PAA as a wonderful place
for young people to discover their own passion for the arts in an inclusive and supportive
environment that helps develop teamwork and self-expression while simultaneously building

Lynzee Jones

Lynzee holds a BA in musical theatre from the University of Northern Colorado. She first found her love of all things theatre while growing up in Durango, Colorado and has been privileged to be able to make a career of it! She has been acting professionally since 2009 and continues to do as much performing as possible in the Denver area.

Lynzee has always enjoyed working with children and has found so much joy in blending her two passions in teaching children’s theatre! She has been directing and choreographing children’s theatre since 2012, as well as teaching workshops and coaching young actors and singers. She is thrilled to be a part of PAA!

Marisa VerSteegh

Marisa VerSteegh holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Dance from the University of Northern Colorado. Originally from Twin Falls, Idaho, Marisa is extremely active in the Colorado theatre scene. She is thrilled to be a part of the PAA Community. Her recent appearances include Dancer in Margaritaville (Give 5 Productions), Jo in Little Women, Squidward in the first regional production of Spongebob the Musical, Peggy, the darling starlet in 42nd Street, and Judy in A Chorus Line. She has been directing and choreographing professionally the last 4 years, and has been a teacher most of her life. Marisa has directed, choreographed, or performed in over 60 productions, and is excited to begin a new chapter at PAA!


Molly Fickes

Molly Fickes is a Denver based actress, dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor. In the past few years, she has choreographed Fame, Guys and Dolls, Aristocats, Music Man, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid Jr. at CenterStage Theater Company. She has performed at various theaters in Colorado including Town Hall Arts Center, Miners Alley Playhouse, The Aurora Fox, Vintage Theater, and The Candlelight. Her favorite roles include Finch in Newsies, Little Sally in Urinetown, and Amy March in Little Women. Molly has experience doing and teaching a variety of dance styles, her favorite being musical theater jazz. She loves teaching kids because she has fond memories of growing up doing dance and theater, and hopes she can help build confidence in the next generation of performers!


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.

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.




Madeline Shaffer

Resident Dance Director

Madeline Shaffer grew up teaching and performing in Southern Illinois. She received a BA in Dance from Jacksonville University
and then moved to NYC. She performed on a national tour, choreographed and directed a new musical, performed in front of the UN, and worked with many high schools and children’s programs, choreographing shows and teaching classes. Since moving to Denver in late 2019, she has directed, choreographed, and performed for many theatres, including the Wesley Players, Thin Air Theatre Company, Town Hall Arts Center, and CenterStage Theatre company. She has over 10 years of choreography and teaching experience, and she is thrilled to be working with the fabulous students and staff at PAA as the Director of Dance.


Andrew Fischer

Andrew Fischer is a Colorado native that grew up in the metro area. He earned his Bachelor’s in music education with an emphasis in choral conducting from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Before that, he graduated from Littleton Public Schools and has now taught high school music in that same district for the past 13 years.  Andrew works as a clinician for local choirs and schools, was the assistant conductor and pianist for the Colorado Choir, music directs and conducts for musicals around the metro area, and enjoys playing and singing for cabarets and churches alike. Andrew lives on a small homestead and hobby farm near Elizabeth with a pack of dogs, cats, chickens and geese where they grow lavender, flowers, and vegetables.

Adam Lillibridge

Resident Technical Director

Adam is a passionate theatre artist and technician with 15+ years of experience. He graduated with a BA in theatre Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University, where his focuses were on directing, playwriting, and scenic design. Upon graduation he performed improv with the Impulse theatre group in Denver, before moving to Los Angeles where he became the Technical Director for classical repertory theatre, A Noise Within. He built and designed 20+ shows with ANW and garnered critical accolades with his designs for Noises Off, and Joe Tracz’s, Phenomenon of Decline. During his time in California he also wrote and produced the original play, The Ultimo, with The Actor’s Workout Studio. Adam moved back to his hometown of Denver after six years, where he has worked with D’Evelyn High School’s drama program. He began as the technical director but quickly grew into the head of their drama department. He has worked with D’Evelyn for the last ten years as a producer, director, and technical director. As PAA’s Resident Technical Director, Adam enjoys the challenges and opportunities it presents. He teaches both technical theatre subjects such as set design, and construction, as well as directing and improv. He has also directed and helped to develop PAA’s non-musical play program. Adam loves inspiring creativity in young theatre artists no matter what their chosen medium, and is grateful to be a part of the PAA community!


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.

Samantha 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 or registrar@paacolorado.org

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 theatre 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.