Theater & Dance
An Award-Winning Theater Department
As the active students in KO’s award-winning Theater Department say, “No one does it like KO!”
And it’s true.
Students here are always close to someone inspiring – from the KO teachers themselves to those Broadway and local actors and dancers who workshop with students to bring out the very best performances from them. Singers critique performances with care and compassion; choreographers give detailed feedback. And, they are available for courageous conversations, led by our theater director, when dealing with sensitive subjects that the musical or play may touch upon so that the students fully understand how to communicate on stage.
KO’s dedicated teachers are committed to developing students’ artistic capacities and expanding their worldview with empathy.
In the spring of 2023, the KO cast and crew lit up the stage with the 1969 American musical comedy-drama Sweet Charity. The show was an energizing blend of rousing songs, Fosse choreography, and witty dialogue. The show also received the Dance Molinari Scholarship, a HALO award and multiple nominations.
9 to 5: The Musical
In the spring of 2022, the KO cast and crew performed the timeless classic 9 to 5: The Musical. The storyline engaged the community in courageous conversations about workplace equity and women’s empowerment, earning a Halo Award for Best High School Musical.
Thoroughly Modern Millie
In the spring of 2020, the KO cast and crew gave a jaw-dropping performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie, ending with a standing ovation from the audience – not to mention being voted Best High School Musical in the entire state!
In the spring of 2019, the KO theater department delivered a show-stopping performance of the Broadway classic CHICAGO. The production took home several Halo Awards and earned the performers top recognition in the state and beyond.
Broadway@KO is a signature program that allows our students to learn from the best Broadway professionals of our time. Broadway@KO brings some of the hottest names in showbiz each year to our campus and during Covid virtually! (You know, the show must go on!) Our students can sing for their critique, learn famous Broadway choreography, and perfect their acting alongside industry professionals. This signature program is truly one of a kind for independent schools.
Learn more about some recent Broadway performers who have visited KO:
Christy Altomare played the role of Wendla in the first national tour of the Spring Awakening, played Sue Snell in the off-Broadway revival of Carrie, and made her Broadway debut as Sophie in Mamma Mia! She originated the titular role in the Broadway premiere of Anastasia in Anastasia.
Credits: Spring Awakening, Mamma Mia!, Carrie, Anastasia
Taylor Louderman is best known for originating the role of Regina George in the Broadway musical Mean Girls, for which she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 2018. Other credits include: Hairspray, Kinky Boots, Grease, and Bring it On, the musical.
Ioana Alfanso was an original Broadway cast member of the show of 9 to 5, and one of only two women of color cast in the production. Alfanso has also been in and out of the Wicked circuit for nine years (2013-2021). She was also the Associate Director for American Son on Broadway in 2018.
Credits: 9 to 5, Wicked, American Son
Kate Baldwin is a two-time Tony Award-nominated actress and singer known for her work in the musical theatre circuit. She received a Tony Award nomination for her work in the 2009 Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow. She also co-starred opposite Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, and Gavin Creel in the hit Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, for which she received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critic’s Circle award nominations for her work as the saucy Irene Molloy.
Stephanie Bissonnette launched her Broadway debut as Dawn Schweitzer in Mean Girls on Broadway. Other credits include The Muny, Riverside Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, And Seven Angels Theatre. She has also appeared in music videos including Keith Urban’s “Never Comin’ Down.”
In May of 2019, Ben Fankhauser’s came to KO to run a masterclass. His Broadway credits include (Newsies, Original Broadway Cast), National Tours: Spring Awakening, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. Television/Film: The Deuce, Twenty Something, It Could Be Worse, and Submissions Only. Fankhauser originated the role of Davey in Newsies at Paper Mill Playhouse before bringing the show to Broadway.
Jessica Lee Goldyn (A Chorus Line, Tuck Everlasting, Finding Neverland, and more!) held a Broadway Masterclass in New York City with KO students focusing on dance audition training combined with a physical technique workshop. She taught a rigorous physical warm-up, audition combinations, and finessed technique all while providing individual feedback to each student!
Appearing in 10 Broadway shows and with over 40 film and television credits, Broadway triple threat Deidre Goodwin came to KO in January and did a master class with theater students. Goodwin played Sheila Bryant in the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line, then followed that role with a star turn as Velma Kelly in Chicago in 2009.
Timonthy Hughes was most recently seen on Broadway in Hadestown as part of the worker’s chorus and Hades understudy. On Broadway, he originated the role of Pabbie in Frozen, and appeared in Chaplin: The Musical. Film and television: The Strong Man in The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox), Blood Bound, and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.” He received his BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Tim will soon be seen in the ensemble of the Broadway Revival of Sweeny Todd.
Autumn Hurlbert’s accolades include Broadway, national tours, regional theater, off-Broadway, and television including lead roles in Legally Blonde, Something Rotten, Little Women, Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, Evita, Tomorrow Morning, and The Sound of Music, Live! Hulbert ran a masterclass at KO where she guided student performances through presentations, nuances of character, and presence.
Thayne Jasperson is an American actor and singer who portrayed the character Samuel Seabury in Hamilton. Outside of theater, he is known for being a finalist in Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance. He has also been in High School Musical, Newsies, Matilda, and Finding Neverland. He has had Hamilton appearances as Seabury, King George III, and John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton.
Patty was an original Broadway cast member of the production 9 to 5. She has an impressive resume that includes productions like A Chorus Line, The Addams Family, Evita, and Bandstand. Patty was also a critical part of preparing KO theater students for their own production of 9 to 5.
Credits: 9 to 5, Evita, Bandstand
Kate’s Broadway accolades include Flying Over Sunset, The Prom, My Fair Lady, and Billy Elliot in addition to countless regional performances and film/TV appearances.
Kate attended and graduated from the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama with a BFA in acting and musical theatre. She also attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
She is also passionate about teaching and has recently begun teaching master classes in dance, acting, and audition preparation at various schools and intensives.
Mindlin was an original Broadway cast member of 9 to 5. Mindlin’s achievements also include productions Hamilton, Aladdin, Mamma Mia, Bring It On, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Mindlin worked with the KO theater community to assist with teaching students the opening number for their own 9 to 5 production.
Credits: 9 to 5, Hamilton, Aladdin, Mamma Mia, Bring It On, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Eva Maria Noblezada is an American actress and singer most known for her work on the Broadway stage and independent film. Noblezada made her Broadway debut as Kim in a revival of Miss Saigon, a performance for which she received a 2017 Tony Award nomination. She also originated the lead role of Eurydice in Hadestown on Broadway, a performance for which she received her second Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, as well as won the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Noblezada also played the title character of Rose in the film Yellow Rose, which premiered in theaters on October 9, 2020.
Credits: Miss Saigon, Eurydice, Hadestown
Stephanie Pope is an actress, singer, dancer, writer, director, choreographer, producer, voice actor, performance coach and a musical theater veteran with a career spanning over 35 years. Broadway and touring credits include the revival of Pippin, for which she received an Astaire Award nomination, an ACCA Award and the beloved Legacy Robe, Chicago (Velma Kelly),Thoroughly Modern Millie (Muzzy Van Hossmere), Fosse (Leading Player), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Brenda), A Funny Thing… Forum (Gymnasia), Kiss of The Spider Woman (Stand-by for Ms. Chita Rivera), Jelly’s Last Jam (The Hunnies) and The Will Rogers Follies…just to name a few. Stephanie has the distinct honor of having been hand-picked to work with the legendary director/choreographer, Bob Fosse, along with his wife and muse, Gwen Verdon on her first two Broadway shows, the revival of Sweet Charity starring Debbie Allen and Bebe Neuwirth and Bob Fosse’s Big Deal. She holds the distinct and treasured title of “Fosse Dancer” and is one of a handful of Fosse reconstructeurs teaching Fosse repertoire and Master Classes on behalf of The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC.
Natalie Weiss gained an international following from her performance videos and popular YouTube web series, Breaking Down The Riffs, which have collectively reached over four million views. As a private vocal coach and master class teacher, she trains performers across the US and throughout the world. She is known for her performances on American Idol, and the off-Broadway show, Emojiland.
Dance at KO
Workshopping with Local Choreographers
Choreographer Showcase connects our dancers to industry professionals throughout the country – Broadway performers, ballet company dancers, athletic dancers, street fusion dancers, contemporary/modern professionals, and more. Each year our choreographers bring their knowledge, talent, and inspiration to young thespians and dancers, working with them for over two months in what culminates as an epic performance by both the choreographer teachers and their students.
Learn more about some recent Choreographers who have visited KO:
Nicole Henkel (she/ her) Based in Stamford CT, Henkel graduated from Springfield College (‘23) with a BA in Dance and BS in Psychology in the Honors Program and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in School Counseling (‘25). Henkel has choreographed adjudicated and non-adjudicated works for venues such as Boston Dance Studios (2023), American Collegiate Dance Association (2022, 2023), Florence Italy (2022), and Springfield College (2019-2023). Henkel has performed works by Didy Veldman, Tatiana Desardouin, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Monica Bill Barnes, Winston Dynamite Brawn, Jason Aryeh, Sarah Zehnder and more. She also performs as a dancer for Springfield College’s Touring Dance Repertory Company (2019-present) under artistic director Sarah Zehnder. Most recently, she taught Fosse Repertory, contemporary, and musical theater at SummerDance for Connecticut Dance School in Fairfield, CT. Entranced by rhythm and music, she is inspired to captivate audiences through power, passion, and storytelling through movement and choreography.
Lauren Horn is a movement and text-based artist from Windsor, CT. She graduated from Amherst College with degrees in Psychology and Theatre and Dance. Lauren’s work explores identity and the ways it can be uncovered, marginalized, highlighted, and erased. By utilizing movement and text as means of fostering a more welcoming form of vulnerability, the work creates a space for self-reflection and conversation for both the performer and viewer. Lauren’s choreographic work has been showcased at The BAM Fisher Theatre in Brooklyn NYC, Hibernian Hall in Boston MA, The Meydenbauer Center Theatre in Belleview WA, The Studio of Contemporary Dance and Thought in Northampton MA, The Northampton Center for the Arts, Amherst College and ACDFA New England.
Rosanna Karabetsos is a freelance choreographer and performance artist based in New York City. She graduated from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts after 15 years of competing in regional and national dance competitions and has since been dancing professionally. Rosanna is currently on the NBA Brooklynettes dance team and is also a Resident Artist with the Dance Collective; a female dance company based in Hartford, CT providing opportunities to emerging female choreographers.
Brian Syms is a CT based dancer and teacher in the Greater Hartford area.He fell in love with performing arts at a young age and always has enjoyed theatre. His formal dance training took place in Connecticut at a variety of schools including The Artists Collective, and Academy of Performing Arts. After some brief training in a college setting Brian began to pursue more independent and conventional routes.
He has since danced with many notable local dance companies, and produced independent work (such as “The Dying Black Swans”) that has caught the eyes of some of the worlds leading news outlets like The Today Show & The Guardian. Most recently Brian was the lead choreographer for Act Up Theater’s “The Lion King” and has been working closely with the local theatre company, bringing arts to the inner city youth.
Cody Bakhshi was born in Philadelphia, PA, and began his dance training at the age of 10 at the Metropolitan Ballet Academy, where he had the privilege of working with influential faculty such as Denis Gronostayski, Eva Szabo, and Natalaya Lushina Zeiger. Bakhshi also trained with the Bolshoi Ballet in New York, Cincinnati Ballet, and Orlando Ballet in various summer programs.
Bakhshi has been dancing professionally since 2015, performing with numerous companies in Virginia, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, and Connecticut. His favorite roles include Arabian Lead and the Snow King in the Nutcracker, and Gypsy Lead in Don Quixote. Bakhshi currently performs as a freelance artist based out of the Hartford area and is a Resident Guest Artist with New England Ballet Theatre.
Mary Cadorette-Daly is an American actress and dancer best known for playing John Ritter’s live-in girlfriend, flight attendant Vicky Bradford on the 1984 Three’s Company spin-off, Three’s a Crowd. Mary also spent three and a half years on Broadway as an understudy for the lead role of Peggy Sawyer in the Broadway musical 42nd Street. Mary, also crowned as Miss Connecticut 1975, Daly is on the faculty of the Musical Theater Department at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts’ Half-Day Program where she teaches ballet, tap, and the Luigi jazz technique and has directed/choreographed a host of musicals such as Day in Hollywood/Night in Ukraine, West Side Story, and A Chorus Line (all three in collaboration with Kyle Reynolds). She holds an MFA in Arts Administration, both from the University of Connecticut.
Avery Casasanta started dance before she could walk at Terpsichore Dance and Theater Company in Simsbury, CT. Terpsichore is where she fell in love with dance as an art form for both its physical challenge and theatrical presence. She graduated from Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts as a dance major in 2017 and is now pursuing a BFA at SUNY Purchase in New York. Avery has studied classically in ballet as well as the Graham and Cunningham techniques.
CHANTAL EDWARDS-MATTHEWS is a Jamaican born movement artist. She started her professional dance career at the age of seven in Freehold New Jersey as a competitive dancer. Chantal traveled for 11 years all over the U.S with her dance company Freehold Academy of Performing Arts. She studied styles such as contemporary, ballet, modern, Jazz, hip hop and tap. While attending UHART, Chantal joined Island reflections Dance Theater Co. IRDTC added styles like African, Folk, Horton and Caribbean to her repertoire (2016) . In 2018 she joined Nightfall Hartford where she studied & performed puppetry and theater. After 2018 her dance career continued to grow as a solo artist taking on commercial projects such as Hartford’s Anti Litter Campaign (2019).Chantal is currently dancing with Lauren Horn’s new work “Renaissance Gyal and Deborah Goffes “Scapegoat Garden”. Both bodies of work offer a residency premiering in summer 2023.
Originally from Frederick, Maryland, Rachael began her dance training under the direction of Joyce Morrison at the Frederick School of Classical Ballet. While performing as a member of the Urbana High School Dance Company under the direction of Stephanie Weigelt, she was named a Maryland All-State Dancer. She furthered her dance training by attending summer intensives at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, North Carolina School for the Arts, the Kansas City Ballet School, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Rachael then went on to graduate from Mercyhurst University in 2013 with a BA in dance. Since graduation, she has danced professionally with Ballet Fleming, Fort Wayne Ballet, and Ballet Hartford. In January 2020, Rachael Co-Founded New England Ballet Theatre, a professional ballet company serving the greater Hartford region, where she currently performs and works as co-artistic director.
Brandon is a dance technique instructor, choreographer, director, and photographer, residing along the CT shoreline. Currently teaching for Shoreline Ballet in Guilford CT, and works as Social Media Coordinator for Sonia Plumb Dance Company in Hartford CT. Brandon is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance. He also holds a B.F.A. in Performing Arts with concentrations in Dance and Choreography from Wichita State University. While at CWRU, Brandon has been given the privilege to perform in two technologically driven works by Gary Galbraith. One of which, Imagined Odyssey, was performed in collaboration with Interactive Commons and Microsoft. Furthermore, at CWRU, he had the privilege to perform in works by guest artists, Larry Keigwin and Pam Tanowitz. Professionally, Brandon danced with River Valley Dance Project (CT) and Grant Jacoby & Dancers (MA). Brandon takes every opportunity to continue his professional development by attending intensives and master classes. Such include a Choreography Intensive with Urbanity Dance (Summer 2018) in Boston MA, a week-long dance intensive with David Dorfman Dance (Summer 2019) at Connecticut College, New London CT, and an Online Dance Professional Workshop with American Dance Festival (summer 2021).
Justin “JuS” Hughes is a versatile musician and mover(dancer) From Bloomfield, CT who has made his mark in the industry. JuS has been singing and dancing since the age of 6 starting with genres such as African, Tap, Ballet, Jazz, and Modern. Working and touring with artists such as Madusa from def Poetry Jam, Pharaoh Monch, and Slum village for the “Beats For Peace Tour” and sharing the stage with New Edition, Take 6, and Casely, JuS has also gained exposure to Sony/BMG Music entertainment. As a Choreographer, JuS has choreographed for newly signed artists in the industry and performed in front of Industry Executives from BET. Being an R&B, Soul, and Hip Hop singer, JuS has been able to utilize his talents and electrify every stage with his versatile performance. From attending Berklee College of Music in the heart of Boston, MA, to CEO, JuS of JuS Move Studios has become a well-known name throughout the East Coast.
Savana Jones is a native of Hartford and at age eight she began her studies in dance at The Artist Collective doing African dance under the tutelage of Aca Lee Thompson. From that point, she continued studying many styles of dance including jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern, and social dancing. Graduating as a dance major from The Hartford Conservatory in 2009, is now a well-known dance instructor and choreographer in the greater Hartford district.
Geo is a dancer/choreographer from Peru. He and his family moved to Connecticut when he was 13. Art was always a part of his life since both grandfather and uncle played Peruvian musical instruments. He learned street dancing, and he street performed with his neighborhood friends at age 11. After moving to the U.S., he stopped dancing to focus on school and to learn the culture of his new country. By freshman year of high school, he tried to get into the Hip-hop dance community in Connecticut and New York, and a year later he performed with Neighborhood Studios’ Breakdancing Shakespeare at Hartford Stage.
IMMIX Dance Project is a contemporary dance company centered around collaborating with local artists to create new work and performance opportunities. With a focus on building community and connections, the group seeks to support dancers, choreographers and companies and to help each other grow both individually and together. The company was born out of a desire to collaborate with local artists in an effort to grow both individually and together. The four core collaborators Lindsay Castonguay-Hany, Meghan McDermott, Christine Perry and Tessa Grunwald have been dancing together since 2013 and have a strong connection both in the studio and out. They created Immix Dance Project as an outlet to generate ideas, push each other creatively, and spend time together doing what they love.
(New England Ballet Theater Co.) From North Jersey, Lucie trained at Petrov Ballet studio. Lucie graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and minor in Exercise Science at Mercyhurst University. At Mercyhurst Lucie participated in student and guest choreography as well as choreographing pieces herself. Lucie has had the opportunity to dance with SoMar Dance Works, the Erie Bayhawks, interned and preformed with Ballet Concerto in Fort Worth for their 2019 summer performance. Lucie was also an RA and participated in Orlando Ballet Summer intensive 2019, Zion Dance Project’s Summer Series 2020, and Ballet Hartford summer project Awakening2021. Lucie is currently a company artist with New England Ballet Theatre of Connecticut!
Sinque a.k.a Sinqwezzy of was born and raised out of New Haven, CT. Dance has been a part of his life since a young age. He has received his Bachelors of Arts in Theater from Eastern CT State University with a concentration in acting, dance, and directing. He now coaches a hip hop dance team by the name of “The Wolf Gang ” , and dance instructor at “The Lab ” in Meriden, CT. Sinque is the founder of Sinqwezzy Productions, a production company focused on delivering out of the box creative content on and behind the camera. He continues to train in his field to better himself as a dancer and an all around creative.
Director of Theater Kyle Reynolds
Mr. Reynolds is an award-winning director with an accomplished career in theater education and directing. Under his instruction, his students have achieved successful careers in Broadway and off-Broadway productions and national tours. At the college level, Reynold’s students have also gained acceptance to elite musical theater universities: Baldwin Wallace, Shenandoah, Ithaca, Boston Conservatory, New York University Tisch, and the University of Michigan. Reynolds, a performer himself, continues to be inspired by the creativity and hunger for musical theater training at KO. He has transformed our theater program over the last few years into a triple-threat curriculum and, as a result, led our program to become award-winning after winning “Best Musical” in the State of Connecticut for Kingswood Oxford’s 2020 production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which was centered in the establishing our program as a vehicle to promote student awareness, cultural competency, and courageous conversations in both an entertaining and educational manner. The school was awarded “Best Musical” again in 2022 for 9 to 5: The Musical and Best Choreographer Showcase in 2021.
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Thoroughly Modern MillIe
Students can register for several artistic electives to further their craft within a process-based learning environment. Students learn the following skills in the following classes.
Students will engage in the art of public speaking to become more comfortable with their communication skills and presenting material to a group of people. We will study various aspects, techniques, and strategies to assist in the utmost successful delivery possible. The skills learned include informative speaking, persuasive speaking, imagery, debate, eye contact, posture, diction, establishing credibility, and research.
Introduction to Musical Theater
This triple-threat class focuses on singing, dancing, and acting within an introductory setting. Students are assigned condensed scene study projects, audition prep repertoire, and choreography. Students begin by researching characters and researching repertoire material. This class heavily focuses on the importance of ensemble.
Students engage in several small ensemble numbers that build on the attributed combination of incorporating singing, acting, and dancing into one piece. Students work on both contemporary and classical work to further their repertoire.
Advanced Musical Theory
After building your introductory skills, we move into a more advanced setting where students learn a variety of training/technical skills to build their theatrical craft. Students dive into full-length monologues, songs, and choreography pieces. Students participate in a number of full-length scene study pieces, along with several audition prep opportunities. By this point, students should have built a repertoire book should they be interested in applying to BFA Musical Theater Programs.
Kingswood Oxford offers several performance opportunities throughout the academic school year.
Almost Maine, Arabian Nights, Melancholy Play, Rabbit Hole, and a unique hybrid production, Poems that Wander, featuring the poetry of Symposium author Tracy K. Smith set to dance and music in 2021. In the fall of 2022, the actors performed Hyper-Focus, a play about ADHD awareness. Following the production, the playwright, a neuropsychologist, a school counselor, and students discussed the diagnosis with the audience and its impact.
Kingswood Oxford is home to a ground-breaking choreographer showcase, which brings world-class choreographers to campus to work and collaborate with students. Names like Mary Cadorette-Daly, Avery Casasanta, Rosie Karabetos, and Geo Mantilla bring their knowledge, talent, and inspiration to young thespians and dancers, working with them for over two months in what culminates as an epic performance by both the choreographer teachers and their students.
These choreographers are working actors, Broadway performers, dancers, musicians, photographers, arts advocates, athletic dancers, ballerinas, and street dancers.
9 to 5: The Musical (Halo Award winner for Best High School Play in Connecticut 2022) Annie, Chicago, Grease, Hello Dolly, Pippin, Thoroughly Modern Millie (Halo Award winner for Best High School Play in Connecticut 2020)
Spring Student-Directed Plays
One acts or cabaret
The 585-seat Roberts Theater
A malleable Black Box Theater
A professional Dance Studio