Theater has always been my happy place. From the first time I stepped onto a stage as a young child in a classroom play, to seeing my very first Broadway show, Peter Pan starring Sandy Duncan, I have been captivated. The sights, the sounds, the scents - whether on stage, backstage or in the audience - there is simply nothing like the magic of the theater. My goal is to bring that wonder and magic to our students.
Envision Theater was founded on the principle that all children are natural storytellers with voices that deserve to be heard. Their boundless imagination and creativity, coupled with the skills, confidence and discipline a theater program provides will help any child's success navigating this 21st century world.
At Envision Theater, we are committed to developing performing arts programming with a warm, professional staff of theater artists who are committed to the process as much (if not more than) the product.
Daniel Barrett is a New York-based director, educator, teaching artist, and professional actor. Daniel is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and holds a Masters Degree in Educational Theatre from NYU as well as a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Miami. Recent Directing Credits: Matilda Jr., The Music Man Jr., The Laramie Project, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Aladdin Jr., Shrek The Musical Jr., Ensign-Darling New Voices/Vocal Fellowship Concert at The Bushnell Theatre ‘21, ‘22 (Asst. Dir.). Daniel has worked with professional theatre companies all over the U.S. and has served as a theatrical educator, director, and teaching artist for many youth theatre programs over the past 10 years. Some of those organizations include the Queens College Summer Theatre Program, New City Music Theatre, Performing Arts Workshops, PBT Summer Theatre Program, PPT4C Summer Theatre, and The Frost Preparatory Program. Daniel is a 2022 BroadwayWorld Award Winner and is represented for work in Theatre, Film, and Television by Bret Adams Artists’ Agency.
James is a professional actor and educator. He has served as a faculty member and as a department chair at various colleges. James received his MFA in Classical Theater/Acting at the University of Delaware Professional Theater Training Program (PTTP), where he received a number of scholarships and fellowships. James worked as a professional actor in professional, regional, and off-Broadway theaters. James has also served as a member of the Society of the American Fight Directors, and as a resident fight choreographer for colleges and theaters. James produced a children’s production for Broadway producer Stewart Lane, and has worked as an actor for world renowned director Tadashi Suzuki. He is a director at Usdan Camp for the Performing Arts, teaches many workshops in stage combat, acting, and movement, and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA).
Calob Congdon graduated summa cum laude from Hofstra University in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education. His academic honors include two semesters on the Dean’s List and six semesters on the Provost’s List.
An accomplished baritone, Calob has performed with the Hofstra University Chorale for four years and the Chamber Choir for two years. He also enjoyed singing with the Hofstra Jazz 20 Choir for three years. Calob’s time with the Hofstra University music department has allowed him to perform at the most prestigious venues in New England such as the Cathedral of Incarnation in Garden City, NY.
Musical Theater has played an integral role in Calob's experience as a performer. Throughout the past 18 years, he has played iconic roles such as Wadsworth (Clue), Crutchie (Newsies), and Motel (Fiddler on the Roof). Calob believes that performing in a musical production is one of the most rewarding experiences a child can be a part of. The sense of camaraderie, aritistry, and joy that he has experienced on the stage is the environment that he strives to create for young performers. Calob is looking forward to once again creating the "magic" of musical theater during his first season with Envision Theater.
GDM has spent his life in theatre and the arts. Starting as a performer, he has gone on to become a director, choreographer, artistic director, company director, fine artist and author. His children’s book entitled “AGNES and the Museum of Art” is available on
Amazon.com. For more information please check out his website at gdmartist.com.
Aisha Ford is an award-winning filmmaker who strives to make films in hope of inspiring others like her to speak their truth. Over the past few years, she has written and directed short films that have been screened at multiple Oscar qualifying film festivals nationwide.
While at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she received the Dean’s Fellowship, the Spike Lee Film Production Grant and the prestigious NYU Wasserman Award for her short film “Royal.” She was also the recipient of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts HBO Scholarship. In 2019, she was chosen as one of the fellow MFAs to attend the Sundance Film Festival, on behalf of the BET Blackhouse Foundation. She followed with her short film, “Cherry Lemonade,” premiering at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2023, she was awarded the Haig Manoogian Production Award and the Roger King Finishing Award for her upcoming film “Brownies.”
Aisha recently imparted her own experience into the writing and directing process for “As Early As Five” for Dove, which centers around Black women’s hair and navigating the lifelong discrimination that comes with hair politics.
Sam Funk is a current second-year candidate for The City University New York School of Professional Studies Master’s in Applied Theatre (CUNY SPS MAAT). From her undergraduate BFA in Theatre Performance, Sam has been interested in using the form of theatre to apply to education and activism work of various capacities. Sam did study abroad applied theatre facilitations in Nicaragua and Argentina, is currently facilitating full-time for a summer contract on Staten Island. Aside from her “on paper” achievements, Sam is passionate about using theatre with young people to help mobilize them to imagine and create the world in which they’d like to live.
Julia Herrero is a graduate of New York University Steinhardt School of Education, where she received her Masters in Educational Theatre. She has been an avid lover of theater since she was young, and has been acting in both educational and professional capacities for over a decade. She is passionate about theater for young audiences, and hopes to encourage curiosity and joy within educational spaces through the magic of storytelling and community. She most recently traveled to Brazil to study Theatre of the Oppressed, and believes that theatre can be a powerful tool in creating a positive world.
Amelia is an NYC based actor and teaching artist. She has a BFA in Acting from Tisch, NYU, where she studied primarily at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute, where she currently teaches Method Acting. While at Tisch, she also studied with Stonestreet Film and TV Studio, Viewpoints with Mary Overlie, Clowning with Christopher Bayes and spent a semester in Dublin. She also has an MA in Educational Theater from Steinhardt, NYU.
Amelia works as an actor and Education Director with Red Monkey Theatre Group in the Bronx, where her roles on the stage have included Hunter in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Silvia in Two Gentlemen of Verona; Chick in Crimes of the Heart. She is a company member with Emit Theatre, bringing immersive Shakespeare to NYC public schools with roles ranging from Gertrude in Hamlet to Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Other theater credits include Sally in Tally’s Folly with Bagaduce Theater, Beatrice in Measure for Measure at America Theater of Actors and she originated the role of Flannery in Mrs. Schrodinger’s Cat at NYC Fringe Festival. Amelia is producing and acting in an on-going production of John Ford Noonan’s one woman show, All She Cares About is the Yankees, which opened in Maine over the summer of 2022. She lives in the Bronx with her husband and two young children.
Ali (Al) Pour Issa is an award-winning storyteller and administrator who has expertise in various professions such as film and theater directing, producing, scriptwriting, literary and script development management, and dramaturgy. He has worked as an artist, administrator, and educator in several countries in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East. In addition to his artistic and administrative work, he has taught at numerous institutions including Pace University, New York Film Academy, Ringling College of Arts and Design, Florida Atlantic University, Yale University, and the University of Washington. He graduated from the School of Drama at Yale University with an M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism in 2011, and holds an M.A. in Dramatic Literature and a B.A. in Scenic Design.
Nathan Kruman has been the musical director of Envision Theater since its inception, and has a rich background in music, stage and film. Nathan has performed as an actor, singer, dancer, pianist, choreographer, and music director in high school, with the University of Pennsylvania’s Mask & Wig and Penn Players ensembles, and more recently with Black Box Studios and Envision Theater. He’s directed, created and staged multiple shows and events at schools and colleges in Philadelphia, Boston, and Bergen County. His on-stage credits include, “Kazablan”, “Cabaret”, Circle Mirror Transformation”, “Working” and his one foray into Shakespeare, “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” Among his other credits are "Aladdin", “To Live Another Summer, To Pass Another Winter”, “Annie”, “Milk and Honey”, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, and numerous original theatre workshops. His favorite Shakespeare play is “King Lear” and favorite character, the Fool.
Sarah Lazar is thrilled to be working with Envision Theater. She is a teaching artist and performer based in New York City who currently works with The Service Learning Project, Anselmo Academy, and The Meeting House. She has previously worked with the after school programs New York Edge and Children’s Arts and Sciences Workshops. Sarah’s numerous theatre credits include touring with TheatreWorks USA and performing nationally and internationally with The Water Coolers. Sarah is also a member of the Actors’ Equity Association, and holds a BFA in Music Theatre from SUNY Buffalo and an MA in Applied Theatre from CUNY School of Professional Studies.
Jamil A.C. Mangan is a seasoned professional actor, director and teaching artist with over 20 years of experience. He is a recipient of two Audelco Awards, Broadway World Best Director Award and the esteemed Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Actor. Jamil has passionately served as a teaching artist, collaborating with renowned arts organizations such as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center where he taught performance technique and poetry. With the Creative Arts Team at CUNY University, Mangan successfully devised theater programming that helped middle school to high school students improve their English Language Arts (ELA) scores. He has imparted his knowledge in playwriting, performance technique, monologue, and scene study at Premiere Stages, located at Kean University, and in numerous in-school residencies. He taught students oratory and communication skills, part of Steve Adubato's Stand & Deliver. As a Judge for the August Wilson (NYC) Semi-Finals for many years, he has contributed to the growth and development of aspiring performing artists. Jamil's expertise and dedication continues to inspire and shape the future of the performing arts.
Stephanie Martinez is a teaching artist, stage manager, and director from Long Island, New York. She holds a BFA in Stage Management from Hofstra University and an M.S.Ed in Educational Theatre from The City College of New York. Stephanie is the resident director of the West Hempstead Secondary School 9-12 Drama Club as well as a teaching artist for Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Queens Theatre, Arts for All, Mainstages, Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts, and the Hofstra University Continuing Education Program. Additionally, you can find her facilitating theatrical programming at various Nassau County libraries. Stephanie is particularly passionate about providing culturally responsive and trauma-informed theatrical education to New York students and schools. She's thrilled to be joining the Envision Theater team!
Victoria Oltarsh has been a professional drama teacher and director for 30 years. She is a Rockland Council of the Arts individual artist recipient and a published lyricist on Atlantic Records with her song, “Lucky Charm.” Her adaptations of classical fairy tales have been performed for school assemblies with the River Light Theater, a touring company of adults. She has previously been employed by Arts in Ed organizations: The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Making Books Sing, Northern Westchester Center for the Arts, Pulse Performing Arts School and Opera New Jersey. She is most recently employed as a Master Teaching Artist at LeAp in NYC, where she teaches story theater, improv and LeAp Onstage, a signature playwriting program, and in-school creative writing classroom literacy residencies. Her teaching experience includes creative movement and mime for actors, original playwriting, lyric writing, and rapid-fire think on your feet comedy style improv.
Ryan is a proud graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts BFA Drama program and the Pig Iron School for Devised Performance MFA program. He grew up in North Carolina but has spent the past 10 years in New York City and Philadelphia. He is an actor, devisor, musician, and teaching artist. All of his work is inspired and led by his passion for clowning, humor, and creative spaces created through play. He has performed around the country on stages in theaters, schools, prisons, shelters, and streets around the world.
Kassandra Pérez is a Cuban-American actor, performer, singer, creator, writer, teaching artist and applied theatre practitioner. She holds a Master of Arts in Applied theatre from CUNY SPS and has a background in art history. Kassandra has worked in numerous off Broadway and regional theatre productions as well as the indie film scene. As a teaching artist, Kassandra has worked with students of various ages and performs and creates lessons that are age appropriate. Her goal is to make art more accessible and assist all in understanding the importance arts education has on society. Through her work she focuses on personal narratives. She believes that personal stories are both educational and healing, and that the more we are able to tell our own story, the better understanding we have of one another and ourselves.
Kassandra can introduce art movements and inspire creativity whilst learning art history in a fun and story driven way. She has experience with playbuilding, devising and facilitation. She also has experience in combining theatre and education such as creating short plays based on historical figures to teach a lesson. Kassandra also assists and mentors students with interests in other artistic endeavors, such as directing and writing. She shares the basics of the particular medium they want to know more about and has even asked for their assistance when directing/writing scenes for a class project. Kassandra is a driven artist who loves what she does and loves to share that with others. She is based in the NY tri-state area.
Tamar Garnick (Polatoff) is originally from Rochester, NY and now lives in Philadelphia with her husband and son. She studied at Cinematique acting school in New Jersey and has been in 4 independent films. She teaches acting to kids, teens, and adults and is so excited to be a part of the Envision Theater team!
Mackie Saylor is a mission-driven arts educator and administrator who is committed to utilizing the arts to build and celebrate our communities. She has worked as a teaching artist with organizations such as CO/LAB Theater Group, Queens Theater, Broadway Bound Kids, and Opening Act, as well as the Broadway Jr. and Arthur Miller Fellowship programs. Currently, Mackie manages Turnaround Arts: NYC, a program of The Kennedy Center and Exploring the Arts. She is also a collaborator with the NYU Verbatim Performance Lab. Previously, Mackie managed education programs at Notes in Motion and Children’s Museum of the Arts. In 2012, she co-founded Ashworth Theatre Company in her hometown of Waukee, IA. She also publishes a monthly arts education newsletter. Mackie holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the Sargent Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University and an MA in Educational Theatre from NYU Steinhardt.
Beth Selter has been working in professional and regional theater for over 30 years. She graduated with a B.A. in Theater Arts from Queens College after performing in Israel while a student at Hebrew University. She then received a post-graduate degree from the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts and interned at the Williamstown Theater Festival. Beth has been directing Youth Theater in New York/New Jersey schools since 1996 and served as Drama Director for the NJY CAMPS at Camp Nesher for 17 years.Additionally, Beth writes and performs her own one-woman Cabaret shows in and around NYC accompanied by the famed Mr. Alex Rybeck. Her shows often explore the challenges of her dual passions for the performing arts and her dedication to living a traditional, Torah inspired life.Beth has also performed with Black Box Studios’ Professional Ensemble group in Teaneck, NJ and the JCC Palisades Players, and she coaches voice, theater and public speaking from her home studio in Wesley Hills, NY.
Emani Bree Simpson is an actor, producer, stage manager, director, and founder of the talent agency, The Real Artists (TRA). The mission of TRA is to create an inspirational environment where artists can hone their crafts, thrive and network to build a career out of their passions. Emani is passionate about collaborating on new works that make the audience think. Recent projects include assistant stage managing "The Black That I Am", stage managing "Dust of Egypt" in the New York Theater Festival, directing for SERIALS with the Fled Collective, associate producing PEA Fest '22 with Breaking and Entering, and house managing at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center in New Jersey. She began her theater career by fully producing an original stage play in 2017 called, "Love is Respect," primarily themed around domestic violence awareness. These experiences have made her a passionate, well-rounded artist who works in a collaborative style to create a safe space and allow for effective problem solving.
Niara Rani is a dancer, choreographer, actress, and visual artist based in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area. In 2019, Niara completed the Broadway Dance Center training program in New York City, and in the following year graduated from Temple University with a bachelor’s
degree in Media Production with a minor in Theater. With over 18 years of dance experience, she has been able to train in various styles from ballet to hip-hop with her favorite being commercial jazz and jazz funk. As a teaching artist, Niara has taught and volunteered for local
schools and daycares doing dance and movement classes. Niara sees
movement as a freeing form of expression that allows a person’s inner
light and joy to shine through. She hopes that through dance, students find confidence and comfortability in who they are and how they show up in the world.
Driven by a need to create, Shay studies Fine Art and English with a minor in Art History at Rutgers. They primarily work within genres of magic realism, surrealism and science fiction. For Envision Shakespeare, they starred as Brutus in Julius Caesar and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, and directed a rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream. College acting credits include Cliff in Something New and various roles in student short films. Outside of the arts, Shay enjoys weightlifting, listening to metal and sword fighting. You can find their art here.
Tehila Strulowitz grew up performing in both camp and school productions, and eventually she began to take interest in the visual arts. She has done social media and graphic design for summer programs, and digital media for multiple schools throughout the years. When not designing on Canva, she is either working in the classroom as an assistant teacher or pursuing her Bachelor's in psychology. Tehila enjoys playing the drums, telling bad jokes, and trying new things - like hair products.
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