Ilana Zahava Abusch is a Northwestern University trained theatre artist, dedicated to arts education and accessibility. She served as both Artistic Director and Winter Event Director of Seesaw Theatre, a student theatre board which produces sensory-based theatre experiences for autistic and otherwise disabled children. Her play Without Wings, written for young audiences, was workshopped at Purple Crayon Player’s PLAYground Festival in March 2021, produced at White Plains High School in February 2022, and was the inaugural production for Philly Children’s Theater in July 2022. She wrote the book for the new musical adaptation In Wonderland, which was commissioned and produced by the Play Group Theatre (music and lyrics by James Powers). She is also the current Summer Teen Conservatory Director at The Play Group Theatre. In addition to her work with children, Ilana is devoted to directing classical theatre. She served as Literary Manager and Executive Director of Lovers & Madmen, a student theatre board which produces classic and classically-inspired theatre. She most recently directed an outdoor, roaming version of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on Northwestern’s beautiful campus.
Jill Abusch (Artistic Director) is co-founder, Camp Director and resident second mommy to many students and alumni of The Play Group Theatre. As Artistic Director, Jill has guided PGT’s innovative theatre programs from their inception. She is proud to have directed the Teen Conservatory summer writing program for several years, resulting in the original musicals Pieces of Reality, Unpaved Roads, Second Cup and Foolish Mortals. Jill also co-wrote the book and lyrics for Girl Talk, Piper and Family for Sale. She has taught a variety of classes from Little Theatre to Advanced Acting Technique and has gone into schools and camps to train teachers on the use of drama in the classroom. Highlights of Jill’s PGT directing career include: Little Shop of Horrors, Into the Woods, Children of Eden, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Dining Room, West Side Story, Godspell, Guys and Dolls, Once on this Island, Hair, Romeo and Juliet, 13, The Tempest, Fiddler on the Roof and The Winter's Tale. Jill is a college counsellor, specializing in college admissions and auditions for theater and conservatory programs. She is also a public speaking coach and enjoys working with professionals across a variety of industries. Jill studied acting and directing at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the Classical Studio at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she earned a BFA in Drama. She adores working alongside her husband and partner, Steven, and is especially proud of their best productions, by far: Aviva and Ilana.
A Southern girl through and through, Ashley Samona Baker is originally from Atlanta, Georgia but now calls New York City home! She studied Theatre and Sociology at Tulane University in New Orleans and earned her Master's Degree in Acting from Columbia University. As a performer, she's toured the country playing iconic females like Harreit Tubman and Wilma Rudolph. Ashley's played both men and women, queens and clowns in Shakespeare's plays. She made her TV debut last year in Godfather of Harlem with Forest Whitaker and you can catch her in commercials this summer for: Shark Week, Chopped, Nickelodeon and Amazon. Ashley has taught at The Hartford Stage, Two River Theater & CUNY. She's working on her first book that's a mixture of anecdotes, essays, and inspiration - with a dose of silliness!
Rachel Berger (Programs Director) first studied acting at The Play Group Theatre as a student. She is very excited to return on staff to teach a new generation of PGTers! She recently graduated from Northwestern University where she received a BA in theater with minors in French and creative writing. She has completed Northwestern�s advanced fiction and playwriting sequences. In addition to writing, she has acted in many student productions, including several student written plays and new works. Endless thanks to Jill, Steven, and the PGT family for making PGT her home for so many years.
Yoni Bronstein is a proud PGT alum and couldn�t be happier about coming back to PGT to be on the staff. A recent graduate of Brandeis University, Yoni studied Theatre Arts with a concentration in acting and a minor in Philosophy. He was a member of Boris� Kitchen Sketch Comedy Troupe, for which he wrote, directed and acted. Credits include Urinetown, School House Rock, Marvin�s Room, You�re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and The Laramie Project. Yoni is a current student of the Barrow Group, and recently appeared in Oy! at the AlphaNYC Theatre Company and Twelfth Night at MaineStage Shakespeare.
Ryan Buchanan is a freelance music director, theater director, composer, and performer based in New York City. He also works as a teaching artist, specializing in Shakespeare, musical theater, choral singing, technical theater, and social-emotional learning. He is an alumnus of New York University, where he completed a bachelor's in music theory & composition and master's in music education. Ryan has worked with Columbia University, New York University, No. 11 Productions, The Dwight School, and New York Educational Theater Festival, and has performed with Brooklyn Theater Club, Distinguished Choirs International New York, Inspire: A Choir for Unity, New York Musical Theater Festival, and New York Chamber Choirs. Ryan is also an Artistic Director of Rebel Shakespeare Company in Massachusetts, where he has directed ten Shakespeare productions for students aged 8-18.
Logan Culwell-Block is a music director and conductor whose New York music direction credits include a 2013 Off-Broadway production of The Civil War, which he developed with TheatreWorks USA; national tours of Junie B. Jones, Henry and Mudge, and A Christmas Carol; Sweeney Todd, Nine, and Smile at NYU Tisch; Grease, The Full Monty, and All Shook Up at Cortland Repertory Theatre; and Between Time and Timbuktu, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and The Wiz at the Hangar Theatre. As a writer and theatre historian, his work has appeared in print and online for Playbill, and at MusicalTheaterSongs.com. Logan holds degrees in musical theatre performance and conducting from Oklahoma City University and Ithaca College, and he is a resident of White Plains.
Sara Coombs is thrilled to be back at The Play Group Theatre where she is resident choreographer and heads PGT's Dance program. Her past choreography credits include: Big River, The Full Monty, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Forever Plaid, Toad of Toad Hall and The Drowsy Chaperone. She was last seen on the Barnstormers’ Stage as Christine Patterson (Girl in the audience) in One Man, Two Guvnors. In Boston she has been seen on many stages in productions of: 42nd Street, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Singin' in the Rain, Curtains and Follies. Her favorite Boston credit was a play that she, along with her classmates wrote and created, called Necessary Monsters. Sara teaches dance throughout New York City, including Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Center. She graduated with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from The Boston Conservatory.
Aiden Dreskin is a Westchester-based director, teaching artist, and proud alum of PGT (class of 2012). He earned his BFA in Theatre from NYU Tisch, where he studied with the New Studio on Broadway and Playwrights Horizons. Directing credits include A-Door Me (NY New Works), Living with Olivia Cadence Donovan (NYTF Winterfest), and Macbeth (The Brick Shakespeare Festival). Aiden has worked as a teaching artist with Kidstage Colorado, the 52nd Street Project, and ARC Westchester. He is ecstatic to be jumping back into the action at NoBro!
Sarah French is a lighting and scenic designer, scenic artist, editor, and tea aficionado originally from Portland, Maine and now based in Westchester. Her favorite design credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Dead Man's Cellphone, The Rocky Horror Show, Saudi Scenes, and The Dinosaur Musical. Sarah has BAs in Theatre Production and Design and Publishing (with an Arts Administration minor) from Susquehanna University and she has encompassed every possible backstage role at one time or another, which comes in handy in her roles as technician, scenic artist, and Design/Tech teacher at PGT! When not hanging from the catwalks or deep in a book, Sarah can be found crafting, winning trivia nights, and running D&D campaigns.
Rachel Goren (Education Director) is thrilled to be a part of the PGT family! She received a BS ED in Elementary Education and Music from SUNY Geneseo, an MA in Theatre Education from NYU, and an Advanced Degree in School Building and District Leadership from Hunter College. Most recently, Rachel directed the K-8 Drama Program at P.S. 126/M.A.T in New York City, and worked in the Education Department at the Atlantic Theatre Company, followed by a position as School Administration Intern to the District Director of Fine and Performing Arts at Byram Hills School District. Rachel is dedicated to artistic education and believes that the arts are an important part of every child’s life. She loves being at PGT where she can fulfill her passions for both theatre and education and is incredibly grateful to her adorable 4-year-old son, Ari, precious 1-year-old son, Levi, her husband, Evan, and her dog, Parker, for all of their unconditional love and support.
Eli Gonzalez (Music Director) is a NYC-based actor, singer, and voice teacher originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. Eli recently received a Master of Music in Vocal Performance: Music Theatre along with an Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy from New York University where he worked as an Adjunct Voice Instructor. His favorite credits include working alongside Stephen Schwartz (WICKED, PIPPIN) and Charles Strouse (BYE BYE BIRDIE, ANNIE) under the direction of Tony-nominated actor, Gabriel Barre, on the newly-revised version of RAGS, and playing “Billy Crocker” in Anything Goes in Concert with the NYU Broadway Orchestra under the direction of Broadway director/conductor, Ted Sperling. Eli is SO EXCITED to be working with PGT this season! .
Keiji Ishiguri is thrilled and honored to join the PGT community and help a new generation of fearless, unbelievably talented artists fulfill their dreams! After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Music from Yale University in 2011, Keiji has worked as a free-lance music director, pianist, piano teacher, vocal coach, and arranger throughout Westchester and New York. He is currently serving as a piano teacher and vocal ensemble coordinator for the Crestwood Music Education Center and arranges for the New York based indie rock ensemble, October Project. While at college, he played a whole lot of piano and did a whole lot of singing. He conducted the Whiffenpoofs as well as a number of musicals, and served as a vocal coach for the Yale School of Drama. He loves Bananagrams, Green Machine, and spoiling his niece.
KiDané Kelati is an actor, comedian, and writer from Hollywood, FL. He holds a BFA in Performing Arts acting from AMDA College & Conservatory of the Performing Arts. KiDané has performed for crowds across Los Angeles, New York, and Miami, FL and can be seen as JOSH in 32 Weeks, an unforgettable amnesia millennial drama now available on Amazon Prime. KiDané is also a company member at Los Angeles gemstone, Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon. Notable roles include: Francis Flute, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Pip in Moby Dick - Rehearsed, receiving memorable mentions from LA Times, Splash Mountain Magazines, Messenger Mountain News, and more.
Stella was born and raised in Southern California and moved to New York City during the pandemic. She had the great pleasure of performing alongside theatre greats at the historic Hollywood Bowl in Into the Woods as Lucinda. When she’s not on stage, she loves to help kids find their light through singing and acting. In Los Angeles, she taught at YADA (Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts) where she directed over 15 musicals.
Nick started with PGT during the summer of 2009. Nick has been a music director for MainStage and StudioStage at PGT during the year, and has been teaching voice privately as well. At PGT, Nick was the music director for My Son Pinocchio, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Bat Boy: The Musical and Footloose. Previously, Nick was commissioned to write a set of choral songs for the Young Men’s Ensemble of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, which have been performed throughout the year, including at a televised event from the LA Music Center. Nick has been singing and teaching voice for many years, and holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Originally from Los Angeles, Nick sang with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and LA Opera Chorus.
Malachi Nimmons is a Resident Company member of New York City's longest running production, Chicago City Limits Improv Theater. He has been performing with Chicago City Limits since 2011, and has played several different venues in New York and across the country. Malachi is also a stand up comic, and has performed all across the country with several notable comics including Bobcat Goldthwait, Damon Wayans Jr., and Hannibal Buress. Along with his stage work, his commercial work can currently be seen on Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Malachi also produces a weekly improv show in Manhattan, featuring the best independent improv and sketch teams in the city. He is thrilled to be a part of The Play Group Theatre's team!
Barbara Orwick earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Manhattanville College in 1983 and has been making music in Westchester and Fairfield Counties ever since. Barb’s first position at The Play Group Theatre was Musical Director for PGT’s 1995 production of Little Shop of Horrors. Since then she has accompanied and musical directed over fifty productions and events at PGT - including the inaugural student Cabaret and the staff Benefit parody Avenue PGT. Barbara composed music for several PGT original musicals including Family for Sale and Girl Talk. As a piano accompanist, she has also worked throughout the area for various schools, churches, community choirs, singers, instrumentalists and theater organizations. She is currently keyboard player and vocalist for a classic rock band known as SR2 (formerly Shake, Rabbis and Roll) and accompanies a group called Poperatic, a non-profit group of singers who perform at area nursing homes and other functions. By day, Barbara can be found in the Accounting/Finance department at Taro Pharmaceuticals in Hawthorne, NY. Barbara is pleased to now bring her years of experience in financial management to The Play Group Theatre where she is currently Bookkeeper.
Jeff Ostermueller is a Manhattan-based actor, singer, musical director, teacher, pianist, filmmaker and coach. Most recent credits include Music Directing The Drowsy Chaperone and Peter and the Starcatcher with the St. Bart's Players and acting in the Take Ten Play Festival, both in NYC. Other recent MD credits include Joseph... Dreamcoat and Dear Edwina, as well as Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Flat Rock Playhouse. As an actor, he is best known for touring with the musical Spring Awakening, working regionally around the US and at dozens of venues throughout NYC, as well as appearing in short films. Favorite Credits: Jean-Michel in La Cage aux Folles, Brad in Rocky Horror, L.M. in Pump Boys & Dinettes, Jamie in The Last 5 Years, and Franky in Forever Plaid. No work has been more satisfying than collaborating with NYU TISCH and BMI composers to develop new, original works. As an educator, Jeff has a private voice studio and works with Applause NYC and Broadway Kids Auditions. BFA in Music Theatre, Elon University. Currently working towards a Master's Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University
Keith Michael Pinault is a Boston-born, New York-based actor, director, educator, and musician. Theatre credits include Endlings (New York Theatre Workshop, American Repertory Theater), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Classic Stage Company), All's Well That Ends Well (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), and Mojo (Theatre on Fire). He can also be seen in the webseries The New Neighborhood and Tales of Toverud and heard on the podcasts SPR - Superhuman Public Radio and Amber Alert. Keith has also worked as a teaching artist for Classic Stage Company, The Leadership Program, and the Linklater Center/World Economic Forum. He holds a BFA from Hofstra University and an MFA from Columbia University's School of the Arts.
Brett is thrilled to be a part of the Play Group Theatre teaching throughout PGT's acting programs, residencies and corporate workshops. Brett is a recent graduate of the Columbia University MFA Acting Program where he was the recipient of the Bob Hope Fellowship. Favorite Columbia credits include The Maids (Solange), Blood Wedding (Bridegroom) and Waiting for Godot (Estragon). Other favorite credits include The Comedy of Errors (Baltazar) at Classic Stage company, Left in Ink (Tony) at Cleveland Public Theatre, The Pitmen Painters (Young Lad) at the Beck Center, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Alfred/Horatio) at Performance Network. Brett has performed internationally in Greece and Ukraine, and apprenticed with Jeff Daniel's acclaimed Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, MI. As a teaching artist, Brett has worked with Classic Stage Company, Great Lakes Theatre, and Baldwin Wallace University's Conservatory Outreach Program. Brett is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.
Alexandra Spieth is a writer and director from Brooklyn. Recently she wrote and starred in BRIC TV’s original series, 86’d and the original series Blank My Life, which spans 4 seasons. In June 2022, Alexandra began the festival circuit with her written and directed horror-comedy debut feature Stag (logline: A loner must fight for a second chance at redemption when she is invited to her estranged BFF's bachelorette party). Recently, Stag screened at Brooklyn Film Festival and Female Eye Film Festival (Winner of the “Best Thrills and Chills” Feature). Upcoming: Portland Horror Film Festival. Alexandra has acted in over 20 professional productions, including work at Irondale Ensemble, Everyman Theatre, and NYC’s The Public Theatre. Her pilot “Immaculate” was workshopped at the Orchard Project. Carnegie Mellon University Grad.
Hannah Stephens is a New York-based actor, director, and teaching artist, and she is thrilled to be joining the staff at The Play Group Theatre! She is originally from Birmingham, AL, where she graduated from the University of Montevallo with a BFA in Acting. Hannah has toured the country with both the Missoula Children's Theatre and the National Theatre for Children. In New York, you can find her teaching dance and musical theatre classes all over the city. She performs regularly at The Producers' Club and is a resident director with Theatre [Untitled].
Alex Taylor is a Brooklyn-based actor who is thrilled to be joining PGT! Some recent roles include Macy in The Cake at Williamston Theatre in Williamston, MI, Mal in Javi Rivera DeBruin’s Luciérnagas with National Queer Theater, Aufidius in Coriolanus with Hudson Shakespeare Company, General Morgan in Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon at FringeNYC, and Antony/Calpurnia in Barefoot Shakespeare Company’s Julia Caesar, which was nominated for several 2021 BroadwayWorld Off-Broadway awards. She holds a BA in Theatre with an Acting Concentration from Barnard College of Columbia University and is a certified actor combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors.
Liz Tancredi Gillam is an actor and teaching artist based in NYC and is beyond excited to be a part of PGT!!! A few favorite New York and regional acting credits include These Seven Sicknesses and Restoration Comedy at The Flea Theatre (both drama desk nominated), Rough Crossing, Failure: A Love Story, and
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The Play Group Theatre Westchester's Theater for children and teens
One North Broadway | White Plains, NY 10601 | Google Tour >>
(914) 946-4433 | Fax: (914) 946-1336 | www.playgroup.org