Meet the 2023 Guest Faculty
Claudia Benack – Associate Teaching Professor, Voice, Carnegie Mellon University, Claudia received both her BFA and MFA degrees in Vocal Performance from CMU’s School of Music where she studied voice with Beatrice Krebs and Opera Workshop with Mildred Miller. She continued her vocal studies with Ellen Faull of the Juilliard School, the late Margaret Hoswell of the Manhattan School of Music, and Gary Race, formerly of the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Iowa. Benack is a member of NATS, Sigma Alpha Iota, and has served as Vice-President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of NSAL. As a performer, Benack is comfortable in a broad range of settings. In the operatic genre, she is an award-winning lyric soprano: MTNA National First place winner in Voice (1983), NSAL Regional winner and National semi-finalist (1987) and recipient of the Minna Kaufmann Ruud Fund grant. She was a leading soprano for twenty years with Pittsburgh Opera Theater, and performed frequently with Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pennsylvania Opera Workshop, and other regional opera companies. Benack also boasts an impressive array of musical theater credits. Favorite productions include BABY (Arlene), THE SOUND OF MUSC (Maria), Guys and Dolls (Sarah), OKLAHOMA! (Laurey), A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (Charlotte), OF THEE I SING (Benson), and MY FAIR LADY (Eliza). Benack is a true advocate and promoter of healthy singing through solid vocal technique and training and continues her studies in vocal teaching by attending singing workshops throughout the country and working with numerous vocal therapists and throat doctors. She also maintains her own thriving private studio. Benack’s favorite part of her career has become watching and enjoying former and present students appear in countless national tours and regional productions. Broadway shows that presently have or have had her students as cast members include 42ND STREET, JERSEY BOYS, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, MARY POPPINS, WICKED, 9 TO 5, DRACULA, FLOWER DRUM SONG, RENT, THE PAJAMA GAME, GOOD VIBRATIONS, ALL SHOOK UP, THE PRODUCERS and PACIFIC OVERTURES.
Victoria Bussert – Head of Musical Theatre, Baldwin Wallace University, Victoria Bussert has been working as a professional director for more than 30 years. New York credits include THE GIG at Manhattan Theatre Club, DUST AND DREAMS at the YorkTheatre and concert stagings of THE BREAK UP NOTEBOOK: THE LESBIAN MUSICAL, FACTORY GIRLS and THE CIRCUS IN WINTER at New World Stages. Regionally, her work has been seen at Goodspeed Opera, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse, Portland Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, Firebrand Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland Playhouse, Dobama Theatre, Beck Center for the Arts, Pegasus Players, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and Great Lakes Theatre where she serves as Resident Director; her opera direction has been seen at Anchorage Opera, Piedmont Opera, Pennsylvania Opera Theatre, Skylight Opera and Cleveland Opera. Victoria directed national tours of INTO THE WOODS, BARNUM, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, GUYS AND DOLLS, THE SECRET GARDEN and THE WHO’S TOMMY. International credits include the Danish Premieres of AVENUE Q (2012 Reumert nomination) and [title of show] for the Fredericia Theatre along with the Danish and London premieres of LIZZIE. Victoria is the Director of Music Theatre for Baldwin Wallace University.
Kevin Covert – Director of Musical Theatre and Assistant Professor of Theatre, Shenandoah University. As an Actor, he has been seen in the Original Broadway casts of SPAMALOT, MEMPHIS (Fred Astaire Nominee 2010), and most recently the hit revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING starring Daniel Radcliffe, Darren Criss and Nick Jonas. Kevin can be heard on the Original Broadway Cast Albums of all three. He has toured the country with SOUTH PACIFIC, CATS, GRAND HOTEL, and the 50th Anniversary production of OKLAHOMA!. In addition to being a Broadway Actor, Kevin also serves as one of Tony Award Winner Christopher Gattelli’s (NEWSIES) associates, working with him on the Broadway revival of SOUTH PACIFIC as well as the World Premier of EMMET OTTER at the Goodspeed Musicals. He has directed and choreographed all across the US. Kevin has studied with Jose Quintero, Craig Carnelia and Fred Chappell. Kevin is a proud BFA Music Theatre graduate of Florida State University.
Brian Kremer, Assistant Professor of Voice and Music Theatre, Elon University. Brian received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University and his Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music. At Elon, Brian teaches courses in voice specializing in contemporary singing and performance styles including music theatre, rock, pop, jazz, country, R&B and Hip-Hop; and vocal coaches main-stage musical productions. Brian’s current and former students can be seen performing on Broadway, off-Broadway, on tours and and at various concert and commercial venues. As a performer, Brian’s has been seen in operas and musicals with various companies across the country. He has extensive experience performing in different commercial capacities, having fronted “rock” bands, and performed in various venues including jazz clubs, coffee shops, concert halls, and outdoor festivals. Beyond the classroom and stage, Brian is researching and writing The Singing Teacher’s Guide to Transgender Voices; a resource intended to aid in the development of a successful vocal pedagogy for the training of transgender singers. He has presented on this topic on several occasions including the Music Theatre Educators Alliance (Oslo, Norway), The Voice Foundation Symposium (Philadelphia, PA), and the International Congress of Voice Teachers (Stockholm, Sweden). Brian lives in North Carolina with his wife Jen and his 6-year-old daughter Harlequinne. He loves playing basketball and tennis and secretly obsesses over all-things superheroes! He also maintains Kremer Voice Design, a private voice studio providing individualized vocal instruction. www.kremervoicedesign.com.
Paul Whitthorne – Professor of Acting, NYU, A veteran actor with Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theater, TV and Film credits, Paul Whitthorne has been teaching and directing at NYU-Tisch School for the Arts for over a decade. His teaching is rooted in the work of his mentor, Richard Feldman, and John Stix, both of whom he studied with as part of Group 24 at The Juilliard School. He lives In New York City with his wife and daughters.
Krisha Marcano – Associate Professor of Theatre Dance, UNCSA, Krisha Marcano – Associate Professor of Theatre Dance, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Entrepreneurial Studies for the past seven years at UNCSA’s School of Drama. After receiving her BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase, Krisha danced with companies like The Martha Graham Dance Company and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre for the first six years of her career. She then spent the next seventeen years on Broadway in hits like Fosse (1st national tour); Disney’s Aida; Sweet Charity; originated the role of “Squeak” in Oprah’s The Color Purple (2005); and Motown the Musical. She went on to earn her MBA in Entrepreneurship and launch The Artistry Center in 2016 to help performing artists with artistic and entrepreneurial wellness. Professor Marcano has had the privilege of choreographing every musical at UNCSA and consulting on several plays since 2016. In 2022 Krisha made her directorial debut with Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous by Pearl Cleage, and looks forward to expanding her directorial career in the coming years. #YourArtisGoodBusiness.
Call 561-651-4376 for more information.