Disney Musicals in Schools Teaching Artists
Aaron Gregory, Substitute Teaching Artist
Aaron Derell Gregory is the Community Engagement Specialist at Omaha Performing Arts where he works to broaden O-pa’s community reach through diverse programming and partnerships. Aaron is also a professional dancer, choreographer and educator. He has taught Hip Hop dance nationwide for the Alvin Ailey Arts in Education Program, 92nd Street Y, Harlem School of the Arts, the YMCA and dozens of schools. He also runs his own dance business, Love to Groove Movement School, LLC and LTG Creative, a content creation service. Aaron continues to teach classes for all ages at local studios and arts organizations across Omaha, such as I Am Dance Studio, AP’s Legacy Dance Studio and Omaha Performing Arts. Aaron is a graduate of Morehouse College and holds a Master’s in Dance Education from New York University. This is Aaron’s third year with Disney Musicals in Schools.
Alissa Hanish, Lead Teaching Artist
Alissa Hanish (She/Her) has the three best jobs in the world — mother, teacher and actor. By day, Alissa is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher with Papillion La Vista Community Schools. She is also the Lead Teaching Artist for the Disney Musicals in Schools Program with Omaha Performing Arts. By night, Alissa can be seen in various productions around town. Most recently, she appeared as Amy in Before After as part of BLUEBARN Theatre’s Bonfire Series. Some previous credits include The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods with Papillion La Vista Community Theater, Meg in Little Women the Musical with Chanticleer, Viola in Shakespeare in Love and Nina in Stupid F#%*ing Bird, both with the Omaha Community Playhouse. In between, around, and during all that Alissa is mom to identical twin girls who make every day worth it. This is Alissa’s fourth year with Disney Musicals in Schools and she can’t wait for many more to come!
Allana Pommier, Teaching Artist
Allana Pommier is a Black creative from Omaha, Nebraska who has been in love with performing arts for as long as she can remember. Some of her favorite roles as an actor have been Agent Smith in Dinner with the MacGuffins, the Narrator and STD student in She Kills
Monsters, and Danielle in Language of Angels. Allana had her directorial debut with Creighton’s student production of Riot, Repeat written by Viv Parr and more recently was able to direct a play she wrote titled I Am a Black Woman for the 2022 Omaha Fringe Festival. Allana hopes to continue on this path of artistic endeavors and live out loud with the world around her. This will be Allana’s first year as a Disney Musicals in Schools Teaching Artist.
Anthony Holmes, Teaching Artist
Anthony Holmes is an actor born and raised in Omaha, NE. He attended Benson High School where he performed his first acting role in Frankenstein playing the role of Fredrick. Since then he has performed in many stage and film roles including the Unions production of Bourbon at the Border and Denise Chapman's story of the north freeway More Than NE.
This is Anthony’s third year as a Disney Musicals in Schools Teaching Artist.
Hillary Horner, Teaching Artist
You could say that Hillary Horner’s love of theatre started early in life when her mom starred in a performance of The Man Who Came to Dinner at seven months pregnant. Making her own debut as “Mommy Pig” in a kindergarten performance of The Three Little Pigs, Hillary’s love of theatre continued to grow. She began stage managing Norfolk Community Theatre productions at the age of 13. She received an Associate’s of Art degree from Northeast Community College with an emphasis in theatre in 2006 and Bachelors of Art degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a minor in theatre in 2009. After receiving a Master’s of Museology (that’s museum studies) from University of Washington in Seattle in 2011, Hillary returned to her roots of Norfolk, NE, where she quickly jumped back into the theatre scene. After several years of acting, producing, and directing Norfolk Community Theatre shows, Hillary formed her own theatre company, Rogue Avenue Productions, which specialized in dinner theatres. Since moving to Omaha in 2015, Hillary has joined the local Dinner Detective team and performs on a regular basis around Omaha and Lincoln. When she isn’t involved in a show, Hillary’s full-time role is as Director of Education for the Omaha Children’s Museum. She and her husband love traveling, taking their Harley Davidson out for adventures, going to movies, and relaxing at home with their very spoiled kitten, George. This is Hillary’s second year with Disney Musicals in Schools but first year in the classroom!
Katy Kepler, Teaching Artist
Katy Kepler (she/her/hers) is a theater maker and teaching artist with a focus in directing, devising, performing and stage management. She received her B.S. in Theatre from the College at Brockport and has worked and volunteered with many organizations in Nebraska and New York in a variety of artistic capacities, including the Omaha Theater Company (The Rose), Omaha Performing Arts, The Apollon, The BLUEBARN Theatre, Nebraska Shakespeare, Omaha Girls Rock, the Papillion-LaVista Community Theater, Bellevue Little Theater, Geva Theater Center, Bristol Valley Theater, the Rochester Children's Theater, Blackfriars, and the Rochester Fringe Festival. Katy has dedicated much of her career to working with youth. Past TVY and TYA performance credits include Prancer (world premiere), Stellaluna and Other Tales, Elephant and Piggie’s We Are In a Play, You and Me and the Land of Peas, Music Makers, Mouse on the Move, and Palette of Possibility (world premiere), all with The Rose Theater, as well as The Velveteen Rabbit with the Rochester Children’s Theater. She also directed and co-wrote Farmer Brown, produced at The Rose. Katy has worked extensively with youth both as a creative drama teacher and director. At Bristol Valley Theater, she spearheaded the creation of the annual sketch comedy show, Saturday Afternoon LIVE!, devised and written by teens, along with a sight-specific piece created in collaboration with the Cummings Nature Center. Most recently, she directed James and the Giant Peach at Skutt Catholic High School. She has also spent a wealth of time in the classroom as a teaching artist working with students ages 3-18, including students with exceptionalities. Katy has had the sincerest pleasure to teach in the heart of the Omaha community with organizations like Girls Inc, NorthStar, Completely Kids, and the Children's Hospital. For more information, please visit www.katykepler.com.
Kelsey Schwenker, Substitute Teaching Artist
Boulder native Kelsey Schwenker began her classical ballet training in Colorado and received her B.F.A. in ballet performance, graduating summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma. She performed professionally with Ballet Nebraska/American Midwest Ballet in Omaha for 10 years. Kelsey performed featured roles in Alice in Wonderland, Swing, Swing, Swing!, The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dracula, Momentum and many more.
Kelsey taught dance at several studios in the Omaha area and was co-director for Repertory Ensemble, American Midwest Ballet’s youth performance group for six years. She is proud to have been a teaching artist with the Disney Musicals in Schools program with Omaha Performing Arts for five years.
Kelsi Weston, Teaching Artist
Kelsi Weston has been a teaching artist with the Disney Musicals program for four years. She has her degree in Theater Performance and Management. She has enjoyed performing in several BLUEBARN Theatre, Brigit Saint Brigit, and Great Plains Conference productions over the years. Kelsi has also worked with other non-profit education departments like The Omaha Children's Museum and is currently with The Durham Museum.
Kerron Stark, Teaching Artist
Kerron is the creator and host of, “Mister K’s Clubhouse”, Omaha’s only live-action, educational children’s television series available on YouTube, KPAO Public Access, and DBTv, aimed at children ages 2 to 7 years of age. Graduating from Omaha South High School, Kerron has been heavily involved in the performing arts. In the community, Kerron has been involved with theatre’s such as - Radio Theatre Omaha starring in “The Christmas Pit, “Atlas Slugged”, and “The Grinch Who Came To Dinner”, Blue Barn Theatre starring in “A Very Die Hard Christmas”, SNAP Productions starring in “The Last Supper”, and even the traveling theatre company RESPECT. Kerron has also worked as a teaching artist in various middle schools providing lessons of Social and Emotional Learning. Kerron is a firm believer in following your dreams and enabling children with the skills and opportunities to do just that. “Follow your dreams and you will be.. SIMPLY AMAZING”. This is Kerron's first year as a Disney Musicals in Schools Teaching Artist.
Lisa Kerekes, Teaching Artist
Teaching artist Lisa Kerekes is honored to be working with OPA. The daughter
of a political refugee father & immigrant mum, Ms Kerekes was raised in
Omaha. She holds a self-designed BA in Theatre, Music (opera) & Dance from
The University of Minnesota; and an MFA in Acting & Directing from UMKC.
A professional singer/actor & director, Ms Kerekes is also a trained & summer
forum affiliated teaching artist at Lincoln Center in NYC. A TA for a decadelong
partnership with Tilles Center (a satellite program at Long Island U) Ms
Kerekes teamed-up with teachers and through uniquely reflective,
performance-based course work (K-college) transformed classrooms into stages.
In 2007, most notably in concert with Pre-K STEM programs in her community,
Ms. Kerekes founded a NFP Citizen’s Garage, Inc. On a mission to encourage the
implementation of daily performing arts instruction, her mobile classroom
offers professional development for teachers who seek to innovate. In Omaha,
Ms Kerekes coordinates script development projects with local students. And to
foster the newly emerging work of playwrights and film makers, launches
Marya Lucca-Thyberg, Teaching Artist
Marya Lucca-Thyberg is thrilled to be returning for her fifth year as a Disney Musicals in Schools teaching artist. A freelance director, designer and teaching artist, she received her MFA in directing from University of Nebraska Lincoln and her BFAs in Theatre and Music Education from the University of South Dakota. Lucca-Thyberg has directed and designed for community, university, summer stock and professional theaters throughout Nebraska. In addition, she worked with the Nebraska Theatre Caravan as Education Coordinator and Director of the Caravan. Lucca taught with the University of Nebraska/Lincoln Arts Are Basic aesthetic education program, Omaha and Lincoln Community Theatre class programs and at Bellevue West High School for 16 years. Her most recent directing credits include She Loves Me, Our Town and The Outsider at Bellevue Little Theatre.
Samantha Zarders, Teaching Artist
Samantha is thrilled to be entering her third year as a teaching artist for Disney Musicals In Schools! In addition to her work with DMIS, she serves as the Co-Artistic Director for RESPECT, an educational theatre company in Omaha. She also works as a freelance teaching artist, director and actor throughout the metro area. Samantha is currently a student at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, on track to obtain her bachelor’s degree in Arts Management. She has been involved in several productions in Omaha including The Omaha Community Playhouses', (James and the Giant Peach, Rock of Ages, City of Angels), The Rose Theatre’s, (Newsies), and Kerfuffle’s production of Nested, at The Union For Contemporary Art. Samantha is passionate about the impact of theatre and believes that storytelling has the power to uplift and empower youth,