Musical Theater

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Home > Faculty > Cheryl Baxter

Cheryl Baxter

Lecturer

Cheryl BaxterCheryl Baxter has been in the entertainment business for more than 30 years working in theater, commercials, film and television. She started her career as an assistant choreographer to Gene Kelly and Kenny Ortega in Francis Ford Coppola’s film One From the Heart and went on to work with Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her. She has worked on more than 20 films including Xanadu, Tap, Pennies From Heaven, 500 Days of Summer and The Muppets. She has danced beside such legends as Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis Jr., the Nicholas Brothers and Donald O’Connor.

Television credits include Glee, General Hospital, How I Met Your Mother, Community, Mike and Molly, the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. Baxter has performed in the Los Angeles and first national companies of Cats and 42nd Street and was in the Broadway telecast of Sophisticated Ladies. She has directed and choreographed theater productions nationally and internationally and recently directed the Cabrillo Christmas Spectacular starring Shirley Jones and Patrick Cassidy.

Baxter grew up as a dance teacher’s daughter, and began instructing children of all ages when she was 15 years old. She has taught tap for Joe Tremaine conventions and clinics for dance studios around the United States and Japan. She currently teaches tap at the Edge Performing Arts Center and at AAMDA (American Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) and also teaches musical theater/movement for the actor at AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts).

News

Theater alumna Judy Kaye ’73 takes home her second Tony™ Award

“Featured Role in a Musical” nod for “Nice Work If You Can Get It”

Classically trained opera and Broadway singer Judy Kaye ’73 has won a 2012 Tony® award for her performance in the Featured Role of Estonia Dulworth in the hit musical “Nice Work if You Can Get It.” Starring Matthew Broderick, the show is an original production built around the classic songs of George and Ira Gershwin.

The award is Kaye’s second turn in the Tony® spotlight. She won in the same category in 1988 for her performance as Carlotta in “The Phantom of the Opera.” She was also Tony®-nominated in 2002 for “Mamma Mia!” and in 2006 for “Souvenir.”

In her televised acceptance speech, Kaye dedicated the award to the memory of her father, who had passed away a week earlier.

Kaye got her start when she was cast out of UCLA in 1968 to play Lucy in the Los Angeles company of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She was the first Rizzo in the national tour of “Grease,” originated the role of Emma Goldman in “Ragtime” and played the maid, Agnes, in “On the Twentieth Century.” Kaye has appeared with the Santa Fe Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony, singing Musetta in “La Boheme,” Lucy in “The Beggar’s Opera” and Eurydice in “Orpheus in the Underworld.” She returned to the New York City Opera for its 2005 production of “Candide.”

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Faculty

Home > Faculty > Natsuo Tomita

Natsuo Tomita

Lecturer

Natsuo TomitaBorn in Tokyo, Japan, to a family of an opera singer and a journalist of NHK and educators, Natsuo Tomita began her ballet training at the Tokyo Ballet Company Junior School. Wanting to broaden her dance education, she moved to New York City in her teens to attend the New York Conservatory of Dance and study with several renowned teachers, including David Howard, Robert Denvers, Finis Jhung, and Magi Black and Rebecca Wright of ABT, and Ballet and Barre au Sol from Marc du Bouays of Paris Opera.

As a professional dancer, she has performed and traveled with companies such as the Garden State Ballet, Omaha Ballet, Nevada Dance Company and Aponte and Friends. Inspired by Christopher Aponte of Roland Petit and Alvin Ailey. Tomita started to choreograph with Mr. Aponte and creating her own works, drawing her influence from neo-classical contemporary dance. Following a move to Los Angeles, Tomita began working extensively in front of the camera. She has appeared in many commercials and worked on several music video and shows with Michael Jackson. She embarked on acting and joined Sal Romeo’s Friends and Artists theater group, where she received training for film and stage acting, directing and producing. Her feature film appearances include For the Boys with Bette Midler, I’ll Do Anything with Twyla Tharp, and Memoirs of Geisha, directed by Rob Marshall. She was also a guest star on the TV dramas Viper and Vengeance UnlimitedAmerican Way and King of Darkness.

Tomita’s directorial debut, Lolita, was an experimental multimedia theater piece, combining acting, dancing, music and film. It premiered in July 2003 and has been featured at the Moving Picture Theater Festival at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, Caught Between at The Iver Theater and Hysterica at Open Fist Theater. The work Wide Eyes Open, expressing world peace in dance and text, premiered in Barcelona and Madrid in 2005. In fall 2007 Tomita expand her talent to direct a play My Werewolf, written by John Schneider and originally performed at Theater X. Her innovative multimedia take on this play was a collaboration with composer Akira Rabelaiy and sound artist Andy Haye. My Werewolf was well received by the Los Angeles Times and was chosen as a Pick of the Week. Her choreography work Water from the Moon II premiered in 2007 New Perspectives at the El Portal Theater. Tomita had the opportunity to create the multimedia piece Musk in 2009, with political poet Steven Connell, for a fundraiser to support victims of sexual violence and to promote a humanitarian organization Pave.

Passing on her knowledge of the arts and ballet to young and talented dancers continues to be an enriching experience for her. Currently Tomita is a faculty member of the WAC/Dance department, and director for musical theater in dance for the U.S. Performing Arts Camp and UCLA TFT Summer Institute. She is also an instructor at Legacy Dance Academy, Born to Play Production, and the Edge Performing Arts, and runs a summer workshop in Tokyo.

Faculty

Home > Faculty > Peggy Hickey

Peggy Hickey

Adjunct Professor

Peggy HickeyPeggy Hickey is an award-winning choreographer and one of the most versatile artists today, working extensively in theater, opera, film and television. Hickey’s Broadway credits include Anastasia (April 2017), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (2014 Tony Award, Best Musical); and the world premiere/pre-Broadway production of Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre (June 2017). She will also direct and choreograph the upcoming national tour of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Fall 2017). Other New York credits include My Fair Lady, starring Kelli O’Hara, Kelsey Grammer and Brian Dennehy, at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic; Cinderella for the Little Orchestra Society of New York at Lincoln Center; and several productions at New York City Opera at Lincoln Center including The Most Happy Fella, starring Paul Sorvino; Lucky to Be Me and The Music of Leonard Bernstein. Hickey also collaborated with Monty Python’s Eric Idle on An Evening Without Monty Python, which played in New York and Los Angeles.

She was awarded the MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography for her work on Grammy-Award winner Beck’s The New Pollution. She choreographed the Spring Awakening sequences on the hit CW series 90210; the episode “So I Think I Can Dance” for Christina Applegate’s ABC series Samantha Who?; and was nominated for an MTV Movie Award in the category of Best Dance Sequence in a Feature Film for her work on Paramount’s The Brady Bunch Movie. Hickey choreographed the “Nurses Ball” episodes on ABC’s General Hospital for eight consecutive seasons as well as the “Jailhouse Tango” episode of NBC’s Passions.

Hickey is a 2014 Outer Critics Circle nominee for her choreography on A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and a two-time recipient of the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography for Brigadoon and On the Twentieth Century at the renowned Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut.

Also for Goodspeed, she choreographed King of Hearts, A Little Night Music, Amour and the recent revival of Carnival. Other credits include Oklahoma! at the Paper Mill Playhouse; The Music Man (starring Shirley Jones and Patrick Cassidy) for Hartford’s Bushnell Theatre; and Gigi and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum for Los Angeles’ Reprise. She’s also done many productions for Music Theatre Wichita, Sacramento Music Circus and Casa Mañana.

Hickey also works extensively in opera, and has collaborated with such renowned artists as Plácido Domingo, Samuel Ramey, Denyce Graves, Susan Graham, Jonathan Kent and Franco Zeffirelli, among others. Her work has been performed at Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, Palm Beach Opera, and the Julliard School, where she choreographed Hansel und Gretel with sets and costumes by Maurice Sendak, which was subsequently televised on PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center. Internationally, Hickey choreographed La Cenerentola and Ballo en Mascara at the Hong Kong Arts Festival; Don Giovanni and Salome at the Savonlinna Opera Festival; and The King & I at Théâtre du Châtelet, starring Susan Graham.

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Home > Faculty > Lynn Dally

Lynn Daily

Lynn Dally, Artistic Director of the Jazz Tap Ensemble, is a recognized leader in the renaissance of tap dance in the U.S. and abroad. Since co-founding the Ensemble in 1979, she has created over 30 original tap choreographies including “‘Round Midnight,” “Gershwin” and “All Blues” as well as ballet commissions including “Ruby, My Dear” for Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet. Dally has performed at the Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow, Spoleto/USA, the Smithsonian with the late Charles ‘Honi’ Coles, and at The Joyce Theater in New York with guest artists Gregory Hines and Savion Glover. Other career highlights include concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Apollo, Madrid’s Festival en Danza, and Lyon’s 4th Biennale, “An American Story.” Ms. Dally is featured in JTE Live in Concert for London’s Channel 4, JTE With Honi Colesfor San Francisco’s KQED-TV, the documentary Two Takes on Tap, And Christian Blackwood’s award winning film TapDancin’. Based in Los Angeles, Dally also directs JTE’s Caravan Project for gifted teen tap dancers and produces the live series, Jazz Tap @ the Bakery. She has received numerous grants from the NEA, theCAC, and most recently the prestigious Irvine Fellowship in Dance 2000 and the Guggenheim Fellowship 2001. Dally comes to us from the Dept of World Arts and Cultures where she is an Adjunct Asst Professor.

Faculty

Home > Faculty >Linda Kerns

Linda Kerns

Adjunct Professor

Linda KernsLinda Kerns has been a working actress and singer for more than 30 years. She made her Broadway debut in the original cast of Nine: The Musical. Other theatre credits include Big River (Broadway), Les Miserables (national tour), Beauty and the Beast (L.A./Shubert Theatre) and the Los Angeles production of Wicked at the Pantages Theatre. She received the LA Weekly Award for Best Musical Performance for her work in the Actors Co-op’s production of Into the Woods and an Ensemble Performance Award for her work in the World Premiere play Gulf-View Drive.

Kerns is also an accomplished director and music director. Her work in these areas includes directing productions of I Do, I Do!, Two by Two, The Fantasticks, The Triumph of Love, All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, The Traveling Lady and the world premiere of Matthew Goldsby’s Makin’ Hay for the Actors Co-op, and music directing such shows as Side By Side By Sondheim, Big River, Little Shop of Horrors and 1940’s Radio Hour.

No stranger to the worlds of film and television, Kerns’ screen work includes roles in Titanic, Mrs. Santa Claus (starring Angela Lansbury), Gepetto (starring Drew Carey), The Guardian, Without a Trace, Zeke and Luther and many more.

Kerns was a voice major and piano minor at Temple University and is a graduate of New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

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Faculty

Home > Faculty > Jeremy Mann

Jeremy Mann

Adjunct Professor

About Jeremy MannJeremy Mann is director of singing for the Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. In this capacity, he developed the singing curriculum for the undergraduate musical theater majors, and teaches singing and musical theater performance for the program. Directing credits at UCLA TFT include Into the Woods, Hot Mikado, Cabaret and A Chorus Line, and vocal direction for The Last 5 Years, Urinetown, Side Show, Homer in Cyberspace, Anything Goes and Rent. Before moving to Los Angeles, Mann served for 12 years as resident musical director and actor at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA Theaterfest) in Santa Maria. In addition to co-creating and teaching the singing techniques for the Actor curriculum at PCPA, Mann musically directed more than 20 productions there, including Honk!, My Fair Lady, Songs for a New World, How to Succeed… and Jesus Christ Superstar. Directing credits at PCPA included Peter Pan, 42nd Street and Anything Goes, and he acted in Arcadia, The Normal Heart (Robby Award) and Rope (world premiere). Mann has also served as musical director and director for the Utah Shakespeare Festival (The Music Man, Man of La Mancha, The Spitfire Grill, HMS Pinafore, Foxfire, The Secret Garden,Great Expectations) and musically directed the world premiere of Brad Carroll and Peter Sham’s Lend Me a Tenor, the musical for USF in the summer of 2007. A lyricist and singer-songwriter, Mann is also co-creator of the original musicals Robin Hood, Christmas Is…a Musical Memory and Christmas Is Here Again, with Brad Carroll.

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Home > Faculty > Dan Belzer

Dan Belzer

ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

Dan BelzerDan Belzer has enjoyed a diverse career as an actor, singer, pianist and teacher. As a Department of Theater faculty member at the School of Theater, Film and Television, he has music directed, accompanied and conducted several musicals including Rent, Cabaret, Anything Goes, Hot Mikado and Urinetown as part of the Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program. He also serves as a voice instructor at the School and scored the UCLA TFT MFA Film Project title The Making of…. He also served as chorus music director of The Getty Center’s production of The Swallow Song, comprised of students from the Department of Theater.

As a pianist, Belzer has toured Europe on numerous occasions for more than 15 years with The Singing Waiters, performing in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, France and the Czech Republic. He has served in a multitude of capacities including music director, pianist, conductor and keyboardist in many Los Angeles-area theaters, working on such shows as A Little Night Music; Urinetown; Oliver; All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten; The All-Night Strut; The Sound of Music; Annie, Get Your Gun and Ernest in Love. Additional music direction includes J&E and the Zig-Zag Sea for Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program and productions of Anything Goes, Hair and Oklahoma at Glendale Community College.

Belzer utilizes his skills as an actor, singer and pianist in his portrayal of American songwriter Irving Berlin in the one-man show A Songwriting Lesson from Irving Berlin for the educational nonprofit Enrichment Works, performing throughout the Los Angeles area and across the United States. He has appeared in film and television, working with Academy Award-winning directors John Carpenter and Dean Parisot, and has been seen in national commercials and print campaigns including those for Equal, Infiniti Automobiles, Sprint, AT&T, Toyota and Michelob Beer.

Clients from Belzer’s private voice studio have appeared on Broadway and in national tours including Mamma Mia, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jesus Christ Superstar, High Fidelity, Hairspray, La Cage Aux Folles and Peter Pan.

Belzer is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Local 47 Musician’s Union, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.