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Mike Mazur – Vice President and Head of School

Mike has been on the faculty of the Academy since its inception, and was named Head of School in 2019. Mike has an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and a Bachelors in English and Drama Education from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. In addition to his administrative duties, Mike has taught several classes at the NTPA – Academy including Script Analysis, Directing, and College Audition Prep, and recently directed the Academy’s production of the musical CHICAGO.

He has directed over 60 shows in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, California and Texas. Among his favorites are Rent, Chicago, Oklahoma!, The King and I, Be More Chill and Godspell.

As a youth, he was a member of The Singing Angels Performing Chorus, an internationally touring show choir based out of Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from NYU, Mike was named their Artistic Director. Under his direction, the group toured Hollywood, London, Warsaw, and Paris; released two recordings; performed with Nancy Sinatra and Roberta Flack; and was invited to a Command Performance at The Pentagon. He then became a professor of Musical Theatre at California State University, Chico, where in addition to teaching and directing shows, he led the “Off-Broadways” Touring Ensemble in performances in New York and San Francisco.

These experiences have led Mike to lecture on the role of theatre in society at both The Sondheim Symposium in New Jersey (where he met Stephen Sondheim) and the International Conference on Fine and Performing Arts in Athens, Greece. He shares his experiences with the talented youth of the NTPA Academy and empowers them to use the performing arts as a tool to build the self-confidence needed to succeed in any career path they choose.

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Kaitlyn Barnard – Director of Education

Kaitlyn Barnard-Wright graduated in 2013 Cum Laude from Texas Woman’s University where she performed in both their opera and theater productions. She is currently completing her Masters of Arts in Professional Counseling while serving as the Director of Education for the NTPA Academy. She has been with NTPA since 2017 and has directed and music directed with the organization on many occasions. Some of her favorite titles have been: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Honk the Musical. She taught music and choir in Plano ISD for five years. Kaitlyn is certified in the Kodaly Method of music education and completed her third level of training in the summer of 2015. For the 2015-2016 school year, Kaitlyn received the Bass Hall Fellowship for excellence in music education and in the spring of that year presented about elementary music at the Texas State Music Education Association conference in San Antonio. Kaitlyn is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Society, Who’s Who Nominee, Presser Scholar Nominee, and the recipient of the first Lily Mildred Hodges Endowed Scholarship. For the 2016-2017 school year, she was nominated as Teacher of the Year and received the PTA Life Member Award. Music and theater are her passion and she loves to see children grow through the arts.

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Riley Madlock – Assistant Head of School/Dance Department Head

Riley Madlock joined the NTPA family in the fall of 2020. She teaches dance, choreographs for NTPA shows and is an Assistant Core Learning Counselor for the NTPA Academy.

Riley has a Master of Arts in Teaching Dance from New Mexico State University and a BA in Mass Communications from Ouachita Baptist University. She was adjunct dance faculty at NMSU, co-founder/director of the NMSU Hip Hop company, graduate assistant teaching collegiate ballet and modern, and organizer/creative designer for all NMSU dance performances. Riley danced with Henderson State University Dance Company for three years and NMSU Contemporary Dance Theatre for two years. Riley has choreographed for drill and dance teams around the state of Texas. Her choreography has won numerous awards and been adjudicated at four different American College Dance Association conferences around the south.

Riley has trained and performed with many professionals around the world including Dmitri Roudnev of the Bolshoi Ballet, Gavriel Spitzer of Batsheva Dance Company, George Staib of StaibDance in Sorrento, Italy, and T. Lang Dance in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been the resident choreographer/performer for The Muses Project in Hot Springs, Arkansas since 2017, is an online instructor for Desert Eagle Dance Productions in El Paso, Texas, and is the Designer and Social Media Manager at Amalgamated Toast.

Department Heads

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Cheryl Lowber – Acting Department Head

Cheryl is a professional actor, director, and acting coach based in DFW as well as an experienced UIL One Act Play adjudicator at both the Middle School and High School levels. She joined NTPA in 2018 as an assistant director and currently serves as Managing Director of NTPA Dallas as well as Head of Acting for the NTPA Academy. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Oklahoma Baptist University and an M.F.A. in Acting from Southern Methodist University, where she taught undergraduate courses in “The Art of Acting.” Cheryl has appeared onstage at numerous venues in DFW, New York City, and as far away as South Korea. NTPA directorial credits include: Emma JV, Sweeney Todd, Romeo & Juliet, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Legally Blonde, Macbeth, Urinetown, Little Mermaid, Tuck Everlasting, Carrie, Charlotte’s Web, Willy Wonka, 101 Dalmatians Kids, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Aladdin Kids, The Neverending Story, and Bye Bye Birdie. Favorite regional acting credits include: As You Like It (Fair Assembly), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Dallas), The 39 Steps (Stage West), Role Play (Stage West), A Christmas Carol (Dallas Theater Center), House and Garden (Theatre Three), and Picnic (Theatre Three). Her absolute favorite roles, however, are those of wife to Adam and mom to Evie, Maggie, and Andy.

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Lyz Miller – Core Academic Department Head

Lyz is originally from Connecticut, where she grew up with parents who had deep roots in education and theater. She inherited her parents’ love for both at a young age. Now living in Frisco, she has passed this love onto her two boys. Lyz has a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College with a double major in Mathematics and Theatre. She also went on to earn a masters from the University of Florida and is a certified Mathematics teacher. Currently she is a faculty member of the NTPA Academy.

Kira Kerstine

Kira Kerstine – Guidance Counselor

Kira Kerstine is excited to be join the NTPA Academy family as Guidance Counselor. Kira is a school psychologist who specializes in individual and group counseling, psychoeducational testing, positive behavioral supports, consultation, and classroom-based interventions. A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Kira has always had a passion for theatre and the arts. Kira completed her undergraduate work at The University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in psychology and minored in child development. Kira earned her masters in school-clinical child psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology in her hometown of New York City. While originally planning to move back to Texas right after graduate school, she took a detour to Cincinnati, Ohio after meeting her husband, Jeff.

Throughout her 17 years in Cincinnati, Kira worked with children and adolescents in both the public and private school settings. In 2016, Kira moved backed to Texas with her husband and three children. Her youngest son, Jake, performed in his first NTPA production in 2017 and she and her family have called NTPA home ever since. Kira is thrilled to begin this new journey where she can combine her two passions of helping children become their best selves and her love of theatre.

Teaching Staff

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Lizz Bashore – Adjunct Director

Ashlee Elizabeth Bashore (Lizz Bashore) is an actor, director, choreographer and coach located in the Greater Dallas area. Experienced in film, show, directing, dance, and voice, her talents lies in creating life-long artists. She holds an MFA in Acting from SMU, BA in Theater (Acting and Directing) and minor in dance and musical theatre from Temple University.

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Bonnie Grugle – Adjunct Director

Bonnie is a trained dancer with over 30 full scale productions as a dancer, singer, and actor. She has appeared at the Dallas Make A Wish Foundation, The Hip Hop Dance Fest, Carnegie Hall, and local community events. She studied dance locally with Mary Six Rupert, Melva Smith, and Paula Morelan.

Her studies primarily focused on ballet, tap, and jazz with an emphasis in musical theater. She started building a foundation at age 3 in the three disciplines. Ms. Rupert developed her Fosse technique and spatial movement. Ms. Morelan fine tuned her ballet precision and introduced her to the “five body points,” a system that she continues to use with her students. Ms. Smith, while providing sublime skills and performance attributes, taught her that dance was fun and should be led with her heart. Supplemental training includes hip hop, Bollywood, and belly dancing.

She is a classically trained soprano and has performed with many school and church choirs. Her unique understanding of how music, story, and movement fit together help make her a versatile choreographer.

In any project, her goals are to teach technique and form but also to impart the art and beauty of dance itself. This helps her students become well-rounded performers as well as well-rounded human beings.

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Shannon Hauser – Adjunct Director

Shannon received her Bachelor of Science in Dance Education from Bowling Green State University where she focused on the biomechanics and kinesiology of dance. She also minored in theater with an emphasis on Shakespeare and directing was an inaugural member of Beautiful Kids Independent Shakespeare company. She directed Waiting and The Interview during her time at BGSU and choreographed close to 40 performances between the school of theater and school of dance.

After graduation, Shannon moved to Lake Tahoe where her the opportunity to expand a local Royal Academy of Ballet school into the competitive dance world presented itself. Shannon was the competitive director of Tahoe Dance School for 10 years. Former students have gone on to dance with Alvin Ailey, Sean Curran and Doug Elkins. She partnered with Tahoe Theater Workshop and the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival where she got to continue her love of Shakespeare.

She married her husband, Marty, in 2004 and has two sons and three cats. Shannon took a teaching hiatus to stay home with her boys while they were young but is excited to return to the performing arts and share her passion with the next generation.

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Austin Hines – Adjunct Director

Austin Hines joined the NTPA family in 2022. Growing up in Grand Prairie, Austin has been involved in the arts since he could hold a pencil. He earned an Associates Degree in Musical Theatre from the KD Conservatory in Dallas where he later served as an instructor from 2020-2021. Austin has performed nationally with the Murder Mystery Company since 2019.

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Kameron Knott – Collegiate Pursuits Program Director

Kameron started working with NTPA in 2019 as a Choreographer and Assistant Director. He has also been working as an integral part of the Collegiate Pursuits production team since its inception. A native of Texas, Kameron holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama; Acting Emphasis and a minor in Dance from the University of Oklahoma. In addition to his work with NTPA, he has worked professionally in many aspects of the entertainment industry with the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, EarthX Film Festival, and the Actor Factory. Kameron has also worked as a professional actor in New York City for the past several years. Favorite past performances include The Proposal (Chubukov), Sylvia (Greg), Angels in America; Perestroika (Joe), City of Angels (Sonny/Fight Captain), and Biloxi Blues (Hennessey). Favorite NTPA projects have included Cabaret, The SpongeBob Musical, Oklahoma, Tuck Everlasting, Mamma Mia, and Frozen Jr. In addition to continuing to serve as a Choreographer and Director, Kameron now also leads the educational efforts of the Collegiate Pursuits program overseeing workshops, classes, and lessons to prepare students in grades 8-12 who are planning to pursue a performing arts degree in college.

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Gregory McKnight – Senior Technical Director

Gregory has been working in film and video production for over 20 years and is a seasoned theater technician, having worked in multiple venues across DFW over the past two decades. He currently serves as the Senior Technical Director at NTPA where he leads all technical theatre programs across NTPA and teaches technical theatre classes at NTPA Academy.

Since joining the NTPA team in 2017, Greg has served as a director and music director for many shows and has written several original scripts that have premiered on NTPA stages including fan-favorites “The Adventure of BetaKid” and “The Adventure of GammaKid.” He also spearheaded the NTPA Studios program providing a new opportunity for students to learn and experience film production. Greg has been a musician since the age of 7 and has played piano professionally for over a decade.

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Kerry Murdock – Managing Director, NTPA – Frisco

Kerry has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from East Central University (OK) with a minor in Musical Theatre and an M.Ed. in Multicultural Literature from Xavier University (OH).

Kerry has spent the last 25 years working with children as a teacher, choir director, storyteller, director, costume director, and piano teacher. Kerry also serves as Show Manager for multiple shows, including the Immersive Production the students perform each semester.

She has a passion for instilling a love of reading in young students and enjoys implementing her acting skills to bring books and stories to life. Kerry has enjoyed participating in theatre in many different roles across six states. Her favorite memories are sharing the stage with her three children in several productions. Now that they are taking the stage on their own, she is excited to see their love of performing grow.

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Wendy Searcy-Woode – Adjunct Director

Wendy Searcy-Woode has been working as a professional Scenic Designer, Master Carpenter and Scenic Painter in DFW Metroplex for 25 years. As an award winning Scenic Designer, her work has delighted audiences of over 220 shows as well as teaching multiple Master Classes for the students of surrounding school districts, private schools and Youth Camps. She is delighted to have been invited to come and teach with this extraordinary group of educators. It’s always exhilarating to share my love for Scenic Design with young people.

Headshot of DeAnna Stone, NTPA Academy Managing Director

DeAnna Stone – Academy Founder and Adjunct Director

DeAnna Stone has served many different roles for North Texas Performing Arts. She began directing for NTPA in 2015 and helped launch the NTPA Academy in 2018. She also served previously as NTPA’s Frisco Managing Director. Throughout all of her roles at NTPA, DeAnna has loved directing and serving students and their families. She began her adventure on stage at the young age of six and continued to pursue the performing arts throughout college. After college, she continued her theatre journey within the homeschool community. As a homeschooling mother of four children, she has a passion for creating opportunities for students that desire an alternative style in education. She has a passion for motivating youth and inspiring others to achieve their best. North Texas Performing Arts created opportunity for her own personal family and upholds the values that she deems important in growing future leaders.