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About Us 

Staff

The CLO Academy is justifiably proud of its instructors. Our faculty represents some of the best teaching artists in our region and includes instructors from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Duquesne University, and Point Park University, among other fine institutions. The CLO Academy’s students could not be in more competent and caring hands.

Education DirectorKiesha Lalama
Education Programs Manager — Michael J. Cerchiaro
Academy Principal — Patty Maloney
Admissions Coordinator — Seth Laidlaw
Creative Vision Coordinator
Susan Pettigrew
ReceptionistEmily Christ

Instructors

     Acting

     Dance

     Voice / Piano

 

 Acting

 Justin Fortunato      
Justin Fortunato

Justin Fortunato graduated from Point Park Conservatory in 2011 with his BFA in Musical Theatre. He is an actor and director and has worked with companies around Pittsburgh including The Pittsburgh Public, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, The REP, Primestage Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, and St. Vincent Summer Theater. He is also the co-founder and artistic director of Carnivale Theatrics.

         
 Daina Michelle Griffith      
Daina Michelle Griffith

Daina Michelle Griffith recently received the honor of being named Performer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 2013. An actress on stage, big screen, small screen, print ads and radio commercials, she's originally from Southern Ohio and received her BFA in Musical Theater from Point Park University. Regional/NYC: Gateway Playhouse, Kansas City Starlight, Oxford Village Playhouse, heXtc NYC, Human Race Theatre, NYC International Fringe, among others. Locally: Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre, PICT Classic Theatre, Quantum, The REP, Off The Wall, barebones, No Name Players, Bricolage, Prime Stage, Carrnivale Theatrics, Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh Musical Theatre, and Jewish Theatre of Pittsburgh. Films: The Dark Knight Rises (Foley's wife), Hollidaysburg (Angela), Love and Other Drugs, and Civilians (Tilly). Television: Guiding Light (CBS), numerous regional and national commercials (Exxon Gas, Armstrong Cable, PA Lottery, UPMC, The Stork), radio and television voiceovers (UPMC, Vocelli's Pizza, Dree's Homes, Armstrong Cable) and national and regional print work (Joann's Fabric, Dick's Sporting Goods, Sheetz, Armstrong Cable, Highmark, among others). Most recently, Daina was seen onstage in 2014 in Company (Pittsburgh Public Theater), Blithe Spirit (PICT Classic Theatre), Halftime With Don (City Theatre), Boeing Boeing and Jeeves in Bloom (Saint Vincent Summer Theatre) and Parade (Front Porch Theatricals).

         
 Nancy Mimless      
Nancy Mimless

Nancy Mimless earned her BA- Theater Arts from the University of Pittsburgh. After years in Los Angeles working for Barris Industries, Guber Peters Entertainment & numerous improv/talent companies, she returned to pursue a career in Pittsburgh. Nancy has worked in theater, television and films for over 25 years. Nancy has appeared in productions with Bricolage, No Name Players/Swan Day, Theater Factory, Prime Stage and Off the Record- just to name a few. Nancy is a member of Actor’s Equity and SAG - AFTRA. Nancy has toured in the schools with Pittsburgh CLO and Gateway to the Arts. Nancy has been an acting instructor at the Pittsburgh CLO Academy for over 8 years working with the New Horizon, Creative Visions Pre-professional and Children’s school programs.

         
 Missy Moreno      
Missy Moreno

Missy Moreno is an actor, singer, improviser and comedian currently based out of Pittsburgh PA after having lived, studied and worked in Chicago for the past 7 years. A graduate of Point Park University's COPA (Acting), Missy has studied at the world-renowned Second City in Chicago, where improvisational comedy was created. Missy graduated from the Second City Conservatory of Improvisation and the Second City Musical Improvisation Conservatory. Each graduation is complete with original sketch shows and an original musical written and performed on the Mainstage. Missy also studied and worked at the Annoyance Theater in Chicago, having worked with improv guru Mick Napier. Still active in the theater scene, she also was part of the Jeff Award winning production of The Original Grease which was creatively overseen by original Grease writer Jim Jacobs at the American Theater Company (Chicago). Missy is the co-creator and lead singer of "Reset List: the improvised rock experience" a fully improvised rock band who has been part of the Chicago Improv Festival and several New York City Music Improv Festivals and featured several times in the Post -Gazette as headliners in Pittsburgh. She has had the pleasure of working with Laura Hall of Who's Line Is It Anyway? in Chicago and at the new Arcade Comedy Theater in Pittsburgh. At Arcade, Missy has written, produced and directed her original comedy cabaret series Missy & Friends with such themes as Star Wars to Mad Men. She teaches/coaches musical improv at the Arcade and is currently co-creator/producer of babyGRAND a musical improv duo with Connor McCanlus. She is also a part of YO GLORIA! Pittsburgh's only hip-hop improv group. Check out missymoreno.com for more!

         
 MIchelle Nowakowski      
Michelle (Missy) Nowakowski

Missy Nowakowski teaches costume and makeup design at CLO Academy. She is the resident costume designer for Pittsburgh Musical Resource Center, a design, production and rental resource for the theater community, and the resident designer for Pittsburgh Musical Theater and the Richard E Rauh Conservatory. Recent projects include Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Grapes of Wrath, and Amadeus for Robert Morris University; Sideshow, and The Wedding Singer for Stage 62; The Sound of Music, and Miss Saigon for PMT Mainstage, and CLO Mini Stars holiday costumes. Her favorite projects are working with students, collaborating on designs, and teaching hands-on construction techniques. Recent High school productions include, Deer Lakes, Carlynton, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and Moon Area.

         
 Jason Shavers      
Jason A. Shavers

Jason A. Shavers is a born and raised Pittsburgh native and proud of it! Raised in Wilkinsburg, he graduated from Point Park University in 2004. Since then, Jason has had the pleasure of working with many local companies, with some favorite past credits being Roger in A New Brain, The Observer in Putting It Together, Robbins in Porgy & Bess, many different fun characters in Midnight Radio Jr. and Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar. Jason has also spent 7 years performing in schools in the Western Pennsylvania region through Pittsburgh CLO's Gallery of Heroes educational musical program and is a teacher at the Pittsburgh CLO Academy of Musical Theater. Look for him in the upcoming films Not Cool and Fathers And Daughters.

         
 Jim Scriven      
Jim Scriven

Jim Scriven has been working with the Pittsburgh CLO Academy since the summer of 2004 when he was the CLO Academy summer intern. He performed with the Gallery of Heroes program for seven years after graduating from Allegheny College in 2005 and has directed summer camps at the CLO since 2008. Around town he has performed with City Theatre, Gemini Theater, Pittsburgh New Works Festival, Apple Hill Playhouse, and Frog Prince Theatricals among others.

 
           
Jonathan Visser      
Jonathan Visser

Recently moving to Pittsburgh from NYC, Jonathan Visser obtained an MFA from University of Tennessee and a BFA from SMU. He has worked all over the country in multiple national tours and at such renowned regional theaters as Dallas Theatre Center, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Casa Manana, and the Clarence Brown Theatre, to name just a few. Local Credits include originating the role of Shane Shankleman in CLO's recent production of Judge Jackie Justice and Silvia St. Croix in Ruthless, both at Cabaret. PICT credits include Three Sisters, Ivanov, Yalta Game, Our Class, Sherlock Holmes and Sons of Ulster (playing Sept. '14). Bricolage credits include Hunter Gatherers and several Midnight Radios. Jonathan is SAFD fight combatant certified in hand to hand, rapier/dagger, broadsword, and quarterstaff.

 

 

 Dance

 Justin Fortunato      
Rudy Hazen

Rudy Hazen, a Point Park University Dance Major, has danced professionally since the age of 9 with Radio Disney Dancers, and continued through her teen years with 42nd Street Productions, as a Spark for Pittsburgh Power Professional Football Team, and back-up for Lil Jon. She spent this past summer dancing in the Luminosity Show at Cedar Point. Her musical credits include Carrnivale’s Production of In the Heights and CLO’s Production of 42nd Street. She had the pleasure of choreographing West Allegheny High School's, Gene Kelly Award Winning Best Musical, Catch Me if You Can, and was also Assistant Choreographer for CLO Academy's production of Into the Woods. Rudy has shared her love of dance teaching at numerous studio's throughout the city.

         
 Daina Michelle Griffith      
Kellie Hodges

Kellie Hodges began her dance training with Ronda McClure at the Turning Point Dance Center in San Antonio, TX. She continued her training at Point Park University where she earned her B.A. in dance. After graduation she relocated to Chicago, IL to dance with Thodos Dance Chicago, where she had the pleasure of performing works by Ann Reinking, Lar Lubovitch, Melissa Thodos, and Zac Whittenburg. Kellie's choreography Hopelandic has been part of the Thodos company repertoire since 2008. Her work has been performed at Jacob's Pillow, the Busan International Dance Festival in S Korea, Point Park University. She was recognized as a top three finalist in the International Choreography Competition hosted by the Jazz Dance World Congress in 2012. Kellie Hodges and Dancers has presented work at APAP in New York City for the past two years. In July 2013 Kellie was a featured dancer in the workshop production of The Bench: Journey Into Love written, directed and choreographed by Kiesha Lalama. She is currently on faculty at the Pittsburgh CLO Academy as well as an adjunct instructor at Point Park University.

         
       
Alivia Owen

Alivia Owen grew up training at the CLO Academy where she was a Mini Star and Choreography Apprentice. She has directed and choreographed for the CLO All Academy Musicals, Summer Camps and the Creative Vision Program. In addition, Alivia has choreographed for Stage 62, Keystone Oaks High School and South Fayette High School. Alivia has performed throughout the area for the CLO, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, West Virginia Public Theater and most recently for the No Name Players production of reSOUNDing Courage. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Point Park University and was a member of the University of Pittsburgh's Dance Team.

         
 Missy Moreno      
Scott Sambuco

Scott Sambuco is happy to return to teach Saturday Tap and will choreograph the student production of Anything Goes! PCLO: Bye, Bye, Birdie, Crazy For You, Grand Hotel, Guys and Dolls, Annie, My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, She Loves Me, Pirates…, 1776, 42nd St., Seven Brides…, A Musical Christmas Carol 14 years! Pittsburgh Public Theatre, PMT, WVPT, Stage Right, Stages St. Louis 10 seasons, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Bernstein Gala (European Tour), TUTS, Burt Reynolds Jupiter Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, as well as many others. AEA Proud Member 21 years! This Summer taught dance and Musical theatre at Blue Lake Performing arts Camp on Lake Michigan.

         
 MIchelle Nowakowski      
Darcy Shaffner

Darcy Shaffner has been teaching dance and dancing professionally since graduating cum laude from Ohio University's School of Dance in 2007. She has performed with Pittsburgh's Miller/DANCE, the Athens (Ohio) Dance Collective, Tiny Spaces Dance Company, and the Steampunk Ballet, and at such prestigious venues as The Yard Artist Residency on Martha’s Vineyard and the American Dance Festival at Duke University. She recently performed in Alexandra Bodnarchuk’s ‘Connotations: Unknown’ at PearlArts, and began rehearsing with Ella Mason’s Yes Brain Dance Theater for their performance of ‘Contained,’ which will premiere in 2015 as part of the Community Supported Artist series at the New Hazlett Theater. Darcy teaches ballet, jazz, tap, and musical theater at the CLO Academy, and is also a certified Pilates instructor.

         
       
Jodi Welch

Jodi Welch received her B.A. degree in Dance with honors from Butler University in Indianapolis. She was Professor in the Conservatory of Performing Arts Department at Point Park College where she taught jazz and advanced tap. Her performance credits include over thirty musicals with Pittsburgh’s Civic Light Opera, Kenley Players, Indianapolis Starlight musicals and various Dinner Theater productions throughout the United States. Jodi also taught and was the artistic director at Vella Dance Studio in Bridgeville for 32 years. A member and former President of Dance Masters of PA. Chapter 10, her students have won many awards on both the local and national level as well as her having won the Choreography Award at the Dance Masters Performing Arts Competition numerous times. She has taught Master Classes in jazz, tap and musical theater across the country as well as being an adjudicator for many dance competitions. Pittsburgh CLO has always held a special place in her heart and it is a joy to return as a teacher.

       

 

 

 Voice / Piano

 Justin Fortunato      
Catie Brown

Catie Brown is a native of Butler, PA. Ms. Brown holds a B.M. in Music Education from Slippery Rock University, and is currently completing her Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership at the University of Cincinnati. Catie is a K-8 Music Teacher at Propel Charter School, Homestead, PA, and serves as the Music Director at St. Fidelis Parish in Butler, PA. Her vocal directing and accompaniment experience is extensive, having most recently performed as a keyboard accompanist for engagements with the Rock Band Kansas (Pittsburgh, PA), West Virginia Public Theater (Morgantown, WV), Keystone State Music Theater (Cranberry, PA), Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center (Midland, PA), The Pittsburgh Playhouse (Point Park Univ.), New Castle Playhouse (New Castle, PA), TJArts (Pittsburgh, PA), and Slippery Rock University (Slippery Rock, PA).

         
 Nancy Mimless      
Roseanna Irwin

Roseanna Irwin, Associate Teaching Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, holds both a B.S. in Music Education and an M.M. from Duquesne University, where she taught piano and was administrative assistant to the dean. She teaches voice and piano at the CLO Academy and is the Music Director of the CLO Mini Stars. Roseanna was formerly head of the voice department at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and was rehearsal and show pianist for the Civic Light Opera's main stage summer season. She was a core member of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and has sung roles in several Tuesday Musical Club operas. She has musically directed and accompanied book shows and musical revues in the Pittsburgh area, Naples, Florida, and the Royal Viking Cruise Lines.

         
 Missy Moreno      
Israel Kremen

Israel Kremen was born in St.Petersburg (Leningrad), Russia (USSR). He received a Diploma of a Master of Arts Degree in Music Composition/Music Theory/Piano at the Leningrad Rimski-Korsakov Conservatory of Music. His piano & chamber music compositions were published in Russia. He immigrated to the USA in 1979. ORION Records released a record of Kremen's chamber music in 1984. In 1989, he received a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition Diploma from the School of Music of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. As a composer, Kremen has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Wisconsin Arts Board, Meet-the-Composer, and others. His compositions were performed in New York, Boston, Houston, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Ann Arbor, Monterey, and other cities. The latest collection of his piano music "Kaleidoscope of 25 Preludes and Fugues for Piano" (2005) performed and recorded by NY concert pianist Irena Portenko could be heard on 2 CDs released by the Blue Griffin Record Company in Michigan in 2011. The teaching career he started in Russia continues in the US. Currently, Dr. Kremen is teaching at the City Music Center School of Music Duquesne University and Pittsburgh CLO Academy.

         
       
Robert Neumeyer

Robert Neumeyer balances duties as a music director, accompanist and liturgical musician throughout the greater Pittsburgh area. For the past five years, Robert has served as co-founder and music director of Carrnivale Theatrics where his credits have included Sweeney Todd, Ragtime, Into the Woods, the regional premiere of Next to Normal, and the regional premiere of In the Heights. At the Pittsburgh CLO, Robert has music directed the Academy’s productions of Rent, Hairspray, Into the Woods, Footloose and Anything Goes as well as serving as the music copyist and arranger of the Gene Kelly Awards for the past three years. Robert has been seen in the orchestra pit and behind the rehearsal piano for the CLO mainstage productions of Legally Blonde and Spamalot. Robert is a graduate of Duquesne University with a degree in Composition and a proud member of the American Federation of Musicians, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians and the American Guild of Organists.

         
       
Stephen Totter

Stephen Totter (BFA, MFA in Vocal Performance) has been on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University since 1994 and the Pittsburgh CLO Academy of Musical Theater since 1991. He is an active performer, clinician and teacher throughout the United States and abroad. Stephen made his professional operatic debut with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh in “The Barber of Seville” and has gone on to perform leading roles in Opera, Musical Theater and Oratorio as well as recitals, symphony concerts and cabaret performances. Operatic roles include: Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro, Marcello La boheme, the title role in Gianni Schicci, and Frank Maurrant in Street Scene. Musical Theater roles include Frederik Egermann in A Little Night Music, Lancelot in Camelot and Harry in Company. Stephen has been teaching voice in the Pittsburgh area since 1990 and his students have gone on to every major conservatory in the country as well as Broadway and opera companies including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera. Stephen is an active member of The National Association of Teachers of Singing and served for 8 years as President of the Tri-States Chapter. His international teaching credits include teaching at the National Conservatory of Mexico.

Facility

Located on the 8th floor of Penn Avenue Place (formerly the Lazarus / Horne’s building), the Academy contains four spacious and well-equipped dance studios, two acting studios, two private voice studios, a student practice room, a student/teacher library, a student lounge and a comfortable waiting area for parents accompanying students to the Academy.

In addition, the Charles Gray Auditorium offers the Academy a theater in which to showcase the accomplishments and achievements of its student body. Anyone wishing to take a tour of the facility may do so during regular class hours. If there is a particular class that you would like to observe, please call (412) 281-2234.