THEATRE FACULTY
Maria McConville Pizzarello
Director
Maria McConville Pizzarello is the new theatre program director at the Darien Arts Center. She teaches with Open Arts Alliance in Greenwich, CT. As a NYC Public School teaching artist, Maria has worked with the Theatre Development Fund, LeAP! Onstage, and Theatre For A New Audience. Her students have performed and adapted the work of Shakespeare, written their own plays, devised ensemble performance pieces, sang and danced in musical productions, and performed their peers work on a Broadway stage. Growing up in New York, Maria attended LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts for Drama, and recently adjudicated the auditions for incoming students. In 2004, she graduated with a degree in performance from Fordham University at Lincoln Center. Maria is an actress, member of Actors’ Equity and also a playwright. She is published with Playscripts and Stage Partners.
Carole Claps
Carole Claps is the director of DAC’s Darien’s Got Talent! She studied theatre at Herbert Berghof and voice with Colin Romoff in New York City. Carole has directed, produced, and taught theatre throughout Fairfield County. As a professional theatrical consultant and marketing director, she has worked with the Hartman Theatre Company, Connecticut’s Broadway Theatre, Music Theatre of Connecticut, the Westport Country Playhouse, and with numerous producers and private theatre clients. She served for many years as VP Arts for the Darien Arts Center’s board of directors. Ms. Claps has directed numerous shows including: The Man Who Came to Dinner, Man of La Mancha, Dixie Swim Club, South Pacific, La Cage Aux Folles, Mack and Mable, Waiting in the Wings and Company. Some of her favorite roles on stage have included Sister Mary Hubert in Nunsense, Gooch in Mame, the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha, and Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! She created the roles of Concetta Morello in A Merry Mulberry Street Musical, Louella Parsons in Marilyn and Joe, the wicked stepmother, Leona, in After the Ball, and an Italian ghost in the musical, Ebenezer. This spring she will be directing the classic, Dial M for Murder at the Westport Community Theatre.
Dwayne Condon
Dwayne Condon - bio to be posted shortly.
Claire Kelly
Claire Shannon Kelly is the Artistic Director of Shakespeare on the Sound in Rowayton, CT. Claire is also the director of the 2017 production of Macbeth. From 2011-2015 Claire worked at Shakespeare on the Sound as Artistic Associate and Director of Education. For Shakespeare on the Sound’s mainstage she has directed Hamlet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, which won the BroadwayWorld CT award for Best Ensemble Cast in a play, and As You Like It. Educationally, Claire just finished directing a 5 person A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She co-created and directed Shakespeare on the Sound’s K-5 touring production Let’s Play Shakespeare!, directed their anti- bullying program Speaking Daggers, and devised and directed a children’s version of All’s Well That Ends Well. Currently she is in development of two new plays: The Family and Wordsmith. She has worked at the Guthrie Theater, the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, the Ordway Music Theater, and the George Street Playhouse among others. Additionally, Claire is a Teaching Artist and has taught theater to students from pre- school through high school. In August of 2017, she taught and directed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Livingstone, Zambia. Claire has holds a Masters of Arts degree from New York University in Educational Theater.
Jake Lloyd
Jake Lloyd is a composer, lyricist and librettist living in New York City. Writing credits include, Off-Broadway: THE LOST BOYS (book music and lyrics); Regional: ONCE UPON THE MOON, (lyrics by Janine McGuire); BUILDING CITIES, (lyrics by Suzanne Davis); DREAMCHASER (lyrics by Joshua David Bishop). Upcoming projects include, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, (book/music/lyrics), O, PIONEERS (book/music/lyrics). His first youth fantasy novel will be published sometime next year. Outside of writing, Jake is active in the musical theatre scene as a music director, coach and pit musician. Selected musical director/conductor credits, off-Broadway: HOORAY FOR WHAT!; MR. PORTER AND MR. SHAKESPEARE, a concert of unpublished Cole Porter songs (in conjunction with the Cole Porter estate). Regional: CARLA BIANCO IN CONCERT, SEUSSICAL, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, INTO THE WOODS, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE WIZ and others. Selected orchestration credits: ANY DREAM WILL DO – AN ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER CELEBRATION, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE; THE LOST BOYS; DREAMCHASER, and various arrangements for choral groups and orchestras. In addition, Jake regularly does dramaturgy work for other authors and is a consultant for shows in development. Jake has been active in the classroom for the past 15 years in the private school sector. He has served as choral director, musical director, and department chair. At his first school he founded the musical theatre program, and at his current school, Dwight-Englewood, he founded the Show Choir. A graduate of Nyack College with a degree in composition, Jake has studied with composer Dr. Paul Liljestrand, television/film composer Chris Hughes, and at the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, More information on Jake’s works can be found on his website, www.thejakelloyd.com.
Jenifer Menedis
Jenifer Menedis has been performing since she was twelve and teaching voice and theatre since she was eighteen. She is a classically trained voice teacher, using traditional techniques to teach Pop, Rock, R&B and Broadway singing styles. She teaches students to mix without belting harshly, which is better for the long term health of their voices. Her students frequently get roles both at Darien High School, Middlesex Middle School, Greenwich High School and Stamford High School. She has studied voice with Robert Edwards Voice Studio in Los Angeles and at Ohio State University where she was an Opera Major. She has also studied dance and acting.
Rocco Natale
Rocco Natale is the founding Executive Director of Open Arts Alliance, Rocco Natale is the 2017 Moffly Media "Light A Fire" Award winner for arts engagement. A Newington-Cropsey Fellowship recipient for dramatic writing and research, Rocco is a playwright and director. His plays have been performed internationally and stateside he has worked at The Cherry Lane Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop's 4th Street Theatre, Inside Broadway, Urban Stages and Arena Stages. Rocco's adaptations of GREAT EXPECTATIONS and K.C.@BAT are published by YOUTHPlays. His play SMOKE SIGNALS holds the distinction of receiving the Siff Grant for educational performance and was developed to tour with Hospital Audiences, Inc. A semi-finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference and Premiere Stages, Rocco has had the pleasure of working with Signature Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Mirror Repertory Company, The University of Connecticut and Shakespeare on the Sound. BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. MA: New York University; BA: New York University, CAS: The University of Bridgeport. Guest Lecture: Playwriting (Sacred Heart University.)
Jason Pizzarello
Jason Pizzarello’s play Bethel Park Falls is part of Everyday Inferno Theatre Company’s 2018 season, directed by Christine Zagrobelny in NYC Central Park. Recently developed plays include After People Like You at Classic Stage, with director Anna Brenner; Providence Adrift with Meghan Finn at 3LD; Half Right, with director Michelle Bossy and the Fordham Alumni Company; All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Being a Zombie with director Damen Scranton at Irondale Ensemble; and When I Had Three Sisters with director Lila Neugebauer in the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Other plays include: Once There Was a Boy (semi-finalist, Princess Grace Award; semi-finalist, O'Neill Playwrights Conference); InsideOut (Live Project at HERE Arts Center); and Saving the Greeks: One Tragedy at a Time (Push Productions at 14th St. Y Theater). Five of his short plays have been selected by the Actors Theatre of Louisville as Heideman Award finalists. Over thirty of his plays are published and have been produced in all 50 states and in 22 countries, including a Norwegian translation. His work has also been featured in “Actor’s Choice: Scenes for Teens,” “Actor’s Choice: Monologues for Women,” and “Random Acts of Comedy” (Playscripts). He is the co-founder of Stage Partners, a licensing house for new plays for young actors (www.yourstagepartners.com). He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two young daughters.
Martha Wollner
Martha aided Maysles Films Inc. in capturing real people stories for award winning projects that ranged from documentary features to landmark commercial campaigns and corporate projects for a host of Fortune 500 clients. Her duties at MFI included casting, producing and second unit directing on feature documentaries. Following her tenure as General Manager of the company, Martha established her own company, Very Real Casting, dedicated to nurturing human stories for all forms of media. Now in its 20th year, Very Real Casting is rooted in the same skill set the Maysles Brothers saw in Wollner from the outset; the ability to find and establish relationships with people who deliver the greatest window into their real stories. Martha is a proud member of NYC's renown Labyrinth Theater Company. Her performance and playwriting have both been featured at LAB. She has performed with the iconic Royal Shakespeare Company and attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland as both an actress and director. Her work in theater has long enhanced her story producing and casting skills.