Renee Celeste

Artistic Director/Owner

Acting, Ballet, Combo, ShowTime, ShowTime Performing

Miss Renee comes from a very diverse background that includes being a director, choreographer, teacher, performer, teacher's teacher, writer, and mom! Renee has been teaching for over 20 years and has been the Artistic Director and owner of Front & Center for Performing Arts in Springfield, NJ for the past 12 years. She teaches all disciplines as well as directs and choreographs FNC's yearly musical productions. Renee's students have been seen on Broadway, in National Tours, and have won numerous awards at Competitions all across the state and Nationally. She is especially proud of the diverse college programs her students are being accepted into as a result of their versatility, training, and hard work! Renee is extremely proud of the many achievements of the students at the studio and feels extremely blessed to have everyone at FNC as a second family!

As a director and choreographer, her credits include productions of Shrek, Aladdin, Grease, The Little Mermaid, 42nd Street, The Wiz, 13, Thoroughly Modern Millie, RENT, Beauty and the Beast, Working, Once On This Island, Godspell, CATS, Into the Woods, Seussical, The Pajama Game, and Annie. She is also proud to head up the theatre program at Willow Lake Day Camp.

Renee began her ballet training at the Rochester City Ballet in Rochester, NY. She began training in voice and acting at age 10. After graduating from the Rochester School of the Arts, she attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. There she earned a BFA in drama with a minor in Dance Education. She is an Associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and a long time member of the Actor's Equity Association.

A specialist in teaching Musical Theatre for young children, Miss Renee has become a highly sought after teacher's teacher. This summer she was invited to present at the prestigious Rhee Gold DanceLife Convention. (www.DanceLifeConference.com) There she taught amongst the top master teachers in the industry, some of whom were her own mentors! This fall she will also be teaching at Rhee Gold's Retreat Center (www.DanceLifeRetreat.com) where she will also return for the summer of 2016. She is also the Co-creator, along with her partner Julie Lira, of T3: Training the Triple Threat (www.T3TrainingTheTripleThreat.com) which is a brand new company teaching and providing products and syllabi for Musical Theatre programs in the U.S., Canada, and many other countries. T3 was launched this summer at DanceLife and is growing fast with the help of the awesome FNC students who are an inspiration to the work! Renee's first book, Leap 'N Learn for Musical Theatre (www.leapnlearn.com), a young children's curriculum, is licensed to Leap N' Learn studios around the world. A true teacher's teacher, she has also presented for Dance Teachers Unite of Australia, The Dance Teacher Summit in NYC and Leap 'N Learn conventions across the country.

In November of 2015 Miss Renee and FNC will be featured in Dance Studio Life Magazine. This is a career milestone for both Renee and the studio! No matter how far she travels, she always looks forward to returning to her own studio for that is her most favorite place to teach!

In her past life, she was seen on Broadway in The Wizard of Oz (starring Mickey Rooney and Eartha Kitt) as Rumpleteazer in the National Tour of CATS and at numerous regional theatres including Paper Mill Playhouse, Walnut Street Theatre, and numerous others professional theatres across the country.

Renee has a true passion for sharing her love of musical theatre with children of all ages. At home, she enjoys singing show tunes with Miss Julie and her three amazing kids, Celeste, Lucas, and Thomas!

 

Joseph Ancheta

Hip Hop

WE ARE SO HAPPY TO WELCOME ANOTHER TEAM MEMBER ...BIO COMING SOON!

 

Danielle Bobish

Dance Combo, Rhythm & Roll, ShowTime

In addition to being our front office studio manager, the lovely and talented "Miss Danielle" also teaches Dance Combo, Rhythm & Roll, and Showtime here at Front and Center. A graduate of the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music with a BFA in Musical Theater with a focus on Directing, Danielle's performance credits include: The 50th Anniversary National Tour of Singin' in the Rain (Lina Lamont), Pink Elephants (Bubbles) at Manhattan's Slipper Room, Ragtime (Evelyn Nesbit), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum(Philia), and Children and Art: Sondheim's 75th Birthday Celebration (Broadway All-Star Chorus). When she is not keeping us all on track, Danielle is leading adult Zumba classes at New York Sports Club or performing in her favorite roll of all: Mother to our own company member, Madeline Bobish.  

 

Rodney Briscoe

Voice

Rodney came to NJ to attend Grad School at Westminster Choir College in Princeton. Those ended up being the best years of his life (to date...). By day, Rodney teaches music in Elizabeth, NJ and has been the Musical Director at Willow Lake Day Camp for over a decade. He has spent the last four "glorious years" at Front and Center with the most talented and charming students and staff. An FNC favorite, we are so thrilled to have Mr Rodney on staff as a teacher and resident Musical Director for all of our in-house productions.

 

Margot De La Barre

ShowTime, Tap

Margot has appeared on Broadway in South Pacific, Evita, Anything Goes, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, and Promises, Promises. She has danced on three Tony Awards telecasts, Good Morning America, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The View. She was also part of NBC's Sound of Music Live! starring Carrie Underwood. Margot toured the country playing Nancy and covering Polly in The Boy Friend directed by Dame Julie Andrews. Additionally, Margot has performed at many regional theater's around the country, including Paper Mill Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Theatre Under the Stars, North Shore Music Theatre, TOTS, Westchester Broadway Theatre, and Arizona Theatre Company. She is originally from New Orleans, where she trained in ballet with Giacobbe Academy of Dance and Delta Festival Ballet. Margot is the proud mother of two little ones. Margot brings her vast theatre background along with her mommy skills to the studio!She is so excited to begin this next adventure teaching at Front & Center.

 

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan

Voice

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan holds the distinction of portraying both Cosette and Fantine in the original company of the mega-hit Les Miserables, the only actor in Broadway history to do so. She originated the role of Cosette in the Third National and San Francisco Companies, later reprised the role for her Broadway debut, and in 1996, and most recently 2002, returned to Broadway as Fantine. Well known to theatre audiences across the country, Jacquelyn has most recently starred as The Wicked Witch of the West in Andrew Lloyd Webber's version of Wizard of Oz, Mama Who in Broadway's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Betty Schaefer (opposite Petula Clark) in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard, Lily in the Tony award winning The Secret Garden, Susan Lawrence in Maltby/Shire's big, and as Ellen in Miss Saigon; a role she later recreated on Broadway.

Off Broadway Jacquelyn has starred in the original companies of Sweet Adeline (Nellie, City Center Encores!), Kathie Lee Gifford's Under the Bridge (Madame Calcet, Zipper Theatre), Suburb (Alison, York Theatre), The Ark (Sariah, 37 Arts Theatre), Mrs. Lincoln (Myra Bradwell, York Theatre), Have a Nice Life (Jackie, New World Stages, NYMF Outstanding Ensemble Excellence Award 2006) and most recently in the critically acclaimed revival of Close Than Ever (York Theatre).

She has performed in many pre-broadway workshops and readings including The Witches of Eastwick (Sukie, American Premiere at The Signature Theatre, Behind the Limelight (Hedda Hopper, NYS&F @ Vassar), Marty (Mary, Reading starring John C. Reilly), Time and Again (Kate, Reading), Winchell...the Musical (June Winchell, Workshop), and the world premieres of Nevermore (Elmira, Signature Theatre) and Heartland (Sarah, Madison Rep & Dallas Summer Musicals)

She won the 2004 Helen Hayes Award, Best Actress, for her portrayal as Lizzie Curry in Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's 110 in the Shade at Eric Schaeffer's Signature Theatre in Washington, D.C. In 2005, she won the Connecticut Critics Award, Outstanding Actress, for her portrayal as Millie in Goodspeed Opera House's production of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers.

Regional Favorites include the title role in Evita, Gypsy (Mama Rose),  Grey Gardens (Edith/Little Edie), Hello Dolly (Dolly Levi), Annie (Miss Hannigan), She Loves Me (Amalia), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Millie), Cats (Grizabella), and All about Eve (Eve Harrington co-starring with Gena Rowlands). Television appearances include Paul Sorvino's Movie Development of King Lear (Reagan), Another World, Broadway on Broadway, CBS's The Early Show, the final broadcast of The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and most recently she sang on The Today Show during the segment "Dear Kathie Lee" Everyone Has a Story.

In concert, Jacquelyn most recently sang with The Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, and on separate occasions, had the honor of singing for President Bush and President Reagan. Her "rafter-reaching vocal chords" were heard singing the National Anthem for the Orlando Magics and the Rochester Americans. She holds a BFA in acting from Boston University and has taught master classes all over the country in both acting and singing. She is delighted to have the opportunity to share her knowledge with the next generation!

 

Amanda Dunsdon

ShowTime

Amanda Dunsdon is excited to begin her first year with the studio. She is a Maryland native who graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a BA in Performing Arts and a dance minor.  She has been dancing and involved in Musical Theater from a young age. She was involved with a local Maryland studio and enjoyed a few years to competition dance.  But she decided to end her competition season and switch into Musical Theater in High School, and hasn’t looked back since.
She is a professional actress, who has performed in NYC, Off-Off Broadway and The Producers Club. She has also worked with other dance studios in NJ. As well as performed in local theaters like Cranford, UCC Players and been a part of The New Jersey Fringe Festival.
She has a passion for working with children and sharing her joy of the arts.

 

Amanda Hudson

Ballet, Lyrical, Pointe

Amanda began her training at Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts (NJ), where she studied as a scholarship student for over ten years.  Additionally, she spent summers training at Studio Maestro, and The Ailey School. Amanda attended Mason Gross School of the Arts, at Rutgers University, and later furthered her training as a student in the professional division at The Ailey School. She concluded her undergraduate education at Montclair State University, where she completed her BFA in Dance, with second major in and Psychology. Amanda has also attended dance teacher-training programs including: Ballet Teacher Intensive, DanceLife Retreat Center, and the DanceLife Teacher Conference.
With over 14 years of teaching experience, Amanda continuously strives to create a nurturing learning environment that stimulates her students' curiosity while refining their technical skill. Her classes are centered on classical dance techniques with additional emphases including, yoga, Pilates, dance history, and performance. As an instructor, she focuses on the fundamental components of discipline, respect, integrity, and compassion.

 

Julie Lira

Creative DIrector

All levels Ballet,Lyrical, Theatre Styles, Tap, Jazz, Acro, SLT, Butterfly Garden and Pointe

Julie is extremely excited to be returning to Front and Center, and to be yet again immersed in a world of inspiring teachers and wonderful students who share her love for the performing arts.

 

"One of my greatest passions is teaching the art of dance and theatre to children and young adults. I find great joy in watching a student discover that they can work hard and still have fun.... I love being part of that journey, when a young dancer falls in love with the work and becomes an artist."

 

Julie danced and performed from a very young age and began her teaching and choreography career by directing the neighborhood kids in shows in the backyard of her childhood home in her native Texas. She went on to train formally and has not stopped.

 

She toured the U.S. in West Side Story, Dick Clark's American Bandstand and State Fair, which later transferred to Broadway. Not only did Julie appear on Broadway in State Fair, but she also served as the assistant director, working alongside James Hammerstein. It was while working on State Fair that Julie decided that she wanted to begin a career as a director/choreographer. She was the associate director on Abby's Song at City Center and then went on to direct sold-out productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Footloose, Carousel, The King and I and the acclaimed Morrison, off-Broadway.

 

In 2009, Julie was ordained as an Interfaith Minister after studying for 2 years at The New Seminary in NYC. She has served as an art therapist abroad under the auspices of the United Nations where she worked to help children overcome severe trauma in war torn and disaster ravaged countries.

 

Miss Julie has been teaching in all genres at FNC for the past eight years. She has also  choreographed and

co directed  productions of The Wiz and 42nd Street, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Children of Eden, Seussical, Cats. While her interests may be diverse, her true passion has brought her home to the classrooms of Front and Center.

 

Carli Millen

Ballet, Combo, ShowTime

Originally from New Orleans, Carli received extensive ballet training from the Giacobbe Academy of Dance, School of American Ballet, and the University of Oklahoma. After earning her B.F.A. in 2000, she moved to NYC where she was soon hired as a dancer for The Phantom of the Opera Broadway National Tour. She toured the country for 5 years, playing theatres from the Pantages, in LA to the Kennedy Center. Carli was also a featured dancer in the musicals Music Man and Kismet with Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre, and has additionally worked as a Montessori teacher assistant, camp counselor, and choreographer. Carli brings her years of professional experience and love of dance to the studio, where she joyfully creates a fun, educational, and nurturing environment for her students. She is a proud mama to Olive and Emme and is honored and grateful to be part of the FNC family!

 

Kenzi Maniff

Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Tap

Maureen Monroe

Voice

Maureen Monroe is graduate of Vassar College, RPI and New England Conservatory with a graduate degree in vocal performance and has performed with a range of regional companies including the Opera Company of Boston, Longy Opera, New England Touring Opera and Lake George Opera. She has sung oratorio and orchestral concerts throughout New England and the New York region including performances at Boston's Symphony Hall and Jordan Hall as well as the Tanglewood Festival . Locally, she has performed with Stage 23 Theatre (where you may have caught her incredible performance as Jack's Mother in Into The Woods,under the Direction of Eric Sciotto, produced by Miss Renee) CDC Theatre, The Little Opera Co. of NJ, Opera at Florham and The Morris Theatre Co. She sang last season as part of the onstage choir for the Hunchback of Notre Dame at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. She has taught at the Westfield Workshop for the Performing Arts and maintains an active private studio. We are thrilled to have her as a part of our FNC Family!

 

Laura Natario

Acro

WE ARE SO EXCITED TO HAVE A NEW TEAM MEMBER...BIO COMING SOON!!1

 
 

Julie Rogers

Voice

Born and raised in New Jersey, Ms. Julie performs with local Big Bands as the lead vocalist and she has participated in several recording projects in the Tri-state area. She has performed in the Rainbow Room at the Top of the Rock, the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, and as far west as the Minot Jazz Festival in North Dakota. She also  went on the road with the National Tour as the lead vocalist for the Glenn Miller Orchestra. She then went on to pursue her Masters in Music Education from William Paterson University. Ms. Julie is currently teaching music full time and she is thrilled and honored to be a part of the Front & Center team! She is very excited to teach, encourage and inspire this talented group of young performers. 

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