Teaching Artists

Lindy Atkins has a BA in music education, and has taught in both public and private schools, as well as directing children’s choirs and kid’s worship at her church. She has appeared in, produced, directed, and worked as a make-up artist for numerous productions for Fantasy Playhouse. Lindy is a teaching artist in both Fantasy Academy and Fantasy in the Classroom capacities and serves on the Fantasy Board.


Kailey Burkhardt is the Education & Outreach Coordinator at Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater & Academy. She is a senior at the University of Alabama in Huntsville double majoring in theatre and English. She began taking classes at FPCT in 2003 and has now appeared both on and offstage in 20 of their productions including Alice in Wonderland (Alice), Sleeping Beauty (Snapdragon), and A Christmas Carol (Martha Cratchit) for which she earned a Wings nomination for Best Female Youth.  Along with assisting and teaching classes, Kailey has also student directed for the Academy and assistant directed 2015’s The Snow Queen.

Active in the community theatre scene, Kailey has also performed and assisted in directing productions with HCCA (The King and I) and Theatre Huntsville (Lend Me a Tenor).  UAH credits include Agnes of God, Suddenly Last Summer, Rantoul and Die, Spoonlake Blues, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Kailey is the UAH Theatre Department’s work study student. She oversees the upkeep of the prop and costume shop. This past summer she earned her first professional credit as the ASM of New Country, off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre with Fair Trade Productions and Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre.


Rita Burkholder currently owns Fig Leaf Costumes a costume rental and theatrical makeup store. She also writes and performs original music in her solo act Helen Keller’s Ukulele. She began working in the arts and theatre in Birmingham, Alabama. She taught children in a six week summer program for Hope Place Project at Space One Eleven from 1996-2000. She was also the artist coordinator for the Imagination Festival from 2000 to 2003, and ran a successful teaching studio for lamp-worked glass from 1998-2006. Upon returning to Huntsville, Alabama in 2004 she was one of the original working artists and performers keeping a studio at the Flying Monkey and Lowe Mill Arts Centre from 2004-2011. She has toured from New York City to Berlin to New Orleans performing original material, and has participated in the production of over twenty original outsider theatrical performances here in Huntsville via writing, costuming, set design, and editing. she has also had visual artwork displayed, and performed music at Panoply a number of times in the last ten years. She is currently writing a 2 hour solo show to be performed in Brooklyn, New York in may, runs her shop, and teaches costuming and makeup classes at Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theatre.


Lauren Carlton has been teaching in the academy for several years and will continue to teach during our summer camp season. An active actor, mezzo-soprano, and teaching artist, Lauren has appeared with Rocket City Shakespeare, the Athenian Players, Oregon’s Astoria Music Festival, Greensboro Light Opera and Song, the University of Alabama Opera Theatre, Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, and Ars Nova School of the Arts. Recent stage credits include Romeo and Juliet (Juliet), Richard III (Queen Elizabeth, Richmond), Coriolanus (Brutus), Eugene O’Neill’s The Web (Rose), Trifles (Mrs. Hale), The Gondoliers (Duchess of Plaza-Toro), Die Fledermaus (Prince Orlofsky), and Gianni Schicchi (Zita). Lauren holds a BA in journalism and a minor in opera studies from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Her work as an arts columnist has been published in NewMusicalTheatre.com’s Green Room, OnStage, The Crimson White, and The Huntsville Times. She will be attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas in the fall of 2016 as a first-year MFA Performance and Pedagogy candidate.


Dana Clark is the Education Associate at Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater & Academy. She holds a BFA in musical theatre from the University of Mississippi and an MM in vocal performance from the Longy School of Music of Bard College.  While in school, Dana taught tap dance and private voice.  As a part of her graduate program, she served as a teaching artist at Boston schools, teaching basic music concepts to grades 1-5. Dana has also choreographed for many organizations, including Mississippi: The Dance Company, University of Mississippi Theatre, and the Kate Smith D.A.R. High School Show Choir in Grant, AL. She received an Honorable Mention in the contemporary category from the Panoply Choreography Competition 2010. She has worked as an assistant director with Huntsville Community Chorus Association, and continues to participate both onstage and offstage with UAH Theatre, Fantasy, and Theatre Huntsville. Dana currently runs musical theatre workshops and leads one of the weekly story times at the Downtown Huntsville Public Library.


Candice Cooper is the Education Director at Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater and Academy. Ms. Cooper holds a BA in theatre from Jacksonville State University. Since graduating, she has worked at several theatres along the eastern U.S. ranging from Alabama to New York as a director, stage manager and educator. Ms. Cooper has been the Director of Education and Production, as well as a faculty member and Director of the Musical Showcases for Acting For Young People (AFYP), a highly regarded children’s theatre in the Washington, DC area. Prior to working with AFYP, she spent four years with Virginia Stage Company, a large regional theatre in Norfolk, VA, as the Education Associate and Tour Manger. She has served on the faculties of Imagination Stage, Educational Theatre Company, Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre and Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts. Ms. Cooper is thrilled to be back home in the Madison area with her husband and daughter.


Tyler Henderson graduated with a BA in music from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an MM from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University while working as an Associate Instructor of Voice. A native of Huntsville, he was active in many local theater groups while attending Lee High School. While pursuing his Masters degree, he appeared with Cardinal Stage Company in Bloomington, Indiana as Edward Rutledge in 1776 and Grantair in Les Misérables, and a soloist with the Hendricks Symphony. Tyler is an experienced performer and instructor in the realms of straight plays, musical theater, oratorio, jazz, and opera.


Elaine Hubbard has performed, directed, designed, and choreographed award-winning shows for many North Alabama theatre companies through the years, including Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater and Academy, HCCA, The Whole Backstage, Independent Musical Productions and Theatre Huntsville. She holds a BS degree in theatre arts from Charter Oak College in Hartford, CT. In the 1990s she served as Artistic Director of Theatre ‘Round the Corner in Huntsville, providing over 50 productions to thousands of theatre patrons from the Tennessee Valley and beyond. Elaine is currently president of the Board of Directors at Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater and is a teaching artist for the Academy. In 2013 she was the recipient of the 45th annual Virginia Hammill Simms Award for her volunteer support of the arts in Huntsville. When away from theatre duties, Elaine enjoys quilting, gardening and genealogy. She and her husband John travel extensively and delight in being with their granddaughters, Riley and Eliza.


Lorie Hubscher has been active in Huntsville theater for thirty years as an actor, director, writer and teacher. She has been awarded several times for her work with Fantasy Playhouse, Theater Huntsville, and other organizations as a Wings Award recipient for Best Show, Best Director and Best Actress. Lorie received her degree in communication arts from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She currently works for the Huntsville Madison County Public Library at the Bailey Cove branch in Youth Services. She is married and the mother of two boys.


Melissa “Birdie” Jones began her adventures in stage management at the University of Alabama in Huntsville under the tutelage of David Harwell. Her UAH credits include The Tempest, The Consul, and Sunday in the Park with George. In the summer of 2012, she began her professional career as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Mountainside Theatre in Cherokee, NC. In addition to her duties as ASM, she also spent time working with pyrotechnic effects and stage firearms, and learning the art of stage combat. She received a basic pass from the Society of American Fight Directors in knife combat. In 2014, she was hired by Phillip Otto at the Huntsville Ballet Company and is currently serving as their Production Stage Manager and Lighting Designer. Additionally, she has worked professionally with the Huntsville Arts Council and UAH Music Department. She is the General Manager for the choral group Ensemble Namárië. Birdie resides in South Huntsville with her husband and three angels masquerading as cats. When not making rehearsal schedules and chasing actors, she enjoys studying music, knitting, drinking good coffee, and baking.


Jameel Lewis is a native of Huntsville who began his theatre experience at a young age in Fantasy Playhouse’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. A graduate of Lee High School Theatre Magnet and the University of South Alabama with a B.F.A in theatre, Mr. Lewis has been acting, directing and teaching theatre for over 20 years. Through Improv groups, acting workshops, teaching theatre in public schools grades 4-12 and forming an afterschool theatre program of his own, Mr. Lewis has brought the joy of performance art in education to hundreds of people of all ages.


Lezlie Lanza has been involved in theatre in some capacity since she was 8 years old. As an actor, she has worked with Theatre Huntsville, Independent Musical Productions, Huntsville Community Chorus Association, Renaissance Theatre, Theatre ‘Round the Corner, and Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater. Favorite roles include Chelsea in On Golden Pond, Mrs. Wall in Holy Ghosts, Mrs. Davidson in Southern Hospitality, and her reoccurring role as Mrs. Mallard in The Mill Stories.

Lezlie has a Bachelor of Science and certification in elementary education and theatre (grades 6-12) from Athens State University. She has taught public education in Huntsville City Schools for 24 years (grades 1-6). She has been a teaching artist with FPCT for twenty years with classes such as Write, Direct, and Perform Your Own Play; Musical Showcase: The Enchantment of Beauty and the Beast; Audition 101; and others.


Joan Leggett has been a teacher most of her life. Since moving to Huntsville almost twenty years ago, she added story telling to her resume, entertaining students in public schools as well as private gatherings. For the last few years, she has also been involved in theater at Fantasy and Huntsville Community Chorus. At Fantasy Playhouse, she enjoys teaching children ages five through twelve. She also teaches “Bible Story Time” at Trinity UMC and First Presbyterian of Huntsville. Joan has appeared in several Fantasy and HCCA shows.


Terrena Hope Mann is the Education Associate at Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater & Academy. She began performing professionally at age 14. She appeared on the globally televised show Ed McMahon’s Star Search while still in high school, which led to radio airtime in the Dallas area with one of her original songs. Terrena is a Six Flags Over Texas and Dollywood alum, where she sang and danced in various shows from 1993 to 1997.  While living in California, she taught musical performance and dance at The Stock Center for the Performing Arts, performed at Santa Maria Civic Theater, and started a theater group known as the Adobe Players.  Since moving to the Huntsville area in 2007, Terrena has taught Merrimack Hall’s Dance Your Dreams Program; started Hopefool Productions; performed, choreographed and assistant directed for HCCA; and performed in productions for IMP, FPCT and Theatre Huntsville. She began teaching at FPCT in January 2014. Her classes have included an after school outreach drama program, a spring break and a fall break one-day intensive, and a weeklong summer class.


Daphne McKinley has a long history working in the community with children. For over 17 years, she has served as a storyteller in the city and a summer reading volunteer for the Huntsville Public Library. Daphne also worked with Scholastic book fairs for 3 years as a BookTalker/Field Sales Representative. She has been a Girl Scout leader for ten years and a member of the Riverton Kiwanis Club. Daphne, a certified Kindermusik instructor, taught Kindermusik classes with the Fantasy Academy for ten years. She is currently a teaching artist in both Fantasy Academy and Fantasy in the Classroom capacities.


Karen Mockensturm is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, Screen Actors’ Guild and the American Federation of Radio & Television Artists as Karen Hinton, Karen’s professional acting career included work in radio, television, film, improvisational comedy, and regional theater across the country.  A former casting director, teaching artist, and acting instructor at the Walnut in Philadelphia and with the Roundabout Theatre Company, Creative Acting Company and Broadway Classroom in New York City, Mrs. Mockensturm relocated to Huntsville in November of 2002 and now serves as FPCT’s Executive Director. Favorite roles include: She in Maybe Baby, It’s You!, Viola in Twelfth Night, Frenchy in Grease, Kyra in Skylight, and Mary in Vanities


Charlotte Morris grew up in Huntsville and began her journey with Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater and Academy as Piglet in Winnie the Pooh. She went on to act in numerous FPCT shows throughout her childhood. Her mother and father even hopped on board behind the scenes. Charlotte graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and has since worked as an actress in both New York and Atlanta in off-off Broadway productions, independent film work, industrials, voiceovers, and commercials. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University with a degree in education. After teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District for several years, she made her way home to Huntsville where she currently teaches middle school reading intervention in Madison County. She holds an MA in Education from UAH.


Wynn Oldham graduated from Auburn University with a degree in early childhood education. She taught several years in Jackson County and Huntsville City Schools. Wynn became involved with Fantasy Playhouse in 2001. She studied stage makeup design under Brent Baker and now she does makeup for various theater companies as well as Fantasy Playhouse. She has also won multiple Wings Awards for her work. Wynn is an office volunteer at Fantasy Playhouse.


Kim Rozek began teaching preschool in 2002 while living in Hochspeyer, Germany.  Following her return to Alabama, she continued working with children while employed at Sci-Quest, Hands-on Science Center.  In 2009, she launched the Sprouting Scientist preschool program teaching weekly classes to children ages 2 to 5.  Currently, she is working at the Downtown Branch of the Huntsville/Madison County Public Library conducting story-times at numerous preschools throughout the area.  Kim brings with her a lifelong love of the theatre.  She has been a volunteer with Broadway Theater League for the past 7 seasons and is excited to be joining the Fantasy staff.


Sherri Ryan recently retired from Huntsville City Schools after several years of teaching theatre at Sparkman High School. She has directed 15 musicals and performed in over 35 productions. Sherri is a Wings Award winner for Lead Actress, Supporting Actress and Featured Performer. She continues to stay active in the Huntsville theatre community. Sherri holds a bachelors degree in theatre and television production from the University of North Alabama and a masters in special education.


Samantha Smith is a teaching artist Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater & Academy. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. She has worked with various theater programs as an actor, stage manager, and production manager over the past ten years. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in English Education. Samantha has been married to her amazing husband, David, for a year.


Alison Zeigler has been involved with FPCT for 5 years. She currently teaches in FPCT’s Fantasy in the Classroom. She is dedicated to supporting fantasy’s growing arts education programs as well as our production programs at the VBC Playhouse.


Teaching Artist Assistants

Maddie Austin, Stella Broussard, Theresa Gardiner, Davis Ouriel, Ryan Rorick, Alaina Shelton