Our faculty is comprised of professionals with decades of experience in the arts from classroom to stage. We are honored to have these artists bring their talents and love of their craft to the Henry Mancini Academy.
Jennifer Beaumont (Theatre, Music)
Jennifer G. Beaumont is a native of Clinton, PA and earned her B.A. in theatre performance with a minor in Voice from Seton Hill University. After graduation, Jennifer spent many years working in New York City with the Dysfunctional Theatre Company and Robert Mooney in We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, Control Freaks In Love and Sodom for the New York Fringe Festival. Other New York credits include the role of Nell in And Counting at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Dea in The Man Who Laughs, Conrad in Wiseacre Farm, and multiple other shows at 13th Street Repertory Company.
She also completed a tour of A Taste of Ireland – Bridging the Gap with the Kilkelly Ireland Theatre Company, Inc. Jennifer studied voice with Ron Shetler of Shetler studios, acting at TVI and voiceovers with Edge Studios in NYC. She is currently a soloist at her hometown Hebron Presbyterian Church. Favorite PA regional credits include: Pippin, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Macbeth, as well as multiple voiceovers with DreamForge Intertainment
Eric DeFade (Music)
With over thirty years of professional experience Eric DeFade is in demand as a performing artist and studio musician. Few musicians enjoy a schedule as demanding or varied. For the past ten years Eric has been a featured performer for the My Music series on PBS. This program is internationally broadcast and features such artists as Patti Labelle, Isaac Hayes, the Temptations, Robert Goulet, Wild Cherry, the Platters, and the Commodores to name a few.
Eric has played with music greats Rosemary Clooney, Josh Groban, the New York Voices, Gary Burton, John Scofield, Dave Liebman, Ahmad Jamal, Benny Golson and has toured internationally with The Artie Shaw Band and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Eric has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show accompanying legendary jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson.
Eric’s freelance schedule includes performances with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, the Civic Light Opera, The Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild All-Star Big Band, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra and Billy Price. Most recently, Eric has been a featured soloist with Orcheste De Nile which is a contemporary brass group formed by members of the Pittsburgh Symphony. With dozens of recordings to his credit, most notably with Nancy Wilson, and the New York Voices, Eric has played on two Grammy award winning projects and won an Emmy for his work on the music special, Live From Studio A.In the fall of 2012, Eric was inducted into the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame.
In addition to a year round performance schedule, Eric is an artist\lecturer in saxophone and Director of Jazz Ensembles at Carnegie Mellon University, resident artist at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, adjunct professor of saxophone at Seton Hill University, Director of Jazz Studies in the CMU Pre-College program, Music Chair of the Henry Mancini Academy, and clinician for the Pennsylvania Arts on Tour program.
Christiana Howell (Music)
Christiana has been a faculty member of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School since 2009, where she directs the middle school choir and opera workshop, teaches private voice lessons, and teaches classes in general music, music literature, and music critique. She holds degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Slippery Rock University, as well as a Masters of Music Education degree from Shenandoah University.
In 2008, she studied opera in Lucca, Italy, as part of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music’s Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca.
Ms. Howell has been a soloist with several regional orchestras in performances of Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Rutter’s Requiem, and Faure’s Requiem.
Christiana sings with several choral groups in the Pittsburgh area including the Trinity Cathedral Choir, OvreArts, the Ambrose Romanos Singers, Voces Solis, the Heinz Chapel Compline Choir, and the Pittsburgh Opera chorus. Ms. Howell has performed on Lincoln Park’s stage in professional productions of The Sound of Music, The Who’s Tommy!, and Todd Goodman’s the Night of the Living Dead.
Sarah Carleton (Theatre)
Sarah earned her B.A. in English Education from Geneva College and her MFA in performance from the University of Louisville, which included studies in Shakespeare and African American Theater.
She has taught acting and communications to students ranging in age from elementary school to college including working with the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare competition, teaching classes for Geneva College’s Communications department, and running her own Shakespeare camps.
Her performance work includes roles in several independent films for which she has won several acting awards for including best actress for her role in Transistor at the Cleveland 48 Hour Film Project. Along with her work in film Sarah has written and co-produced several theater performances included The Heart Of Shaharazad, which premiered in Pittsburgh in 2015. Written by Sarah with music composed by Eliane Aberdam and performed by Sarah, Soprano Lara Lynn Cottrill-McGill, and harpist Marissa Avon the piece is an adaptation of A Thousand and One Nights and explores issues of violence towards women and the power of stories and art to heal. Sarah continues to perform and work both in theater and film and more of her work can be found at sarahbcarleton.com
Jessica Kimbell (Music)
Jessica is very excited to be working as an accompanist and private teacher for the Henry Mancini Academy at Lincoln Park this year! Jess is a musician residing in Rochester, PA. This year she has begun working with Lincoln Park as an ArtReach teacher at various locations. Jess is also an accompanist for the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Dance Department, where she plays for ballet classes. After school, Jess teaches private lessons out of her home studio in Rochester, PA, and plays background music for private events and weddings in the Pittsburgh area.
Jess has always had a love of the arts. She was born into a family of talented artists, with three older sisters that all excel in music. After a childhood filled with countless musical ensembles and art clubs, Jess continued her journey with the arts at Westminster College, where she majored in Music Education with a focus on the piano. While at Westminster Jess accompanied the schools’ Concert Choir, played piano and percussion in Wind Ensemble, and Violin I in the Orchestra. Jess enjoyed accompanying the Westminster Concert Choir for two tours down the south coast of the US. Jess competed in Mu Phi Epsilon’s annual Concerto and Aria Competition with “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, and recieved second place with an honorable mention.
Outside of college, Jess worked at Camp Ballibay in Camptown, PA, teaching music lessons and directing musicals. At Ballibay Jess was able to direct shows like “Singing in the Rain”, “Seussical” and an original musical called “Will & Whit.” Jess has played in many musical pits in the area, including the Mars, Grove City, and Mercer School Districts. For the last two years, she taught in the Mars Area School District where she was the District-wide Orchestra Director and Middle School Chorus Director.
Morgan Gorski (Dance)
Morgan is a proud alumna of the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. She performed in numerous shows here at the center, as well as being part of the national honor society for dance arts. She ended her time at the center when she graduated in 2014. She did so with her high school diploma, as well as an Associates degree in dance education, that she earned alongside of her diploma. She is a current full time student at Youngstown State University where she will graduate next spring.
Valerie Williams (Resident Artist and Acting Director)
Valerie Williams (Resident Artist)
Originally from the South Hills (Peters Township), Val has worked as a teaching artist across the US with TheatreworksUSA, No 11 Productions, Inside Broadway, & more. Favorite credits: Her original album, Songs For Young Whippersnappers (available on ITunes & more) and her production company: Vintageous Productions
Select Performance Credits include:
Off Broadway: Chiquita Hart, Something for The Boys (Musicals Tonight), Finian’s Rainbow (soloist-in concert)/ Irish Repertory Theater at The Al Hirschfeld Theater.
Regional Theater/Tours: Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene), Smokey Joe’s Café (Pattie), A Christmas Carol (Mrs. Cratchit)
Vocal Performance: 4 time soloist with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, lead vocalist for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America and EPIC ships, Pittsburgh Pops Orchestra, Broadway at the West End Overlook (PMT). She can also be heard on Broadway’s “Carols For a Cure: 15” CD and in numerous recordings of new works for Musical Theater writers across the US.
Val has also worked on voice over projects in the US, Australia, and Korea.
Additionally, Val is a passionate advocate of Music Therapy, having created the Manhattan Dolls’ non-profit program: “A Day With The Dolls” and serving on the advisory board of Sing For Your Seniors (www.Singforyourseniors.org)
In addition to Mancini Academy, Val teaches with ArtReach and PACyber.
Val holds a BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music (CCM) where she received the Laurie Beechman Award for Vocal Excellence.
This Fall Val can be seen performing in “Belfast Girls” at Carnegie Stage with Ghostlight Theater Troupe.
Meg has worked extensively throughout the United States as a performer, teacher and choreographer. She is a graduate NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (CAP21).
Roles include: Gloria, National Tour of Damn Yankees and Marty, National Tour of Grease!, New York: Hair, Shylock in Merchant of Venice, and Shelly in the world premiere of Closer Than You Think. Numerous regional theaters – favorite roles include Mrs. Parker in the Pittsburgh premiere of Bat Boy (voted one of the Best Performances of the year, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Nickie in Sweet Charity, both Sheila and Judy in A Chorus Line, Serraghina in Nine. Television: USA Network’s Burn Notice and HBO’s Sex And The City.
She served as the resident director/choreographer for KidzAct at Naples Players and the Sudden Theater in Naples, FL and has served on the faculty of numerous studios and programs across the country.
Yoga Alliance-certified yoga instructor. Host/adjudicator for national dance competition company.
For the past six years, Meg has been on the faculty of CAP21 professional musical theater conservatory in New York City, teaching jazz, vocal performance, musical scene study, and acting. She also served as the coordinator of educational outreach for CAP21, helping to develop the programming and curriculum for several programs, serving areas from the New York City public school system to upstate New York. Meg is thrilled to be joining the Lincoln Park community as Director of the Henry Mancini Academy at Lincoln Park.