Who We Are

CHANGING CHILDREN'S LIVES FOR OVER 30 YEARS

Administration & Staff

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MARK DOMENCIC

Executive & Artistic Director

Mark has been teaching at ACT ONE for over 20 years.  He holds a BFA and MM in Piano Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Music Education from Boston University.  Mark’s current faculty appointments include Associate Professor of Music at the Community College of Allegheny County; Artist Lecturer in Music Theory at Carnegie Mellon University; and Co-Chair of the CCAC Allegheny Campus Humanities Department.  His past faculty appointments include Robert Morris University and California University of PA.  Mark has also music directed for various theatre companies in addition to ACT ONE, including the Pittsburgh CLO and St. Vincent Summer Theatre.

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JANET VAN COTT DOMENCIC

Executive & Managing Director

Janet received a BA in Sociology from Dickinson College.  She studied Voice with Brenda Smith (Dickinson College), Charlotte Sonne and Myrna Paris (vocal coach).   She was the vocal director at “The Stage” at la Place and Peabody High School.  Janet was also a director, writer, and co-founder of the musical theatre company Van Dash Productions.

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KAREN CORDARO

Founder & Consultant

Mrs. C founded ACT ONE Theatre School in 1986. She holds a BA in Psychology from Seton Hill College and teacher certification in secondary English.  She also attended the University of Pittsburgh for post graduate studies.  She wrote the script and co-wrote the lyrics for SESJUN (an internationally broadcast jazz program with Holland’s Metropolitan Orchestra), directed the ROUTE 66 performance with the cast of THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL in Rotterdam, wrote lyrics for a  WELLA BALSAM European commercial, wrote lyrics for Ernie Sabella’s opening song at the ENSEMBLE STUDIO THEATRE’S award gala in New York City, and has written for PARAMOUNT INTERNATIONAL. Mrs. C has taught and directed Pittsburgh area children for over 35 years.

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RACHEL PFENNIGWERTH

Coordinator – K-8th Grade Programs

Rachel is an Act One Alum and holds a BFA in Acting from Point Park University. She developed the curriculum and taught a musical theatre program in China for Fantasy Children’s Performing Arts School.  She completed four tours in the States as a director/actor with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre.  She has acted and directed in New York City with several companies including 3 Voices Theatre and Queens Shakespeare.  Rachel is an Associate Director at Little Lake Theatre and part of the Midnight Radio Jr. education team at Bricolage. 

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J.R. Hall

Coordinator – High School Programs

J.R. received his BA in Speech Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and his MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University. As a company member of the Western Stage of Salinas, CA he was commissioned to adapt John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row for the National Steinbeck Festival’s 50th Anniversary celebration of that novel’s publication. For the past two decades, he has served as the coordinator of the ACT ONE High School program and has been a member of the faculty of the Community College of Allegheny County, South Campus Drama Department, where he teaches Communications, Theatre, and Film. He recently completed a commission from Beacon College [the first accredited institution of higher learning designed to serve students with learning disabilities] for the book of a musical entitled Normal-C. A story about three special needs teenagers who face the dilemma of whether they should give up all that they are for a chance to be ‘normal.’

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TAYLOR WEINER

Technical Director

Taylor has been building sets and designing and operating lights for ACT ONE since 2016.  He holds an Associate's Degree in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design & Technology from the Community College of Allegheny County with an extensive background in welding and scenic carpentry. He is a member of IATSE 489 Studio Mechanics and works on feature films and television series filmed in Pittsburgh. Additionally, he is a fabricator and touring technician with Squonk Opera.

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CHRISTINE ROMAN

Accounting Manager

Chris has been working for ACT ONE Theatre School for 18 years and has been part of the ACT ONE family for 19 years.  Both of her daughters are alums of ACT ONE.  She holds a BA in Accounting & Finance from Robert Morris University.  She currently works as the Controller at RM Creative, Inc. Architects and Interior Designers. 

Acting Faculty

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RACHEL PFENNIGWERTH

Coordinator – K-8th Grade Programs

Rachel is an Act One Alum and holds a BFA in Acting from Point Park University.  She developed the curriculum and taught a musical theatre program in China for Fantasy Children’s Performing Arts School.  While in China, Rachel played Kala in the Chinese Poly Theatre National Tour.  She completed four tours in the States as a director/actor with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre.  She has acted and directed in New York City with several companies including 3 Voices Theatre and Queens Shakespeare.  Her roles include Casca in Julius Caesar and Titania in “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

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J.R. HALL

Coordinator – High School Programs

J.R. received his BA in Speech Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and his MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University. As a company member of the Western Stage of Salinas, CA he was commissioned to adapt John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row for the National Steinbeck Festival’s 50th Anniversary celebration of that novel’s publication. For the past two decades, he has served as the coordinator of the ACT ONE High School program and has been a member of the faculty of the Community College of Allegheny County, South Campus Drama Department, where he teaches Communications, Theatre, and Film. Most recently, he has been commissioned by Beacon College to write the libretto for a new musical dealing with the plight of special needs children and their families, set to premiere in the fall of 2019.

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JULIANNE AVOLIO

Acting Instructor (High School)

Julianne is a Pittsburgh born and bred actor, teaching artist, and improviser.  She studied at the University of Pittsburgh where she earned a degree in Theatre Arts and a Certificate in Children’s Literature with a focus on Theatre for Young Audiences. As a teaching artist, she has worked for the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Bricolage Production Company, City Theatre, Arcade Comedy Theater, and many more. She is a process-driven acting teacher and coach, focusing on individualized techniques for each unique actor. As a performer, recent credits include Perfect Wedding, Up and Away, and Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women for Pittsburgh CLO as well as various new musical workshops as part of the SPARK Festival, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and SCarrie: The Musical for Bricolage, The Liar with Kinetic Theatre, among others. She can be seen soon as Lina in City Theatre's 2020 production of Cry it Out.  Julianne is beyond delighted to be a part of ACT ONE Theatre School.

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WILL GUFFEY

Acting/Improv Instructor (K – 8th)

Will is an Act One Alum and holds a BA in Acting from Point Park University.  Will is a local improv actor who has worked with several programs including The Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival and Off The Record.  Will has acted in a multitude of films and episodic series such as “Something To Be Desired”, “Smart People,” and “The Other Side.”  He is the Director and Co-Founder of Perfectly Flawed Films.

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JOHN MICHNYA

Acting Instructor (High School)

John received his BA in Theatre from the College of the Holy Cross and his MA in Theatre from the University of Pittsburgh. He has appeared in productions at companies including Bricolage, Kinetic Theatre, City Theatre, Primestage, and Pittsburgh Playwrights. He has directed plays for Little Lake Theatre, In Between Theatre, and the University of Pittsburgh.

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JARED PFENNIGWERTH

Acting/Film Instructor (2nd - 8th)

Jared is excited to return to ACT ONE for his fifth year directing and teaching acting for film.  Jared has been acting professionally on stage and screen throughout the Pittsburgh area for over 20 years.  He is an Alum of ACT ONE and the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts.  Jared has appeared on stage at The Pittsburgh Public Theater, where he played Rudy in “Over the Tavern” and Oberon in “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” as well as Prime Stage, The Strand, and Little Lake Theatre where he is also employed as their Technical Director.  He also played a Stygian triplet in the 1999 film “Dogma” with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Rock and Alan Rickman.  He also appeared in “One for the Money” and “Concussion” (film) and “Three Rivers,” and “Outsiders” (television).

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TAWNYA HALL

Acting Instructor, Guest Artist

Tawnya has been teaching at ACT ONE for over 20 years and is a favorite among our students.  She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Point Park University.  She has directed multiple ACT ONE productions including the 2014 Professional Training Program’s production of Metamorphosis.  Tawnya has performed with critical acclaim throughout the area.  She teaches Acting at CAPA (Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School) and is one of their most challenging directors.

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J. ALEX CORDARO

Stage Combat Teacher & Fight Director (Summer Camp)

Alex has been studying, practicing, teaching, and directing stage combat for over 30 years.  He currently heads the Stage Combat Progression at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and has previously taught for Arcadia University, Rowan University, The North Carolina School of the Arts, Temple University, and The University of Delaware. He is also a core instructor for the annual Philadelphia Stage Combat Workshop.  Alex has directed fights in Louisville Kentucky as well as for theatres, dance companies and colleges throughout the Philadelphia area.  Alex’s choreography has been sailing across Europe for nine years with twenty different casts in Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s productions of Saturday Night Fever! and Columbus…The Musical!!

Alex is a Certified Teacher and Theatrical Firearms Safety Instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors, a three-time Barrymore Award Nominee, and was featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Project Discovery” series: Careers in the Arts; Fight Director.

Music Faculty

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JOE STAMERRA

Music Director (2nd – 12th)

Joe has been teaching at ACT ONE for over 25 years.  He holds a BA in Music Education from Duquesne University School of Music.  Joe has served as music director for the University of Pittsburgh, Jewish Theatre of Pittsburgh, CCAC South Theatre, and Kuntu Repertory.  He also served as music director for Don Brockett.  Joe is a music instructor at Pittsburgh Allegheny Traditional Academy and was instrumental in the production of its inaugural fully-staged musical, The Little Mermaid, Jr. in 2018, as well as annually since that time.  Most recently he was the musical director of their production of Peter Pan.

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MARK DOMENCIC

Executive & Artistic Director, Music Director (High School)

Mark has been teaching at ACT ONE for over 20 years.  He holds a BFA and MM in Piano Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Music Education from Boston University.  Mark’s current faculty appointments include Associate Professor of Music at the Community College of Allegheny County; Artist Lecturer in Music Theory at Carnegie Mellon University; and Co-Chair of the CCAC Allegheny Campus Humanities Department.  His past faculty appointments include Robert Morris University and California University of PA.  Mark has also music directed for various theatre companies in addition to ACT ONE, including the Pittsburgh CLO and St. Vincent Summer Theatre.

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COURTNEY MILSTEAD

Voice Instructor (High School)

Courtney is a graduate of ACT ONE and has been teaching at the school for 9 years.  She holds a BM in Vocal Performance from DePaul University and MM in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University.  Her operatic stage credits include Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette (Florida Grand Opera), Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro (Glimmerglass Opera), Flora Bervoix in La Traviata (Dayton Opera), Meg Page in Falstaff (Opera Santa Barbara), and Emilia in Otello (Kentucky Opera). She has been a soloist with several orchestras in concert, including The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.  Courtney has also performed with Opera Tampa in a concert honoring Placido Domingo conducted by Sherrill Milnes. Most recently, she appeared as Queen Europa in Pittsburgh Festival Opera's production of Die Liebe der Danae.

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MEGAN CONNELLY

Music Instructor (K – 8th)

Megan has been working with ACT ONE for over 5 years.  She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music degrees in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Duquesne University.  She also completed the PA Dept. of Education Music Teacher Certification Program from Carnegie Mellon University.  Megan is the Associate Director of the North Hills Chorale.  She is also the owner and private teacher at Megan Connelly Studio of Piano.

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JANET VAN COTT DOMENCIC

Executive & Managing Director, Vocal Audition Coach (2nd – 8th)

Janet received a BA in Sociology from Dickinson College.  She studied Voice with Brenda Smith (Dickinson College), Charlotte Sonne and Myrna Paris (vocal coach).   She was the vocal director at “The Stage” at la Place and Peabody High School.  Janet was also a director, writer, and co-founder of the musical theatre company Van Dash Productions.

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ELLIOT ROTH

Musical Director (Summer Camp)

Pittsburgh native and NYC based performer and instructor Elliot Roth has been hailed by the New York Times for his "silky smooth voice" and piano prowess; Broadway credits include "A Christmas Carol" and "Our Sinatra".  A masters graduate of the prestigious Manhattan School of Music
(voice, jazz arts) he is currently on the voice f
aculty of Marymount Manhattan College's theater arts department and performs regularly and teaches students of all ages in the tri-state area. www.theelliotroth.com

Dance Faculty

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ISAAC RAY

Dance Instructor (High School)

Isaac Ray is a graduate of La Roche University’s Performing Arts Department holding a B.A. in Dance and a certification in the Bodiography Fitness and Strength Training System, as well as training from the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. He began as a Principal Ambassador of Bodiography’s BCB2 and was promoted to Company Artist in 2020. Over the years he performed various works by Maria Caruso, Gia Cacalano, Kelly Basil, Meg Schriffen, Nicole Danni Bittencourt, Christina DiMarco, Callum Newman, Jackie O'Toole, and Virginie Mecene. He began his dance studies at Holliday Dance under the direction of Sharon Hollingshead, and Huntingdon Dance Academy under the direction of Kristin and Jamie Roberts. During his time with HDA, he performed in many productions of The Nutcracker choreographed by Jamie Rhett Roberts; he also played the role of "Puck" in A Midsummer Night's Dream choreographed by Thom Clower. In addition to his work with the company, he is on faculty at Bodiography Center for Movement and is the Assistant Director of the Bodiography Student Company. Isaac Is very excited to share his knowledge of dance with the students at Act One Theatre School!

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BRITTANY NETTLES

Dance Instructor (K - 8)

This is Brittany’s first year with ACT ONE.  She is a choreographer and dancer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Brittany is a graduate of Point Park University where she received her BFA in dance with a concentration in jazz, and performed works by Colleen Hooper and Keisha Lallama. She has also trained with the Pillow Project, Gibney Company, and American Dance Festival. Currently based in Pittsburgh, she continues to dance, teach and choreograph in a wide range of styles.

 
 
 
 

Since 1986, ACT ONE Theatre School has offered Pittsburgh area students the finest foundations in theatre education, providing a comprehensive, student-oriented program that develops skills, fosters creativity and provides success experiences for all involved.

The school year program consists of a semester of process-oriented classes focusing on skill development, and a semester of production-oriented classes focusing on the presentation of a fully-produced musical.  Every child is used extensively in the productions! Every child is equally encouraged and cherished!

 

ACT ONE Theatre School students are encouraged to develop their skills and to take performance risks in an atmosphere of acceptance and fun. Motivated by excellent literature, sensitive instructors, and high-quality performance expectations, these students blossom in professionalism, critical ability, and self-confidence.