Meet the Teachers
Meet the Teachers
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Minnie Beechner

Acting Instructor

Minnie is an ELA and Social Studies teacher at Aubry Bend Middle School by day and a Supermom and First Act Teacher by night! But wait…there’s more! She not only teaches improv, but has been known to perform on the World Famous improv team, The Argon Ship, with First Act’s own former Artistic Director, Gina Milbourn and fellow teacher, Jeff Yarnell.  Minnie and her four boys have been involved with First Act for over a decade. We are thrilled to have her teach with us again!

View More: https://ariphotography.pass.us/opb-session

Harrison Berggren

Dance Instructor

Harrison grew up performing in musicals at church as well as in other theaters and generally immersing himself in music. It wasn’t until 2017 when he was 20 that Harrison found dance, but when he did he jumped in with two feet. Since then he has been teaching, competing, and just dancing almost everything that requires two sets of feet (Ballroom, Swing, Latin, Country, and Line Dancing.) He is excited to bring some of his unique experiences to the students at First Act!
 
Laura Behm

Laura Behm

Dance Instructor

I started dancing at the age of two. Now I attend UMKC where I am earning a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography as well as a BS in Mathematics and Statistics. Dancing and performing is a life long love of mine, and I enjoy finding new communities to be apart of sharing their love of theatre.

Amy Carson

Amy Carson

Dance Instructor

Amy has been dancing and performing since she was four-years-old. She grew up in Overland Park, KS, studying at various studios in the Kansas City area and performing with Christian Youth Theater. Amy performed in over 16 shows with Christian Youth Theater, and taught at the newly established CYT dance studio when she was in high school.

While in high school, Amy traveled to NYC to perform jazz and tap pieces at Project Dance and choreographed for her high school’s show choir. Amy graduated from Kansas State University in 2013 with a degree in Elementary Education. During her time at K-State, she was a member of the K-State Tap Dance Ensemble, performed in over 8 main stage productions, competed in 2 of the Homecoming Dance Competitions, and took a variety of technique and master classes in the Dance Department.

Amy taught 3rd Grade in the Park Hill School District for 5 years, has choreographed shows at CYT the past 4 years, and has taught dance classes at CYT since 2013. Amy loves getting to continue her passion for dance and performing for the Lord at First Act!

Bethany Glen

Bethany Glendenning

Vocal Instructor

Bethany Glendenning is a classically trained singer who has been teaching privately since 2008 after graduating with a degree in Vocal Performance. Currently, she sings as a soloist and in ensembles, both large and small, around the KC Metro including the KC Symphony Chorus, her local church, and at the Renaissance Festival. Her style of teaching uses the student’s music interests, while broadening his/her music experience, in order to find the student’s true voice and build confidence to better perform. Several of her past students have performed in CYT, Barn Yard Theater, and Shawnee’s Theater in the Park among other places. She loves to teach just to see her students grow vocally as well as personally.

Patrick Graham

Patrick Graham

Vocal Instructor

Patrick Graham is a teacher, classically trained baritone, lifelong musical theatre nerd, and occasional Ethel Merman impersonator. He did his first CYT show in 2005 (Prince John in Robin Hood…the FIRST EVER CYT KC East show) and has been involved ever since.

As a singer and performer, he has been praised for his “vocal strength” and “beautiful tone.” Patrick has sung with the Ad Astra Music Festival, Seagle Music Colony, Eastman Opera Theater, Eastman Collegium Musicum (under the direction of Grammy award winning lutenist Paul O’Dette), the Rochester Fringe Festival, and the University of Missouri Opera.

His operatic and theatrical credits range from 18th century French Baroque opera to 21st century new opera to classics of the American Musical Theatre canon. His solo concert work includes Bach’s St. John Passion, Haydn’s The Seasons, Liszt’s Missa Solemnis, and a whole plethora of Bach Cantatas.

In 2019, he was awarded the Una Creditor Encouragement Award at the Kansas City District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and in 2016 he won his division of the NATS National Student Auditions. Patrick recently completed his Masters Degree in Voice Performance & Literature from The Eastman School of Music and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Voice Performance from the University of Missouri (GO TIGERS).

Lindsay James

Lindsay James

Vocal Instructor

Mezzo-Soprano Lindsay James earned her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Music Education from Harding University and a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Lindsay’s versatile voice has brought opportunities with local theaters including Theatre in the Park, StoneLion Puppet Theatre, Musical Theatre Heritage and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. In addition to performing, Lindsay has enjoyed teaching and music directing for CYT KC for the last nine years. One of my favorite things about teaching is watching my student’s progress from their very first lesson to the recital. It’s exciting when something “clicks” and the student is able to do things they never thought they could. Can’t wait for this semester to begin!

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Tyler MacSweeney

Acting Instructor

Tyler MacSweeney graduated from Avila University in December of 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Directing/Producing. First Act has been a part of his life ever since he first joined as a freshman in high school back in 2011. Ever since then, his world was completely changed, and has gained so many meaningful and irreplaceable memories and experiences from his time with First Act. In his spare time, he enjoys writing his own plays. Tyler can’t wait to continue working with the wonderful staff and students at First Act to create amazing shows and memories all for the glory of God!

Andrew Milbourn

Andrew Milbourn

Acting Instructor

Andrew Milbourn began in the heart of America. That’s right, Here in Overland Park, Kansas. Coming from a very artistic family, acting is a true passion of Andrew’s. He began his acting career with CYT KC.

Since graduating from Texas Christian University with a BFA in Acting, he has worked in numerous theatres around the country. He has also studied with the Groundlings Improv Group.

In addition to being in love with Jana (his best friend and BRIDE), Andrew is a sports fanatic, total nerd, and lvl 55 air hockey player.

Jana Latchaw

Jana Latchaw Milbourn

Acting Instructor

Jana began her training at George Daily Auditorium as a student, and continued on to become part of the artistic/directing team of the children’s theatre program. At Northwestern College, Jana received a BFA with an emphasis in acting. After graduating, she moved to Kansas City and began directing, teaching classes, workshops, and most recently directed CYT’s Urinetown!

Mackenna Milbourn

Mackenna Milbourn

Dance Instructor

Mackenna is a CYT alum. Mackenna started CYT as soon as she was old enough to be enrolled in summer camps and continued on doing CYT shows until she was 18 years old.

Mackenna graduated from TCU with a BFA in Musical Theatre and has worked regionally in professional theatres as an actor.

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Kelsey Nicholes

Dance Instructor

Kelsey trained in the Russian Veganova technique. She has danced in the Corte ballet with The St Petersburg Russian ballet of Marina Medvetskaya and studied under Galina Panova and Dr Peggy Willis Arnio. She taught ages 3-adult for four years and is excited to get back to teaching after having her three kids. Teaching children and giving them the best tools and technique is her passion.

April Okken

April Okken

Dance Instructor

April has been dancing since she was in preschool. She received a BS in Math and a minor in Dance from Missouri State University. While attending Missouri State, she was a member of the Sugar Bears Dance Team.

As a Sugar Bear, she danced in Spain, at the Macy’s 2001 Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the National Dance Competition at Walt Disney World, which aired on ESPN. April has also performed in Las Vegas, 1996 Summer Olympics, and Theater in the Park’s Singin’ in the Rain. She has choreographed shows for CYT as well as high school musicals and dance teams.

April choreographed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Seussical the Musical for TTIP and won the Demi Award for Best Choreography for the 2009 season. She became a certified Jazzercise Instructor in the spring of 2014 and enjoys motivating people to achieve their fitness goals.

She has also taught Musical Theater Dance at MidAmerica Nazarene University. April has been married to Brett since 2003. They have 3 children: Jeremiah, Kathleen, and Matthias. She is blessed to be teaching at First Act, sharing her love of dance for the Lord!

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Meghan Reeb

Vocal Instructor

Meghan received her BFA in Technical Theatre and Design from Avila University in the spring of 2019. Meghan took the opportunity to work at Walt Disney World in Entertainment Costuming, working with top-notch performers from around the world. She has previously worked with Starlight Theatre education program as the Education Intern as well as a teacher for their programs in the KC Metro area. Her theatrical credits include: The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Molly Brown), Silent Sky (Costume Design), Peter Pan (Assistant Stage Manager), Little Shop of Horrors (Ronette), just to name a few. Meghan believes that musical theatre and the arts give you a true chance to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, and have fun being creative! Meghan is excited to share her love of singing and performance with the First Act community! 

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Kayla Sandusky

Acting Instructor

Kayla (she/her/hers) believes that being involved in the arts is very important, especially for the young and very young! The arts offer a wide variety of learning, self-expression, and encourages creativity for all at any age. Kayla recently graduated with her BA in Theatre Performance at the University of Kansas. She works professionally around the Kansas City area and can be seen in various commercials around the United States. She is also a member of American Immersion Theatre and travels around the midwest to perform in various interactive shows. She is involved with the KS/MO Kennedy Center Partners in Education training program and is stoked to serve as a resource for K-12 educators throughout the Kansas City-Metro area that want to integrate the arts into their non-arts curriculum. 
Andrew Schmidt

Andrew Schmidt

Vocal Instructor

Andrew has been performing professionally and teaching in the Kansas City metro since 2012. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre from Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. Andrew loves the opportunity teaching gives him to share his love for the Lord and passion for music.

View More: https://ariphotography.pass.us/opb-session

Carlye Stone

Dance Instructor

Carlye Stone is a professional ballroom instructor with the USA Dance National 9 Dance Runner up title. Carlye began dancing Ballet, Tap, & Jazz at a young age and transitioned into Hip Hop and Show/Musical Theatre in her teenage years. She began her journey in ballroom dancing in 2013 and has been teaching ever since! Singing and dancing is a huge passion of hers and she can’t wait to share her love of it!

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Hillary Talken

Vocal Instructor

Hillary Talken is a CYT KC alum and a private music teacher in the Kansas City metro area! She graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee in 2019 where she received a Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music. Since graduating, Hillary has used her classical and commercial training in her time as a church musician, performer and teacher. She has a particular passion for music education and the incredible power it has to foster community. One of her favorite parts of teaching is giving students the access to tools that make singing easier and more enjoyable. Here’s to happy and healthy singing!

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Nick Todd

Acting Instructor

Nick Todd is a theatre technician and preschool teacher in the Kansas City Area. He previously obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts in Theatre at Missouri Western State University and an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from Johnson County Community College. He has been teaching preschool at the Jewish Community Center’s Child Developmentment Center for two years. Favorite theatrical work includes Stage Management for Hairspray Jr. (Shawnee Mission TIP), Props Design for The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (Emporia State Summer Theatre), and Props Design and Dramaturgy for Little Women The Musical (Missouri Western State University).

Liz Watkins

Liz Watkins

Dance Instructor

I started CYT in Richmond, Virginia at the age of 11. After moving to Kansas City, I pursued dancing with an emphasis in teaching all forms of swing. I am a part of the Kansas City Swingsters and most recently performed in the Kansas City Dancing with the Stars Cristo Rey version. I love teaching people of all ages how to dance because I see the joy that it brings them. 

Hope Williams

Hope Williams

Dance Instructor

Hope began dancing at age 6 with AngelFeet Dance Studio in south central Kansas. Here she trained in ballet, tap, jazz, pointé and was a member of the touring Ministry Team. After interning at The Washington Ballet at THEARC in Washington D.C., Hope found her calling to teach dance while assisting with the DanceDC program.

While pursuing her bachelors at Kansas State University she performed at many venues including the Kansas Dance Festival in 2013, The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, the Kansas State Fair, and many others. Hope was a member of the K-State Tap Dance Ensemble, the Kansas State Theater Organization and received her bachelors in theatre with a concentration in dance.

Hope has taught for CYT in the dance studio since 2015 and has choreographed four CYT shows: James and the Giant Peach, The Wizard of Oz, Annie Warbucks, and Madagascar. She looks forward to growing with the First Act family and whatever opportunities come in the future!

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Sarah Smeltzer Wright

Acting Instructor

Sarah is an alum (since 2004!), actor, director and teacher. She is the head of the Theatre Department at Saint James Academy in Lenexa, Kansas.  She graduated from Benedictine College with her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Journalism & Mass Communications.  From there, she earned her Master of Arts in Performing Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design. Sarah has acted, taught and directed in Savannah, GA, Omaha, NE and around the Kansas City area. Favorite theatrical credits include: Closer (Alice Ayres), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Director), Men on Boats (O.G. Howland), Faust: Part I (Gretchen), Cherry Orchard (Varya), and many more! In her free time, she loves to host a podcast with her husband called The PlayWrights, snuggle her cats, try new recipes and spend time with her family. She is looking forward to working with a community she has held close to her heart for as long as she can remember. 

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Will Wright

Acting Instructor

Will is the head of the Theatre Department at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School in Lee’s Summit.  He graduated from Benedictine College with his BA in Secondary Education, Social Studies, and Theatre Arts.  Will has acted, taught and directed in Omaha, Savannah, and around the Kansas City area. The most fulfilling part of educational theatre for Will is giving students the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  When everyone comes together from all walks of life, theatre ceases to be a performance and becomes a life-changing experience.