Jessie Lee is the Booksicals Repertory Company director and choreographer and plays the narrator in the musical Too Many Visitors for One Little House. Her love of music, dance and the theater began at the age of 7 when she performed in her first musical, “Big River,” and has been singing, dancing and acting ever since. She is a graduate from California State University Northridge (C.S.U.N.) with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Industry Studies. Jessie performed in the workshop cast of “JUNK! A Rock Opera,” and will be traveling soon to New York to sing for its staged reading on and off Broadway. She has taught dance and Kindermusik to children for 5 years and is creator and instructor of Tiny Dancer, a parent/child dance curriculum designed for children ages 9 months to 3 years. In addition to working with children, she also choreographs for adults. Jesse couldn’t be happier to be the director and choreographer of the Booksicals Repertory Company promoting children literacy.
Cindy Burnett has been performing since she was 5. Singing dancing and acting has always been the joy of her life. She graduated from Loyola Marymount with a Theater degree and has been performing professionally all over LA and Orange County. With a background in Children’s Theater, Cindy is so excited to bring books to life for kids in Booksicals!
Niketa Calame (SAG) is a native of Los Angeles, California. She is most noted for her role as the voice of “Young Nala” in Disney’s 32nd Animated Feature Film The Lion King. She received her BA in Theater from UC Santa Cruz and her Masters of Fine Arts from The Actors Studio drama school in New York City. Her favorite roles include “Frenchy” in Defacing Michael Jackson winner of the Samuel French Festival and “Martina” in Junk: A Rock Opera, both roles she originated. Niketa is happy to be apart of the Booksicals family.
Sarah Phillips has dreamt of becoming an actor since she was about four years old. Over and over again she tried to talk herself out of such an illogical dream. Nonetheless, her heart won out over her logic and she now lives in Los Angeles pursuing that dream. Throughout her four years at University of Missouri Sarah was magnetically drawn to performing, including singing on the worship band at her church, community theatre, singing contests, karaoke bars, a summer studying musical theatre in New York, and finally the theatre department her final semester. After graduating, she realized that she had to pursue acting. Sarah is currently a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood.
Booter Griffin is a lover of all things related to children’s books, and finds this opportunity to work with Booksicals quite splendiferous. A graduate of the Second City Conservatory, Booter has had the pleasure of performing all over LA and OC, most notably in the cult hit JUNK: A Rock Opera. His friends and family have trekked great and short distances to support him, and he is forever grateful for their company on this capricious journey.
Elizabeth Mehdtiach has starred in roles as diverse as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Anita in Westside Story and Nellie in South Pacific. Early in her Musical Theatre career she twice shared the stage with the late and great John Raitt, legendary Broadway star of Oklahoma and Carousel, in the Culver City Civic Light Opera’s Rogers and Hammerstein review “June is Bustin’ Out” and “Getting to know You.” She holds a theatre degree from the Universtiy of California, Irvine. Has studied in New York, through Hunter College’s Junior Year Abroad Program in Fine Arts and at Oxford Universtiy, BADA summer theater program. Elizabeth is excited to be a member of the Booksicals Repertory Company, encouraging reading through the arts!
Nick Rutherford can be seen and heard all over the world. He
recently finished a nationwide tour with his sketch group “Good Neighbor,” whose work can be seen on MTV, E! and the CW network. Nick was featured at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, The New York Underground Comedy Festival, The Los Angeles Comedy Festival, The San Francisco Sketch Festival, and the Out of Bounds Festival in Austin TX.
Brittney Kalmbach is delighted to be a part of Booksicals! Originally from Pennsylvania, she ventured west, and received her BA in Theatre from Cal Poly Pomona University and also spent a summer at Oxford University in England. She is currently a company member at Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon and Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro. In addition to acting, Brittney loves teaching youth ensemble play writing and theatre classes with Theatricum’s classroom enrichment programs, LEAP after school enrichment and the Unusual Suspects Theatre Company.
DeReau K. Farrar is currently the Resident Music Director for Epic Megalopolis Productions and their production of JUNK:A Rock Opera, the Music Director for Pasadena’s Selah Gospel Choir, and the Assistant Conductor for the Verdi Chorus in Santa Monica. His other recent work has been with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Master Chorale, and he is looking forward to his upcoming work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Choral Artists and Booksicals Children’s Musical Theater in Beverly Hills. Additionally, he is a Teaching Artist with Los Angeles Opera’s Education and Outreach programs and has worked extensively with the choral programs at West Covina High School, Pasadena Waldorf School, Duarte Unified School District, and with Duarte’s award-winning youth gospel choir, Rejoyce.
Alice Sherman loves to read. She loves to sing. And she loves to dance with wild abandon. Thus, the Booksicals Theatre Company is the perfect performance opportunity for her and she’s thrilled to be promoting children’s literacy using the magic of theatre! Alice has worked professionally in regional theatres across the country including The Portland Repertory Theatre in Oregon and Meadowbrook Theatre in Michigan. She received a B.A. from Columbia University in New York City, training simultaneously at the Manhattan School of Music for Opera and Classical Voice. Opera roles include Frugola in “Il Tabarro,” Desdemona in “Otello,” and Amelia in “Un Ballo in Maschera.” Past theatre credits include Laurey in “OKLAHOMA!” Marian Rice Playhouse, MI, Knowell in “Every Man in His Humor” at the Oval House Theatre, London, UK, Malvolio in “Twelfth Night” at the Mildred Dunnock Theatre, MD, and Helen of Troy in “Trojan Women” at the Minor Latham Playhouse, NY. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tara Hunnewell received her BFA in Acting at Marymount Manhattan College with a minor in Musical Theatre Performance. She has studied acting at the acclaimed Stella Adler Conservatory in NYC as well as with Tony Greco of The Actor’s Studio. She as performed in over 50 Theatre and Musical Theatre Productions around the country, including the children’s musical sensation “The Ohmies”. Tara is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. Tara balances her professional career with a commitment to humanitarian causes, and is very active with Airline Ambassadors, providing aid to children and families in need as well a international relief and development to underprivileged communities throughout the world. Her efforts as a Humanitarian have recently been featured on Joan Lunden’s Direct TV show “Hometown Heroes.”
Ellen Dostal has loved books and musicals for as long as she can remember, and especially loves to develop new works. Her theatrical career includes regional productions of Carousel, City of Angels, Stop the World and Seesaw, and original children’s versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Princess and the Pea, Beauty & the Beast and Slapstick Cinderella. She has entertained the troops for the Dept. of Defense in Greenland and Newfoundland, and has appeared in and produced shows for Carnival Cruise Lines. Ellen currently works with the Academy for New Musical Theatre as an actor and producer, and has appeared in new musicals like The Big Deal (Theatre Museum, London), Sour Grapes (Copake Theatre, NY) and the recent Colony Theatre readings of Bonnie & Clyde, Idaho! and The Water. She is also an award winning radio morning show host and voiceover artist.
Leah Jacobs is a graduate of the USC School of Theatre, where she worked with playwright Boni B. Alvarez on his plays Looking Towards Lourdes and Sweetest Hangover. She has been seen as an actor and dancer in many children’s theatre productions, including The Little Mermaid at the Players Theatre, and Max and Ruby with Theatreworks/USA. Leah currently lives in NYC, and she has performed at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Source, Queens Theatre in the Park, and with the Mortal Folly Theatre Company.