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Children's Theatre Staff

Eva De La Cruz
Youth Theatre Coordinator

Eva De La Cruz

Eva has been our resident youth theatre director/choreographer since the spring of 2012, and was brought onto the staff as Youth Theatre Coordinator in the fall of 2015. She has directed/choreographed the JCCS productions of Beauty and the Beast, Jr., The Sound of Music, Golly Gee Whiz, Fiddler on the Roof, Jr., Willy Wonka, Jr., The Wizard of Oz, Annie, Jr., The Nifty Fifties, Alice in Wonderland, Jr., and the Performing Arts Camp productions of Freckleface Strawberry, Honk, Jr., Schoolhouse Rock LIVE! Jr., Dear Edwina, Jr., and Aladdin, Jr. For the Teen Theatre program, she has directed Show and Spell, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan, The Audition, and Ths Phne 2.0.

Prior to working at the J, Eva was the Artistic Coordinator at HITS Theatre, an outreach instructor with Main Street Theater, and an on-camera instructor at the Page Parkes Center of Modeling and Acting. Eva has been a member of Actors’ Equity Association since 2005, and has worked as a stage manager for over 45 local productions. Eva received her BA from the University of Houston, and was the Associate Producer for the Houston Shakespeare Festival for four seasons following her graduation.

Brennan Blankenship
Class Instructor

Brennan Blankenship

Brennan has been a part of the J since the fall of 2015. Brennan is a Houston native who directs and performs around the Houston area. Some of the theatre companies she's worked with have been The Pearl Theater, The Kaleidoscope Theatre (formerly Bayou City Theatrics), City Lights Theater, and Main Street Theater. Some of her previous projects have been Seussical, Jr., Grease, and Evil Dead: The Musical. Aside from directing and performing, Brennan is also a theatre instructor and storyteller for Express Theater.
 

Jo Ellen Hubert
Voice Instructor / Music Director

Jo Ellen Hubert brings to her teaching a passion for music and a strong wish to share the joy of music with her students. Jo Ellen’s students perform not only on local stages – TUTS, HITS, and many others – but also on Broadway and in Broadway tours. Her students are scholarship recipients and students at a variety of Universities and Conservatories including California Institute of the Arts, Northwestern University, the University of Texas, AMDA in New York, NYU’s Tisch School, Southern Methodist University and many more. An Honor Graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she has also studied piano performance and vocal coaching in Hungary at the renowned Kodaly Pedagogical Institute.

Jo Ellen has served as a clinician and guest speaker for many Music Teachers Associations and as an adjudicator for many music competitions. She has served as Musical Director for the TUTS Academy as well as for various local theatre colleges and theatre companies. She has served as the pit pianist/keyboardist for TUTS productions the last 11 years as well as rehearsal pianist for 10 years. She serves as keyboardist for Broadway Across America tours.

A member of ASCAP, Jo Ellen Hubert has written and orchestrated three musicals, While Childhood Slept (the story of Peter Ginz and the children at Terezin), Jinx and Charlotte’s Web as well as composed music for Chamber groups, harpsichord, piano, choir and voice. Jo Ellen is the 2002 winner of the Woman of Achievement in the Arts presented by the Family Time Foundation in Houston.

Amanda Kingston
Voice Instructor

Amanda Kingston

Praised for her “soaring soprano voice” and “impressive dramatic versatility,” Amanda made her professional debut as Josephine in HMS Pinafore with Nevada Opera. Other operatic roles include Mimì in La Bohème, Gilda in Rigoletto, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Violetta in La Traviata, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Miss Pinkerton in Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief, Corinna in Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims, Rosalba in Catan's Florencia en el Amazonas, Hannah in The Merry Widow, Despina in Così fan Tutte, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, and Margot in The Desert Song.

She has performed roles with Opera Columbus, Opera in the Heights, Candid Concert Opera, The Ohio Light Opera, The Brevard Music Center, Lone Star Lyric Theater
Festival, Houston Ars Lyrica, Houston Camerata, Ann Arbor Symphony and The Alley Theatre. Later his season, Amanda will perform Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Lakes Area Music Festival. Amanda’s awards include First Place in the Lois Alba Aria Competition, Lucy Morgan Award at the Shreveport Singer of the Year Competition, Finalist in the McCammon Competition and Dallas Opera Competition, and District Winner and Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

 

Sarah Opersteny
Class Instructor

Sarah Opersteny

Sarah is a Houston native who studied theatre education at Stephen F Austin State University. She's a newcomer to the J and is beyond thrilled to be a part of the team. She interned with the Alley Theatre's education department for two summers. She recently came back to Houston from a study abroad trip to Ireland where she studied Irish theatre and literature.

Sarah is currently working as an actor with the Houston troupe of the Murder Mystery Company. She has stage managed several contests for the UIL One Act Play for high schoolers through SFA. She's looking to learning just as much from the kids as they will learn from her.

Dr. Joel Plaag
Voice Instructor

Dr. Joel Plaag

Dr. Plaag is Director of Traditional Worship at Cypress Creek Christian Church where he directs the chancel, bell, and children's choirs. He has been on the faculty of colleges in Texas and Arkansas. Churches he has served at include First United Methodist Church of Brenham, Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Houston, and First Christian Church of Grand Prairie, as well as a staff singer at churches and synagogues including Congregation Beth-El of Fort Worth, Emmanuel of Livingston, NJ, and Westcliff United Methodist of Fort Worth.

He holds degrees from Texas Christian University, Westminster Choir College of Rider University and the University of Houston, and major professors include Ronald Shirey, Ruth Whitlock, Joseph Flummerfelt, and Charles Hausmann. He has also studied orchestral conducting with Robert Gutter and Ovidiu Balan.