Shea's Summer Programming includes instruction by local Teaching Artists as well as national performers and Guest Teaching Artists. Our 2020-2021 roster of Teaching Artists and Guest Stars below.
Thembi Duncan is the Director of Arts Engagement and Education at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
Her background in the performing arts extends to the Washington, D.C. area where she worked for nearly 20 years as an arts administrator, actor, director, producer, dramaturg, playwright, and teaching artist.
Victoria Pérez is an accomplished theatre artist and teacher. She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Raíces Theatre Company, the only theatre company in WNY dedicated to developing, nourishing and producing modern and original works dealing with the Latino experience in order to preserve our roots. She serves as Secretary on the Board of the Arts Foundation of the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts and is a Committee member and theatrical expressions teacher for the Miss Borinquen Latina Leadership Development Program. Victoria has worked with many WNY theatres including Road Less Traveled, Ujima, ArtPark, Musicalfare, O’Connell and Company, Kavinoky Theatre and Subversive.
She has been nominated 10 times for the Buffalo Artie Awards and won for best actress in a musical for her work in FOUR GUYS NAMED JOSE AND UNA MUJER NAMED MARIA. She was also the program coordinator for MUSE (Musicians United for Superior Education) and for Antecesores, both arts organizations for which she was also a teaching artist specializing in theatre, music, and Puerto Rican folkloric dance and storytelling. She has been involved in the Buffalo’s young Latino community by doing theatre/music and dance residencies at the West Side Community Services, The Belle Center and with Friends of Hispanic Arts at Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy.
She was part of the creative team that was commissioned by the Arts in Education Institute of WNY to create a musical based on the history of Puerto Rico, entitled Mosaico Borincano. Victoria also received the Arts Award from Hispanics United of Buffalo and the Community Arts award from Senator Antoine Thompson. Victoria is a vocalist for the Buffalo Tango Orchestra and a teaching artist at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Naila Ansari is a cum laude graduate of Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts Program. She is an original and former principal dancer for the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, where the company was named "Top 25 Dance Companies To Watch" in Dance Magazine for the 2013-2014 season. Naila also danced and performed works for the legendary Lula Washington Dance Theatre out of Los Angeles, CA. She has had the privilege of dancing works by Robert Battle, Kyle Abraham, Camille Brown, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Sidra Bell, and Kiesha Lalama to name a few. Naila is a Fellow Visiting Assistant Professor at SUNY Buffalo State College and in her final year as a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Dance at the University at Buffalo. Most recently, Naila has two publications in Theatre Journal and has had her choreography performed at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Phil Farugia has appeared as an actor in local productions of A Little Night Music, Assassins, Oliver!, Sweeney Todd, Sisters of Swing, Bat Boy, Cabaret, and My Fair Lady (Artvoice Award for Supporting Actor in a Musical). Philip has also served as musical director for various productions including Sisters of Swing, Buddy, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Who’s Tommy, Hair and The Music Man. Philip is currently the vocal music instructor at West Seneca East High School. There he directs the choirs, and musicals. Philip is also the proud father of his two beautiful daughters Maria, and Sofia.
Drew Fornarola is a playwright and songwriter from New York City, and is the artistic director of Starring Buffalo. FILM: VeggieTales: Noah's Ark (DreamWorks Animation, Starring Wayne Brady); 1 Night in San Diego (Metropolitan Entertainment, Starring Alexandra Daddario), High School Zoomsical (MTShorts, starring Ryann Redmond). THEATER: Straight (2016 NY Times Critics’ Pick, translated into Spanish, German, French and Hebrew for productions around the world, published by Dramatic Publishing Company); Claudio Quest (winner of 6 NYMF Awards for Excellence, Ovation Award Nomination for Best Score, in development with ARShowPro as an augmented reality theatrical experience); Shrek The Halls: The Musical (DreamWorks Theatrical); Molly Shannon's Tilly the Trickster (Atlantic Theater Company, collaboration with Saturday Night Live’s Molly Shannon) HERSHEY'S UNWRAPPED (Hershey’s Chocolate World, May ’19 – present, winner 2019 IAAPA Brass Ring award for theme part show of the year) and Thucydides (winner of the Samuel French Festival, pub Samuel French). CONCERTS / OTHER: Drew has headlined concerts around the world including at Lincoln Center, Feinstein's/54 Below, Broadway au Carre (Paris), London Theatre Workshop (London), Bar Fedora at Au Lac (Los Angeles), and The Duplex (New York). As an educator, Drew taught four seasons on the Broadway Dreams Foundation faculty, teaches masterclasses at colleges around the country, and is a sought-after coach. Actors Drew has worked with have recently appeared in the Broadway productions of ALADDIN, BEAUTIFUL, CATS, HAMILTON, MISS SAIGON, SCHOOL OF ROCK, THE BOOK OF MORMON, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and WICKED. In 2018 he had the honor of joining a team of Broadway artists as part of the Stoneman Douglas Songwriting Initiative, collaborating with student survivors of the Parkland school tragedy to create songs of hope. Drew holds a BA from Princeton, a JD from Fordham, and is an alumnus of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. www.drewfornarola.com
Jacob made his Broadway debut in Aladdin (as Aladdin) and later joined the first national tour in the same role on two separate occasions. He is lucky enough to still be part of the Broadway company. In 2018, he had the chance to work with Stephen Schwartz on his new stage adaptation of the musical, The Prince Of Egypt (as Moses), and earlier this year made his off-Broadway debut in Emojiland (as Sunny). You can hear him on the Emojiland original cast album on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you listen. He lives in NYC with his fiance, his cat, and his dog.
deGuzman just finished the run of a new Broadway bound musical Bliss at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, WA. Sadly, COVID-19 interrupted her next new musical's Off Broadway debut, Between the Lines, but she can't wait to get back. Other credits include: Broadway: King Kong. National Tour: Aladdin. Regional: West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof and Chasing Rainbows. @lissadeguz
Brandon Williamson was born and raised in Buffalo NY. A proud Fredonia graduate, Brandon has made it his life goal to reach out to students in inner city neighborhoods similar to the one he grew up in, painting a path for them to follow to their future. In this process, Brandon spent time as a high school teacher before creating the Pure Ink Poetry Slam. As the only monthly running poetry slam in Buffalo, the Pure Ink Poetry Slam caters to the community of poets in the area, as well as authors, musicians, dancers, and comedians. As a product of the Ujima Theater company, Brandon works hard to build a community of art that everyone can be a part of. He has performed in a wide variety of musicals and plays since 2001 including Parade, The Green pastures, Stickfly, And bid him sing, Little shop of Horrors, The Scavengers Daughter, and more. He has also facilitated writing and performance workshops for organizations like Planned Parenthood, Teen Reality Theatre, Buffalo Public Schools, Summer school of the Arts, University at Buffalo, Buffalo State University and more. He has performed, competed, and won poetry slams and been featured throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ontario, Michigan, Oregon, California and most recently Berlin and other parts of Europe. His book, Critical Lens, is a presentation of the world through the critical eyes of a poet. Critical Lens is currently featured in the Fredonia State University of New York Library, and has sold internationally in three countries, and is on sale at Amazon. If you’re ready for a great time of storytelling, performance, and play with a purpose, then come and join the poetry experience that is Brandon Williamson.