Jill Abusch (Artistic Director) is co-founder, Camp Director and resident second mommy to many students and alumni of The Play Group Theatre. As Artistic Director, Jill has guided PGT’s innovative theatre programs from their inception. She is proud to have directed the Teen Conservatory summer writing program for several years, resulting in the original musicals Pieces of Reality, Unpaved Roads, Second Cup and Foolish Mortals. Jill also co-wrote the book and lyrics for Girl Talk, Piper and Family for Sale. She has taught a variety of classes from Little Theatre to Advanced Acting Technique and has gone into schools and camps to train teachers on the use of drama in the classroom. Highlights of Jill’s PGT directing career include: Little Shop of Horrors, Into the Woods, Children of Eden, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Dining Room, West Side Story, Godspell, Guys and Dolls, Once on this Island, Hair, Romeo and Juliet, 13, The Tempest, Fiddler on the Roof and The Winter's Tale. Jill is a college counsellor, specializing in college admissions and auditions for theater and conservatory programs. She is also a public speaking coach and enjoys working with professionals across a variety of industries. Jill studied acting and directing at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the Classical Studio at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she earned a BFA in Drama. She adores working alongside her husband and partner, Steven, and is especially proud of their best productions, by far: Aviva and Ilana.
Steven Abusch (Executive Director) is co-founder of the Play Group Theatre and has proudly guided the organization through its nomadic years, ultimately spearheading the “NoBro” campaign and landing PGT in its permanent home. Steven is the ultimate multi-tasker at PGT — from the scene shop to the offices, he is equally happy climbing a ladder during tech week as balancing the books with the finance committee. As one of PGT’s resident designers, Steven has designed sets, lighting and specialty props for countless productions. Highlights from Steven’s design career include: The Crucible, James and the Giant Peach, Spelling Bee, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Urinetown, Children of Eden, Romeo and Juliet, Hairspray, Our Town, Fiddler on the Roof, The Laramie Project, and Bat Boy. His special effects and theatre engineering designs have included an ark full of puppets (Eden), a man eating plant (Little Shop) a full size rotating pick up truck (Hands on a Hardbody), a self-growing nose (Pinocchio) and a magical chalk board (Matilda). Steven has directed several PGT productions, including Pippin, Lord of the Flies, Peter Pan, The Wiz, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Hobbit and From The Inside Out, for which he also wrote the book and lyrics. He also co-wrote the book and lyrics for Family for Sale. Steven has studied both visual and performing arts throughout his life and received his BFA in fine arts after studying at SUNY Binghamton and Scuola Lorenzo De’Medici in Florence, Italy. Steven’s favorite roles are off-stage Husband to Jill and Father to Aviva and Ilana.
A Southern girl through and through, Ashley Samona Baker is originally from Atlanta, Georgia but now calls New York City home! She studied Theatre and Sociology at Tulane University in New Orleans and earned her Master's Degree in Acting from Columbia University. As a performer, she's toured the country playing iconic females like Harreit Tubman and Wilma Rudolph. Ashley's played both men and women, queens and clowns in Shakespeare's plays. She made her TV debut last year in Godfather of Harlem with Forest Whitaker and you can catch her in commercials this summer for: Shark Week, Chopped, Nickelodeon and Amazon. Ashley has taught at The Hartford Stage, Two River Theater & CUNY. She's working on her first book that's a mixture of anecdotes, essays, and inspiration - with a dose of silliness!
Rachel Berger (Programs Director) first studied acting at The Play Group Theatre as a student. She is very excited to return on staff to teach a new generation of PGTers! She recently graduated from Northwestern University where she received a BA in theater with minors in French and creative writing. She has completed Northwestern�s advanced fiction and playwriting sequences. In addition to writing, she has acted in many student productions, including several student written plays and new works. Endless thanks to Jill, Steven, and the PGT family for making PGT her home for so many years.
Yoni Bronstein is a proud PGT alum and couldn�t be happier about coming back to PGT to be on the staff. A recent graduate of Brandeis University, Yoni studied Theatre Arts with a concentration in acting and a minor in Philosophy. He was a member of Boris� Kitchen Sketch Comedy Troupe, for which he wrote, directed and acted. Credits include Urinetown, School House Rock, Marvin�s Room, You�re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and The Laramie Project. Yoni is a current student of the Barrow Group, and recently appeared in Oy! at the AlphaNYC Theatre Company and Twelfth Night at MaineStage Shakespeare.
Ryan Buchanan is a freelance music director, theater director, composer, and performer based in New York City. He also works as a teaching artist, specializing in Shakespeare, musical theater, choral singing, technical theater, and social-emotional learning. He is an alumnus of New York University, where he completed a bachelor's in music theory & composition and master's in music education. Ryan has worked with Columbia University, New York University, No. 11 Productions, The Dwight School, and New York Educational Theater Festival, and has performed with Brooklyn Theater Club, Distinguished Choirs International New York, Inspire: A Choir for Unity, New York Musical Theater Festival, and New York Chamber Choirs. Ryan is also an Artistic Director of Rebel Shakespeare Company in Massachusetts, where he has directed ten Shakespeare productions for students aged 8-18.
Adrian Burke is a teaching artist, director, improv workshop leader at PGT. Adrian is a nonunion actor, director, and improviser based in New York City. He is a current member of the apprentice company at the Barrow Group Theater in midtown NYC. He is a member of the house team DEATHWISH at Reckless Theatre where he performs every Thursday. He is an advanced level improvisor at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. In New York, he has performed at New York Theater Workshop, The Barrow Group, Dixon Place, The Brick Theater, The Paradise Factory, and many more. He has trained at the Boston University College of Fine Arts, The Atlantic Theater Company, Terry Schreiber Studio, and The Barrow Group Theater Company. He received his undergraduate degree in film production from Boston University.
Logan Culwell-Block is a music director and conductor whose New York music direction credits include a 2013 Off-Broadway production of The Civil War, which he developed with TheatreWorks USA; national tours of Junie B. Jones, Henry and Mudge, and A Christmas Carol; Sweeney Todd, Nine, and Smile at NYU Tisch; Grease, The Full Monty, and All Shook Up at Cortland Repertory Theatre; and Between Time and Timbuktu, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and The Wiz at the Hangar Theatre. As a writer and theatre historian, his work has appeared in print and online for Playbill, and at MusicalTheaterSongs.com. Logan holds degrees in musical theatre performance and conducting from Oklahoma City University and Ithaca College, and he is a resident of White Plains.
Sara Coombs is thrilled to be back at The Play Group Theatre where she is resident choreographer and heads PGT's Dance program. Her past choreography credits include: Big River, The Full Monty, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Forever Plaid, Toad of Toad Hall and The Drowsy Chaperone. She was last seen on the Barnstormers’ Stage as Christine Patterson (Girl in the audience) in One Man, Two Guvnors. In Boston she has been seen on many stages in productions of: 42nd Street, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Singin' in the Rain, Curtains and Follies. Her favorite Boston credit was a play that she, along with her classmates wrote and created, called Necessary Monsters. Sara teaches dance throughout New York City, including Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Center. She graduated with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from The Boston Conservatory.
Rachel Goren (Education Director) is thrilled to be a part of the PGT family! She received a BS ED in Elementary Education and Music from SUNY Geneseo, an MA in Theatre Education from NYU, and an Advanced Degree in School Building and District Leadership from Hunter College. Most recently, Rachel directed the K-8 Drama Program at P.S. 126/M.A.T in New York City, and worked in the Education Department at the Atlantic Theatre Company, followed by a position as School Administration Intern to the District Director of Fine and Performing Arts at Byram Hills School District. Rachel is dedicated to artistic education and believes that the arts are an important part of every child’s life. She loves being at PGT where she can fulfill her passions for both theatre and education and is incredibly grateful to her adorable 4-year-old son, Ari, precious 1-year-old son, Levi, her husband, Evan, and her dog, Parker, for all of their unconditional love and support.
Keiji Ishiguri is thrilled and honored to join the PGT community and help a new generation of fearless, unbelievably talented artists fulfill their dreams! After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Music from Yale University in 2011, Keiji has worked as a free-lance music director, pianist, piano teacher, vocal coach, and arranger throughout Westchester and New York. He is currently serving as a piano teacher and vocal ensemble coordinator for the Crestwood Music Education Center and arranges for the New York based indie rock ensemble, October Project. While at college, he played a whole lot of piano and did a whole lot of singing. He conducted the Whiffenpoofs as well as a number of musicals, and served as a vocal coach for the Yale School of Drama. He loves Bananagrams, Green Machine, and spoiling his niece.
Nick started with PGT during the summer of 2009. Nick has been a music director for MainStage and StudioStage at PGT during the year, and has been teaching voice privately as well. At PGT, Nick was the music director for My Son Pinocchio, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Bat Boy: The Musical and Footloose. Previously, Nick was commissioned to write a set of choral songs for the Young Men’s Ensemble of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, which have been performed throughout the year, including at a televised event from the LA Music Center. Nick has been singing and teaching voice for many years, and holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Originally from Los Angeles, Nick sang with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and LA Opera Chorus.
Malachi Nimmons is a Resident Company member of New York City's longest running production, Chicago City Limits Improv Theater. He has been performing with Chicago City Limits since 2011, and has played several different venues in New York and across the country. Malachi is also a stand up comic, and has performed all across the country with several notable comics including Bobcat Goldthwait, Damon Wayans Jr., and Hannibal Buress. Along with his stage work, his commercial work can currently be seen on Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Malachi also produces a weekly improv show in Manhattan, featuring the best independent improv and sketch teams in the city. He is thrilled to be a part of The Play Group Theatre's team!
Barbara Orwick earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Manhattanville College in 1983 and has been making music in Westchester and Fairfield Counties ever since. Barb’s first position at The Play Group Theatre was Musical Director for PGT’s 1995 production of Little Shop of Horrors. Since then she has accompanied and musical directed over fifty productions and events at PGT - including the inaugural student Cabaret and the staff Benefit parody Avenue PGT. Barbara composed music for several PGT original musicals including Family for Sale and Girl Talk. As a piano accompanist, she has also worked throughout the area for various schools, churches, community choirs, singers, instrumentalists and theater organizations. She is currently keyboard player and vocalist for a classic rock band known as SR2 (formerly Shake, Rabbis and Roll) and accompanies a group called Poperatic, a non-profit group of singers who perform at area nursing homes and other functions. By day, Barbara can be found in the Accounting/Finance department at Taro Pharmaceuticals in Hawthorne, NY. Barbara is pleased to now bring her years of experience in financial management to The Play Group Theatre where she is currently Bookkeeper.
Laura Patinkin Urken
Laura Patinkin Urken (Development Director) is an actor and singer from Chicago and Atlanta, and now happily resides in New York. Laura has appeared on Broadway (Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof with Topol); Off Broadway (Beau Jest, The Education of Hyman Kaplan directed by Lonny Price, Godspell, Esther in Esther by Liz Swados, The Pajama Game); on National Tour (South Pacific with Robert Goulet); and in numerous regional theatres around the country. Some of her favorite roles are Sonia in They're Playing our Song, Morales in A Chorus Line and Isabelle in Crossing Delancey. She is especially proud of her work with the Department of
Defense/U.S.O., performing for our troops all over the world. Most recently Laura appeared in two Broadway Labs: Wallenberg, directed by Martin Charnin and The Trouble With Doug, directed by Victoria Clark. She also enjoys her voiceover and commercial work. Laura has a B.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University in Music Theatre. Best productions: Gabby, Grant and Hannah.
Jeremy is so excited to be part of the PGT community, serving as Assistant Technical Director and helping teach the Design Tech program! He received his MFA in theatre from Brooklyn College in 2013, and has been working professionally in off-stage life for over twenty-five years. He currently works at Manhattanville College as the Technical Director for the Division of Fine and Performing Arts, and oversees all dance and theatre productions there. Favorite New York credits include: Hamilton (Public Theatre), Jersey Boys (New World Stages), Cagney (West Side Theatre) and STOMP (Orpheum Theatre NYC) where he worked as there resident Master Electrician and Follow Spot Operator. When not working in a theatre somewhere, Jeremy enjoys his time with his lovely wife and three dogs.
Brett is thrilled to be a part of the Play Group Theatre teaching throughout PGT's acting programs, residencies and corporate workshops. Brett is a recent graduate of the Columbia University MFA Acting Program where he was the recipient of the Bob Hope Fellowship. Favorite Columbia credits include The Maids (Solange), Blood Wedding (Bridegroom) and Waiting for Godot (Estragon). Other favorite credits include The Comedy of Errors (Baltazar) at Classic Stage company, Left in Ink (Tony) at Cleveland Public Theatre, The Pitmen Painters (Young Lad) at the Beck Center, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Alfred/Horatio) at Performance Network. Brett has performed internationally in Greece and Ukraine, and apprenticed with Jeff Daniel's acclaimed Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, MI. As a teaching artist, Brett has worked with Classic Stage Company, Great Lakes Theatre, and Baldwin Wallace University's Conservatory Outreach Program. Brett is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.
Hannah Stephens is a New York-based actor, director, and teaching artist, and she is thrilled to be joining the staff at The Play Group Theatre! She is originally from Birmingham, AL, where she graduated from the University of Montevallo with a BFA in Acting. Hannah has toured the country with both the Missoula Children's Theatre and the National Theatre for Children. In New York, you can find her teaching dance and musical theatre classes all over the city. She performs regularly at The Producers' Club and is a resident director with Theatre [Untitled].
Liz Tancredi Gillam
Liz Tancredi Gillam is an actor and teaching artist based in NYC and is beyond excited to be a part of PGT!!! A few favorite New York and regional acting credits include These Seven Sicknesses and Restoration Comedy at The Flea Theatre (both drama desk nominated), Rough Crossing, Failure: A Love Story, and (Cape Rep Theatre), The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui (Under St. Marks), Into the Woods (Thin Air Theatre Co.), Measure for Measure (Roxy Regional Theatre), Comedy of Errors (Anthem Theatre Co.), Icarus: an Americana Musical (The Oberon at A.R.T.), Babes in Arms and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Berkshire Theatre Group). She is also a leading role in the webseries "City of Mercy". Liz has worked as a director and choreographer for youth theaters since 2011 across New York and Massachusetts (her beloved home state). She received her BFA in Drama from Syracuse University where she also studied and performed at Shakespeare's Globe in London. She is particularly passionate about physical storytelling and dance parties, and believes the performing arts give young people the tools they need to shape the rest of their lives!
Jill is co-founder, Camp Director and resident second mommy to many students and alumni of The Play Group Theatre. As Artistic Director, Jill has guided PGT’s innovative theatre programs from their inception. Bio >>
Steven Abusch is co-founder and Executive Director of the Play Group Theatre and has proudly guided the organization through its nomadic years, ultimately spearheading the “NoBro” campaign... Bio >>
Ashley Samona Baker is originally from Atlanta, Georgia but now calls New York City home! She studied Theatre and Sociology at Tulane University in New Orleans and earned her Master's Degree in Acting... Bio >>
Sara Coombs is thrilled to be back at The Play Group Theatre where she is resident choreographer and heads PGT's Dance program. Sara also teaches dance throughout New York City. Her past choreography ... Bio >>
Logan Culwell-Block is a music director and conductor whose New York music direction credits include a 2013 Off-Broadway production of The Civil War, which he developed with TheatreWorks USA; ... Bio >>
Interim Education Director
Rachel Goren is thrilled to be a part of the PGT family! She received a BS ED in Elementary Education and Music from SUNY Geneseo, an MA in Theatre Education from NYU, and an Advanced Degree... Bio >>
Barbara Orwick earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Manhattanville College in 1983 and has been making music in Westchester and Fairfield Counties ever since. Barb’s first position at PGT was... Bio >>
Assistant Technical Director
Jeremy is so excited to be part of the PGT community, serving as Assistant Technical Director and helping teach the Design Tech program! He received his MFA in theatre from Brooklyn College in 2013.... Bio >>
Social Media Director
Hannah Stephens is a New York-based actor, director, and teaching artist. Hannah has toured the country with both the Missoula Children's Theatre and the National Theatre for Children. In New York... Bio >>
Laura Patinkin Urken
Laura Patinkin Urken is an actor and singer from Chicago and Atlanta, and now happily resides in New York. Laura has appeared on Broadway; Off Broadway; on National Tour; and in numerous regional theatres... Bio >>
Staff in Action at The Play Group Theatre.
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Preparing Kids for Every Stage in Life SM
The Play Group Theatre Westchester's Theater for children and teens One North Broadway | White Plains, NY 10601 | Google Tour >> (914) 946-4433 | Fax: (914) 946-1336 | www.playgroup.org
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Honored for excellence in arts education and voted Best of Westchester's Best Local Theater Group, Best Children's Theater, Best After School Program, Best Place to Take the Kids