Meet the masters

Matt Cowart


March 1 – 6, 2020 

Matt Cowart is an Emmy-award winning producer and director. He is member of SDC (Society of Directors and Choreographers) and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he’s returned as a guest faculty member, teaching Musical Theater, Acting, Directing, and Audition Technique, and he is the interim Co-Artistic Director of The CRY HAVOC Company, a new play development company in New York City. 


Broadway: Matt associate directed the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close. Additional Broadway credits include the Tony award winning production of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill (Associate Director), and 110 in the Shade (Assistant Director), both starring Audra McDonald. 


West End: Man of La Mancha starring Kelsey Grammer (Associate Director), Carousel (Associate Director), Sweeney Todd starring Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel (Associate Director), and Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close (Associate Director) all for the English National Opera, as well as the Broadway transfer of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (Associate Director) 


Select Film/television credits include the documentary, Hal Prince: the director’s life for PBS (Co-Producer); Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened (Co-Producer); HBO’s broadcast of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & GrillSINATRA: Voice for a Century with the New York Philharmonic (Producer and Co-Director); the Emmy Award winning production of Sweeney Todd, with Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel for PBS’ LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER (Co-Producer and Associate Director); Company, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Martha Plimpton, Jon Cryer, Patti LuPone, and Christina Hendricks (Producer and Associate Director); One Singular Sensation: Celebrating Marvin Hamlisch; SONDHEIM:The Birthday Concert!; and Camelot, starring Gabriel Byrne; and Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End. 


Additional select directing credits: Kiki Baby at the New York Musical Theater Festival, co-directed with longtime collaborator Lonny Price; Camp Wanatachi, a new “electro-musical” that premiered Off-Broadway at La MaMa ETC; Annie Get Your Gun at Ravinia, starring Patti LuPone (Associate Director); Take One Step with Peppercorn Theatre; Broadway: Three Generations at the Kennedy Center, co- directed with Mr. Price; Black Comedy with No Rules Theatre; My Favorite Things, a Rodgers & Hammerstein revue starring Shirley Jones (Associate Director); Beautiful Girls, starring Zoe Caldwell, Patti LuPone, Marin Mazzie, Donna McKechnie, and Jenn Colella (Associate Director). 


 Helena Walsh 

Acting and Speaking Voice teacher 

March 8-12, 2020 

Helena Walsh is European Director of The Fitzmaurice Voicework Institute, an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®, from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London and holding a certificate in Roy Hart Training, I am the Artistic Director and founder of “Helena Walsh Voice and Acting Studio” in Temple Bar, Dublin.  We are an International Voice and Acting Studio where teachers and students alike come from all over the world.  The Studio acts as a centre for cutting edge practice for an interdisciplinary approach to educating a truly empowered and embodied actor and individual. 


I  began my career as an actress and singer, before devoting my life to freeing and empowering others to become more alive on stage and screen and more effective communicators in their life and work. My extensive knowledge of acting and singing for stage are the foundations on which I have  built my practice and process.  A unique element to this is my experience teaching and training with international practitioners, which gives me a unique perspective on voice, acting and personal development. I have travelled extensively to France, Italy, Spain, London, Ljubljana, Switzerland and LA to study the most innovative and inspiring approaches to voice and acting work worldwide. 


As a leader who believes in bringing people from all over the world together and creating a space where they can feel empowered to have their unique voice heard, I have been co director of “The Fourth & Fifth International Freedom & Focus Fitzmaurice Voicework Conference” in Dublin, 2016 & London 2018. Teachers and performers came  from all disciplines in the art world to liberate their voices and listen beyond the borders of their own experience and history.  I feel honoured to hold the role as Director of the Fitzmaurice Voicework Community in Europe, a community of forty-two teachers, across 20 countries who are practitioners and artists dedicated to making change first in ourselves and then from that in others and our communities.  I run retreats biannually with Benjamin Mathes, founder of Crash Acting, L.A in West Cork, where actors from Crash Acting Studios in LA fly to Ireland to work intensively with Irish actors on deepening their practice and process in acting and voice work.  I also lead a “ Free Listening “, project that I host in Dublin and around Ireland as part of the Urban Confessional Movement worldwide. 


Over the past twenty years, I have  taught extensively at The Gaiety School of Acting; the National Theatre School of Ireland; Trinity College Dublin on the BA in Acting and University College Cork on the B.A in Theatre Studies.  Internationally I have taught at NYU’s overseas theatre programme for ten years consecutively; Eolia Conservatory Of Dramatic Arts, Barcelona; China at Shanghai Theatre Academy; The Accademia Dell’Arte, Tuscany, Italy; The Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and T.V. in Ljubljana, Slovenia and UCLA, California. 


I am currently training in Organic Intelligence in Switzerland on their Human Empowerment and Resilience Training Programme, which works on PTSD, Anxiety & Stress offering tools to help clients and students move beyond trauma, integrating it into their lives and using it as a source of empowerment.  I design well being programmes for the corporate world and work with start ups and corporations like Google.   


Judy Blazer 

Actor and Singing teacher  

March 15 – 19, 2020 

Judy Blazer began her career as a young singer in opera, oratorio, and recital in New York City and throughout Italy. She moved into Broadway theater with leading roles in Me and My Girl (Sally), A Change in the Heir (Prince Conrad), Titanic (Lady Caroline), Neil Simon’s 45 Seconds from Broadway (Cindy) and a major role in LoveMusik (Brecht’s mistress), directed by Harold Prince. In 2015, Judy took on the role of Miss Shingle in the Tony-winning production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. 


Off-Broadway, she has appeared in Candide (the Old Lady) and Sweeney Todd (the Beggar Woman) with the New York City Opera, Hello Again (as the Nurse, for which she received a Drama Desk nomination) and The House of Bernarda Alba (Magdalena) for the Lincoln Center Theater, The Torch Bearers (Florence) for the Drama Department, Richard Greenberg’s Hurrah at Last (Gia) at the Roundabout Theater and the New York City Center Encores production of A Connecticut Yankee (Alice/Sandy). She also performed a solo piece for Primary Stage’s Inner Voices series, David Simpatico and Josh Schmidt's Whida Peru: Resurrection Tangle, directed by Jonathan Butterell. 


In regional theatre, Judy  has played the title roles in Funny Girl at the Sundance Theater, The Miracle Worker at the George Street Playhouse, My Fair Lady at the Paper Mill Playhouse, the Pittsburgh CLO and the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, Peter Pan at Artpark and The Night Governess at the McCarter Theater in Princeton. She portrayed Luz in Giant at the Signature Theater in Washington, DC, Lily Garland in On the Twentieth Century with the American Musical Theater of San Jose, Maria in Twelfth Night at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven and Flora in No Way to Treat a Lady at the Cape Playhouse. In the Spring and Summer of 2012 she took on the role of Vera in the Goodspeed production of Mame; in 2013, the role of the fiery Maria Merelli in the Paper Mill Playhouse and Bay Street Theater productions of Lend Me a Tenor, and in 2014, Joanne in the Pittsburgh Public Theatre production of Stephen Sondheim's Company. In 2017, Judy reprised her role of Maria Merelli in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors. 


Judy has sung at the Metropolitan Opera as a soloist in Twyla Tharp’s Everlast with the American Ballet Theater and has performed in concert at Lincoln Center and the Public Theater in New York. Since 2004 she has starred as Bessie Thomashefsky in Michael Tilson Thomas’s touring concert documentary The Thomashefskys, which has been performed with the New World Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood and the New York Philharmonic. She has been a guest on the recordings of Mandy Patinkin and the celebrated violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as well as a featured artist on over twenty recordings of varied genres.  


Judy's film credits include song and voice characterizations for the animated films Anastasia (1997), Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997), and Buster and Chauncey's Silent Night (1998), the latter with songs by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. She also played a major role (Chris) in Shelly Silver's critically acclaimed art film, The Houses that Are Left (1989). On television, Judy has been seen in Law and Order (both as Defense Attorney Simon and as convicted murderer Clara Porazzi), As the World Turns (Ariel), Guiding Light (Marissa), and as a featured artist on three PBS specials: Leonard Bernstein’s New York, In Performance at the White House, and - in March 2012 - Great Performances: The Thomashefskys. 


Bi-lingual in Italian and English, Judy has sung and coached in several languages. She wrote the Italian lyrics to Fabrizio's song in Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza as well as finalizing all the Italian dialogue in the published book and lyrics. While playing Maria in the Long Wharf Theater's production of Twelfth Night (set in Ischia), Judy also worked as the show's Italian coach and dramaturg; and, in 2013, she was the Italian dialect coach for both the Paper Mill Playhouse's and the Bay Street Theatre's productions of Lend Me a Tenor. Most recently, while reprising the role of Maria Merelli in the Paper Mill production of the sequel, A Comedy of Tenors (2017), Judy served once again as Italian and general dialect coach for the production. 


Mary Saunders-Barton 

Musical Theatre Singing 

March 27 - 29 

Mary Saunders-Barton is a Penn State Professor Emeritus, currently residing in NY where she maintains a musical theatre voice studio for Broadway performers. Mary received a Master’s degree in French language and literature from Middlebury College and the Sorbonne, Paris. While in Paris, she studied French art song with the great baritone, Pierre Bernac. She is an unapologetic Francophile. 

While at Penn State, she served as head of voice instruction for the musical theatre program and created a graduate degree in musical theatre voice pedagogy to meet the growing demand for voice teachers who specialize in vernacular techniques. Graduates of this program have gone on to secure teaching positions at universities in Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and the Netherlands and are contributing to the profession in performance, writing, and research. 

In this and recent seasons her students have been seen on Broadway in Wicked, Mamma Mia, Finding Neverland, Lion King, Pippin, The Book of Mormon, Newsies,  Kinky Boots, Beautiful, Bandstand, A Bronx Tale, Ain’t Too Proud, and Be More Chill among others, and in many national tours and regional productions.  

Her own performing career spanned twenty years and includes Broadway, off Broadway, regional, film, and television credits. 

Mary is frequently invited to present master classes and workshops for singers and teachers of singing at universities and voice conferences in the U.S. and abroad. She has been a featured presenter for the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the National Opera Association, the Voice Foundation Symposium, the New York Singing Teachers Association and the Musical Theater Educators Alliance. She was the keynote musical theatre speaker at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Brisbane, Australia. She has served twice as a master teacher for the NATS Intern Program and is on the faculty of Boston Conservatory’s Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop.  

Mary has co-authored a book, “Cross-Training in the Voice Studio: A Balancing Act” with colleague Norman Spivey. She is a contributing author of the NATS publication “So You Want to Sing CCM” and the second edition of “A Spectrum of Voices” by Elizabeth Blades. Mary has produced two video tutorials, “Bel Canto/Can Belto: Teaching Women to Sing Musical Theatre” and “What About the Boys?”  

Mary is the 2018 recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Contemporary Commercial Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah University. 

She is Chair of The American Academy of Teachers of Singing.  

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