Teaching Artists

NCT's Teaching Artists are the best in Nashville!  You'll recognize many of these professional theatre artists from their performances in shows at NCT and throughout Middle Tennessee. Every Teaching Artist participates in ongoing professional development to enhance their (already awesome) skills in drama instruction, and TAs are also trained in CPR/First Aid and best practices for working with children. 

Biographies of our Teaching Artists

Aleta Myles started her professional acting career in 2009 with Street Theatre’s production of Once On This Island. She moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University and study music. She graduated in 2003. Aleta is excited to be apart of the teaching staff of NCT. She has been apart of 6 productions with the Children’s Theatre, among her favorite roles was The Sour Kangaroo in Seussical (2010). She loves being on stage and teaching others to enjoy their experiences on stage. Teaching at NCT provides an environment where young people can express and have the freedom to discover new things about themselves. A confident child is inspiring to anyone. Acting began in her mirror when she was 4 and has led her to many stages… NCT has been one of her favorites.

Amanda Card is a native Nashvillian who grew up seeing shows at NCT. She is thrilled to be acting and teaching for the company that made her want to be an actor in the first place! Favorite NCT roles include Fern in Charlotte’s Web, Mouse in Goodnight Moon, and Hen in Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type. She produced and acted in Sylvia Plath's rarely performed verse play Three Women and also produced, directed, acted in and adapted a production of Hamlet, in which five actors (herself included) played all of the roles. Other recent credits include Larries(Tennessee Rep), The Columnist (Tennessee Rep), Dr. Jekyll & Mister Hyde (Tennessee Rep), A Christmas Carol(Studio Tenn), and Amadeus (Blackbird Theater Company). She has a B.A. In Theatre Arts from Sewanee: The University of the South and has studied at the Michael Howard Studios Conservatory in NYC and with the marvelous Patsy Rodenburg (who also teaches her very favorite person, Dame Judi Dench).

Becky Wahlstrom's acting foundation comes from four years at The Chicago Academy for the Arts and she is a graduate of London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA). In addition, she's studied and practiced a variety of theater mediums in both Chicago and Los Angeles: story theater with The Piven Theatre Workshop, improvisation with Improv Olympics, commedia dell'arte with Tim Robbin’s Actors Gang, and writing/ performing personal material with The Neo Futurists, Write Club Los Angeles and Writer’s Bootcamp. Becky works professionally in theater, film and television bouncing between Los Angeles, Chicago, and Nashville. She is dedicated to the idea that an arts education serves every aspect of a person’s life, and enjoys teaching all levels of artists from beginner to professional.

Catherine Birdsong, a proud member of SAG/Aftra, is so excited to be back in her hometown, Nashville! Catherine is a graduate of Belmont University with a degree in Musical Theatre. She has been living in Los Angeles, CA for the past two and a half years, where she worked on the Disney Channel shows Pair of Kings and Kickin’ It!, as well as Mad MenVegas and How I Met Your Mother. She comes to NCT having been a director, choreographer and music director at The Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts in LA. Catherine has also been seen teaching at The Theater Bug here in Nashville!  Her favorite roles include: Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, Betty Blake in The Will Rogers Follies, Ulla in The Producers and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Catherine is so excited to join the staff at NCT and cannot wait for the adventures ahead! 

Colin Peterson has been working numerous jobs at NCT since 2010, and is currently NCT's full-time Director of Media and Resident Teaching Artist. When he's not teaching, he's either photographing an event or designing video for some of Nashville Children's Theatre's incredible productions. Some of his credits include Sherlock Holmes: The Final AdventureThe Wind in the WillowsGo, Dog. Go!; A Wrinkle in TimeNumber the Stars; and James and the Giant Peach. While he wears many hats for NCT, he's never happier than when he's creating theatre with students.

Eric D. Pasto-Crosby is proudly a native of Nashville, but he graduated from University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.F.A. in performance.  He has performed with: Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Studio Tenn, Nashville Children's Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Stage One, Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, and People's Branch Theatre.  A loyal member of the Society of American Fight Directors and a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, he has taught at NCT for over six years.

Jon Royal is a professional teaching artist and actor with extensive experience in arts education and program development for Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and many others. Jon has also taught in partnership with the Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center’s TRIAD camp for kids on the autism spectrum. Jon holds a BA in Theatre from Middle Tennessee State University.

Kara Y. Kindall currently serves as the Theatre Chair at Nashville School of the Arts. She received a BS in English and Theatre from Austin Peay State University, an MFA in Theatre from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and an MA in Teaching from Trevecca University.  In 1999, the North Carolina Theatre Conference chose her as the state’s "Most Promising Theatre Graduate Student" and awarded her a grant to pursue Professional Theatre Management.  That experience compelled her to return home to the Nashville area to join Mockingbird Public Theatre, where she served as their Managing Director for three seasons.  In 2004, she joined with Theatre Faculty at Nashville School of the Arts.  Professionally, she collaborates with Nashville Children's Theatre, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, BellaLuna Theatre in NC, and Community SPIRIT Inc. in Adams TN, working as an actor, teaching artist, director, producer, and commissioned playwright.

Kelsie Craig grew up in Northwest Arkansas, where she fell in love with theatre and performance at a young age. After college, she went on to become an active member of the Arkansas theatre community. A resident of Little Rock until 2011, she was continuously involved in projects that brought education and the performing arts to young audiences. Beginning in 2008 at the Arkansas Art Center Children's Theatre, she was a featured performer in several productions—including touring shows that took children's theater to rural communities throughout the state. Also she was an instructor for two programs that taught drama to young children, ages 3-9. With the Art Center's Museum School, she taught weekend workshops for children on a range of theatrical concepts and acting basics. Kelsie's favorite part about these programs was collaborating with the children, listening to their ideas, and putting them into motion. She loves helping children turn a story or a picture into a play or a scene. The journey from the beginning of class to the end — and kids' ability to learn so much so quickly — is always amazing. And since moving to Nashville in 2011 she has been able to do just that! Kelsie loves collaborating with the students and other teaching artists at NCT. In addition to working with the shiny happy people at NCT, Kelsie is a teaching artist with Wolf Trap Early Learning Through The Arts. Her favorite teaching moment from last summer at NCT was telling a student, "No one can steal your sparkle!"

Lauren Jones' career began in a fifth grade musical. She instantly fell in love with singing and working as a team with other performers. She studied musical theatre at North Atlanta's performing arts high school and later graduated from The University of Georgia with degrees in English and Drama. She interned as a teaching aid for the performing arts summer camp at The Alliance Theatre in 2002 and went on to perform with multiple professional troupes. She has had experience in theatre, television, and independent films. Lauren directed a traveling children’s show, which encouraged good nutrition and exercise, and toured schools K-12 in the Southeast, using skits and leading workshops to promote anti-bullying with the Academy Theatre.

Megan Bleil is thrilled to be NCT's Education Program Manager, and loves it when she gets to take a turn teaching! Megan graduated with a BA in Theatre from Butler University, where she was honored with the Daniel C. Warrick Outstanding Theatre Major Award. She taught and directed at Children's Theatre Institute (Indianapolis), where she performed the role of Itsy in Itsy Bitsy Spider. Megan went on to earn an MA in Theatre and Drama Therapy from Kansas State University, where she wrote and directed an original play with children titled A Travel Through Time. She was also recognized as a Notable Scholar for her direction of A Christmas Carol at Manhattan Arts Center. She has also taught at Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy. In March 2013, Megan was recognized in her hometown of Peoria, Illinois as Volunteer of the Year at Mental Health America of Illinois Valley for her work as a drama therapist and playwright. Megan resides in Nashville with her husband, Mitch, and their dog, Gus.

Melissa Husebo is excited to be teaching at Nashville Children’s Theater again this summer.  She has enjoyed teaching general music at Andrew Jackson Elementary since 2005.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from Belmont University and her level 3 certification in the Orff methodology.  Melissa has also performed in musicals and plays at the Keeton Theater, Circle Players, Boiler Room Theater, and Street Theater.  Melissa loves doing musical theater, teaching young people to make music, and anything green!

Meredith Locke Daniel holds a BFA in Theatre Education from Belmont University. This is her second year as a Teaching Artist at NCT, and there is no place else she'd rather be! Her absolute favorite thing about teaching is watching a group of students realize there are no limits to their creativity and what they can accomplish. Meredith is currently the Theatre Arts teacher at Wilson Central High School in Lebanon, TN. 

Nat McIntyre moved to Nashville one year ago after a year on Broadway in War Horse and many years of acting around the country. He has taught theatre in Romania, Boston, San Diego, New York, and here in his new home of Nashville.  He will be teaching here at NCT and also with Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Belmont University, and Tennessee State University.

Patrick Waller has been doing theatre for over twelve years now, starting out in community theatre in Tullahoma TN then to Nashville where he has worked professionally for the last nine years. He has been teaching within the education program at Nashville Children's Theatre for the last seven years. He has been seen onstage with theatres and organizations such as Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Nashville Children's Theatre, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, Studio Tenn Theatre Company, Tennessee Women's Theatre Project, 3 P's Productions, and Community Spirit Inc. He has been a part of the Ingram New Works Fellowship with Tennessee Repertory Theatre doing the staged reading of a new work by the playwright in residency. In 2010 it happened to be Pulitizer Prize winning playwright David Auburn with his brand new work The Columnist. Patrick was recognized as the Best Local Actor in the Nashville Scene’s 2009 Best Of edition and as Best Local Actor in The Tennessean's 2010 Toast Of Music City Awards.

Rachel Hansen graduated from Belmont University in 2011 with a BFA in theatre education. She now serves as the theatre arts teacher at Fairview High School in Williamson County. She has a background in acting, directing and dramaturgy. This will be her 5th year teaching at Nashville Children's Theatre, and she is excited to explore the art of theatre with these young actors. 

Riley Braem hails form Chicago, IL and has worked as a Performer, Director, Designer, Choreographer, Digital Storyteller, Access and Inclusion Consultant, Independent Researcher, Teaching Artist, and Special Education Teacher in Arizona, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Washington DC, and Wisconsin. He started working with NCT in January of 2013 as a Graduate Fellow and has been working with them ever since. He received his Bachelors Degree in Theatre Performance and Theatre Design with a Minor in Dance from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee and his Master of Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University. I believe that everyone, regardless of (dis)ability should have access to the arts and believe it is my obligation as an Artist to provide opportunities for all those who wish to participate in the arts of Theatre and Drama. His favorite roles include: Charlie Brown in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Roger in Grease, Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods, the Hairy Man in Wiley and the Hairy Man and Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Rona Carter has called Nashville Children's Theatre home for most of her professional career. Teaching came as a natural extension of her stage work. She has watched students go from children to young adults on their way to becoming performers themselves. Rona loves to help these students climb and find themselves at the top of their confidence. Young people can't wait to see what's next and jump into it with everything they've got! Her training was at Boston Conservatory in a triple major of Drama, Musical Theatre and, Dance. Rona has two dogs. One of which has been in many stage productions with Nashville Children's Theatre and other professional companies. His name is Satchmo. Some of her favorite roles include Bottom in Robin Goodfellow, Mayzie in Seussical and Lucy inYou’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. But most of all for Rona likes having fun and learning from her students who always bring so many surprises to the summer!

Shawn Knight is returning for his tenth summer of teaching at NCT. At NCT, he has enjoyed playing Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, Horton in Seussical, and the title role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, among several other roles. For NCT Education, Shawn teaches a variety of classes, has music directed the Emerging Artist Production for the past four years, and runs the Musical Revue program.  Shawn received an MA in English from Auburn University and an MFA in Theatre from the University of Louisville. He currently teaches at Belmont University and enjoys teaching theatre to students from age three well into adulthood.

Shawn Whitsell is a father, activist, actor, producer, director and playwright. He is the founder of the Destiny Theatre Experience and Focused Dreams Films. Shawn has appeared in Bud, Not BuddyHoles and the Watsons Go To Birmingham: 1963 at Nashville Children's Theatre. When he's not onstage, Shawn can be found teaching drama at NCT or spoken word with Southern Word, Inc.

Tiana Turner was first introduced to the magic of NCT as an intern the summer of her junior year as a theatre major at Lipscomb University. Since that time she has also interned with the Seattle Children's Theatre where her passion for creative dramatics was ignited. Originally from the Land of Enchantment, Albuquerque, New Mexico, she moved to Nashville to get her BFA in Theatre with an emphasis in education from Lipscomb. She is also a teaching artist with TPAC's Disney Musicals in Schools program. She is passionate about all branches of theatre having experience with acting, directing and costume design. Some of her favorite experiences with children's theater include the role of Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and costume design for James and the Giant Peach, both at Lipscomb University. She loves the thrill and joy of watching children experience theater and is excited to learn and grow along with her students at NCT.