2014 Festival Details

CNY Arts brought together more than 150 students and adults from five high schools and two community theater groups from five counties throughout New York’s Central and Southern Tier regions at Cayuga Community College in Auburn, NY for the 2014 Michael Harms Theater Festival on Saturday, April 12. This annual celebration of youths in theater is a combination of musical and dramatic theater performances, feedback, and professionally-led workshops for both young performers and behind the scenes artists and crew.

Auburn High School, Dana West Jr-Sr High, The Media Unit, Nottingham High School, Oswego Children's Theater, Sherburne-Earlville High School, and Whitney Point High School participated in this year’s Festival.

CNY Arts presented awards and scholarship for notable performances and technical work. Those were:

Festival Awards:

  • The Award of Excellence-High School was presented to Nottingham High School for their production of Chicago, directed by Virginia Fennessy
  • The Award of Excellence-Community Theater was presented to Oswego Children's Theater for their production of Alky, directed by Lyndsie Lee Jones
  • The Technical Achievement Award was presented The Media Unit for their production of Changes, directed by Walt Shepperd and student director Mya Eisenberg


  • Michael Harms Memorial Scholarship: Molly Sharples – Auburn High School
  • Redhouse Summer Intensive Scholarship: Jasper Schep - Nottingham High School

Certificates of Achievement:

  • Smooch Award: Olivia Bauso & Zane Carnes (Auburn High School)
  • Individual Growth as an Actor: Abby Field (Oswego Children’s Theater)
  • Honorable Mention for Individual Comedic Performance: Robert Van Barlinger (Auburn High School)
  • Honorable Mention for Individual Performance in a Musical: Ella Neville (Nottingham High School)
  • Honorable Mention for Individual Performance in a Musical: Marissa Turo (Dana West Jr-Sr High Drama Club)
  • Honorable Mention for Individual Performance in a Drama: Ryan Smith (Oswego Children’s Theater)
  • Outstanding Scene Work: Cell Block Tango (Nottingham High School)
  • Excellence in Devised Theatre for Original Writing: Mya Eisenberg, Anna Maria Quackenbush, & Nicholas Cocks (The Media Unit)
  • Excellence in Costume Design: Ranya Shannon & Gretchen Horst (Nottingham High School)
  • Technical Excellence in Lighting & Stage Management: Chicago (Nottingham High School)
  • Excellence in Choreography: Chicago (Nottingham High School)
  • Excellence in Comedic Timing: Taylor MacBain & Samantha Smolak (Auburn High School)
  • Excellence in Stage Combat: Lukas Fetzko & Dmitri Sofranko (Sherburne Earlville High School Drama Club)
  • Excellence in Musical Harmony: Ellyse Freeman, Kaitlyn Sevilla, & Marissa Turo (Dana West Jr-Sr High Drama Club)
  • Best Individual Male Dramatic Performance: Nicholas Cocks (The Media Unit)
  • Best Individual Female Comedic Performance: Danielle Purdy (Sherburne Earlville High School Drama Club)
  • Excellence in Musical Performance: Ariel Bryant (Nottingham High School)

 Congratulations to all of the winners!

Below are respondent and workshop leaders bios, along with descriptions of each workshops.


The 2014 Festival respondents (those critiquing the performances) were professors from college and university drama departments. They were:

Rose Burnett Bonczek is a professor of theater at Brooklyn College (specializing in ensemble building, directing, improvisation, and theater pedagogy), and is the head of the BFA Acting program. She is the co-author (with David Storck) of Ensemble Theater Making: A Practical Guide published by Routledge Press, recently reviewed in American Theatre Magazine ("The authors' breezy, conversational tone falls somewhere between Keith Johnstone's Impro and Charna Halpern, Del Close and Kim Johnson's Truth in Comedy, two classic guides to improvisation that this book nicely complements."). It was also nominated for the Association of Theater in Higher Education's Outstanding Theater Book of the Year Award. A director for nearly 40 years, her recent credits include the world premiere of Raghead by Thomas Coash at 78th Street Theatre in NYC, Sisters by Tim Duncheon for Boomerang Theatre in NYC, The Rimers of Eldritch at Brooklyn College, and the world premiere of Lily Rose at the Viaduct Theatre in the UK. She is co-artistic director of Gi60: (Gone in 60 Seconds) The International One Minute Play Festival celebrating its 10th anniversary, produced in association with Screaming Media Productions of the UK (www.gi60.blogspot.com – or see the Gi60 Channel on YouTube for past productions). Ms. Bonczek is on the board of directors for Barefoot Theatre Company of NYC.

Mark Cole received his BA in Theatre from SUNY Oswego and his MFA from New York University’s School of the Arts. He is a professor in the SUNY Oswego Theatre Department (since 1979). His directing credits at Oswego include Twelfth Night, The Torch Bearers, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antigone, Peer Gynt, Fahrenheit 451, and Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. He has directed for Contemporary Theatre of Syracuse, the Sterling Renaissance Festival, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and Cayuga Community College. He is the author of several plays including The Mandorla (Jazz Central), An Evening with Alan and Lawrence (SUNY Oswego and Studio 24 in Syracuse) and Take All My Loves, an adaptation of 28 sonnets of Shakespeare (in collaboration with Dr. Patrick Murphy). Recent performances include “The Fool” in King Lear (Syracuse Shakespeare Festival) and roles in The Mandorla, An Evening With Alan and Lawrence, and Take All My Loves. He plays “Rev. Shouldeur” in the independent film Impossible Choice, produced by Media Artists.

Maria E. Marrero is a Professor of Theatre Design and Technology in the Syracuse University Department of Drama, where she served a three-year term as chair. She has designed costumes for 36 productions at Syracuse Stage, most recently: Putting It Together and The Fantasticks. She has guest designed at numerous theaters including: Actor’s Theater of Louisville, the Berkshire Theater Festival, GEVA in Rochester, Studio Arena in Buffalo, Playmakers Repertory in NC, Indiana Repertory, and several other regional theaters; the Vineyard Theater in NYC and the Apollo Theater in Chicago; and Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse (five years as resident designer); and has designed regional and national tours, (Handy Dandy, Of Mice and Men, and others). Ms. Marrero was Resident Costumer/Designer for Syracuse Stage (12 years) and Costumer at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. She recently designed costumes for the Syracuse University Drama Department’s production of As You Like It, and scenery for The Resignos, at the American Theater of Actors, NYC.


Students participate in skill-building workshops, during the Festival, led by professionals making a living in the arts with extensive experience regionally, in New York City, and beyond:

Bradley Benjamin (The Fosse Broadway Dance Audition) began her professional performing career at the age of 18 when she was hand-picked by Tony Award winning choreographer Susan Stroman to play a featured dance role in the Broadway Revival of Oklahoma!. Since then, Bradley has had the unique opportunity to work with many prominent Broadway choreographers on productions such as the 1st National Tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Las Vegas and Hollywood Bowl productions of Hairspray, Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the world-premier of Leap of Faith, starring Brooke Shields, the pre-Broadway workshop of Brigadoon, and multiple productions for Sacramento Music Circus, LA Opera, and the Reprise Theatre Company. On TV, Bradley has appeared on The Today Show, Late Show with David Letterman, The Tony Awards, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. Bradley received her dance training at the Center of Ballet & Dance Arts under the direction of Deborah Boughton and she attended prestigious summer programs at The Juilliard School, NYSSSA, Hartford Ballet, and The American Theatre Dance Workshop. Bradley holds a BA in Performing Arts from the Saint Mary’s College LEAP program and she is a member of Actors' Equity Association and The American Guild of Variety Artists.

Michael Broughton (Lighting) came to the area in 2006 to work as the master electrician at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. After working extensively in and around NYC during MGR's off season, he now resides in Auburn as the Facilities and Technical Manager for the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival. NYC Lighting Design: Journey Dancers (Brooklyn Music School), Dwarf Trees and Damned Thing (BMS), A Brooklyn Nutcracker (BMS), Getting Tom (Cherry Lane Theatre), Janusphere Dance Company, Dumbo Dance Festival. NYC Master Electrician: Abron’s Arts Center, Lincoln Center, Cherry Lane Theatre, Mannes Opera. He also toured nationally with Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker.

Carey Eidel (Acting) is the Executive Director and founding member of Auburn Public Theater. He came to APT from NY/Los Angeles following a 25-year professional career as an actor, teacher, writer, and director. In LA, he was one of the busiest acting coaches/teachers whose students included Haley Berry, Pam Stone (Coach) & Diane Farr (Rescue Me). He recently performed The Boys Next Door at Syracuse Stage and was just cast in their production of Hairspray! Carey studied acting at The Neighborhood Playhouse with Sanford Meisner and then with Wynn Handman. Off-Broadway: Wild Oats (premiere), Home Movies, and Twelfth Night. National Tour: The Wizard of Oz. Carey played “Sir Edward Ramsey” in The King and I at The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. A veteran of over 50 television shows and films, Carey has worked with many of the top professionals in the entertainment industry. Television credits include Everybody Loves Raymond, The Amanda Show, 7th Heaven, General Hospital, Diagnosis Murder, 3rd Rock From The Sun, Yes Dear, Strong Medicine, Melrose Place, LA Law, and Fox’s Daddy Dearest. Film credits include: Lost World: Jurassic Park, Evolution, For The Boys, The Marrying Man, And The Band Played On, and C.H.U.D. In addition to working with APT, Carey currently teaches acting, screenwriting, film production, and acting for film at Cayuga Community College.

Jeff Glave (Scenic Painting) is a graduate of SUNY Oswego, majoring in scenic design and technology, and has been a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 for 25 years. Over the past 35 years, he has painted scenery for all theatrical venues from Summer Stock to Broadway to the Metropolitan Opera. Jeff’s credits as a scenic chargeman for motion pictures include over 50 features and television series. The productions he is proudest of are Malcolm X, because of its huge volume of period scenic work, and A Beautiful Mind. Jeff thinks you should always have fun at work, still loves to get his hands dirty, and thinks fooling people with paint is the greatest thing in the world!

Kevin Shumway (Improvisation) is an actor, director, drama coach, and teacher. His professional credits include appearances on stage in both CNY and NYC; work on feature films and TV shows; voice-overs for business, entertainment, and education; numerous commercials and corporate promotional and training videos, as well as print advertisements. Kevin has directed 17 high school plays and musicals, and teaches acting and play analysis as an adjunct instructor in the Syracuse University Drama Department. A graduate of SU Drama, he served on the boards of the Syracuse Shakespeare Festival and the Skaneateles Area Arts Council. Kevin has held membership in both Actors Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild.

Lindsey Quay Sikes (Special Effects Stage Makeup) is the Visiting Professor of Costume Design at Le Moyne College. She recently designed costumes for their production of The Master and Margarita. Lindsey has also taught costume design, costume history, and theatrical makeup at the University of Mississippi. Professional credits include designs for Ole Miss Theatre, Weathervane Playhouse, Charleston Southern University, Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra, and assistant designed for Pure Theatre in Charleston, SC. She has also served as a cutter/draper for several seasons at the Texas Shakespeare Festival.

Maria Wechsler (Creative Play) has been working in environmental theater for 25 years. She has taught workshops on creative play and improvisation for many years. She currently works on the teaching staff and in the performance company of the Sterling Renaissance Festival. She also serves as the artistic director for the Skaneateles Dickens Festival.

Kathy Zamniak (Dance Auditioning for Dancers) is a choreographer and director in the Auburn area, and has been dancing for over thirty years. Kathy owns and operates her own dance studio in Auburn, Rhythm in Motion Studio, since 1980. She is the Master choreographer for Seneca Cayuga ARC’s Fame program and has lead dance workshops at Wells College, Le Moyne College, and summer theater at The Morgan Opera House in Aurora. Kathy has produced and directed over 20 theater productions for Rhythm in Motion Studio, choreographed for Auburn High school, and Union Springs High School Musicals. She is certified with The Dance Education of America, NYC. Kathy is currently instructing “Introduction to Dance” at Cayuga County Community College.