John Rodaz has produced and/or directed over 200 productions in So. Florida, becoming the first recipient of Carbonell (So. Florida Critics Association) nominations in the four major “Play” categories: Production, Directing, Acting, and Design. Directing credits include Brilliant Traces (first Carbonell Award to an intimate professional theatre: Best Director, Best Production); the world premiere of Neil’s Garden (first Carbonell Award for Best New Play); the celebrated world premiere of Passage (transferred to the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Main Stage); the Florida premiere of Rum and Coke (appeared on ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel); the world premiere of Sleepwalkers (Carbonell Award, Best New Play) produced at the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta; the SE premiere of The Lisbon Traviata (Carbonell Award, Best Director); and the SE premiere of Kvetch (Carbonell Award, Best Director).
His New York acting and directing credits include regional, stock, and Off-Broadway, working with playwrights, directors, and actors such as Olympia Dukakis, Mac Wellman, Omar Shapli, and David Esbjornsen. John has also worked in the TV and film industries in the capacity of Creative Consultant. John trained at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Professional Theatre Program. Additional training: Etienne Decroux and Marcel Marceau, Paris; Desmond Jones, London.
Founder, Producing Artistic Director
Born and raised in Ecuador, Maria Banda-Rodaz moved to NYC in 1980 to continue her dance training at Columbia University and Kean University, where she was invited to join the late William Chason Dance Company. After a career in production in Ecuador, she returned to the U.S. in 1989 as the Managing Director of the Area Stage Co, where she worked with and later married, John Rodaz.
Favorite directing credits are The Caretaker, A Girl’s Guide to Chaos, Shirley Valentine, Lillian, The Business of Murder, Spike Heels (New Times, Best Director), Sea Marks (Carbonell Award, Best Director), The Homecoming, and Mrs. Klein. Producing credits include Brilliant Traces (Carbonell Award, Best Production), The Lisbon Traviata (Carbonell Award Nomination, Best Production), Kvetch (Carbonell Award Honorable Mention, Best Production), Sea Marks (Carbonell Award, Best Production), Se Quieren, and, most recently, Three Good Men.
Maria has been intimately involved with the TV and film industries as the Associate Producer of “We Shoot ‘Em,” later independently working for Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., Sony, 20th Century Fox, HBO, Disney, NBC, Bravo, Style, Telemundo, and Castlerock Entertainment.
Executive Artistic Director
Giancarlo Rodaz has been directing and designing productions at ASC for 10 years. He was recently presented with the prestigious Silver Palm Award for his outstanding direction of ASC's She Kills Monsters and The Wizard of Oz.
Lighting design credits include: The Little Mermaid, She Kills Monsters, Cabaret, Shrek the Musical, Ride, The Nether (Carbonell Nominated; Best Lighting Design). ASC directing credits include: The Little Mermaid, She Kills Monsters, Shrek the Musical, and Ride. Conservatory directing credits include: The Wild Party, Heathers, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Lion King JR, My Son Pinocchio JR, Annie JR, and The Little Mermaid JR. Playwright/directing credits: Catherine & The Accident, It’s A Small Play, and Don’t Fear the Rain at Microtheatre; Rise of the Titans at the Arsht Center; Masque at the University of Miami; and Janis Matthews & The Dodo Scouts, Waves Against A Withering Shore, and The Lone Wolf of Honeysuckle Valley at the ASC. The production of the Hoboken Children’s Theatre of The Ballad of Janis Mathews and the Dodo Scouts was nominated by Broadway World as “Best Play for Children.” He would like to thank his parents for all of the amazing support and opportunities, as well as Eliezer for everything.
Associate Artistic Director/Designer
Rebecca Ashton has been performing and studying voice, dance, and acting since the age of two and has been teaching for over 15 years. She recently graduated with her BFA from the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma and plans to pursue an MFA in theatre soon. Outside of the arts education field, Rebecca has extensive nonprofit management experience- specifically in marketing development.
Favorite regional roles include: My Fair Lady (Eliza Doolittle), Beauty and the Beast (Belle), The Tempest (Miranda), The Fantasticks (Luisa), Snow White (Snow White), and A Chorus Line (Judy). University: On the Town (Claire), Something Wicked this Way Comes--a world premiere workshop production (Miss Foley), Sunday in the Park with George (Celeste 1/Elaine). Rebecca was part of the Santa Monica Playhouse Repertory Company for six years and toured with them to the UK, Japan, Ireland, and Holland where she performed and taught theatre workshops. Rebecca also served as the Director of Preschool Education and the Assistant Director of the Junior Acting Theatre Workshop Division (ages 6-12) at the Santa Monica Playhouse. She has taught all styles of dance throughout Los Angeles area and Oklahoma. She has choreographed productions of My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Treasure Island, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical, Cabaret, Grease, Winnie the Pooh, High School Musical and A Chorus Line, among others. In addition to serving as choreographer, Rebecca has also vocal directed many productions, including the yearly Los Angeles youth holiday concert series, Holipalooza! She feels incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe Theatre in London, as well as with the Model Language Studio in Tokyo. She would like to thank all the fantastic theatre moms and dads at ASC for giving her the opportunity to pass on her knowledge to their young people!
Originally from the New York City area, Steven Alexander is currently pursuing a degree in Music Education at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. With a focus in classical voice, he serves as the tenor section leader of the Frost Chorale. He is also the Music Director of BisCaydence, the University’s award winning a cappella group. Most recently, he led the group to the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella championships in Times Square, where the group placed second internationally. Additionally, he serves as the Assistant Conductor of Choirs at the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts.
Some of his most notable musical theater roles include Pippin in Pippin, Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Robert in The Drowsy Chaperone. Some of his most notable performances with BisCaydence include performing at the Pitch Perfect 3 South Florida premiere, opening for D’Cappella (Disney‘s professional a cappella group), and opening for former VP Joe Biden.
As an educator, he believes that all children should have equal opportunity and access to creative experiences. He is lucky to be able to provide these experiences to the talented students of ASC.
Judy-Ann Bassing is an international director, choreographer, and master teacher. Recipient of six Los Angles Drama-Logue awards and the San Diego Theatre Circle Critics award for outstanding choreography and directing, Judy is a member of the New York Stage Directors and Choreographers Union. Her New York teaching credits include, Broadway Dance Center, Jo Jo’s Dance Factory, Joffrey Ballet School, Steps, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, New York University, and Lexington School for the Deaf. She has taught master classes for all the major dance organizations in the USA. Her choreography credits range from the opening ceremonies of the 1999 World Ski Cup Championships to musical theatre, concert stage, and cruise ships. Judy is currently teaching in the Theatre Arts Department at the University of Miami. One of her great teaching joys was teaching Deaf students to Tap Dance.
Jazz & Tap Dance Instructor
Originally from Mexico, Irma is a Royal Academy of Dance Registered Teacher from London, England. She started her studies in Classical Ballet, Jazz, Character, and Mexican Folklore Dance at 6 years old. She concluded her Royal Academy of Dance professional dance career and graduated with a certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies from London. She is the founder and artistic director of her own school in Veracruz, Mexico for 19 years. Her students have been awarded scholarships and special prizes around the world.
With a Bachelor’s in Human Communication with Dance Therapy certification, she has worked with special needs groups creating a dance company for 15 years. Irma has been a dance choreographer for children and teenagers in different productions and workshops in Mexico and was an actress and a dancer in Micro Theater. She was invited as a broadcaster for Univision Mexico.
Licensed teacher of “Silver Swan” (Ballet London Program for adults and seniors) and certified in progressing Ballet Technique, Irma moved to Miami in 2017. Currently, she is Tutor and Supervisor for the Royal Academy of Dance London in the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
ITP Coordinator, RAD Dance Instructor
Minerva Borjas is a Miami-based vocal coach, composer, singer, and TV hostess. She started her career at the age of 15, signing her first recording contract with “Hecho a Mano Discos,” directed by the acclaimed Grammy nominee and multi-platinum singer Ricardo Montaner. As a singer-songwriter, she signed her second recording contract with Universal Music Latin in 2006, with her album Ahora Soy Yo. As a performer, she went on tour as a background vocalist for the Latin superstar Chayanne. As a composer, producer, and performer she has participated in several movies, TV shows, and TV commercials such as Des-Autorizados from Elia K. Schneider, Muchacho Solitario for Hecho a Manos Discos (Triple Platinum-Winner Soundtrack), Sabrosa Pasion for High Hills Productions (broadcast in 32 countries), Despierta for PBS in Spanish, Tu Bebe (US-Wide), and other successful productions. She's been a host of the TV show Tu Bebe since 2010. As a vocal coach with the Area Stage Company, she has worked in several musical theater productions such as Alice in Wonderland Jr., Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Beauty and the Beast. Minerva worked as a vocal coach for the past three seasons of The Voice Kids at Telemundo and is currently vocal coaching the TV Show PequeñosGigantes at Univision Networks.
Katie Duerr is an actor and musician from Miami, currently studying at the University of Miami. Professional credits include: The Wizard of Oz RSC (Wicked Witch of the West, Music Director), The Little Mermaid (Music Director, Ensemble, Accordion), She Kills Monsters (Agnes), Cabaret (Frauline Kost, Music Director), Shrek (Music Director, Pianist). Educational credits include: Grease (Sandy), Into the Woods (Cinderella), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Rona), Little Women (Aunt March). She has also worked with Wild Theatre Co in originating the role of Patience in Waves Against a Withering Shore, Elaine in Lone Wolf, and Pam in Janis Matthews. She is humbled to be a part of such a unique creative team and would like to thank her talented cast mates, Giancarlo, John and Maria, and her mom for everything!
Social Media Strategist, Voice and Piano Instructor
Marissa is a Florida International University Freshman where she dances on the FIU Dazzlers dance team. She has trained in all styles of dance her entire life, specializing in jazz and hip-hop, and now enjoys sharing her knowledge with her students.
Orlando Hall has been the sound engineer for the Area Stage Company since 2016. He is also and an adjunct instructor at the world famous SAE Institute in North Miami. He is a graduate from Full Sail Real World Education. He started out as an intern for the legendary producer Desmond Child and worked his way up on a wide range of projects with artists from Lil Jon to Clay Aiken. After working with various Miami studios, Orlando began a successful freelance career frequently commuting from New York. With his superior mixing and editing capabilities perfected, Orlando eventually opened his own recording studio, Area 51 Recording Studio, which has now become the highest rated recording in SOFL based on Google reviews. He brings his passion and love of the arts to every production he is a part of and is proud to be part of the team.
Gabriela Fumero is an actress, singer, director and writer who is fluent in Spanish and English. She began acting at the age of 16 appearing in commercial work. She obtained her BFA at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, CA in June 2018. Her first appearance since graduating was in a short film titled Mia (2019) that premiered at Disney Studios with the Alliance of Women Directors.
Favorite roles include: Reckless (Rachel), Lend Me a Tenor (Maria), Brundibar (Annette), Point of Origin (Various Roles), La Boheme (Featured Ensemble). In college, she had the opportunity to direct an original play by writer Westley Monroe titled What Lies We Tell which premiered in Los Angeles, CA. Gabriela has also performed and traveled with the Miami Childrens Chorus. Performances with MCC include: Cleveland Orchestra, Miami Heat National Anthem, Florida Grand Opera and several performances in Italy, New York, Washington DC and around South Florida. Gabriela is excited to be a part of the Area Stage family!
Anna Lise Jensen graduated with a BA in Theatre from Davidson College in North Carolina. She recently relocated from New York City to Miami and continues to perform on stage as both an actress and classical vocalist. She has appeared all across the United States and is a classically trained pianist and violinist. In New York she studied closely with Jen Waldman and Matthew Corozine, as well as with Andrew Byrne. Through Byrne’s whole body integration of vocal production, as well as extensive training and coaching in Meisner Technique, Anna Lise draws on her multi-disciplinary background to achieve honesty and clarity in vocal production, intention, and physical presence. She also is trained in Creative Art and Drama Therapy for Children and Teens and has served with numerous non-profits to help students of all backgrounds learn how to find their voice and stand in their true self. In addition to teaching, she has an active coaching practice helping actors transition both from high school to college and prepare for college auditions, as well as leaving an academic setting and learning to become a professional in a major market. On stage, she was most recently seen as Lisa in Finding Mona Lisa at Actors' Playhouse, Yvonne/Noami in Sunday in the Park With George at Zoetic Stage, as Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County at Slow Burn Theatre, and as Allison in Fun Home at Zoetic Stage. More information about her performance credits can be seen on her website, www.annalisejensen.com.
Anna Lise Jensen
Rick Kaydas is celebrating his 10th year as Music Director/Conductor/Accompanist at ASC. Recent ASC projects: Matilda, American Idiot, An Octoroon (original music), Cabaret, A Wild Party, Heathers, In The Heights, and Spring Awakening. As the Resident Music Director of the Florida Children’s Theatre, he has been responsible for over 50 productions including: Carrie the Musical, Side Show, Sweeney Todd, and We Will Rock You. His composition credits include the film The Joker Journal, the stage musicals South of the North Pole and original adaptations of Snow White and The Little Mermaid, plus original musical underscoring for The Nether, An Octoroon, and Hamlet. Mr. Kaydas is the proud recipient of the ASCAP Benny Davis Award for musical theatre and the 2017 Broadway World Best Musical Direction Award.
Tenor Andrés Lasaga obtained his Bachelor of Music from New World School of the Arts’ vocal program and performed several roles in their annual scenes program and productions such as Ernesto from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Mengone from Haydn’s Lo speziale. He received his Master’s of Music degree at the University of Miami, Frost School of Music where he had the opportunity to perform two Stravinsky operas: Mavra (Hussar) and The Rake’s Progress (Tom Rakewell). Other roles include Britten’s The Turn of The Screw (The Prologue and Peter Quint), Lehar’s The Merry Widow (St. Brioche and Baron Popoff), Massenet’s Cendrillon (Le Doyen de la Faculté), and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Monostatos). He collaborated with the Florida Grand Opera Chorus in their 2015-2016 production of Bellini’s Norma and The Master Chorale of South Florida’s 2016-2017 concert of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. Along with choir collaborations, Andrés had the honor of performing a recital at the Mirabell Palace in Salzburg, Austria in the summer of 2017. Aside of singing, he has composed several art songs and instrumental works and had the opportunity of premiering his work in the South Florida community. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate’s in Musical Arts.
Cuban soprano Laura León made her Florida Grand Opera debut at the Arsht Center last season as Frasquita in Carmen and as Mother of a Peasant in Before Night Falls. She also covered the roles of Oscar in Un ballo in Maschera, Norina in Don Pasquale, and Yvette in The Passenger at the same company. She was last seen as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss with Opera Fusion, one of the most challenging coloratura roles ever written.
Her other recent operatic roles include La Princesse Laoula in Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’étoile, Marguerita Fiorentino in Weill’s Street Scene, Königin der Nacht (Queen of the Night) in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Musetta in La Bohème, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Cunegonde in Bernstein's Candide, and Lucia in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Laura's musical theater credits include Maria in West Side Story, Lady Larken in Once Upon a Mattress, Woman 1 in I Love You, and Lulu in Cabaret.
Her future engagements include Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Louisiane and Lola in the new Off-Broadway production of Dueling Divas. Laura has an MFA in Voice Performance from Florida International University, a BA in Voice Performance from Nyack College, and an AA in Music Education from Miami Dade College.
Laura Martinez León
Jessica Paz is so excited to be a part of the ASC ITP family. She has been with ITP for five productions now including Shrek JR., The Little Mermaid JR., Frozen JR., and Peter Pan JR., and she's enjoyed every moment. She would like to thank the incredible students for all of their hard work and dedication! She also sends a special thank you to Maria, Gaby, Simon, Irma, Minerva and the entire ASC team.
ITP Stage Manager
Simon Pincus is a theatre artist who has performed professionally on Broadway, on television, and in film. A playwright and composer, his work has been performed in the New York Musical Theater Festival and at the Eugene O’Neill Center. An advocate for arts education, he founded the non-profit organization the Alliance for Long Island Students of Theater (ALIST), which provided 200 high school students with a platform to produce their own theatrical works and raised funds for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He has worked as an assistant at 101 Productions, Ltd., a general management firm which represents many currently running Broadway productions and national tours. He was the stage manager for Area Stage Company’s production of Matilda. He studied performing, directing, design, and playwriting at Sarah Lawrence College and at the National Theatre Institute.
Production Stage Manager, Instructor
Aishe is a costume designer, costume technologist, and visual artist. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, she received her BFA in Costume Design from the School of Theatre + Dance in the College of the Arts at the University of Florida. She honored her crafts by working different mainstages in UF’s School of Theatre + Dance as a stitcher, draper, assistant, and designer. The same for different outside projects in UF’s School of Art and Art History, independent short films, photography, and entertainment. From her previous credits, she is also experienced in the lights, sound, and scenic elements of the stage. She is thrilled to be a part of such a warm, creative team.
Massiel possesses 22 years of experience in music composition, singing, piano, and musical arrangement. She is classically trained in piano and opera, as well as in jazz and musical theatre styles. Most recently, she performed in Hialeah Social Trap at the Trail Theater.
Praised for her "lustrous soprano voice," Evelyn Saavedra is quickly establishing herself as a "gifted young singer to watch" (South Florida Classical Review). Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Evelyn will return to the Pensacola Opera for its 2018-19 season to sing as Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas, having been the Artist in Residence the previous season.
Previous credits include Maria de Buenos Aires (Maria), Madama Butterfly (Kate Pinkerton), Man of La Mancha (Antonia), Glory Denied (Young Alyce), Aïda (Sacerdotessa), Dead Man Walking (Sister Catherine, Kitty Hart), Le Nozze di Figaro (Susanna), Street Scene (Rose), The Turn of the Screw (The Governess), and the world premiere of Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight (Featured Dater). As Agrippina in Agrippina, she was praised for "coloring her vocalism expressively and tossing off the coloratura flights with zest" (South Florida Classical Review). In J. Mark Scearce’s Falling Angel, in which Evelyn played Epiphany Proudfoot, caused the Wall Street Journal to describe Evelyn as an "alluring soprano (who) brought sensitivity to Epiphany."
Recently, she traveled to Poland as one of 25 selected singers invited to participate in the 2018 Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition organized by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, and she traveled to Italy to participate in the 87th annual Chigiana International Festival & Summer Academy, where she was selected to participate in masterclasses conducted by Mariella Devia. Evelyn holds a Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance from Florida International University and a Master's Degree in Vocal Performance & Literature from the Eastman School of Music where she received the First Prize at the Friends of Eastman Opera Competition in 2015.