MEET OUR DIRECTORSNew Day is so excited to have such a talented staff of directors.
Lea is a 27 year old Memphian. She grew up performing in children’s theatre, and has carried her passion into adulthood. Lea brings a different outlook on ‘standard’ theatre practice, making for a more personal and kid-friendly experience. Lea directed one of the first New Day productions, Alice in Wonderland, in 2005 before moving to the Windy City. Having returned to the Bluff City in late 2011, she directed Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing in winter 2012. She is currently directing James and the Giant Peach and enjoying every minute! Lea specializes in directing straight plays (non-musicals). She is a licensed massage therapist, the bookkeeper of her family’s industrial sales company, and one of the newest members of the New Day Board of Directors.
ASHLEY BUGG BROWN
Ashley Bugg Brown is currently a theatre teacher at Lausanne Collegiate School, where she has been for the past ten years. A children's theatre kid herself, Ashley began working in theatre at the age of eleven at Ewing Children's Theatre. Ashley has a B.F.A in theatre performance for the University of Memphis and is one thesis away from a M.T.S from Southern Oregon University. She has performed directed and taught at Playhouse on the Square, Theatre Memphis, Circuit Playhouse, Harrell Performing Arts Theatre, and Germantown Community Theatre.
ASHLEY CHASTEEN MORGAN
Ashley has been a regular director at New Day since 2009 and is currently pursuing her doctorate in physical therapy this at Arkansas State University! She has been making movies for over 10 years and is the owner of Haulin' Ash Productions. She is a producer, director, and editor for ASU-TV in Jonesboro and recently produced the number one show there. Ash loves anything to do with movies, water skiing, and soccer!
Lorraine Cotten has been teaching and directing or acting in theatre for most of her life. The last twelve years have been spent teaching college, high school, and elementary levels in Memphis and the surrounding areas. She won an Ostrander Award for Direction of The Boys Next Door at the U of M and was nominated recently for supporting actress in Dividing the Estate at Circuit Playhouse. Before moving to Memphis to complete an MFA in directing, she was a professional actor for many years and was blessed to work in theatres regionally, in New York and in film and television. Her favorite part of theatre is working with students and watching them blossom in all the ways that theatre helps them grow.
Jennifer Daniels is a freelance theatre instructor and director in the greater Memphis area. She returned to Memphis four years ago after touring professionally with California Theatre Center in the heart of Silicon Valley and Missoula Children's Theatre and has directed shows for St. George's, Theatre Memphis, Playhouse on the Square, Hutchison, Christ Methodist, the Memphis JCC, New Day, and has recently been hired by Germantown Community Theatre. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance. Jennifer resides in East Memphis with her goldfish Penny Nicole and her poodle Laya.
CHRISTI GRAY HALL
Christi Gray Hall was a certified member of the Southern Association of Dance Masters and has owned and operated a studio for 31 years. She has studied tap, ballet, jazz, acrobatics, and baton for many years. She has studied with Morat School of Dance, Charles Kelley, Henry LeTang, Savion Glover, Frank Hatchett, Don Farnsworth all from NYC, Al Gilbert, Joe Tremaine, and Doug Caldwell all from Los Angeles. Other studies include Acting at Theatre Memphis, Rhodes College, University of Memphis, and Playhouse on the Square. Theatre work includes productions at Bartlett Theatre, Circuit Playhouse, and Theatre Memphis. She is currently choreographing “No No Nanette” at Theatre Memphis. Other choreography credits include “Bye Bye Birdie” at Theatre Memphis, “Godspell”, “Once Upon a Mattress”, “Willie Wonka”, and “How I Became a Pirate” at New Day . She performed in and was the assistant choreographer for “Cabaret” and “West Side Story”. She also performed in “Crazy For You” (2011), “La Cage Aux Folles” (2010) and “Curtains” (2009). She played Daphne in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (2007), Jennyanydots in “Cats”, (2006), Phyllis in “42nd Street” (2002), and Judy in “A Chorus Line” (1999) at Theatre Memphis. Christi won six college scholarships and over 600 trophies in modeling and talent competitions. She performed as Feature Twirler with the Memphis State Marching Band for four years and as Golden Girl for her senior year. She received a BBA from Memphis State. She is married to Jon Hall and has two children, Austin and Carly.
Tamatha M. Holt is the Orff Music Specialist and CAPA Chorus Director at Rozelle Elementary School. She formerly taught orchestra at American Way Middle School. Mrs. Holt received formal training in music starting at the age of 5 on violin and piano. She is currently a professional musician and performs regularly in the Memphis community and surrounding regions. Mrs. Holt has performed with the Jackson, Paducah and Corinth Symphonies, and appears frequently in the orchestra for musicals at Playhouse On The Square and Circuit Playhouse. She has been an instructor for the Memphis City Schools Arts Enrichment Camp and Summer Youth Conservatory through Playhouse On The Square. This is her 3rd year teaching New Day’s Musical Theater Camp. Mrs. Holt has toured with the Juenesses Musicale World Orchestra throughout Europe and Asia. She has also performed with such artists as Ray Charles, KirkWhalum and Bobby McFerrin. Mrs. Holt is a member of the Tenebrae String Quartet, and is a music contractor through her own company, Serenade, Inc.
Lydia James is from London, England, and graduated from Bath Spa University with a B.A (Honors) in Drama and Film Studies in 2010. Lydia discovered her desire to become a Theatre teacher when she worked in the Drama Department of a summer camp in Missouri from 2007 – 2011. Lydia spent 2 years as a Drama Specialist, and 3 years as the Drama Director. As Drama Director, her responsibilities included auditioning campers for the camp play, as well as organizing rehearsals, directing, and producing the play. Lydia also developed and led Drama games and activities, and held a leadership position among staff members. Lydia has also worked as an Acting Instructor at Playhouse on the Squares, Summer Conservatory. Lydia graduated from The University of South Carolina in May, 2013, with a Master of Arts in Theatre Education. Since moving to Memphis, Lydia has worked as the Drama Specialist at the Memphis Jewish Community Centre Day Camp, and has taught a few Theatre classes at Germantown Community Theatre. She has also taught a Discovery Dance class at the Memphis Jewish Community Centre. Lydia is a hard – working individual who is enthusiastic about finding ways in which she can influence and inspire the love of Theatre in children.
Matt Morgan graduated from Arkansas State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. He is so excited about teaching improv, musical theatre, and acting at New Day. Before teaching more regularly at NDCT, Matt has been actively pursuing professional acting. He has played "Linus" in Snoopy: the Musical, "Mayor" in Bye, Bye Birdie, and "Underling" in The Drowsy Chaperone at SummerStock Findlay. Matt spent the summer of 2012 in Colorado playing "Pickering" in My Fair Lady and "Zeke" in Desperado, a Western melodrama, at the Butte Theatre. In Colorado, Matt proposed to fellow New Day director and best friend Ashley Chasteen, and luckily she said "Yes!" Most recently, Matt originated the role of "Young Santa Claus" in the Prather Entertainment Productions musical A Swingin' Christmas at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre. Matt is acting in Branson, MO with Sight and Sound Productions and is currently in Jonah. The entire New Day Family is so proud of Matt and his accomplishments. We miss him this year but wish him the best.
Carrie Paulo is a seasoned educator of fourteen years. She served 12 of those years as a film and video, speech, English and Theatre teacher for Shelby County Schools, having spent equal time at Bolton and Arlington High Schools. Mrs. Paulo holds a Masters degree in Education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in Performance Studies. At Bolton High, she served as the director, co-director or assistant director of such productions as: Any Number Can Die, The Miracle Worker, Meet Me in St. Louis, Bury the Dead, Into the Woods, Footloose, Boys Next Door and Annie. At Arlington, she created Arlington TigerVision, a 20 minutes newsmagazine format as well as serving as producer for Senior Videos and Advanced Film and Video classes and projects. Over the years, Mrs. Paulo has been nominated multiple times to Who’s Who Among American Teachers as well as Disney’s Teaching Awards, which celebrate creativity in teaching. Ms. Paulo is a past recipient of The Margot Stern Strom Teaching Award through Facing History and Ourselves for her part in archiving stories of second generation Holocaust Survivors. She is also a 2011 Teacher of the Year. She is delighted to direct Movie Makers and join the New Day team for the summer of 2014.
Dr. JemmiLou Rye has lived in Memphis since the summer of 1990. She holds degrees from Arkansas Tech University (B.A.) and the University of North Texas (M.M.E. & D.M.A.). She is currently holding down a private studio (Vocal/Piano Studio, LLC) of 30-35 students per week, as well as working at Buntyn Presbyterian as Minister of Music. In her spare time, she accompanies instrumentalists in recital and end of the semester juries, singers, and choirs in the community. Singing engagements began in college with roles in The Student Prince, Man of La Mancha, Sweet Betsey from Pike, and Opera and all that Jazz. The next singing engagements came while in Europe, singing with the Bayerische Kammeroper Wuerzburg, singing "Der Zauberbaum" by C.W. Gluck all over Europe in radio and television, and the world premier of Xavier Thoma's "Ich bin in Sehnsucht Eingehuellt", later serving as her Doctoral Lecture recital subject for the D.M.A. degree while at North Texas. After returning to the states in 1990, Dr. Rye got to sing the role of Sweet Betsey in "Sweet Betsey from Pike"(again) with Southwestern Opera Theater of Memphis, the"Queen of the Night" in Mozart's Magic Flute with The University of Memphis' opera program. The Beethoven Club afforded JemmiLou the "Kathie" role in The Student Prince (again), "Margot" in Desert Song, and the "Hannah" in The Merry Widow. The concert stage has allowed Dr. Rye to sing with the Memphis Symphony several times, The University of Memphis Orchestra, along with South Arkansas Symphony, and The Germantown Symphony.
Lisa has worked in the field of Children’s Theatre since 1976, working with the Memphis Children’s Theatre (later known as Ewing Children’s Theatre), becoming the Director in 1993. She moved to the Morgan Woods Children’s Theatre in Germantown and was its Director for 13 years, until the City’s budget issues closed it in 2005. She has been with New Day since its inception, directing such productions as GODSPELL, THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE and NELLI’S SONG. She has written a number of plays for children, most notably a musical version of SNOW WHITE AND THE 7 DWARFS with Reinaldo Martinez of the Pied Piper Children’s Theatre in New York. In addition to Directing and Costuming duties for New Day and her service on the Board of Directors, she also has a full time position as a GEICO agent.
Jeff White graduated from the University of Tulsa with a B.A. in Theatre. He is currently a theatre teacher and director at Bolton High School but has also taught at Germantown High and The Grizzlies Academy. Before becoming a teacher, Jeff was a member of the Educational Theatre Company in Los Angeles. He has also appeared in several plays in the Memphis area and recently played Jack Palmer in Germantown Community Theatre's production of The Boys Next Door. Jeff was also spent the past four NBA seasons as the In-Arena Emcee for the Memphis Grizzlies. A professional stand up comedian, Jeff has been named the Funniest Person in Memphis in 2008, The Funniest Teacher in Memphis and has performed in comedy clubs across the region.