The Syracuse Children’s Theatre staff are accomplished performers and directors whose specialties span acting, directing, dance/choreography, vocal/music, costume and set design. Please click on the names of our staff to link to their bios.


Todd Ellis – Executive Director

Kellie Ellis – Associate Director

Nikita Richards - Managing Director

Austin Koenig - Education Director

Julie Coggiola - Music Director

Hannah Cox - Music Director

Keith Cullen - Acting Teacher

Peter Fekete - Director, Acting Teacher

Liana Fitt - Music Director

Amanda Gabriel - Music Director

Lisa Kranz - Music Director

Corina Miller - Choreographer

Hannah Sywulski - Music Assistant

Whitney Tracy - Summer Director

Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell - Director of Dance, Emeritus

Todd Ellis, Executive Director

Todd is the Executive Director and Founder of Syracuse Children’s Theatre (SCT), which began operations in January of 1999. Under Todd’s leadership, enrollment in SCT programs increased from 250 students in the first year to over 800 students in the most recent school year, representing a 400% growth. Prior to founding SCT, Todd co-founded and served as Producing Director of Syracuse Civic Theatre, which produced professional quality community theatre at the John H. Mulroy Civic Center from 1995 to 2008. In Syracuse Civic Theatre’s 14 seasons, Todd produced over 100 full-length musical, dramatic, and Shakespearean productions, which included over 2,000 students performing in leading and chorus roles. From 1990 to 1994, Todd served as Assistant Professor of Theatre at Kentucky Wesleyan College where he taught classes in acting, directing, and public speaking and directed 12 theatrical productions. At Kentucky Wesleyan, he also developed the Classics for School Program, which offered productions such as Romeo and Juliet, All My Sons, The Pirates of Penzance and Hamlet to more than 10,000 students. While attending graduate school at Florida Atlantic University, Todd served as personal assistant to Broadway director and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Joshua Logan, and directed current Broadway star and three-time Tony nominee Marc Kudisch in two productions.


Todd holds an MFA in Directing from Florida Atlantic University and a BA in Speech & Theatre from Kentucky Wesleyan College. Todd has won numerous awards for his productions and leadership in the theatrical community, including two Syracuse Area Live Theatre (SALT) awards for productions through the Syracuse Civic Theatre.

Kellie Ellis, Associate Director

Kellie is the Associate Director for Syracuse Children’s Theatre (SCT), having previously served as Director of Creative Dramatics and Director of Acting.  Kellie is a member of New York State Theatre Education Association. She has directed numerous shows for SCT, including: Disney’s High School Musical 2, Disney’s Camp Rock, 13 The Musical, Beauty and the Beast, Wipeout, Night at the Wax Museum, and The Little Mermaid. As an actress in Central New York, Kellie’s favorite roles include: Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You like It, Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, Bombalurina in CATS, Wicked Witch of the West, in The Wizard of Oz, Edith Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, and Curly’s Wife in Of Mice and Men. Kellie has also performed with Bless the Mark Players at the Sterling Renaissance Festival and the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway One Act Theatre Festival in Galoshes.


Kellie holds a BS in Communications from Ithaca College. In 2011, she received the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce 40 Under 40 Award for her civic involvement, volunteerism, and contributions to the growth of Syracuse Children’s Theatre. When not in rehearsal or on stage, Kellie teaches Zumba, Zumbatomic, and Aqua Zumba at Syracuse University, Fayetteville Family YMCA, Jewish Community Center, and SCT.

Nikita Richards, Managing Director

Nikita holds a BA in Music from SUNY Oswego and is thrilled to be a part of the Syracuse Children's Theatre family, having grown up performing in shows with SCT since a young age. Some of her favorite theatrical credits include 'Peter Pan' (Peter Pan), 'Cats' (Mr. Mistoffelees), 'Oklahoma' (Ado Annie), and 'High School Musical' (Kelsi). She began her dance education at the age of five at Center of Ballet and Dance Arts and she continued dancing throughout her college experience in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, and modern. Branching out from musical theatre, Nikita has also performed in several operas with Syracuse Opera Company as well as several ballets including 'The Adventures of Rudolph' and 'The Nutcracker'. While taking a brief hiatus from college, she taught English for two years in an International Kindergarten in Beijing, China. Aside from teaching English in a Montessori environment, she also was a certified KinderMusik instructor and taught an after school World Music class. She hopes to continue sharing her love of music and dance through her compositions, performances, and other creative outlets.

Austin Koenig, Education Director

Austin is the Education Director for Syracuse Children's Theatre (SCT). He graduated from North Dakota State University with a B.F.A. in Performance and has experience in the special education and general education classroom. Some of his favorite theatrical credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Brick), Peter Pan (John Darling), and The Christians (Pastor Paul). Austin has worked with students ages 3 to 21 and is excited to continue this work going forward. 

Julie Coggiola, Music Director

Coming from Liverpool, New York, Julie is currently a music education major at Syracuse University, with a dual focus in jazz/commercial voice and classical clarinet with Performance Honors.  She is concentrating in vocal/general music education, and she has had around seven years of vocal training.  At school, she is a member of University Singers (SU's select choral ensemble), Orange Syndicate (SU's select vocal jazz ensemble), and the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble.  She has also acted as the Pit Conductor and Assistant Pit Conductor for First Year Players, a large student-run theatre group on campus, and as the music director for Syracuse's chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota (an international music fraternity).  She LOVES being on stage though, and has performed in several summer productions over the years through Syracuse Summer Theatre, Baldwinsville Theatre Guild, and The Town of Manlius Recreation Department.  She started working at SCT in the spring of 2019.  She loves working with kids, and is always excited to get to teach and make music with them here!

Hannah Cox, Music Director

Hannah was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and has ventured to Syracuse to complete her undergraduate degree in music education at Syracuse University (’19). Hannah has had five years of vocal training, as well as ten years of piano instruction. She has been with SCT since January of 2017, and is excited for the year ahead! Along with singing and playing the piano, Hannah has twelve years of experience playing the cello and viola. She looks forward to working with her students, and wants to bring a positive and happy energy to the classroom. Hannah wants to help kids grow as performers and musicians, and to help them find the same love for music she has. Along with music, Hannah grew up in ballet. At the age of 5 she started classes at her local dance studio and continued until she was 16. At Syracuse University, she took two semesters of classical ballet. This is her first year teaching dance with SCT, and she is more than excited to work with the new students!

Keith Cullen, Acting Teacher

Keith is currently a student at Le Moyne college, and he is a Theatre and English major. He wasn’t always interested in theatre; however, he enjoyed other forms of art such as storytelling and drawing. It wasn’t until the 4th grade (‘07) that Keith became interested in theatre thanks to SCT. After doing his first show “The Little Mermaid”, he was hooked. He performed and was involved in more than 20 shows when he decided that he wanted to take a hiatus from acting. In recent years, Keith is more likely found behind the scenes helping with whatever needs to be done from lighting design to prop fabrication. He hopes one day he will be able to direct and design a show.

Peter Fekete, Director & Acting Teacher

Peter is thrilled to be working at Syracuse Children’s Theatre. Fekete grew up going to SCT as a child many years ago. Fekete earned a bachelor’s degree in 2012 at Nazareth College where he studied history and theater arts. Since graduation, he founded the small theater company called “the basement players“ in Rochester. Fekete was named one of 14 artist in residence for 2015/2016 at multi-use community culture center in Rochester. Past shows directed by Fekete in Rochester included Art of Murder, Smitten, The Pillowman, and Clue the musical. After returning to his hometown in Syracuse. Fekete became the Artistic Director at Open Hand Theater where he directed Charlie brown Christmas, 39 steps, A Doll’s House, Bruce Coville’s visit to the magic shop, Amahl and the night visitors, and Little Shop of Horrors. He directed Blithe Spirit at CNY Playhouse. The latest shows he acted in was Scrooge/puppeteer for Breadcrumbs production of A Christmas Carol, Mortimer in The Fantasticks at Oswego Players, Tony Alto in Bullets for Broadway, and Michael Jay in Awesome 80’s Prom at Theatre Du Jour. Fekete is a puppet contractor for the Hangar Theatre, shows included Chicago and Into the Woods. He also currently works for Skeele Valley, a non detention center in Tully, NY, Charney’s men’s big and tall suit store, Uber, and contractor for building puppets.  He would like to thank his family and friends for all their love and support.

Liana Fitt, Music Director

Liana began teaching at SCT in 2017. Since then, she has music directed and directed more shows than she can keep up with! Liana earned both her BM and MM in Music Education from Syracuse University. During her time at SU, she had some of the most incredible musical experiences of her life, including studying voice at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France, as well as touring and competing internationally in both France and Bulgaria with the Syracuse University Singers, SU’s most select choral ensemble. Currently, Liana teaches 5th and 6th grade chorus and general music as well as pre-k general music at Solvay Middle School. In addition to her public school teaching, Liana also teaches private voice and piano.

Amanda Gabriel, Music Director

Born and raised in Springfield, NJ, Amanda is a junior at Syracuse University studying music industry as a jazz/commercial vocalist with a minor in theater. On campus, she is a part of Crouse Choral (SU's premiere all -female choir), Orange Unified Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and SU's premiere co-ed a cappella group, Groove Stand. A pianist as well as a vocalist, Amanda had the pleasure of playing Keys 2 in the pit of First Year Player's production of "Newsies," and is now the acting Assistant Music Director for this year's spring musical. Amanda is also an actor and can often be seen on stage, with credits including Legally Blonde (Elle Woods), American Idiot (Whatsername & Extraordinary Girl), The Drowsy Chaperone (Kitty), Bring it On! (Bridget), and many more. Amanda is so very passionate about music and singing, and is so excited to share that passion with the amazing students!

Lisa Kranz, Music Director

This is Lisa's first summer working as an SCT camp counselor but she has been working with SCT students since the beginning of 2016. Lisa recently graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelors of Music in Music Education with Performance Honors on tuba and is continuing at SU to earn her Masters of Science in Music Education with a focus in psychology.  

Lisa looks forward to sharing her love of singing, dancing, and performing with the SCT students and helping them to develop their musical skills and knowledge.  

Corina Miller, Choreographer

Corina Miller grew up in Syracuse, NY where she danced competitively for many years. She then went on to receive a BFA in Dance from The College at Brockport in 2014. Corina has been lucky enough to study with great dancers such as Jon Lehrer, Bill Evans, members of the Taylor 2 Dance Company and more. Throughout her time at Brockport, and after graduation she has had the opportunity to participate in multiple professional performances, including Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Rochester Fringe Festival, and The American College Dance Festival. Post college, Corina went on to teach Modern, Jazz, Ballet, and Contemporary in Syracuse, NY at CMC Dance Company before spending a year in New York City, furthering her dance education, and dancing with various modern dance companies. She has spent the last year teach various styles of dance in studios across Buffalo, NY and looks forward to passing on her knowledge and love of dance to the students at the Syracuse Children's Theatre.

Hannah Sywulski, Music Assistant

Hannah Sywulski has 9 years experience performing with SCT. She went from student to intern, and is now very excited to be a staff member. Hannah plans on studying music education in college, and hopes to dual major or minor in theatre. Hannah plays piano, French Horn, and is trained on voice. Some of her accomplishments include being selected for Area All State Ensembles in French Horn and voice for the past 3 years, and being selected for Conference All State on voice this year. She also founded a drama club at her local elementary school, and has directed two shows there. Hannah also loves acting, some of her favorite roles include; Mme. Thenardier (Les Miserable School Edition), Maria (Sound of Music), Lucy (13!), Belle (Beauty and the Beast Jr.), and so many others. Hannah is extremely excited to be on staff, she loves teaching kids, and can’t wait to inspire more children through the art of musical theatre!

Whitney Tracy, Director

Whitney has been with Syracuse Children Theatre since she was six years old. Beginning as a student at SCT, Whitney enrolled in summer, fall, and winter classes throughout grade school. When she was thirteen, she began volunteering with the 4-6 year old age group. By the age of sixteen, Whitney was employed in many positions such as dance assistant, assistant director, and director. 


Whitney thoroughly enjoys working with children. Traveling to West Africa twice and Belize once, Whitney has experienced a wide variety of teaching styles and educational disciplines that have molded her educational values through the years. As a Dean’s List scholar, Whitney is a graduate with a  Bachelor of Science degree in Inclusive Education from SUNY Fredonia. 


Outside of theatre, Whitney enjoys being outside, being with friends, practicing yoga, and playing fetch with her new rescue dog.

Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell, Director of Dance, Emeritus

Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell earned a BFA in Classical Ballet and minored in Modern (Horton) from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She is a member of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists( AFTRA). She danced with the Dance Theater of Harlem (apprentice), Contemporary Dance Theater of Cincinnati, Bill & Jacui Landrum Dance Theater, William Couser Dance Theater, R’Wanda Lewis Afro-American Dance Company, Ruby Millsap Dance Theater, Syracuse Ballet Theatre, Southwest Jazz Ballet and Theater Under The Stars (TUTS, Houston). Cheryl spent over a year touring in South America with a Walt Disney Productions and NBC Entertainment dance company. Locally she performed with Syracuse Stage, SSO, Syracuse Community Choir and the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company (PRPAC) including their Trinidad and Tobago Tour of the acclaimed show “What’s Going On.” Shows: Cabin in the Sky, Death and the King’s Horseman, Bubbling Brown sugar, Buffalo Chips, Faith, Hope and Charity: A Tribute to Mary McLeod Bethune Films: The Main Event, Deathtrap, King of Comedy, Voices From The Edge TV: Blues and Gone WGBH Boston,For Heaven’s Sake Los Angeles. 


Wilkins-Mitchell’s notable teaching credits include such institutions as the Dance Theatre of Harlem as assistant to Karl Shook (children’s class), Inner City Cultural Center in Los Angeles, the Northwest Houston Dance Academy, SU and LeMoyne College. Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell was founder and director of the Onondaga Dance Institute for thirteen years. She is currently on faculty at SUNY Oswego in the School of Communication, Media and the Arts and has choreographed several of the theater productions—The April Witch, 1940’s Radio Hour, Big: The Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Devils, Soldiers and Souls. She co-choreographed fully staged production of The Pearl Fishers for the Syracuse Opera. She is a select choreographer for the Society for New Music Vision of Sound. Wilkins-Mitchell served as the dance coordinator at the SU South Side Initiative Kuumba Project. Most recently served on the faculty of the Ballet and Dance Center and director of the DTS School.


Ms. Mitchell was a Teaching Artist in regional arts institutions for many years. She served on the NYSCA Dance Panel for three years and was a dance representative on Senator DeFrancisco’s Young Artist Development Program Board as well as a recipient of the DeFrancisco Individual Artist Award. Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell is the recipient of numerous community awards; the Community Service Award from the Syracuse Chapter of the LINKS, Inc., the 2000 Martin Luther King Jr Unsung Heroes and Heroines Award from Syracuse University, the Marjorie Dowdell Fortitude Award from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., honoree of the National Council of Negro Women, and a Builders of Communities and Dreams Award from the Syracuse Commission for Women. Former Mayor Matt Driscoll proclaimed May 30, 2003 Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell Day in the City of Syracuse, while former County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro recognized her work through ODI with a Community Recognition Day Award. Syracuse/Onondaga County NAACP honored her with the Freedom Community Service Award 2014. 


Wilkins-Mitchell is the mother of two adult children - Masai and Aisha. Her mantra is to be “creatively progressive and culturally significant.” She looks forward to sharing the gift of dance with SCT.

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700 West Manlius Street

East Syracuse, NY 13057