Meet Our Staff!

The Syracuse Children’s Theatre staff are accomplished performers and directors whose specialties span

acting, directing, dance/choreography, vocal/music, costume and set design.

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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. 

Todd@sctkids.com

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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. 

Kellie@sctkids.com

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.

Nikita@sctkids.com

Brendan Malafronte

Interim Education Director

Brendan couldn't be more excited to be joining the SCT community!  A teaching artist at heart, he is eager to bring his experiences and talents to the next generation of performers. A New York native, Brendan has toured the entire country in the national tour of Annie as well as many regional productions.  He's even performed around the world on Disney Cruise Line. Favorites credits include the Scarecrow (Wizard of Oz), Leo Bloom (The Producers), Lumiere (Beauty & The Beast) & Vinny (Neil Simon's Proposals). 

When he's not teaching at SCT, he is a puppet builder and puppeteer.  A proud member of both Actors equity and the Puppetry Guild of Greater New York, Brendan is building his own legacy with Dusty & Dott, a children's reading show being cultivated right here in Syracuse. @dusty_and_dott 

Brendan@sctkids.com

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Andrea Dotto

Director/Choreographer

Syracuse native, Andrea Dotto, is giddy to be  back at SCT! Dotto is a proud graduate of Montclair State University’s Musical Theatre Program with a concentration in dance. MSU fostered her love for the craft and instilled in her the fundamentals of a successful career. 

Andrea made her Broadway debut in the Tony Award winning musical Bandstand,, where she earned a Chita Rivera Award Nomination for Best Female Dancer in a Broadway Show. Dotto has performed all over the country, including Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall! Favorite credits include: Polly in Crazy For You , Kathy in Singin’ In the Rain, and   Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz . Film and TV credits include: Bandstand (Fathom Events), 71st Annual Tony Awards, and Good Morning America. Andrea is currently writing, creating and performing in her own children’s reading show alongside her husband.  @dusty_and_dott 

Andrea has been a teaching artist  for many years. It has brought her consistent joy to team up with young artists and unlock their potential! Andrea looks forward to meeting the next generation of the ever-growing, ever-passionate theater community!  @msandreadotto  

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.

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Lindsay Hebert

Music Director

Lindsay Hebert is thrilled to be a part of the SCT staff. She has participated in many school and community theater productions. Some of her favorite roles in Cosette (Les Miserables), Mable (Pirates of Penzance), and singing the role of Christine (Phantom of the Opera). Lindsay has been accepted into All Counties and Area All states for choir and trombone, and sung in the 2020 All Nationals Mixed Choir. She enjoys dancing at the Ballet and Dance Center, working with Front Row Players, and teaching piano lessons. Lindsay is attending the Crane School of Music to study music education because she loves working with children and inspiring their love for music.

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Lisa Kranz

Music Director

Lisa began working at SCT as a music director in winter 2016. Lisa has also directed SCT shows including: The Rockin' Take of Snow White, Willy Wonka Jr., Seussical the Musical Jr., Madagascar Jr., and Moana Jr. 

 

 Lisa holds a BM and a MM in Music Education from Syracuse University. Lisa remains involved in theatre when she isn't in Syracuse by playing in pit orchestras and working with community theatres. In 2020 she received an achievement award from the Theatre Association of New York State for her choreography in a production of High School Musical. During the school year, Lisa teaches high school band and dance classes in Olean, NY. 

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Abby McGrath

Choreographer

Abby has been a student at SCT since 2009, and she is thrilled to be part of the SCT staff again this summer. She danced for 13 years and competitively for 7, studying Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, and Hip Hop. Some of her favorite roles so far have been Belle (Beauty and the Beast Jr.), Elle Woods (Legally Blonde Jr.), TiMoune (Once On This Island Jr.), and Miss Motormouth Maybelle (Hairspray). Abby has also been in 2 shows at Cortland Repertory Theatre: Newsies and Mamma Mia. She will be attending Kent State University to major in Musical Theatre in the Fall of 2021. Abby is looking forward to celebrating dance with the students at SCT!

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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.

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Hannah Sywulski

Music Director

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!

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Carrie Wilson

Music Director

Carrie Wilson has been teaching with SCT since 2000. She is the vocal/general music teacher at Phoenix Middle School with 17 years of teaching experience. She also has 21 years experience teaching private piano and voice lessons, with former students appearing on Broadway, auditioning for The Voice, and attending Eastman School of Music. Her own children have been student performers at SCT since 2008. Her onstage performance credits include numerous productions with Syracuse Civic Theater, Theater 90, Star Productions, Town of Manlius Productions, and CNY Playhouse. Favorites include Godspell, Joseph, Annie,  Charlotte’s Web, Oliver, and A Christmas Story. Carrie has also been a pit performer on piano for Suessical, The Music Man, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Singing in the Rain, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, and Annie.  Carrie is excited to join summer staff for Cinderella’s Glass Slipper in August. 

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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.