A Decade of Directing Assistants: Alumni Spotlight

BTG’s Directing Assistantship program is entering its 10th year! Directing Assistants at Berkshire Theatre Group come from a variety of backgrounds. Each Directing Assistant is given the same opportunity to work on a professional show and gain priceless career experience. Assistants work with a professional director over a 4-week period in the beautiful Berkshires. Applications are currently being accepted for BTG’s Directing Assistantships! To learn more about the program and how to apply please visit our Directing Assistantship page and read the stories of past Assistants below!

Experiences are unique to each assistant, and we have reached out to some alumni who have since gone on to establish their own path in the theatrical world.

 

Michael Bello wearing a purple shirt and dark jeans, sitting and smiling into the camera.

Michael Bello was a Directing Assistant with BTG in 2012 where he worked with Director Robert Moss on A Class Act.

Michael Bello is a New York based director of musical theater. He most recently directed the off-Broadway production of We Are The Tigers, a new musical currently running at Theatre 80. (Follow them at @TigersMusical for updates!) He was the Associate Director to Tony Award winner Des McAnuff on Summer: The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway, which will launch a national tour this fall. He has directed new musicals across the country including We Are The Tigers (3 LA Ovation Award noms), Between the Sea and Sky (NYMF, Best Musical and Direction winner), Errol & Fidel (NYMF, Best Musical and Direction noms), Hello Again (Boston’s IRNE nom), In the Heights (NYIT nom), and others. As an Assistant Director he has helped developed such new musicals as Summer (dir. Des McAnuff, La Jolla Playhouse), Doctor Zhivago (dir. Des McAnuff, Broadway Theatre), A Little More Alive (dir. Sheryl Kaller, Kansas City Rep), Fly By Night (dir. Bill Fennelly, Dallas Theater Center) and others. His upcoming projects include Letters to the President, a song cycle devised for The Great Hall at Cooper Union, and the world premiere of Shooting Star: A Revealing New Musical. BFA Emerson College. www.MichaelBello.com

Q: What were some of the most rewarding or challenging moments about your BTG Directing Assistantship?

A: Some of the most rewarding moments of my time at BTG was the work I engaged in while preparing to direct my assigned project, a concert reading in the Neil Ellenoff Musical Theatre Series. Having the artistic leadership at BTG trust me with the coordination, programming, and direction of a presentation in The Colonial meant so much to me and was a challenge I loved taking on. Those moments were the first in my career I was allowed to be a director and take steps towards discovering my artistic voice.

 

Ilana Ransom Toeplitz standing in a NYC street. She is smiling and wearing a dark blazer.

Ilana Ransom Toeplitz was a Directing Assistant and Dance Captain in 2011 where she worked with Director Kyle Sable on Finian’s Rainbow.

Ilana is a New York-based director/choreographer specializing in new musicals. On Broadway, Ilana assistant directed Violet (2014 Tony Nominated revival starring Sutton Foster) and The Prom with Casey Nicholaw (2018).

Ilana has premiered new work with Lincoln Center, Keen Company, York Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Group, NY Theatre Barn, and the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Favorite director/choreographer credits: Chicago; Reefer Madness (featuring Alan Cumming); The Drowsy Chaperone; Singin’ in the Rain; Mary Poppins (BTG) & Seussical (BTG)!; And the TheatreWorksUSA National Tours of A Christmas Carol and Click, Clack, Moo!

Ilana was the Associate Director of A Christmas Story: The Musical! (2014-2015, First National Tour), Dirty Dancing: the Classic Story on Stage (2017-2018 Tour) and the premiere of Sondheim on Sondheim (2017, Boston Pops). Ilana holds additional assistant or associate credits with: Leigh Silverman, Casey Nicholaw, Susan Stroman, Baayork Lee, Sarna Lapine, NY City Center, Second Stage, Signature Theatre (VA), Huntington Theatre, and Pittsburgh CLO. Ilana is a proud Pittsburgh native, a Directors Project Alum (2016 Leo Shull New Musicals Directing Fellowship) and the 2018 SDC Foundation Mike Ockrent Fellow.

Ilana is a proud native of Pittsburgh, PA. Up next: Living Over the Rainbow (Director: Uptown Players, 2017 O’Neill Semi-Finalist); 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Choreographer: ACT of Connecticut); and The Rocky Horror Show (Director: Park Square Theater). Twitter/Instagram: @IlanaRanToe. www.IlanaDirects.com

Q: How did the Directing Assistantship prepare you for a career in theatre?

A: My assistantship with BTG was my first opportunity with a regional theatre. I would love to be Kate Maguire someday, to do what she does. I want to be Artistic Director of a strong regional theatre that supports new work. I was the Dance Captain as well as the Directing Assistant for Finian’s Rainbow, and it was my first chance to be Dance Captain, which was great. I was also given the opportunity to direct my first reading. When I came back to work as a Choreographer I got one of my favorite assistants and associates, Elyn Collier (who is also a former Directing Assistant) and she is now my go-to person, so I would say BTG taught me how to be a mentor as well.

 

Dan Barron was a Directing Assistant in 2015 where he worked with Director Eric Hill on Thoreau: Or Return to Walden and with Director Jackson Gay on I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn’t Even Smile.

Dan Barron is a NYC-Based Director who recently served as the Associate Director on the new Broadway musical Gettin’ The Band Back Together. Also recently directed a developmental reading and sold out concert at 54 Below of Arrowhead: A New Musical. He also directed the world premiere of Love Me Tender which was the inaugural production by Listening Eyes Theater Company, which he serves as their resident director. He has also served as the Associate Director on Jerry Springer the Opera at The New Group and Lisa Lampanelli’s Stuffed, Off-Broadway. He has directed at the Wild Project, Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Theater Group and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. He holds a degree in musical theater from the University of Tampa. Upcoming: Man of La Mancha at Timber Lake Playhouse. IG: @TheDanBarron

Q: What did you learn through your time at Berkshire Theatre Group as a Directing Assistant, what were some rewarding moments?

A: I learned how to be an assistant/associate director at BTG. Skills that have helped me on 8 productions after BTG including being an associate director on Broadway. I think one of the most rewarding things about my assistantships was building connections with NYC professionals that have become very valuable. The most challenging part of the program was adapting from collegiate theater to the professional world over the summer.

 

Jasmine B. Gunter was a Directing Assistant in 2016 where she worked with Director Travis Daly on Beauty and the Beast.

Currently, Jasmine is working at Seattle Repertory Theatre as the assistant director of A Doll’s House, Part 2 with Braden Abraham, who is the artistic director at Seattle Rep. She is Seattle Rep’s Directing/Casting intern for the 2018-2019 season. At the same time, she is prepping to go into rehearsals next month for her next directing project. Jasmine is directing Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage as Geva Theatre Center’s 2019 Directing Fellow. https://jasminebgunter.weebly.com/

Q: What was your experience with directing before the Assistantship, and how did BTG’s Directing Assistantship prepare you for a career in theatre?

A: I had just graduated from college a month before and never assistant directed on a full-length production for a professional theatre. Yes, I directed in college, but that was completely different. Starting my assistantship, I was a complete rookie to directing at a professional scale. BTG was my first introduction to directing at a professional level, and my time there was a significant milestone in my career. More important than the practical things I learned about directing, I learned a lot about myself. My time at BTG defined what type of director I wanted to be. I learned the effects of kindness in the rehearsal room. I developed my generous sense of collaboration there. I learned about what it means to create safe spaces where people and ideas are heard. And so, I have a lot to thank BTG for.

Other notable Directing Assistant Alumni include: Oliver Butler, Zohar Fuller, Siena Rafter, Will Steinberger, and Ann Woling.
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News & Articles

From the Archive: Eva LeGallienne

By: Katie Birenboim (She/Her/Hers)   Devoted fans of BTG may gasp to discover that until doing a first round of research in the amazing BTG archives, I had never heard … Read On

If you liked our 80s/90s Dance Party, come join us again TONIGHT at The Colonial Theatre for our Dawn of the Divas Dance Party with the legendary DJ BFG (Gabby Squailia) at the Colonial Theatre! ✨

To purchase tickets visit berkshiretheatre.org.
For the last day of Black History Month, we would like to highlight Felicia Curry (@thefeliciacurry), who starred as Nina Simone in BTG's 2021 production of Nina Simone: Four Women. 

An award-winning, DC-based actor and singer and Emmy-nominated host of PBS's WETA Arts, Felicia has won numerous awards, including being named one of "DC's Biggest Theatre Stars" by Washington Magazine and named one of "12 DC Stage Dynamos" by The Washington Post.
TOMORROW, March 1, dance like nobody is watching to iconic diva anthems at the Dawn of the Divas Dance Party at The Colonial Theatre!

If you enjoyed our 80s/90s Dancy Party and our other dance parties in the past, come join us again, as the legendary DJ BFG is BACK to spin the beats that will make you move and groove all night long! ✨

Limited tickets are available, so get yours today at berkshiretheatre.org.
LAST FEW DAYS to buy tickets for Zep & Co THIS SATURDAY, March 2, at The Colonial Theatre!

Combining the power of not one, but TWO legendary rock bands, prepare for an electrifying rock experience with Zep & Co as they merge the best of Led Zeppelin and Bad Company into an epic performance not to be missed!

Don't delay! Purchase tickets today by visiting berkshiretheatre.org.
BTG is remembers with a heavy heart the life of R. Michael Miller, a beloved scenic designer that worked with us for many shows, including Souvenir (2005), Sick (2009), A Delicate Balance (2010) and Babes in Arms (2010). His talents and bright light will be missed, and we are honored to have worked with him over the years.
Coming to the Colonial on Saturday, March 9, prepare to be spellbound and mesmerized by Andy Gross, who is not only a comedian, but also a magician and ventriloquist with over 1 billion views of his viral magic videos! ✨

Captivating audiences across the country, his live shows are hailed as some of the best touring comedy magic spectacles today that must be seen to be believed.

Grab your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org and prepare for an unforgettable evening of laughter and intrigue!
Tomorrow, February 24 at the Colonial, discover the ultimate tribute to Jimmy Buffett, with Changes In Latitudes, fit for the Mayor of Margaritaville himself! 🌴🎵

Get ready to sway to beloved classics like “Margaritaville,” “Cheeseburger In Paradise” and “Volcano,” alongside Buffett’s iconic hits such as “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes.”

Don't miss out! Grab your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org today!
This week for Black History Month, BTG would like to highlight Lauren Ridloff (@laurenridloff), a deaf American actress who starred as Sarah Norman in BTG's 2017 production of Children of a Lesser God, which transferred in April 2018 to New York City's Studio 54 as the first Broadway revival of the play since 1980. 

Her exceptional, emotional performance earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play. Today, she is best known for her roles as Connie in the TV series The Walking Dead (2018-2022) and as Makkari, the first deaf superhero in the Marvel Comics Universe, in the film Eternals (2021).
Happy Presidents Day! All of BTG's offices will be closed today, February 19, but we will see you tomorrow!
Whether you’re a disco darling, a pop princess, or a soulful songstress, come join us at the Dawn of the Divas Dance Party on the Colonial stage on March 1! ✨

Bringing together divas from every era, DJ BFG will curate a playlist that spans the ages, blending everything from disco divas to pop queens with songs like Beyonce’s “Break My Soul,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”

Get your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org and just dance like nobody’s watching!
Hailed as “The Next Best Thing to Def Leppard,” Leppard: The Def Leppard Experience, featuring Andrew Freeman and with special guest Randy Cormier’s “Best of the ’80s”, will hit the Colonial stage on March 16! 🎸🌟

Join Leppard as they faithfully recreate one of rock’s most iconic bands and their legendary songs, including “Rock of Ages,” “Photograph,” “Animal” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” 

Get your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org!
This week for Black History Month, BTG would like to highlight Gerry McIntyre (@mayorgerrymac), a performer, director and choreographer who has won widespread acclaim for choreographing BTG's 2020 production of Godspell, the only Equity sanctioned show in the country at the start of Covid.

Gerry has worked on and off Broadway for a number of shows, including directing and choreographing Once On This Island and Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He also directed the regional premiere of The Cher Show at Ogunquit Playhouse. Currently he is the Associate Artistic Director of the York Theatre.

BTG has had the honor of working with Gerry over the years on many productions, including My Fair Lady (2001), Side by Side (2005), The Who's Tommy (2011), A Chorus Line (2012), Oklahoma! (2013), Godspell (2020), Nina Simone: Four Women (2021), Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (2021) and Songs for a New World (2022), and we are proud to welcome him back as the choreographer for our production of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein this summer at the Colonial.
Happy Valentine's Day from the bottom of our hearts! 💖💕
Looking for a band that combines the power of not one, but TWO legendary rock bands?

On Saturday, March 2, prepare for an electrifying rock experience with Zep & Co. as they merge the best of Led Zeppelin and Bad Company into an epic, powerhouse performance. This full-throttle rock show unleashes the monumental hits and cherished deep cuts that defined the era of these iconic arena rock legends.

To purchase tickets, visit berkshiretheatre.org!
TOMORROW, as well as the second Saturdays in March and April, join the drummer for folk legend Arlo Guthrie, Terry A La Berry, for a musical kids concert series that will sweep your family off their feet! Terry A La Berry’s shows are not just concerts; they are immersive experiences where kids become part of the music-making magic 🎵🥁🎸

Availability is limited, so get your FREE tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org!
A week into Black History Month, BTG has been reflecting on the talented individuals in the Black community that we have had the honor of working alongside over the years. 

Each Thursday for the rest of this month, we would like to shine a spotlight on a few of the many extraordinary Black creatives that continue to be a part of our story and have helped make BTG what it is today. 

Stay tuned for our first Black History Month spotlight post next week! ✨
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