Fine Art Teachers

Maggie Spicer Brown is the Education Director at Theatre Salina. She grew up in the Salina area, and was very active with Salina Community Theatre, and graduated from Salina South High School in 2010. Maggie went on to receive her Bachelor’s of Music from Oklahoma City University before moving to New York City, where she lived on and off for the better part of 7 years. During that time Maggie worked as a professional actor with favorite credits including Mamma Mia and Matilda at Casa Manana in Texas, Freaky Friday and A Little Night Music at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and the North American tour of The Wizard of Oz. Throughout the time, Maggie has been able to choreograph many musicals at Theatre Salina as well as pieces for the summer contemporary shows. In 2020, Maggie directed her first mainstage musical in Freaky Friday, and this past summer directed the summer stage production of Descendants. Maggie is a Certified Personal Trainer and is certified as a VXN instructor and with PBT.

Jessica Polzella began her English Royal Academy of Dance training at the Colorado School of Ballet. She continued her childhood training at Friends University and began her training in the Cecchetti method of ballet. During her high school years, Jessica attended Kansas State University and began her Vagonova ballet training. She then went on to achieve her bachelors degree at Wichita State University in Psychology and Sociology with minors in Dance and Business in 2009.  After graduation, Jessica was among the four international students accepted into Canada’s National Ballet School Teacher Training Program. While living in Toronto, Canada she completed multiple teaching certifications including Imperial Society of Teaching Dance- National (cultural/world dance), Classical Cecchetti Ballet, and the Royal Academy of Dance. Her training includes detailed instruction in choreographic construction, musical theory and dance forms, dance physics and kinesiology, anatomy and dance physical therapy. Jessica has traveled to nine countries as a touring artist giving her a broad base of dance cultures and knowledge. She maintains certifications in Progressing Ballet Technique, Alixa Flexibility, Acrobatic Arts and more. Jessica loves the ability to be able to be part of a vibrant and diverse theatre community. 

Jill is a graduate of Fort Hays State University with a degree in Theatre & Communications and Minor in Music Performance. She is a native Kansan who, in 2008, moved back to Salina with her husband, Ross. She has many years of Theatre and Music performance experience under her belt. Her theatre experience started in middle school, performing as a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz and continued through High School and College, performing in over 15 shows. She has performed in more than ten professional theatre shows spanning from Kansas to Ohio to Georgia to Alaska, giving her national tour experience. Jill and Ross welcomed their daughter, Larkin Rose, in April 2011 and two new fur babies in 2017, Doc and Odie.

Elizabeth-Ali was born in Anaheim, CA and raised in Riverside. She graduated from Salina High School Central and attended KWU where she studied Theatre, she received her Grant Proposal Writing Certificate from Fort Hays State University, and she is currently working on a Business Administration Marketing degree at Kansas State University. She has received national and regional accolades for dramatic and vocal performance. She is an Intimacy Director, who works as a consent culture advocate at Theatre Salina.  Elizabeth-Ali is the director of Stage Door 1, Center for Theatre Arts’ Music Theatre Company. She and her husband Erich Schade have a son, Oliver Arnold Schade who is a CTA student.

Cathie Norris came to Theatre Salina in 2012. She was in her first show in 2013, and continue to be involved, whether onstage or off.  She has been teaching dance with Theatre Salina’s Center for Theatre Arts for seven years.  “It’s a passion of mine that is truly therapy! I love surrounding myself with this positive environment.  And watching all ages grow and expand their creativity.”

Kat Wighs Shaft is new to the Center for Theatre Arts classroom, but has been a volunteer and performer at Theatre Salina since the late 1990s. Some of Kat’s favorite roles include Nora in Brighton Beach Memoirs (1999), Abigail Adams in 1776 (2019), Betsy Foster in Tuck Everlasting (2018), and Bea Bottom in Something Rotten (2023).

Kat’s musical training includes alto and tenor saxophone and voice. She was a member of several wind ensembles, jazz bands, as well as show choir. In voice, she trained and performed with the Bethany College Choir and Oratorio Society.  

Kat is originally from Fairbanks, Alaska.  She is a graduate of Salina South High School.  She has a BA in Elementary Education from Bethany College and a MS in Elementary Education as a Reading Specialist from Fort Hays State University.  Kat has taught her entire career at Minneapolis Grade School and currently teaches Kindergarten.

Kat is married to Travis.  They have three daughters, Brynn, Elin, and Paige.  Kat loves reading, golf, playing board games with her family, and traveling.

Amy was born and raised in Salina.  She trained for 14 years at Peggy Simms School of Dance where she was a member of the Peggy Simms Show Troupe, the studio’s elite dance company. During her six years as a Show Troupe member, she had the opportunity to perform across the state of Kansas and United States including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and with Norwegian Cruise Lines throughout the Hawaiian Islands.  Amy also co-led the Salina Parks and Recreation summer dance program for 2 years.  Amy’s degree is in Counseling Psychology from Bethel University,  in Minnesota, where she worked as a family therapist for 10 years.  Amy and her family moved back to Salina in 2018 and she has thoroughly enjoyed having dance back in her life.   

Bradyn was raised in Salina, Kansas, where she graduated from Salina High School Central and is attending Kansas Wesleyan University, where she is studying Music Education. She has been a part of SCT and CTA since she was 12 years old, whether that be on or off stage. Bradyn is the MT III and MT IIII vocal teacher for the Center for Theatre Arts. Along with teaching at Theatre Salina, she is a student, works at True Betty Boutique, and teaches private lessons. As well as being a part of many musical competitions and school performances. She is looking forward to classes this year and is excited to see new and old faces in her classes.

Matea was born and raised in Hays, Kansas and attended Thomas More Prep-Marian Jr/Sr High School and Fort Hays State University. During her time at FHSU, she was a part of Dr. Ivalah Allen’s vocal studio, performed in several musical productions and operas and was a semifinalist at NATS four years in a row. She has a heart for service and teaching and has over 7 years of experience serving the Catholic Diocese of Salina as a Totus Tuus teacher, Prayer and Action staff member and religious education teacher. Currently, Matea works for the Diocese of Salina as the interim Communications Director where she is a photographer/videographer, content manager of several social platforms, podcast producer and assistant editor for faith magazine and The Register.

She has many years of theatre and music performance experience, which began in middle school, performing with Heartland Community Theatre (now Hays Community Theatre) as a daughter in the ensemble in Fiddler on the Roof and continued through high school and college, performing in over 20 shows. Matea joined the Theatre Salina family in 2020 with her first mainstage production, FREAKY FRIDAY, and has continued performing and directing ever since. Matea is also the Musical Director at Sacred Heart High School. She is humbled to have the opportunity to teach Music Theatre I/II Music for the Center for Theatre Arts and looks forward to meeting her young performers.

Claire is a Salina native and is a 2021 College Graduate! She has been training since the age of three in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical/contemporary, and hip hop. She has been dancing competitively since the age of four. Claire is a former member of the Wichita State Shocker Dance Team and is a current company dancer for the Universal Dance Association. She is an instructor and choreographer at Theatre Salina as well as Revolution School of Dance and is the Co-Director of Revolution Dance Company. Claire also is a new coach for the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes Dance Team. Teaching at Theatre Salina is something Claire looks forward to each week, as she loves how respectful and committed the students are.

Gin is a native Texan who met her Kansas-born husband Patrick at Texas Tech University. Gin used her public relations degree in the healthcare field before becoming the mother of Keira, Evan, and Vivienne. An athlete and instrumental musician when young, Gin began to more deeply explore her long-held passion for vocal performance as an adult. During the pandemic she indulged her need to stay busy musically by taking lessons with acclaimed operatic baritone John Brancy. Gin joined the theatre arts program at CTA in 2018 teaching voice to grade school students. She has performed in several shows at Theatre Salina, and most recently Gin has begun working as one of Theatre Salina’s vocal directors for the Mainstage series. She has passed on her love of musical theater to both daughters and looks forward to a long association with Theatre Salina.

John was born in Germany but spent his childhood living in various places as a member of a military family. His time living among varied people and different cultures gives John the ability to see beauty in all things.  John attended Central Texas College focusing studies on English, while continuing his love for math and science.  Upon attending KWU he found a new love in theatre, where he received a degree in Theatre with an emphasis on acting and directing, as well as a minor in History.  John also has a Master’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on non-profits.  He has acted across the United States but currently has found a home as an acting teacher at Theatre Salina’s CTA program, as well as directing and acting in various shows throughout the years.  Aside from his love for the arts, John has 7 children which keep him very busy and spends the remainder of his time with his better half Cathie Norris, a dance instructor here at Theatre Salina.

Lindsey Rojas is from Ellsworth, KS but considers Salina her home away from home. This is her sixth-year teaching Musical Theatre, specializing in Acting, for CTA. She studied Speech and Theatre Education at Kansas Wesleyan University where she received her BS degree in Psychological Services – Educational Counseling. She currently serves as the Early Childhood Initiatives Program Director for Child Advocacy and Parenting Services.

Lindsey has been involved in productions both on and off the stage with Theatre Salina, Ellsworth High School, Barton Community College, Children’s Summer Theatre Academy, Kansas Wesleyan University, and was part of the improvisational group, Almost Actors. She has experience as a cast member as well as in directing, choreographing, and technical crew. Lindsey has assisted with Kansas Thespian Conference and has training in stage and special effects makeup.

Lindsey enjoys spending time with her three spirited children (one a CTA student), home renovation projects, and bargain shopping.

Amanda is Southern born and raised and has lived in Salina for the past six years. Before taking on her greatest role as wife and mother, she attended Mississippi State University where she studied Communications with an emphasis in Theatre. While there, she was very involved with the school theatre as well as Starkville Community Theatre. At both, she was stage manager and assistant director for several productions. Upon moving back to Alabama, she attended Huntington College and received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
She is wife to Patrick, and mom and homeschool teacher to four very active boys, Atticus, Nathaniel, Sam, and Charles. She joined the Theatre Salina Family in the summer of 2019 as stage manager for Disney’s FREAKY FRIDAY. She has since stage managed several productions, is an active member of CTA’s booster club, and is a very involved volunteer. She enjoyed being a CTA substitute teacher last year and is very excited to have her first class this year!

Renee is from Topeka, KS but spent most of her adult life in Manhattan, KS. She grew up heavily involved in band throughout middle school and high school. She was a Kansas State University Marching Band member and earned a BS in Elementary Education. She graduated with her master’s degree in Instructional Design and Performance Technology from Baker University in August 2022.

Renee moved to the Salina area in 2021 and teaches sixth-grade science at Lakewood Middle School. Renee has performed in many theatres across Kansas, including Theatre Salina, Junction City Little Theater, The Columbian in Wamego, and Great Plains Theatre in Abilene. Some of her favorite shows she’s performed in include Kinky Boots, The Little Mermaid, Oklahoma, Beauty and the Beast, and many other productions. She is also a founding member of The Cool Kids Readers Theater Podcast, formed during the pandemic. Renee looks forward to continuing to be involved with Theatre Salina and is excited to have her first class this year!

In her spare time, Renee and her husband Keaten enjoy hanging out with their dogs, Mable, Gracie, and cats, Ellie and Hank, going to sporting events and exploring different hiking trails with the dogs (and Hank!).