Bonnie Harrison is the Co-Chair of the Theatre Department and Director of Performance Theatre. She has a M.F.A. in Performance from the University of Florida and enjoyed a career as an Equity actor and the Director of Education at The Hippodrome State Theatre. Some of her favorite roles include the Nurse in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Candida in Shaw’s Candida and Teenage Greek Chorus in Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive. Harrison’s passion to use theatre to discuss social issues have garnered her The Steven Tunic Award from the Corporation for Service Learning, the FAVA/CA Volunteer of the Year Award for her efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and the Arts Innovation Award from The International Network of Schools for the advancement of Arts Education for her Issue Based Theatre curriculum. The Issue Based Theatre class at DA is one of the few opportunities for students from all Arts areas to collaborate and create performances dedicated to making a positive impact in their community. Harrison was named teacher of the year at DA in 2014 and has directed numerous shows over her past 17 years here, including some favorites—Anton in Show Business, Bang Bang Your Dead, The Sugar Bean Sisters and The Children’s Hour.
Joe Kemper is the Co-Chair of the Department of Theatre and the Director of Musical Theatre at DA. His recent directing credits include Black Comedy, Curtains, Guys & Dolls, and My Fair Lady at DA, In the Heights at Players by the Sea, Spring Awakening at Jacksonville University, The Call and Love! Valour! Compassion! at The Five and Dime, To Kill a Mockingbird and Arsenic and Old Lace at Theatre Jax, Beyond Therapy at the Limelight Theatre. In Fall 2016, he directed the regional premiere of Andrew Upton's and Benedict Andrews' translation of Jean Genet's The Maids at Flagler College, for which he was awarded the National Distinguished Director of a Play Award and the Regional Excellence in Directing Award by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. The production also received seven national honors, including Outstanding Production of a Play, Outstanding Actor and Actress in a Play, and Outstanding Ensemble of a Play. As an educator, Joe is a former "Rookie Teacher of the Year" in St. John's County, was twice recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation and recently received a spot on the 2020 US Presidential Scholar's "Influential Teacher" List, after being nominated by 2020 Presidential Scholar and DA '20 graduate Mallorie Sievert. Upcoming directing projects include Rent at DA. He received his MFA from UCF and is a member of Actor's Equity Association.
Susan Peters (Scenic Charge Artist) has been the resident Charge Artist at Douglas Anderson for the past 16 years. In addition to that, she also oversees props and prop management for the department. Mrs. Peters has worked professionally as a scenic artist in a variety of different theatres and venues, among them The Walnut Street Theater (Philadelphia), Philadelphia Opera Company, Ohio Light Opera, Pennsylvania and NJ Shakespeare festivals and CATF (Contemporary American Theatre Festival).
Dr. Valerie Anthony
Dr. Valerie Anthony received degrees in theatre and creative writing from JU and FSU. She has appeared on stages around Jacksonville in notable roles such as Lady Macbeth and Ophelia. She was a founding member of Jacksonville Actor's Theatre, performing in several of its productions. She has taught in Japan, and at UNF and FSU.
Dearing Thoburn is a Jacksonville native and a graduate of Florida State University's Theatre program. After Disney, cruise ships and regional theater, she moved to New York where she continued her training. Her Off Broadway performance in The Bakers Wife (concert version) was a highlight as well as her classes with Gotham City Improv. She found a love for teaching about 10 years ago and is thrilled to call DASOTA her home.
DeWitt Cooper III
DeWitt Cooper III is a singer, dancer, actor, award-winning choreographer, and celebrated teacher. He is the proud co-founder and co-owner of CooperMorgan Dance for 16 years. After graduating from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in 1997, he attended Florida State University as the first African American Male to be admitted to the Musical Theatre program, and attended the program as the recipient of the Jim Moran Scholarship. He was in the Vocal Jazz Ensemble directed by Andre Thomas. He went on to Case Western Reserve University in the MFA Contemporary Dance program on a full scholarship and fellowship teaching assistantship where he was the first graduate student to be nominated for the Wittike Undergraduate Teaching Award at Case Western. There, he was also the first African American male to graduate with a Masters of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance and Choreography. He continues to conduct workshops and Master classes around the country in voice, music theatre, and concert dance. He was on faculty at Case Western Reserve University as an adjunct professor in the dance department. Mr. Cooper has also taught dance and theatre at LaVilla School of the Arts and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts as well as Pine Forest Elementary School of the Arts. He is a former employee at the Walt Disney World Company’s Animal Kingdom in the long running Finding Nemo, the musical. He has taught workshops at Texas University, Baltimore School for the Arts, Pittsburgh School of the Arts, Boston Arts Academy and employee of the nationally acclaimed Cathedral Arts Program, and many others. He has been the guest speaker at the Baccalaureate Douglas Anderson and speaker at other schools around the country while on the first national Broadway tour of “In the Heights" where he had the opportunity to share the stage with Lin Manuel Miranda, Ain’t Misbehavin', Dream Girls, West Side Story at the PaperMill Playhouse, Dream Girls, and the International China Tour of Aida. He has worked with Garth Fagan and Natalie Cropper, the acclaimed contemporary and Broadway choreographer and assistant for “The Lion King,” as a student, trainer, and choreographer for the Garth Fagan Summer Movement Institute. He spent 8 months with Norwegian Cruise Line as a lead singer and vocal captain in the ship's main stage productions in Hawaii. He can be seen in numerous Disney Promos and several commercials Mr. Cooper is co owner of a local dance company, CooperMorgan Dance Theatre, with Savery Morgan. His directing credits include Harold and the Purple Crayon, I Love My Hair, Once on this Island, and a Cabaret aboard the Norwegian Escape. Mr. Cooper continues to strive for excellence and he continues to promote the importance of Art and education in the city of Jacksonville and beyond.
Ellie Potts Barrett
Ellie Potts Barrett, internationally recognized choreographer, dancer and dance educator, attended College at Boston Conservatory and received her BA in Dance, cum laude, from the University of South Florida. Ellie danced with the Ina Hahn Modern Dance Company, Boston Dance Company and Mary Anthony in New York, as well as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. She has been an associate artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts to Master Artists Merce Cunningham, Meg Harper and Elizabeth Streb, and Florida’s prolific author, Carl Hiaasen. Ellie has had an illustrious career as a choreographer. She has created shows and dances for Walt Disney World, Sea World, theme parks and musical theatre companies worldwide, surpassing the 200 show mark. In addition to teaching Modern at The Dance Company, Ellie also teaches Modern and Musical Theatre at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, in Jacksonville, and also at the Orlando Ballet School. She is a proud member of both, Actor’s Equity Association (AEA) and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). www.ElliePottsBarrett.com
Taylor Baines, dancer, singer, model, teaches Musical Theatre Foundations specializing in Ballet and Modern at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. A graduate of DA’s Dance Department, Ms. Baines then studied dance at SUNY Purchase and Jacksonville University, where she was Captain of the Sirens Dance Team. In addition to DA, she is currently a faculty member at Northside Center for the Arts, Jacksonville Center for the Arts and Don’t Miss a Beat, Inc, teaching ballet, modern, jazz, and hip-hop. As a performer, Ms. Baines has worked extensively across the country, including with Joffrey Ballet in both New York and Los Angeles, the Wissahickon School in Philadelphia, The Golden Nutcracker, First Coast Nutcracker, The Chocolate Nutcracker, The Soulful Nutcracker, and several half-time shows with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ms. Baines received her BFA from Jacksonville University.
April Henehan is an alumna of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida; a nationally recognized magnet program and two-time Grammy Foundation winner. Following graduation, she continued to pursue dance & choreography earning degrees from both Florida State University & Jacksonville University. In addition to being awarded ‘Most Artistic’ by Faculty three years in a row; April was a selected Gala performer for both for the National High School Dance Festival (4 yrs) and the American College Dance Festival (4 yrs). She’s worked alongside and has performed repertoire sets by Alonzo King, Demetrius Klein, Douglas Gawriljuk, Yanis Pikieris, Ronen Koresh, Michael Foley, Mia Michaels, Adele Myers, Eddy Toussaint, Kavin Grant, Cathy Young, Alyn Cassal, and Bill Evans to name a few. In addition to furthering her studies with elite choreographers, April traveled on scholarship as a Faculty assistant with Hoctor's Dance Caravan throughout 1997-2002. April has danced principal roles of ‘Lead Chinese Doll’ and ‘Nutcracker Doll’ alongside the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra for the First Coast Nutcracker, performed for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Pro Bowl, televised commercials, on tour alongside several national Entertainers, and can be seen in episodes as a semi-finalist on Season 4 of the hit TV series “So You Think You Can Dance” in addition to BRAVO TV’s “Step It Up & Dance.” Her Dance Photography has been featured by Dance Spirit Magazine, while her choreography has been showcased on tour in 2015 with “American Idol” Season 12 Winner, Candice Glover, and featured twice by Dance Teacher Magazine; first in January, 2016 and most recently in June of 2017. April has been a guest choreographer for 5 time ABA National Champions the Jacksonville Giants’ Jewels & Gems Dance Teams, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, LaVilla School of the Arts, Episcopal School of Jacksonville, Jacksonville University, Lindenwood University, and the Teen Jacksonville & Miss Jacksonville USA pageants. As a choreographer, her work is consistently recognized at Regional & National Competitions nationwide, and currently April travels as a Competition Adjudicator and Convention Teacher with several Nationally Recognized Dance Competitions. April continues to teach in the Jacksonville area as a guest teacher and on Faculty within the Dance Department at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where she is the director of the Creative Dance Ensemble.
Sarah Morrell began music studies in elementary and middle school on violin and cello, as well as singing. She began formal piano lessons at age 11. Sarah continued her music studies at Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama, a member of Delta Omicron Music Fraternity, ODK Honor Society, and Hypatia Honor Society, Symphonic Band, and Samford Opera Workshop, and received the MENC Scholarship Award her senior year. She received her Bachelor of Music Education Degree with Recital in piano May 1988. Sarah is certified to teach music K-12. Sarah has been teaching private piano lessons for 33 years. She has led many children’s choirs, as well as youth and adult choirs, directed numerous Musical Productions, taught and directed Music Camps for more than 15 years, taught music in Preschool, Elementary, Middle, and High School. Currently in her 10th year as adjunct teacher in the Music Department at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, this is the 6th year of her teaching the Musical Theater Students a combined course of Keyboard 1 and Music Theory. Sarah is passionate about her class and works hard to connect with her students in class. She enjoys helping each student reach beyond expectations and develop musical skills that will enhance each one personally.
Paul hails originally from England, and has long since made America his home. and has earned an MFA in Lighting and Scenic Design from Kent State University and a BA in Theatre Design from the University of South Florida. Paul’s design credits include Jenny Wiley Theatre’s A Christmas Survival Guide, The Princess and the Pea and Forever Plaid. Sound Design for Porthouse Theatre’s Godspell, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, and The Spitfire Grill, as well as Tampa Bay’s Moving Current and New Tampa Ballet. Aside from sound design, Paul has also done lighting and scenic design for Porthouse Theatre on such productions as A Streetcar Named Desire and Dames at Sea, and has experience with Cleveland Opera and Cleveland’s Convergence Continuum Theatre Company. Paul is also In his 12th season as Sound Designer with The Stephen Foster Story, and works with the little company and shooting stars theatre both in Kentucky.
Jennifer Kilgore (Lighting Designer/Technical Director) has been a lighting designer for Theatre, Dance, Opera, and Musical Theatre since 2000. Jennifer joined the Adjunct Faculty of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts teaching Dance Production and designing for the Dance Division in 2016. Since then, she has joined the Theatre Department full-time as Technical Director and Lighting Designer She comes to Douglas Anderson from being the Assistant Professor of Lighting Design at Stephens College in Columbia, MO.
Jen Mercer is a graduate of Samford University with degrees in Theatre and Vocal Performance with continued study at Circle in the Square Theatre School in Manhattan. Jen began performing regionally at age 9, earning her Equity card in such prestigious theatres as The Hippodrome, New Harmony Theatre, and as a singer for Walt Disney World. Jen has done work in the commercial field, to include national commercials, modeling, special projects with Martha Stewart, and HSN. Soon after settling in Jacksonville, she won Best Actress at Players by the Sea for her “Audrey” in Little Shop of Horrors, and most recently she portrayed the title role in ABET’s Violet. While those are certainly among the favored, some beloved roles include “Little Red” Into the Woods, “Karen” A Children’s Hour, and co-directing and performing “Songs for a New World”. Jen has a thriving private vocal studio, JenMercerStudio, a supportive husband, 2 amazing daughters, and 2 pups.
Bradley Akers is an award-winning director, designer (technical + graphic), stage manager, and theatre educator whose work has been seen in Northeast Florida, Philadelphia, and NYC. As a proud Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Theatre alumni, he joyously dons a DA lanyard once again—this time, with the goal of empowering students to unlock their full storytelling potential through the collaborative power of directing. Selected directing credits include: The Harvest, Fun Home, The Robber Bridegroom, Heathers the Musical, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Walls, 'night, Mother, Into the Woods, The Last 5 Years, Almost, Maine, Godspell, AIDA, and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. Over the course of six years at Players by the Sea Theatre, Bradley held positions as Artistic Director, Associate Director, Communications Manager, and Education Instructor. There, he developed the New Voices program: a page-to-stage new play development program that gives Jacksonville writers the opportunity to embark on a yearlong development journey, culminating in a fully-mounted production of their new play as part of the theatre's mainstage season. Bradley is the newly-appointed Managing Artistic Director of The 5 & Dime in Jacksonville, a theatre company dedicated to making change, sparking community dialogue, and breaking traditional barriers of theatre. He also serves as Creative Director of Studio A.12, a purpose-driven graphic design and marketing studio for nonprofits, performing arts organizations, schools, small businesses, and artists. (www.The5andDime.org, www.StudioA12.com)