Bethany Lahammer has designed and directed four thriving Youth Theatres between Colorado, New York and the Virgin Islands. As a teaching artist, she spent 8 years in New York working with the NYC Student Shakespeare Festival, City Lights Youth Theater, Leadership High School and the 9-11 FEMA team. She pioneered the middle-school training program at The Professional Performing Arts School in New York City, and founded and produced the Annual St. Thomas Student Shakespeare Festival, successfully in its seventh year. [Bethany has been directing physical theatre and teaching authentic performance techniques since training with NYC’s Project Ensemble in 1999. She was the Movement Specialist at Messenger Theatre Company and directed their devised archetypal clown piece Mythellaneous! which played both in NY and at the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.]
Locally, Bethany partnered with Jessica to play the lead in Next to Normal which won them both awards for Best Actress and Best Musical at The Empty Space in 2015. She assisted David Lollar at BCT in directing Bang Bang You're Dead and directed Seussical Jr. for BMT Stars where she also recently appeared in Sweeney Todd this spring. This fall she will be piloting the Theatre Department at Garces Memorial High School.
Bethany has a BFA in Musical Theatre with a Minor in Psychology, Masters Training from NYU, and professional development memberships with the NYC Arts-In-Education Roundtable and the American Alliance of Theatre and Education. She brings 12 years of executive experience piloting and empowering programming, receiving leadership training from the Support Center for Non-Profit Management NYC and Alexia Vernon's Catalyst for Action. Her goal in any programming is always to cultivate thoughtful choices that deepen empathy in the community at large.
Jessica Burzlaff, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who
specializes in parenting education and working with youth. In 2011,
Jessica began studying psychodrama, an action oriented method of
therapy that uses spontaneity and dramatic technique to explore and
develop client insight.
She is currently working toward becoming a Certified Practitioner of Psychodrama. In addition to her professional interests, Jessica has been participating in community theater as an actor (Bakersfield Music Theater, Bakersfield Community Theater, The Spotlight Theater, The Empty Space Theater, and The Gaslight Melodrama) since she was a child.
In 2014, she directed her first musical at The Empty Space Theater in collaboration with the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning Next to Normal. The musical, about a woman suffering from bipolar disorder and the impact it has on her family, ran for three weekends and sold out each performance and won both Best
Actress and Show of The Year at the 2014 Empty Space Awards.
Jessica has her Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology from Cal State Bakersfield and a Bachelor of Arts in both Philosophy and English from Scripps College in Claremont, California.
Artist At Large
Mariah Jordan studied acting at California Institute of the Arts and has had the privilege to perform a variety of diverse and exciting roles. She has also directed multiple plays and shorts, as well as original works around Bakersfield. She has been writing since she was a little girl and really found a passion in creating relationships and stories on stage.
David Allen Alvarez is currently the Student Life Coordinator at California Aeronautical University where he works with students in their day-to-day lives. He has written and performed in numerous staged performances in Ohio and California, including Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, Grease!, If/Then, Pippin, Jekyll & Hyde, and Spring Awakening.
David has his Masters of Science in Counseling - Student Affairs and Bachelors of Arts in Geology, minoring in Religious Studies from California State University, Bakersfield. He has a strong background in research, for which he has received grants and awards.
David Allen Alvarez