Learn from the best

Imagination and collaboration. Focus, discipline, trust, and critical analysis. Self-awareness and self-confidence. These are the values that the staff of the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory for the Performing Arts strives to instill in every student.

The Conservatory is a safe, supportive, challenging, and innovative environment where students will discover and develop their unique, creative voice. It's a profound path to empowerment, and to unlocking their artistic potential. The North Carolina Theatre Conservatory offers a variety of classes in performance, dance and acting.

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Ray Walker

Ray Walker

Conservatory Artistic Director

Ray Walker made his Broadway debut as "Marius" in the smash hit musical Les Miserables. Other Broadway credits include "Annas" in Jesus Christ Superstar, "Doody" in Grease!  with Rosie O'Donnell and Brooke Shields and "Whizzer" in Falsettos. Ray appeared in the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind directed by Hal Prince and sang with Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford at the London Palladium and on a North Amercian tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Ray received critical acclaim for his portrayal of "Freddie" in the off-Broadway revival of Chess. Other credits include understudying Donny Osmond in the National Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, co-starring with Melissa Manchester in The Music of the Night, appearances in The Radio City Music Hall Magnificent Christmas Spectacular and starring roles in numerous regional theatre productions. In concert, Ray has sung all over the world including a concert tour with Academy Award winning composer Marvin Hamlisch and in concert with the Bolshoi Symphony in Moscow. Ray began his career at North Carolina Theatre and throughout the years has thrilled audiences in NCT productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Chess, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Children of Eden and Evita.

Tito HernandezTito Hernandez

Dance Department Head

Mr. Hernandez comes to North Carolina Theatre Conservatory with more than 20 years of experience as a professional choreographer, actor, dancer, and educator. He made his Broadway debut in the Tony award winning musical Jerome Robbins' Broadway. Other credits include Bob Fosses' Dancin', Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, the National Tour of Evita and The Gingerbread Lady starring Oscar winner Shelly Winters. As a choreographer, Tito has worked at Houston's Theatre Under the Stars, The Alley Theatre, Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre and Disneyland. Mr. Hernandez has had a long history with NCT, including choreographing productions of Evita, (starring Ray Walker and Lauren Kennedy), The King and I, (starring Lou Diamond Phillips) and NCT's Summer Theatre Arts School (STAS). He is choreographer of NCT's and BSS's co-production of Disney's High School Musical and the STAS 2007 production.

Jonathan McCarterJonathan McCarter

Education, Outreach, & Business Manager & Acting Instructor

Administrator Before moving to Raleigh Jonathan was Artistic Director for Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, in Jonesborough, TN and prior to that Director of Education and Outreach for Opera Memphis. He received his BFA in Performance Theatre from University of Memphis. Between TN and NC he has directed over
25 productions in local area theatres as well as had multiple plays of his own produced and performed including both an original adaptation of A Christmas Carol and a comparison and contrast of Shakespeare's MacBeth to the Verdi Opera that toured Memphis High Schools.

Kimberly Genna BryantKimberly Genna Bryant

Conservatory Administrator

Kimberly is thrilled to be a part of the NC Theatre Staff as Conservatory Administrator.  Kimberly has been acting and singing since the age of 7. She was even part of the NCT Summer Theatre Arts School  and Kids on Broadway over a decade ago and performed in a few NC Theatre productions such as: A Man of No Importance, Wizard of Oz, and High School Musical. She was also the NCT Wardrobe Supervisor and sometimes Costumer. Outside of NC Theatre, Kimberly has appeared as Tracy Turnblad in the musical Hairspray in two different productions and was even the runner up for the role in the movie. More recently though, Kimberly took on the role of being a wife.

Page PurgarPage Purgar

Outreach Administrator

Page Purgar is a graduate of the New world School of the Arts in Miami as a musical theater major. Locally, she has worked as an actor with Deep Dish Theater, Theatre in the Park, Raleigh Little Theatre, Carrboro Arts Center, Little Green Pig, Burning Coal and Raleigh Ensemble Players. During her 4 year tenure as a board member at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, she produced, assistant directed and choreographed a number of teen and children's show for the theater.

Michael SantangeloMichael Santangelo

LOS Accompanist & Vocal Instructor

Michael has recently relocated from NY to NC. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Crane School of Music in voice and choral singing.  As a musician, he has played for the First National Tour of Disney's High School Musical, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (Branson MO production) and many regional theater productions. Locally, Michael has played in the orchestra's for NCTC's Master STAS production of Tommy, and Hot Summer Nights concert Oh What A Night!

As an educator, Michael has been a teacher in the NY public school system as well as many years of after school and summer theatre programs.  Michael comes to NCTC with over 10 years experience teaching piano and voice lessons.  At the conservatory, he accompanies Live On Stage classes as well as the Lobby Singers.

Christine Hunter-HeneghanChristine Hunter-Heneghan

Acting Instructor

A professional actress with over twenty-five years' experience in Theatre (Off-Broadway/National Tours/Regional Theatre) Film, and Television, Christine holds a BFA from Syracuse University and an MFA from the University of Illinois. She has taught acting and voice/speech at Northwestern University, the University of Illinois and Prairie State College.

She has appeared in numerous North Carolina Theatre productions, including Elsa in The Sound of Music, Ms. Darbus in Disney’s High School Musical and Velma von Tussle in Hairspray.  She has also served as Dialect coach for the North Carolina Theatre Kids on Broadway productions of A Man of No Importance and Whistle Down the Wind. She is an instructor at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory and served as an adjudicator for the North Carolina Theatre Capital Awards recognizing excellence in Musical Theatre in area High Schools.

Eileen JuricMelissa P. Carney

Dance Instructor

Melissa received her dance training at the Ballet West Conservatory as a scholarship student under William F. Christensen (founder of Ballet West and San Francisco Ballet).  As a classically trained dancer Melissa has performed with multiple ballet companies across the United States and Europe including: Ballet West, Eugene Ballet, Ballet Idaho, Ballet Long Island, Pirouettes, Utah Regional Ballet, and Central Florida Ballet.  She has held contracts with Cunard and Norwegian Cruise Lines through Jean Ann Ryan Productions as well as with Disney on both AEA and Non-AEA stages. As an actress Melissa has performed with the Egyptian Theatre Company, Disney’s STAGE, and The Noorda Black Box Theatre Company to name a few.  She has also worked in film and television appearing in productions such as Netflix’s House of Cards, NBC’s Do No Harm and most recently the feature film Jackie.

Melissa has taught throughout her professional career as both Faculty and as a Guest Artist in professional and local schools.  For the past ten years she has served as Artistic Director of Youth Performing Arts School’s Ballet Performance Company in Washington, DC.

Sherry Lee AllenSherry Lee Allen

Private Dance, Piano, & Voice Instructor

Sherry Lee studied Musical Theatre and earned a BA degree in Dance from Point Park University in her hometown of Pittsburgh.  As a performer, Sherry has been a member of Actors Equity for 20 years and has appeared in the National Tour of Evita and the European Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.  Locally, Sherry has appeared in NCT's production of Evita and recently in Hot Summer Night's Marvelous Wonderettes.
As an educator, Sherry has been an Adjunct Professor in Dance and Theatre at Grand Valley State University, Aquinas College and Cornerstone University. Sherry comes to NCTC with several years of teaching piano and voice lessons. Sherry was proud to assist good friend, Tito Hernandez in Hot Summer Nights' production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical as well as NCTC's Master STAS productions of Fame and All Shook Up. This October, Sherry Lee will assistant direct and choreograph  NCT's production of Evita.

Paul PaliyenkoPaul Paliyenko

Film & Acting Instructor

Paul Paliyenko is a professional actor and director who has performed on various Triangle stages and on stage, screen and radio in Boston. Notable local stage performances include Theatre Raleigh-Hot Summer Nights' August: Osage County (Eric Woodall) and Barefoot in the Park (Richard Roland) and Burning Coal Theatre Company's To Kill a Mockingbird (Randall Curtis Rand), Way to Heaven/Camino al Cielo (Matthew Earnest) and David Edgar's The Prisoner’s Dilemma (Jerome Davis). Paul is also an award-winning freelance producer-director of hundreds of film, video and audio programs. He taught casting and auditioning workshops for the Boston SAG Conservatory as well as film production at Boston University and Emerson College. Paul trained with Michael Shurtleff (Acting) and Keith Johnstone (Improv).

Bryan PhoebusBryan Phoebus

LOS Accompanist

Bryan is currently the theater director at Heritage High School in Wake Forest. He has a degree from the prestigious University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, OH where he had the amazing privilege of studying voice with the late Andrew White as well as Tom Baresel. Bryan has over 15 years’ experience of private voice and piano instruction as well as over 30 directing and musical theater production credits both in North Carolina and Florida. He is a certified theater and music educator both in North Carolina and Florida and has run numerous, highly successful theatrical workshops and summer programs. Former students have appeared on multiple seasons of American Idol, can be seen on Broadway stages, and have had leading roles in both television shows and blockbuster movies. Bryan lives in Wake Forest with his wife Kristen and his 6 amazing children.

Mary Kathryn WalstonMary Kathryn Walston

Private Voice Instructor

Mary Kathryn earned a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Music degree in vocal performance and pedagogy from Meredith College.  She has performed in musicals and operas and also as an oratorio soloist. 

For the past twenty years Ms. Walston has maintained a private voice studio, taught musical theatre classes, camps, and workshops, and served as musical director for shows in the Raleigh area.

Sierra RiddleSierra Riddle

Dance Instructor

Sierra recently received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from  Meredith College, where she double majored in dance studies and psychology. While attending Meredith, she was the choreographer for two of Meredith's theatre productions and choreographed five different pieces within the dance department that were all chosen for Gala performances. One of her pieces was also performed in Destiny Dance Institute's Gala performance and will be re-staged for this year's ALL-Dance Festival this September. Before Meredith, Sierra trained with Nina Wheeler for fourteen years in many different styles of dance including tap, jazz, ballet and modern. Sierra's teaching experience includes being a teacher's assistant at Nina's School of Dance, teaching gymnastics and just recently she interned under Tito Hernandez at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory in the Spring of 2015. You may have also seen Sierra at Releve Dancewear where she is a Sales Associate, Pointe Shoe Fitter and Closer. Sierra is extremely excited to return to NCT in the fall and invites anyone of any age to attend her class!

Jess Barbour

Acting Instructor

Jess Barbour is a full time actor, teacher, and Equity Member Candidate. She earned her BFA in Theatre from Elon University and this summer studied with Bill Esper at The Esper Studio's Summer Intensive in NYC. During college, she attended Broadway Theatre Project where she studied with such theater greats as Anne Reinking and Ben Vereen. She has taught all over the area, as the choreographer for St. David's Episcopal School, Sanderson HS, Apex HS, Raleigh Little Theatre and with NRACT's camps and shows. She also works at Duke University as a Standardized Patient training medical students in empathy and bedside manner and teaches anti-bullying strategies with NCT Conservatory in Wake County schools. She has performed professionally all over the Southeast and filmed on industrials, local and national commercials, voiceovers, television, independent and feature films. Currently, she is celebrating the success of her film Oh Crappy Day, which has been accepted into 38 film festivals, winning the 2015 Lou Costello Award for Best Comedy Short at the Garden State Film Festival. 

Shannon Cook

Dance Instructor

Shannon Pritchard-Cook began her professional career in musical theatre at the age of 18. Touring nationally prior to moving to New York City she has been able to experience the US and Europe with shows such as 42nd Street (Peggy Sawyer), West Side Story (Consuelo, Rosalia u/s), and My One and Only (Minnow). Regionally Shannon has been seen as Polly Baker in Crazy For You, Sally Bowles in Cabaret, and Babe O’Day in Good News where she had the pleasure of working with Director/Choreographer Thommie Walsh. She has worked as a choreographer throughout the country and loves working with students as they grow and develop their craft. Having grown up under the Dance Masters of America studio organization, she values the importance of both teaching and learning. She is thrilled to be joining the NCTC staff. 


Lisa Jolley

Improv Instructor

As an actor, Lisa Jolley has performed on Broadway in Hairspray, at Yale Repertory Theater in The King Stag, and at the Papermill Playhouse in Sweeney Todd among others. In July 2017, she will be playing the nun in Seth Rudetsky's Disaster! at Northampton Community College Summer Theatre. Her television work includes Law & Order: SVU, Sex and the City, Hope and Faith, and Banshee. Local appearances include Into the Woods, Les Miserables, Hairspray, and The Producers (North Carolina Theatre), Spamalot (Cape Fear Regional Theatre), Next to Normal (Deep Dish), Souvenir, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and Sylvia (Theatre Raleigh). She is also a featured vocal soloist with the North Carolina Symphony.
An improvisor for twenty years, she has been a cast member/team player with Amsterdam's Boom Chicago, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Magnet Theater, Chicago City Limits, and the original cast of the longform Evente directed by Armando Diaz. She has studied with Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Paul Sills, Armando Diaz, Kevin Mullaney, Todd Stashwick, and Ali Farahnakian. She currently performs at DSI Comedy Theater in Chapel Hill.
Lisa has taught improvisation in NYC, the Yale School of Drama, the Wharton School of Business, Camp Broadway, Broadway Theatre Project, as well as corporate workshops in the Netherlands. Lisa currently lives in Raleigh with her husband Mike Yionoulis and nine year-old son George.