Resident Assistant and Faculty
Robert Battle is glad to be returning for his 7th season with the MFAA. Originally from St. Louis, Battle attended Central Visual & Performing Arts High School and graduated from Kirkwood Senior High. Robert received his undergrad from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music & Dance where he sang in a number of choral ensembles including the Heritage Chorale. Robert is the Artistic Director of the Columbia Public Schools 5th Grade Honors Choir and co-directs the Boonslick Chordbusters Barbershop Chorus. Battle is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the Barbershop Harmony Society. Robert is also a certified to teach in New York State and is a fitness trainer for Les Mills BodyJam dance classes. An active voice teacher and advocate for equal arts opportunities in urban areas, Battle spends most of his off time dancing, gardening, running, cooking, or catching up on short stories mostly written by David Sedaris.
Faculty and Staff (2014)
Resident Assistant and Faculty
Joey Borovicka was born in Springfield, Mo. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Missouri State University in 2003, and his Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Indiana University in 2008. He currently teaches as a per-course instructor of drawing, painting, and design at Missouri State University. His paintings have been shown in solo and group shows nationwide, and his work has been published in the nationally known periodical "New American Paintings," first in 2010 and again in the forthcoming 2013 Midwest issue. In describing the theme of his creative work, Borovicka says, “I am interested in the experience of spaces, the way I am affected by them, and the way I misremember them. In paintings of interior space I am free to dwell, decorate, and fantasize. An inhabited space becomes more than an inert box, it mingles with the memory and imagination of the inhabitant."
Ray Castrey has been associated with the Missouri Fine Arts Academy since its inception in 1996. He served as a faculty member, lead teacher, interdisciplinary arts/arts integration specialist, and academy coordinator before becoming the academy director in 2012.
He is an emeritus member of Missouri State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, where he provided music and soundscapes for departmental productions and classes for 29 years. He has created more than 70 works for theatre, dance, and video productions, and has performed in almost every imaginable, and some unimaginable, music venues.
Ray looks forward to great experiences this summer with the students, faculty, and staff of MFAA 2015.
Richard Cline spent two years after high school working for Sperry Rail Service, traveling throughout North America. He was inspired by his travels to embrace his calling in art, so he quit his job and enrolled at St. Charles Community College, which he attended from 1991 to 1993. Cline spent the summer of 1992 in Spain studying art and experiencing the birthplaces of many great artists. He was a co-founder of Zebra studios in St. Peters, Mo., a non-profit venue available to local artists and students to show their work. During this time, Cline participated in various art shows, including a solo exhibition at the college in St. Charles in 1996. He transferred to The School of The Art Institute Chicago in 1994 where he focused on sculpture and ceramics. He participated in several small group shows there including the Coyote Art Festival in Wicker Park, Ill., and was featured on the cover of the 1998 course catalog for the Oxbow School of Art in Saugatauk, Mich. Cline received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997 from the School of The Art Institute Chicago. He also received a master's degree in education administration in 2004 from Lindenwood University. He currently teaches at Hope High School in O'Fallon, Mo., a school designed specifically for at-risk youth.
Rae Doyle attended MFAA in 2010 as a visual art student. She is now a third year undergraduate at Truman State University pursuing an interdisciplinary studies degree focused on International Development. She draws from her artistic roots in her current work by seeking opportunities in which art and social change can intersect. She believes that art can be both a universal avenue for disseminating transformative ideas and a viable tool for personal and socio-economic empowerment. Rae hopes to share with the MFAA community insight into the interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches that foster this powerful intersection.
Megan Frauenhoffer is a printmaking artist originating from St. Louis, Mo. Her formal art training began at Missouri State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with an emphasis in printmaking in May 2007. In May 2010, she completed a master's in visual studies, focusing on both drawing and printmaking at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her drawings, prints, and collages explore the ideas of perfection/imperfection, subconscious fears, identity, and trans-formative narratives. As an artist, Frauenhoffer's artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her artwork has been featured in "Beautiful/Decay Magazine," "Minneapolis CityPages 100 Creatives," "Paper Darts Press Get In If You Want To Live," and "Miami Art Basel." As a teacher, she has trained students of all ages at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis’s Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Saint Louis ARTworks Summer Program, Missouri State University, and Ozarks Technical Community College.
Melissa Harper is a theatre teacher who has spent 13 years as a performing musician. Her pursuit of art is an exploratory journey into what art can be and what, to her, it shouldn't be. Harper has shared the stage with several national touring acts and has played many empty coffee houses. As a theatre teacher, her goal is to develop students through the benefits of theatre education. As a human being, her goal is to perpetuate the idea that people are important and that they matter.
Kurt Heinlein is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Missouri State University where he coordinates the BFA Actor Training Program. This is his fourth year teaching at MFAA. Heinlein is a working member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA. He is also an active member of The Society of American Fight Directors, Fight Directors Canada, and serves as executive leadership for The Association of Theatre Movement Educators. Heinlein has performed and directed extensively since completing his MFA in Acting from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), with union performance credits that include New York, regional theatre, daytime drama, ﬁlm, commercial print, and over 25 national television spots. His directing credits include New York, regional, and university theatre, and his stunt, aerial, and combat work have been seen in daytime drama, numerous national commercials, and in the professional and educational theatre circuits. Heinlein completed his Ph.D. in Theatre from Louisiana State University, and has been awarded several honors for his work in Green Theatre (performance that promotes socio-environmental betterment). Notable publications include "Koko and the Performance of Conservationism," "Green Theatre," and "Evangeline Drowning." In 2009, NPR dubbed Heinlein “The emerging father of American Green Theatre.” He maintains a consistent dedication to environmental education, noted by his volunteer work for The Nature Conservancy, The National Park Service, and the SAG sponsored BookPals Literacy Program. Heinlein has received several awards for his volunteerism and public service. He is married to Courtney Heinlein and they have two wonderful children together.
Melissa Herr has been involved with arts education since 1997, from a dramaturgical internship at the Indiana Repertory Theatre to five years of teaching English and Theatre at the high school level. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Butler University, a Master’s of Liberal Studies from Indiana University and a Master’s of Arts in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. Herr currently divides her time between teaching Playwriting per course at Missouri State University, assisting Ray Castrey with the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, raising two children and herding two dogs and a cat. She writes when she can and is, for obvious reasons, always interested in finding a balance between creative work and just. . . work. Her children’s poetry and short stories have appeared in Jack and Jill magazine. Herr is thrilled to be a part of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy and is looking forward to working with the students, staff and faculty of MFAA 2015.
Pianist and Faculty
Jacob Hiser is a recent graduate of Missouri State University pursuing a degree in jazz studies. He plays both piano and violin, and enjoys playing all styles of music. With his brother, he has performed professionally around the United States as the Hiser Brothers; and with the band Powder Mill, he has traveled as far as France to perform. He is also a member of the Springfield (Mo.) Symphony, playing 1st violin.
Melanie Humphrey is a 2010 MFAA alumni. Since MFAA, she has been attending Missouri State University where she will be graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting in the spring of 2015. Last semester she got to go to London and attend the Theatre Academy of London. It was there, she got immerse to herself in Shakespeare and other classic theatre. At the same she got to explore other European countries and the vast amount of cultures in this huge world. She has performed in several productions at Missouri State University and the Springfield area. She has also served as the Assistant House Manager and House Manager for Tent Theatre. When she is not acting she is reading, writing, and planning her next adventure!
Jill Kamler grew up in Joplin, Mo., and attended Missouri Fine Arts Academy in 2010, where she studied theatre performance. She will be a senior this fall in the Acting program at Missouri State University. She has also recently studied with Florida State University’s Theatre Academy London, where she spent a semester abroad studying theatre and traveling within Europe.
In addition to theatre performance, Kamler enjoys writing and performing poetry and spoken word. She also enjoys playing ukulele, and she is currently exploring writing for the stage and screen. Upon graduation, Kamler hopes to relocate to Los Angeles, where she plans to pursue a career in acting, writing, and directing, with an emphasis in creating work that challenges the current gender stereotypes and double standards within the industry today.
Kamler looks back at her experience at MFAA as a jumping off point for her artistic pursuits, where she gained the confidence and guidance to follow her passions. She can’t wait to meet the class of 2014!
Director of Residence Life and Faculty
Marcy Kamler is a musician currently residing in Los Angeles, California. Kamler received her bachelor's degree in music education from Missouri State University and received Suzuki string pedagogy certification from the Japan-Seattle Suzuki Institute. She has taught both band and orchestra in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, Springfield, Missouri, and Los Angeles, California. A 2002 MFAA alumni, this will be Marcy's 9th summer working for the Academy.
Kacey Kennedy is a young and enthusiastic lover of the Fine Arts. She recently graduated with her bachelor's in music education from Culver-Stockton College and plans to be a high school band director.
Music was Kennedy's first love. She began her vocal career at a young age, singing in the shower, car, or anywhere else she was allowed to make a sound. In the sixth grade, she expanded her musical abilities by learning to play the trumpet, and upon entering high school she began learning to play the French horn, an instrument with which she fell in love, and continues to play today.
Throughout her musical career, Kennedy has taken part in several ensembles including the 2011 Missouri All Collegiate Choir which performed at the Missouri Music Educators Association Clinic at Tan-Tar-A and a 20th Century Camerata group at Culver-Stockton College. Her musical interests do not stop at performance and education, but rather have led her to other parts of the world including Russia and France where she studied culture, language, and music.
In 2007 Kennedy began her journey at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy as an instrumental music student. It did not take long before she realized MFAA would forever be a part of her life, and decided that one day she would return. Just four years later, in 2011, Kennedy returned to the Academy as a Resident Assistant. This is her third summer with the Academy, and what she describes as the highlight of her entire year. Kennedy thoroughly looks forward to working with the brightest and best students Missouri has to offer, and could not be more excited about the adventure set before us!
Dr. Melinda Lein (voice instructor) is returning for her fifth year at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Wingate University in Wingate, N.C., where she teaches applied voice as well as music appreciation and an honors course in fine arts. She completed her doctoral degree in voice and her master's degree in musicology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and she holds a master's degree in vocal performance and bachelor's degrees in vocal performance and music education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Lein is an active recitalist and has appeared as soprano soloist in works such as Brahms’s "Ein deutsches Requiem," Handel’s "Messiah," Mendelssohn’s "St. Paul," Rutter’s "Magnificat" and Vivaldi’s "Gloria," just to name a few. Opera credits include roles in "Giulio Cesare in Egitto" (Handel), "Dialogues of the Carmelites" (Poulenc), "Die Fledermaus" (Strauss), "Gianni Schicchi" (Puccini), and "Die Zauberflöte" (Mozart). She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the College Music Society (CMS), and Sigma Alpha Iota.
Kyle McKenzie is a painter from Webb City, Mo. He received a Bachelor of Arts in studio art and literature from Missouri Southern State University in 2004, a Master of Arts in painting and drawing from Pittsburg State University in 2006, and a Master of Fine Arts in painting and drawing from the University of Arkansas in 2009.
He currently teaches in the art departments of Pittsburg State University and Missouri Southern State University. In the summer of 2011, he apprenticed on the Joplin Community Mural and in 2012 led the Webb City Farmers Market Community Mural. His paintings have been exhibited throughout the region.
This coming fall, Rachel Menscher will begin her senior year as a piano performance major with a double minor in pedagogy and music literature/history at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. A native of Wentzville Mo., she began studying piano at age 5, and also plays flute, organ and is an avid vocalist at her church. She has been the student of Annette Burkhart of Washington University in St. Louis, and Vanderbilt’s Karen Ann Krieger. Menscher has also performed in master classes with Alon Goldstein, Jon-Kimura Parker, Roger Vignoles, Matthew Dirst, Jan Loeffler, and others, and is a graduate of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, class of 2009. In the summer of 2012 she studied piano, music literature of the Classical era, and German in Vienna, Austria. She is currently the President of the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Chapter at Blair/Vanderbilt, and a member of Pi Kappa Lambda music honor society, and Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society. She has also experienced success as a competitive performer, accomplishing a gratifying junior piano recital in November 2012, for which she played Franz Liszt’s "Mephisto Waltz" among other works, and was awarded as a finalist of concerto competitions with the Vanderbilt Orchestra and LaGrange Georgia Symphony Orchestra, for which she performed Samuel Barber’s "Piano Concerto Op. 38." After graduating from Vanderbilt, she plans to attend graduate school, and hopes to one day teach piano at the collegiate level.
Maggie Marlin-Hess is on the performance faculty at Missouri State University where she teaches acting, voice and movement, and musical theatre performance classes and directs and choreographs MSU’s season productions. She is delighted to be joining the ranks as this marks her inaugural year teaching at MFAA. Maggie is a member of Actor’s Equity Association, Association of Theatre Movement Educators, and Voice and Speech Trainers Association. She is an actor, singer, director, and award winning dance and movement choreographer who has worked in theatre, film, and tv primarily in New York, DC and up and down the East Coast. Maggie earned her BFA in Acting from the North Carolina School of the Arts and her MFA in Theatre, Movement Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has done additional research with the National Theatre Institute, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Dah Teatar of Belgrade, Serbia, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and is currently working towards becoming a Certified Movement Analyst at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York. Highlights of her career include performing the roles of Millie, "Thoroughly Modern Millie"; Sally Bowles, "Cabaret"; Velma Kelly, "Chicago", choreographing "Rent", "Mother Courage", "Rocky Horror Show", and "Reefer Madness", co-founding and performing with the Resident Artist Ensemble here in Springfield, MO and her work volunteering with FreeArts NYC; bringing mentorship through the creative arts to at-risk and underprivileged children of Harlem. But what she’s really bursting at the seams to tell you is that in March, she and her husband welcomed their son, Silas to the world. Should you see him in the halls, please say hello and give him a squeeze!
Ian was born in Kansas City and now lives in Los Angeles, California where he writes, acts, and composes music for film and television. He is co-creator of "The Unfortunates", a musical that had its world premiere production last year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Ian was a MFAA student in 1999, an RA in 2003, and this is his fourth year on the faculty.
David Ollington is an Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance at Kansas State University; this marks his ninth summer on the faculty of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from K-State and an Master of Fine Arts in dance from Texas Christian University. This summer he will be directing “Forever Plaid” and choreographing “Fiddler on the Roof” at Tent Theatre where he choreographed “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in 2010. His choreography has been called “witty” by “Pitch Weekly” and “brilliantly choreographed” by the “Kansas City Star.” He has received three commendations from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in recognition of his choreography for the K-State productions of “Pippin” (2005), “Urinetown” (2006), and “The Music Man” (2012). In 2003, The Kansas City Press Club presented him with two awards, Best Entertainment Writing and the President’s Award for Outstanding Work, for his Theatre/Dance review column in “EKC Magazine.” Ollington choreographed the world premiere of the Theatre for Young America version of “Seussical” at the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City (2004), returning to the Coterie to direct it in 2011. Last summer, he directed “The Fantasticks” at the Great Plains Theatre. He has set dances for The Seattle Children’s Theatre, ARC Dance Productions of Seattle, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, The American Heartland Theatre, the Heartland Men's Chorus, the City in Motion Dance Company, and the Disney Institute in Orlando, Fla.
Dr. Thomas C. Polett is currently a Professor of Music at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., where he is the Director of Low Brass/Jazz Studies. He has held similar positions at Georgia College, Limestone College (S.C.), and North Greenville College (S.C.).
Polett earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in music performance from Arizona State University, and a doctorate in musical arts in trombone performance from The University of Georgia. He has studied trombone with Philip Jameson, Gail Wilson, Stephen McEuen, Scott Hartman, and Joeseph Alessi.
Polett has performed with numerous professional and regional symphony orchestras, including the Charleston (S.C.) Symphony, Greenville (S.C.) Symphony, Asheville (N.C.) Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and the Arizona Ballet Orchestra. He is a former member of the South Carolina based Aurora Brass Quintet, which toured Italy twice, was the 1995 American representative to the Verona (Italy) International Brass Festival, and served as the Resident Brass Quintet for the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. Polett has made solo appearances at the Eastern Trombone Workshop, College Music Society, and Missouri Music Educator's Association Conference. Polett was a member of the Cramer Trombone Choir at the 1999 International Trombone Festival in Potsdam, N.Y., and performed for the 2000 New York Brass Conference as a member of the Missouri Brass Consortium.
Polett cannot wait to begin yet another MFAA journey – the most rewarding and challenging time of his artistic and academic year.
In the last 25 years, Susan Rieger has toured throughout the Midwest teaching and performing for all ages, training professional dancers, and developing and presenting innovative choreography.
Rieger served as Artistic Director of the 940 Dance Company in Lawrence, Kan. (2007-2011) and aha! dance theatre in Kansas City, Mo. (2002-2007). In 2009, her company was invited to perform in Puebla, Mexico at an international dance festival. She was one of the founders of aha! dance theatre, which had a 14 year history in Kansas City. During that time, she produced concerts at the Folly Theater, in galleries, museums and outdoor spaces, as well as developed dance programs for grade school, high school and adult audiences. She has worked in Kansas as an Artist-in-Education, providing workshops and performances throughout rural areas. In addition, she was on the KC Young Audiences roster for over ten years, with successful educational performances and workshops.
Rieger holds a Bachelors of Art in dance from the University of Iowa and a master's in social welfare from the University of Kansas. In 2012, she completed her Certified Yoga Teacher training. Recently, Rieger has been employed by the KU Medical Center to use dance and yoga as a therapeutic tool with adults and children who have cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
Eric Schultz (Interdisciplinary and Instrumental Music Faculty), enjoys a very active and wildly diverse musical life. Eric’s resume includes experiences as a composer and performer of contemporary and experimental music, a recording engineer, a record producer, a saxophonist, an occasional percussionist, a conductor, a live sound engineer, an opera librettist, a Foley artist for heavy metal rock opera, a bunny-suit-wearing experimental dancer, and extremely over-educated and highly underwhelming karaoke singer. Dr. Schultz presently makes his living as the Director of Music Technology at Chabot College in Hayward, California, where he teaches recording, audio production, and rock music history. On June 28th of this year—the last day of the Fine Arts Academy (!)—Eric will marry his sweetheart Melissa in Ray Castrey’s backyard. Sweetly, they met at MFAA.
Chris Thompson, baritone, divides his time between several performance mediums including opera, operetta, oratorio, recitals, and musical theatre in a variety of capacities: soloist, conductor, and music director/pianist. He has performed leading lyric baritone roles across the United States and England ranging from Figaro in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," to the title role in staged productions of "Elijah," to Carl Magnus in "A Little Night Music."
A strong advocate of new music, Thompson made his Carnegie Hall debut in January 2012 singing "Posh," a new song cycle by composer Mohammed Fairouz, and just released by Naxos. In addition, Thompson made his Off-Broadway debut in Fermat’s "Last Tango," and is a featured soloist on composer Joshua Rosenblum’s debut recording, "Impetuosities."
Thompson joined the faculties of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy in the summer of 2012. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Loyola University, and Kansas State University and presently serves as Coordinator of Vocal Studies at Missouri State University.