Laura Beeman Nugent
(Academy Artistic Director,
Junior & Senior Academy Instructor)
(Academy Resident Music Director,
Senior Academy Instructor)
Laura Beeman Nugent helped co-found the Shreveport Little Theater Academy in 2007 and has served as choreographer since its inception. In 2011, Laura began her position as Academy Administrator and director/choreographer for the Academy, more recently being named as Academy Artistic Director. She holds her Associate of the Arts degree with a concentration in Theatre from BPCC, a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts with a concentration in Theatre from Louisiana Tech University. Laura also holds her Master of Liberal Arts with 18 graduate hours in Theatre from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Mrs. Nugent has also directed numerous shows for the Academy. Educationally, she served as a Tour Actor and Director for the Missoula Children’s Theatre Company, a touring company specializing in theatre for children. She has also been the company choreographer for Canterbury Summer Theatre, near Chicago, as well as a choreographer for productions at Shreveport Little Theatre, BPCC, and the Performing Arts Center at First United Methodist Church of Shreveport.
Adam Philley began his stint with SLTA as the music supervisor for Disney’s High School Musical in 2008, moving on to be musical director for SLTA productions of Disney’s High School Musical 2, Children of Eden, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Les Misérables, Rent, Little Women, All Shook Up! and several Jr. Academy shows. He holds a M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a B.M. in Sacred Music from Centenary College. He has been active in the theatre since the age of 14 and understands the importance of theatre for youth. He is a founding member of the Centenary Musical Theatre Group and serves as the current Music Director at Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Shreveport. He also serves as an adjunct voice teacher at Centenary. Adam is also a founder and conductor of the Prisma Vocal Ensemble. While at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he conducted the All-Collegiate Chorale and the award winning collegiate show choir, the Big Red Singers. He also served as resident music director for the Youth Actors' Academy of Lincoln and Theatre Arts For Kids under the direction of Leah Arington. He has served as Musical Director on many shows in the region including Godspell, Disney’s High School Musical, Seussical The Musical, L’enfant et les sortileges and The Medium. Adam has been a featured soloist and conductor at the First United Methodist Church of Shreveport, the Centenary College Choir and the Centenary Camerata and Chorale performing all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, Switzerland, Germany, France, Ireland, England, and Wales.
Kelly Berne began her time with SLTA as a theatre mom and volunteer in 2013. As her children's love for theatre grew, so did hers. Kelly joined the staff of SLTA in February of 2018 as Academy Coordinator. She holds a B.A. in Business from Southeastern Louisiana University. In 2014 she received her Masters of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. Kelly currently serves as the Contemporary Pastor of The River at Broadmoor UMC in Shreveport. While many people in the Shreveport/Bossier Community know her as Rev. Kelly Berne, our Academy students know her as Momma Berne. Kelly assists the Academy Director with coordinating shows, classes, camps, and publications.
(Junior Academy Musical Director,
Guest Vocal Instructor)
Ms. Cruz holds a BM in vocal performance from Illinois Wesleyan University, a MS in Early Childhood Education with a focus in music and art from Indiana University, and has completed level II of Kodaly. Before moving to Shreveport Ms. Cruz taught preschool for five years which included creating and implementing a music, theater, and visual art-based class titled Young Minds Create Art, as well as the music programs at two separate preschools, FLCPCC and The YMCA in Bloomington IN. She also started and taught the Preparatory Choir for ages K-3rd grade at FLC for four years and co-taught music with her husband at FLC's Spirit camp. Additionally, Ms. Cruz has run a private studio for piano and voice for the past fifteen years. Ms. Cruz also has extensive experience performing with professional, regional, and community theaters in both Illinois and Indiana and was most recently seen as Ms. Dorothy Brown in SLT's production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Ms. Cruz looks forward to sharing her love of music and theater with the SLT Academy students and cannot wait to begin the rehearsal process. She would also like to thank her Husband and two energetic children for their love and support of all of her artistic endeavors.
Amanda Geneux Ericson is a Shreveport native. She attended St. Joseph Catholic School and Captain Shreve High School. Amanda then attended Centenary College where she was a Vocal Music Education major. She was a member of the Centenary College Choir, Centenary Camerata, Centenary Cantare, and the Centenary Musical Theatre group where she was the director/choreographer. Amanda has performed in many community theatre shows in the Shreveport/Bossier region. That list includes: Elaine in Guys and Dolls, Bianca/Lois Lane in Kiss Me Kate, Jacqueline in Don't Dress for Dinner, Logan in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Lead Female in Sinatra, and Fiona in Shrek. She has also musically directed Flat Stanley for Peter Pan Players. Outside of school, she is a private piano and vocal instructor. She is married with two children, Amelia and Oliver.
Amanda Geneux Ericson
(Junior Academy Guest Director)
Shalem Carr, BFA began her journey with SLT in the summer of 2014 as on the Three Blind Mice in Shrek the Musical. She has since referred to SLT as her theatre home. Shalem has appeared on the SLT stage during many a summer musical. Audiences may remember her in Memphis(Ethel/Dance Captain), Thoroughly Modern Millie(Gloria/Assistant Choreographer), and Chicago(June/Dance Captain) to name a few. She has also already choreographed many numbers for SLT. Shalem attended Northwestern State University in Natchitoches LA and received her BFA in Musical Theatre and Dance. While in college she was given the opportunity to choreograph shows including As it is in Heaven, The Wiz, and Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shalem started to dance when she was 2 at Martelly School of Ballet. She is trained in Modern, Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, Clogging and African Dance. Currently, she is the theatre director at Hallsville High School in Hallsville, Texas. While she directs two musicals a year at Hallsville High School, her most treasured accomplishments include directing her competition team to two UIL regional competitions and two UIL bi-district competitions. Shalem is excited to join the production staff of Legally Blonde and start her work at her home theater a little earlier this year!
Shalem Carr, BFA
(Guest Dance Instructor)
Multi-talented, award-winning dance artist Roshanda Spears, has been “moving” to her own beat since the age of five when her structured dance career began in African, Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Modern Dance. A native of Los Angeles, California, Ms. Spears “Tapped” into her pursuit of higher education, Ms. Spears received a Bachelor and two Masters Degrees from Grambling State University. Ms. Spears has performed in various venues, including commercials, plays, musicals and movies. Since migrating to Shreveport, LA in 2001, Roshanda’s career has stayed on “pointe” working in a host of community venues (Shreveport Regional Arts Council-SRAC), schools, dance studios, and universities teaching dance. She is the owner of Shufflin’ Along, LLC where she instructs private dance lessons and choreography for churches, weddings, plays, dance lines, dance studios, special events, commercials and movies. She served as Dance Professor at Southern University at Shreveport for nine years. Currently, Ms. Spears is the dance instructor at Arts Dance Center, is the tap dance instructor/choreographer for Stage Center, is the resident choreographer for Mahogany Ensemble Theatre and founding executive director of the Shufflin’ Along Foundation and Performing Arts Scholarship Fund. She also sits on a number of arts affiliated boards and organizations in Shreveport.
Anna Maria Sparke
(Guest Acting Instructor)
Anna Maria is excited to work with the students of the Shreveport Little Theatre Academy. She received her undergraduate degree in Theatre from Centenary College of Louisiana, and went on to obtain an “advanced Theatre degree” with her Juris Doctorate from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU in Baton Rouge. A lifelong teacher, Anna Maria began teaching dance at the age of 13, ultimately becoming an Adjunct Professor in the Dance Department at Centenary College for several years. Beginning in 1987, Anna Maria has had the privilege of appearing in many theatrical productions, including starring as the title character in Mary Poppins, and Maria in the Sound of Music, as well as performing in dramatic works such as The Cover of Life and August: Osage County. In 2012, Anna Maria received the PRIDE award for Outstanding Performing Arts Professional from the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. She has won awards from both the Shreveport Times and SB Magazine for both plays and musicals and recently was awarded an SLT Directors’ Award for service to the Shreveport Little Theatre, in particular. She last appeared onstage at the Shreveport Little Theatre in the role of Auntie Mame in the play by the same name. A working triple threat, Anna Maria is ready to bring her experience and technical expertise to her students in a sound, practical and fun way!
Ayvaunn Penn is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts Playwriting Program at Columbia University where she had the honor of being the School of the Arts Dean’s Fellowship recipient for the playwriting class of 2018. She is also an actor, songwriter, and director. Most recently, she made her directorial debut at the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre and has served as assistant director to two-time Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson at the Billie Holiday Theatre and Golden Globe-winner Regina Taylor at the Tony Award-winning Goodman Theatre.
Prior to attending Columbia University, she earned a Master of Arts in Theatre with a double concentration in acting and playwriting at Louisiana Tech University. There, she was honored with the 2015 Lula Mae Sciro Award for Theatre Excellence and the 2015 Arthur W. Stone Playwright Award. Her undergraduate degree was completed at Austin College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
In addition to being the founder of Bible & Penn Productions and Inner Spirit Inner Artist, Ayvaunn is: a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation 2017-2018 Observership Class; an inductee of Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society; and a member of the Dramatist Guild of America. Learn more about Ayvaunn at www.ThePennSpeaks.com.
Heather Peak Hooper trained at The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and has a B.A. in Theatre and a Masters in Arts Teaching in Theatre, English, and Speech. She has acted and directed professionally from San Francisco, CA to London, England and toured internationally with the American Shakespeare Center. Some of her favorite plays in which she performed locally are Cover of Life, Waverly Gallery and August: Osage County. She most recently directed SLTA's Man of La Mancha and Footloose. Heather is proud to teach theatre at Captain Shreve High School and coach Shreve's Theatre Performance Team.
Heather Peak Hooper
(Guest Acting Instructor,
Guest Senior Academy Director)
Andrew is a fight director who works from coast to coast. He is a certified stage combat instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors that holds a BA in Theatre from The University of Kentucky and a MA in Theatre from Louisiana Tech University where he studied performance and stage movement under SAFD Fight Master Mark D. Guinn. Andrew currently resides in Shreveport, LA but spends a portion of the year in his hometown of Lexington, KY where he serves as stage combat instructor at the University of Kentucky. On top of that he teachers stage combat in Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. He also spends time in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York working as a motion capture performer. He is one of the lead capture artists for the Saint's Row and Agents of Mayhem video game franchise.