2023 Arizona Young Artists’ Competition Judges & Coordinators

Acting Judges


Sydney Davis
Sydney is an avid supporter of local theater. She has appeared in several productions at Theatre Artists Studio, Desert Stages Theater, Hale Theatre Center, and numerous times at the Herberger Theater’s Lunch Time Theater. Favorite roles include Andi Lee in 42nd St, Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mrs. Brown in Me and My Girl, Gingy in Love, Loss and What I Wore, Lita Encore in Ruthless (DST), Sue Smith in No, No, Nanette, Sr. Mary Theresa in Sister Act, Prosecutor in The Trial of the Catonsville Nine and Millicent Winter in Nice Work If You Can Get It.

Tom Noga
In his fifth decade as a professional actor and stunt performer, Tom has appeared in dozens of movies, television shows and commercials including the films Lethal Weapon, Gangster Land and Anonymous Killers, the TV shows “Knight Rider,” “The A-Team” and “NCIS Los Angeles”, and in commercials for AT&T, Coors Light and as Colonel Sanders for KFC. He has produced, directed and performed in many plays in Phoenix at the critically acclaimed former Tres Repertory Theatre where he was also Co-Founder and Artistic Director, at Theatre Artists Studio where he currently holds the position of Production Manager, and at several theatres in Los Angeles including Company Of Angels, The Blank, and The Open Fist Theatre Company.

Pamela Fields
Pamela Fields is an Educator, Director and Actor and holds the title of Faculty Emerita in Theatre Arts at Scottsdale Community College. Active in leadership roles in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival, she earned three Medals for Excellence in Theatre Education and membership in the Fellows for Distinguished Service. With dozens of projects covering the last four decades, Pam is no stranger to the local theatre scene. She has directed and/or performed with Actors Theatre, ASU Herberger Institute, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, Arizona Women’s Company, Phoenix Theatre Company, Southwest Shakespeare Company, and Theatre Artists Studio. Recent directing projects have included Trouble in Mind (Black Theatre Troupe), Cemetery Club (Theatre Artists Studio), and Lasso of Truth (ASU Herberger Institute). Recent acting projects include Agatha Christie in Mysterious Disappearance; Rose in Rasheeda Speaking; and Nanny in Uncle Vanya. Other iconic roles include Big Mama in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker and Alma in Myself, Alma Mahler, her one-woman touring show. Pam is currently Guest Faculty with the Megaw Theatre and Actors Studio in Scottsdale. She is represented by Ford/Robert Black Agency.


Karen Burns
Karen is an actor, writer, director, and dancer. After graduating from Playhouse West in Meisner Technique, she continued to study in New York and Los Angeles going on to professional work in both cities. Karen has loved teaching acting, dance, and directing theatre for the past 30 years. Her original solo show, An Otherwise Magical Life ran at the Herberger Theater Center and Theatre Artists Studio in Phoenix in 2022. Karen’s career highlights: (in NYC, LA, and Phoenix) The Young and the Restless (CBS), Santa Barbara (NBC), Thirtysomething (ABC), Rockette at Radio City Music Hall, A Chorus Line-The Movie, Macbeth, A Pack of Lies, A Christmas Carol, Becoming Memories, Night of the Iguana and Guys and Dolls. You can find her online at: https://thekarenburns.com/

Dance Judges


Katie Hughes
Katie Hughes is a professional dancer from Phoenix, Arizona. She performed as a member of Center Dance Ensemble (CDE) for ten years under the direction of Frances Smith Cohen. With CDE, Katie danced lead roles in Snow Queen, solo works, and the company’s touring shows. As a guest artist, Katie has danced professionally with a variety of choreographers in the valley and traveled the country as both a performer and as a dance educator. Katie has taught children’s ballet for over eight years at Dance Theater West.

Lisa Gray Young
A Phoenix native, Lisa grew up studying various genres of dance, as well as acting, voice, piano, and flute. After graduating from South Mountain Center for the Arts High School, Young went on to Arizona State University, graduating with honors and receiving a BFA in Choreography/Performance. She has performed, taught and choreographed for a myriad of dance companies, theaters, schools, studios, and churches around the Valley, including Center Dance Ensemble (dancing the principle role of “Gerda” in Snow Queen, ’98-’00), The Movement Source, Inc., Dance Arizona Repertory Theater, Stageworks, Mesa Youth Theatre, East Valley Children’s Theatre, Greasepaint Youth Theatre, Mesa Arts Center (co-founded/co-directed Step to This Dance Company), Grand Canyon University, Mesa Community College, Phoenix College, and Paradise Valley Community College. She has received numerous ariZoni Theater Awards of Excellence nominations for her choreography in the theater community and has twice won for her work in The Orphan Train and The Jungle Book, both with Mesa Youth Theatre.

Madison MacDonald
Madison MacDonald started dancing at the age of 6 at Dance Theatre West under the direction of Susan Silverman. She attended Arizona School for the Arts for middle and high school where she had the opportunity to take classes at Ballet Arizona through her arts school. As a junior in high school, Madison was invited to join Center Dance Ensemble, the resident modern dance company at the Herberger Theater, under the direction of the late Frances Smith Cohen. She danced with the company for 15 incredible seasons where she had the pleasure and wonderful opportunity to dance in some amazing roles that included a Bride in Dracula, Margot in The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Bride in La Llarona. Madison resides in Arizona and teaches at a local dance studio. She is very grateful to continue to have the opportunity to be a part of the Arizona Young Artists’ Competition judging panel.


Lisa Starry
Lisa Starry began her formal dance training at the Phoenix School of Ballet in 1985 and continued on to college to receive her BFA in Dance/Choreography from the California Institute for the Arts in 1993. That same year she was presented with a full scholarship to the London Contemporary School of Dance student exchange program. In 1999 she started her dance company Scorpius Dance Theatre and since then has collaborated with various arts organizations and toured her company throughout Arizona, the United States and Europe. Starry has been recognized for her work with Scorpius Dance Theatre, as well as her involvement in the community. She has been named Best Artist in Phoenix Magazine’s Best of the Valley program, honored as one of the Women Who Move the Valley by Arizona Foothills Magazine, and recognized by the New Times in their “100 Creatives” feature. In 2012, she was honored with the first-ever Mayor’s Arts Award for the category of Dance Organization. In addition to running Scorpius Dance Theatre, she is the Director of Operations at Metropolitan Arts Institute.

Musical Theatre Judges


Kelli James
Kelli James’ professional career includes leading roles on Broadway, where she was an original company member of Les Misérables, and later was cast as “Eponine”, becoming the first North American actor to play the role. Other credits include co-starring in the production and first national tour of Evita, starring in the Toronto companies Aspects of Love, as “The Narrator” in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring opposite Donny Osmond, and being hand-picked for the concert tour, Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. International concert credits include: Alfie Boe Live, Jason Robert Brown In Concert, The Broadway Songbook, Home For The Holidays, The Henley Festival, and The Night Of 1000 Voices where she worked with Glenn Close, Len Cariou, Sarah Brightman, David Essex and Sir Tim Rice. In the United States, she has appeared in award-winning productions of the Los Angeles revival of Hair and the San Francisco production of The Rocky Horror Show as “Columbia.” Kelli has been coaching and teaching musical theater performance for over 20 years at her privately owned studio, The Broadway Advantage Performing Arts Studio in Scottsdale, Arizona, and she has been nominated for three ariZoni Awards in performance and has won twice for her theater direction.

David Britton
Tenor David Britton is a chamber musician, opera and concert singer, musical theater artist and teacher. He has performed with The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony, The National Symphony and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Abroad, he’s been heard with the National Orchestra of France, The Israel Philharmonic, The Montreal Symphony, The Toronto Symphony, The Mexico City Orchestra, The Caracas Orchestra, and the Hamburg Radio Orchestra. Britton was a long-time member of the Bach Aria Group and has appeared as solo artist with The New York Pro Musica Antiqua, The Waverly Consort and Musica Sacra. A guest artist with Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center, he has been engaged by festivals in Aspen, Grand Tetons, Spoleto (Italy), Art Park and at Caramoor. As a concert soloist, he has worked with Daniel Barenboim, Charles Dutoit, Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Slatkin, Antal Dorati, Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, Raphael Frübeck de Burgos, Gerard Schwarz, Helmuth Rilling, Raymond Leppard, Donald Johanos, Margaret Hillis, and David Willcocks. As a recording artist, he can be heard on the Angel, EMI, Musical Heritage and Voce labels. He received his musical education at The University of North Texas, The Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School and is a professor of voice at Arizona State University.

Shana Bousard
Shana Rebilas Bousard is honored to be judging AYAC once again! Shana has been professionally involved in music and theatre all her life. She graduated from the prestigious Hartt School of Music in Connecticut and immediately began her career in the northeast. She was a featured singer/dancer for Holland America and Regency Cruise lines, and has performed at theatres around the country. She has also performed several cabarets and concerts in Manhattan, Phoenix, Wisconsin, and at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Since moving to Arizona in 1995, Shana, a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association, has performed for many local theatre companies, and is an ariZoni Award winning actress and director. Favorite roles include Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins and Glinda in The Wizard of OZ with the Phoenix Theatre Company, Sally Bowles in Cabaret with Theatre Artists Studio, and Louisa Bauer in Bauer with Blk Box Phx. Shana obtained her music therapy equivalency certificate from Alverno College in Milwaukee and has been working as a Board-Certified Music Therapist since 2004. She is proud and honored to share music with people of all ages and abilities and has a special love and rapport with her elderly clients. Shana continues to perform locally and enjoys creating and developing new cabaret shows and projects.


Mary Jane McCloskey
Mary Jane is pleased to serve as Arizona District Governor for the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She has previously served on the board of the Valley of the Sun NATS Chapter as Co-Chair for the Arizona District Student Auditions, and the Arizona Summer Heat CM Auditions. Mary Jane has been active in Arts Education for more than 30 years in public, private and charter schools. She was honored to be awarded “West Valley Teacher of the Year” for her arts education work in the public schools. She also served as Education Director for Arizona Opera, where she developed the “Opera in a Box” school presentation. The program was awarded several state and local grants to bring a simple, fun opera introduction into classrooms around the Phoenix Metro area. Mary Jane is co-founder of the Muddy River Opera Company, for whom she wrote and was awarded a National Endowment Grant to bring opera to underserved schools in rural Illinois. The Muddy River Opera Company is still thriving in Central Illinois where its mission is to give emerging singers a chance to perform in fully staged productions as they develop their careers. Mary Jane has performed in opera, concert and musical theatre, is an adjunct voice teacher at Arizona Christian University and maintains a busy private voice studio. She has an MM in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan and a BM from the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music.

Classical Voice Judges


Jennifer Sheldon
Jennifer Song Sheldon, soprano was educated at Arizona State University and Carnegie-Mellon University, and has toured the United States singing and dancing, including national industrial tours, cruise ships, many theatres, and opera companies. She has appeared as a guest soloist in many orchestras around the nation. Most recently, she appeared as soprano soloist with the Phoenix Symphony, Grand Canyon University Orchestra and Scottsdale Philharmonic singing Christmas Concerts along with Beethoven’s Phantasia, many Pops concerts, and as a featured soloist in Haydn’s Creation, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Handel’s Messiah. She has been featured as the soprano soloist for an Ecumenical Concert series featuring Bob Chilcott’s Requiem, John Rutter’s Requiem and Gabriel Faure’s Requiem. She appeared as a guest conductor with the National Lutheran Choir, and has enjoyed conducting the orchestra for musicals at Valley Youth Theatre. Jennifer has served as judge and adjudicator for many vocal competitions in the valley, including NATS, Arizona Young Artists’ Competition at the Herberger Theater and the MCCCD Vocal Competition. A two-time winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition and a finalist in the McAllister Awards, Jennifer is also an artist-in-residence with OperAntics (formerly known as Operatunity). This troupe has performed internationally and educates audiences on the aspects of opera in an entertaining and informative way. They have performed with the Phoenix Symphony – Die Zauberflote and Help! Help! the Globolinks. Everybody shout Bravo, Brava, Bravi!!!

Andi Pitman Will
Dr. Andrea Pitman Will, soprano, holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in voice from Arizona State University, a master’s in voice from Northwestern University, and a bachelor’s in voice from Arizona State University. An active performer of opera, musical theatre, oratorio and concert work, her repertoire displays her versatility in a range of comic and dramatic roles. She has especially enjoyed the comedic characters of Norina (Don Pasquale) and Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), as well as both soprano roles in The Impresario (Mademoiselle Silberklang and Madame Goldentrille). Other favorite roles include: The Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), the title role in The Merry Widow, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, and Lucy Brown in The Threepenny Opera. Favorite concert work includes the soprano solos in Poulenc’s Gloria, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Handel’s Messiah. In musical theatre, favorite roles include Marian in The Music Man (which she received an ariZoni award nomination), Sister Sophia, and Mrs. Mops. Recent engagements include: “An Afternoon with Kern and Hammerstein”, and “Masterworks” featuring music of Leonard Bernstein. She has also performed in Arizona tours with Showtune Productions. Dr. Will joined the voice faculty of Arizona State University in 2016.

Jeffrey Strand
Jeffrey Strand appeared in 2021-2022 with Calgary Opera in La Traviata, Kromov in The Merry Widow, La thérière/La rainette in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Wilhelm Grimm in The Brothers Grimm, and covered Manrico at Opéra de Montréal. Jeffrey sang Norman Robertson in The Cipher Clerk, The Witch in Hansel & Gretel, the Tenor Soloist in The Yuletide Sessions, and Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors with Calgary Opera. Recent engagements include Don José with Mercury Opera, covering Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at Sarasota Opera and Manrico as a Bonfils-Stanton at Central City Opera, and recording excerpts of Rostam with Phoenix Opera. Jeffrey placed first in the Southwest Vocal Competition, sang at the Brott Opera Festival and performed Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte in Ottawa. He regularly performs oratorio and concert music, appeared as the Tenor Soloist in Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Gounod’s Messe solennelle de Sante-Cécile, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Mass in C, the Evangelist in St. John Passion, as the tenor soloist in Messa di Gloria, and in Handel’s Messiah with members of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Westchester Oratorio Society, Phoenix Opera Orchestra, the Canyon Symphony Orchestra, Chandler Symphony and others. Jeffrey is an Adjunct Professor of Voice at Grand Canyon University. www.JeffreyStrand.com


Katarzyna Honsberger
Katarzyna Honsberger (Lyric Soprano) has been amazing audiences on stages around the world since the age of 11. As a young performer from Krakow, Poland, she has performed in international music and dance festivals from Italy to Malaysia, and Mexico to Switzerland, and beyond. Holding a master’s degree in Vocal Performance from DePaul University, Katarzyna has performed in many notable Operas. As a Lyric soprano, her favorite leading roles have included Madame Glawari in The Merry Widow, and the Countess from The Marriage of Figaro. Katarzyna has a passion for pedagogy as well as performance and has used that passion to operate Kat’s Artist Tree Music, Dance, and Arts Academy since 2012 and has served over 1000 students since its inception. Katarzyna works with both professional and amateur singers and has become one of the Valley’s most sought-after vocal coaches. She has helped numerous students gain exposure, earn scholarships, and achieve success as singers. She has also directed annual Musical Theatre productions at Kat’s Artist Tree and 40 concerts, recitals, and showcases each season. In 2020 Katarzyna co-founded Triad Performing Arts of Arizona, a non-profit organization where she has directed numerous musical productions. She continues her passion for the Arts in Arizona through performing and teaching.


Judy Rollings

Judy Rollings, formerly the Director of the Herberger Theater’s Lunch Time Theater, retired after more than 20 years of being a member of the Herberger Theater staff. She is a founding member of Actors Theatre of Phoenix and served as the Artistic Director for over eight years. During her tenure, they won the Critics Circle Award for Innovative Programming – Brown Bag Theater and the Best Professional Theater Award. Judy is a recipient of awards that include Best Director of a Drama, AriZoni Lifetime Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theater, and the 2010 Actors’ Equity Association Theatre Service Award. She innovated and ran the successful STAGES actor training program. Current acting credits include: Spinning Into Butter, The Death Bite, her own one-woman show Starring Judy from Chicago, Light Up The Sky, Suocera, Over The River and Through the Woods, The Velocity of Autumn and Ripcord. Current directing credits include: Collected Stories, Sudz , Honor, Eleemosynary, The Road to Mecca, Nureyev’s Eyes, Doubt, Great Falls, And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little, The Herd, Trying, Rathmines Road, Exit Dust and The Children. Judy is a member of the Board of Directors of the Theatre Artists Studio. 


Mark Feary
Musical Theatre and Classical Voice 

Mark Fearey has worked with vocal and instrumental artists in Germany, Austria, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and throughout the Southwest. He is the Faculty Coach/Accompanist at Grand Canyon University where in addition to individual student coaching, he is the music director for their theatre productions and co-director of their choral program. He is the much-awarded Resident Music Director for Valley Youth Theatre, where he has conducted the AZ premiere of Matilda and Shrek, the Musical as well as Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Aida, CATS, Titanic, West Side Story, The Wiz, Newsies, and many more. In addition to serving as the Music Director for Abiding Savior Lutheran Church for 24 years he has spent seven seasons as Music Director for Quisisana Summer Music on the Lake program in Center Lovell, Maine and 14 years as the Music Director/Accompanist for the local opera education group OperaTunity. He was accompanist for the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, and accompanist and vocal coach for the D’Angelo Opera Theatre in Erie, PA. He has worked as a music director/vocal coach with pop singer Jordin Sparks, movie star Emma Stone, Disney star Chelsea Kane, Broadway artists Kimiko Glenn, Charity Dawson and Max Crumm, opera singer Amber Wagner, and country recording artist Chris Young, just to name a few. Mark earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from D’Angelo School of Music at Mercyhurst College and Master of Music in Piano Performance with an emphasis in Accompanying from Arizona State University. He is married to his wonderful wife, Tory, and they have a wonderful 16-year-old musician/daughter named Olivia. 


Amber Robins

Amber Robins is an Arizona native. She trained in classical ballet and musical theater throughout high school and at Glendale Community College where she helped create their first dance company, Physical Graffiti. After GCC, Amber received one of two in-state scholarships offered by ASU’s dance program and studied under Anne Ludwig, Xenia Christova, and Cliff Keuter before graduating with honors in 1996. Amber then danced as a principal dancer for Ballet South in Savannah, Georgia; performed at various casinos in Las Vegas; danced as a member of Scorpius Dance Theatre; and toured the western United States with her own choreography as well as the Elevate dance company. Amber’s main career, however, was with Center Dance Ensemble in Phoenix, AZ for 24 years. For Center Dance, Amber was a principal dancer who danced the roles such as, Anne Frank and the Snow Queen; was the company ballet mistress, guest choreographer, and Artistic Director after the passing of the company founder, Frances Smith Cohen. Currently Amber is teaching ballet at Mesa Community College, Creative Edge Dance, and Dance Theater West. She was chosen by the Phoenix New Times as one of Arizona’s top 100 Creatives, just earned her Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition, and recently became a member of the community engagement team at the Herberger Theater Center.