Workshop Leaders & Audition Staff
Lenora Thom (Music Director) is a conductor, pianist, organist, arranger and teacher who moved from New York City to Asheville in 1998. She then commuted to New York for four years, maintaining careers in both areas until settling full-time in Asheville in 2002.
Ms. Thom served as Music Director of the Asheville Choral Society from 2000-2010, and as Director of Music at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville from 2003-2013. Lenora has also worked with many of Asheville’s leading musical groups, serving as Assistant Conductor for the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Musical and Vocal Director for the Flat Rock Playhouse, Chorus Master for the Asheville Lyric Opera, and Music Director for the Asheville Community Theatre.
Lenora is a frequent guest conductor and musical director for choral, orchestral, and theatre groups. She maintains a busy vocal, piano and conducting studio and finds time for musical arranging and for recital and cabaret work as well.
For over 20 years, Ms. Thom was in great demand in the New York City area, where she held positions as Music Director and Conductor of the New Jersey Choral Society and Orchestra, of the Kean (NJ) Chamber Symphony and of the Riverdale (NY) Chamber Orchestra. Maestra Thom founded the Riverdale Chamber Orchestra and served as its Music Director/Conductor from 1985-1992. She has conducted over 100 musical theatre productions for off-Broadway, regional, summer stock, and university theatres.
An award-winning pianist, Lenora has performed in recital, cabaret, and chamber music concerts throughout the Northeast, and continues to do so in WNC. From 1980-1995, she was the studio accompanist and coach in several leading voice studios in New York City, accompanying and teaching thousands of singers in all genres of opera, art song, musical theatre and popular music. Ms. Thom served on the music faculties of William Paterson University (NJ) and the Fieldston School (NY) from 1984-1993.
Lenora’s professional music career began when she was appointed Assistant Organist at her home church in Maryland at the age of 10. From 1970-1998, before moving to Asheville, Ms. Thom held numerous and continuous Director of Music/Organist positions at churches and synagogues in Maryland, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey; she is well versed in Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist and Reform Judaism traditions.
Ms. Thom studied at Juilliard, the Hartt School of Music, Trinity College, and the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors.
Andrew Gall (Workshop Leader) is the Artistic Director of Parkway Playhouse, in Western North Carolina. He has directed plays across a broad spectrum of styles and genres. Under his decade leadership Parkway Playhouse has experienced dramatic expansion and is one of the most active arts organizations in the region. In addition to his work with Parkway Playhouse, Mr. Gall is has worked as an actor, designer, and playwright across the country. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Southeastern Theatre Conference and is a past president of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. He is married to performer/choreographer Mary Katherine Smith-Gall, and is the father of three children, Dryden, Beckett, and Hunter.
Jeff Catanese – Artistic Director, Attic Salt Theatre Company (Workshop Leader)
Jeff is a successful director, writer and actor and has directed several productions in New York and regionally. Plays he’s written have been performed all around New York including at the Duffy Theatre, Chicago City Limits and Pulse Ensemble Theatre. Jeff is co-author with Marci Bernstein of three drama/education books, published by Scholastic. He teaches both acting and improvisation to people of all ages. Recent plays Jeff has directed here in Asheville are the highly-praised production of Spamalot at Asheville Community Theatre, Romeo & Juliet at the Asheville Masonic Temple, ‘Night, Mother in ACT’s 35below and Attic Salt Theatre Company’s All in the Timing, Women & Wallace and the much-acclaimed God of Carnage. He will be directing the upcoming production of The Underpants at NC Stage.
Marci Bernstein – Executive Director, Attic Salt Theatre Company (Workshop Leader)
Marci brings her background in education and theater to Attic Salt after many years of working as an actor, musician and teacher in New York City. She has spent many years in the classroom developing programs that balance education basics with the arts. She’s co-authored three books for Scholastic, Inc. with Jeff Catanese and has directed youth productions of Jungle Book, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and the upcoming Suessical, Jr.
Kristi DeVille (Dance Choreographer), a native of southern Louisiana, received her BA in Theatre from Louisiana State University. Since then, Kristi has lived and worked in London, Atlanta, Portland (ME), and Asheville as a director, choreographer, actor, and fire performer. For Montford Park Players, she has directed Lysistrata, choreographed dances in Comedy of Errors, Double Falsehood, Romeo and Juliet, Christmas Carol, and As You Like It, among many others and was seen on stage as the Courtesan in Comedy of Errors and Violante in Double Falsehood. She serves as the Resident Choreographer for the Montford Park Players and has been the Dance Choreographer for the WNC Unified Auditions since 2014.
John Russell (Chair and Registrar) is Managing Director and CEO of the Montford Park Players, North Carolina’s longest running Shakespeare Festival. Now completing his tenth year leading MPP, he has spent most of his 30-year career in nonprofit management, with a focus on the arts. He holds the Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University and has taught in the Nonprofit Management Program. He attended the Governor’s School of North Carolina in 1970 and now serves on the board of directors of the NC Governor’s School Foundation. Mr. Russell has led seminars in strategic planning for a number of organizations. He is an active member in the Institute of Outdoor Theatre, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau (where he served a term as chair of the Marketing Committee), The National Speech and Debate Association, and the WNC Theatre League, where he has served as Chair and Registrar of the WNC Unified Auditions since 2008.