Staff

Karen Braunstein
Karen Braunstein

Ms. Braunstein is thrilled to be, at long last, creating a theatre program for children in the heart of Wellington. Her vision for the WCT, is to become a fixture in the community, an outlet for self-expression, and a school in which, through proper training and self-esteem building, talented children can truly soar.

Born and raised in the New York metropolitan area, Ms.Braunstein’s life has been steeped in both the creative and performing arts. She began piano lessons at age 8, ballet at age 10 and vocal lessons at age 13. Attending five years of summer camp at the Usdan Centre for the Arts, on Long Island, was a life-changing experience for Ms. Braunstein, setting her on the path to a career in performance.

Ms.Braunstein studied for two years at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division and continued studies as an opera major at Jacksonville University, also taking courses in theatre and modern dance and beginning her career professional singing career. She completed her undergraduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, earning a Bachelor of Music in Voice, and continued to hone her operatic and theatrical skills with the Newton Opera Workshop program. During that time, the Klezmer (Yiddish jazz and folk music) renaissance was taking off in Boston and Ms. Braunstein, together with a few classmates, formed the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, and “fronted” the band as the vocalist. In 1984, Ms. Braunstein decided to pursue her Master’s Degree and train as a cantor, so she returned to New York and, in 1988, received her Master’s of Sacred Music from Hebrew Union College. That summer, she toured Israel with a group of nine cantors, performing throughout the country. In 1994, she co-wrote and starred in the show “A Klezmer Story”, which was produced in the Catskills at the Sullivan County Theatre, and continued performing with her new Klezmer band, KlezMechaye!, in the Philadelphia area.

While serving as cantor in various synagogues in the Northeast, Ms. Braunstein continued concertizing and began to direct musical theatre productions and revues with her religious school students. Drawing from her operatic background and passion for Broadway and musical theatre, she was the musical theatre director at the Cedar Lake camp in Milford, PA and was a director, vocal coach and vocal ensemble director at French Woods Performing Arts Camp. During her nine and a half years as the cantor of Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach, Ms. Braunstein directed and produced many shows and revues, including her own comedic parodies, working with casts of adults as well as children. For the past three summers, she has been the program director and artist-in-residence for the Circle Lodge in upstate New York, performing concerts of Jewish and Broadway repertoire and leading classes in theatre games, short scenes and comedic one-act plays.Ms. Braunstein currently teaches private vocal and piano lessons, teaches at Temple Emanuel of Palm Beach, serves as the cantor of Congregation Bet Chaim in Casselberry, Florida and performs locally as well as in the New York area. Her son is in his Junior year at Marymount Manhattan College, where he is majoring in theatre and her daughter is a sophomore at Wellington High, where she is involved in dance and concert choir. Her dogs’ favorite show is “Les Miserables”! In addition to her involvement in music and the arts, Ms. Braunstein loves to cook and bake healthy, vegetarian cuisine and is an advocate both for animals and the environment

Bever;y Blanchette

Beverly Blanchette

Beverly Blanchette recently retired as the Dean of Theatre of the AW Dreyfoos School of Arts after a 35-year career as a theatre arts educator. During these years, she was distinguished with many accolades including: the Randolph Frank Prize for Performing Arts Educator, the Florida Theatre Conference Distinguished Career Award, the Florida Association for Theatre Education Outstanding Arts Educator Award , the Florida State Thespian Sponsor of the Year Award , and an induction into the Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame . An advocate for arts education, she is a past president and current Executive Board Member of FATE (Florida Association for Theatre Education). Most notably, Blanchette just completed a Juilliard School (New York) Directing Fellowship and a Globe Theatre (London) Shakespeare-Directing Program .

Blanchette has directed over 100 plays/musicals, many of which were awarded/showcased at the Florida State Thespian Festival, the Florida Theatre Conference, the International Thespian Festival, and the Edinburgh/Scotland Fringe Festival. Her students received many Critics’ Choice Awards in all areas of performance and design at both district and state Thespian Festivals. She chartered four Thespian Troupes in the state!

She holds a BA from FSU’s School of Theatre and an MFA in Acting/Directing from FAU where she studied with Zoe Caldwell. Whenever time permits, she enjoys performing on stage (last seen in So My Grandmother Died, Blah, Blah, Blah… at Mad Cat Theatre Company, A Doll’s House at Palm Beach Dramaworks, and Talk Radio at Mosaic Theater) and on television (look for her in an Ab-Wave Infomercial!). She is currently starting another career as an audio-book narrator!She is most proud of the achievements of her former students who are working in all realms of theatre/film/television/videos as actors, directors, producers, writers, designers, technicians, and educators.


 

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Michelle Santiago

Michelle is talented singer/actor, who is a recent graduate of the Palm Beach Atlantic University theatre department.  She is currently teaching children and doing special programming at Christ Fellowship Church.

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Alex Offenkrantz is our guest Magician and theatre instructor. A graduate of the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, he is currently in his Junior year in the BFA theatre program at Marymount Manhattan College. Alex attended Northwestern University’s summer theatre Cherub program.   In addition to a full resume of roles in musical and dramatic theatre, Alex has been performing magic professionally since the age of eight.  He is a master of close-up magic, and performs at parties and cooperate events. Alex has taught magic to children in summer camp programs in Florida and New York, as well as at schools in New York City.