John Vander Ghenyst – Music Director: John is a performer, composer, and conductor in many genres of music. Music theater credits/collaborations include 8 years of ZTP, TexArts, Half and Half Productions, Broadway Austin, and 2nd Youth Theater. As a performer, he as played with a variety of artists including Kenny Garrett, Frank Sinatra Jr., Mike Stern, Delfeayo Marsailis, The Temptations, Mary Wilson, My Brother’s Keeper, Jerry Lewis, The Creative Opportunity Orchestra, and numerous symphony orchestras including the Austin, Abilene, and Brazos Valley Symphonies. He is in continual demand as a freelance studio and live performance musician in classical, jazz, and musical theater genres. He has played in or music directed over 75 different musicals including the Broadway touring productions of Little Shop of Horrors and The Producers. As a composer, John has been commissioned to compose for a variety of genres including jazz orchestra, chamber ensemble, gospel groups, theater productions, brass quintet, and wind ensemble. His ‘Day Suite’, originally written for the University of Texas Jazz Orchestra, won the Downbeat Award for Best Extended Work for Jazz Ensemble. In 2012 and 2013, John received the B. Iden Payne award for Outstanding Musical Direction for his work on ZTP’s production of The Sound of Music and Little Shop of Horrors. John and his wife Leslie are expecting a brand new baby girl in mid-May that will be just old enough by summer to experience the Hillside! In addition to the new young lady, John and Leslie have three boxers which until now have served as children. John is especially excited to have Adam working on the team this year, as he brings great experience and CHOPS to the production.
Adam Roberts – Associate Music Director: Adam has served as artistic director, musical director or choreographer for a wide range of companies, productions and initiatives, with choreography credits including two European concert tours. His students have appeared in principal roles on Broadway, off-Broadway and in regional theatre, been nominated for the Tony Award, and appeared in film, national tours, and on network television. Austin-area credits include productions and/or faculty positions with the Austin Jewish Repertory Theater (Artistic Director), TILT Performance Group (Co-Artistic Director), The Final Acts Project (Artistic Director), Austin Conservatory of Theater (Director), Austin Shakespeare, Ballet Austin Academy, The Long Center for the Performing Arts, The Paramount Theatre, Summer Stock Austin, The State Theatre School of Acting, Texas Arts Project, ZACH Theatre, and other entities producing and educational. In addition to his role as musical director of Music Theatre Online and Libretto with the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, he is a contributing writer and arts critic for theAustin Chronicle. Adam currently serves Austin’s St. Luke United Methodist Church as musical director. He holds a Master’s degree in Music and College Teaching Certificate from the Florida State University and received undergraduate degrees from Kent State University and Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music. In 2014, Adam received the B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Musical Direction in recognition of Austin Jewish Repertory Theater & Trinity Street Players’ co-production of Fiddler on the Roof.
KAREN OLSON & DAVID PONTON, CHOREOGRAPHERS: Karen Olson & David Ponton have been a part of the ZTP family for over 12 years, both performing, fundraising, volunteering, and serving on the Board of Directors & we are thrilled that they will be co-choreographers for Hairspray!
Karen Olson has been performing and choreographing in Austin theatre for over 20 years. She has a BA in Dance from Texas Woman’s University, and has taught and choreographed at private dance studios and at Southwestern University. Karen has performed in 9 Zilker Summer Musicals, serving as Dance Captain for 2 productions, and has also performed at Zach Theatre, Austin Playhouse, Lago Vista, Second Youth Family Theater and Texas Woman’s University.
David Ponton joined the Austin theatre community in 1995 as a founding company member of Austin Musical Theatre. He has produced, directed, choreographed, and/or performed in over 50 Regional productions, has served on the Zilker Theatre Productions Board of Directors, and is a founding company member of Doctuh Mistuh Productions. David’s 20 years of performance experience include 6 Zilker Summer Musicals, serving as Dance Captain for 4 productions, and performing with other Austin theatrical venues including Zach Theatre, Doctuh Mistuh, TexArts, Austin Musical Theater, Arts on Real, & St Edward’s University.
ROBERT TOLARO, DIRECTOR: A director, actor and stage manager, Robert Tolaro holds an MFA in Theatre from Trinity University in San Antonio, was co-founder under of the Callier Theatre of the Deaf in Dallas, and Artistic Director of the Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf at the Cleveland Play House in Ohio. A freelance director, his productions include Love, Loss and What I Wore, The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia, The Hasty Heart, A Number, Lettice and Lovage, and a variety of Shakespeare productions for the Austin Shakespeare Festival, the San Antonio Shakespeare Festival, and the Cleveland Public Theatre in Ohio. Robert was selected as a national finalist for the TCG/NEA Directing Fellowships, and is a recipient of a regional Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Special Programming” for his signed and voiced production of Moliere’s The Miser, which aired on national PBS stations. Robert has served as Equity Production Stage Manager for national tours of The Foreigner, Greater Tuna, The Fantasticks, Menopause the Musical, Red, White and Tuna, Tuna Does Vegas and A Tuna Christmas which included a Broadway run at the Booth Theatre. Robert also did a six month engagement at Lincoln Center Theatre on Broadway stage managing ANN, starring Emmy Award winner and Tony nominated Holland Taylor from Two and a Half Men fame and has stage managed such dignitaries as Walter Cronkite, Bob Shieffer, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Nancy Dussault, Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Tune, Betty Buckley and Carol Burnett. He has been a member of Actors Equity Association for 28 years.