Our People

Open Dream Ensemble is comprised of professional dancers, actors, and musicians trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Combining their talents, they perform original, multidisciplinary works for youth with live music, dance, and drama that highlight the importance of learning, teamwork, determination, and the imagination.
 
  Rebecca
Nussbaum
Mollye
Maxner
Kelly
Maxner
Kashanna
Brown
William
Vann
Carlton
 
  Amber
Ferenz
Stephanie
Maus
Amanda
Rentschler
Karim
Sekou
Rose
Shields
 
  James
Stewart
Kate
Sutton-
Johnson
Haydee
Thompson
Colin
Tribby
Jennifer
O’Kelly
           



Rebecca Nussbaum

General Manager, lived in Japan as a girl and has lived all over the United States.  Trained as a flutist at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she enjoys playing chamber music and teaching flute and has played in a number of orchestras throughout the country.   Rebecca has worked with Open Dream Ensemble for almost four years and thanks the staff at the Kenan Institute for the Arts for all of their wonderful work on this project.  When not working or playing the flute, Rebecca loves spending time with her family.  She has a little boy with whom she loves to read, play with cars, go to the park, create music, and make pancakes.

  
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Mollye Maxner

Creative Director, was born in Massachusetts. When she was eight years old, she rode her green bicycle to her first dance class. At the age of fourteen, Mollye left her home to attend the North Carolina School of the Arts to study ballet and contemporary dance. After graduating, Mollye started her own physical theater company (Chimaera Physical Theater, named after the mythological beast) and has spent the last ten years traveling around the world performing and creating dances. She has spent the most time in Turkey, a country she loves so much she calls it her second home. Alongside her love of the arts, Mollye loves math, science, literature and history. She is particularly intrigued by quantum physics and the study of other cultures. Her favorite book is The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. Her love of academics inspired Mollye to go to Mount Holyoke College, from which she graduated summa cum laud. In the past few years, Mollye has found a way of life that integrates her loves of arts and academics: as a theater director and choreographer Mollye gets to research a multitude of subjects and then transform what she discovers into the art of live performance. When she is not working, Mollye enjoys hiking, kite flying and spending time with friends and family.


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Kelly Maxner

Script Writer and Choreographer, is a Director, Choreographer, and Performer who holds two BFA degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts. The first in Contemporary Dance, 94; and the second in Drama (Directing) 2000. He holds an MFA in Choreography from Smith College, 2005. He has been a guest artist/ instructor for the North Carolina School of the Arts, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Baypath College, Amherst College, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter High School, Mt. Holyoke College and Mimar Sinan University (Istanbul). Kelly is a founding member and co-artistic director of the Open Dream Ensemble, a North Carolina School of the Arts multidisciplinary alumnae company supported by the Kenan Institute for the Arts. As a freelance artist, Kelly has choreographed/directed for The Golden Mean Theatre (Los Angeles), Great Lakes Theatre festival, Dallas Theatre Center, One Arm Red (NYC), the Ankara State Opera and Ballet’s Modern Dance Turkey, Dans Fabrikasi (Istanbul), Pioneer Valley Ballet, East Street Youth Ballet, Serious Play Theater Ensemble, The Little Theater (Winston-Salem) and for the Theater Alliance (Washington DC). He is a two-time Helen Hayes Award Nominee, both for his choreographic work on plays at the Theater Alliance. Mr. Maxner is also the Co-Artistic Director of Chimaera Physical Theater. As the co-artistic director of Chimaera Physical Theater, he has produced performances internationally and across America. Mr. Maxner is honored to join the faculty of the North Carolinas School of the Arts as the new Director of the High School drama program. He is thrilled to be able to dedicate his passion and creativity to the faculty and students who have given him so much.


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Kashanna Brown

Performer, loves to dance and considers herself a dancing machine. She is full of curiosity and enjoys exploring movement and using her imagination to create new and exciting steps. One of her favorite steps is called “The Monkey”. Kashanna’s favorite things are the color pink, dancing, singing, and playing with her dog Bella. When she is not creating new dances she also enjoys watching the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven and High School Musical. This is Kashanna’s third season with Open Dream Ensemble.


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William Vann Carlton

Production Manager, enjoys all types of music, volleyball, soccer, camping, cooking, and having a good time with his friends and family. He also loves animals and cannot wait to get a new puppy! When he is not having fun and goofing off, he works as an Actor’s Equity Association Stage Manager, Theatrical Carpenter, and Stage Hand. William received his BFA in Theatre Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1996.


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Amber Ferenz

Performer, is a musician specializing in bassoon and viola, a composer, artist and writer.  When she's not making stuff up, she is often found gardening, inventing interesting recipes, and cooking for her family, made up of two large silly dogs, two colorful parrots, a crazy cat, and two other wonderful people.   She teaches bassoon and freelances with orchestras all over North Carolina and Virginia.  Trained in traditional classical music at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she expanded her repertoire while in California to include specializations in new and world music, which resulted in giving performances as diverse as bassoon soloist with a Javanese gamelan, faculty recitals at CalPoly San Luis Obispo, and as a chamber musician with Los Angeles-based inauthentica.   Her studio credits include Spongebob Squarepants' soundtrack Best Day Ever.


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Stephanie Maus

Costume Designer, just graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts with her MFA in costume design. She fell in love with clothes in 6th grade when she always wore shirts in fluorescent colors – yellow, green, and orange. This earned her the nickname “Light Bulb.” Since then Stephanie has become more interested in dressing up other people, but still loves Halloween and theme parties. Stephanie has built hats for Chautauqua Opera and velvet slippers for Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and she has designed costumes for Theatre in the Park in Raleigh, NC and The Invisible Theatre in Tucson, AZ. When she’s not transforming people into Chinese dancers and crickets, she enjoys riding her bicycle to get ice cream and playing with her kitty, Moxie Brown.


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Amanda Rentschler

Performer, grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and started arts school in the third grade. She realized she wasn’t a very good visual artist when she failed pottery class by making a plate when she was supposed to make a pot! In fifth grade she took part in her school’s television news crew and learned that acting was a lot easier for her! She worked with the Children’s Theater of Charlotte and was cast as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the mouse Lily in Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse, and had some minor roles in Oliver, Scrooge the Musical, and many other plays. She was also a member of the theater’s ensemble group. She worked with the Charlotte Reparatory Theater on Richard the Third and the Tempest and worked with smaller theater companies around the area as well. Amanda’s favorite part of acting is getting to dress up in all the costumes and put on all the makeup! She just recently graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts for dance and hopes to keep dancing and acting as long as she can. She also enjoys reading books, writing stories, and riding her bike. Amanda has two cats named Miri and Mola who love to be petted and to sit outside in the sun. Amanda would like to thank her parents for being so supportive of every performance she’s ever had and opening the doors for all of her opportunities. Amanda’s favorite words are muffin and see-saw.


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Karim Sekou

Performer, is pleased to be returning to ODE. Based out of New York City he is an actor / singer / dancer that is stepping back into the dream of performing. Most recently he could be seen working in the New York City public school system bringing school children the discipline, focus, and joy of theatre. Thanks for all the lessons they taught me.


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Rose Shields

Performer, began dancing at the age of 3 and spent her early years training at the Duluth School of Ballet. She twinkled her toes continuously learning all kinds of dancing: ballet, modern, jazz, character, flamenco, and African. Her favorite color is purple and her best furry friend is a little black cat named Lucy. Rose grew up with 3 siblings, 2 brothers and 1 sister, with whom she shares many funny childhood stories. She loves fresh strawberries and running around outdoors finding things to climb, choreograph, or dance on. She has learned many styles of modern dance while at North Carolina School of the Arts where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She also had the opportunity to perform works by Sean Sullivan, Diane Markham, Brenda Daniels, Camille Brown, Sarah Skaggs, and José Limón. Now a part of the Open Dream Ensemble, she continues to follow her dream of giving a voice to the arts through dance and performance.


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James Stewart

Performer, is a composer, minister, and graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts. His musical development began at the age of four when he started taking piano lessons from his grandmother. Even at this age James seemed more interested in the music that was going on in his head then the music that came from his fingers. When James was ten, he began studying the alto saxophone in school. Again, he excelled in creating new music and getting other students involved. At thirteen, James began studying music theory on his own and writing songs based on the knowledge he was gaining. At fifteen he took the position of interim music minister of Temple Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana. He continues to be heavily involved in church music leadership. As a senior in high school, James wrote the piece Sacrifice for his school band to perform. It was the success of this piece that drove him to study music composition in college. In 2001 he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Toccoa Falls College in Northeast Georgia and received the senior music award. After college, James has traveled around the country and world with the musical group Carpenter’s Tools International. In June, 2007 he completed his studies with Dr. Lawrence Dillon at the North Carolina School of the Arts where he received a Master’s of Music degree in the area of composition. His goal is to bring his life experiences and imagination to others through the music that he creates.


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Kate Sutton-Johnson

Set Designer, grew up in Richmond, Virginia and then went to college at the North Carolina School of the Arts to study set design. When she graduated, she was offered a job at a big theatre called the Guthrie, which is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kate worked there for two seasons as a prop manager and then began to freelance in Minneapolis and around the country as a set designer. Some of the theatres she’s designed for include Mixed Blood Theatre, History Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Florida Stage, Weston Playhouse, Guthrie Theater, Park Square, and many more. Recently, Kate designed Strega Nona based on the children’s book series by Tomie dePaola and High School Musical based on the popular Disney Channel movie. Kate has found that living in Minnesota is a lot different than Virginia or North Carolina. It gets really, really, really cold; sometimes it actually gets to be 30 degrees below zero! It also snows a lot! Kate doesn’t mind the weather because it makes life a cool adventure. When she isn’t designing or painting, Kate loves to read books, cook new recipes, or watch old episodes of Hawaii Five-0. She’d like to recognize her awesome parents for all their help and support; her mentors Baugher, Buddy, and Howard; and the love of her life, Grant, for making the day-to-day stuff the most special part of life.


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Haydee Thompson

Performer, is thrilled to be a member of this season’s Open Dream Ensemble. Since graduating from the School of Drama at the North Carolina School of the Arts, it has always been a "dream" of Haydee's to bring performance art to the wild and magical imaginations of kids everywhere. Haydee currently lives at the "Werehouse", an artist collective and performance space in Winston-Salem NC, that hosts theatrical and musical performances, by national acts, year round. In 2003 she and her roommates toured the country on a big bus that actually ran on used French fry oil! Before living in Winston-Salem, Haydee called New York City home and she spent many years as a nanny and a personal assistant to the stars. Haydee has fun playing music and singing for her band All Astronauts and has a CD out on Look Alive Records. Her friends will tell you she sings everywhere, while doing her chores, going on walks, or especially in the bathroom where she thinks she sound the best! Her favorite place to sing, however, is on stage and she has been in an enormous amount of plays and musicals over the years. A few of which include Annie, Gypsy, Showboat, and a nine month Broadway National Tour of Guys & Dolls. When she's not performing Haydee spends her time painting pictures of her friends and of her little cat Lily. She also loves visiting her family in England and someday wishes to move there.


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Colin Tribby

Performer, is thrilled to be entering his third season as a percussionist, actor, composer and singer with the Open Dream Ensemble. When he’s not foiling the plans of Starship Mathematica as the evil King Epsilon, Colin likes to play the Rugrats theme on his marimba while eating all of his vegetables. If that wasn’t enough, he’s been known to eat the heads off of live marshmallows! His hobbies include, playing in rock bands, jogging, bird watching, cooking, eating and swimming in the ocean. In addition to remaining active as an orchestral, jazz and rock performer, his compositions and arrangements have been featured in such films as The Rough South of Larry Brown, written and directed by Emmy Award-winning director Gary Hawkins and the documentary Gatewood: Facing the White Canvas, produced and directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker David Kasper. He has performed on a diverse variety of international stages ranging from Carnegie Hall to CBGB’s, including performances under the batons of Leonard Bernstein, Walter Hendl and Karel Husa. He has also performed with jazz greats such as Lew Tabackin, Bob Shepard, Bruce Foreman and Avishai Cohen.


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Jennifer Wynn O’Kelly

Lighting Design, delights in the collaborative telling of a great tale whether it be through lighting, scenic, or production design. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, she began the informal study of the visual arts at an early age from both her artist parents. By the age of ten, Jennifer was working as an usher at Casa Manana, FortWorth’s famed musical theatre-in-the-round, learning the ins and outs of four dimensional narrative. From that summer on she volunteered in the theatre at every opportunity, apprenticing herself to professional designers and working at a dance studio in exchange for classes. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Sculpture at the University of Texas at Arlington and a Master of Fine Arts in Scenic Design at the North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Design and Production. After earning her MFA, she began designing and painting up and down the east coast. Her lighting and scenery design and painting serve a number of performing arts organizations in North Carolina. She has studied and participated in all aspects of the visual and performing arts, including formal training in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture, lighting and scenic design, scenic art for film and theater, furniture design and construction, computer animation, and ballet technique and modern dance performance. It is this diverse focus that gives Jennifer the tools to explore new avenues of visual expression. Open Dream provides an excellent opportunity to continue pursuing this dream.


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