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
Robert
Lufty
Michaela
Morton
Kendra
Peine Weeks
Stephen
Davis
Scott C.
Garey
Kenneth
Florence
Bruce
Tippette
Ted
Oliver
Sophia Joan
Horsley
Julianne
Harper
Cameron
MacManus
Kristin
Schwecke
Haydee
Thompson
Ali Bill Wiley
Basho Gorn
Marissa
Byers
Chesley
Polk



Rebecca Nussbaum

General Manager and Artistic Producer. A flutist by training, Rebecca Nussbaum is also an administrator, artistic producer, and educator. In 2004, Rebecca was able to bring her love of performance and education together through researching, designing and developing the Open Dream Ensemble (ODE). In her capacity as ODE General Manager, Rebecca has guided six original musical theater works from inception to performance, overseen the production of the first web series for children, developed and led teaching artist training, and managed the scheduling, planning, and implementation of over 25 artist residencies throughout North Carolina. Rebecca is also a Fellow for the A+ Schools Program, a role she has filled since 2008. In addition to her work with ODE and A+, Rebecca is a teaching artist, an award-winning member of Toastmaster’s, a chamber music coach and flute teacher. She has been a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Opera Festival of New Jersey and the Amarillo Symphony. Rebecca has performed solo and chamber music recitals in a variety of venues including the Japanese Embassy, the Arts Club of D.C. and the Banff Centre for the Arts. In 2002, the ensemble Origins, which she co-founded, won the National Flute Association Chamber Music Competition. She performs on the 2010 Bridge Records release of Lawrence Dillon’s Appendage and Other Stories.

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Robert Lutfy

Robert Lutfy, director, is the 2012-13 William R. Kenan, Jr. Directing Fellow at The John F. Kennedy Center. During the fellowship he assisted directors at Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Folger Theatre and the Kennedy Center. Some directing credits include:  Clown Play, NYC International Fringe Festival; The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Threshold Repertory; The Sunset Limited, 3M Productions; Time Stands Still, Collaborative Arts; and Two Buildings One Heart, Burning Coal Theatre. He has workshopped plays in development at the Kennedy Center, The O’Neill Theatre Center, Burning Coal Theatre, The Hub Theatre, The Rensing Center and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (line producer). He founded A Step Ahead, a young actor training program in Charlotte, NC. He has assisted many directors including: Michael Kahn, Lisa Peterson, David Muse, Gerald Freedman, Sarah Benson, Liesl Tommy, Aaron Posner, John Langs, Johanna Gruenhut, and Ryan Rilette. He is a graduate of the directing program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts school of Drama.

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Michaela Morton

Michaela Morton is a playwright from Winston-Salem, NC. She graduated cum laude from Williams College with a degree in French and English literature, and has studied acting at the O'Neill Theater Center's National Theater Institute, the UNC School of the Arts, NC Governor’s School, and Cours Cochet in Paris, France. She has played lead roles from Viola in Twelfth Night to Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, and was the soloist for the world premiere of Dan Kohane and Collin Killick's Me and the Devil: A Blues Oratorio. In 2010, she created and performed her own solo piece, Every Right and Wrong Way Home, for the DialogueOne Solo Festival, and acted as director’s assistant for Alison Chase Performance’s Q2: Quarryography.  A two-time honorable mention for the Bullock Prize of the American Academy of Poets, Michaela also wrote several children's books before Big Shoes, her first children's play. Currently, she is the editorial assistant for The Mercurian, a theatrical translation review, and is finishing her own translation of Alfred de Musset’s On ne badine pas avec l’amour (You Don’t Play Around With Love). You can find her swing dancing on Saturday nights and baking sweet potatoes at 6AM.

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Kendra Peine Weeks

Kendra Peine Weeks is a Costume Design MFA candidate at UNCSA. She has been designing and constructing costumes for film and theatre for the last 8 years. In the past few years Kendra has designed shows for Peppercorn Children's Theatre in Winston Salem and the Birmingham Children's Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama. This is Kendra's first show with the Open Dream Ensemble and one of the most exciting projects to date. 

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Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis, set and props designer, is originally from “The Big Easy”, New Orleans. He established his love for theatre when he was cast as Gregory Gardner in a middle school production of A Chorus Line. Stephen began developing interest in scene design in 8th grade upon learning about the Florida State Junior Thespian Society. Stephen has won Regional and State Critic’s Choice Awards as well as District Rep. titles several times at Florida State Senior Thespians. He is currently pursuing a BFA in Scenic Design at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. (UNCSA) His professional design credits include, Anything Goes, Cinderella, Starmites, Cabaret, The Jungle Book, and A Wild Party at Next Stop Broadway! in South Florida. His design credits at UNCSA include Brilliant Traces, Defiance, and A Lie of the Mind. Stephen is excited to be apart of the premiere of Big Shoes and is enthusiastic about spreading knowledge and inspiration to children through Open Dream Ensemble.
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Scott C. Garey

The field of entertainment technology has been a passion for the majority of Scott C. Garey’s life.  Starting his carrier at the young age of 11 with the Santa Barbara City College Theatre Group, he solidified his carrier path with a Bachelor of Arts in Production Technology and Management from the University of California at Santa Cruz.  Since then Mr. Garey has served in a wealth of roles including being Stage Lighting as Special Effects Technician for Walt Disney Cruse Lines and Head Electrician for the newly renovated Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts Granada Theatre.  Currently Mr. Garey is working to further expand his knowledge and experience in his field by pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Technical Direction from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

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Kenneth Florence

Kenneth Florence is a composer, guitarist, and current student of composition at UNCSA.  Before deciding to continue his education, Kenneth spent several years as a touring and recording artist for several indie rock bands, most notably North Carolina's own Annuals.  He has been signed to numerous record labels including Sony/BMG/Columbia and has performed around the United States and the World in countries as diverse as Iceland, the UK, and Spain.  In 2007 and in 2008, he appeared with Annuals on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.  In 2010, having decided to focus his attention on composition, Florence enrolled at UNCSA to study under Dr. Lawrence Dillon.  Kenneth lives in Winston-Salem and teaches private guitar lessons in the triad and triangle areas.  In his spare time, he also enjoys studying mathematics, physics, and philosophy."  

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Bruce Tippette

Bruce Tippette is an active composer, performer, and educator. He has composed a large volume of works in various styles, instrumentation, and difficulty. He actively receives commissions, including Christmas Night by the Raleigh Boychoir in 2008. His work Unconquered for orchestra won the “2012 Mary Starling Composition Competition” and received four subsequent performances by the Winston-Salem Symphony. Alfred Publishing, BRS Music, and Brass Chamber Music Press currently publish Tippette’s compositions.

Tippette is currently studying to earn his Master’s degree in Music Composition from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the direction of composer Lawrence Dillon. He earned his Bachelor’s of Music in both Music Composition/Theory and Music Education from Appalachian State University in 2007, graduating Magna Cum Laude. As an educator, he gives weekly piano and voice lessons to a growing studio. He is the pianist for Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, NC.

Bruce Tippette was born in Garner, North Carolina and currently lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with his wife, Elizabeth.

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Ted Oliver

Ted Oliver is a composer from Raleigh, North Carolina.  He graduated from UNCSA in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in music composition, and he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Kansas.  His music has been performed by such ensembles as the Southeast Chamber Brass, the Winston-Salem symphony, and the Triangle Youth Brass Band, and it has been received by audiences ranging from the fifth graders of Winston-Salem, NC, to the attendees of the 2012 International Trumpet Guild conference.  He has also written music for corporate videos, educational videos, and short films.  When Ted isn’t busy composing, you can find him in his room writing songs and creating electronic music.

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Sophia Joan Horsley

Sophia Joan Horsley, scenic Painter, is excited to join Open Dream for the first time as the scenic painter for the Topsy Turvy scene. She is a rising fourth year scene painting candidate at the University of North Carolina School for the Arts.

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Julianne Harper

Julianne Harper was born and raised in Garland, Texas. At the age of four she began her training in tap dance and continued to study the dance form intensively until high school. She attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas where she was introduced to modern dance. Julianne continued her training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she graduated with a BFA in contemporary dance in 2005. Upon graduation she joined the premiere season of the Open Dream Ensemble. Julianne also co-directed Clap If You're Confused, a multimedia experience performed in sitespecific venues across North Carolina & California.

Ms. Harper has performed throughout the nation, including Lincoln Center, the Supperclub, and various parts of Los Angeles as a street performer. She has had the honor of dancing with Gregory Hines and tapping for the premiere of his film Bojangles, as well as being selected for the casting bank of STOMP and Cirque du Soleil. Julianne also added drumming to her list of skills and has co-founded Big Happy Boot Camp with her fiance; BHBC is a rock-n-roll camp for children that teaches them how to write and record songs as a band. Ms. Harper currently teaches and performs with The Children's Theatre of Winston Salem and Dancing Classrooms, a program that uses a curriculum-based teaching approach to achieve social awareness and build self-esteem through ballroom dance. She also choreographs for the Durham based theatre company Haymaker, which is in pre-production for their 2013 premiere of Elektra. Julianne looks forward to her fourth season in The Open Dream Ensemble as a teacher, performer, and for the first time the production's choreographer.


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Cameron MacManus

Cameron MacManus is a trombonist, composer, and bandleader who has called Winston-Salem, NC home since 2009. Prior to moving to North Carolina, Cameron lived in the NYC metro area, where he gigged and recorded in genres as diverse as hip hop, gospel, jazz, and salsa. He can be heard on recordings by indie songwriter Nellie McKay and jazz legends Clark Terry and Louis Bellson, among others.

Cameron attended UNCSA as a Post-Graduate Performance Certificate candidate and graduated in 2011 after studying trombone with both James Miller of the LA Philharmonic and James Ilika of the North Carolina Symphony. Since graduation, Cameron has founded the Piedmont Jazz Composers? Collective, a small jazz ensemble dedicated to the exploration of new compositions, and is the co-music director of the newly formed Camel City Jazz Orchestra, a large jazz ensemble dedicated to introducing a diverse spectrum of new and old big band music to audiences young and old alike around the triad. Cameron also serves as a soldier-musician in the Army National Guard 440th Band. A few mornings a week, he can also be found volunteering in Winston-Salem?s science and nature educational facility ?SciWorks?, where he cares for the donkeys, cows, goats, and miniature horse to keep in touch with his rural Tennessee roots. You can learn more about Cameron?s many faceted musical life at cameronmacmanus.com.

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Kristin Schwecke

Kristin Schwecke, soprano, has performed opera roles throughout the United States including the title role in Puccini’s La Rondine, Mrs. Coyle in Britten’s Owen Wingrave, Alice Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Abigail in Ward’s The Crucible. As a Young Artist at the Crested Butte Music Festival, Kristin has performed scenes from Tosca as Tosca, Marguerite in Faust and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus as well as playing Mimi in the concert version of La Boheme.
Awards include placing 2nd in the Rosen-Schaffel Young Artist Competition, being named the 2010 District winner from Wisconsin and receiving the Encouragement Award at the Regional level from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Kristin also placed first with the Elgin Opera Annual Vocal Competition and was awarded 5thplce in Czech and Slovak International Singing Competition in 2009.
Kristin earned her Performing Artist Certificate from the AJ Fletcher Opera Institute of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Music. She holds a graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

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Haydee Thompson

Haydee Thompson is tickled pink to be a veteran cast member of this year’s Open Dream Ensemble. With 6 seasons under her belt Haydee has had the rare opportunity to perform for thousands of children (her favorite audience) and also hone her skills as a Teaching Artist in the classroom. This year Haydee has taught Drama at the Children’s Theatre in Winston-Salem, proving her aptitude for teaching to a wide range of ages (4-17) She is proud to share her love and knowledge of the craft that inspired her during her time at UNCSA and through the generous and precise work of Open Dream Ensemble. Haydee is also an accomplished singer and recording artist. When she is not acting or teaching she is most likely writing songs. Her most recent cut can be heard on the Krankies Coffee Compilation CD.

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Ali Bill

Ali Bill hails from Apex, NC. She graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with her B.F.A. in acting in 2010. She's since been living in NYC.
Some of Ali’s favorite roles include: in Picnic, the role of Madge, dir. Laura Henry, Midsummer Night's Dream, in the role of Helena, dir. Matt Bullock, and a red nose piece in which she so fortunately got to originate the character of Champagne in Happy's Funeral, dir. Robby Lutfy. Ali is so psyched to be able to be a part of Open Dream Ensemble and, of course, to come back to where it all began!

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Wiley Basho Gorn

Wiley Basho Gorn hails from upstate New York's beautiful Hudson Valley. As a child he spent endless hours adventuring through the woods and engaging in battles with his closest friends and sworn enemies. In May of 2013 Wiley received his BFA in Directing from the UNCSA School of Drama. He is very excited to move back to the acting side of things with the Open Dream Ensemble. Wiley enjoys speaking Shakespeare, playing fiddle, listening to music, driving, and getting lost on occasion. 

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Marissa Byers

Marissa Byers is a multi-faceted performer who has distinguished herself as a clarinetist, a dancer, and a conductor. Marissa was born in the small town of Dublin, Georgia and raised in Winston Salem, NC. As the oldest girl in a family of nine children, Marissa developed her unique skills for entertaining large groups right in her own living room. She was a guest soloist with the Winston Salem Symphony and has been a guest artist with the Aviva Players, the Manchester Music, Pittsburgh Jewish Music, and the Ibero American Music Festivals. Marissa was invited to perform for the Austrian Consulate in New York City after producing and conducting the mono-opera by Grigori Frid, The Diary of Anne Frank. She has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. Marissa studied dance in New York City, and spent part of her career as a bellydancer, firedancer, and Bollywood dancer in India.

Marissa went to high school at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She studied there with Robert Listokin. After graduating she continued her studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts with Richard Stoltzman. Marissa earned her Master's at Mannes College of Music.

She is currently building her businesses and her life in her home town in North Carolina, where she continues to develop and produce intercultural projects with dancers and musicians all over the world, and to return regularly for performances in the northeast United States and Canada. Marissa is most excited about having been chosen to collaborate and perform with the Open Dream Ensemble this season.

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Chesley Polk

Chesley Polk is a New York based actor. Chesley has been lucky enough to play the iconic Clyde Barrow for Lifetime/A&E and originate the role of Paul in the new play FAYE DRUMMOND. Some favorite roles include Morris (Blood Knot), Tyler Rayburn (Light up the Sky), Bazzard (The Mystery of Edwin Drood). Chesley is excited to be able to return to his roots in the south for Open Dream Ensemble’s BIG SHOES. He is a graduate of UNCSA class of 2012.

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