Jerelyn Newman - Founder, Artistic Director
Born and raised just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Jerelyn embraced her love of music at an early age, studying and performing dance, voice, and musical theatre. She continued to follow her passion at the Boston Conservatory, where she majored in classical vocal performance. She also holds a degree in early childhood education from Fisher University. While at the Conservatory, she studied classical / operatic performance with Elisabeth Phinney and musical theatre with Walter Boyce. After moving to California, she studied acting with Judy Kerr. She also holds a degree in early childhood education / child development from Fisher University in Boston. In 2014, Jerelyn became a weekly group facilitator teaching improv / drama at Polaris Teen Center, a residential adolescent mental health facility in Encino, CA.
Mrs. Newman taught school in both Massachusetts and California for over five years before starting a family of her own. She is a voice-over actor and a TV/film session singer (SAG/AFTRA) - having sung on soundtracks including ABC's TV sitcom The Middle, the TV movie Anna's Dream, the CW series Privileged, and Eva Jin’s hit Chinese romantic comedy, One Night Surprise, among others. She has sung with various choirs on the East and West Coasts, including a 2007 performance under the direction of famed choral composer, John Rutter at Carnegie Hall. She is currently an active choral member with Los Angeles’ famed Metropolitan Master Chorale and studies voice with Gerald White.
For several years, Jerelyn volunteered for her children’s elementary school musical theatre productions. Then, in 2012, because of her educational and professional background in the arts and teaching, she was offered the opportunity to launch the K-2nd grade “Upstage Juniors” program for Upstage Theatre Art Schools at Westwood Charter Elementary. She successfully directed two separate casts in each production of Annie (2013) and The Jungle Book (2014). The popularity of the Juniors program was such that it sold out its 2015 inaugural summer production of Aladdin, in both cast and ticket sales.
Jerelyn’s true passion lies in the artistic education of children; their emotional development, and the unbridled joy she witnesses in them when they are on the stage. With a deep love for musical theatre and her community, Jerelyn decided to follow her dream and open up her own theatre company, Westside Children's Theatre, in 2015.
Jerelyn was accepted to participate in the 2018 Broadway Teacher’s Group Summer Intensive Workshop series in NYC. She will be attending Broadway shows with post-show cast discussions, workshops and master classes with Broadway performers, creative teams, and production staff; and peer sessions throughout.
Listen to Jerelyn's vocal demo here: https://soundcloud.com/jerelynmnewman/jerelyn-newman-demo
Carroll Newman - Production Manager
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Carroll is a member of the famed Hollywood musical “Newman Dynasty.” She has worked in the entertainment industry for almost 50 years, and through her Carroll Newman Productions, has produced over 40 TV movies, series and pilots. Working with many child actors over the years - Kristy McNichol, Reese Witherspoon, Kirk Cameron, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Melora Hardin, Sara Gilbert, Jenny Lewis, to name just a few - has brought great joy to her life! Carroll believes with that joy, comes an enormous responsibility to create an environment that is nurturing, safe, and fun - allowing kids to be kids, all while building an artistic atmosphere for these young actors to thrive. Combining her musical heritage together with her production skills, Carroll is thrilled to be a member of Westside Children’s Theatre.
Joey Newman - Director of Business Affairs
Joey Newman (ASCAP) is a third generation film composer of the famed Hollywood musical Newman dynasty. A drummer, conductor, and orchestrator, he earned his degree from the Berklee College of Music. He got his start working in television, co-composing with Emmy®-winning composer W.G. “Snuffy” Walden. For five years, Joey composed the orchestral score to NCsoft’s LINEAGE, one of the biggest online role-playing games in history. As a conductor and orchestrator, Joey has worked across the media spectrum including orchestrating for his cousin Randy and conducting alongside Michael Tilson Thomas and John Williams. Joey’s music can currently be heard on the hit ABC comedy THE MIDDLE, starring Patricia Heaton, and TLC’s docu-reality series, LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD, for which his underscore was nominated for a Primetime Emmy® Award. Recent film credits include the multiple award-winning drama ANY DAY NOW (starring Alan Cumming), the 2013 Oscar®-nominated animated short film ADAM AND DOG, and Evan Jin’s hit Chinese romantic-comedy ONE NIGHT SURPRISE (starring Fan Bingbing and Daniel Henney).
Josh Bedlion - Musical Director (grades 5-10)
Josh Bedlion is an inspiration to everyone he performs for and with. After founding 15 Miles West, the male a cappella group at Western Oregon University, and receiving his master of music degree, Josh made a bold move to Los Angeles in 2012. Since his arrival, he has been involved in the industry as a professional singer, vocal coach/instructor, and percussionist. Josh's success as a musician has led him to perform in arenas such as Carnegie Hall, The Hollywood Bowl, and the 2016 Oscars. His voice can be heard in feature films such as: Star Trek Beyond, Goosebumps, Jurassic World, Tomorrowland and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Since 2013, Josh has been singing with The Los Angeles Metropolitan Master Chorale where he met Jerelyn. Josh is very excited to become Westside Children's Theatre's new music director and thrilled to become part of the WCT family. Says Josh, "One of the many reasons why I love working with kids is you get to be a part of their formative years. Instilling music into who they are becoming is an amazing honor."
Kim Hanke - Co-Director / Musical Director (grades 1-4)
Kim Hanke received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University, and has been working with young children in the arts for over 15 years. She was a lead artist with The Imagination Workshop, a non-profit, theatre arts, outreach organization based at UCLA, and has taught drama and voice. She has worked as a professional actor and singer in Chicago and Los Angeles, performing such roles as Viola in Twelfth Night, Guinevere in Camelot, and Anne in A Little Night Music. She has toured with Perry Como and is currently a member of The Angel City Chorale. She also lends her voice to commercials and movie scores. Additionally, Kim has a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. She loves helping children express themselves through the arts, and is excited to be a musical director for Westside Children’s Theatre.
Melinda Sullivan - Choreographer (grades 5-10)
Melinda Sullivan may be best known for Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, Season 7, but has a diverse career in dance, television and theatre. Theatre credits include Disney's High School Musical and High School Musical Two (both directed by Jeff Calhoun), as well as the 25th Anniversary Tour of Cats and Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland. Melinda is a company member of Chloe Arnold's Syncopated Ladies (as seen on SYTYCD Season 11) and Jason Samuels Smith's tap company, Anybody Can Get It (ACGI), with performances including Jacob’s Pillow Dance, NY City Center's Fall For Dance and at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. Her other dance company work includes the Lynn Dally's Jazz Tap Ensemble, Gregg Russell's Tapsounds Underground, and Noah Racey's New York Song and Dance Co. Melinda is a recipient of the coveted Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award in the Non-Classical dance category for her solo tap dance performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Her other past television/film credits include: As The World Turns, The Goldbergs, Dancing With the Stars, Children's Hospital, and as an All-Star on Season 10 of SYTYCD. Melinda is the 2012 winner of the Capezio Award for Choreographic Excellence, and Dance Magazine named her among the "25 to Watch" for 2013. Melinda has also won the World Dance Award for Best Choreography of Television Episodic the past two years with collaborator Galen Hooks. Ms. Sullivan is on faculty at The Colburn School in Downtown Los Angeles, and travels the US with New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA). www.youtube.com/melindasully and www.melindasullivan.com.
Cristina McKeever - Choreographer (grades 5-10)
Cristina McKeever is a dancer/choreographer/teacher originally from Palm Springs, CA. She is a passionate "old soul" that has an affinity for rhythm and movement. Cristina holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in dance performance and a minor in Italian studies from Chapman University, located in Orange, CA. She has trained extensively in tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet, contemporary, modern, ballroom, and Irish dance over the past 16 years. Cristina was presented with awards for outstanding performance and choreography throughout her collegiate career. She is currently represented by Go2Talent Agency in Los Angeles, CA. Her most recent performances include: RAW Artists Orange County, Tiffany Billings' Club Jetè, the L.A. Sparks' game (Staples Center), Maria Shriver's It's Our Turn women's conference (representing Chloé Arnold's Syncopated Ladies), J.ournal Poems newest music video Nine Twelve, and Make Your Move L.A. In addition Cristina has performed as soloist for Chapman University's Fall Dance Concert, and as dancer/choreographer for Champman University's Spring Dance Concert and Technology for Live Performance Showcase. Cristina lives by the quote, "Fai quello che tu ami e non lavorerai un solo giorno della tua via" ["Do that which you love and you will never work a day in your life."]
Becca Nelson - Choreographer (grades 1-4)
Becca is an East Coast native who has been dancing for as long as she can remember. She received the majority of her formal training in Florida under the direction of Broadway performer John Leggio, before relocating to Washington, DC for college. There she attended the American University, majoring in economics, and immersed herself in the dance communities both within and outside the school. She worked with multiple professional companies and music artists in the DC area, and quickly became one of the most sought after choreographers, setting highly acclaimed worked at various performing arts schools and theaters. She was also fortunate enough to travel/perform internationally in Japan, Turkey, Italy, and Canada. After completing her degree, she decided that the West Coast was calling her name, so she made her way out here and has been reaping the rewards of her years of hard work. Most recently you may have seen her on the Late Late Show with James Corden! While she isn’t dancing in front of the camera, you can definitely find her behind it, for she has a strong passion for video and photography. She personally edited a tap dance video that Beyonce herself shared (and even put on her home page)! She is ecstatic to be joining the Westside Children’s Theatre family, and looks forward to the exciting year ahead!
Paisley Taylor - Costume Designer
Costume designer Paisley Taylor comes to Westside Children’s Theatre after working as a volunteer parent and hired designer for several theater productions through Westwood Charter Elementary School. Her training and education include a technical degree in fashion design, fine arts courses, an undergraduate degree in English, and a master’s degree in business. Her daughter Paloma Avila, a budding thespian, assists with sourcing, design, and fittings. She feels it is a great honor to work with Jerelyn Newman and Westside Children’s Theatre. It feels like a perfect and natural progression for our theatre families!