Dina Slawson is owner and Artistic Director of Academy of Theatre Arts and The ATA Theatre and CEO/National Education Director for Young Performers of America in New York City. She was Co-Founder and president of Teen2Teen…Theatre is for Life, a not for profit organization celebrating cultural diversity and racial tolerance for young adults through theatre both in Western New York and New York City. She was also the director of nationally recognized Rockin’ KidsClub. She has been performing, creating, writing, directing, and producing theatre for children and young adults for over twenty-five years and has had the privilege of seeing her students perform on Broadway in 2006 and 2007. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including Small Business of the Year 2006, 40 Under 40, Outstanding Women in Business, Athena Award Nominee, 2003 Woman of Merit, and 2007/2008 Woman of Excellence for the National Association of Professional Women. She was awarded by unanimous vote “2008/2009 National Outstanding Woman of the Year in Children’s Entertainment and Theatre” by the National Association of Professional and Executive Women. Dina received the Freddie G Outstanding Director of 2012 award. She is honored and privileged to live out her dream with her ATA family both on and off stage each and every day.
Tom Doyle (Vocal Director: Academy Encore Ensemble & Academy Performance Group)
Tom Doyle received his BS & MM in Vocal Performance from SUNY at Fredonia. He recently retired from teaching vocal music in the Kenmore Schools where he directed the Musicals and formed the Award winning “Company of Song” Show/Concert Choir. He was co-founder of the DeeJay Players who introduced dinner theater to WNY over 30 yrs. ago. He presently teaches private voice lessons, travels as a vocal adjudicator, is a student tour director along with being a part-time professor at Buff-State. Tom has sung extensively throughout WNY and is the Tenor for the “Classic Elements” and “In-Concert” vocal quartets. He resides in Williamsville with his wife, Cindy and their two youngest sons who are members of the highly successful local band “More than Me” His two older sons live in LA where they compose and are pursuing musical careers. Tom is no stranger to the Buffalo Theater where he has stage and music directed as well as performed in numerous productions.
Lauren Slawson Baker (Theatre Education Director, Resident Instructor)
Lauren Slawson Baker first began as a student at ATA when the doors first opened in 2002 until graduating in 2008. In 2012, Lauren graduated from Le Moyne College Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts & English. Lauren also has a concentration in both Childhood and Special Education. During her time at Le Moyne, Lauren was the Executive Director of the theatre program, Boot & Buskin, as well as Technical Director of the Le Moyne Student Dance Company. Lauren choreographed, was a light designer and performed in several student and faculty run shows. After graduation, Lauren moved to Brooklyn, New York where she taught Kindergarten at Success Academy Charter Schools. Lauren is the winner of the “Teacher Excellence Award” for the 2013-2014 school year. She was picked out of 28 schools and hundreds of teachers. In 2016, Lauren graduated from Canisius College with a Masters in Special Education.
Erin Zimmerman (Theatre Administrator, Resident Instructor)
Erin Zimmerman has trained in dance for over fifteen years and has numerous performance credits. She received a BA in Theatre/English from SUNY Geneseo in 2007. Her experiences there allowed her to delve deeply into all aspects of production including set construction, sound design, stage management and front of house duties. Erin was also a member of Geneseo’s Musical Theatre Club, where she had the opportunity to not only perform with the group but also direct and choreograph numbers for their bi-annual review. Since joining the staff at ATA in the summer of 2006, Erin has realized the sense of joy and pride she feels from working with the ATA students is unlike anything else in the world. As the years go on she is continually amazed by the experiences and opportunities Dina brings to the students and is honored to be a part of them.
Tommy Bracco (Resident Instructor)
Tommy Bracco attended LaGuardia (FAME )High School, as a drama major. Since then Tommy has been given amazing opportunities to see the country performing in various shows such as Guys And Dolls, Beauty And The Beast, A Chorus Line and Grease. When Tommy was 20 years old, he landed the role of Spot Conlon in the world premiere of Disney’s Newsies at Papermill Playhouse. He continued his journey with the show all the way to Broadway where he made his debut. He recently was in the cast of Pirates of Penzance at Barrington Stage Company coming back to Broadway with the show next year. He will be seen reprising his role of Spot Conlon in the Newsies motion picture.
Luke Baker (Resident Videographer)
Luke Baker graduated from Le Moyne College Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2012. After graduation, Luke moved to New York City where he shot and edited video for EverydayHealth.com, this included content for CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. In 2013 Luke’s first feature film “Record Paradise” was selected to screen at the American Film Institute. He is the recipient of the 2012 Thomas R. Hogan Award in Communications. Luke currently works for United Way of Buffalo & Erie County as their Senior Video Producer.
ATA is also proud to bring in many adjunct and workshop teachers throughout the year. These professionals have been in numerous Broadway shows and have countless years of experience.
During our 2017-2018 season, ATA brought in the following artists and many more…
Dell Howlett (NYU Tisch Professor, Director & Choreographer)
Mandy Gonzalez (Hamilton, Wicked, In the Heights, Aida, Lennon)
Corey Cott (Newsies, Gigi, Bandstand)
Daisy Hobbs (Aladdin)
Kara Lindsey (Newsies, Wicked)
Darrell Grand Moultrie (Aida, Billy Elliott, Hairspray, West Side Story, Invisible Thread, Choreographer: Beyonce World Tour)
Alex Wong (So You Think You Can Dance)
Adam Kaplan (Newsies, Kinky Boots)
Keven Quillon (Bandstand, Annie, Shrek the Musical)