Elizabeth Vecchio has been an arts educator for many years, teaching in public and private schools. Having been a music fellow at Northwestern University and a Fulbright recipient, she has directed hundreds of dramatic and musical productions throughout the Tri-State area. Favorite musicals have included: Les Miserables, Pirates of Penzance, Gypsy, The Music Man, Godspell, and Cabaret. Beth has also directed choirs, presented public speaking seminars, and created curriculum for various organizations. A mother of four and a grandmother of three, Ms. Vecchio lists raising her children, teaching music and theatre, serving the community, and growing up in a fabulous family as the best parts of her life. She believes all children should experience the arts. She thanks God for all that she has and all that she has been able to give.
Camille Vecchio-DiLorenzo (Director/Acting Coach) has been directing, stage managing and producing theatre for 25 years. Camille is the Artistic Director of Pleasant Valley Productions in West Orange. In addition to her work as director and acting teacher at Brightest Star, Camille has directed The Secret Garden, Ragtime, the Musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Joseph…Dreamcoat, Songs for a New World, The Music Man, Annie, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Once on this Island, Peter Pan, King and I, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Seussical the Musical and Nine at the Barn Theater. She has been recognized with numerous nominations by the New Jersey Association of Community Theatres for outstanding Direction of a musical. Camille is a closet PROP enthusiast and has several Prop master credits including Hal Holbrook’s, Mark Twain Tonight at NJPAC. Camille has held several stage management and production management positions throughout NJ. She is an advocate for Arts Education having served the last 9 years as Company Manager for the NJYT/NJPAC Summer Musical program. In addition, she helped coordinate summer internships for college and high school students interested in theatre production at NJPAC and Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan, NJ.
Danielle Meola Valencia Is an actress and music educator based in Northern New Jersey. She holds Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Theatre and Music Education from Westminster Choir College, where she choreographed the 2010, 2011, and 2013 Music Theater Summer Intensives. Danielle is a Dance Instructor at Dancesation Studios, LLC in Nutley, the studio she grew up with. She has been the director and choreographer of the Anthony Wayne Middle School Musical since 2012 and a movement instructor with Brightest Star since 2016. Credits include Performances in NYC at the NYNW Festival, Signature Theater, Carnegie Hall, and Avery Fischer Hall, in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center, and with NJ companies including NJYT, Pleasant Valley Productions, The Barn Theater, Bergen County Players, Cabaret for Life, MOC, and The People Garden Touring Company (1997-2000). Favorite roles include: Lucille (Parade), Susan (Tick, Tick...Boom!), Maggie (A Chorus Line), Sally Bowles (Cabaret), Brooke (Legally Blonde), Carla (Nine), Percy Talbot (The Spitfire Grill), Janet Van de Graff (Drowsy Chaperone), Princess Fiona (Shrek), Olive Ostrovsky (Spelling Bee), Marian Paroo (Music Man), and the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Outstanding Lead Actress 2013 Perry Award). Danielle comes from a music-loving family, including her lovely husband Gonzalo, and enjoys being able to share theater craft with the next generation of creators.
Ruthann Lanni is a dance teacher and choreographer for Brightest Star, has studied dance as her life’s passion. She received her M.A. in Dance education from New York University and has taught ballet, tap, jazz and musical theater and brings years of teaching experience, curriculum development and performance to the dance program.
Nikkia Tyrie received her BFA in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Dance from Howard University and her MS in Education Administration from Kaplan University. Nikkia served as an instructor and choreographer at the Harlem School of the Arts and has taught dance and theatre in the Newark Public Schools for the past 10 years. Having choreographed the musicals of Saddle Brook High School, Nikkia was also an instructor and resident choreographer for the Rock Starz cheer gym, a senior company member in Alfred Gallman's Newark Dance Theatre, and a continual company member in the Umoja Dance Company.
She believes that God has bestowed the gift of dance upon her heart.
Katie Russell began as a student at Brightest Star before becoming a member of the Brightest Star Staff. Since then, she has worked as costumer, acting teacher, and director. Katie has been involved in numerous theatrical productions over the years and enjoys all aspects of musical theatre. Her favorite roles include TiMoune (Once On This Island), Domina (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), and the Sour Kangaroo (Seussical). She feels privileged to be able to work with students to help them develop their skills and knowledge as well as their love of the performing arts. Katie graduated summa cum laude from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics and a minor in Psychology.
Jim Keefe - by day Jim is the Music Director of Notre Dame of Mt. Carmel Church in Cedar Knolls, NJ, overseeing several choirs, cantors, and instrumental ensembles while playing the piano and/or organ at all Masses.
By night Jim plays in some of the the most exacting and exciting venues in the world - the piano bars of New York City. For 5-7 hours a night he performs what discerning visitors from around the world come to hear- a mix of their favorite Rock, Pop, Jazz, Comedy, Broadway and Standard songs - either singing them himself, leading the patrons, or accompanying one of the fantastic future stars who work and sing there. Some of the biggest stars in show biz have come up to take the mike from time to time - Jimmy Fallon, Liza Minelli, Cuba Gooding, Jr. - as well as the, umm, not-so-great. But everyone always has a great time; Jim believes that uplifting the spirit is the supreme goal of all music, sacred or secular.