About Plainfield HS Theater
Plainfield High School’s Theater Program was organized during the 2008-2009 school year with the vision to “dream big and make anything possible”. With a vocally talented group of ambitious students, the PHS Theater Department has emerged as a staple program of the school and community. Thanks to an array of faculty advisors, volunteers, and businesses in the community, the Plainfield High School Theater Program continues to thrive and serve the youth in the greater Plainfield area.
Newsies Production Team Contacts
- Brian Stevenson
- Kevin Mariano
- Keri Danner
- Lydia Mackela
Publicity Lord, Photographer, Costume Coordinator
- Jerry Zalewski
Lighting Designer & Tech Director
Mrs. Gina Barbeau
Mrs. Barbeau is a new addition to the business and personal finance team at PHS. She serves as one of the faculty advisors to the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and as an advisor to the GSA (Gender Sexuality/Gay Straight Alliance). Mrs. Barbeau has appeared on stage only once in the past but has generously donated her time and been involved behind the scenes at several community theaters for many years. Mrs. Barbeau is appreciative that the PHS theater group welcomed her with open arms and is excited to play a small part in the creation of each great production with such an amazing cast and crew.
Mrs. Barbeau holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Public Administration from Western Washington University and is near the completion of her Master’s Degree in Education at Sacred Heart University.
Mrs. Keri Danner
Mrs. Danner has been a premier choreographer for countless productions throughout Connecticut for over 20 years. Her work at Plainfield High School has been seen in such productions as Mary Poppins, Addams Family, Wizard of Oz, Guys and Dolls, Willy Wonka, and Annie. In addition to having served as choreographer for Plainfield High School for the past seven years, Mrs. Danner choreographs at Griswold High School and Woodstock Academy. She has worked at Wallace Middle School, Stonington High School, Hartford Children’s Theatre, and local theaters including the Bradley Playhouse, Killingly Community Theater (now The Little Theater on Broad Street), Break-A-Leg Productions, and Chestnut Street Playhouse. Mrs. Danner received extensive dance training from the Luis Pabon Dance Arts Centre with whom she was named National Dance Champion, has taught dance classes/workshops at Putnam Dance Center, Killingly Parks and Rec, Northeast Academy Elementary School, and is currently a dance instructor at Danceworks Dance Centre. She is also a well-versed performer, including some of her favorite onstage roles as Guinevere in Camelot, Sophie in Neil Simon’s Star Spangled Girl, and Cinderella in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
Mrs. Danner recently achieved double-duty titles serving as both director/choreographer for Seussical the Musical, as well as Broadway Live…The Concert – a high-scale fundraising event for the Putnam YMCA. She is a proud member of the education committee at Chestnut Street Playhouse, and is the co-chair of the school readiness committee at Canterbury Elementary School. Mrs. Danner is very excited to be putting on her dual director/choreographer’s hat again this summer with the Bradley Playhouse’s mainstage production, The Music Man.
Ms. Emily Lattanzi
Ms. Lattanzi is a second year music teacher at Plainfield High School. She first entered into the building as a chorus intern where she was able to work closely with the students and conduct in the concerts. Ms. Lattanzi studied voice with Greg Zavarcky for her four undergraduate years and was a proud member of the UConn Chamber Singers, Concert Choir and Vocal Jazz Ensemble. She proudly served as the UConn Choirs president in 2017-2018. While she has acted on stage in a production of Legally Blonde, Ms. Lattanzi has never music directed a show before and is excited at her first opportunity to. Ms. Lattanzi would like to thank her friends and family for their unending love and support. She would also like to thank the Plainfield faculty and administration for welcoming her into the building and their belief in the arts program at PHS.
In 2019, Ms. Lattanzi received a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Bachelor of Science in music education. Ms. Lattanzi then earned her Masters in Education through the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut.
Ms. Lydia Mackela
Ms. Mackela, an alumni of PHS, teaches in the technology department. A self proclaimed photo nerd, she currently teaches Intro to Photography, Photo One, and Photo Two. She is also the faculty head advisor for GSA (Gay Straight Alliance). While a student at PHS Ms. Mackela was always involved with the theater department both on and off stage. She found the PHS Theater Department to be a welcoming environment for anyone involved and believes this still holds true today. She loves working with the students and faculty to produce incredible shows and looks forward to what the future may hold for her at PHS. Some of her favorite theatrical productions include Grease, Cats, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Ms. Mackela earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Rhode Island College and is currently on a path towards her Masters in Art/Technology Education.
Mr. Kevin Mariano
Hailing from Waterford, Connecticut, Mr. Mariano is a social studies teacher at PHS, the PHS Debate Team Coach, and Director of the Plainfield High School’s Theater Program. His love of theater began in the early 1990s as he attended his older sister’s high school performances. While attending high school, Mr. Mariano acted in the Waterford Drama Club and was voted 2002 Class Actor. Mr. Mariano began teaching at Plainfield High School during the 2008-2009 school year, and has directed alongside Mr. Stevenson ever since. To him, theater is a safe place for students to have fun, set and maintain an incredibly high standard, work for the common good, and explore what it means to be a human. His favorite musicals of all time are Jekyll and Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, and The Lion King.
Mr. Mariano earned his Bachelor of the Arts in History from the University of Connecticut and his Master of Education from Sacred Heart University.
Mr. Brian Stevenson
At PHS, Mr. Stevenson teaches Choral music and AP Theory. Additionally, he has served as a director and producer for the PHS Theater Program since the 2008-2009 school year. His theater experience began as an actor while at Newington High School, and has since afforded him the opportunity to direct more than a dozen shows over the course of his teaching career. Being on this side of the stage is a distinct honor and Mr. Stevenson feels very fortunate to not only work with these amazing students but also to have such a fantastic Production Team to share this journey with. Theater is the place where students can be themselves, learn to interact with their peers, and share a common love for the arts. Everyone has a home in the theater!
Mr. Stevenson earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music and Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Connecticut, and his Master of Education from Eastern Connecticut State University.
Mr. Jerry Zalewski
Mr. Zalewski (Jerry to the crew & cast) is returning to PHS for his fourth production as lighting designer and technical director. His lighting experience began over 50 years ago at Notre Dame (Fairfield) High School with The King & I and is now includes over 200 community and scholastic theatre productions. As the Technical Director/Facilities Manager for The Suffield Players and a resident of Enfield, CT; he has found the commute to Plainfield well worth the trip. Mr. Zalewski firmly believes that everyone in a theatrical production gets to perform. The technical team has their peak performance required just before the show opens. They may take their bows vicariously, but always strive for that ”Oooh” reaction from the audience while making the stage “magic” that tells the story.
Mr. Zalewski is a consulting mechanical engineer and holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology.