Civic Theatre School Faculty
KIRSTEN RANI ALMEIDA [Drama, Pre-K/K; Grades 1 & 2; Movement, Age 4/Kindergarten] is a graduate of Wagner College. She has performed all over the eastern seaboard, as well as in Saint Louis and Canada. She was recently seen in Civic Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast and was chosen to be the guest vocalist with the Newark Boys Chorus. Kirsten has over 18 years experience in teaching theatre to children.
JOANN WILCHEK BASIST [Drama, Grades 3-5] has been an academic and arts educator as well as a performer and director for over thirty years, having taught at St. Thomas More School, CTS and Allentown City Arts Camp. She has conducted numerous drama workshops and outreach programs at area schools. JoAnn holds a BA in Acting/Education from Cedar Crest College and an M Ed in Counseling from Kutztown University.
SUSAN DANISH [Dance, Grades 3-8] has been teaching dance for more than 25 years – most of those years working with children and at most of the area’s prominent theatre schools. Sue studied dance in New York City for more than 20 years, and she was trained in ballet with The American Ballet Theatre. She also studied jazz at Luigi Jazz Center. She is currently the Director of Community Relations of the Rodale Aquatic Center at Cedar Crest College.
GRETCHEN KLINEDINST FURST [Grades 3-8] has performed in memorable roles at the Civic Theatre in the past, like Harper in Angels in America, Abigail in The Crucible, and Hester in The Scarlet Letter. Gretchen has also taught Civic Theatre School drama classes to children of all ages from 1997–present. Now, she’s happy to add playwright (Mommalogues 2012) to her list of Civic accomplishments and enjoys watching her own daughter flourish in the classes and on stage at her very beloved artistic home.
MELISA KLAUSNER has performed regionally across the country as well as in the Broadway and National Touring companies of Les Miserables. Her favorite roles include, Eva in Evita and Lucille Frank in Parade (both in concert at Civic Theatre), Florence in Chess and Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. This year Melisa performed her cabaret “You & I” at Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency in NYC. Melisa is a graduate of the New Actor’s Workshop two year professional actor’s training program with Mike Nichols, George Morrison and the late Paul Sills.
JILL KUEBLER [Grades 9-12] received a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre and a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from Penn State University, and a master’s degree in education from Kutztown University. She currently teaches drama, English and communications at Emmaus High School, in addition to directing all EHS productions. She formerly taught theatre at the Allentown Academy of the Arts at William Allen High School, where she directed Godspell and other productions. She has taught at Civic Theatre School for the past ten years.