Faculty Bios

David Azarow – Program Director/Vocal Instructor

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David is the founder, program director and vocal instructor of the WORDS AND MUSIC Children’s Theatre Program. Prior to WORDS AND MUSIC, in 2000 David founded and co-directed the highly successful “ON STAGE” for Musical Theatre Program in Nyack, NY. David is a music teacher at St. Gregory Barbarigo School in Garnerville, St. Paul’s School in Congers, and St. Anthony’s School on Nanuet. He is also the Music Director of St. Gregory Barbarigo Church. David private studio offers instruction to both piano and vocal students. David is the composer and orchestrator of the musicals Cric? Crac! ( featuring Grey’s Anatomy star and 2005 Tony award winner Sara Ramirez), No more Waiting!, The Gift of Love, We’re On To You, Neighbors, and Hilltop House. Works in NYC have been produced at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre, the 13th Street Repertory Company, and the Fringe Festival; outside NYC at both the Helen Hayes Theatre and the Elmwood Playhouse in Nyack NY. David is a graduate of SUNY Purchase and Mannes Conservatory of Music.

Elaine Vogel – Administrative Consultant/Director

Kate Chisholm – Director

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KATE CHISHOLM is a director, writer, performer, designer, and educator. She has directed original works at Prospect Theater Company, The Culture Project, La MaMa, Joe’s Pub, Baltimore Theatre Project, Columbia University, and Towson University. Directing highlights include Newton’s Universe, a play for actor and puppets which she also wrote and designed (The Culture Project); the world premiere of Heartfield, Kenneth Allan Vega’s musical about German photomontage artist John Heartfield (Baltimore Theatre Project); and the New York premiere of The Hidden Sky, a musical based on a short story by acclaimed author Ursula K. Le Guin, which she wrote with composer/lyricist Peter Foley (Prospect Theater Company).

     As a writer, Kate won a Richard Rodgers Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for The Hidden Sky. The Hidden Sky premiered at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia, where it was nominated for six Barrymore Awards (including Outstanding New Play); it was subsequently produced at Spirit of Broadway Theater (12 Spirit Award nominations, including Best New Book and Best New Work), Prospect Theater Company, in concert at Ars Nova and Joe’s Pub. 

     Kate holds a BA in English from Yale University and an MFA in Theatre (Directing) from Towson University. She has extensive interdisciplinary theater training and has performed in dozens of plays, musicals, cabarets, and concerts. Kate is currently studying Theater Education at Hunter College, CUNY, through the Lincoln Center Scholars Program. She has taught theater at Words and Music Children’s Theatre Program, the Play Group Theatre, Pratt Institute, and in the New York City Public Schools. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab and an alum of the St. Ann’s Warehouse Puppet Lab.

Andrew Romano – Music Director/Vocal Instructor

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Andy Romano (Music Director) is a University at Buffalo graduate. His musical experience spans a variety of fields and genres including musical theater, a cappella, and others. Andy also currently works as the Production Manager for A Cappella Productions, one of the largest producers of a cappella music in the northeast. As a former student of David Azarow, Andy is unbelievably thrilled to be working as a member of the Words and Music Staff!

Shannon Cokeley – Choreographer

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Shannon holds a B.A. in Music and Music Management from Manhattanville College. She currently works for Leftfield Productions, Inc. and Neil Berg’s 100 Year of Broadway concert tour. Shannon is also a private voice teacher. She has worked with many children on musical productions such as Seussical, Annie, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Guys and DollsElf Jr., etc. as a music director, creative director, choreographer and vocal coach. To keep herself busy, Shannon also works for Manda’s Enchanted Events as a variety of princesses, sings in The Floyd Pink Band and continues to perform as much as she can. 

Mary Ford Sussman – Choreographer

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A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mary Ford-Sussman first experienced dance as an expressive and performing art through the training of Loyce Houlton, director of the Minnesota Dance Theatre. Mary’s early studies not only provided her with a solid foundation in ballet and modern dance technique, but also sparked a creative power that has persisted throughout her life, feeding both her drive for inner explorations and her desire to share with others through performance, teaching and choreography.   

Mary attended Smith College where she received a Bachelor of Arts, graduating with High Honors for her original choreography and written thesis in dance. Since that time Mary has enjoyed an extensive career in the Modern Dance field, most notably as a dancer with the Limon Dance Company and in collaboration with Master Choreographer Mary Anthony. Her performances are marked for their dramatic intensity, luminous depth, and nuanced musicality. Mary has shared her passion and expertise with dance students in the US and abroad through her teaching and choreography. She has most recently held teaching positions at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, and Manhattanville College. Since 2011, Mary has been involved in teaching creative movement and dance at Summerarts, a summer camp experience for children ages 7-14.

Ms. Ford-Sussman is delighted to be debuting as a choreographer for Words and Music in this season’s sparkley, jolly production of Elf, Jr!

Cal Chiang – Director

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Cal has directed and choreographed musical productions in Westchester, Rockland and Northern Jersey through schools, community theater, and regional theater. He enjoys the opportunity to work with young people and to encourage them to enjoy their time on the stage. Cal enjoys guiding young people through the process of mounting a musical production as well as developing a love for learning the craft involved in doing so.

Stephanie Vitale – Choreographer

Brittany Dorazio – Choreographer

Adam Gloc – Accompanist

Antonia Sambevski – Costumer

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Christine Ucker – Summer Program Assistant Costumer

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Christine Ucker is a born-and-raised Rocklander who has always had a love for performing and theater, whether it be performing in plays and musicals, to studying jazz and traditional Filipino dance, to singing in choirs and directing the St. Paul Parish children’s choir for three years. She is currently a school nurse as well as a Filipino Traditional Dance instructor/choreographer on the side. Her daughter Caitlin and son Kieran have both performed in W&M productions. She decided to jump into the W&M action, assisting with the costumes of the 2016 Summer productions of Cinderella and Legally Blonde, and was formally invited on board as W&M staff. She will be primarily helping out with Summer productions and is thrilled to help W&M students look their best on stage.