Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (2023)

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (1)

Kerry Butler

With several starring Broadway roles under her belt, it’s hard to compete with legend Kerry Butler! From Penny in Hairspray to Audrey in Little Shop, Ms. Norbury in Mean Girls to Barbara in Beetlejuice, Belle in Beauty and the Beast to Kira in Xanadu (for which she was nominated for a Tony Award), Kerry’s career has spanned an incredible range and won her a bundle of awards along the way! Kerry enjoys connecting with fans and sharing her knowledge.

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (2)

Tom Townsend

Tom Townsend has been involved in the Performing Arts since a very young age, and has been fortunate to practice virtually every discipline along the way. In fourth grade, Tom(my) divided time between clarinet lessons and writing/directing his first play for class, ‘How Heavenly!’. Since that time, Tom sang in choruses, acted in a number of plays, and continued to write. Tom graduated from Nevada Union H.S. in Grass Valley CA, and went on to attend Biola University where he obtained his B.M. in Music Education. He spent over 30 years leading and directing church music, and is in his 15th year working for the Walt Disney Company in Entertainment at the Disneyland Resort.

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Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (3)

Tonatiuh Elizarraz

Tonatiuh graduated from West Covina High School and then went on to the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a minor in Cinema. He has appeared in shows including Vida (STARZ), Famous in Love (CBS), Chicago Med (NBC), The Loud House (Nickelodeon) and will be in a new upcoming drama series on ABC called Promised Land.

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (4)

Nick Kellie

Nick plays 2nd guitar and backing vocals in Frank Gambale Soulmine featuring Boca. Frank Gambale is a world renowned grammy winning guitarist from the Chick Corea Elektric band. Nick has toured the world as the guitarist with The Three Degrees (#1 smash hit “When will I see you again”). They have played many great venues around the world including the London O2 arena and “Iridium Jazz Club” on broadway, NYC where Nick has also appeared with his own band. He plays regularly at the baked potato with acts such as Brian Auger’s Oblivion express (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and more). Nick’s debut record, “For A Brother” came out on Steve Vai’s Digital Nations record label to much acclaim. Upon hearing the album, Steve contacted Nick personally with regard to a release on his own label. It has been released in the USA, Europe and Asia. In 2005, Nick was awarded the BBC Big Band Jazz awards “John Dankworth trophy for outstanding young soloist” and recorded a special show for BBC radio 2. Nick is also a contributor to the worlds biggest selling guitar magazine “Guitar player magazine” and holds classes at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood California. His book, Progressive Blues guitar is released by Hal Leonard Publishing/ Musicians Institute Press and is available worldwide.

You can find out more about Nick’s latest book by CLICKING HERE - and buy it by CLICKING HERE.

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (5)

John Burdett, Ed.D.

John Burdett, Ed.D, is the Director of Instrumental Studies and Director of Bands in APU's School of Music. In this role, Dr. Burdett facilitates the Instrumental Studies program, leads the band division, and teaches undergraduate and graduate students. Prior to joining APU, Dr. Burdett held tenure track and adjunct appointments teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in conducting, music education, and ensemble direction at several institutions including Mt. San Antonio College, California Polytechnic University, Pomona, California State University, Fullerton, and California State University, Los Angeles. In addition to his dissertation research into the experiences of students with hearing loss in instrumental music, Dr. Burdett's research interests include the performance practice of symphonic compositions with Spanish and Latin American stylistic influences, the psycho-social components of conducting, the democratization of decision making in large concert ensembles, and increasing accessibility to music education for marginalized student populations.

Dr. Burdett has been invited to clinic and consult with instrumental music programs throughout the state, conduct honor ensembles in Texas and California, and adjudicate performance competitions including the Music Center of Los Angeles Spotlight Awards. In addition to numerous posts with youth orchestras, he was the founding music director and conductor of the Southern California Philharmonic from 2001-05.

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (6)

Matthew Kellaway

Matthew Kellaway is a professional vocal performer known for his stylistic versatility. He has substantial experience in opera, musical theater, vocal ensemble, oratorio, barbershop and popular music. Matthew has performed in Europe in conjunction with choral and solo competitions, and he has performed domestically with the Pacific Chorale, John Alexander Singers, Disney’s Voices of Liberty, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. He can most frequently be heard as a featured soloist with the Pacific Chorale at Segerstrom Center for the Arts as well as appearing on television broadcasts of the Hour of Power.

As an adjunct professor at Biola University in Southern California, Matthew Kellaway is director of the Biola Men’s Chorus and teaches conducting. He also teaches voice privately, is an active studio vocalist, and presents vocal master classes for local high schools.

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (7)

Gloria Franco

Gloria Franco is a 2012 alum of West Covina High School. Having graduated college from Wells College with a Theatre and Dance degree, she went on to pursue a career in the theatre and film industry. She’s stage managed shows such as All in the Timing for Ad Infinitum Dramatic Arts company and A Christmas Story musical for the Covina Center of the Performing Arts. Her previous experience includes working for Warner Bros. Studio, Bang Zoom! Audio Post-Production, and a production gig with the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. She is currently working at Universal Studios Hollywood as a stagehand for the live shows at the theme park like Waterworld.

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (8)

Heidi Diaz

Heidi is a Cal State Fullerton alum and is an LA based dancer with the Walt Disney Company. Her work with the Walt Disney Company includes parades and production at Disneyland Resort such as Paint The Night, Fantasmic, and Disney California Adventure Pixar Play Parade. Along with working as a theme park entertainer, she is a performer for D23 Expo in Anaheim California and gives her time as a dance instructor at Dance the Magic dance company in Huntington Beach.

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (9)

Mark Novelich

Mark is a graduate of West Covina High School’s instrumental music program who then went on to study trumpet with such names as Robert Slack and Arturo Sandoval.

After completing his formal training he began playing in professionally both within the United States as well as Internationally. Mr. Novelich is a sought after trumpet player in the music industry and has played with such notable artists as Steve Wonder, and Jenifer Lopez.

Teaching Artists — West Covina High School Performing Arts Academy (10)

Jocelyn Loera

Jocelyn Loera is an alum of West Covina High School and a current theatre major student. She has had two years of professional training at Gray Spatz acting school The Playground. She was apart of the West Covina High Schools theatre department all four years of high school as well as the choir department for two years. Her performances during her high school career include Hairspray, Bright Star, Mrs.California and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. She now continues studying theatre at Mt.SAC Community College and plans to transfer to Cal State Fullerton to earn her bachelor’s degree in Theatre.

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