Listee Features — Performing Arts


Growing up surrounded by the entertainment industry, Sefanie Ryan-Manhim was greatly inspired by her mother, Ursula Ryan, who found success as a beauty queen in Germany and eventually rose in fame to sing alongside Elvis. Ms. Ryan-Manhim and her sister spent many hours as children at their mother’s shoots. Initially thinking to pursue a career in pediatric oncology out of a notion to avoid the family business, she realized in college that she did actually enjoy acting and achieved her first role as an actress with the television show “Wonderama” in 1976. As she furthered her career, she sought more specific education and earned a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from Pace University in Manhattan in 1992. In 1995, Ms.

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A. Christina Giannini

A. Christina Giannini

Hailing from a highly artistic family, A. Christina Giannini was greatly inspired by her uncle, the famous composer Vittorio Giannini, who had a tremendous influence on her life. While she initially thought to become a sculptor, she fell deeply in love with theater and costume design during her time studying at the Buxton School in New Jersey. One of her earliest projects during this period was sewing flamingos for an “Alice in Wonderland” play. Subsequently, she joined Douglass College, a part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1959. Ms. Giannini went on to pursue postgraduate coursework at the Birmingham School of Art in England from 1959 to 1960 and completed

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Anna Smulowitz Schutz


Anna Smulowitz Schutz was born in a displaced persons camp in Plattling, Germany, to Holocaust survivors Sam and Helen Smulowitz. They immigrated to the United States in 1948, where Ms. Smulowtiz Schutz began her schooling. Completing coursework at Lesley University and the University of Cincinnati, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Kentucky followed by a master’s degree from Brandeis University. In 1969, Ms. Smulowitz Schutz attended a museum exhibit about the art and poetry of the children at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. One note in particular caught her attention: “If you should find this, tell someone what happened to us. We want to go home, please remember us.” Ms. Smulowitz Schutz finished writing

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Melinda Polet


Holding considerable expertise in the fields of both performing arts and health care, Melinda Joy Polet, also known as Melle Joy, attributes much of her success to her family. Her father was an entrepreneur who did early work with coding and her mother, Isabelle Merle Jean Braun, inspired and encouraged her passion for singing and acting. Feeling that you need to be something of an entrepreneur as an actor and artist, Ms. Polet was also greatly inspired by her early teachers and dance instructors, including her high school mentor, Ms. Kayla Gordon. Following high school, she spent time in London as part of an exchange program and was deeply impacted by the peace, beauty and culture she found in the

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Born in Tokyo to parents Allan and Aiko George, Catherine George Adler was exposed to a range of fine arts and culture from a young age through both her parents’ interests and the opportunities she had to travel. Her father notably corresponded with Ernest Hemingway and collected Hemingway first editions, and it was him who truly instilled in her a passion for the arts. First earning a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Boston University in 1973, Ms. Adler spent many years only involved in Broadway as a silent investor. It wasn’t until she was encouraged by a friend, Sigourney Weaver, that she first put thought to producing shows herself. Establishing Catherine Adler Productions in 2013, Ms. Adler’s first

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Carol Modesitt


Carol Ann Modesitt is a professor of music and former chair of the department of music at Southern Utah University, where she has taught voice, opera, diction and vocal pedagogy for more than three decades. She joined the faculty at Southern Utah University in 1993, helping establish and develop the school’s voice program into one of the best in the region, and guiding her students to win more than 200 state- and national-level awards for performance. Currently, she is the head of Southern Utah University’s voice department and director for the school’s award-winning musical theater and opera productions. During her time with the university, Ms. Modesitt has directed more than 40 student productions of repertory classics including “La Boheme,” “Don

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Luana DeVol


An award-winning operatic soprano with more than 40 years of international recognition in some of the medium’s most iconic roles, Luana DeVol has served as the executive director of the American Wagner Project since 2013. Ms. DeVol has performed and taught around the world, but is perhaps best-known for her performances of the German repertoire, and was selected as Singer of the Year by German opera magazine Opernwelt in both 1997 and 2000. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Ms. DeVol grew up with a love of music and an appreciation for the arts, but had no intention of becoming a singer, instead harboring dreams of training in ballet. After a chance choir audition as a teen

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Kim Martin, Mary Ellen Marth


Kim Martin, also known as Mary Ellen Marth, is a writer, entertainer, and band leader who has found acclaim recording and touring the United States and Canada since the 1960s. Born and raised on a farm in Minnesota, Ms. Martin discovered her musical gifts at a young age and some of her earliest memories are of practicing by singing to the birds and squirrels outside her bedroom. By the age of 5, she had been singing and taking tap dancing lessons for several years and had already developed a strong stage presence and a love for performing. She got her start not long after, when her mother took her to Minneapolis to audition for the backing band on “Slim Jim’s

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Maureen Vidal


Maureen Eris Vidal is an accomplished theater educator and actress celebrating 45 years of diverse performances in numerous stage and film productions. Ms. Vidal’s mother was a singer and she grew up around the entertainment industry, so it came as no surprise when she fell in love with theater after taking an acting class in junior high school. She continued to act throughout high school and decided to pursue a career in education based on the impact that her early theater classes had on her. Ms. Vidal graduated from the State University of New York College at Cortland with a Bachelor of Arts in 1976, and was granted her teacher’s license the same year. She began teaching for the New

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Mary Ann Cashman-McGuire


Building on her decades of diverse expertise in education as well as the visual and performing arts, Dr. Mary Ann Cashman-McGuire maintains a private practice in educational consulting while continuing to teach art, history and opera at Anne Arundel Community College, where she has been a member of faculty since 2000. A talented pianist and painter whose skills were encouraged by her childhood boarding school education, she graduated from Loyola University in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts in speech and drama. She pursued postgraduate study in drama, finding it to be a perfect middle point between her interests in music and visual arts, earning a Master of Arts in drama in 1962 at the Catholic University of America. Dr.

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