Meet Us!

CARRIE BRAMLETT : Director/ Coach/ Consultant  holds her BFA in Musical Theatre from Kent State University. She has extensive experience producing an directing youth theatre programs over the past nine years. Her professional career has brought her from the East Coast to Chicago, with many regional performing credits. Most recently in Chicago, she was seen in the Jeff-recommended productions of Company, Merrily We Roll Along and Into the Woods. She is currently an artistic associate of Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago.

ANNIE YOKOM : Associate Director/ Coach/ Consultant  is a professional actor, singer, and dancer. She grew up performing in Chicago and received her BFA in Musical Theatre from Carnegie Mellon University   Annie won first place at Micheal Feinstein’s Songbook Competition in 2010 and became an Ambassador of The Great American Songbook. She has performed at Feinstein’s/54 Below, Pittsburgh CLO, The Palladium in Carmel Indiana and The Brooklyn Center of Performing Arts.  She is currently producing music videos of some of her favorite Pop/Jazz Standards of the 40s, 50s and 60s.

DR. JENNIFER BARNICKEL-FITCH: Coach Soprano, received her Doctorate from the University of Michigan under the guidance of Lorna Haywood. While at Ann Arbor she performed several leading roles including, Madama Lidoine inDialogues des Carmelites, Lady Billows in Albert Herring, and Countessa Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro. Much of her solo work has been in Oratorio, which includes Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem,Rutter’sMagnificat, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah to name a few. She was a district winner and regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as well as winner of the Milwaukee Bel Canto Young Artist Competition and the Ann Arbor Musical Society Young Artist Competition. Since moving to Chicago, she has been a member of Chicago Symphony Chorus and Lyric Opera Chorus. She has worked with da Corneto Opera Company, Chicago’s Concert Opera Company, and covered the title role of Verdi’s Aida and Leonora in Il Trovatore as well as being broadcast on WFMT. In addition to her duties her at SPA, she is a vocal instructor at College of DuPage and Neuqua Valley High School and is the mother of two beautiful boys.

JONATHON KEATON : Coach  is a Chicago native and alum of the Second City National Touring Company and has performed with other organizations including MPAACT, I.O. Chicago, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, The Chicago Dramatist & C.I.C. Theater’s foundation group Pimprov (one of the longest running improv shows in Chicago). He won the BTA “Harry Belafonte Award” for Best Performance in an Ensemble during his time with MPAACT. In 2015, a dream moment arrived with a chance to work with the award winning directing legend, Mick Napier, in a starring role in the “Power of Prom” at the Annoyance Theater – which received an honorable mention in the Chicago Tribune. He has also been very fortunate to have kept busy with film & television roles in “Chicago Code”, “Chicago Fire”, “The Moleman of Belmont Avenue” & “My Name is Jerry” and has been featured in national television commercials for Xfinity, KFC & Rotel. Voiceover experience includes radio ads for AT&T, McDonald’s, American Family Insurance & Coors Light to name a few. Jonathan would like to thank God, his wife, children & parents for blessings they’ve given him and for continuing to push him to new heights.

 KRISTI BRAMLETT : Coach holds a BA in Theatre, English Literature and Education from Hope College and an MFA in acting/directing from the University of Arizona. She has worked in regional theaters including Steppenwolf, Peninsula Players and Arizona Repertory Theater. She also teaches acting at Columbia College where she recently directed a production of Guys and Dolls. Ms. Bramlett also has extensive work in commercials and voiceovers. Kristi has been teaching youth theatre classes since 1989. Kristi is the voice of Queen Vashiti in the Veggie Tales classic, Queen Ester.

SAWYER PIERCE : Coach is a professional actor living in Chicago who grew up in Laguna Beach, California. He earned his BFA in Acting at Carnegie Mellon University’s School Drama in 2015. He stared in BARRY a Netflix original movie and featured in The Maze Runner. He has been seen in This is How it Goes, Three Sisters, The Crucible,  A Lie of the Mind and Trojan Women 2.0. He has been awarded The Kennedy Center Ensemble Acting Award for Collegiate Theatre.

CLAUDIA BENACK : Guest Teacher/Coach  Associate Teaching Professor, Voice, Carnegie Mellon University, received both her BFA and MFA degrees in Vocal Performance from CMU’s School of Music. In the operatic genre, she is an award-winning lyric soprano: MTNA National First place winner in Voice (1983), NSAL Regional winner and National semi-finalist (1987) and recipient of the Minna Kaufmann Ruud Fund grant. She was a leading soprano for twenty years with Pittsburgh Opera Theater, and performed frequently with Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pennsylvania Opera Workshop, and other regional opera companies. Benack also boasts an impressive array of musical theater credits. Favorite productions include Baby (Arlene), The Sound of Music (Maria), Guys and Dolls (Sarah), Oklahoma! (Laurey), A Little Night Music (Charlotte), Of Thee I Sing (Benson), and My Fair Lady (Eliza). Benack’s favorite part of her career has become watching and enjoying former and present students appear in countless national tours and regional productions.

KATIE JOHANNIGMAN Guest Teacher/Coach  Visiting Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music,  she graduated from CCM with a BFA in Musical Theatre in 2012. In the eighth grade, Johannigman joined Cameron Macintosh’s National Tour of Oliver!, where she toured the United States for eight months. In 2010, Johannigman attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. She also studied at the Second City Training Center in Chicago in 2011. Recently she has served as Artistic Director at Broadway Method Academy. Her professional credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie and Pirates! at The Muny, The Light in the Piazza and Anything Goes at Lincolnshire Marriott, Mary Poppins at Kansas City Straight Theatre, Company at The Gallery Players, and Cats and Chicago at the West Virginia Public Theatre. Her professional work as a choreographer has appeared at the Connecticut Repertory Theater, The Human Race Theater, the Broadway Method Academy, and here at CCM for They Were You and Out of This World. She choreographed  CCM’s studio production of Sondheim on Sondheim and Mainstage production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide and The Theory of Relativity. Johannigman teaches Tap and Jazz Dance to the musical theatre majors at CCM.

BARBARA YOKOM : Consultant has had a distinguished career as Founder of The School of Performing Arts. She is forerunner in the advancement of the performing arts and has built a reputation throughout the Chicagoland area as leader in the field of arts education. A graduate of Millikin University, with a degree in Business, and a minor in Fine Arts, Yokom has been an active performer, educator, administrator, choreographer and community leader – culminating with the establishment of The School of Performing Arts in 1990.The School of Performing Arts is celebrating 26 years of arts education in DuPage County and has recently expanded into downtown Chicago with an arts collaboration with former Artistic Directors of The Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik. In 2013, A recent graduate of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses national business program, Barbara has overseen a tremendous growth in quantity and quality at SPA, she prides herself in never losing touch with her passion for teaching. With over twenty years of teaching experience, from primary to adult levels, Barbara continues to be a forthright arts educator and administrator.