EVCT Staff

Karen Rolston, Artistic Director and Main Stage Director

Karen is currently the Producing Artistic Director at East Valley Children’s Theatre.  She has been involved in theatre in the Valley for the past 25 years as a director, music director, scenic designer, sound designer, an actor in numerous community and college productions; film and commercial work, voice over actor and has received numerous awards for her work.   A graduate of ASU with degrees in music and theatre, Karen is a retired teacher from Mesa Public Schools and Chandler-Gilbert Community College.


Nicole Gibson-Rice

Express Troupe Director and Class Instructor

Nicole holds a bachelor and masters degree in theatre, and has taught and worked professionally in theatre for the past 18 years.

Ariana Ziskin

Class Instructor
EVCT Bravo Director

Ari is a recent graduate of Idaho University with a Bachelors Degree in Musical Theatre. In addition to her work at EVCT she currently teaches at the New School for the Arts and Academics in Tempe.

Joel Cranson

Workshop Instructor and Main Stage Director

With a degree in theatre from Grand Canyon University, Joel is active in film in the valley, acting, directing and producing.

Jere Van Patten

Main Stage Director

Jere is currently pursuing his second masters degree in directing and teaches at Mountain View High School in Mesa.

Jennifer Duxbury

Choreographer and Summer Camp Instructor

Jennifer teaches at Highland High School in Gilbert and performs regularly with Scorpius Dance Company.

Gingi Cullipher

Class Instructor

Gingi has a degree in English with a minor in theatre from Arizona State University. She has been involved in the theatre in the Valley for the past 10 years both directing and acting in local community, church, and college productions.

Jeff Deglow

Film and Commercial Classes

A recent Valley transplant, Jeff has performed locally with The Southwest Shakespeare Company and The Hale Centre Theatre. His work has spanned the country, being seen both regionally and on numerous national tours, playing notable venues such as The Gateway, Theatre Under the Stars, Williamstown Theatre Festival, as well as Off-Broadway at La Mama Theatre, The Temple Theatre, and The Public Theater. To know more, visit: JeffDeglow.com

Kelly Nicole

Class Instructor & Director of Literature Alive

Kelly is a former EVCT performer and is currently acting in film, commercials and Theatre in the valley.  Graduate of several acting intensive programs, She has acted in dinner theaters, works as a variety of Princesses, and directs productions at Arizona Home School Theatre.

Aaron Blanco

On the Spot Teen Improv Troupe Director

Aaron is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s B.F.A. Acting program with a stage combat certification. He is a professional Phoenix actor and stage combat choreographer. His recent credits include Beau Jest at the Hale (Bob), Peacemaker at Phoenix  Theatre (Bluey), and various roles/stage combat work with Southwest Shakespeare.

Aaron would like to thank Bry and his beloved daughters for their continued support in his acting career.

Dustin Loehr


Dustin is the Director of Arts and Special Events for Mesa Arts Academy (MAA).  He received his Master’s in Humanities from Prescott College, where he studied Expressive Arts and Education, and holds his BA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance from ASU, and his AA in Acting from Mesa Community College. Dustin has worked professionally as a dancer, choreographer, director, and performer for several years.

Breona Conrad


Breona graduated from Indiana-Purdue, Fort Wayne with a B.A. in Acting and a minor in Vocal Performance in 2008. Credits include the National Eduational tour Calculus: The Musical! alongside her husband, Joshua (Know Theatre of Cincinnati), and the Educational Regional Tours Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Jack and the Gentle Giant (Madcap Puppet Theatre, Cincinnati), and To the Moon (Theatre at Monmouth, Maine). Breona has also been a member of the entertainment group RWS and Associates based out of New York City since 2009. She is excited to step into the role of teacher again to share her passion for theatre and performance with the up and coming stars of the Phoenix community.