Brett J. Roden
Producing Artistic Director
Brett J. Roden is thrilled to be in his 6th season with VCT as we celebrate our 15th year of award-winning, professional theatre in the Commonwealth! Before becoming P.A.D. in 2019 he served as Assistant Artistic Director & Director of Education since 2017. Brett is an experienced Musical Theatre professional (Producer, Music Director/ Conductor/ Pianist/ Vocal Coach, Theatre Educator and Performer), administrator and business person. He prides himself on inspiring his team to create an outstanding, top-notch theatrical experience for his students, collaborators and all involved. He currently resides in Roanoke full time, after moving to the area in 2017 from upstate New York. Brett was named by Roanoker Magazine as one of Roanoke’s 40 under 40 young professionals in 2022, in recognition of his continued excellence as a leader in the theatre community in the Roanoke Valley and beyond. Up next, Brett will be traveling back to MA this summer to serve as the Music Director of the summer, collegiate Musical Theatre Conservatory program at the Tony Award-Winning Barrington Stage Company for the month of June and then back to Roanoke to finish out VCT's 22-23 Season with our annual summer concert in Elmwood Park! Some of his favorite credits include serving as music director, vocal coach and teaching artist for the Tony Award-Winning Barrington Stage Company, Redhouse Arts Center, P&HCC Patriot Players, Syracuse Children’s Theatre, Bogardus Performing Arts Center, SUNY Potsdam’s Creative Arts Camp, Crane Opera's Education Outreach Program, Roanoke City Schools and a variety of school systems throughout New York. In his free time he enjoys traveling across the Southeast and Northeast regions of the country to see professional theatre and sing/ act professionally as he is able! He is a graduate of The Crane School of Music & SUNY College at Potsdam where he studied Music & Theatre.
Assistant Director of Education
Lana Huffington is a performing arts professional (Educator, Stage Director, Administrator, Actor, and Dramaturge) with a B.A. in Drama & History from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (minor in American Sign Language). She has worked with off-broadway (SoHo Rep.), regional (Triad Stage) and children's theatres (Peppercorn Children's Theatre, Springville Center for the Arts) throughout the east coast.
She is the founder & producer of The Salted Light Theatre Company. Some of her favorite directing credits are DUTCHMAN by Amiri Baracka (The Salted Light Theatre Company), and co-direction of THE JULIES: A KINDA SORTA ADAPTATION OF STRINDBERG'S MISS JULIE by Calley N. Anderson (UNC Greensboro Mainstage). Her favorite acting credits include: HAIRSPRAY, THEMBA, PIPPIN, and TAMING OF THE SHREW
Resident Dance Teaching Artist
Kaitlin Pennington is a Roanoke native and is a graduate of James Madison University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance. After graduating, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work with Dance Place as their Youth Programs Intern. While living in DC, she performed, taught, and worked with multiple arts organizations throughout the city, most notably Imagination Stage and District Dance Arts. Kaitlin is also a co-founder of Coalescence, a platform for emerging interdisciplinary artists to network, create, and show work. She is currently continuing her education at the University of Kentucky to receive her Master’s degree in Arts Administration. Kaitlin started working with VCT in April 2021 when she choreographed Mary Poppins Jr. Since then, she has had the joy of choreographing Peter Pan Jr., serving as a Teaching Artist for multiple classes, and getting to work with many of the talented youth at VCT!
Resident Voice Teaching Artist
Bethany Costello is a NC native teaching artist, educator, actress and musician. An avid traveler and lover of wellness, Bethany is a proud graduate of The South Carolina School of the Arts (2019) and holds a BFA degree in Musical Theatre. Bethany has served as a Musical Theatre Artist (music director, educator, curriculum developer, assistant director, performer, vocal coach and accompanist) with companies including The REV Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, Florida Repertory Theatre, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Missoula Children’s Theatre, CentreStage and Anderson University. Favorite artistic credits include: JUNIE B. JONES: THE MUSICAL, SISTER ACT, TWELFTH NIGHT, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, ALABASTER (THE WORLD PREMIER), ROMEO AND JULIET and INTO THE WOODS. She aspires to foster accessibility and joy for the arts to students of all ages.
Kari Sullivan is no stranger to Virginia Children's Theatre as she has been involved with VCT since its inception. She has taken on many roles during her time with VCT; as an actor, teaching artist, director, assistant stage manager and more. Sullivan is the founder of Kaleidoscope Summer Camp, which is a camp that VCT offers each summer to children of all ages with special needs, free of charge. When the pandemic hit and many VCT Academy classes had to move to a virtual platform, Sullivan was able to step in to teach Kaleidoscope Summer Camp both in person and virtually. She is looking forward to returning to VCT for another summer of fun!
Sarah Jane Christensen
Sarah Jane Christensen is a teaching artist, PreK-12 educator, performer, and choreographer who has recently returned to the Roanoke valley. She is a trained dancer, singer and actor, who enjoys teaching a combination of arts disciplines to engage both young artists minds and bodies. Sarah Jane is a graduate of James Madison University where she earned her B.A. in Theatre and specialized in Theatre education, receiving her PK-12 Virginia teaching licensure. Upon studying at college, she worked closely with theatres and schools across the Shenandoah region to provide theatre and dance programming for youth. Sarah Jane is thrilled to join VCT and to help students further develop their interests and artistry!
Baylee is a Theatre Educator who has earned her Bachelor’s in Theatre Arts from Drew University with minors in Arts Administration and Applied Performance. She is currently obtaining her Master’s from Adelphi University to become teaching certified in K-12 Theatre Education. Baylee experienced opportunities to study moment work with Tectonic Theatre Company and Shakespearian acting with The Globe Theatre, as well as work with Pittsburgh CLO Academy of Musical Theatre. As an artist of many skills, she has worked as an actor, designer, stage manager, and director for many productions. In the past, Baylee has worked with Virginia Children's Theatre both as an educator and director. Currently, Baylee acts as the musical theater and acting teacher at RISE Performing Arts, as well as the director for their main stage musicals. She also runs the VVS school districts high school and elementary school drama clubs, directing their productions. She is so excited to be back with VCT as their acting instructor for the Youth Professional Ensemble: Rising class.
Ruthy is a professional actor, who most recently performed on stages throughout America as Hodel, on the 1st National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Tony Award Winner, Bartlett Sher. She is a Los Angeles native and holds a BFA, with honors, from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, with concentrations in Musical Theatre and Screen Acting, and a minor in producing. Ruthy has studied acting and voice from a very young age and to date has performed in 39 states. Selected stage and acting credits include: The Diary of Anne Frank (Margot), Film/TV’s “Gotti” (Amazon Prime) and “Meltdown: Three Mile Island” (Netflix). Together with acting, producing theatre, and creating online content, she is a passionate acting and voice teacher, specializing in creating a unique curriculum for students, based on the class and individual. Ruthy is delighted to be a part of the VCT family.