Meet the Workshop Instructors
Brenda Dawe, Musical Director
Brenda Dawe enthusiastically returns to this workshop for her 13th season as musical director. Since earning her master of music degree from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, Dawe has balanced an active singing career with a major teaching studio that attracts local performers of all ages and abilities. Having performed with major companies across North America, including Arizona Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey and Calgary Opera, she has become a seasoned performer and musician.
She is familiar to local audiences and has performed nearly 20 leading roles with Tri-Cities Opera Company. Her extensive involvement with the youth-outreach programs of Syracuse Opera, Virginia Opera and Tri-Cities Opera has given her the opportunity to perform and direct thousands of young people all over the United States. Dawe recently joined the adjunct faculty at Broome Community College, where she teaches voice, music and theater courses.
James Everett Lortz, Director
As a faculty member of Western Washington University's Drama Department for 17 years, Jim Lortz has directed and staged a wide variety of productions including Evita, The Cider House Rules, The Happy Prince, West Side Story, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, Angels in America: Perestroika, The Grapes of Wrath, Sweeney Todd, Assassins, Hair, City of Angels, To Kill a Mockingbird, God's Country and Falsettos. His acting roles include Pseudolus (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Harold Hill (The Music Man), Carl (Lonely Planet), Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha) and Fred Graham (Kiss Me Kate). For the Theater Guild, Lortz has directed Jesus Christ Superstar, 1776, Shenandoah and Over Here! On campus, Lortz is part of the acting faculty and is responsible for over 90 students per year. Originally from Deer Lodge, Montana, Lortz received his BFA and MFA from the University of Montana in Missoula. He has been a member of the Actor's Equity working Bathhouse Theatre in Seattle (five seasons) and for the Montana Repertory Theatre in Missoula (five seasons), where his roles included Conn Price (Cowboy), Doc (Crimes of the Heart), Vernon Gersch (They're Playing Our Song), Feste (Twelfth Night), Sydney Bruhl (Deathtrap) and Adam (The Apple Tree).
Todd Robinson, Conductor
Todd Robinson is excited to return to the workshop for his ninth summer as conductor. "I love coming back to see how the returning students have grown over the year and love working with all the new ones that come for the first time. There is always so much amazing talent!" Robinson is the orchestra conductor, vocal teacher and vocal coach for the workshop productions and teaches students privately as well. He has spent many years conducting and teaching a variety of singers, from young beginners to seasoned professionals. He has a music education degree as well as a master of music degree in voice. His conducting and teaching credits include six years as musical director and conductor for two adult choirs in northeastern Pennsylvania, where he debuted several of his own compositions of choral and orchestral music; three years as general music and chorus teacher/conductor at Choconut Valley Elementary School; and one year as an adjunct professor of voice for Elmira College, Binghamton University and the University of California at Irvine. He has been the executive director of Opera Coeur d'Alene sinde 2007. A renowned singer, Robinson has appeared in leading roles with numerous opera companies, including San Francisco Opera, New National Theater Tokyo (Japan), Sarasota Opera, Opera Pacific and Virginia Opera.
Elaine Laramee, Program Director
Elaine Laramee has been with this summer program since its inception in 1996. She is happy to return as program director and instructor for various classes. Laramee received a Bachelor of Music Performance degree from Western Washington University, where she studied and performed both opera and musical theater. She has appeared in leading roles in Once Upon a Mattress, A Little Night Music and A Year with Frog and Toad. As a resident artist with Tri-Cities Opera Company, she performed leading roles, toured extensively with Opera-Go-Round and worked with thousands of young people throughout New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Laramee has recently received a Master of Science in Teaching Degree from SUNY Cortland and has acquired her music teaching certification.
Within the past two school years, she has co-directed two musicals at Vestal High School and directed three musicals at Glenwood Elementary School in Vestal. Laramee currently has a blossoming voice studio in Vestal, and enjoys her time instructing performers of all ages in voice and theater.
Jessica Jahn, Costume Designer
Jessica Jahn danced professionally in NYC before beginning a career in design. She has had the opportunity to work on various projects with directors such as Tina Landau, Tommy Kail, Kevin Newbury, and Carl Andress, artist Michael Counts, as well as writers Eisa Davis, Norah Ephron and Charles Busch.
Some of the recent projects that she has collaborated on include: Love, Loss and What I Wore, at the Westside Theatre, Die Mommie Die!, at New World Stages (Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award), In the Red and Brown Water, at the Alliance Theatre, Once On This Island, at Papermill Playhouse, Roberto Devereux, Maria Stuarda, Anna Bolena, and Werther at Minnesota Opera and Maria Stuarda at Houston Grand Opera, Life Is A Dream (World Premiere) at Santa Fe Opera, Monodramas at New York City Opera, and Die Leibe der Danae at Bard Summerscape. Upcoming projects include Mose in Egitto at New York City Opera, as well as Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Jessica is also a resident design instructor with the Binghamton Summer Musical Theatre Workshop, a pre-professional training program for high-school students.
Last Updated: 2/17/13