MUSICAL THEATRE VOICE SPECIALISTS:
Sharon Szymanski: Voice Instructor & Musical Theatre Specialist
Sharon Szymanski’s love of musical theatre began when she was a child and teen performing in school and community theatre productions. Her performance resume includes over 80 roles in theater, musical theater and opera, as well as a number of productions in which she did music direction and theatrical direction. She received her vocal training at Miami University (OH), UNC-CH and Meredith College. Starting as an instructor in voice at UNC-CH in the 90’s, she has now been training voice students for almost 30 years in many genres.
Among the first wave of classically trained teachers to recognize the importance and validity of teaching differing techniques and styles for musical theatre, Ms. Szymanski began attending workshops and clinics with leading early pedagogs in this area including Jo Estill, Lisa Popeill, Jeannie LoVetri and Robert Edwin, and she has continued her education in this area into the present with many conferences and workshops sponsored by the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Voice Foundation and other sources.
Currently Ms. Szymanski specializes in training the “whole voice” for musical theatre singing in all styles. She strives to help each student achieve an organic, released, vocal production that is trained into the body and can be easily colored and shaded by the authentic emotion of the performer’s acting. Her musical theatre students place regularly in local and state competitions and several have qualified for national levels. Among her former students are many who have pursued vocal, MT and acting degrees in college, and a number who are working professionally in opera, on Broadway, in regional theaters and in films.
Charles Higgins: Voice Instructor & Musical Theatre Specialist
Charles (Chuck) Higgins spent over eleven years on the stage full-time as a singer and actor. He has performed in theatre, opera, and musical theatre from Palm Beach to New York. He began his professional performance career at Disney World as a member of “The Kids of the Kingdom” doing three daily shows. At Disney he performed with movie and stage icons and was employed in television with the Disney Corporation. His Opera, Oratorio, and Concert experience includes many of the large venues of the Eastern US. In addition he performed a variety of work with symphony, to include Verdi’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, and Musical theatre works with symphony orchestras throughout the Southeastern US.
He has a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from the Stetson School of Music and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting. He has competed extensively in vocal competitions and has much to offer from his successes. Recently, he has devoted his professional life to teaching at CHSMA and Darton State College, while dedicating himself to directing theatrical musicals and choral organizations.
His experience in auditioning and performance, both as a performer and as a music director, gives him the ability to stress both vocal technique and style combined with strong performance skills, a range of training not often seen in a single studio. Mr. Higgins is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, where his students regularly do very well, often placing 1st in North Carolina. One of his recent students, now studying MT at Elon University, was honored as an Outstanding Music Theater Singer in the Mid-Atlantic region of NATS, Outstanding Male Vocalist in NCNATS and was awarded 1st place in High School Men Music Theater National Competition sponsored by NATS as well. His students successfully audition for the UNC Playmakers Summer workshop as well as many other professional and community theatres across the Triangle.
Meris Robinson: Voice Instructor & Musical Theatre Specialist
Meris Robinson has over a decade of experience teaching Musical Theater students of all ages. She challenges her students to improve their vocal and acting skills through lessons that are energetic, fun, and focused. Meris has helped students prepare for successful auditions leading to them receiving prominent roles through school, summer programs, professional local theater, television, and film.
Her students consistently win or place in local, state, and regional Musical Theater competitions, and her students have gained admittance to competitive high school conservatories and college music and theater programs as well. She also has students who have finished their degrees are currently pursuing professional careers in theater and music.
As co-founder of CHSMA’s Broadway in Concert series, she directs, music directs, and coaches students in these productions. This year she is directing CHSMA’s Broadway in Concert version of A Little Princess: The Musical. Ms. Robinson’s training includes Bachelors and Masters degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (OH) and another Masters degree in performance and pedagogy from UNCG. Through lessons, masterclasses, and conferences with prominent Musical Theater experts, Meris is constantly keeping herself abreast of the most recent developments in MT techniques, training and repertoire.
Melissa S. Craib Dombrowski: Acting Instructor and Director
Melissa Dombrowski brings over 25 years experience working in professional theatre and education to CHSMA. She was the first recipient of the Charles H. Hume Memorial Award, and has studied with the programs at CSUS and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She received her BA (Hons) Degree in Drama and Theatre Studies from Middlesex University (London, UK). Melissa’s work has been recognized in regional awards including Best Director, Best Adapted Script, and Best Choreographer. Her directing credits include Urinetown the Musical, Godspell, Romeo and Juliet, Oleanna, All in the Timing, and We. Her favorite acting roles include Narrator from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Jenny from Threepenny Opera.
Zachary Cook: Acting Instructor and Director
A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Dramatic Arts and Communications programs, Zachary Cook has had a wealth of acting experience ranging from school and community theatre to equity productions. He has performed with Playmakers Repertory Company, Company Carolina Acting Troupe and Pauper Player’s Acting Troupe. As an arts educator, he has taught High School Acting at CHSMA and has done individual coaching with our students. He will be directing the 2019 winter production to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill.