Elizabeth graduated magna cum laude from Concordia University-Chicago with degrees in Theatre and Business in 2004. Since moving to Atlanta in 2006 she has taught theatre and acting classes and directed shows for a number of programs including Master's Academy, Portfolio Academy, Artios Academy, Renaissance International School of Performing Arts (RISPA), the Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, Sunrise Baptist Church, Victory World Church, and WOW Talent. She has also assisted with casting for CYT. As a private acting coach, she has helped students prepare auditions for colleges, professional theatre companies, Disney, commercials, and agent representation. In addition to teaching and directing, Elizabeth occasionally performs around Atlanta at various theaters when she can fit rehearsals into her busy schedule.
She has worked on over 120 productions for children and youth as a Director, Music Director, or Producer. Favorite directing projects include "The Pirates of Penzance", "Little Women", "Bugsy Malone Jr.", "The Wizard of Oz", "Moby Dick the Musical", "Schoolhouse Rock", "Shrek the Musical", "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", and "Thoroughly Modern Millie".
Elizabeth founded Forefront Arts in 2010. Since then thousands of children and teens have experienced the transformative power of live children's theatre through our classes, workshops, summer drama camps, and productions. She also owns a private piano studio through which she teaches private in-home music lessons each week, www.VirtualDramaCamps.com for online acting programs, Second Star Events, a princess character company, and an Etsy Shop for handmade theatre keepsakes. She and her husband have two young boys and like every mom, every day is crazy and hectic, but every day is a gift!
Haley Benefield is a director, teacher, and theatre enthusiast from the small town of Between, Ga. Haley is passionate about bringing the arts to children and inspiring them to find confidence and joy in theatre! Haley recently graduated from Georgia Gwinnett College with a degree in English Education and is excited to work with Forefront to bring theatrical education to all students through productions, camps, workshops, private lessons, and any and every avenue of theatre possible!
Through Forefront Arts, Haley has worked to help coordinate dynamic classes, camps, and workshops that focus on building the imagination, creating wacky characters, and understanding theatre as a form of brave expression. As a private vocal instructor and director, Haley has worked with hundreds of students on connecting their passion for singing, dancing, and acting with technique to help them learn to become well-rounded performers and unlock the full potential of their talents. From "Annie" to "Frozen" to "Fairtyale Courtroom," Haley has directed several shows and musicals that have given students the opportunity to see their love for theatre grow and bravely embrace new talents.
When she is not teaching theatre (which is a rare occasion), Haley enjoys spending time with her family, directing her church youth worship band, and dragging her fiance along to as many theatre performances as possible. Some of her favorite shows include "Anastasia," "The Last Five Years," and "Waitress."
Jonathan Bryant is dancer/choreographer/instructor who has worked in the booming entertainment industry in Atlanta for over a decade. He has worked with many celebrities including Ne-Yo, Trina Braxton, Tichina Arnold, Nivea, Queen Latifah and more. He has been in numerous musical productions in the Atlanta area, recently AIDA(Atlanta Lyric Theatre) and MAMMA MIA! (Aurora Theatre). He has worked in the booming television/movie industry in Atlanta including The Originals and Step Up: Highwater and movies like Bessie, Billy Lynn Long Halftime Walk directed by Oscar-winning director Ang Lee. He will make his acting debut as “Bubba Knight” in the docu-series American Soul premiering on BET in February. Jonathan owns his own lifestyle brand Jaybsmoovethebrand that focuses on MOVEMENT, STYLE, and PERSONALITY. Jonathan Bryant has only begun to exude the talent and success of his career and much more is to be achieved.
As a graduate of Samford University, Sara has had years of experience working with children and teaching theatre! Throughout her time at Samford as a college student, she taught drama classes in the city of Birmingham and saw the power of arts education in the children she worked with. After graduating, she spent a year teaching drama for Red Mountain Theatre Company in Birmingham, Alabama, a Tony Award winning regional theatre! Since then, she has joined staff with Forefront Arts, directing Frozen Jr. at Parkside Elementary School! Just as well, she is creating a drama ministry with Wellspring Living to serve underage girls who have been rescued from human trafficking. Sara is a firm believer that acting is transformative and theatre education is beneficial to everyone. She currently continues to take acting classes at Drama Inc. studios in Grant Park, and is pursuing acting for film and television here in Atlanta. She would love to work one on one with your child to provide individualized acting training!
Carol Foose is very excited to be working as a Teaching Artist for the ever inspirational Forefront Arts. Carol was born and raised in Lancaster, PA before moving to Syracuse, NY to receive her B.F.A in Acting from Syracuse University, College of Visual and Performing Arts. After college, Carol took a bite of the big apple and moved to NYC where she began auditioning. Carol has performed regionally in over ten states, and she looks forward to exploring other corners of the world while performing as well. Carol now happily calls Georgia home. Some of her favorite credits include The George Street Playhouse Educational Tour (Mencha in New Kid, Gabi in Gabi Goes Green, and Kayla in Austin, The Unstoppable!), Almost, Maine (Ginette, Glory, Gayle, Hope), Legally Blonde, The Musical (Ensemble, Serena u/s), Matt and Ben (Matt). Carol also toured rural New England with Children’s Stage Adventures, teaching week-long residencies at elementary schools culminating in a fully-produced performance for family and friends to attend. She has taught with George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ and with IlluminArt, Inc. in Staten Island, NY. She loves the joy and encouragement that she has found in theater and is excited to share that same open joy and encouragement with the students throughout Georgia.
Reeve is thrilled to be teaching with Forefront Arts this year! She is a recent high school graduate and plans to get a degree in acting. Reeve was a Forefront student way back in 2011, and began her summer internship in 2016. She has also taught theatre at The Academy, Atlanta and directed their spring show, “Complaint Dept. and Lemonade.” A stage actor since 2006, she has trained at The Second City, The Alliance Theatre, and of course Forefront Arts! Reeve has appeared in recent productions such as “A Different Agender: A Musical Cabaret” and “Murder at The Roadside Diner.”
Teaching Artist / Vocal Coach
Aaron Lenhart has been teaching voice and acting for over 12 years in public schools and private studios in New York City, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and now Atlanta. He has taught musical theater performance and audition technique at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts at Hamilton High School as well as CHAMPS Charter High School for the Arts in Los Angeles, and completed his student teaching at the famed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Arts in New York. He holds a master's degree from NYU as well as a bachelor's in musical theater from Westminster Conservatory for the Arts. As an actor he has toured and performed in regional houses throughout the US. Notable credits include Barefoot in the Park (New London Barn Playhouse); South Pacific (Arts Center of Coastal Carolina); Fairytale (NYMF,45th St Theater, NYC); 12 Irish Tenors (Sprit Productions, UK); White Christmas (Cohoes Music Hall) and more. His students have gone on to work in national touring productions such as Gypsy and gained acceptance to some of the best college programs in the US such as: NYU, Julliard, Rutgers, Marymount Manhattan, AMDA, Boston Conservatory among others. He teaches classical and musical theater technique based on strengthening the vocal instrument while reducing tension.
Katie Miesner is a recent Atlanta transplant who is ecstatic to join the Forefront Arts team. She received her BA in Theatre Studies from the University of Central Florida and was trained through the Royal Academy of Ballet’s examination syllabus. While in Florida she taught and choreographed at numerous performing arts programs and schools in both the Tampa and Orlando areas. In addition to teaching and choreographing, she also is a performer and has performed regionally with Orlando Repertory Theatre, St Petersburg Opera, Jobsite Theater, Legoland Florida Resort, Seaworld Orlando and Universal Studios Orlando Resort.
Devin A. Shaw hails from Detroit, Michigan and is a graduate of Columbus State University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a focus in Acting and Directing.
In addition to her strong leadership tactics, she is a dedicated entertainer and business professional accomplished in all aspects of theatre performance and theatre education with an extensive dance (Ballet, Jazz, African, Contemporary, Modern, Tap, & Hip-Hop) directing, and writing background. Devin has devoted her life to keeping the Fine Arts an important part of the public education curriculum in order to, “create the greatest human mind, body, and spirit possible”. She believes that no individual can truly be established if they have not been involved in the arts in some form.
Devin A. Shaw's ultimate objective in life is to create works that showcase worldly economic, political, and cultural concepts in order to establish what she calls, “Cultural Communion” for people in search for greater perspective though an honest lens. She hopes that the lessons she instills as an instructor will extend far beyond the studio and theatre arenas where she teaches and into the everyday lives of her students.