Artistic Team

//Artistic Team
Artistic Team 2018-02-12T20:50:12+00:00

Jay Manley, Director
Jay Manley is an award-winning director whose musicals and plays throughout the Bay Area have garnered repeated praise and numerous awards from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and Dean Goodman “Choice” Awards. He founded Foothill Music Theatre in Los Altos, California, to present classic and new musicals on the campus of Foothill College. He was the recipient of a 2006 special citation from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle “…in recognition of his distinguished career as founder and artistic director of Foothill Music Theatre.” At Foothill College where he chaired the Theatre Arts Department, he also established the Foothill Theatre Conservatory, a flourishing pre-professional actor training program. For the last 30 years, Jay has led popular theatre tours to New York, Ashland, London, and other major theatre production centers, through his company, New York Theatre Tour: Jay’s extensive knowledge of American musical theatre history has made him a sought-after speaker and lecturer. Jay earned a B.A. and M.A. from San Francisco State University and holds a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. He lives in the East Bay.

Jon Gallo, Music Director

Jon Gallo is a music director and pianist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he studied piano performance under Dr. W. Terrance Spiller. Jon is a founding member and the resident music director of Bay Area Musicals, which is currently enjoying its third season of shows in San Francisco. He has also worked as music director for the Performing Arts Academy of Marin for the past 6 years. In addition to a busy rehearsal and performance schedule, he serves as choir director for Trinity Music Ministry in Oakland and is a music teacher at Mount Tamalpais School. Some of his favorite music director credits include, but are not limited to The Wedding Singer, Into The Woods, 42nd Street,  Assassins, Legally Blonde, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, La Cage aux Folles, and Hair. Later this summer, you can find him leading the San Francisco premier of The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Bay Area Musicals. He is thrilled that his musical adventures have led him to his Mountain Play debut with MAMMA MIA!

Zoë Swenson-Graham, Choreographer
Zoë returned to the states in 2015 after living in London for nearly 7 years, where she worked as an actor, dancer, and trained as a stage combat instructor and fight choreographer. She is thrilled to be returning to the Mountain Play, after choreographing HAIR & the fights for West Side Story and Peter Pan. Before leaving London, she was the leading role in the English Premiere of Neil LaBute’s Autobahn at The Kings Head Theatre, London. Other acting credits include: Our Town (Emily). The Trojan Women (Helen), The Toll (Edinburgh Festival), and Twelfth Night (Viola). She received an Off-West End Best Actress nomination for At the Broken Places, a new American play that premiered in London. She has served as a stage combat choreographer and teacher around the UK, including the Royal Opera House, Soho Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and the British American Drama Academy. Since returning to the Bay, Zoe has choreographed for and taught with the American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, Oakland School of the Arts, Sierra Repertory Theatre Company, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Ross Valley Players, YMTC, Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, and Stapleton School of the Arts.

Nicole Helfer, Choreographer
Nicole is a Bay Area native and a graduate of San Francisco State University. Choreography credits include: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan and West Side Story for Mountain Play, In the Heights for Broadway By The Bay (Theatre Bay Area Award-winner), Dogfight for OMG Productions, Tarzan for Contra Costa Musical Theater (Shellie Award nominee), Rent for Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre Company, Measure for Measure for San Francisco State University, 8 Track: The Sounds of the 70s, Six Women With Brain Death, and You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Shellie Award nominee) for Willows Theatre Company. She has also choreographed Click Clack Moo and the very successful Pinkalicious for Bay Area Children’s Theater. In addition to performing regularly in regional musical theatre productions, she has taught dance and theatre classes for Young REP, Kid Stock, Inc., Dance Mission Theatre, Marilyn Izdebski Productions, YMCA and Spindrift School of Performing Arts. Currently, Nicole is happily teaching a variety of dance classes at the Ballet School in Walnut Creek and is theatre faculty at Oakland School for the Arts. She is so honored to be working with such an amazing creative team. 

Andrea Bechert, Scenic Designer
Andrea has designed scenery for over 300 productions across the country, including TheatreWorks, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, American Musical Theatre of San Jose, Chautauqua Theatre, Wildwood, The Starlight Theatre, The Stardust Casino in Las Vegas, Opera San José, and Center REPertory Theatre. Her awards include three Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle awards, a Denver Ovation Award, and her designs have been included in the 2005 World Design Expo and 1996 Prague Quadrennial. She is currently teaching design at San José State University, and has taught at several other universities across the country. Ms. Bechert is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829.

Michelle Navarre-Huff, Costume Designer
Michelle “Mishka” received her Master’s Degree in Costume Design from Western Illinois University and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, holds a B.A. in French and a minor in Art and Theatrical Design from Central University of Iowa. Mishka resides in Olympia WA and is the Costume Shop Manager/ Staff Designer for University of Puget Sound and owns her own Costume rental and production house – Costume Atelier Masque & Pettycote. She has worked in numerous theatres from Olympia to Seattle including Tacoma Actors Guild, Theatre 9/12, Olympia Family Theatre and specializes in large cast Musical Theatre. Some of her favorite productions include: Mr. Burns; A Post Electric Play, The Force of Habit, Spring Awakening, The Secret Garden (musical), Metamorphoses, The Cradle Will Rock and dressing interpretive docents for and exhibit – Discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Seattle Science Center. In her spare time Mishka loves to paint and her work can occasionally be seen in Washington area venues.