Jimmy Hippenstiel – Artistic Director
“When the students love what they are doing, it shows, and the MTA student does it better than anyone else! Their gift is an inspiration to all and that kind of inspiration needs a permanent place in our community.”
Jimmy currently serves as the resident Artistic Director for Musical Theatre Academy of Orange County. As Artistic Director, Jimmy’s responsibilities include producing, directing, and choreographing all the full-scale stage productions for both the younger and older kids enrolled at the Academy. Under his direction, the real mission of MTA is realized. The students not only learn the skills of singing, dancing, and acting, but they develop a mature focus and discipline that allows them to excel in all aspects of their adult life. Through the social interaction they have in developing lifelong friendships and performing in front of audiences, students gain the higher confidence levels and an ability to take on challenges without fear that are so important in reaching any goal they set for themselves.
Jimmy’s background has taken him around the world as an entertainer with a variety of well-known and respected organizations including Princess Cruises and the Walt Disney Company. He has performed at New York’s Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Las Vegas, the St Moritz Music Festival, and many of the top resort hotels in Hawaii. Jimmy was a member of the world-renowned Citrus Singers and the Young Americans. He has been a featured lead in productions of many successful plays including “Hello, Dolly,” “West Side Story,” and “A Chorus Line.” Jimmy recently made a return to the stage himself, performing in one of his dream bucket list shows, 3D Theatricals critically-acclaimed production of “Ragtime.” The experience managed to rejuvenate Jimmy’s true inner love for the theater, and reminded him how important it is to always fuel his student’s passion for what they love and to provide them a safe forum at MTA to hone their skills and make new friends.
Jimmy received his Associate of Arts degree in Music and Conducting from the esteemed Citrus College and then went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in Musical Theater from Cal State, Fullerton. Since his joining the MTA family in 2001, Jimmy has become very passionate about his work as on a daily basis he has the privilege of inspiring the performer within each student with results both onstage and offstage that are always amazing to see.
Holly Bisaha – Director & Vocal Instructor
“Music and Theater bring people together, encourages respect, teamwork, and builds self esteem. When a group of kids get together and perform from their hearts… magic happens!”
Holly Bisaha attended Catawba College for the Performing Arts in North Carolina, on a Performing Arts scholarship. She then went on to join the critically acclaimed group, “The Young Americans”, where she had the opportunity to perform nationally and internationally. Holly continued her career as a headliner for Princess Cruise lines, toured extensively around the world as a vocalist with such artists as Stevie Wonder, Frankie Valli, and Huey Lewis. She also works as a session singer at BrokenWave Studios in Burbank.
Her acting credits include roles in “Anything Goes”, “Oklahoma”, “Me and My Girl”, and “Grease” to name a few. For over 12 years Holly worked in the lead role of Miss Annie “Wild Bill’s Wild West Extravaganza” (owned by Legends in Concert of Las Vegas), and sang with several large event bands, with high profile clients such as Disney, Mitsubishi, Coca Cola, and the Mighty Ducks. During this period, Holly was the director and featured performer for a number of professional production companies – Irwin Productions of Las Vegas, Bollotta Entertainment and Sam Trego Productions. She has also filmed numerous commercials and videos, the latest for Chandon Champagne. In more recent years, Holly directed an original Rock Opera titled “Destiny Faire”, produced by Trick of the Tale Productions. The show received rave reviews, filing up Escondido’s Performing Arts Center.
Holly’s talents are only outweighed by her love for children and keeping the Performing Arts alive. So, with her love of drama, theatre and musical production she was led to directing children’s theatre in a number of areas in the Orange County area, most notably for the Saddleback School District, directing as many as 250 children in any one production. Holly has directed such plays as – “Tom Sawyer”, “Annie”, and “Cinderella” to name a few. Holly has also hosted the Young Americans Outreach Workshop three times in the past few years, to much success in the community. Many of her students have been awarded college scholarships in Performing Arts programs, as well as been admitted to OCSHA. She has loved her role as assistant director for MTA’s productions of “Oliver!”, “Alice in Wonderland”, and “Bye, Bye Birdie” as well as teaching the Tiny Stars and Brite Stars to shine.
Deborah Matthews – Assistant Director & Acting Teacher
Deborah is happy to be back home in California after more than 10 years in New York City where she worked as an actor and director. Deborah is a member of Actors Equity. She is a graduate of the American Center for Musical Theater in New York, and had trained with Joanna Gleason, E. Katherine Kerr, and Deborah Lavine. Deborah has appeared on stage in roles as diverse as Mary in Merrily We Roll Along, April in Savage in Limbo, and was on the the original cast members of the Curtain Call Dinner Theater in Tustin. Deborah grew up doing children’s theater where she meet her life long friend Jimmy Hippenstiel, and is excited to be joining forces again on the other side of the footlights. Deborah is also teaching the Musical Theater Acting classes at MTA.
Richard Abraham – Orchestral Music Director
Richard spends much of his time working with local youth in the performing arts sector of the community. As the Orchestral Musical Director, and an accomplished pianist, his present and past affiliations include: MTA – Musical Theatre Academy of Orange County (his ‘home’ company), Broadway on Tour, OCSA – Orange County High School of the Arts, KidSingers Performing Group, Valley High School, One More Productions, to name a few. Richard has composed two full length musicals of his own, and has the greatest hope that one of tomorrow’s stars will remember him when they make it to Broadway!
Chris Ring – Orchestral Music Director
Chris Ring is an accomplished pianist, singer, teacher, arranger, director and recording artist. He got his degree in voice and piano from Cal State Long Beach, and is grateful for the opportunity to make music for a living. In addition to being on staff with MTA, Chris also works for Orange County High School of the Arts, Millikan High School in Long Beach, and Grace Community Church of Seal Beach.
Katherine Robinson – Private Voice Teacher
Having just driven cross country from NYC to make Orange County her new home, Katherine Robinson is delighted to be the newest voice teacher on the MTAOC team! A performer, director, and private voice and piano teacher, she holds a BA in Music Theater Performance and comes to us with over 20 years of experience teaching and directing throughout the Northeast in private, group, and summer camp settings. As a performer, she has toured the country and the world with companies including Disney Cruise Lines, Sesame St. Live!, and American Family Theater. A comedic soprano with both coloratura and high belt training, Katherine is extremely dedicated to helping young singers find and hone all the colors of their natural sound, celebrating their unique voices and personalities, and helping them to truly take stage as all of their wonderful selves. Zany, warm, and endlessly supportive, Katherine strikes the perfect balance of training technique and polishing performance, and her extensive knowledge of music theater repertoire and the professional audition process make her a wonderful resource for picking optimal audition cuts. Don’t miss the chance to train with this amazing, fresh face in our theatrical family!