John Bisaha – Chairman of the Board
Born in New York, John Bisaha is a versatile vocalist who has worked within various forms of the industry for years. John has honed his chops from a very early age, from fronting bands to television sitcoms, from character voice-overs to equity-staged rock operas and tours (Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspeed and Destiny Faire).
John was selected in late 2012 to become the lead singer and bassist for The Babys – a 70’s and 80’s classic rock band with several top-10 and top- 40 hits. (Isn’t it Time, Every Time I Think of You, Back on My Feet Again, etc.) Along with founding members Tony Brock (drums) and Wally Stocker (lead guitar) John brings The Babys legacy to current success. The Babys recently released a new album (in 2014 after 30+ years!) – with a single that made top-10 lists on Billboard and Radio.
John has also recorded albums with Disney, most notably the ‘D2′ soundtrack, which also included Queen, The Troggs and a couple of other household names in the industry.
John and his wife Holly are also very active in giving back. They perform many shows benefitting various charity organizations with an All-Star Band that features Mark Rivera (Billy Joel), Greg Rollie (Journey), Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent), Ricky Byrd (Joan Jett), and several others.
John’s family is also in the entertainment business. Holly has been a professional artist in the industry as well for many years, currently directing musical theatre for children, and singing with The Babys as one of The Babettes. John’s son Johnny is an accomplished musician and vocalist – and a graduate of LCAD in Laguna Beach, while his daughter McKenna has wrapped up her stay in The Young Americans, traveling the world providing musical outreach to children of many different countries. She currently is in AGVA, working for Disney in various shows.
Jimmy Hippenstiel – Resident Artistic Director, Board Member
“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 of Youth Programs / Board Member
“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!”
Gantry Wilson – Director of Development, Board Member
“MTA instills much more than a love of musical theater in our children. It teaches them so many valuable skills that they will use throughout their lives; such as leadership, respect, time management, confidence and focus.”
Gantry joined the MTA Board of Directors in 2014, and quickly become an integral part of the organization. Gantry has also served in a variety of charity leadership positions ranging from YMCA of Orange County, to USC’s Orange County Alumni Organization, to his current role as Chairman of MTA’s Fundraising Committee. Gantry has been a local residential real estate broker for over 12 years and has been consistently ranked in the top 0.5% of all agents in OC and nationally. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering. He is committed to making sure that MTA has the financial acumen and supporters to be able to teach tomorrow’s children for many years to come.
Larry Webb – Board Member
As Chairman, Larry is responsible for leading the MTA Board of Directors in establishing objectives and direction that will efficiently facilitate the organization’s ability to meet the goals they have established for themselves. In addition, Larry works in the business and social communities to help raise awareness of the organization’s efforts in order to develop strategic partnerships and develop on-going funding streams.
Sebastian Gutierrez – Board Member
Sebastian works in the business and social communities to help raise awareness of the organization’s efforts in order to develop strategic partnerships and develop on‐going funding streams.
Sebastian joined the board in November of 2009 after witnessing the tremendous growth his own three children gained from participating in the MTA program. “I was amazed at the self‐confidence and excitement to engage in life that my children received as a result of their exposure to MTA.” stated Sebastian, “That was all it took for me to realize what an important gift MTA brings to our community. I had to be a part of its future.” Sebastian has been an active and effective business leader in the Orange County community for over 20 years. He has helped guide the success of several companies including Comarco Wireless Technologies Inc., and Pacific Bell. He currently is the President and CEO of CASE Systems Inc. an Irvine‐based company that provides green solar powered wireless communications devices to the transportation industry. He earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey and received his MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.
Liz Curtis – Secretary of the Board
Alyse Baron – Board Member
Beth Schlechter – Board Member
Kelsey Whitmer – Board Member
Phil Lisle – Board Adviser
Margie King – Advisory Board, Founder
“Without a doubt, MTA has changed the lives of each of the young stars who have become a part of our family.”
Margie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music in vocal performance, with minors in theater and piano from the University of Denver. She has appeared in many opera and musical theater productions including 122 performances of “The Sound of Music,” leading roles with both Denver’s and Irvine’s Saddleback Civic Light Orchestras. She is also a frequent church soloist. Her early career was a one of the famous Continental Airlines “Sky Goddesses” where she developed a passion for working with people.
Shortly thereafter she became a certified instructor with the Yamaha Music Education Center where she created the Rainbow Singers children’s musical theater program. When the franchise was sold, she rallied the involved parents and formed MTA as founding Artistic and General Manager, Producer, and in the early years, costumer, choreographer, musical director, accompanist, set designer/builder, and general jack-of-all-trades. The group’s first production of “The Sound of Music” featured a cast of eight children, seven girls and a last minute recruit of a young boy to play the Captain Von Trapp role. Within two years they were teaching over 100 children in three separate age groups, each performing their own major productions, complete with costumes, sets, sound, and lights. One of the groups greatest recognitions was being selected as the chorus for the Broadway touring company of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” for a three-week run at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Margie also serves as Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Chapman University where she created and manages the prestigious Student Ambassadors Program. For Margie, there is no reward greater than watching a shy newcomer to MTA blossom under our training as they experience success in the spotlight, regardless of the size or importance of their role.