Teaching Artists


Teaching Artists

Tova Halpern

Founder and Artistic Director

Tova has been a professional Director and theatre arts educator for the past 18 years. Tova graduated with her B.A. in theatre arts from Rutgers University in 2006. While at Rutgers, she revitalized the Hillel Theatre Company, directing and producing for the company four shows in two years. After graduating from Rutgers,Tova went to work on Broadway at Richard Frankel Productions, producers for “Hairspray,” “Stomp” and "Young Frankenstein.” After gaining a true Broadway experience, Tova went back to school and received her Masters in Educational Theater from NYU. With her enthusiasm and love for theater and education, Tova founded "Fresh Theatre Arts."

Professional Memberships and Awards

Teaching Artist Guild (TAG)
American Association of Theatre and Education (AATE)
Association of Teaching Artist (ATA)
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)
Association of Teaching Artists (ATA)
KAPPA DELTA PI International Honor Society In Education (KDP)
Dean’s List, 2004-2005, Douglass College, Rutgers University
Rising Star Award from the Rutgers Hillel, Rutgers University
PHI ETA SIGMA National Freshman Honor Society, Barry University

Nikole Rizzo

Musical Theatre/Directing/Choreography

Nikole is a graduate of the musical theatre program at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. Consistently working as an Actors Equity member, she has recently been seen in the national tour of Charlotte's Web, Pinkalicious the Musical, and The world premier of The Secret Life of Hubie Hartzel. She was also a reoccurring actor on the AMC series "Into Character" as well as voice over work and commercial work. Nikole has been a teaching artist for 10+ years throughout the country teaching ages pre-k through adult in all aspects of the stage. She believes that everyone should be exposed to the arts in one way or another, and finds helping young people achieve their dreams and recognize their talent incredibly fulfilling.

Lauren Palmeri

Musical Theatre/Acting/Dance

Lauren Palmeri recently returned from a contract aboard Princess Cruise Lines as the lead production vocalist for their World Cruise! She has been seen on the First National Tour of Elf the musical, as well as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast National Tour (Belle u/s). She has also appeared and performed as 'Belle' at various press events around the U.S. including a Miami Dolphins home game. Her favorite regional credits include tick,tick...BOOM! (Susan) and Funny Girl (Fanny Brice), The Bridges of Madison County (Francesca), A Chorus Line (Diana Morales), and The Sound of Music (Leisl). NJPAC performance credits include Carousel (Julie Jordan), and Ragtime (Mother). She has also appeared as a lead vocalist at the Tropicana Showroom in Atlantic City and at The Fallsview Casino in Ontario. Lauren holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. http://www.laurenpalmerionline.com

Nava Chefitz

Art Specialist/Party Motivator

Nava Chefitz is a college student working on getting a bachelor's degree in fine arts at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Nava has experience in a variety of arts. She has been dancing since she was 3 years-old, playing piano since she was 10 years-old, and has been in multiple high school theater performances. In high school, Nava found time to do many extra curricular activities while keeping up with her studies, mastering her time management skills. This has proved useful in college to balance her classes, labs, homework, social life, and participation in the University Choir. Nava also enjoys working with children. She has been a sleep-away camp counselor multiple times at camp Moshava IO, where Nava attended since she was a camper. She was also a group leader for three years at Congregation Ohev Emet and has assisted Fresh Theater Arts with productions and Bat Mitzvahs. Nava channels her bursting energy to help motivate children to express themselves through the arts.

Megan Midgley


Megan Midgley recently graduated as a Ed.M Dance Education Candidate with K12 Teacher Certification at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education. She completed her full-time student teaching at Trenton Central High School under the mentorship of Elizabeth Zweirzynski, Ed.M in December of 2022 where she taught ballet, modern, jazz and hip hop to all of the dance students. She is currently the co-director of Evolution Dance and Performing Arts Academy in Brick, New Jersey, where she teaches hip hop, contemporary and improvisation. Along with directing the studio, Meg has choreographed for all ages to perform at regional and national dance competitions where she has received three choreography awards. Meg completed her 200 hour RYT Yoga Certification in December of 2020 through Even Flow Yoga in Red Bank, New Jersey, and teaches vinyasa classes all over Monmouth and Ocean County. Professionally, Meg is a company member of Cardell Dance Company based out of Philadelphia under the direction of Silvana Cardell. Meg’s passion for performing led her to tour the company’s two well known works, “Supper! People on the Move” and “Deer’s Cry,” in four different cities along the East Coast. Prior to her graduate studies, Meg graduated with a BA in Dance from Georgian Court University in 2018 where she performed in pieces by Silvana Cardell, Sidra Bell, Brian Sanders, Ten Hairy Legs, Gregory King, Megan Mazarick and Steven Vaughn. While attending University, she studied abroad in Vienna, Austria where she performed and participated in the Impulstanz Dance Festival. Other training Meg has completed was the Parsons Dance Company intensive where she studied and performed with the company for three consecutive years at Marymount Manhattan College. She also participated in the Pilobolus Summer Intensive where she performed at Jacob’s Pillow alongside Momix and the Pilobolus company. She graduated from Howell High School in the Freehold Performing Arts Center with a focus in dance, in 2014. She competed on the company team of Center of Dance Arts where she performed in the styles of tap, hip hop, jazz, contemporary and musical theater.

Madison Meredith


Madison Meredith is a dance educator, performing artist, choreographer, and registered Yoga School (RYS) 200 certified yoga teacher in the greater New Jersey area. Madison received a Master of Education (Ed.M) in Dance Education with a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS) at Rutgers Graduate School of Education. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance with minors in Psychology and Education as a Social Science from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Madison is the Assistant Company Director at Be You Dance Center in Highland Park, NJ, and on faculty as a teacher and administrator. She is also on faculty as a dance educator at Mark Morris Dance Center, The School at Nimbus, All For Dance, and Washington Rock Dance. During her time at Nimbus, she has also taught in their community outreach programs. Other teaching partnerships include Gloucester County Institute of Technology, MOVE CJ, Swedesboro-Woolwich Little Theater, private dance studios, and her Fresh Theater Arts family!! During her undergraduate studies, Madison was a company member with University Dance Works, a teaching and performing student company that tours residency programs to public middle and high schools. With University DanceWorks she acted as student rehearsal assistant for a repertory excerpt of "COLORING" by UNA Productions, and performed in the dance film "In Between" by Evelyn Wang. Other performance highlights include works by Tony award winner John Heginbotham, Emmy nominated choreographer Chloe Arnold, and other acclaimed artists such as Opus One Contemporary Dance, Caitlin Casson, Lynn Neuman of Artichoke Dance Company, Reggie Oliver, Robin Passmore, John Evans, and Marissa Stahl. She has performed at the 92Y Future Dance Festival 2023 in a work by Julia Ramirez, Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY, the Hudson Guild in Chelsea, NY, CHI Movement Arts Center of Kun-Yang Lin Dance in Philadelphia, PA, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, Montclair State University for Dance New Jersey's Show Up & Dance 2023, and University of District of Columbia for the DC Tap Festival Showcase. Madison's choreographic works haves been presented at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY, the Adrienne Theater in Philadelphia, PA, and the Koresh Artist Showcase in Philadelphia, PA.


Christine Rexroad


Christine Rexroad has always been passionate about being active, as a dancer moving her body has always felt like coming home. She discovered yoga while in college, and proceeded to receive her RYT 200-hour training in July 2019 at Rutgers University in partnership with Om Factory. Christine graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in dance and minors in French and entrepreneurship. Christine teaches dance and yoga to kids and adults of all levels. As a teacher, Christine aims to create a safe and positive space for all of her students and encourages them to find the joy and freedom of movement.


Jessica Stanislawczyk

Music Director

Jessica graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Westminster Choir College. She began working as a director and music director with New Jersey Repertory Theatre while she was still in high school. She currently serves as the music director of Bella Princess LLC's Stage Door. She also performs as various princesses with Bella Princess LLC! As a performer, Jess has toured nationally and internationally, most notably as Snow White in the Snow White International Tour. As an Equity Membership Candidate, she has performed with regional theatres including McCarter Theatre Center and The Growing Stage. Jess is also a professional chorister with The Same Stream Choir and can be heard on their previous and upcoming recordings. Jess discovered her love for singing at age 2, and love for theatre when she appeared in her first show at age 6. In both performing and directing, Jess's goal is to help children discover how music and theatre can inspire, empower, and transform lives.

Luke Ferrell

Acting/Directing/Technical Theatre

Luke is a New Jersey based teaching artist and stage director. He is currently studying theater arts, history, and education at Rutgers University, where he also directs and serves on production staffs for productions with Livingston Theatre Company and Cabaret Theatre. Some of his directing and teaching artist credits include The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Little Mermaid, Annie, High School Musical 2, Singin' in the Rain, Sweet Charity, the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Heroes of the Fourth Turning. He is thrilled to be able to share his love and passion for theatre with young thespians!

Dennis Connors


Dennis is excited to be a part of the FTA team. Dennis was last seen in Matilda at The Growing Stage. Other theatre credits include Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast (Cogsworth), Cinderella (Wesley), Grease (Roger), and many more. Dennis will be making his feature film debut as a principle actor in the horror film, The Canyonlands. Dennis was pleased to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Audioplay for his role as Magnus in the hit podcast Six Minutes. In his spare time, he loves coaching, playing video games, and raising two German shepherds. Keep up with what’s next at www.DennisConnorsActor.com!