NATS 2024 Winter Workshop

Featured Presenters

Warren JonesWarren Jones

Warren Jones — pianist, master teacher, chamber musician, conductor, and vocal coach — was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in North Carolina. A resident of New York City, Jones is a former member of the collaborative piano faculty at the Manhattan School of Music. He has served as artist-in-residence in music at the Mason Gross School of Music at Rutgers University, as well as artist-in-residence in opera at New England Conservatory and at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Jones recently completed a residency at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. For many years he was the head of the vocal piano program during summers at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.

His credentials as a musical jurist are impeccable: he was on the jury of the First China International Piano Competition in Beijing in 2019 as well as the Montreal International Vocal Competition in 2018, and he has served on the juries of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the Naumberg Awards, and the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. 

Having enjoyed a long performing career, he occupied the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Chair in Principal Piano at Camerata Pacifica, and he has been a recital partner for Stephanie Blythe, Anthony Dean Griffey, Eric Owens, Andrew Garland, Kathleen Battle, Sidney Outlaw, Samuel Ramey, Dame Kiri TeKanawa, Christine Brewer, Barbara Bonney, James Morris, Martti Talvela, Thomas Hampson, Marilyn Horne, Carol Vaness, Richard O’Neill, and Lynn Harrell. Jones has toured with both the Juilliard Quartet and the Borromeo Quartet, and he has performed several times with members of the Takacs Quartet in varied repertory.

Jones has been invited three times to the White House in Washington to perform at state dinners, and he has been a guest at the United States Supreme Court for their annual musicales on three occasions.

As a conductor, Jones has led opera performances of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Mascagni, Bernstein, and Menotti, as well as the 2014 world premiere at Houston Grand Opera of Iain Bell’s setting of A Christmas Carol, starring Jay Hunter Morris and directed by Simon Cowell.

His discography includes 32 recordings on every major label, featuring diverse content, styles, and periods. Most recently his newly-released recording with Sidney Outlaw, “Lament,” is garnering critical acclaim and reflects their ongoing interest in Black American music and poetry.

In his spare time, Jones enjoys cooking, history, politics, exercise, and music...


Rachelle JonckRachelle Jonck

Rachelle Jonck received her musical training at the Conservatory of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa where she focused on vocal accompaniment, earning a BMus in both piano and musicology. In her native country, she was awarded a FNB/Vita award for her contribution to opera in South Africa with special mention of her work with the State Theater Opera Chorus. In 1998, Jonck received the Nederburg Opera Prize — South Africa’s premier opera award.

In 1998, Jonck moved to New York City as head vocal coach and assistant conductor of Bel Canto at Caramoor. She has served on faculty at Westminster Choir College, Manhattan School of Music, Teatro Nuovo, Palm Beach Opera’s Benenson Young Artist Program, and Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute. Jonck’s private coaching studio includes established professionals whose careers take them to the largest opera houses of the world and younger singers still on the verge of a professional career. Her master class topics, while related to her main study field of bel canto, explore the wider application of the bel canto way of singing.

Recital appearances in the United States include Weill Recital Hall, Opera America, the Bard Festival, Van Cliburn Concerts (Fort Worth, Texas), National Gallery Recitals (Washington, D.C.), Coastal Concerts (Lewes, Delaware), and the Dame Myra Hess broadcast concert series (Chicago) Her recording Gabriel Fauré: 30 Mélodies (with tenor Steven Tharp) was released in 2015. As a conductor, she most recently lead performances of Rossini’s La gazza ladra (Teatro Nuovo) and Donizetti’s Anna Bolena (Baltimore Concert Opera). Read more at


Justin John MonizJustin John Moniz

A recipient of the Yamaha Corporation Top 40 Music Educator Award and a Musical America Top Professional of the Year, Dr. Justin John Moniz serves as associate director of vocal performance and coordinator of vocal pedagogy at New York University’s (NYU) Steinhardt School where he holds the rank of associate professor. At NYU, Moniz leads the graduate vocal pedagogy program, teaches courses in pedagogic theory, practice, applied voice, and directs the DownBeat Award-winning NYU Pop/Rock Ensemble, a group he founded in 2019. He also serves as program director of the Contemporary Vocal Summer Workshop. In addition to his appointment at NYU, Moniz is a member of the vocal arts faculty at Manhattan School of Music where he teaches Vocal Wellness & Physiology.

Moniz’s current and former students have appeared on Broadway, international tours, national television, and in regional theaters and opera houses nationwide. A widely recognized proponent of voice teacher training, Moniz currently serves as a mentor teacher for the NATS National Mentoring Collaborative (NNMC) and the NATS Mentored Teaching Experience. He is an active member of the NATS-NYC Chapter, where he serves as vice president and chair of National Student Auditions (NSA). A leading expert on vocal pedagogy and wellness, Moniz is regularly engaged as a guest clinician and consultant for organizations including the National Associate of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the National Opera Association (NOA), the Royal Conservatory of Music, New England Conservatory, Boston University, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and Barry’s Bootcamp, among others.

Moniz holds four degrees from Florida State University, the University of Miami, and SUNY Potsdam, as well as certifications from Harvard Business School, Duke University, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As a voice teacher, researcher, and NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Moniz is particularly passionate about identifying the parallels between the worlds of voice science and sports medicine, more specifically concerning vocal load, efficiency, and sustainability. A widely recognized researcher and accomplished author, Moniz serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Singing, where he is the author of “The Versatile Voice” column. For more information, please visit


Ann Evans WatsonAnn Evans Watson

Ann Evans Watson is clinical associate professor of musical theatre at the University of Michigan, as well as an Equity actor and vocal instructor/coach who specializes in musical theatre literature and the training of professional voices, with experience coast to coast. She has taught master classes for singing actors at many universities across the U.S. and been a master teacher/lecturer and cabaret artist for NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing), PAVA, VASTA, and the NW Voice conferences. She developed the curriculum and was the chair of the musical theatre department at Washington Academy of Performing Arts from its inception to 1998. Evans Watson’s students have consistently placed at top universities across the country and continue to study with her post-graduation. Recent alum have appeared on Broadway in "The Lion King," "Harry Potter…," "Hamilton," "Tina," "Phantom of the Opera," and "Wicked," to name a few. Some of her students include Tony Award nominees Caitlin Kinnunen ("The Prom," "Bridges of Madison County," "Spring Awakening") and Megan Hilty ("Noises Off," "Wicked," "9 to 5," "Smash") as well as Grammy and Drama Desk Award nominee Cheyenne Jackson ("All Shook Up," "Zanadu," "30 Rock"). Other regularly working students include Daniel Berryman ("The Fantasticks," "West Side Story," "Les Mis," 2019 winner of the Lotte Leyna Competition), Solea Pfeiffer (Eliza in "Hamilton," "Songs for a New World," "Sunday in the Park with George," "West Side Story" at the Hollywood Bowl). Most recently, Evans Watson served as a vocal coach on the Netflix film, “The Prom.”

As an actor/singer/dancer/cabaret artist, Evans Watson has performed in NYC at Circle in the Square, Lincoln Center, Cherry Lane, the Duplex, and Don’t Tell Mama. She’s also graced the West Coast stages in such roles as Aldonza in "Man of La Mancha," Nettie in "Carousel," Kate in "Taming of the Shrew," Mother in "A New Brain," and Mona in "Dames at Sea." Critics have called her performances “poignant” and “sophisticated,” and have said she displays “great mastery of technique and depth of emotion.”

Evans Watson’s online publication, “The Belt Book,” is the premier resource dedicated to helping singers find and examine belt and belt mix literature for musical theatre. It is currently under re-development to include pop/rock repertoire for musical theatre and classic musical theatre literature. She’s a contributor to the 2nd edition of “The Singing Athlete” and also has published articles on navigating training and the college audition circuit and homeopathic vocal remedies in both the NATS Journal of Singing and several online publications. She is a frequent presenter at national conferences, as well as a master teacher and clinician at colleges and universities around the country. She has recorded two albums, "Chamber Music," and "Crossword," with her son, music director Evan Zavada.

Evans Watson holds a bachelor’s degree in music and a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Stephens College. She did her post-graduate work at Circle in the Square Professional Actor Training Program and studied at the National Theatre Institute at the O’Neill Theatre Center. She is passionate about cross-training and has taught acting and dance as well as directed, choreographed, and produced numerous productions. At the University of Michigan, Evans Watson has choreographed Candide for the opera program, and she currently participates in an interdisciplinary jazz masterclass series. For fun, she is a master gardener and a long-distance saltwater swimmer.


Sarah WigleySarah Wigley 

Sarah Wigley is a clinical associate professor of voice for the Lyric Theatre department at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, where she instructs Lyric Theatre Studio, musical theatre repertoire, contemporary graduate voice, and the BMA Senior Showcase while maintaining a private voice studio. Frequently stage directing both opera and musical theatre, directing credits with Lyric Theatre @Illinois include “City of Angels,” “Fun Home,” “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” “Ordinary Days,” “Crazy for You,” “She Loves Me,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Title of Show,” “A Psalm of Silence,” “The Adventures of Little Sharp Ears,” and both “La Bohème” and “Don Giovanni” in collaboration with Nathan Gunn. Wigley holds an master’s degree in voice performance from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree in voice from the University of Minnesota. While residing in Minneapolis, Wigley performed professionally with regional companies such as the Guthrie Theatre, the Skylark Opera, the Mystery Cafe, the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, and the Minnesota Opera. Wigley’s Denver credits include roles such as Aldonza in “Man of La Mancha,” Emma in „Jekyll and Hyde,” Dolores in “The Wild Party,” and Miss Scarlett in “Clue: The Musical.” Wigley has served as faculty for the musical theatre department at the University of Northern Colorado as well as Parlando School for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado, and she has had several students appear on Broadway and in national tours and regional theaters across the nation.

As a contemporary voice specialist, Wigley is an internationally certified Estill Voice Master Trainer, frequently presenting workshops concerning flexible voice technique and crossover training for both studio voice teachers and choral educators. Sessions ranging from “Crossing Over: Contemporary Voice Technique for Solo and Ensemble Singing” to “Crossing Genres: A Classical Singer’s Guide to Jazz” have energized the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Stockholm, Sweden, the National Association for Teachers of Singing, Illinois Music Education Association, Iowa Choral Directors Association, and Minnesota Music Education Association. Wigley serves as the president of the Illinois Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters, the development liaison for the Central Region of the National Association for Teachers of Singing, and she recently had the pleasure of creating Franc D’Ambrosio’s new touring show, “Beyond the Chandelier.”


Michael CassaraMichael Cassara

Michael Cassara is a casting director and educator in New York City, where he and his team have cast more than 600 theatre and film projects since the formation of Michael Cassara Casting in 2003. Recent credits include “Mr. Holland's Opus” (Ogunquit Playhouse, world premiere, dir. BD Wong), “An American in Paris” (international tour, dir. Christopher Wheeldon), “The Mad Ones” (Prospect Theater Company, dir. Stephen Brackett), “Cheek to Cheek” (York Theatre, dir. Randy Skinner), “Spamilton” (NYC/Chicago/Pittsburgh CLO/tour), “Americano!” (off-Broadway/Artios nomination for casting), “A Night with Janis Joplin” (national tour), “Gigantic” (dir. Scott Schwartz/Vineyard Theatre), “Forbidden Broadway” (last three editions/cast albums), “Caroline, or Change” (Tantrum Theater, dir. Robert Barry Fleming). Regional credits include frequent productions for top regional theatres, including Gulfshore Playhouse, Weston Theater Company, Argyle Theatre, Hangar Theatre, and many more. Additional film credits include “The Hyperglot” (dir. Michael Urie, Artios nomination for excellence in casting), and “Grantham & Rose” (dir. Kristin Hanggi). Cassara served as resident casting director for the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) from 2007 through 2019, and for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) since 2013. As an educator, he serves on the adjunct faculty at Wright State University and regularly teaches at many of the nation’s top universities and training programs, including Baldwin Wallace University, Boston Conservatory, Indiana University, NYU, Texas State, and many others. Cassara is a native Clevelander who enjoys a dual career as a professional genealogist, with a specialty in Italian-American research. He is a member of Casting Society of America (CSA), and he earned his bachelor’s degree at Otterbein University. To learn more, visit or through social media @michaelcassara.


Merri SugarmanMerri Sugarman

Initially an actress (“Les Misérables,” “Aspects of Love,” et al.) Merri Sugarman found herself out West some years back where she quickly made a name for herself at Liberman/Hirschfeld Casting, then Liberman/Patton Casting, working on such shows as “Seinfeld,” “Party of Five,” HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” the feature film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and the Miramax feature film “Playing By Heart,” starring Sean Connery and Angelina Jolie.

In 2000, Sugarman moved to DreamWorks Studios as the casting executive in charge of TV pilots and series, including “Spin City,” “Freaks and Geeks,” and the critically acclaimed “The Job,” starring Denis Leary. She was then offered a position as the director of casting for dramas and movies at ABC Television, overseeing the casting of “Alias,” “NYPD Blue,” “The Practice” and the made-for-television movies “Gilda Radner – It’s Always Something” and “The Music Man,” starring Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth, to name just a few.

Sugarman then returned to the East Coast to teach and coach actors — something she still does (and loves) as time permits, when Tara Rubin offered her a senior casting director position where she’s been happily ensconced ever since. She has worked on the Broadway, touring and international companies of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “The Wiz,” “Six,” “Sing Street,” “Here Lies Love,” “Aladdin,” “Jersey Boys,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Misérables,” “School of Rock,” “Miss Saigon and A Bronx Tale,” and “Company,” among many others. “Clueless” and “Trevor the Musical” (2023 Artios Award) are just a couple of examples of her off-Broadway work.

She also casts for many theaters regionally, including the Papermill Playhouse, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Old Globe, Seattle Rep, the Goodman and the La Jolla Playhouse.

She is also the very proud casting director of the critically acclaimed web series, “Submissions Only” and also boasts having cast many other independent TV and film projects, workshops and readings.

On a more personal note, Sugarman has been a Big Sister to Jenny via the amazing Big Brothers Big Sisters program for the last 24 years, is an alumni officer of the professional sorority Kappa Gamma Chi (bachelor’s degree in musical theatre at Emerson College), a member of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, and she was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award from Emerson College in 2021. She has been a Tony Award voter for the past 11 years and is a proud member of CSA (Casting Society of America).


Eric Jordan YoungEric Jordan Young

Eric Jordan Young is an accomplished producer, director, choreographer, entertainer, playwright, and songwriter. Through his 30+ years of experience, Young’s credits have included television (“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Ugly Betty”), Broadway (“Ragtime” ’98 original/’09 revival, “Chicago,” “Seussical the Musical,” and “Look of Love”), off-Broadway (NYSF – Public Theatre, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center), national tours (“Chicago,” “Ragtime,” “Starlight Express,” and “Dreamgirls”), commercials and workshops (“Dessa Rose,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Never Gonna Dance,” Disney’s “On the Record,” “Little Fish,” “Tin Pan Alley Rag,” “King of Bombay,” “Dillinger,” “Dorian,” “Pamela’s First Musical,” and “Clowntown.”

Young appeared in various productions on the Las Vegas Strip, such as the Las Vegas Company production of “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian and Rio Resorts (Mayor/J’Keith) and his original production of “Shakin’ – Vegas Remixed with a Twist” at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. Young originated the role of Ernie in “Vegas! The Show” and has performed with several symphonies throughout the country including the Atlanta Symphony and the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall.

In April 2016, Young made his solo symphonic debut with “Celebrating Sammy: The Music of Sammy Davis, Jr.” (Buffalo Philharmonic). His solo album, “Once in a Lifetime” was produced by EnJoY! Productions Group and his one-man musical, “Sammy & Me” (Alliance Theatre, MusicalFare Theatre, Hangar Theatre, NBTF) is the winner of the ArtVoice and Salt Awards. Young served as the resident director of "Baz" Las Vegas (Palazzo) and performed nightly in Cocktail Cabaret at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He is currently working with Norwegian Cruise Line as the associate director of “Footloose” (Norwegian Joy) and “Rock of Ages” (Norwegian Breakaway). He also serves as director and choreographer for the original productions “What the World Needs Now” (Norwegian Star) and “The Great American Song Factory” (Navigator). Young is a proud graduate of Ithaca College.


Michael MaliakelMichael Maliakel

Michael Maliakel (pronounced “Molly-uh-kell”) is currently starring as the title role in Disney’s “Aladdin” on Broadway. An award-winning Indian-American actor and singer, Maliakel was recently featured in the PBS concert special “Broadway’s Brightest Lights” alongside Broadway veterans Megan Hilty and Nikki Renee Daniels. He recently made his Kennedy Center debut in the critically acclaimed production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” starring Tony award winner Stephanie J. Block. Prior to the pandemic, Maliakel toured North America with the 25th Anniversary production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” He made his off-Broadway debut in “Anything Can Happen: The Songs of Maury Yeston.” Other recent stage highlights include Bernstein’s Mass (Marin Alsop and the Chicago Symphony - Ravinia Festival), Georg in “She Loves Me” (PlayMakers Repertory Company), and the record-breaking world premiere of Mira Nair's “Monsoon Wedding” (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). Maliakel’s on-screen work includes roles on “Bull” and “FBI,” both on CBS, as well as appearances on "Good Morning America" and "The View." 

Maliakel has performed as a soloist with orchestras and ensembles across the country including the National Philharmonic, the Tallahassee Symphony, the Savannah Philharmonic, the American Pops Orchestra, the Albany Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, TENET Vocal Artists, the Greenwich Choral Society, the Harmonium Choral Society, and the Long Island Choral Society. He has received top awards from several organizations including the American Traditions Vocal Competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition, the NATS National Musical Theatre Competition, and the Gerda Lissner Foundation. Maliakel received his earliest musical training at the American Boychoir School. He attended Georgetown University and the Peabody Institute of Music at Johns Hopkins University. Maliakel lives in Connecticut, and he and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby girl last May. For more, follow him on Instagram @michaelmaliakel.