Conservatory Faculty & Staff
Director of Education & Outreach
Nancy has been directing theater on the peninsula for over 20 years, working with such companies and schools as Hillbarn Theater, Broadway by the Bay, San Mateo High School, Aragon High School, Bowditch Middle School, Peninsula Youth Theater, Palo Alto Children’s Theater, Peninsula Center Stage, and more. Nancy directed Hillbarn’s highly successful mainstage productions of CHICAGO and OKLAHOMA. Nancy began her career in television and film after studying at UCLA, and currently shoots and edits video through her own production company, Brave Monkey Productions.
Karen Byrnes (Acting, Scene Study)
Karen Byrnes has directed over 100 productions in the last 30 years with youth at a variety of schools. For the last nine years she has taught drama, musical theatre and improvisation classes for Hillbarn Theatre’s Conservatory in addition to writing and directing A Foolish Fairy Tale, Dreamquest and More Broadway Legends. She co-directed Damn Yankees and Grease. Karen directed Holes, Defying Gravity, which won the Subscriber’s Choice Award for Favorite Presentation of a Play in 2009 and The Secret Garden. Since 2002, she has directed for NDNU’s Fall Festival. In 2010, she wrote Between Yesterday & Tomorrow: Correspondence with an American Soldier in Vietnam, 1968 that was presented as part of the Readers Stage Series. Karen received her BA in Theatre Arts from NDNU where she performed in several shows including Lenny in Crimes of the Heart. In 2004, she served as an Arts Commissioner for the City of Belmont. Karen is also a LEAP artist.
Brandy (Collazo) Mieszkowski (StarTots and StarShiners, Director, Choreographer) – is a professional Bay Area actor and a teacher/choreographer. She has been working with various youth groups and schools for ten years. Her work with children spans the entire spectrum; from ages 4-18, with most of her focus being on elementary and middle school aged children. Most recently she directed Dear Edwina at Hillbarn’s Youth Conservatory this past summer. One of the most rewarding teaching experiences for her was this past spring, where she assisted a special needs performing group at Dance Arts Center in San Carlos, called SNAP.
Brandy is also proud to have worked with such companies and schools as: Hillbarn, Broadway by the Bay, ETC, Bowditch Middle School, Cappuchino High School, Redwood Shores Elementary, Sandpiper School, and the private voice studio of Susie Jimenez.
As a working actor and member of Actor’s Equity Association, (billed as “Brandy Collazo”), Brandy has been seen on many regional stages, and heard on several voice-over tracks. Her most recent stage performance was the role of Tracy Turnblad in Pacific Coast Rep’s Hairspray. Other favorite credits: Sally Bowles, Cabaret, PCRT; Peter Pan, Peter Pan, DTC (Shellie Award-Best Actress); Millie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, DTC (Shellie Award-Best Actress); Hilda Miller, Plain & Fancy, 42nd St Moon, (BATCC nom); Hope Cladwell, Urinetown, Palo Alto Players; Anybodys, West Side Story, BBBay; and Grizabella, Cats, Willows Theater.
Brandy is a classically trained soprano, and has studied dance under the direction of Jayne Zaban and Berle Davis.
Robin Fife (Voice) – Robin started studying music at the age of six, including teachers from Juilliard and Manhattan Schools of Music. After performing in off Broadway and regional plays, getting her degree in directing from the University of Connecticut, she raised five children who are all involved in professional theater. She was seen as Eulalie McKechnie Shinn in Broadway by the Bay’s 2000 Production of The Music Man, Mae Peterson in BBB’s Bye Bye Birdie and Mary Sunshine in Hillbarn’s production of Chicago. She was the Music Director for Bay Area ETC’s productions of Peter Pan and Annie, and has done the directing and music directing for their summer camp, 5-8 year old program, for the past five summers.
Virginia Musante (Director/Improv/Acting) received a BA in Art and Theatre and earned a Secondary Credential from San Francisco State University. Virginia has been teaching and directing Middle School students for the past 30 years and was named the San Mateo Foster City School District Teacher of the Year in 1989-1990. Virginia’s father was a professional musician and music teacher and her mother, her greatest role model, was a wonderful storyteller who also enjoyed performing in local community theatre. In 2004, Virginia completed the Masters of Education program with an emphasis in Theatre at Notre Dame de Namur University. Her Masters Thesis was research in creating ways to teach students with special needs through Drama and it now serves as a handbook for many Bay Area teachers. Virginia was ultimately hired to teach Children’s Theatre for the Theatre Department at Notre Dame de Namur where she still teaches and finds the challenge rewarding. She recently was part of the directing team of the well-known Notre Dame tradition of A Christmas Carol, The Musical.
Joe Murphy (Music Director) – Joe Murphy is currently in his 8th year as the band director at Tierra Linda Middle School in San Carlos. Joe has his degree in Tuba Performance from California State University, Northridge. Joe has been the technical musical director with the San Carlos Children’s Theater for the past 4 year. In addition, he has served as the assistant musical director for 3 years at the Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City. Joe is an active member of the musical community as an actor, singer, dancer, instrumentalist and musical director. He is currently playing Houdini in “Ragtime” at the Hillbarn Theatre. He has performed with many theaters and symphonies all over California as a tuba player and trombonist. He’s even been featured in a Lipton Iced Tea commercial as a tuba player. Joe is looking forward to working with the Nueva School!
Matthew Mattei (Music/Vocal Director) Matthew has been doing theatre in the Bay Area for over 20 years. He has worked with Broadway By the Bay, Abbot and Bowditch Middle School’s, has musical directed for San Mateo High School, and is Resident Musial Director at Palo Alto Players. He is also the musical director for the annual production of “A Christmas Carol – The Musical” at NDNU in Belmont. In 1994, Matthew played in the pit for Cabaret at Hillbarn Theatre and fell in love with being at Hillbarn. In 2002, Matthew musical directed Forever Plaid and Annie for Hillbarn’s Mainstage. In 2007, he came on board for the Summer Conservatory and has been here ever since. During the day, Matthew teaches music at Our Lady of Angels school in Burlingame.
If you are a Perfoming Artist with a background in arts administartion or education and are interested in working with us on SummerStage and ongoing educational workshops, please send your resume to: