Our entire team here at Off The Lane consider ourselves lucky to be surrounded by such dedication and passion. From the Board of Directors and Co-Chairs to our volunteers and Advisory Board, everyone is invested in providing a community, home-base and safe space for creative development.
Originally from Littleton, Colorado, Kristal graduated from University of Northern Colorado and moved to NYC to pursue dance. Very soon after moving to the city, she started putting her entrepreneurship roots to use by working side gigs in between taking dance class and auditioning. Being able to find work for her actor/dancer/singer friends was exciting and fulfilling. In 2007 Mustard Lane launched and her vision of creating a transparent company with a safe and fun work environment came to life. Kristal is thrilled to bring that same passion to Off The Lane and the artistic community as whole.
Vice-President & Program Director
A native of Cincinnati, OH, Jen graduated from Ball State University with a BA in Dance Performance and minor in Dance Education. She has nearly 25 years of teaching and mentoring experience that ranges from recreational to professional across the dance, theatre and corporate worlds. Now based in NYC, she still works as a director, choreographer, casting director, teacher and creative producer for events globally. Jen is thrilled to be working as the Program Director for OTL and helping with the continued rollout of new and excited programs that benefit and empower new and young artists!
Secretary & Social Media Manager
Jillian graduated in 2008 from Ball State University with a BA in Musical Theatre. Having grown up in the theatre world, she was thrilled when she booked the National Tour of “Cats,” only two weeks after graduating college. Immediately following her contract, she made the big move to NYC. After 10 years in the city, she now calls herself a true New Yorker! Soon after her move to the Big Apple, she started working with Mustard Lane in between performing gigs. Now with 10 years under her belt with the company, she works full-time as the Admin & Social Director, as well as the Event Coordinator for Meaux Space, the event space where ML headquarters are located. She is passionate about helping create beautiful events, whether at Meaux Space, Mustard Lane or her own self-produced vocal shows around the city. She is thrilled to bring her knowledge of the “NYC streets” to new mentees of Off the Lane!
Lauren graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Entrepreneurship. After a month long trip across Europe, she made the move to NYC and very quickly found a home at Mustard Lane. Lauren loves the vibrancy and the diversity that the city has to offer. She’s a huge foodie and is always on the hunt for the next great restaurant. Through the last three years at ML, she has juggled many hats at the company, she now runs the Marketing and Business Development for Mustard Lane. On a daily basis, she works to secure and nurture client relationships while finding new ways to get exposure for the company. Lauren is always up for a challenge and constantly pushes to grow in her career, she has even taken on the added excitement of acquiring her real estate license. She enjoys learning new aspects of business and is excited to bring those skills to Off The Lane!
Nathan Sheffield, a lawyer by trade and a passionate arts advocate by nature, has spent over two decades working in nearly every facet of the entertainment business. As the co-founder of the law firm of Herzog + Sheffield, P.C., Nathan’s legal practice focuses on the development, financing and production of live theatre, book, film, television, and music endeavors. Clients include producers, talent, creative team members and other affiliated parties involved with hit television series, Broadway productions, and award-winning independent films.
Ayana Bey is an NYC based actress, singer, and voice over artist who is currently a mentor for Off The Lane’s Mentorship Program, as well as Co-Chair of the BOOST program committee. Throughout her 12 years in the business she has taught acting classes, workshops & mentors actors so they have the tools needed to sustain and blossom in the arts. She is also a proud alumni of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she received her MA in Classical Acting. Ayana is motivated to help and see artists develop their goals through the BOOST program.
Jillian Vitko is an NYC based performing artist with over 20 years of experience in education. She has previously worked with companies such as Big Brothers Big Sisters as a Mentor, The YMCA as a Teacher/Program Director & EBL Coaching as a Special Education Tutor. In addition to Co-Chairing the BOOST Program, she serves as a Mentor for Off The Lane’s Mentorship Program, where she helps graduating college seniors transition to life in NYC. As both an artist & educator, she is honored to have the opportunity to further guide creatives to follow their passions & achieve their goals
Content Creator & Development Assistant
Jenna Craig is currently double majoring in theater and journalism at Ramapo College of New Jersey. After she graduates in May 2022, she hopes to secure a job in the entertainment industry either as a theater professional, arts administrator, or multimedia journalist. Jenna has been working in entertainment since she was 5 years old when she began a career as a child actress. As she got older, she fell in love with live theater, video editing, graphic design and writing, all of which have culminated in her career aspirations today. She is extremely grateful to have discovered Off The Lane and to have landed an internship here during the pandemic. “Personalized guidance for young emerging artists to me has always felt inaccessible, but this place changes that entirely,” Jenna says. “I hope that through my contributions to OTL, more people will learn about and utilize their amazing programming.”
Sophie Brubaker is a recent graduate of UC Davis with a BA in Theatre and Dance and a BS in Human Development. She was born and raised right outside of Sacramento, California, and while she plans to pursue some big acting dreams and move to NYC in the next few months, she’ll always be Californian at heart. Sophie’s first ever role as a stray goblin in a youth production of Narnia, the musical, was a seed that blossomed throughout high school theatre, UC Davis theatre, and multiple regional productions and musical concept albums. Sophie’s passion for art and theatre builds on her love for people. More than anything, she adores when people come together to tell stories and build community. The arts are a catalyst for loving and understanding each other better, and that is their greatest opportunity and obligation, and that is also why Sophie fell in love with the arts and artist community (and Off The Lane ;)). In her extra time, you’ll find Sophie belting Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana tunes, sipping cappuccinos, and being a little too busy. Website: sophiebrubaker.weebly.com
School Partnership Committee
Tristan Raines (He/Him) is a freelance costume designer, artist, and educator based in New York City. Tristan has designed Off Broadway and regionally for 15 years. Select venues and companies include New World Stages, Barrow Street Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Goodspeed, La Jolla Playhouse, Norweigan Cruise Lines, Samsung, Cirque Musica, CTG- LA, The Muny, Capital Rep, New Rep Boston, and The Maltz Jupiter Theater. Tristan is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829. Tristan holds a BS in Technical Theatre with an emphasis in Costume Design from Northwest Missouri State University. He then received his MFA in Costume Design from Boston University. Tristan also studied musical theater and Shakespeare in London, England at Imperial College. Tristan has also received certification in Diversity/Equality, and Inclusion Leadership from The University of Michigan as well as certification in Inclusive Design of Online Curriculum from University of Colorado Boulder.
Mentorship Program Committee
Originating from the colorful city of Cleveland, Ohio, Madison King is a senior digital media production student at Kent State University with a minor in theater performance. Much of his experience in the arts comes from the various stage productions he has had the pleasure of being a part of since first discovering his passion for it his freshman year of college, leading him to doing a production of a one-act epic poem in Scotland for the annual Fringe Festival. Also, his passion in filmmaking has had a strong influence over his creative endeavors, from writing and directing short films that have been shown in festivals around the country, to even serving as president for an on-campus film production organization called KSU Independent Films this past year. Madison’s passion and determination to serve in the arts has not slowed down, as he looks forward to joining the MP experience after being a mentee last Fall 2020 and helping other students like himself make that ever important and seemingly overwhelming transition to NYC after graduation a bit more foreseeable.
Ann Reinking Scholarship Program Advisory Board
Advisory Board Chair: Mindy Cooper
Hinton Battle, three-time Tony Award winner is recognized as one of Broadway’s most respected musical stars. After studying at the renowned Jones Haywood School of Ballet in Washington DC and School of American Ballet in New York City, Hinton began his career on Broadway at the age of 15, originating the role of the Scarecrow in The Wiz. He has since gone on to build an impressive portfo- lio of work, dazzling audiences across the country and around the world for three decades, starring in some of the most memorable musicals, including Dancin’, Dreamgirls, Sophisticated Ladies, Chicago (Billy Flynn), Ragtime (Coalhouse Walker Jr.), Miss Saigon and The Tap Dance Kid. He is the recipient of numerous awards honoring his versatility as an entertainer, among them the NAACP Image Awards, Midtown International Theatre Festival Award, Fred Astaire Award, Ira Aldridge Award, Planet Connection Award, the 2012 Champion of the Arts Award from Big Boi’s “Antwan Patten” Big Kidz Foundation, and the Amas 2014 Rosie Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of extraordinary ac- complishment in the theatrical arts.
Hinton has easily crossed from stage to television and recording to producing, writing, directing and acting appearing in These Old Broads, Foreign Student, Touched By An Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Smash, and opposite Jamie Fox in the film adaptation of Dreamgirls.
As a choreographer, Hinton’s credits include the 65th and 66th Academy Awards, the Outkast musical, Idlewild, Bolden, and Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story. Additionally he has directed and choreographed ballets for the Baltimore School of the Arts, Washington Reflections Dance Company, Jones Haywood School of Dance, and Philadanco. He directed and choreographed the Off-Broadway musi cals Respect, The Marvelous Wonderettes, the stage production of Evil Dead, and Sistas: The Musical, which aired 2013 on BET. Hinton Battle wrote, produced and directed the comedy drama, Love Lies the Tour, starring Grammy winners Brian McKnight, Angie Stone. He wrote, directed and choreographed Hinton Bat- tle’s American Variety Bang II produced by Yoshimoto at Osaki’s NGK Theatre to sold-out performances.
Hinton’s greatest joy has been the launch of the professional entertainment academy, Hinton Battle Dance Academy (HBDA). Since 2017 Hinton Battle and Yoshimoto Kogyo the co-founders have prepared students for successful career in the entertainment industry and life.
Gregory Butler (Director, Choreographer, Writer, Creative Director, Teacher, Actor, Singer, Dancer) is a former dance major of The Juilliard School. Gregory made his Broadway debut in 1986 in the musical Raggedy Ann. He has also appeared on Broadway in Chicago The Musical (Choreographed by Ann Reinking) and All About Me. Off-Broadway performances include Here Lies Jenny directed by Roger Rees, starring Bebe Neuwirth and choreographed by Ann Reinking. National tours: Applause (Choreographed by Ann Reinking), Chicago The Musical, Evita and Martin Guerre. He has performed in numerous stock and regional productions and tv and film while also directing and choreographing for theatre, tv, film and concerts. In 1997 Gregory was cast in the 1st National tour of Chicago and Ann Reinking chose him to be one of her two dance captains…life changing!
In 2005 he was asked to be one of the Associate Choreographers for the
six time Tony award winning show with the responsibility and honor to replicate Ann’s Tony award winning choreography around the world…life
altering! Gregory has been a part of the creative teams for productions of Chicago in Moscow, Denmark, Korea, Amsterdam, Germany and the U.S. In 2013 he was honored to choreography Chicago for the Musical Under
The Stars series at the iconic and historic Hollywood Bowl which was directed by Brooke Shields.
Gregory is excited to share Ann’s legacy with the world through this
Caitlin Carter has been working professionally as an actor, singer dancer for over 30 years. Her Broadway credits include
original companies of CHICAGO, VICTOR/VICTORIA, SWING, BELLS ARE RINGING and AIN’T BROADWAY GRAND. Her film
and TV credits include RENT, BIG EDEN, GUIDING LIGHT and numerous commercials. She is also very proud of her charity
work as a 10 year plus Career Transition for Dancer board member (Vice Chairmen 2013-2015), her work on The Dancers
Advisory Committee at the Actors Fund, producing the 2004 CTFD gala and co-producing with Bebe Neuwirth the 2018
and 2020 CTFD galas. Her work for Ann Reinking was a highly impactful and cherished part of her career. She is
honored to be helping to continue Ann’s legacy of artistry and mentorship.
Gary Chryst has staged CHICAGO choreography worldwide; staged PETROUCHKA for Mariinsky Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet of Canada; Jerome Robbins’ NY EXPORT: OPUS JAZZ for the Juilliard School; assisted Ann Reinking in a new production of the Kander and Ebb musical, THE VISIT; choreographed a new American production of SOUTH PACIFIC, NIJINSKY; co-choreographer of a new production of WEST SIDE STORY in Brazil. Mr. Chryst has extensive ballet and Broadway performing credits including the Joffrey Ballet, Nederland Dans Theatre 3, American Ballet Theatre, GUYS AND DOLLS, BOB FOSSE’S DANCIN’ and A CHORUS LINE; guest performances with Twyla Tharp, David Parsons, Lar Lubovitch, Eliot Feld, Jose Limon, Nureyev and Friends among others. In 2013, Jiri Kylian choreographed a work featuring Mr. Chryst, EAST SHADOW, which is touring throughout the world. In 2016 and 2017 Mr. Chryst appeared with American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House in Alexei Ratmansky’s THE GOLDEN COCKEREL as King Dodon.
Mindy Cooper has had the privilege of spending the last 40 years as a working professional in the Performing Arts, as a Dancer, Choreographer, Director, Producer and Teacher/Mentor. From Dance Companies (Twyla Tharp Dance, Eliot Feld Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Thingsezisee’m Dance Theater) to Broadway/Off-Broadway (Chicago, Titanic, Song and Dance, Beauty and the Beast, Dracula The Musical, Being Seen, The Eternal Space, Men Are From Mars-Women Are From Venus, Live!, 50 Shades — The Musical Parody, Soul Doctor, Wrong Mountain) her passion for new works has always steered her career as a performer and creator. She is Co-Founder/ Co-Director of Catalyst: a Theatre Think Tank, a festival of new works on the campus of UC Davis, where she is a professor of Theatre and Dance.
Dylis Croman started her professional career in New York City dancing with The Feld Ballets/NY at the age of seventeen. She has been working professionally in the business for 23 years. Croman’s credits include Chicago, A Chorus Line, Sweet Charity, Oklahoma, Thou Shalt Not, Fosse, Movin’ Out, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. On television, she appeared as Andrew Daniels on “Guiding Light”, “Smash” on NBC and Fosse (trumpet solo, filmed for PBS “Great Performances”). She was introduced to the Fosse style at an early age by her mentor, Ann Reinking. Croman was deeply inspired by her teaching of this unique, stylized form of dance that powerfully resonates to this day. She now stars in her dream role of Roxie Hart on the national tour and Broadway productions of Chicago the musical. Dylis is proud and honored to share in the legacy and brilliance of the late, great Annie Reinking.
A child actress and dancer, Ms. Foldi is best known for her role as Michelle Gideon in the Bob Fosse film “All That Jazz”. She studied dance at School of American Ballet, performed with NYCB in various children’s roles- including the role of Clara in Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” and was a member of Twyla Tharp Dance. Currently Ms. Foldi lives in Scottsdale, AZ where she enjoys horseback riding and has a private practice as licensed massage and lymphatic therapist.
In a career that was launched in the early 1950’s, Joel Grey has created indelible stage roles each decade since Since then, his Broadway credits include the Stop the World I Want to Get Off, Half a Sixpence, Cabaret (Tony Award), George M! (Tony nomination), Goodtime Charley (Tony nomination), The Grand Tour (Tony nomination), Chicago (Drama Desk Award), Wicked, Anything Goes, and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Joel’s dramatic stage roles include Marco Polo Sings a Solo, Give Me Your Answer, Do! (Drama Desk nomination), New York City Opera’s Silverlake (directed by Hal Prince) and Larry Kramer’s seminal The Normal Heart at the Public Theatre, which he also subsequently co-directed with George C. Wolfe in its Tony Award winning Broadway premiere (Drama Desk Award, Tony nomination).
Joel received the Academy Award, the Golden Globe and the British Academy Award for his performance in the 1972 film version of Cabaret (directed by Bob Fosse). He is one of only nine actors to have won both the Tony and Academy Award for the same role.
Joel is also an accomplished photographer. He has five books of photographs. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. His memoir, Master of Ceremonies, was published in February 2016 (Flatiron).
Joel most recently directed the acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish which won the 2019 Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Revival.
Bonnie Oda Homsey
Born in Hawaii, Bonnie Oda Homsey is founding Director of Los Angeles Dance Foundation where she curated programming for American Repertory Dance Company’s rarely-seen reconstructions of 40+ masterworks. For a decade, she has provided arts consultancy and career development workshops around the country. Bonnie serves on the Actors Fund Western Council working to establish free youth programming across the disciplines. She is Adjunct Assistant Professor at USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Her article, An Action Plan for Artistic Identity and Career Development, was published in National Dance Education Organization’s Dance in Practice publication. A former soloist with the Martha Graham Co., Bonnie performed on Broadway, toured domestically and internationally, originated roles with Rudolph Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn, and was featured in ‘Dance in America’ and ‘Life from Wolftrap.’ For 35 years, she served as a panelist for organizations including National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, United States Artists, California Arts Council and municipal arts funders. She was Chair of Dance and Arts Advisory Board member for The Princess Grace Foundation USA. Bonnie was part of the freshman class when The Juilliard School moved to Lincoln Center, and received her M.F.A. from University of California, Irvine as the recipient of the Chancellor’s Fellowship.
Bebe Neuwirth has been dancing, singing, and acting, on and off Broadway, throughout the US, on the West End of London, on TV and in Films for over 40 years. She’s been honored with many awards including Tonys and Emmys, and has an Honorary Doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music. She’s an Honorary member of IATSE Local One, and an Honorary Ziegfeld Girl. She is on the Board of Directors of AIM by Kyle Abraham. As a trustee of The Actors’ Fund, she founded their Dancers’ Resource, a program that addresses the particular needs of all dancers.
A theatrical icon and one of Broadway’s greatest triple-threat talents, Chita Rivera is one of the most nominated performers in Tony Award history having earned 10 nominations, won twice and received the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. A versatile actress/singer/dancer, her most recent starring roles include The Visit, the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele on Broadway; the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood; the Broadway and touring productions of The Dancer’s Life, a dazzling musical celebrating her spectacular career, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Graciela Daniele and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. She trained as a ballerina (from age nine) before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Chita’s first appearance (age 17) was as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam. Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry’s Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful. On tour: Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba, Can-Can with The Rockettes. Chita was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009 and received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in 2002. In 2019, Chita performed her solo concert at London’s Cadogan Hall; in 2018 she was honored as a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy; in 2016 she headlined at Carnegie Hall and in 2015, Great Performances aired their special Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do, a retrospective of her extraordinary life and career nationally on PBS. Her current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing. Her most treasured production is her daughter, singer/dancer/choreographer Lisa Mordente.
Chris Reinking Stuart
At the age of six, Melissa Thodos wanted to really MOVE….so she did, by training at the Evanston School of Ballet, choreographing in High School as part of “Esande” the Evanston Township High School dance Club , and doing both at Skidmore College. Following academia, she became a featured performer educator and choreographer with The Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble performing works by Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch and Ze’eva Cohen among others until founding Thodos Dance Chicago in 1992. Thodos Dance Chicago served as a platform for her own choreography and for other American choreographers from the national dance landscape. Melissa has collaborated with such noted artists as Ann Reinking, Yoko Ono, and architect Jeanne Gang to bring blended vision and voices to the stage and to many communities. For a quarter of a century, the Company performed in over 25 states and 6 continents, and beyond the stage Melissa created a professional environment that not only trained dancers, but also nurtured them as choreographers, and mentored them to grow as educators. The NEW Dances chorography project was part of the Thodos Dance Chicago’s fabric and structure since 2000 and this special creative project for our community continues in collaboration with DanceWorks Chicago.
Tommy Tune is one of the country’s most prolific performer/director/choreographers and is celebrating his golden decade on the great American stage. He has received 10 Tony Awards, which includes the 2015 Tony for Life Achievement in the Theatre, The National Medal of Arts, 8 Drama Desk Awards, 3 Astaire Awards, and multiple Life Time Achievement Awards including the Society of Directors and the Choreographers’ George Abbott Award.
A native Texan, Mr. Tune began his career as a dancer in the Broadway shows Baker Street, A Joyful Noise and How Now Dow Jones. He has received Tony Awards for The Will Rogers Follies (Direction and Choreography), Grand Hotel (Direction and Choreography), My One and Only (Actor in a Musical and Choreography) Nine (Direction), A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (Choreography) and Seesaw (Featured Actor in a Musical). Tune received two Tony nominations (Direction and Choreography) for The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.
Film credits include Hello Dolly!, The Boy Friend, and Mimi Bluette…fiore del mio giardino, and in 1999, he made his Las Vegas debut as the star of EFX at the MGM Grand Hotel. Tune is the recipient of the National Medal Of Arts, the highest honor for artistic achievement given by the President of the United States, and he has been honored with his own star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into The Theater Hall of Fame by Gwen Verdon. In 2009 the New York Landmarks Conservancy designated Mr. Tune as a Living Landmark. In early 2015 Tune received rave reviews for his tap dancing and singing role in the Encores! production of Lady, Be Good! at New York City Center. He is currently touring the country in his one-man show, Tommy Tune Tonight!.
William Whitener performed worldwide and on Broadway with The Joffrey Ballet, Twyla Tharp Dance, Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, New York City Opera and Martha Clarke’s Garden of Earthly Delights. He choreographed over sixty dances for Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Ballet Hispanico, Seattle Repertory Theater, Seattle Opera and John Curry’s Ice Theatre. He has also created dances for stage and television for Ann Reinking, Tommy Tune, Bill Irwin and Faith Prince and staged the debut of American Ballroom Theater at The Kennedy Center and BAM. Mr. Whitener has set Twyla Tharp’s ballets in the U.S and France and assisted Mr. Robbins with pre-production for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. He served as Artistic Director for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal and Kansas City Ballet. He was an evaluator for the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, a jury member of Benois de la Danse and has served on a variety of panels including the NEA and Pew Charitable Trust Fund. He has taught ballet, modern dance and composition at Harvard University Summer Dance, Cornish College of the Arts, University of Washington, Pacific Northwest Ballet and was the Director of Dance at Concord Academy.