Click on a cast/crew member to read their bio
Erika Cruz is the most excited to be making her North Star Theatre Company debut! A Musical Theatre graduate from AMDA College and Conservatory Los Angeles, Erika is grateful to have been given the opportunity to continue her love for theatre even through these troubling times. Recent roles include: Evita (Eva Peron), Tabletop (Sarah), Public Domain (Rosie the Riveter/Princess), Annie (Swing), Weedshop The Musical (Ensemble), Heathers (Heather Duke/Chandler us), and The Wild Party (Dolores).
@erikamireyacruz ~ erikacruzactor.com
After studying Musical Theatre, Classical Voice, and Acting at Orange County School of the Arts and working as a Character Host at The Disneyland Resort, Cole went on to attend New York University, majoring in Musical Theatre. At NYU, he played roles such as Frankie Epps in Parade, Cosmo Brown in Singin’ in the Rain, and Victor in Cabaret. In New York, he originated the role of Stanley Yelnats in Holes: The Musical at The Clarion Theatre, was a featured performer in The Annual Washington Square Park Christmas Tree-Lighting Ceremony, and performed as a soloist at the iconic Feinstein’s 54 Below in Times Square. Favorite California credits include Avenue Q (Princeton/Rod) at Costa Mesa Playhouse, All Shook Up (Dean Hyde) at Laguna Playhouse, and Heathers the Musical (Kurt Kelly) at No Square Theatre. During quarantine, Cole has been performing in a series of weekly socially-distanced porch concerts around Orange County and played the role of William Barfée in a virtual production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Many thanks to his agent, Nicole, at FireStarter Entertainment... Constant love to his phenomenal family & friends!!
Haley is an Ecuadorian actress based in Southern California. Some of her credits include A Chorus Line (Cassie), In The Heights (Daniela), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Mrs. Flannery), Hairspray (Penny), Violet (Old Lady), and Bright Star (Ensemble). Professional credits include West Side Story (Anita) with the Chance Theatre, West Side Story (Consuelo) with Performance Riverside, and Legally Blonde (Mother/Judge/Ensemble) with Candlelight Pavilion.
Scott has performed on stages in the Morongo Basin, Coachella Valley, and Inland Empire for the past decade. Recently, he took on the roles of Director, Musical Director, Choreographer, and Lighting Designer for the musical SISTER ACT at Theatre 29. Scott is thrilled to be back on stage after almost a year of not performing to take a step behind the scenes on various projects. Some of his recent credits include Hanschen (SPRING AWAKENING), Curly (OKLAHOMA!), Seymour (LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS), Joseph (JOSEPH...TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT), Jesus (GODSPELL), and Domingo/Ensemble (IN THE HEIGHTS) (three times, I guess he liked it or something). When he is not on stage he is spending time studying for his Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from Brandman University. He can also be found volunteering for Visit 29! and lounging around the house with his dog, Boomer. Scott cannot wait to make his debut with North Star Theatre on their very first production! He would like to thank his friends and family for all their support.
Christian is a Desert Theatre League Award winner. He has been a part of countless musical endeavors in the Coachella Valley, some of his recent credits include; Oklahoma as Curly, for which he received a DTL award and Rént as Roger. Other credits include Footloose, Wedding Singer, Pride and Prejudice among many others. He has been a proud member of the California Desert Choir, under the direction of Timothy Bruneau. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Vocal Performance and aspires to master his inner Pavarotti and take his voice to new heights, inspiring young singers to fall in love with the magic of classical and opera music. So stay tuned for his future endeavors!
Joseph is super excited to participate in this show, especially during a time in which it’s safe to say the community has been without theatre for so long. It feels really nice to get to go back doing what he loves. His most recent roles include Jack Kelly from Disney’s Newsies (DTW), Yonkers in Gypsy (MTU), and the Squip in Be More Chill (MTU). He has one year of ballet/jazz dance training and plans to have more in the future. He cannot wait to perform in this show and feel the energy of an audience once again!
Javier Trujillo Contreras Jr.
Javier is the second oldest of 6 siblings (all boys). He earned his diploma at Indio High School, an associates degree in music at College of the Desert, and a music technology certificate at College of the Desert. Currently, he is attending San Francisco State University for a bachelors degree. Javier also served in the United States Marine Corps as a sergeant. He served a 7 month tour in Iraq and another 7 month tour in Afghanistan. He’s been is theatre productions such as The Addams Family and In the Heights. On his spare time, Javier enjoys socializing with his friends, gaming, and going to music festivals.
Laura Leo Kelly
Laura is hyped to be part of North Star Theatre’s first production. Most recently, they could be seen in the premiere of Sky High: Remote Learning as Gwen Grayson. Regional: Men on Boats (Thingamajig Theatre Company), West Side Story (Chance Theater), Peter Pan (Performance Riverside), The Christians (Actors Co-Op). lauraleokelly.com @laukell_ #BLM
Lenessa is ecstatic to dance in the desert in one of the most beautiful musicals ever written! She is a Musical Theatre graduate from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy(AMDA) in Los Angeles/New York. Some of her recent credits include Alice in Wonderland (Glendale Centre Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Glendale Centre Theatre), All Shook Up (Center Stage Fontana), Annie (Glendale Centre Theatre), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Simi Valley ARTS), Evita (AMDA), and Lucky Stiff (AMDA). When Lenessa is not on stage she enjoys competitive ice skating and floating on her sparkly pink raft in the pool. Huge thanks to her family and friends for their constant support and encouragement. Check out what’s new on lenessa-age.com and on instagram @loch_nesssa.
Luke is over the moon to join the cast of North Star’s debut production of West Side Story, and to be reprising his role as Baby John. He is a Los Angeles based musical theatre actor, currently majoring in theatre arts with a minor in musical theatre at Cal State University Northridge. Some of his favorite past credits include Newsies (Buttons), Guys and Dolls (Rusty Charlie), Legally Blonde (Kiki), Heathers (Preppy Stud/Ram understudy), Mamma Mia (Ensemble) and Carrie (Freddy Holt/dance captain). Much love to his family for all their love and to his friends for their nonstop support and encouragement!
Zoe is thrilled to make her musical theatre debut in North Star Theatre’s first production! She is currently a senior at La Quinta High School and has participated in different performing arts groups around the valley for 9 years now. She was cast in West Side Story (Shark Girl/Pepe) this past school year at LQHS and is very excited to begin performing again. She would like to thank her friends and family for their continuous love and support!
Griffin is a sophomore theatre major at CSU Channel Islands and a recent graduate of Musical Theatre University who has been performing both locally and in school for the past 15 years. Some past credits include Christopher Belling in ‘Curtains’, for which he won a Broadway World Award for Acting, Greg Pierotti/Aaron Kriefels in the CSU Channel Islands production of ‘The Laramie Project’, Cabrillo Music Theatre’s production of ‘Cinderella’ alongside Sally Struthers and Derek Klena, Prince Adam in ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and many more. Griffin is thrilled to be part of North Star Theatre’s production of ‘West Side Story’ and he would like to thank his parents, sister, and grandparents for their continued support throughout the years.
Jeremiah is a senior at Indio High School. He’s been both onstage and crew for some musicals and plays at DTW. He was Seaweed in Hairspray (DTW) and he would have been Sebastian in the Little Mermaid at his high school. He loves to dance when he is not singing or drawing.
Carly is pumped to be making her Palm Springs debut with North Star! She was born and raised in West Covina, California and after a 10-year competitive cheerleading career, found her passion for theatre. She attended Cal State Fullerton University and received her B.F.A in Musical Theatre. Some of her favorite credits include Heathers (H. Duke), Shrek the Musical (Fiona), Taming of the Shrew (Grumio/ Vincentio), Elf the Musical (Charlotte Dennon), Legally Blonde (Brooke Wyndham). When she is not on stage she can be found teaching dance at Alta Loma Dance Academy. She would like to thank her family and friends for their endless support, and the creative team for reviving the hope.
Heather is the manager and lead singer of the duo VIBRANCE, playing Top 40 hits throughout Coachella Valley and Southern CA. She found her love for the arts singing and dancing in church at a young age, continued performing through college, and is returning to the musical theatre stage once again to be a part of this innovative outdoor show! Heather thanks her daughter Ryley and the rest of her family for their support in all her artistic endeavors.
Allie started theatre in high school, and it instantly became one of her passions. Allie is currently a Theatre Arts major at COD and is planning to transfer to Cal State Fullerton this next year. She is excited to be a part North Star's first production, and hopes to continue performing with them! She would like to thank her family, friends, and boyfriend for all the support and love!!
Jana is beyond excited to be performing in North Star Theatre’s debut production! Jana was last seen on the Palm Canyon Theatre stage as Mabel in “The Pajama Game”. Other past roles at PCT include: Lucy in “Avenue Q”, Angel in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, and a Kit Kat Girl in “Cabaret”. Other credits include “In the Heights” and “The Addams Family” with COD at the McCallum Theatre. Past favorite roles include Rosalia in “West Side Story” and Mazeppa in “Gypsy”. Jana is super excited to be involved in this show with her son Griffin! Enjoy!
Koby is very excited to be part of this production. He was previously part of MTU and Compass Theatre Acting Company and found we loved performing. His theatre credits include CTAC’s production of The Boyfriend-Tony, The Mystery of Edwin Drood-Durdles, and MTU’s production of Be More Chill-Scary Stock Boy/Ensemble. He’d like to thank his Mother and Father for supporting him through everything that he’s done.
James B. Owens
Co-Founder & Director
James' extensive work in theatre arts as an actor, singer, director, and teacher, has culminated in the founding of this new endeavor. He has appeared onstage in several theatres here in the Coachella Valley. He has also performed onstage up and down the West Coast. Some of his credits include; Cat in the Hat in Seussical the Musical, Burt in Mary Poppins, Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, Billy Flynn in Chicago and Bobby Strong in Urinetown, just to name a few. James is a public school teacher and enjoys spending time with his sweet dog Taco.
Scott Thomas Smith
Scott is thrilled to be a part of North Star Theatre Company’s production of this truly iconic bit of musical theater history- especially in these challenging times! He is on staff at the College of the Desert teaching classes in music and musical theater. He has served as a musical director/conductor for Performance Riverside (Inland Theater League Award winner in Music Direction for their production of Chicago), Riverside Repertoire (Inland Theater League award winner for West Side Story and Spring Awakening), Redlands Bowl, Candlelight Theater and been musical director/conductor for countless COD/McCallum Theater productions, winning the Desert Theatre League's Award in Music Direction for their productions of Phantom of the Opera, Rocky Horror Show, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Damn Yankees, South Pacific, Gypsy, Sweet Charity and Guys and Dolls. He also served as a sound designer (sound effects) and composer for several years at a TV/Motion Picture audio post-production studio in Hollywood. During that stint he composed and recorded the film scores for complete restorations/reconstructions of John Wayne’s first fifteen films (that’s a story in itself)! Some other highlights of his career include performances with many national tours and with such legends as Bernadette Peters, Betty Buckley, Elaine Paige, Tommy Tune, Hal Linden, Shirley Bassey, Jay Leno and many others.
Ayanna Elon Wilson
Ayanna is a singer, dancer and actress, who is blessed to be working as the Choreographer for this amazing show! Raised most of her life in Southern California to a family of musicians, Ayanna was inspired to pursue a career in Performing Arts after high school. So in 2018, she graduated with a Duo-Degree in Theatre, and Interdisciplinary Dance Studies from Humboldt State University. Some of her accredited features and achievements as a choreographer include: “Uhuru”-a call to Justice for David Josiah Lawson (H.S.U), 3 years on her college Hip-Hop Dance team, Newsies-her Debut as a Musical Theatre Choreographer (Desert Theatreworks Kids Camp), DTL nomination for Outstanding Youth Choreographer (Desert Theatreworks Kids Camp), and Producers (Desert Theatreworks). Ayanna is most excited to be working alongside her colleague and friend James for a second time, and is looking forward to many more shows together. “I couldn’t have done this without you, friend!” And to the cast, “I love you all! Break all of the legs! And Merde, because I still need your legs to work!”
Christine has been involved in theatre for over 20 years around the Coachella Valley and is the recipient of a DTL award, for Best Supporting Female Performer. She is also the recipient of The Rising Stars of the Desert contest, Country Music category. She studies voice under the direction of Broadway professional, Carrie St. Louis and was a vocal finalist in McCallum Theatre's, Open Call 2020 with our Vice President. Outside of theatre, Christine is a full time mom to her son Brady, lead singer of the cover band Christine & The Lost Keys (nominated for the 8th annual CV Music Awards, Best New Band & Best Female Vocalist) and a Salon Manager.
Stephanie made her stage debut in her elementary school's production of Sleeping Beauty and immediately fell in love with performing. As her experience in theatre grew, so did her love for other aspects of theatre, specifically directing, costume design, and hair and makeup. Some of her theatre credits include; Rosalie/Hair & Make-up in Real Women Have Curves, Godspell (Director), Dionne in Hair, Marcy, as well as the Director, for Almost Maine just to name a few. Stephanie holds an M.A. & B.A and is an English teacher at Indio High School.
Miguel has been in various TV commercials, independent films and theatre productions around the Coachella Valley. His most notable roles include; Peter in Party, Paul in Women Behind Bars, Steve in Looped, Roger in Grease, Juror No. 5 in 12 Angry Men and Oscar in Sweat, just to name a few. Miguel is the recipient of a DTL award, for Best Male Performer. Miguel performs solo acoustic shows but also plays bass/guitar in the cover band, Christine & The Lost Keys with our President. He also plays bass for Imperial Valley band, More Than Circles. Miguel works as a legal assistant for Rover Armstrong, A.P.C.
(Hair & Makeup Designer)
Heidi is comfortable being both on stage as well as off. Working as choreographer, stage manager, director and hair/ makeup designer. You’ve seen her in numerous shows around the Coachella Valley, too many to count or list. She looks forward to continuing to work with NorthStar Theatre and is grateful to fulfill the performance need.
Nick has been involved in theatre for over a decade. Recently, Nick started Wass Projections, creating animated projection backdrops for theatrical and dance productions internationally. Projection Credits include: Musical Theatre University’s Be More Chill (West Coast Premiere), Coachella Valley Repertory’s City of Conversation, Desert Theatrework’s Mary Poppins (Desert Theatre League’s Best Musical 2019), New Zealand Perform's Nutcracker, WWHS's Anastasia, Deaf Pioneer Theatre's Newsies, John Glenn Middle School’s Elf, and dozens more, several of which have him nominated for awards across the country. Outside of Projections, Nick is a Desert Theatre League and Broadway World award recipient, former resident stage manager at Palm Canyon Theatre, and a Staunch Supporter for Children’s Playtime Production’s-“YouTheatre Players.”
(Assistant Stage Manager)
Welcome our new board member! “ Kaylyn is a theatre major at College of the Desert, with a passion for technical theatre and theatre education. In 2019 she earned a DTL nomination for best lead actress in a comedy for her role as Ana in Real Women Have Curves. Most recently, she took on the role of stage manager for Savannah Sipping Society and Murder on the Orient Express, played the role of Lisa in Mamma Mia!, ran sound for Mary Poppins, & ran both lights and sound for Rumors. When she isn’t building sets or running around fixing technical issues, she can often be found reading tarot cards or daydreaming. On top of being a full-time student, she is a submission manager for an online magazine called Mag 20/20 & runs an Etsy shop all on her own.
(Stage Combat Choreography)