Robyn Folsom

Robyn Folsom

Theater Program Director

Robyn has been a dedicated and vocal advocate for performing arts in the Sherwood community since directing the musical “Once on This Island” in Stella Olsen Park in 2002. Since then, Robyn has served on the Sherwood Cultural Arts Commission—serving for 5 years as its chair, the Sherwood Foundation for the Arts, and the Voices for the Performing Arts Foundation. For nearly six years Robyn wrote a monthly column “For Arts Sake” for the Sherwood Gazette.

After her time serving the community in various capacities growing the arts opportunities in Sherwood and voicing her support for increased funding and advocacy for arts in our schools and community, Robyn was elected to the Sherwood City Council in January 2008. Robyn helped bring “Music Man” to the Sherwood community in 2009, produced “Annie” in the spring of 2010, and was the assistant musical director for “The Secret Garden” in the summer of 2010.

Robyn has also performed professionally with The Arvada Center in Colorado and with the Oregon Children’s Theatre. In 2005 Robyn wrote a grant on behalf of the Sherwood Cultural Arts Commission, the Sherwood School District, and the City of Sherwood for a grand piano from Michael Allen Harrison’s Snowman Foundation. Not only was the grant awarded and SHS received a grand piano for the first time in its history, but Michael Allen Harrison became a loyal friend and supporter of the VPA appearing in their spring benefit concerts as a guest artist for the last 5 years.

Robyn’s greatest hope is that all the children of her community will have the wonderful opportunities to grow in confidence and self-esteem while enjoying the fun and excitement of performing arts. Robyn and her husband Steve are the proud parents of five children.

Kristen Hartman

Kristen Hartman

Choir Program Director

Kristen graduated from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts and then went on to get a B.A. in computer science from the University of California in San Diego. She brings a background in vocal music, band and orchestra, dance, and musical theatre to the VPA.

Her analytical skills and understanding of the performing arts are a valuable combination to help provide many students with opportunities for education and excellence.

Anna Mersereau

Anna Mersereau

Strings Director

Anna is a violinist, conductor, and teacher for the Voices for the Performing Arts Youth Strings Orchestra, also know as VPA Strings.  In addition, Anna directs the Tigard High Orchestra and Alliance Charter Academy in Oregon City.   She performs regularly with the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and continues teaching in her private studio.  

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Anna began studying the violin at age four. She has been teaching privately now for 24 years, directing class orchestras for 15 years, and teaching in public schools for six years! She has a BS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a M.Ed from Portland State University, and looks also forward to perusing a higher degree in conducting in the years ahead.

Anna enjoys being a patron of art events in the community and is an avid outdoor enthusiast!

Louis Umbarger (choir director) hails from Minneapolis, MN, and has sung with numerous vocal ensembles both amateur and professional. For the last 10 years, Louis has been performing and creating many styles of music, from early renaissance choral music, to contemporary jazz/hip hop/pop. He received a B.A. in Music from Lewis and Clark College and is an active sound designer, composer, arranger, and conductor. He performs with Portland-based A Capella group B-Side Book Club and is also training as an LMT.  

Stephanie Landtiser (choir director) is a musician from Portland, Oregon. Since receiving her B.A. in Music Education from Pacific University, she has been travelling the West Coast, teaching and performing everything from sacred music to indie folk rock.

Melissa Albert (choir director) is a graduate of Oregon State University where she studied voice and music education. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Music and her Masters of Arts in Teaching. She has taught vocal music K-12 in Washington State, and is excited to move to Oregon for her next chapter of teaching.

Tara Porter (choreographer) trained with the Arizona Ballet Company for four years, in premier classical American ballet and pointe, with annual performance roles that included a pointe duet as a Page in the Nutcracker. She performed and competed with the Phoenix Arizona Stars at the state and national level, while receiving continued training in the verbal and physical vocabulary of ballet, lyrical, jazz, modern, drill down, gymnastic, and tap dance for seven years.

Throughout high school, Tara performed and competed with San Antonio, Texas high school dance team, specializing in the genres of kick line, lyrical, jazz, and modern.  After a year of dance training at the collegiate level, she had to choose between what had become two of her passions: dance and teaching.

Tara considers herself fortunate to have dabbled in both careers in her adult life. She was the teacher and owner of a dance studio for girls 3-17 years of age during her three years of living on the island of Guam. Now, she owns and teaches at a private in-home preschool here in Sherwood, where she lives with her husband and three children. The VPA community has brought great training, experiences, and relationships to her family over the past few years, and she is beyond excited to once again share her love and passion for dance with the talented students.

Susan Harris (choreographer) began her 25-year, professional musical theatre and opera career after training in New York and at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Considered a triple threat singer/actor/dancer, Susan appeared beside TV’s “Golden Girl” Rue McClanahan in Oklahoma! and duetted with renowned baritone Kurt Ollman in Bernstein on Broadway. While playing the title role in Kiss Me, Kate, she shared the stage with Agnes de Mille, Leonard Bernstein, Gregory Peck and other notables at the 1983 opening of the Roger L. Stevens Center in Winston-Salem. Throughout the 1980s, she toured the Southeast with the North Carolina Opera and Opera Carolina’s Education and Outreach program, performing and lecturing in major productions as well as in in-school showcases. Since relocating to Oregon in 2003, Susan is delighted to be living in Sherwood, where she teaches private voice lessons, coaches  musical theatre and facilitates workshops helping students prepare for auditions. She is committed to finding the magic in each student’s performance!

Nicole Burgess (dance instructor) loves dancing and has danced ballet, jazz, and contemporary since the age of 6 from Portland to New York. Nicole discovered a particular passion for ballet whilst training locally with Patricia Sylvester and even got the opportunity to train with David Howard in New York. Nicole was accepted into the Studio Company at the Joffrey Ballet in New York, but unfortunately a knee injury her senior year of High School sent her to college instead! 

Nicole’s other passion is teaching and helping children. She started a GED program for young offenders in Boulder Colorado, as well as mentoring and tutoring GED students at North Portland Youth Employment Institute while working toward her Sociology degree at Portland State University.

Nicole started volunteering with the VPA theater during the summer run of The Little Mermaid Jr. in 2013 and has also choreographed for Sherwood High School musicals. Nicole has found a particular passion in teaching middle and high school boys to feel comfortable dancing. In the fall of 2013, she became the choreographer for the Noteworthy Boys Ensemble. Nicole’s husband Steven, and both children, Jamie and Georgie are all active participants of the VPA and love being a VPA family.​