Young Actors' Theatre Camp

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Our Staff And Teacher’s Bios

Meet Shawn Ryan, Director and Co-Founding Director of YATC

shawn-ryanAlongside his Co-Director John Ainsworth, Shawn will be the Emcee for your week at camp and directing the Showcase which is held at the end of each Summer session! Shawn was most recently seen on the Hit Fox Show “Bones”. Other TV Credits include: “The Mentalist”, “Women’s Murder Club”, “Life”, and “America’s Got Talent”. Shawn’s career as an Actor, Producer, Singer, Writer, and all around artist serves him well at camp. He’ll be more than happy to work with you on making that Monologue memorable or Selling your 32 bars so that you GET THE PART!

“I love YATC! I am so proud of the world that I have helped to create and I cannot wait to meet each and every new camper and welcome our return campers back home! Get ready for a life changing experience!”

Meet John Ainsworth, Co-Founding Director of YATC

john-ainsworthJohn is the Co-Founding Director of the Young Actors’ Theatre Camp and head of the YATC Film Department, and brings with him a vast knowledge of Film and TV experience, as he has appeared in multiple television shows including FOX’s Glee, as the Funny Girl Stage Manager “Barclay”, American Horror Story: Murder House, Grey’s Anatomy, Justified, Hasket’s Chance, and Justice, as well as commercials, short films, and regional theatre productions in the Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and San Francisco Areas.

Meet AJ Hamilton, Technical Director

aj-hamilton-technical-directorAJ is the Technical Director for YATC and has been a part of the camp for 7 years. A San Francisco State University graduate with a BA in Theatre Performance, AJ is a working actor and voice actor in Los Angeles. AJ’s body of work includes short films, commercials, film and stage. He has been in more plays than he can remember, including A Chorus Line, Romeo and Juliet, South Pacific, and High Fidelity the Musical. His dream is to someday be a voice actor on cartoon shows like the ones he and millions of other children used to watch on Saturday mornings.

Meet Valerie Dohrer, Associate Director

valerieValerie graduated from Drew University in 2014 with degrees in Sociology and Gender Studies. As YATC’s Resident Meryl Streep, she spends her days opening malls and spreading the YATC spirit. Valerie has been part of the YATC Family since 2006 and loves ever second of it! She is happy to answer any questions about camp or Meryl Streep day or night. You can reach her at!

Meet Our Scene Study Department

About Sarah Gaboury…

sarahMost of Sarah’s training comes from studying privately at studios in Los Angeles. She studied three years at The Larry Moss Studio with Michelle Danner, with Lisa Robertson and Karl Bury (both Larry Moss protégé) and continues with Larry himself when he is in town. She has studied with expert Patsy Rodenberg for voice and Shakespeare. Her technique is eclectic and includes the teachings of Meisner, Uta Hagen, Stella Adler, Bobby Lewis and others. In addition to YATC and private clients, Sarah coaches at Actor’s Atelier, Young Actors Project in Malibu, Cynthia Bain’s Young Actors Studio in Studio City, HAAPS in Hollywood and LAByrinth Theater Company’s Master Class in New York City. Sarah works consistently in film, television, commercials and theatre.
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About Matt Pittenger…

matt-pittengerMatt Pittenger has established a working career in the commercial and film industries. Currently you can see him in spots for, PetSmart and Apple. He was heavily involved with writing and performing sketch comedy, formerly with the Blow Show Co., Straight Jacket Society, and Sketch Camp featured at Comedy Central. He received his B.A. in theatre from San Diego State University and then pursued further studies at Oxford, England in the British American Dramatic Arts program (BADA). His training in L.A. includes work with Lisa Robertson, Patsy Rodenburg, and Larry Moss. Matt teaches scene study to kids 7- 18 yrs old at The Young Actors Theatre Project in Malibu and at the Young Actors Theatre Camp in San Francisco.
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About Karen Moore…

karenKaren Moore is an actor and director who specializes in and has a particular love for classical theatre! As a performer she has graced the stages of the San Francisco Shakespeare
Festival, Theatre Rhinocerous, and Teatra Bella and has directed for such companies as Highlands Children’s Theatre and Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company. Recently Karen has been developing an original play based on Shakespeare’s most memorable characters. She is proud to be a member of the YATC team and is thrilled to be a part of this scene study crew!
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Meet the Musical Theatre Dept!

About Gina Latimerlo…

ginaGina Latimerlo, formerly Gina Merlo, has been performing since 1992, well, just a lot of productions :) She has a Masters in Teaching Music from Notre Dame de Namur University. Gina also has B.A.s in the Performing Arts (Music and Theatre) and in English, as well as teaching credentials in those three fields in three different states. Since 1993, she has additionally attended professional training programs and/or private tutoring in voice, musical theatre, opera, jazz, pop, and drama in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York. She has been teaching and directing all ages since 1995 with experience at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as the collegiate level, at locations such as Broadway by the Bay, Hillbarn Theatre, Notre Dame de Namur University, as well as at a number of local high and middle schools. She has been enjoying instructing voice through private lessons since 1998 and currently has a highly successful clientele aged 9-90.

About David Mikael…

davidmDavid is a singer & songwriter, music producer, artist manager, and songwriting coach
imported from Louisiana though long term resident of California trained since age seven at various arts schools in various arts disciplines including music, drama, fine art, fashion, digital design, and photography. Sometimes shortening his name to DM for fun, DM has been working with multiple up and coming music artists in Pop/Rock, Alternative, R&B, Country, and Musical Theatre with credits for songwriting, producing, and A&R. As of 2014 David Mikael is an affiliate of the performing rights organization SESAC, owns all his master recordings and publishing through his imprint OK GR8 MUSIC, and is working with Artist Publishing Group a division of Warner Music Group, whose other clients include The Futuristics, DJ Frank E,
and David Guetta. David Mikael is excited about once again continuing his relationship as an instructor and producer at YATC and has been apart of the YATC family since the early 00’s.

Meet Emmy Frevele, Musical Theatre Choreographer

emmy-fEmmy Frevele is a professional dancer and actress living the Hollywood dream. Emmy’s passion lies in performing. Her skills range from dancing, such as jazz, tap, hip-hop, ballet, and more, to acting, on stage and on camera, to circus skills, such as acrobatics and juggling. Emmy works with the best in the business, and can be seen on the hit ABC series Bunheads, in music videos for Olly Murs, LMFAO, and Bella Thorne, among others, and in commercials for Best Buy and American Apparel. Emmy is also a director, a choreographer, a video and audio editor, and a photographer. For fun, she enjoys playing her guitar, singing, painting, and writing. “Dance has no limits, and neither do I.”

Meet the Film Lab!

John and the film crew are bringing back the very popular YATC Short Film Festival! Be sure to bring your imagination and your ideas to this exciting film making class. We will be working on scripts, story boarding, building shot lists, casting, production staffing, and you will see your short film through from start to finish culminating with the YATC Short Film Festival showcasing your short films

About Amir Malaklou…

amirA native of Southern California, Amir Malaklou graduated from Chapman University, where he recieved a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts (BFA) for Theatre Performance alongside taking numerous courses in Screen Acting at Dodge College of Film & Cinema. His most notable performance came when he starred in the recent political thriller, Argo (Best Picture 2013), directed by Ben Affleck and produced by George Clooney. In addition, he just wrapped a new feature film, Gilt, coming out this fall and has been featured in a number of award-winning short films, including “Amistad,” Best Short Film at the 2010 Saddleback Film Festival and the Official Selection at the 2010 Sacramento International Film Festival. His on-stage productions include two world premiers, All the Sky Were Paper and Hollier Ground. He is classically trained by both South Coast Repertory and Shakespeare Orange County and describes himself as an actor who breaks both cultural and personal boundaries.

About Lauren Andrews…

lauren-andrewsLauren is super excited to be a part of this Summer of YATC’s film crew! She currently studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, for her BFA in Film Production. When she’s not cutting together hilarious videos and putting them online, she enjoys watching and then discussing quality television, comparing and contrasting historical European literature, and working towards her childhood and lifelong goal of writing, directing, producing, catering, and starring in the latest and greatest Shrek movie. You’ll probably see her behind the camera as you have the greatest Summer ever, so if she comes up to you- JUST ACT NATURAL.

About Aryn Winslow…

aryn-winslowAryn Winslow is so excited for this summer of YATC because she knows that it is going to be the best summer ever! Aryn is 22 and has been involved with theater since she was very young. She attended Oakland School for the Arts in the theater department and, after graduation, she attended Academy of Art University in the motion pictures and television department. After that, she relocated to Los Angeles, CA where she now resides to live her dream. Her interests range from Drama to Video Games. She is a lifeguard and loves to be both in front and behind the camera. She can’t wait to meet everyone at camp and get this awesome summer going!

Suzan Jones, Headshot Photographer. Film Dept

susan-jonesSuzan has worked extensively in film and TV production as a producer, photographer, make- up artist, audio mixer and actress. She works closely with her director/cinematographer husband to produce independent features and documentaries as well as content for television and the web. Together they strive to create content that is socially relevant and entertaining using the latest technologies to tell great stories and enact social change.

Meet the Counseling/Assistant Teaching Staff!

Meet Caryn Thomason, Camp Nurse

carynCaryn Thomason has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years, specializing in Women’s Health. She has worked in Labor and Delivery and Post Partum, as well as talking with patients on the phone about Diabetes, Heart Failure and Asthma, and last year began expanding her horizons as Camp Nurse! At Camp, she specializes in the practical application of sunscreen, bandaids and bug spray, medication administration, homesickness talks, and hugs. While she doesn’t act, can’t carry a tune in a bucket and has 2 left feet, she has recently become interested in voice over work including medical documentaries and audiobooks. See if you can spot her first before she drenches you with her water gun! This will be Caryn’s second summer Camp and she looks forward to seeing returning campers as well as meeting first time campers!

Natalie Brice, Counselor

natalie-briceNatalie was obsessed with theatre and performing arts ever since she was able to memorize Peter Pan, and now she’s been coming to camp for years! She’s done shows like Cinderella and The Laramie Project at theatre companies in Pleasanton, and now she performs in San Francisco and acts in films! She studies Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University and experiences the joy of acting every day, all over the place! The only thing she loves more than theatre families is EVEN BIGGER THEATRE FAMILIES! Cant! Wait! For! CAAAAAMMP!!!

Drew Reitz, Counselor/Sports Captain

drew-reitzDrew Reitz is an actor in the San Francisco Bay Area. He just received his B.A. in Drama from San Francisco State University where he performed in Bruce Norris’ The Unmentionables (Don), Avenue Q (Brian), Sam Shephard’s True West (Lee) and The Last Five Years (Jaime). He has also directed two productions at SFSU for the Brown Bag Theatre Company. Drew, in addition to acting, has had 5 years of improv training as a co-founding member of the teen improv troupe, Creatures of Impulse. Drew also prides himself in being the most sports-savvy counselor at camp.

Evin Michaels, Counselor

evinEvin is way excited to be back at camp this summer! He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA working as an actor and going to school. In addition to being a member of The Group Rep Theatre Company in NoHo, he currently is taking classes at Santa Monica and Pasadena Colleges, EDGE Performing Arts Center, Second City Hollywood, the Teen Actor’s Lab, and Lisa Popeil’s Voiceworks. Having starting in the business at a young age, he loves to work with younger performers to help show them some of things he’s learned and wished he had known, often answering questions long after camp has ended. You’ll usually find him exploring different parts of Los Angeles, auditioning, rehearsing, or randomly bursting out into song and dance on the street. You can learn more about him at

Kris Robinson, Counselor

kris-robinsonKris D.J. Robinson is very excited to be returning home to work her 4th year at YATC. She has just completed her 4-year conservatory training in Acting from the University of Arts in Philadelphia and will be furthering her career in New York City this fall. She loves working with students on Stage Combat, movement based acting training involving Williamson technique, viewpoints, and Linklater technique. She also loves working with students on their voice, with singing, diction and vocal coloring in acting performance. She cannot wait to start the summer again at YATC! See you soon!

Sarah Smallman, Counselor

sarah-smallmanHi, I’m Sarah Smallman and I am a counselor here at YATC! I study theater at the University of Redlands and have been acting since I was six years old. I took vocal lessons and was part of two different choirs for four years. I have even toured to Spain with one of my choirs and sang with a world-renowned choral director, Henry Leck. My life has always consisted of performing; I taught myself how to play piano and the bass guitar, I played the flute all throughout middle school, and I was the president of my high school’s Improv club my senior year. Since I have been in college I have joined my school’s Musical Theater Company, a club called Collaborative Artists of Redlands, and UHOP which stands for University Humor Outreach Program. Even when I am not performing, I like to pretend my life is a musical and break into song and dance at any point in time. I was a camper at YATC for two sessions and after completing my session as a counselor in training and being a counselor at this past winter camp, I am excited to be a counselor!!

Luke Gonzales, Counselor

luke-gonzalesLuke is so excited to be returning to YATC for the best summer ever! He is currently attending CSU Stanislaus pursuing a theatre major. In his free time Luke enjoys comics, art, guitar, video games, and fighting crime in Gotham City. If you see him, feel free to say hi and share some nerdy conversation about whatever it is that you geek out over! Can’t wait to see you all soon!

Gabe Hoffman, Counselor

gabe-hoffmanGabe Hoffman can’t wait for the BEST SUMMER EVER! Gabe, 19 years old, just completed his freshman year at Washington University in St. Louis, where he has managed to stay busy as a member of the school’s oldest improv and sketch comedy group. Gabe has been doing theatre (both musical and otherwise) all around the Bay Area all his life. He has been attending YATC since he was 12 years old and is SO excited to share his love for camp with all of you! GET EXCITED FOR THE BEST CAMP EVER!!

Kevin Dwyer, Counselor

kevin-dwyerKevin Dwyer has been attending the Young Actors Theater Camp since he was 15 years old and excited to embark on his first summer as a Camp Counselor! When not attending his favorite place in the entire world, he resides in sunny Los Angeles as a theater major at Loyola Marymount University. During his first year at LMU Kevin was cast in two main stage productions. Spring Awakening as Melchior Gabor and Rent as Tom Collins. Along with theater, Kevin got accepted onto LMU’s improv team, Laser Squad Bravo, which performs once a month. When camp is not in session Kevin works for Mane Entertainment, an event planning company at LMU as a PA to the special events Manager. Now that school is over Kevin is stoked for a summer filled with awesome kids, amazing activities and a couple months loaded with lots and lots of theater!

Drew Lake, Counselor/ Assistant Choreographer

drew-lake Drew has been dancing since she was 3 years old, she grew up performing at dance competitions and conventions around the Bay Area. Drew is currently a Dance major and English minor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and teaches hip hop, jazz, and ballet at local dance studios. She loves all aspects of performing and she absolutely never stops dancing! This will be her second time as a YATC counselor and cannot wait to meet all of the new campers this year and be more excited to be at her second home, Camp YATC!!

Holly Wasson, Counselor

holly-wasson Holly is a Musical Theater Major at AMDA College and Conservatory in Los Angeles. Holly loves Broadway musicals (really- ask her ANYTHING!), animals (especially cats) and baking unique desserts. This is her sixth camp and she can’t imagine spending her summer anywhere else. In her free time you’ll probably see her chilling with her SoCal besties, Evin, Drew, and Kevin, hanging out at her second favorite place in the world, Disneyland, challenging the character’s to sing-offs, and randomly bursting out into fully choreographed song and dance. Her dream is to one day have a musical throw down with all of the Disney Princesses (and win, of course). She is so excited to be a part of the Camp Y.A.T.C staff and can’t wait for the best summer ever!

Izzy Feld, Counselor

izzy-feld Izzi is so excited to be back at YATC for her second year all the way from Liverpool, England! Although she is only 19, she has over 10 years of professional singing and songwriting experience, which she can’t wait to share with all the campers! Izzi has recently written the score for her own musical which has completed a mini regional tour around the North West of England and hopes to tour Nationally next year! Izzi has dreams of moving to New York to be part of a Broadway show but she doesn’t think she’ll ever find anything as special as YATC!

Ariane Mcdonald, Counselor

arianne I am so excited to be working for YATC, the BEST camp ever! I am currently enrolled in Boston University’s School of Theatre studying Scenic Design. As well as designing for the theatre, I have acted in several productions including student written pieces, Beauty and the Beast, and A Streetcar Named Desire. I can’t wait to meet you all and to experience the fun that lies ahead.

Jacob Hsieh, Counselor/ Tech Assistant

jacobJacob is super excited to see everyone at camp this session! He is a bay area native actor and performer who is currently in his last year of college at San Francisco State University pursuing a degree in Drama with an emphasis in performance. Several of his credits include Avenue Q, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, and Carrie:The Musical. Outside of acting, Jacob is an avid fan of board games, ultimate frisbee, and backpacking.

Hope Raymond, Counselor

hopeHope Raymond is a Senior at San Francisco State University. She is studying to be an actor and director and has plans to do both as well as teaching one day. Her emphasis is in directing but don’t be fooled, she is an experienced singer, dancer, and mischief- maker. Can’t wait to see you at camp!