Finishing the Hat covers all aspects of mounting a musical: Choosing the material, analysis of the material, directing, choreography, vocal and physical health, and technical aspects of a production (sound, lights, costumes, and scenery construction). All four instructors have extensive professional theatre experience: Broadway, national tours, and community and children’s theatre. Their combined talents will cover all aspects and involve the participating students to experience what doing a school musical production is like!

Instructor: Mary Ann Krupa, Carla Stickler, Justin Brill & Shanna VanDerwerker


Mary Ann Krupa has been a collaborative artist, music director and teacher for over 40 years. She has worked with professional theatre companies in Chicago; at the Goodman School of Drama as a staff pianist; at various colleges, community theatres and high schools; and as music director and arranger for the CAST (Communication, Art, Speech and Theatre) Program at Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park. She has also accompanied workshops for the Educational Theatre Association’s International Thespian Festival, and arranged and wrote original music for children’s theatre and revues for the Open Door Repertory Theater of Oak Park. Krupa was on the faculty of the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, as well as at VanderCook College of Music, where she taught, piano, theory, and created the Musical Theatre Workshop course. Currently based in California, she continues to work with children’s theatre of local companies, and teaches the online Theory Review course for VanderCook.
Singer, actor and teacher Carla Stickler is best known for her performances as Elphaba on Broadway and in the touring production of Wicked. In addition to numerous Broadway national tours, she has performed throughout Asia and Canada, and has headlined as a guest entertainer for the Norwegian Cruise Lines and Disney Cruise Lines. She is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, and holds a master’s degree from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education in theatre education in college and communities. She teaching master classes in vocal performance and vocal health across the U.S. as well as maintaining a private voice studio. She has worked closely with the Educational Theatre Association and spent four years attending the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, NE, as a teaching artist and guest performer.
Justin Brill is a Chicago-based actor and teacher with 18 years of performance experience on Broadway and in national tours and regional theatre. He appeared in the Broadway productions of Rent and High Fidelity, and in the national tours of Wicked and Spamalot, among others. In Chicago, he has worked with About Face Theatre and Drury Lane, and helped found FWD Theatre Project, a non-profit whose mission is to bring new musicals to life in Chicago with staged readings. Brill brings a wealth of knowledge to the table when working with professionals or students interested in auditioning for productions, scholarship competitions and professional training, and college theatre programs. He teaches master classes in audition techniques, cold readings, and yoga for the creative artist. He has done numerous workshops for various state Thespian Festivals throughout the country including the Educational Theatre Association’s International Thespian Festival in Nebraska. He is a proud graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama and musical theatre.
static1.squarespaceShanna VanDerwerker is a Chicago-based choreographer and dance instructor currently on faculty at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and at Dovetail Studios in the Albany Park neighborhood. She has a bachelor’s degree in dance from Point Park University in Pittsburgh. As a professional dancer, she has performed on Broadway, in national tours and regional theaters, and at Walt Disney World. She was also the Associate Choreographer for the Broadway productions of Amazing Grace and High Fidelity. VanDerwerker has choreographed for numerous studios and festivals around the country including the Educational Theatre Association’s International Thespian Festival. She is returning for her third season as choreographer at Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, WI, where she previously worked on South Pacific, Beauty and the Beast and Singin’ in the Rain.

VanderCook College of Music - (312) 225-6288