MTCA Creative Team



In 2014 Pia and Lisa met while volunteering at their daughter's school. They immediately discovered a shared background and love for the performing arts. Learning their daughter's public school was facing severe budget cuts, which threatened to close the theatre program, they stepped in and founded a non-profit to raise funds and stabilize visual and performing arts opportunities. Together they raised over $250,000 and forged a friendship and partnership that continues today. 

In 2019 Lisa and Pia took the helm of Musical Theatre Competitions of America. Together they have transitioned it into the most extensive national educational musical theatre festival for students and groups in the country. Realizing theatre's critical role in students' development, they have blended educational theatre opportunities, professional mentorship, large-scale event production, and Broadway magic into a unique musical theatre festival. In 2020 realizing that quality performing arts educational opportunities were not accessible to many students due to financial hardships, they Founded Musical Theatre Festivals Educational Foundation. MTF was founded with a mission to support students pursuing musical theatre educational opportunities, gather resources in support of musical theatre education, and raise funds in support of students who desire to attend Musical Theatre Competitions of America. To date, MTF has awarded over $80,000.00 in Scholarship opportunities to students. Pia and Lisa remain committed to creating opportunities for students to learn, grow and share their talents in an educational theatre environment that is uplifting and empowering.


Pia began her 35-year career in Hospitality and Event Production, working in restaurants, private event coordination, large event production, wedding coordination, and luxury hotels in Orange County, CA. Pia opened her own special event production company in 1996, specializing in large-scale, private, and corporate events. Pia enjoys the complexities of executing events that can be scaled and thrives in managing day-to-day operations and organizational details while implementing long-term strategies for success. Pia has a lifelong background in the performing arts. Pia began acting, singing, and modeling at a young age, but her passion has always been musical theatre. Pia has spent 20 years in educational theatre as an active board member for many performing arts programs and working with various charitable organizations to raise needed funds for arts programs in public schools.


Lisa has over 25 years of experience in Educational Theatre. She received a Bachelor of Science in Communication with an emphasis in Performing Arts from Cal Poly Pomona. After years of performing and producing community and youth theatre, Lisa shifted her focus to educational theatre, working with charter and private schools to create theatre programs that align with school-specific curriculum and pedagogical theory. As an educational theatre producer, she has worked with the best of Broadway, including Jerry Mitchell, Stephanie J Block, Jeremy Jordan, Taylor Louderman, Christie Altomare, Christopher J. Hanke, Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, Nikki Snelson, Erika Henningsen, Ryann Redmond, Jared Gertner, Seth Rudetsky and Alli Mauzey. Lisa has served on multiple boards in leadership positions creating and promoting educational theatre opportunities for students.


Hannah Baker was born and raised in Orange County, California and currently resides in New York City where she juggles her many theatrical passions. She has performed both regionally and internationally, with most recent roles including Vivianne in Employee of the Month (Theatre Row, Off-Broadway) and Marc Antony in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (Institute of the Arts, Barcelona). Hannah has also not only spent many years as a theater educator in Southern California, but has trained with Broadway General Management company, Martian Entertainment LLC (NYC), and gone on to manage Stand Up! Productions, a small production company that produces shows and workshops for students in small theaters across NYC. Hannah also stage manages numerous productions and readings across NYC and works as the Covid Safety Manager at Mabou Mines, an experimental theatre company specializing in Avant Garde works in the East Village. Hannah currently works with the account management team at The Araca Group, where she helps bring Broadway and Entertainment branding and merchandise to life. Call her the jack of all trades, but what she loves most is her MTCA family. 


JOE ABRAHAM is a veteran performer and teacher who has been working in show business for nearly 20 years… He has been on Broadway and toured the country in shows such as HAIRSPRAY, DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID, SHREK THE MUSICAL, CATS, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, among others.  Joe made his feature film debut working with Clint Eastwood in Jersey Boys; and on television, he has had roles on shows such as S.W.A.T., UnREAL, the FX Mini Series American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, and most recently he was a guest star on the new Showtime series MOONBASE 8 with John C. Reilly, as well as kicking a leg up in Ryan Murphy’s film version of THE PROM.  Joe has a passion for teaching and has his first book titled The Thriving Artists (co-authored with his wife Christine) is now required reading in theater departments at several universities across the country.  The Thriving Artiststeaches performers how to live an inspired life, build an empowered career, and all while having plenty of money in the bank while doing it!

Congratulations to all participants and we’ll see you on stage!


CHRISTINE NEGHERBON-ABRAHAM recent credits include The Little Mermaid, Oliver, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Mary Poppins (Associate Choreographer) at MTW!  She has toured Nationally/Internationally with My Fair Lady (Eliza u/s), Best Little Whorehouse . . . (Starring Ann-Margret), 42nd Street (Peggy Sawyer), Chicago, and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  Favorite regional credits include Elizabeth (Young Frankenstein), Jennyanydots (Cats at The MUNY/Sacramento Music), Mrs. Wilkinson (Billy Elliot).  TV Credits: Hart of Dixie, Haunting Evidence.  Christine has directed and choreographed all over the US.  Select credits include 42nd Street (Norris Theatre), Holiday Inn (MTW), Hairspray & White Christmas (Mac-Haydn Theatre), Billy Elliot (Alaska Center for the Performing Arts), and Crazy for You, West Side Story, and Cabaret (DeSales University).  Christine is a Master Teaching Artist with both the Segerstrom Center and Center Theatre Group.  She is on the faculty at Hussian College In Studio and Palos Verdes Performing Arts.  She is Co-Founder/Author of The Thriving Artists with husband and actor, Joe Abraham.  They are passionate about bringing financial education and empowerment to artists everywhere.  They have two children and live in LA.


Thomas Schultheis (Teaching Artist Thomas) created the Creativity & Inspiration Workshop, Let Me Try That Again, Musical Theatre Exploration Clinic, Signs & Synchronicity, and TikTok Musicals: Exploration & Activation. He received his MA in Strategic Communications from National University and BS in Psychology from James Madison University. He is on the Musical Theatre Competitions of America Creative Team and is The Spark File Select Group Creativity Coaching Team Captain. Thomas also works with The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts. Additionally, Thomas worked for 15 years at the Disneyland® Resort with the Disney Performing Arts program. He has performed on Broadway in the revival of Grease! and tours of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Chicago, and South Pacific. Thomas founded The Educators Collective, bringing together exceptional leaders in education, and created The Educators Collective Virtual Summit.


CYNTHIA McGARRITY is a singer, music director, director, and master teaching artist with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. Highlights from her career include that of Master Teaching Artist at Disneyland for Disney Performing Arts; lead master teaching artist for Disney Musicals in Schools under the auspices of Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County and Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles; vocal coach for episodic television on the set of NBC Studios Parks & Rec; voiceover artist for PBS Television’s ART-Art Series (whose theme song on which she was featured won the Emmy Award); director and/or music director of such shows as Legally Blonde, Violet, Shrek and many of the Disney musicals compendium; and past Music Department Chair/Voice teacher at The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts. Cynthia is sought after in Southern California for her masterful approach to teaching creative arts curriculum for the classroom for students of all ages as well as conducting professional development workshops for classroom teachers and fellow teaching artists. Through her brand, Cynthia Branches Out, she is often contracted for freelance writing work, private vocal and audition coaching, and designing curriculum for arts-based educational programming. Through this work, she has been contracted as the lead curriculum writer and director of Musical Theatre Matters at the School of Music and Dance for Children with Disabilities, a music and dance program that encourages the inclusion of all children in the arts no matter their ability. She has also been published in four book anthologies and is currently writing her first television pilot screenplay. Cynthia is thrilled to be back at Musical Theatre Competitions of America, sharing her love of music, story, and technique with young artists from all over the country.


John Vaughan is a busy director/choreographer with over 400 productions to his credit. He has worked constantly first as an actor, then as a director, choreographer, producer, and theatre educator. His long association with Performance Riverside, the Moonlight Amphitheater, Musical Theatre West, and other professional Southern California theatres includes hit productions of Big River, Cabaret, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Curtains, The Will Rogers Follies, Evita, Footloose, Anything Goes, Singin’ in the Rain, A Chorus Line, Into the Woods, Aida, Ragtime, The Music Man, And the World Goes Round, among many others. Philanthropically, he has raised (net) over eight million dollars for the Children Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) since 1997 as the director of their acclaimed volunteer-based fundraiser- the “CHOC Follies”. John’s work has received numerous awards from Backstage West, the Inland Empire Theatre League, San Diego Playbill, and many others. He has been the co-choreographer for the acclaimed Citrus Singers for the past 26 years.


John Tebay began his career in 1976 as Minister of Music and Worship at Calvary Church of Placentia, California, USA, where he directed the music program for 17 years. In 1981, he became the choral director at El Dorado High School in Placentia, California. He has been director of choral studies at Fullerton College in Southern California, since 1985. During that time, he has conducted the 110-voice Concert Choir, the Chamber Singers, the Collegiate Chorale, the Men’s Chorale, the Women’s Chorale, the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and the song and dance troupe, Bravo. Mr. Tebay has guest-conducted local and state honor choirs throughout the Western United States. He is in demand as an adjudicator, clinician, and competition judge for choral, musical theatre, and show choir events. John has collaborated with the Theatre Department at Fullerton College to music direct numerous Musical Theatre productions. John is a member of the founding staff of Musical Theatre Competitions of America, and has been an adjudicator/clinician at each competition since its inception. 

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