Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to. 

-Willem DaFoe


OVATIONS THEATRE offers inspiring and thought-provoking educational and performance ovations-hairsprayjract1-tjbstudios-10opportunities for young musical theatre artists. Our learning environment supports creativity and open-mindedness, dedication and focus, individual expression and ensemble teamwork. Along with singing, dancing, and acting, our young people build confidence, problem-solving skills and strong friendships. They gain the fundamentals they need to blossom on-stage and off as they work together to create memorable—and magical—experiences for themselves and their audiences.

03022017_ovations-sundayintheparkwithgeorge-tjbstudios_273Founded by Darnell Morris, OVATIONS THEATRE is the DC-metro area’s newest musical theatre education and performance program for young people. OVATIONS THEATRE rehearses in Rockville, Maryland, and performs in local professional venues with the benefit of top-notch staging, lighting, sound, props and costuming. Our seasons are filled with exciting offerings, including full-scale productions, master classes, workshops and more. Explore this site for complete information and check back frequently for updates. In the words of Pippin, “Join us…we’ve got magic to do!”



Darnell Patrick Morris (Founder & Producing Artistic Director) has been a Director, Choreographer and Theatre Educator in the Washington, DC area for the past decade.  His students have been seen on Broadway as well as many local professional stages including Signature Theatre, Arena Stage, Olney Theatre Centre, ATMTC, Wooly Mammoth and Ford’s Theatre.  Select Directing Credits – OVATIONS THEATRE: Les Miserables: School Edition, Carrie: The Musical, Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR,Gypsy, The Addams Family Young@Part, ParadeHeathers, Hairspray Jr, Sunday in The Park With George, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr, Spring Awakening, Rent, Into The Woods JrSweeney Todd and Seussical Jr. Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre: In The Heights, Into the Woods, Avenue Q, Hairspray, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Stillpointe Theatre: Caroline or Change. Kensington Arts Theatre: Les Miserables, Ragtime, Jekyll & Hyde, The Rocky Horror Show.  Awards: 2018 Ruby Griffith Award for In The Heights, City Paper 2015 Best Musical: Caroline, Or Change, 2014 Ruby Griffith Award for Les Miserables, 2013 Ruby Griffith Award for Avenue Q, 2012 Ruby Griffith Award for Hairspray, 2011 Ruby Griffith Award for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, 2009 Ruby Griffith Award for Pippin, 2014 WATCH Awards for Best Choreography and Best Musical for Ragtime, 2014 Best Community Theatre Production of a Musical in DC on In 2017 Darnell was selected as one of 6 up-and-coming DC area directors to participate in Signature Theatre’s Musical Theatre Young Directors’ Workshop.

10494551_10153585954333472_6363770564897714008_nMorgan Fannon (Managing Director) is incredibly excited to work with Ovations Theatre and all of these exciting, young performers! Morgan grew up performing in youth theater and, in fact, performed with Ovations Theatre’s founder and Artistic Director (Darnell Patrick Morris) in many challenging and wonderful shows! Favorite roles include the Moon in Caroline, or Change (StillPointe Theatre Initiative; Best Musical 2015 – Baltimore City Paper, Best Musical Professional Theatre – DCMTA), Leading Player in Pippin (KAT 2ND STAGE – Ruby Griffith Award), Nehebka in Aida (Toby’s), Sour Kangaroo in Seussical (St. Mark’s Players), Janis Joplin in Hairspray (Lazy Susan), and many, many more.

TheresaWeb-5711Theresa Cunningham (Associate Artistic Director & AHA Liasion) Theresa has worked with varied populations: public and private school students, residential psychiatric patients, homeless families, incarcerated teenage girls, “at-risk” youth, preschoolers, and the elderly.  Baltimore-born Theresa Cunningham is an actor, singer, pianist, poet, playwright, musical director and teacher.  She attended Syracuse University where she studied musical theatre. She moved to Atlanta to perform and teach, before moving back to the DMV in 2012. Select DC area roles include: Arena Stage: Nina Simone: Four Women(Sarah); Round House Theatre: Caroline or Change(Washing Machine); Imagination Stage: Wiley and the Hairy Man(Mama); Stillpointe Theatre: Caroline or Change(Caroline); Compass Rose Theatre: A Raisin in the Sun(Lena); Olney Theatre Center: Once On This Island(Asaka); Riverside Center: Ain’t Misbehavin’(Armelia); Toby’s Dinner Theatre: Les Miserables(Mme. Thenardier). Theresa won the 2013 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Musical for her portrayal of Sofia in Toby’s Dinner Theatre’s production of The Color Purple.


Mayumi Baker Griffie (Music Director of LES MISERABLES and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) is an accomplished Music Directed and Composer.  She studied voice at the University of Maryland, College Park School of Music. She has performed with the UM Symphonic Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the University Jazz Band as both a pianist and singer.  Music Direction credits include KENSINGTON ARTS THEATRE: Rocky Horror Show, Jekyll & Hyde (nominated for Outstanding Musical Direction), Ragtime (won WATCH award for Outstanding Musical Direction).  HOWARD COMMUNITY COLLEGE: The 25th Annual… Spelling Bee and Ragtime.  KAT 2ND STAGE: A Year with Frog and Toad, Wizard of Oz. ACADEMY OF HOLY CROSS: And the World Goes Round, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, High School Musical, High School Musical 2, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Annie, Grease, My Fair Lady, A Year with Frog and Toad, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street.11921721_1029512163727139_5480246945017331459_o

Matthew Dohm (Orchestra Director of LES MISERABLES) Pursuing an MM in Music Education from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University, Matthew Dohm can be seen & heard Music Directing and Assistant MD-ing productions at Olney Theatre Center, Howard County Public Schools, and theater companies throughout Baltimore, Frederick, and Washington, D.C. This past June Matthew Music Directed THE WILD PARTY. In addition to leading Music Ministry/Organ at several churches in the DMV area, Matthew has taught in several private charter schools and currently teaches music and theater in several Arts Education organizations, including the Levine School of Music, The Frederick Children’s Choir, New Spire Arts, and the Frederick Camerata Youth Theatre Camp.

IMG_20160119_115642Arielle Bayer (Music Director of DISNEY’S MARY POPPINS & THE WIZARD OF OZ YOUNG PERFORMERS EDITION) holds a degree in Music Education from Shepherd University and has been a music teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools for ten years.  Previous OVATIONS productions include: Seussical Jr, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr, Hairspray Jr, Addams Family Young@Part and Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. Over the years, Arielle has worked as Music Director with summer theatre camps, including Adventure Theatre, Glen Echo Children’s Theatre, and Imagination Stage.  Additionally, Arielle serves as Music Director for many local community theatre groups, including DTC, RMT, FtP, PTC, KAT, and MP.  She has also been involved as Music Director with the student theatre groups K2S, DTC Kids, and Act II @ Levine.

carly headshotCarly Schwartz (Choreographer of DISNEY’S MARY POPPINS JR and THE WIZARD OF OZ: YOUNG PERFORMERS EDITION) is thrilled to return to OVATIONS after working on Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. Her first musical theater performance took place on the JCC stage almost 20 years ago, so she shares in the excitement of our young artists. She’s previously worked as the Dance Captain/Asst. Choreographer for Summer Theater Arts for Youth, and was most recently seen in the ensemble of Keith & Amy’s Opening Number at The Gateway Performance Arts Center of Suffolk County.

Morgan Thomas HeadshotMorgan Thomas (Standing_O Performance Ensemble Choreographer) is thrilled to join OVATIONS as the Choreographer for Standing_O after serving last season as a Mentor Artist in their Senior Company production of Parade. Morgan is a licensed attorney in Maryland who moonlights as a performer and teaching artist. She has been dancing for 24 years and was trained in the disciplines of ballet, tap, jazz, modern and African dance. After four years on Severna Park’s Dance Company, Morgan took a new course during her undergraduate career at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) by joining the Cheerleading Team. She served as the Team Captain her last two years. Additionally, Morgan was a member of the UMBC hip-hop dance competition team, Major Definition. She is currently a dance company member with Dance & Bmore, a creative movement collective, in Baltimore, Maryland.  Favorite past performances include Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Thoroughly Modern Millie, All Shook Up, The Wedding Singer, In The Heights, Parade and her favorite role to date was as Julian Marx in Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre’s production of Bullets Over Broadway (2018).

Ballard,_Jenna professional photoJenna Ballard (Production Stage Manager) is a semi-professional stage manager, producer, and prop designer. Professional stage managing credits include Faction of Fools’ The Miser and A Christmas Carol, Happenstance Theatre’s Prufbox and Seven Ages of Mime, and four seasons of stage managing the acting company of the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Most recent community theatre credits include Ragtime and Les Miserables at Kensington Arts Theatre, both directed by Darnell Morris. Jenna began life as an instrumental music teacher, with a BA in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, but left the teaching world for administrative work first at Johns Hopkins University and now at the Goddard Space Flight Center (which is a seriously cool place to work!).

james CollageJames Raymond (Resident Scenic Designer) will be earning an M.F.A. in Scenic Design and Technology as a graduate teaching assistant here at West Virginia University in May 2018. He received his B.A. in Theater Technology and Design at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA in 2013. He has had many opportunities to work with all ages in both educational and professional theater settings.  James worked in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the summer of 2013 as the Scenic Designer at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. He also worked as the scenic artist for The Linny Fowler WillPower Tour’s production of Macbeth, along with scenic designer, six-time Emmy award-winning Production Designer of Sesame Street, Bob Phillips. James had the opportunity to work with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, which is a professional Equity Lort C theatre company for two seasons. Last summer at West Virginia Public Theatre, he set designed You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown and was the scenic artist for the past two seasons. Past credits: Three Sisters (set design, WVU), In The Heights (set design, ASGT), The Pirates Of Penzance (set design, WVU) The Trojan Women (set design, WVU), The Arabian Nights (set design, WVU), White Christmas (set design, LMP), Comedy of Errors (set design, LMP), Chess (set design, KAT), Underground (set design, Perry M.), Failure: A Love Story (set design, Perry M.), I Love A Piano (set design, DSU), 39 Steps (scenic artist intern, PSF) starring Steve Burns (Blues Clues), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (set design, LMP), Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party (set design/ Oscar, LMP), 45 Seconds From Broadway (set design, LMP), No Exit (set design, Highwood Theatre), Sweeney Todd (props intern, PSF) starring Dee Roscioli (Wicked) and many others.

BioPhotoSteven Barker has been a theatre-maker and educator for the last 18 years. He holds an
MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University (ASU) and a BFA in Theatre Education and a BS in Chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Mr. Barker has been involved in over 70 professional productions in his 18-year career. He has a range of directing and design credits including Radium Girls (world premiere – one act version), Godspell and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (with LHS & MHHS), Tartuffe (with BDP), A Doll’s House, The Glass Menagerie, The Doctor In Spite of Himself, The Mouse Trap, The Lion in Winter and Macbeth (with CCCC), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Disney’s Mulan (with PPT), One Night with Fanny Brice (with TACT), Noises Off, The Madness of King George, and Man of La Mancha (with FCHS). Steven currently is the treasurer of the Maryland Theatre Education Association and a board member of Story Tapestries. Steven has also served as the Strategic Planning and Development Director and the Treasurer of the Virginia Theatre Association, as a Theatre In Our Schools Professional Development Conference chair (for Metro DC and Central Virginia), and the High School Network Co-chair for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.

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