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 of OVATIONS THEATRE), 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: 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: 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 Earlier this year Darnell was selected as one of 6 up-and-coming DC area directors to participate in Signature Theatre’s Musical Theatre Young Directors’ Workshop.  This summer he will be directing MEMPHIS with Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre.

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!

Theresa_ATheresa Cunningham (Director of Education) is an actor, singer, dancer, pianist, poet, playwright, and teacher. She attended Syracuse University where she studied musical theatre. She then moved to Atlanta where she worked with several theatres, including Jomandi, Theatre on The Square and Synchronicity. Since moving back to her hometown of Baltimore in 2012, Theresa has been performing and teaching in the DMV area. Favorite DC area roles include: Imagination Stage: Wiley and the Hairy Man (Mama); Stillpointe Theatre Initiative: 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 Misérables (Mme. Thénardier). 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. Upcoming productions include Caroline or Change with Roundhouse Theatre.

IMG_0100Valerie A. Higgs (Music Director of PARADE) has musically directed/conducted/accompanied various theater productions in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and the DC Metro area.  In 1996, Valerie music directed the world premiere of The Three Willies, a multimedia opera conceived by the late avant garde jazz violinist and composer, Leroy Jenkins, in collaboration with multimedia performance artist/poet, Homer Jenkins, and choreographer/dancer, Rennie Harris at the Painted Bride Theatre in Philadelphia.  She was nominated for a Washington Area Theatre Community Honors award for Outstanding Musical Direction for Kensington Arts Theatre’s production of Jekyll & Hyde in 2011, and chosen by DC Metro Theater Arts as Best of 2012 Musical Director for Quotidian Theatre’s production of James Joyce’s The Dead.

Eben K. Logan (Choreographer of PARADE) 13226741_1587349204910634_4915783556686715728_nis happy to return to OVATIONS THEATRE after choreographing Spring Awakening and Hairspray Jr last season. Most recently Eben choreographed In The Heights (Directed by OVATIONS Artistic Director Darnell Patrick Morris). She served as co-choreographer, and was the recipient of the 2013 WATCH Award for Best Choreography award, alongaide Darnell for Ragtime. Select Professional Acting Credits: Felicia’s 1st Understudy/Featured Dance Ensemble in the National Tour of Memphis The Musical, A Honey in Jelly’s Last Jam with Signature Theatre, Fred’s Wife and Ghost of Christmas Present and Past U/S in Ford’s Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, Gary Coleman in Constellation Theater’s Avenue Q, Whatshername in Keegan Theater’s American Idiot and Looking for Roberto Clemente with Imagination Stage. Eben was nominated for a 2017 Helen Hayes Award for her performance as Whatshername in Keegan Theatre’s American Idiot. Upcoming performances include Ford’s Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol.

IMG_20160119_115642Arielle Bayer (Music Director of THE ADDAMS FAMILY YOUNG@PART) holds a degree in Music Education from Shepherd University and has been a music teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools for ten years.  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.

rick CollageRick Westerkamp (Choreographer of THE ADDAMS FAMILY YOUNG@PART)
is an actor/singer/dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist in the DC area. ACTING: ATMTC: Oliver! [Helen Hayes Award Nominations – Outstanding Ensemble], Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol [Helen Hayes Award Nomination – Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences], Stuart Little [Helen Hayes Award Nomination – Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences]; Capital Fringe Festival: One Night in New York [Winner 2013 Capital Fringe Festival Audience Award – Best Show]; Constellation Theatre Company: Urinetown [Helen Hayes Nomination – Outstanding Musical]; Imagination Stage: Blue; The Keegan Theatre: Big Fish; Landless Theatre Company: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog; Red Branch Theatre Company: Dogfight, Spring Awakening; Rep Stage: Dorian’s Closet. TEACHING: The Creative Difference, Metropolitan Ballet Theatre, Northwood High School, Round House Theatre, Stone Ridge Summer CampUs, Washington International School. TRAINING: The George Washington University, BA with a double major in Dance and Theatre, with special departmental honors. Rick is currently the Middle School Drama Teacher at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, in Bethesda, Maryland, where he directs and choreographs the middle school musicals and plays.


Mayumi Baker Griffie (Music Director of GYPSY) 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.

daniphotosDani Ebbin (Choreographer of GYPSY) is a performer, choreographer, and teaching artist from Frederick, MD. REGIONAL: Big Fish with KEEGAN THEATRE (Assoc. Choreographer), Urinetown with NEXT STOP THEATRE (Soupy Sue, Asst. Choreographer), Dog Sees God with LANDLESS THEATRE (Van’s Sister), Nine: The Musical with LANDLESS THEATRE (Claudia), Prog Metal: Sweeney Todd with LANDLESS THEATRE (u/s Johanna). TEACHING: Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, Adventure Theatre, Ngoma Center for Dance, Metropolitan Ballet Theatre, Joy of Motion, Duke Ellington School of the Arts. TRAINING: Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Catholic University BM.

jesse CollageJesse Miller (Choreographer of THE WILD PARTY) is a proud graduate of the School of Music at Catholic University & a Maryland native. She started dancing at age 2 ½ and teaching at age 16 under the training of Donna Grim at Dance Unlimited in Frederick, MD, where she was also a 10+ year member of the Dance Unlimited Repertory Company. Jesse continued to hone her artistic eye and skill at Catholic, as Jesse choreographed over 20 recitals and 5 main-stage shows. On stage credits include: Oliver (Bet/ Dance Captain, Arena Stage), Fiddler on the Roof (Swing/ Fruma Sarah performed, Dance Captain, Arena Stage), My Fair Lady (Ensemble, Arena Stage) Spamalot (Ensemble, National Tour), The Visit (u/s Young Claire, Signature), The Music Man (Zaneeta, Washington Savoyards), Grease (Frenchie, Toby’s Dinner Theatre). Choreography credits include: Into the Woods (MC Summer Dinner Theater, Dir. Walter Ware), Catch Me If You Can (MC Summer Dinner Theater, Dir. Patrick Pearson), A Funny Thing Happened… (MC Summer Dinner Theater, Dir. Walter Ware), Most Happy Fella (The Catholic University of America, Assistant choreographer for Pauline Grossman), Fiddler on the Roof (Arena Stage, Assistant Choreographer to Parker Esse). Jesse is excited to currently be a part of the SDC Observership class of 2017-2018. Off stage, Jesse is honored to teach around the DMV at The Catholic University of America, Everyman Theater and Signature Theater. Jesse is also the co-founder of Motivated Movers, a mind/body beginner advanced beginner dance class (currently in NYC) geared towards professional actors wishing to grow as artists. Join their community at or check out her website at

dani CollageDani Stoller (Artistic Associate/Guest Artist for 2018 TEEN SUMMER INTENSIVE) is a DC-based actress & playwright. Her past credits include Folger Theater: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, District Merchants, and As You Like It. Olney Theater Center: The Diary of Anne Frank. Carrie and Invisible Man at Studio Theater. Hair and Dogfight at The Keegan Theatre. The Good Counselor, Blithe Spirit, The Italian American Reconciliation, and Bat Boy (Helen Hayes Nomination Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Helen) at 1st Stage. Her one-woman show Everything You’ve Heard is True will be heading to NYC in 2018, and later this year she will be heading back to Olney Theater Center for their upcoming productions of Annie and The Crucible. As a playwright, her work has been performed in New York City, and her recent plays have been featured in every year of Signature Theater’s SigWorks program since it’s inception, including a new workshop this coming February.

Ballard,_Jenna professional photoJenna Ballard (Produciton 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!).