Alex Akers, Guitar
Mr. Akers is a graduate of Indiana State University in music education. While obtaining his degree he pursued a plethora of musical styles including; jazz, classical, experimental, hip-hop, RnB , classic rock, fusion, blues, and folk. This versatile musicianship has led him to play trumpet in a touring jazz band throughout China, bass in a rock ‘n roll casino show in Indianapolis, and most recently lead guitar in an innovative hip hop project. Akers has been featured onstage with dozens of bands throughout Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, and most recently went on a 14-state tour this summer with the Jefferson Street Parade Band.
In addition to directing the HAPA Guitar Program, he is also the Director of Bands at Scott Middle School. As a passionate teacher and musician, he continues to push his musical limits by consistently composing, arranging, and orchestrating new material.
Melissa Brassard, Technical Theatre
Ms. Melissa Brassard graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2001 and has worked in education ever since. While at IU, she was the assistant house manager for the Indiana University Auditorium and worked with Residential Programs and Services.
Before coming to Morton High School in 2007, she taught with Jennings County Schools and Monroe County Schools. Currently Ms. Brassard is the Technical Theatre director of the HAPA, teaching technical theatre, speech and also directing HAPA productions. She is the sponsor of the International Thespian Society, an organization that honors excellence in theatre, and HAPA Student Council. Ms. Brassard is also a member of the Educational Theatre Association. She is the former dance coach, and has directed over 25 productions. Some of her favorites include Tick, Tick…Boom!, Hairspray, Les Miserables, The Laramie Project, Beauty and the Beast, Bang Bang You’re Dead, and Little Women.
Daniel Cummins, HAPA Director
Mr. Cummins is a graduate of the Indiana State University where he completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Master’s Degree in School Administration. He is an active conductor and trumpet player originally from Hammond, Indiana and enjoys working with young musicians to develop their passion for the arts. As a performer, Mr. Cummins has worked with numerous orchestras including the Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra and South Shore Chamber Orchestra and also with prominent artists including Tim Coffman, Mark Colby, Charlie Davis, Dave Stryker, Dave Pietro and Bobby Vinton. In addition to his US appearances, in 2013 Mr. Cummins toured China as a performer in the premier musical, “Rhapsody in Swing.” In 2007 and 2008 he performed in the National Trumpet Competition in Washington, DC as a semi-finalist in the ensemble division.
As an educator, Mr. Cummins has worked with numerous music programs across the Chicagoland area and beyond; instructing marching bands, jazz ensembles and teaching privately. As former HAPA Director of Bands, Mr. Cummins has invested greatly in the academy and is excited to continue his passion for the arts as HAPA Director.
Mr. Cummins is a member of the Music Educators National Conference, International Trumpet Guild and the Indiana Bandmasters Association.
Nick DeJarlais, Instrumental Music
Mr. DeJarlais is a graduate of Indiana State University and the University of Louisville. While earning his Bachelor’s in Music Education at ISU he participated in all major ensembles and was highly involved in the Athletic Bands. His senior year, Mr. DeJarlais was a student director of both the marching band and basketball band, teaching during rehearsals and directing at games. During his time at UofL, Mr. DeJarlais was involved in all the top ranked ensembles, including the UofL wind ensemble who participated in the Jung Frau Music Festival in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Mr. DeJarlais devoted much time to the marching arts throughout his college career, teaching at ten different Indiana high schools. In addition to high school marching band Mr. DeJarlais was a member of the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps in 2010 and returned to teach the corps in 2013. Mr. DeJarlais is a winner of the Paul Hagan Concerto Competition at ISU and a four time Semi-Finalist at the National Trumpet Competition. He is also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi national band fraternity, MENC, the International Trumpet Guild, and the Indiana Bandmasters Association.
Kathleen Dominiak-Treasure, Dance
Ms. Kathleen Dominiak Treasure earned a B.A. in Dance from Hope College and an M.F.A in Performance/Choreography from Texas Woman’s University. Her certifications include Pilates Mat and Apparatus, Yogilates and also K-12 certification in Dance and Physical Education. She served as an Adjunct Professor of Dance for Valparaiso University’s Department of Theater for 12 years in addition to being co-director of the VU Dance Ensemble. She has performed and choreographed for the SAHPERD Convention for dance and has provided dance works for several dance festivals nationwide including Dallas Dance for the Planet. She is a current member of the National Dance Education Organization served as a presenter for musical theater education at recent conferences.
Ms. Dominiak Treasure is the Director of Dance for HAPA and HAPA Dance Ensemble. In addition, she has choreographed many musicals for HAPA such as Once on This Island, Cats, Songs for a New World and The Wiz. Ms. Dominiak Treasure also has directed and/or choreographed many musicals in the area such as Meet Me in St. Louis, The Yellow Boat, On the Town, Hairspray, Into the Woods, Gypsy, and Urinetown. She has won a NIETF award for Best Choreography for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat & Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Best Supporting Actress for The Importance of Being Earnest. She is also the Artistic Director of Generations Dance Theatre, a multigenerational company servicing Hammond.
Lisa Kristina, Staff Accompanist
Dr. Kristina began piano studies at age 4, and continued through her years as a student at DePaul University, with such teachers as Dmitry Paperno and Mary Sauer (long-time pianist of the Chicago Symphony). She earned a bachelor’s degree in voice at DePaul, and served there from 2003-2009 as Assistant Director of Choral Activities, also coaching opera and teaching French and German diction. She has vocal performance degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she completed an additional master’s degree in choral conducting.
Dr. Kristina appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, which she performed on Broadway, on tour in the U.S., and in Germany. While living in Europe, she also worked as pianist and coach on several major musical productions, including Miss Saigon, Sunset Boulevard, Les Misérables, and Cats. Dr. Kristina has been heard live on Chicago’s WFMT radio both as a singer and as a pianist. She has prepared choruses for, and appeared in, several productions at DuPage Opera, and has played keyboard in many orchestras, including the Illinois Philharmonic, Elgin Symphony, Northwest Indiana Symphony, and Rockford Symphony. As a keyboard player for Chicago Opera Theater, she has performed Mozart’s Magic Flute and John Adams’ Nixon in China and Flowering Tree, the latter with the composer conducting. In early 2013, she toured China, playing 1940s swing music. This past summer, she accompanied for an international choral festival in Vilnius, Lithuania, and also toured that country performing music for violin and piano. She has been an adjunct music professor at Prairie State College since 2002, and continues to work extensively in the Chicago area as a freelance musician.
Connie Pruitt-Alley, Vocal Music and Piano
Connie Pruitt-Alley graduated from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina in 2011 with a Bachelors in Music Education. While earning her degree, Mrs. Pruitt-Alley was a member of the all vocal ensembles including the Winthrop Chorale, Chamber Choir and Jazz Voices. She toured the south with these ensembles and performed in China.
After receiving her degree, Mrs. Pruitt-Alley taught middle school in her home district for two years before moving to Indiana and teaching at Morton High School and the Academy for the Performing Arts from 2013-2015. She taught for one year at a charter elementary school in Eastside Indianapolis before returning to Morton High School in 2016. Mrs. Pruitt-Alley is currently the Vocal and Piano Teacher at the Hammond Academy for the Performing Arts and has been the music director for musical productions such as Cats, A Year with Frog and Toad and Scrooge! She is also a member for the American Choral Director’s Association, the National Association for Music Educators, and Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society.
Guy Rhodes, Resident Lighting Designer
Dan Taube, Acting
Mr. Taube has spent the last 22 years teaching, directing, producing and acting in Professional and Educational Theatre. A proud graduate of New York University, Mr. Taube received his BFA in Acting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. While a NYU student he also studied at Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, Circle-in-the-Square Theatre School and apprenticed to Broadway director Michael Parva and his Director’s Company. Also a graduate of DePaul University, Mr. Taube received his MFA in Directing from DePaul University’s The Theatre School.
Professionally, Mr. Taube has been the Artistic Director of two Chicago Theatres, Thunder Road Ensemble and The Village Players Theatre. He has acted, directed and produced in Chicago with Trap Door Theatre, Prop Theatre, Circle Theatre, Chicago Dramatists and Curious Theatre Branch, among many others. As an educator, Mr. Taube started his own Acting Workshop – Chicago Styles Workshop which focused on training the actor in contemporary and classical styles. As well, he has been the head of Directing and a lead teacher at Act One Studios, one of Chicago’s top Acting Studios for working professionals. Mr. Taube also served as adjunct faculty at DePaul University’s The Theatre School where he taught advanced workshops in Rehearsal and Performance.
Here at the HAPA, Mr. Taube teaches acting classes and directs multiple productions each year.