Top Billing Entertainment Academy

Where Every Performer Gets Top Billing

Meet the Wizards in Top Billing Entertainment’s “The Wizard of OZ”

Paul Coon (5 of 6)

Paul Coon (Gold Cast Wizard) is a junior at Covina High School. This is Paul’s second year with Top Billing and he is loving it!! He is super excited to be playing his first big  role as  the Wizard for Top Billing Entertainment!!! Other productions he has been are  Hairspray,  where he played Corny Collins and Wilbur Turnblad, Footloose where he played Ren McCormack, and also he has played Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka Jr. When he graduates he wants to go to cosmetology school where he wishes to learn how to do hair and makeup for Broadway. He would also like to thank his Mom and Dad for driving him to and from rehearsals and for supporting him. He would also like thank his GG and Papa and their friends for coming and supporting him in all his shows. Enjoy the show!!!

Alex Plumb (4 of 6)

Alex Plumb (Emerald Cast Wizard) is entering his senior year at Glendora High School this fall. He’s been involved with Top Billing Entertainment  the past  five  summers, starting with Disney’s High School Musical. He regards  Joseph  as his favorite  Top Billing Entertainment  production. In addition to acting, Alex is involved with both the GHS Tartan Marching Band and jazz band, playing the alto saxophone. This year, he will also serve as the assistant drum major  and student band board president. However, he’s not a stereotypical band geek as he loves many sports, especially basketball and football and even started a unicycle club at his school. He would like to thank his family, for their support in his many activities, especially his sister Nicole for introducing him the Top Billing family.

Noah Spaulding (4 of 6)Noah Spaulding (Ruby Cast Wizard) is 17 years old and an incoming  senior at Covina High School. He has been performing in Top Billing Entertainment productions since 2011. He is an active member of many clubs and activities and a member of the honor roll at Covina. His favorite role was playing the charismatic show host Corny
Collins in Covina High’s production of Hairspray. His hobbies include singing, writing, watching movies, and quoting famous lines from films. He would like to thank his family, friends, and teachers for all their support, and would especially like to thank the entire cast of the Wizard of Oz for all their hard work on the production.

Meet the Lions, Scarecrows, & Tin Men in Top Billing Entertainment’s production of “The Wizard of OZ”

lionThe Lions

Jesse Alvarado (5 of 6)

Jesse Alvarado (Gold Cast Lion) began his drama career as a stage crew member in high school working on shows such as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat”, “The Odd Couple,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” He had always loved to sing but never had the courage to do it in front of others. He finally decided to audition for choir and after being selected to perform with the choir, continued auditioning in high school. He traveled with the Bishop Amat Chamber Singers his junior and senior year along with playing Hannibal in “The Curious Savage”, Danny Zuko in “Grease”, and Paul in “You Can’t Take it with You“. Jesse was also selected to perform with the ACDA Western Division Honor Choir in Santa Barbara. He is currently a theatre major at Mt. SAC and one day hopes to be on Broadway. This is his first production with TBE and he has had a blast. He would like to thank his wonderful parents and beautiful sister for always supporting him in everything he does along with his amazing family and friends. He would also like to thank Mrs. K for the opportunity and the wonderful cast and crew for making this musical one to remember.

DeShawn Johnson (2 of 6)

De’shawn Johnson (Emerald Cast Lion)  is 17 years old and has been performing since he was 5 years old. His favorite shows to perform in are Wizard of Oz  as the Lion, Disney’s Little Mermaid as King Triton and playing Shrek in Shrek the Musical. He loves acting and one day he hopes to be on Broadway or in movies. Christian Sandoval (1 of 6)Christian Sandoval (Ruby Cast Lion) recently graduated High School and is looking forward to getting into the film business.  He has done a lot of shows with Top Billing Entertainment including being cast as Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. where he was nominated for best supporting actor by the NYA. Other shows he has been in include The Music Man, The Wiz, Willie Wonka, and Godspell.  He was Jesus literally, and Shrek.  He would like to thank his Mom and Dad for the rides to rehearsal, pretty soon he can drive himself, look out other drivers HAHA!!  Thanks to his grandmas Ana and Imelda. (He got his dance moves from grandma Imelda.)  Also thanks to his brother Seth for getting him started in theater and thank you to all his friends and family.  Last and definitely not least his big brother Andrew. You are his rock. He doesn’t know where would he be without your guidance and wisdom, but he does know if e ever need anything he can count on you.


The Scarecrows

Seth Johnson (6 of 6) Seth Johnson (Gold Cast Scarecrow) is one devilishly handsome son of a gun that is going  to be a  junior at Claremont High School. His hobbies include video games, music and, reading. When he is not at rehearsals he is at practice for the CHS drumline. Seth has been in a theatre production every year of his life except for kindergarten, which is a grand total of about 16 theatrical productions. He is very excited to be a part of the lead  cast this year with so many amazing performers. He would like to thank his Top Billing Entertainment family for everything that they have put into him and the cast! Joshua Mendoza (5 of 6)Joshua Mendoza (Emerald Cast Scarecrow) is an incoming senior at Bishop Amat High School. He is very devoted to the Chamber Singers, his school’s choir. Outside of Top Billing Entertainment, Joshua has been trained with 2 professional years of on-camera acting at Gary Spatz’s The Playground and 1 year of classical vocal performance at his school. Some of his past stage credits include “Ensemble/Soloist” in High School Musical & The Music Man, and lead characters such as “Jacob/Dan/Butler” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, “Cogsworth” in Beauty and the Beast, “Tony” in You Can’t Take It With You, & “Narrator 3” in Aladdin Jr., as well as portraying “Santa,” “Elvis,” & “Aladdin” in separate TBE fundraising shows. This show, The Wizard of Oz, will be Joshua’s 12th production with Top Billing Entertainment and his 16th production overall. Josh was grateful when he found out he was to portray the role of “Scarecrow/Hunk” for the Emerald Cast (he is happy to be able to bounce off ideas with Matt Q. and Seth J.), and he is very thankful towards his family, friends, cast mates, and Mrs. K & her team for all of their help and support.

See Josh act with Gary Spatz’s The Playground A Young Actors Conservatory

Matthew Quintana (4 of 6) Matthew Quintana (Ruby Cast Scarecrow)  starts his first year  ever singing and acting in a  Top Billing Entertainment production and has only been in one other musical which was Shrek the Musical where he  performed as Donkey. Matthew will be playing the scarecrow in this year’s Wizard of Oz  production believes it has been quite the adventure. He has learned some valuable skills for the future and  would like to thank Ms. Keener  and all of the other instructors and helpers at Top Billing Entertainment for this opportunity. This is his first year and he is so glad that he was able to realize how amazing musical theater is. He also wants to thank the rest of the cast for making this a great experience, as well as my fellow scarecrows for making the musical an easy and fun production. Matthew hopes to continue this career in the future.

tin man

The Tin Men

Everett Cabon (3 of 6)

Everett Cabon (Ruby Cast Tin Man) is a recent graduate from West Covina High School and is excited to play the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. He thinks there is nothing more beautiful a human can do than to sing and perform to the heart’s content. He has played other notable roles such as Farquaad in Shrek the Musical, Snoopy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and recently has won an NYA award for his favorite role as Lumiere in Top Billing Entertainment’s Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. Everett would like to thank his parents for their unconditional love and support, his fellow leads for always willing to help, Miss K for doing literally everything ever, as well as the entire cast for being awesome! See Everett as Lumiere in “Be  Our Guest” Zorro Sengupta (6 of 6) Zorro Sengupta (Gold Cast Tin Man) is 16 years old and loves to sing, act, play music, and many other activities. He is currently playing the role of the Tinman, in Top Billing Entertainment’s The Wizard of Oz. His favorite role in Top Billing Entertainment was when he played Olin Britt, the Bass of the Barbershop Quartet, in The Music Man. He has been a singer for The San Gabriel Valley Pueri Cantores Choir for over ten years, and has been performing in Top Billing Entertainment’s shows for over five. Zorro would like to thank Kristina Keener Ivy for giving him the amazing opportunity of working with her.

Esteban Villegas (5 of 6)

Esteban Villegas (Emerald Cast Tin Man) had his first experience on stage was in a kindergarten Thanksgiving play in which he received the lead role of the “The Red Hen”. Besides displaying musical aptitude, singing in elementary choir, learning guitar basics, and learning the saxophone, Esteban’s musical and theatrical life remained dormant.  It was not until he watched the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof”, that his first interest for theater occurred. After seeing both the movie and the Broadway production, he fell in love with the musical. He began to imitate Topal, the actor who played the lead, Tevye in both the movie and Broadway. Esteban could be found dancing around the house like the Jews portrayed in the movie, or imitating the deep baritone voice of his favorite character, Tevye. In Spring 2012, he was cast as a supporting role in the production of “High School Musical Jr.”, which he enjoyed. The following year in Spring 2013, Esteban was fortunate enough to be cast in his dream role as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”. In the Spring 2014, his freshman year, Esteban was cast as a lead in the school production of “Grease”. He noticed that his specialty on stage was being the comedic relief. It was no surprise, since off-stage Esteban constantly tries to create laughter around him in conversation, his magic shows, or terrible puns. Esteban truly had the time of his life playing Lumiere in last summer’s Top Billing production of “Beauty and The Beast” and making the role his own. Top Billing welcomed him as part of the family in an instant.  Since then, in Spring 2015, he also played in another high school production of “Aladdin Jr.”, in which he was the Genie. Esteban says, “The Genie role was one of my favorite experiences, because it was like being myself on stage and paying tribute to the great Robin Williams”. Being Lumiere and the Genie confirmed his love for the stage by entertaining people through his musical talent and making the audience laugh. He was recently nominated for the National Youth Arts Award for Best Supporting Role for his performance as Lumiere.  He is grateful for this nomination. He is also grateful to Ms. Kristina Keener Ivy who has given him the opportunity and pushed him to become a better performer. Without her, he wouldn’t have had such great memories on and off stage. Aside from theater, Esteban is currently in his second year in the Chamber Singers, his high school’s premiere vocal ensemble, and has traveled to San Francisco to perform with elite choral groups from across the country, such as the Grammy award-winning, Chanticleer. He will also be performing with the Chamber Singers in Rome, singing for Pope Francis in the Mass of the Epiphany on January 6, 2016. He cannot wait. His time as the Tin Man has been a great experience and he wants to continue to act and entertain for years to come. He would like to thank Ms. Keener Ivy, his family who comes to support the show, all who applaud during the show, and all who laugh at his jokes on stage.

See Esteban perform in “Once Upon A Dream” as Prince Phillip

See Esteban “Human Again” as Lumiere

Meet the Witches in Top Billing Entertainment’s Production of “The Wizard of OZ”

The Glindas

Riley Anne Mackie (4 of 6)

Riley Mackie (Emerald Cast)

Riley is delighted to play the role of Glinda and be a part of Wizard of Oz with such a wonderful cast! She is a junior in high school who loves singing, playing piano, and performing on stage. She began her love of performing on stage at age 4, appearing in countless shows, concerts, and recitals since. A few of her favorite performances include Curly in “Peter Pan! A New Musical”, Madame De La Grande Bouche in Beauty and the Beast (in which she received a National Youth Award Nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical), Mrs. Mayor in Seussical, and Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof. She is a part of the Berrytones traveling girls choir and plays the role of Sleeping a Beauty in their “Princess at Heart” mix. She also teaches an elementary music theory class, assistant directs/choreographs musicals with the LIFE homeschool group, and leads worship on Wednesday nights at Arcadia Bible Church. She would like to thank Ms. K for putting on such a great show and letting her be a part of such a wonderful experience, her parents for driving her everywhere, training her in the ways of the Lord, and always trying to do what’s best for her, Eric, her wonderful voice and piano teacher for inspiring her and being her “Angel of Music, her amazing friends and family who support her and come see her perform in so many shows, Amanda for going through all these crazy journeys with her, everyone in the cast and crew for all their hard work and for being so great to work with, and, most importantly, her Savior, Jesus Christ for saving her and giving her a talent and love for the theatre.
Riley as Sleeping Beauty
Riley in Beauty and the Beast singing Human again as Madame

Bri Manuit     Bri Manuit (Gold Cast)

Bri (recently graduated with Walnut High School’s class of 2015 and plans to attend California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in the fall as an English major. She first joined Top Billing Entertainment in its Christmas production in 2013 and became a student of Kristina Keener-Ivy soon afterwards. Her first musical was Top Billing’s production of Beauty and the Beast, Jr., in which she played Mrs. Potts and doubled as an ensemble member. Though she’s new to musical theatre, Bri has come to appreciate and would like to acknowledge the endeavors of everyone involved in such productions, both onstage and offstage.

In addition to her experiences at Top Billing, Bri has also taken piano lessons under the examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. She was part of the school choir from third to eighth grade but later decided to focus on her writing with her involvement in the school’s yearbook and newspaper. During her senior year, she performed in her second musical as Mrs. Sowerberry and an ensemble member in Walnut High School’s musical production of Oliver!. Her favorite experience onstage, however, is getting to share the stage with her sister, Reyna, in Top Billing’s Disney Showcase last year. (
Bri is ecstatic and grateful for the wonderful opportunity to play Glinda in Wizard of Oz, and she would like to convey her thanks to everyone in Top Billing, especially Ms. K for being one of her biggest inspirations. She also wants to thank her family and friends for always being there for her and believing in her. Without all these people in her life, she would never be where she is today.

Lindsay Moody (Emerald Cast)

Lindsay is a senior at Bishop Amat High School. She is a member of the Bishop Amat Pep Squad. She has been on the National Honors Society since Freshman year. Lindsay is also a member of the Community Leadership Council at Bishop Amat. Lindsay has been one of Kristina Keener Ivys students since she was ten. She has performed in four musicals at Sacred Heart School, High School Musical, Suessical, Cinderella (step sister), and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (narrator). This will be Lindsay’s third production with Top Billing Entertainment. She was in High School Musical (Kelsey), Beauty and the Beast (Silly Girl) and now Wizard of Oz (Glinda). Lindsay would like to thank the Top Billing Entertainment staff for this amazing opportunity and for all of the hard work they put into each and every production, Her mom for her endless love and support, and finally, Kristina Keener Ivy for helping a shy ten year old girl break out of her shell and become the confident young performer that she is today.

The Wicked Witches of the West

11054293_834672166612786_1329989770639811236_nMaddison Nall (Emerald Cast)

Maddison is 17 years old and just entered the 12th grade with Gorman High School.  She has always been a performer for as long as she can remember. Everyday was a new performance from the little clown herself.

Maddison has been involved with many sports, educational activities, and enjoyable hobbies, but acting, singing, and dancing stood out most to her liking. From 2nd to 6th grade she sang in her church’s choir and performed every summer and winter with a production put on by the church. Her favorite was when she played “Pretty Penny” in their showing of “Clowns” . Maddison has done several plays, musicals, talent shows, choir recitals and many more! With her school, she played the roles of Wendy Darling in Peter Pan, Puss in Puss in Boots, and Young Simba in The Lion King.
About a year and a half ago, Maddison took on the position of her church’s elementary Worship Leader. She enjoys waking up every Sunday morning and praising the Lord with kids. She creates her own motions and sings along with the kids to bring their hearts closer to God. Maddison signed with an acting agency in April of this year, and she hopes to pursue her life long dream of acting on camera.

Joining Top Billing has changed Maddison’s view on performing. She looks at performing as a gift more than a hobbie. She absorbs every minute of it. Maddy now enjoys performing more than ever. She is extremely excited to be playing the part of the Wicked Witch of the West in this year’s production of The Wizard of Oz and she is so jazzed to add this musical to her performance list. Maddison would like to thank the Lord for giving her the gift of performing. With this gift, she is able to provide enjoyable entertainment to others. Maddy would like to thank her family and friends for being so supportive and patient in what she loves to do. Maddy would like to thank her teachers, David Ivy, Eddie Garcia, Timothy Jackson, Andrew Cristin, and Melanie Rabajante for helping her along the way by teaching her acting, dancing, and singing skills that will last a lifetime.  Maddison would also like to thank Ms. K for giving her the opportunity of playing a lead. Ms. K does a lot to put on these amazing productions, and with that we thank you. Lastly, she would like to thank her Top Billing family for being so welcoming. Without her top billing family, every performance would be incomplete. Maddison can not wait to experience more and more adventures that the future has in store.

Priscilla Pimentel (1 of 6)

Priscilla Pimentel (Gold Cast)

Priscilla started her musical career with Star Entertainment Productions with musicals such as as Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Oliver, and Annie Jr. She instantly fell in love with watching, listening, and being in musicals. After working with Star Entertainment, she began dancing a Mexican folk dance called Folklórico for three years and was also part of a group of student performers in the San Gabriel Valley that performed at the L.A. County Fair. This is her second year performing for Top Billing Entertainment; her first performance was in the production Beauty and the Beast Jr., where she played a Silly Girl. Now she is very excited to be playing her favorite role in The Wizard of Oz. This is a dream come true for her, especially that she can now show how good of a villain she can play. She dedicates her wickedly role to Margaret Hamilton who played the Wicked Witch in the classic movie.

Currently, Priscilla is a junior at Bishop Amat Memorial High School and participates in Women’s Choir and the Drama department. There she has been in musicals such as Grease, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Aladdin Jr. She is also really excited to have the opportunity to travel to Rome in December 2015 with the Bishop Amat’s Tour Choir to sing at the Epiphany Mass for Pope Francis. Priscilla would like to thank Miss Keener for giving this opportunity of her first real lead role.

Also she thanks her sister Jackie who introduced her to musicals and persuaded her to excel in her singing. Her mother for always being there by her side, being supportive in her interests, and showing her the classics of all that is entertainment. Lastly, she thanks her three best friends who have been there since the beginning, giving her positive attitude, and never giving up on her.

Amanda Soliven (6 of 6)

Amanda Soliven (Ruby Cast)

Amanda is an incoming junior at Glendora High School.  This is her 3rd production with Top Billing and 15th musical, her favorite role was Madame de la Grande Bouche from Beauty and the Beast.  She is involved in her school’s show choir and hopes to sing professionally.  Amanda would like to thank her family and everyone at Top Billing for making this production possible.

Meet the Dorothys in Top Billing Entertainment’s 2015 Production of “The Wizard of OZ”

Lorraine Despojado (1 of 1)

Lorraine Despojado (Gold Cast Dorothy) is 18 and just graduated from West Covina High School. She was the WCHS CG Colorguard Captain from 2013-2015. She started singing and dancing when she was three and has loved doing it ever since. This is her sixth production at Top Billing Entertainment Performance Academy, but Dorothy is her first lead role. She was the Sugar Plum Fairy, Dragon, and Gingy in WCHS’s 2015 production of Shrek the Musical. She would like to thank Elder Timbol and Jamie McMahon for inspiring her to take dancing to the next level. Hillary Chavez for being her guide and stage mommy, and of course Ms. Keener and Heather for working so hard to make the shows as amazing as they are.

Videos of Lorraine’s Winter Colorguard Performances:

Micaela Martinez

Micaela Martinez (Ruby Cast Dorothy) is a graduating senior from Bishop Amat Memorial High School and has been performing for as long as she can remember. After catching the acting bug in the elementary school choir and plays, Micaela went on to perform in her first real musical: Star Entertainment’s production of The Wizard of Oz as one of Glinda’s fairies. Now, she feels so thankful for the chance to play Dorothy. Micaela has been in shows such as Bye Bye Birdie (Ursula), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Violet), Grease (Frenchy), and is currently in production with the movie musical Hubba Hubba. She has had the privilege of working with Tom Pardoe and April Shawhan and will be a theatre major at the University of California, San Diego in the fall.

Micaela would like to thank Ms. K and the entire Top Billing Entertainment staff for this awesome opportunity. The cast, for being so amazingly welcoming to her in her first show. And her family and friends, especially her parents, for their endless support and patience as she pursues her dreams.

Clarisse Torres (6 of 6)
Clarisse Torres (Emerald Cast Dorothy) has been a student of Kristina Keener Ivy’s since she was 12 and has been a part of Top Billing Entertainment’s productions for five years. She recently graduated from St. Lucy’s Priory High School. During her time at St. Lucy’s, she was a member of the Spring Musical for three years, a Regent Ambassador for two years, and a part of Chamber Singers in her senior year. She will be attending Azusa Pacific University as a Biology major in the fall.
Before she met Kristina Keener Ivy, Clarisse had previously been a part of the Pueri Cantores of San Gabriel Valley Choir. She has participated in various choir festivals around the world. She has sung in Poland, Washington D.C., and even Italy, where she sang at the Vatican for Pope Benedict XVI. She has been playing the piano for thirteen years, and also enjoys playing the ukulele. At 11, she participated in her first musical, The Wizard of Oz, in which she played a munchkin and flying monkey. She met Ms. K when she was in the 7th grade during Sacred Heart School’s production of Seussical. It was during this show that Clarisse fell in love with musical theatre. She continued to participate in various productions, including Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat, The Music Man, and Beauty and the Beast Jr. She began to broaden her talents by taking voice lessons with Ms. K when she was 13, and has performed at various recitals, Top Billing showcases, and local events.
Clarisse feels special to be cast as Dorothy, as her first role in a musical was a munchkin/flying monkey in The Wizard of Oz seven years ago. She would like to thank her parents, family, and friends for their undying love and support in her present and future endeavors, all of the kids in Top Billing for being people she can call family, the Top Billing staff for all the hard work they put into each and every production, and for Kristina Keener Ivy for being her mentor, teacher, and friend.
See her sing as her favorite character Mulan: Reflection – Clarisse Torres

Friday Feature – Jamie McMahon: Dance & Acting Master Instructor

Jamie McMahonJamie Collage

Jamie McMahon, the Summer Musical Choreographer, Dance Teacher & Acting Master Instructor

Jamie was born in Chicago and sang and danced her way to Sunny L.A.  She began performing professionally at the age of 11 with a world premiere musical by Charles Strouse (Annie/Bye Bye Birdie) and went on to receive her B.F.A in Musical Theatre from Millikin University. Since then she has appeared in the National Tours of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” as Reuben’s Wife, “Red, Hot, and Blue!”, and for four years performed across the country as Mrs. Claus with “The Radio City Xmas Spectacular” starring the world famous Rockettes. She has also had the pleasure of working as a guest entertainer with Holland America Cruise Line and for the past four years has played Busybee Who at Universal Studios for their Grinchmas special event. Because she has a desire to share her passion and excitement for the arts with todays youth, Jamie makes time to choreograph and teach both in high school and professional venues. She is thrilled to work with the incredible talent in Southern California!

Jamie McMahon comes from a strong theatre background and has studied improv at The Groundlings in LA and Second City in Chicago.

Some of her FILM/TV highlights:
  • Currently has a Matilda the Broadway Musical commercial running
  • Booked with Reader’s Digest, Chevron, Robbins Brothers, Starbucks, Ivory Soap, and Eharmony 
  • Called in by Allen Hooper, Erica Silverman, and Engine Casting from attending workshops
  • Starred in Absolution The Series by John Gardiner
THEATRE highlights:
  • European Tour of Grease as Frenchy
  • Starred as Mrs. Claus and a singer/dancer for four years with the Radio City Rockettes Xmas Spectacular
  • National Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat as Reuben’s Wife
  • B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Millikin University
Pictures above are from : European Tour of Grease, Knottsberry Farm, Starbucks Commercial, Robbins Brothers Commercial, Chevron Commercial, Music Video for Taboo (black eyed peas), Sex Sent Me to the ER Television Show on TLC, Film Festival Hosting Gigs, Universal Studios Hollywood Lucille Ball.

Friday Feature – Christine Ivy, Pilates Studio Owner (Balance & Grace Pilates) & Dance/Fitness Instructor

With a  B.A. in Dance from CSULB,  8+ years as Santa Ana High School’s Assistant Dance Director, 5+ years performing/choreographing/producing for the avant grade cirque company Lucent Dossier Experience,  and over a decade of performing both nationally and internationally, Christine brings a wide range of teaching experience and perspective to every classroom. As a working dancer/choreographer/event producer, Christine combines passion and empathy to create a safe and encouraging atmosphere where dancers can learn, grow, and be inspired. She enjoys watching students develop technically and artistically, however her greatest joy is in being a part of their growth as passionate, confidant, and caring young adults. After 8 years of experience as an in demand BASI Pilates Instructor, Christine is excited to share her new pilates studio space, Balance & Grace Pilates, with her Top Billing Family. Located in the same building as the TBE Performance Academy, the Glendora community and TBE extended family can now benefit from being able to address the fitness needs of the whole family in one place. In a supportive and non-competitive environment, Balance & Grace Pilates offers both Private Pilates Training and Group Classes (including Group Reformer Classes, Pilates Mat, Booty Barre). Learn more, schedule classes, or send an inquiry to Christine at the Balance & Grace Pilates website,

Born and raised in Southern California, she had an early interest in dance and fitness. Her earliest memories involve strutting in front of her mirror as she performed stunning solos with her hairbrush microphone. She remembers dancing in her room, on the furniture, and throughout the house. She dressed up for her first Halloween as a cardio fitness instructor, a la Jane Fonda, and she remembers at age nine going through a short lived stint at which she cultivated aspirations to be a professional mud wrestler. In later years these childhood interests would develop into serious studies in dance and pilates, but they served early on to cultivate a deep appreciation for the beauty of purposed movement. Along with a grounded belief in the value of every life’s journey, this appreciation for movement would develop in her an empathy for people and a passion for clear intention that now serves her well as a professional director, dancer/choreographer, performer, trainer, and teacher.

Life is an adventure and a journey to be relished, not endured! She believes that God creates every life with intention and that it is in discovering our passion that we find purpose, inner peace and a sense of balance. Our talents, abilities, and passions are the gateway towards unlocking our true potential and authentic selves. When we connect the mind and the body we are often able to feel our spirits awaken. It is essential that we quiet our minds from its spiral of endless loud chatter to provide the space necessary for new truths to be heard. She is passionate about incorporating her backgrounds in fitness, pilates and dance into a shared healthy lifestyle as well as combining her roots as a performer and choreographer into producing thought provoking entertainment. By working within her passions her clients, in both the fitness and commercial worlds, reap vast rewards. She recognizes that your journey is unique to who you are and that it is precious. She is aware that your goals and vision for the future can only be understood by learning who you were yesterday and who you want to be tomorrow. She looks forward to the opportunity to connect with you, whether through the stage, the classroom, the studio, or the boardroom.

From Christine, “I believe that there is immense value to be had through the expression of the human experience. I believe that it is through sharing our struggles and our joys that we find a commonality that transcends gender, race, and stereotypes. This sense of being united to the world around us allows us a comfort that reminds us that we are not alone and that though we might have different baggage, we are all on the same train.

At no time is it more critical to feel this sense of connectedness to other people than during young adulthood. At a time when confusion and frustration and a constant sense of questioning seem almost inevitable there is a freedom and a safety that dance can provide. Dance is the megaphone through which we can scream. Dance is the love letter that we can send a million times. Dance is a blanket when the winds turn cold. And dance can be a round trip ticket to any place you want to go when the present seems too harsh. Dance can be salvation at a time in a young persons life when pressures are high and options seem low.

If we want to live in a world of empathetic and socially adjusted adults we must first encourage the development and expression of emotional intelligence and compassion during the season in which many young people feel its validity is being debated. Dance comes from the heart and it has the power to heal, support, and renew the spirit. Although to the outsider I may appear to be teaching steps and a movement vocabularly, I know better. What I’m doing is leading a workshop in self-esteem, self-image, self-confidence, in love and self-respect. My hope is that my students take from me the understanding that they are worthy and beautiful and enough, just the way they are.”

Friday Feature ~ Kristina Keener Ivy, Executive Director

 Kristina Keener Ivy

Kristina Keener Ivy is the Founder and Executive Director of Top Billing Entertainment Performance Academy. She is also a former high school choir director turned professional performer and private music instructor. She has performed with various jazz bands, as a member of various church worship teams, on three film soundtracks, and in numerous musical theater productions throughout the South West. Currently she teaches almost 70 private students a week. Her students have competed and won in many local and national competitions including Spotlight Awards at the Music Center, Southern California Vocal Association Vocal Solo Competition, America’s Got Talent, Covina’s Got Talent, California All-State Choir, California Honor Choir, along with various talent shows and musical productions. She has also worked as a musical director for over 25 local musical theater productions including Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical and High School Musical.

It has been a life-long dream of Kristina Keener Ivy’s to start a performing arts group. After performing all over the country and heading a similar program at West Covina High School for five years, she decided to found her own 501(c)3 nonprofit where she could ensure that each performer is treated with respect, given professional instruction, and given the opportunity for a featured solo. At Top Billing they work with every performer, from ones who have extreme special needs to ones who are Broadway bound. In January 2015, they expanded to a full service performance academy in the Village of Glendora and offer classes for all ages in acting, on camera acting, dance, voice, all instruments, and musical summer day camps. They have classes for ages 2 and up with partner dancing classes for adults.

See the commercial for Top Billing Entertainment Performance Academy

From Kristina, “I think a lot about why I should keep on doing what I’m doing. I had a dream as a child that there was a school I could go to that would help me be a Broadway star, or on TV, or just prepare me to be an awesome performer. I wanted to be in Seattle when the grunge rock scene hit or in Paris after the World Wars with all ex-pat writers and poets. Problem was my family was po’ (so poor we couldn’t afford an r). Then one day while teaching at WCHS I realized I could create a place and time like that. A place where aspiring performers can come and work with master teachers and get professional performance opportunities while inspiring each other to excel. Fast forward and now I have an amazing location, awesome teachers (including Eddie Garcia who danced with Micheal Jackson for two world tours,Christine Ivy who is an amazing dancer and technical teacher, Jamie McMahon who is a choreographer genius and improv impresario, Melanie Rabajante who is a partner dancer wizard and dance cardio goddess, Timothy Jackson who can dance all styles, play piano, teach voice, acting and is the hardest worker I know, Andrew Cristin who is an amazing acting teacher and David Ivy – the best on camera acting teacher I have ever seen.) I have donors to help us cover part of the costs, awesome Board Members (Desiree Cabana, Elisa Field, Kimberly Beaufeaux Krok, Heidi Petersen Leach, and Camilla Danison) and Office Staff/Volunteers (Heather McDowell, Erik Jacome, and Justin McDowell). Just wish we could get more performers to come work with us! It’s hard changing the world one step at a time, but I’ve come so far already and there are so many people who have joined me now. Only thing to do is keep dreaming.”

Top Billing Entertainment has received 23 National Youth Arts nominations and six wins, won “Best Dance School” in the 2014 San Gabriel Valley Tribune Reader’s Choice Awards, “Best Dance School” and “Best Music Instruction” in the 2015 San Gabriel Valley Tribune Reader’s Choice Awards, and won first place for Best Theater Production and second place for Theater Directing in the American Prize National Competition 2014.

Current & past students have:

*Placed in the top three of the Spotlight Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

*Won National Youth Arts Awards

*Won Southern California Vocal Association Solo Singer Competitions

*Won local talent competitions including Covina’s Got Talent, West Covina Talent Show, and various school and district talent shows

*Performed in Honor Choirs & All-State Choirs

*Placed in the top 100 of National Television Talent Shows including America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and The Voice

*Performed as leads and featured soloists in school, local, and national performance events & tours

*Been featured in national television shows, national commercials, and major feature films

*Attended with scholarships & graduated from music or performing arts programs at Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, Orange County School for the Arts, American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Azusa Pacific University, California State University Los Angeles, California State University at Fullerton, California State University at San Diego, & California State University at Long Beach.

Kristina Keener Ivy’s Education & Awards:

Bachelor’s of Music in Opera Performance from Northern Arizona University, Summa Cum Laude with Honors, 2002

Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education Choral Conducting from Northern Arizona University, Summa Cum Laude with Honors, 2002

American Prize – #2 Musical Theater Director in the USA, 2014

National Youth Arts Awards 2011, 2012, 2013

Best of Glendora – Music Instruction, 2013

YWCA Woman of Excellence Award, 2005

West Covina High School Inspirational Teacher, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

West Covina High School Tireless Teacher, 2004, 2005, 2006

West Covina High School Staff/Faculty of the Month, Dec. 2002, May 2004

West Covina High School Fine Arts Faculty Member of the Year, 2003

Northern Arizona University Golden Axe Award, 2002

NAU New Century Honors Program, 1997 – 2002

Rodger & Eldon Ardrey Scholarship, 2001

Mary Lou Thompson Scholarship, 2001

Choral Dinner Scholarship, 2001

Charles & Ellie Meister Scholarship, 2000

Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, 2000

Carroll Lane & Mildred Adams-Fenton Scholarship, 1999

Year of Education Award, 1997

Regents Scholarship, 1997

See videos of Kristina performing at

I Didn’t Get the Part that I Wanted in the Musical….Why?


The hardest part of being a director, especially of youth theater, is answering that question. But here goes.

As a “mom” of performers, I always want each of my performers to feel special and appreciated and to have a solo moment where they are the star. I remember growing up in performing arts and hearing sayings like “there are no small parts, only small actors” and “the ensemble is just as important as the lead”, but I didn’t really know that they were true until I got to the other side of the equation and became a director. Personally, I build a megamix at the end of every show so that all the performers who want a solo can get a solo, and we feature as many performers as possible throughout the show. I really endeavor to give each performer their moment in the spotlight, but there is still a pecking order and a ladder to climb. I like to compare the cast of a show to the human body, the leads may be like the eyes or face and get a lot of attention, but the armpits help our body to rid itself of toxins and without armpits we would die. Sometimes you have to be the armpit because it is vital to the show’s health. I know that ensemble role seems insignificant right now, but the director is always watching for future leads. If you are responsible with a small part, I will give you larger parts in the future, and if you are amazing, I may even plan a show for you. Remember a show can cost anywhere from $10-$100,000 to put on, sometimes directors have to put in their personal money to make the show happen. I want to invest in performers who are experienced, talented, trustworthy, and committed. If I can’t trust with a “small” part then why should I trust you with a large part? Also if you have not performed in musicals before, don’t take lessons and miss rehearsals, why should I go out of my way for you?

As a director, I do have to consider the chemistry of the cast and how to make the show the best. Here is where it gets hard. There are so many variables here that the individual performer cannot control. There are height, age, and look considerations, as well as past history between the performers themselves. For example, years ago when we were casting an adult production of “Guys and Dolls” we had a 50 year old male lead as our only option. We had two strong girls auditioning to play against him. One was 21 and very talented, but looked like his daughter, the other was not a strong singer but was 35 and looked more appropriate with him, so we cast her. I do not want to cast exes as leads as it will cause unnecessary drama. I do not want to cast someone who is a diva or has a family who is not willing to volunteer and help out with production needs as it causes a strain on all the other performers. Picking a cast is like picking a winning sports team. I need a few strong leaders, a few people with special skills, etc.

Sometimes there are height and clothing size concerns as well. Specifically for our production of “Beauty and the Beast” I was forced to cast to the costumes, as they were already made and were given to us for free. To rent costumes would cost between $3,000 – $5,000, which we did not have in our budget. The costume for Belle was a size 0-4 petite, so I needed to find girls who would fit it. (By the way, this is common practice at Disneyland and on Broadway.) The costumes are expensive to build so often you have to be a certain size to be considered for a role. Also, as in any company, I am going to give priority casting to performers and families who have been with me for many shows and many years. They have invested in my productions, so I am going to invest in them. I do try to give lead roles mainly to performers who are juniors or seniors in high school with the understanding that they will only get one big lead show. I have worked with other companies where the same performers got the lead in every show, and I do not want to be that company. Of course there are always extenuating circumstances, but I try to keep it fair so that each performer has a shot at a lead role.

In conclusion, if you did not get the part you wanted you should take a clear look at yourself. Were you going for a role that you were appropriate for? Have you put in the time building your performing skills? Do you take voice lessons, dance classes, acting classes? Are you in lead shape physically? If you answered no to any of these, then you should start working on that. If you answered yes to all of those then chalk it up to circumstances beyond your control. I have been in auditions where it came down to me and the director’s girlfriend. Even though I felt I out sang her, I knew they were going to cast her, but I also knew that if I did my time as a principal they may pick a show for me. They did. If you don’t get cast as the part you want, the best thing you can do is happily and eagerly spend your time in the part that you get, learn from the experience, encourage your fellow cast members, help the directors in any way you can, and be thankful that you get to be in a show. I am thankful every time I get to step out on stage and perform, you are so lucky to be healthy and living in such as time as this. One of the best lessons you can learn is that you don’t always get what you want, usually you have to work long and hard to get it. So start working harder and someday you will get that part!

What Song Should I Sing? – How To Build Your Solo Repetoire


Solo Repertoire

Choose songs you can use for the next three to five years. The goal is to have songs already prepared when auditions, talent shows, and family events arise. Make sure they are appropriate for your age and character type. When first starting to build your repertoire, choose songs that are “easy” for you to sing and that fit your vocal range. As you advance, choose songs that expand your range and character. Make sure you have sheet music and karaoke tracks in the correct key. An internet search for any of these categories should give you plenty of ideas.

Basic Repertoire

1) Fast Broadway Song – something you can use for auditions and showcases

2) Slow Broadway Song – something you can use for auditions and showcases

3) Fast Pop/Rock Song – I prefer 50’s/60’s songs to start as they appeal to a wider audience and you will get more use out of them. For little kids Disney songs are great.

4) Inspirational Song – something you can sing for weddings, anniversaries, retirements, funerals. Ex. “You Raise Me Up”, “Hero”, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, “Ave Maria”, “For Good”, “I Hope You Dance”

5) Italian Song from the 24 Italian Songs and Arias Book (or 26 or 28 Italian Songs Book) for 6th grade or older students.

Next Level

6) Belter/Low Voice Broadway Song – think of artists like Barbara Streisand, shows like Wicked, Chicago, Annie

7) Head Voice/Lyric Broadway Song – think of artists like Julie Andrews, shows like Oliver, Sound of Music, Cinderella

8) Character Broadway Song – something that you have to change the quality of your normal voice to sound funny, Adelaide’s songs from Guys & Dolls, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown

*Try to choose from a range of shows: newer shows, classic Broadway shows, as well as juke box musicals (shows that use pre-existing songs and build a story around them like Mamma Mia and Moulin Rouge).

9) Modern Pop Song – something on the radio now, but something you can live with for a few years, also something you can put your personal spin and style on.

10) Patriotic Song – think “Star-Spangled Banner”, “God Bless The USA”, “God Bless America”

11) “Get The Party Started Song” – the one that wins the karaoke competitions, think “Proud Mary”, “Party In The USA”, “Friends in Low Places”

12) Holiday Song – think “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”, “The Hanukkah Song”, pick your favorite holiday song and start there.

13) Wedding/Love Song – first dance, father/daughter or mother/son dance. Do a web search, the list of songs is endless.

14) Worship/Church Song – anything you could use as a solo at your church

15) Country Song – think of artists like Carrie Underwood and Garth Brooks

16) Foreign Language Pop Song – preferably in a language your family or neighborhood speaks

17) Jazz Standard – think of artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong

18) Oldie – if you don’t have one already a 50’s or 60’s pop song. They are great for outdoor summer entertainment events.

For The Serious Singers

19) Latin, French, German Art Song – from any of the art song books

20) Italian Aria & Recitative – start with Mozart, Puccini, or Donizetti

How to Choose a Youth Musical Theater Audition Song

One of the most exciting parts of musical theater is choosing your audition song! Here are some tips to help you make the right choice for you.

1)      Research the Show You Are Auditioning For

Watch videos on YouTube, get a DVD from your local library, or buy the cast recording. What type of show is it? A classic Rodgers & Hammerstein, something more pop and modern like High School Musical, or a jukebox musical made up of songs from a recording artist like Mamma Mia. Choose a song in a similar style or feel, by the same composer for another show, or sung by a similar character in another show. If you are new to musical theater do a web search, for example “Rodgers & Hammerstein audition songs”, or ask a voice teacher or choir director to help you. If you are auditioning for a child in Sound of Music sing “Getting to Know You” from The King & I, for High School Musical sing “We Go Together” from Grease or “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray, for Mama Mia sing “Stand by Me” from Smokey Joe’s Café.


2)      Sing a Song You Like

Especially if you do not have time to learn a new song, sing something that you really like to sing that is age appropriate for you. A song that you like will help show off your personality and will help you be more comfortable when the nerves hit. For Youth Theater, never sing a song with cuss words or content that is not appropriate for young kids. If you are choosing a new song to learn, choose one that you would like to learn, not one that you think the casting directors want to hear. Don’t worry if it is a song everyone knows. Try to choose a song from musical theater or maybe a Disney movie musical. In a pinch sing a pop song or “Happy Birthday” but try to avoid these if you are going out for a lead. If you are allowed to sing from the show for the audition, only do so if you are very familiar with the show. If you sing a song from the show well, it could clench your casting as a lead. If you don’t sing the song from the show well, your audition choice may put you in the chorus. Also unless asked to do so for the audition, avoid choosing a song normally sung by the opposite sex or that has lyrics specific to another ethnicity.

3)      Choose a Song In Your Best Range

Do not try to show off if it will show the breaks and weaknesses in your voice. Sing something that showcases the best part of your voice and that is easy to remember. For new singers it should not go too high or too low in pitch. You only need to prepare about a minute long section of the song, so find the best part of the song for you. I recommend either the first pages or the last pages; they usually work the best for shorter cuts. I usually use the end of the song, because it generally has a nice long note for you to sing and an exciting piano crescendo.

4)      Get Sheet Music or a Karaoke Track in the Proper Key

There are a ton of places to download sheet music online for $3 – $5 where you can also change the key and hear what the first page of the music sounds like before you buy it. I would do a web search like “Tomorrow from Annie sheet music” and see what comes up. I like Sheet Music Plus. There are also sheet music books that come with vocal demo and piano accompaniment CDs and 16 Bar Audition Books. If you need a track instead of sheet music for the audition, you can buy karaoke tracks for almost everything on Itunes or other similar mp3 sites, or even convert the tracks from YouTube.

5)      Practice Your Moves

I recommend one conversational gesture per line of text. You don’t stand still when you talk, so don’t stand still when you sing. However on the same note, don’t go too ridiculous with your gestures. When in doubt see what other performers have done with the song on YouTube or ask your friends and family to watch your performance and tell you if any gesture is too big or too small. The gestures should enhance your performance and make you look like a confident and competent performer. They should not pull focus from your vocals or make you look ridiculous.

6)       Five Songs I Recommend For Youth Theater Auditions


For Girls

“I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story

“My Favorite Things” from Sound of Music

“Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” from Annie

“Tomorrow” from Annie

“What I’ve Been Looking For” from High School Musical


For Boys

“Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast

“Happiness” from Charlie Brown

“I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from Lion King

“What I’ve Been Looking For” from High School Musical

“Where is Love?” from Oliver!


For Any Kid

“Consider Yourself” from Oliver!

“Do, Re, Mi” from Sound of Music

“Getting To Know You” from King & I

“Oh The Thinks You Can Think” from Seussical

“We’re All In This Together” from High School Musical


Now that you have a song, check out my article about what to do at your audition. Also if you have a favorite audition song please leave it as a comment below!


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