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Berkeley Playhouse Welcomes Producing Director Of Education & Mainstage

Berkeley Playhouse had added Melissa Rivera, a California-born Latina performer, educator, and theater professional to its full time staff.

Berkeley Playhouse Welcomes Producing Director Of Education & Mainstage

Berkeley Playhouse has announced the addition of Melissa Rivera, a California-born Latina performer, educator, and theater professional to its full time staff. Rivera will join the Berkeley Playhouse leadership team as Producing Director of Education & Mainstage. After an extensive search, Executive Artistic Director Kimberly Dooley, Managing Director Mary K. Lins, and the Berkeley Playhouse Board of Directors confidently selected Rivera as their choice for this new position.

For several months, the leaders of Berkeley Playhouse and its Board of Directors carefully constructed the role of the Producing Director and decided to combine both education and mainstage leadership. Finding the right person to fill this position required searching for a dynamic, creative, highly-qualified, and organized candidate to join their collaborative team. "Melissa Rivera fit the bill perfectly," said Dooley.

"Melissa brings an impressive and broad range of theater and education experience to this team," she said. "Her dedication to bringing musical theater to this community and nurturing the young people who learn here makes her an excellent fit for our hybrid organization. Melissa's guiding values of inclusion, justice, kindness, and professionalism will undoubtedly strengthen this organization, and I'm thrilled that she is joining our staff in a leadership position."

Berkeley Playhouse seeks to further evolve the hybrid nature of the organization in which staff can work together across all facets of its mission, including providing Bay Area audiences with exciting musicals each season, engaging the youth community with a thriving educational program, and maintaining and enhancing the beautiful Julia Morgan Theater.

Following a year of difficulties and uncertainties in the world and in the theater arts industry, the organization is thrilled to move into this hybrid format and announce Rivera's addition.

"Melissa's effervescent passion for theater performance and arts education will contribute to an exciting, dynamic, fresh chapter for Berkeley Playhouse." Lins said of the new hire. "We're delighted to welcome Melissa knowing her wisdom, determination, and oversight will be invaluable in helping Berkeley Playhouse's artistic vision and educational goals come to fruition."

Rivera expressed excitement to finally be back home in the Bay Area and to contribute to the community that she understands and craves to support. She is especially thrilled to be doing so by joining the Berkeley Playhouse team.

"I am honored to be joining this esteemed staff and look forward to serving our community," she said. "I'm confident that this leadership position will allow my theater and education experience to thrive, and I am excited to dive right into the work."

Melissa Rivera is a California-born Latina performer, educator, and theater professional. Her career has given her the opportunity to travel and perform all over the country and Mexico. Although she has primarily focused on musical theater, she is also experienced in opera, straight plays, youth theater, recitals, and concert style shows. Her classical and contemporary training has allowed her to effortlessly maneuver through an eclectic assortment of roles such as Mimi in Rent and Belinda in Dido & Aeneas. Notable companies she has performed with include: Sight & Sound Theatres, Sacramento Theatre Company, Legends in Concert, Opera Lancaster, and Creede Repertory Theatre.

Melissa has held several leadership roles and non-artistic positions in production, direction, and accounting. She has co-produced a number of community theater productions such as Legally Blonde and Little Shop of Horrors and directed Shrek Jr. for the Branson Regional Arts Council's summer institute. She became active in casting in 2016 while working as the assistant casting director to Dena Martinez in San Francisco and went on to be the casting director for the Branson Regional Arts Council in Missouri.

Additionally, she is an active theater educator and voice teacher. She has taught private voice lessons off and on for over 10 years and enjoys running theater workshops and masterclasses in audition techniques, theater fundamentals, and performance coaching.

Education has always been important to Rivera, therefore she actively works on honing her craft. She participated in the LAByrinth Theater Company's intensive ensemble in New York where she studied with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Stephen Adly Guirgis (among others), and completed a two-month in-depth teacher training course with Sheri Sanders, the creator of Rock the Audition, in pop/rock musical theater audition techniques.

Rivera holds a Master of Music in Opera & Music Theater Performance from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a Bachelor of Music in Voice and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from San Diego State University.

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