Berkeley Playhouse Staff

Kimberly Dooley  |  Mary K. Lins Melissa Rivera Simpson  |  Dana Swint

Megan McGrath  |  Jesus Pedroza-Moreno  |  Cameron Pence  |  Michael Patrick Wiles

Sean Griffin  |  Anna Hecht  |  Santiago Hutchins  |  Sarah Garcia  |  Tara Vargo

Resident Teaching Artists

Laura Marlin   |  Melissa Martinez   |  Erika Oba  |  Daniel Alley

Weston Scott  |   Sarah Thompson  |   Henry Halkyard

Kimberly Dooley
Artistic Director

Kimberly has been directing, choreographing, teaching theater and working in arts producing and administration in the Bay Area for over 15 years. She is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in the Experimental Theatre Wing. At the Berkeley Playhouse, she has directed and choreographed Once On This Island, Seussical, Mary Poppins, The Wiz, Lucky Duck, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Addams Family, Beauty and the Beast, Billy Elliot, and Grease, as well as several KidStage and TeenStage productions. She's grateful to call this her creative and professional home.

Mary K. Lins
Executive Director
Contact: 510.845.8542 x304 or

Mary joined Berkeley Playhouse staff in 2018. She trained in theater and music at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg Arts School PA, Interlochen Center for the Arts musical theater program in Michigan, and holds a masters degree in religion and the arts. Prior to relocating to the Bay Area, she served on the board of directors for the Millbrook Playhouse Regional Theater. Mary is especially passionate about the ongoing development of Berkeley Playhouse’s educational outreach programs due to the invaluable tools and life skills children cultivate through introduction and engagement with the arts.

Melissa Rivera Simpson

Producing Director
Contact: 510.845.8542 x383 or

Melissa is a Bay Area-born Latina performer, educator, and theater professional. She holds an MM in Opera & Music Theater Performance from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and a BM in voice and a BA in Spanish from San Diego State University. She participated in the LAByrinth Theater Company’s intensive ensemble in New York where she studied with Philip Seymour Hoffman (among others), and completed an in-depth teacher training course with Sheri Sanders, creator of Rock the Audition, in pop/rock musical theater audition techniques. Before joining Berkeley Playhouse Melissa performed all over the country in theaters such as Sight & Sound Theatres, Legends in Concert, and Opera Lancaster. She is excited to contribute to the community that she understands and craves to support.

Dana Swint
Director of Development & Community Outreach

Dana is a born and raised Northern Californian and has lived in the East Bay for 10 years. She attended Mills College, studying Sociology and Education. Dana holds a Masters of Arts in Education, from UCLA, (Social Sciences and Comparative Education, emphasis Race and Ethnic Studies), where she studied with Daniel Solorzano, Director of the Center for Critical Race Studies in Education. Dana’s professional background is in nonprofit program management, and youth development focused on educational opportunity and empowerment. Her most recent leadership position was at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts as the Education Manager and director of a supervised distance learning program for academically at-risk students. Dana is passionate about the arts, education, outreach, and access for all.

Megan McGrath
Youth Productions Manager
Contact: 510.845.8542 x303 or

Megan is a theater artist who brings years of experience as choreographer, director, performer, and teacher to Berkeley Playhouse. She has recently collaborated with Quinan Street Project, Contra Costa Civic Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre-SF, and Tri-Valley Repertory. She studied Directing at California State University-Fullerton. At the Berkeley Playhouse, she has directed the Youth Productions Chicago, Willy Wonka, Annie, and Beauty and the Beast and choreographed Bye Bye Birdie, Tarzan, and Hello, Dolly!. Her Bay Area choreography credits include The Wizard of Oz (Berkeley Playhouse), Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical (Altarena Playhouse), The Taffetas (Altarena Playhouse), O'Neill: The Rhythms of His Soul (Eugene O'Neill Foundation), and The King and I (Tri-Valley Rep). She resides in and is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of quality arts education.

Jesus Pedroza-Moreno
Classes & Camps Manager

Jesus is a graduate from the University of California Santa Cruz with an emphasis on Theatre and Psychology. In the theatre world Jesus has mainly had his focus on acting with an emphasis on Shakespeare and Meisner. Through Psychology he has gained a background as an ABA Therapist for children with Autism and professionally furthered his career by becoming a recruiter and recruiting these therapists . Prior to his recruiting position he worked with kids in a Theatre Camp with Bay Area Children's Theatre as an Assistant Director, Teacher, and Stage Manager over the course of his time there. He is very excited to guide the Classes and Camps at Berkeley Playhouse to be an explorative and fun environment for all the kids to grow and most of all have fun.  

Cameron Pence
Production Manager

Cameron is in his third season as Production Manager at Berkeley Playhouse! Originally from North Carolina, Cameron is happy to call Berkeley Playhouse his artistic home. In addition to production management of all Professional Season shows, lighting design credits include Sister Act. Prior to Berkeley Playhouse, Cameron was Conservatory Technical Director at the American Conservatory Theater. Lighting design credits at ACT include I’m Still Standing and Punk Rock for the Young Conservatory and The Big Meal and Rocky Horror for the MFA program. Before moving to the Bay Area, Cameron toured the world for six years with a variety of touring shows. In his spare time, Cameron enjoys sailing on San Francisco Bay.

Michael Patrick Wiles
Casting Director and Resident Music Director

Michael is in his ninth season as Casting Director & Resident Music Director for Berkeley Playhouse. Previous BPH Music Directing credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Mamma Mia, Pippin (TBA Award nomination), Dreamgirls (TBA Award nomination), Grease, Sister Act, Urinetown (TBA Award winner, BATCC nomination), Peter & The Starcatcher, The Addams Family, Hairspray, and Avenue Q (TBA Award nomination.) Other Music Directing credits include work with Bay Area Children's Theater, Capital Stage Company, Center REP, Contra Costa Civic Theater, Pacific Repertory Theater, San Francisco Opera Guild, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. As an actor Wiles has appeared in over 60 productions with American Conservatory Theater, American Musical Theater, Aurora Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater, California Shakespeare Theater, Capital Stage Company, Center REP, Magic Theater, Marin Shakespeare Company, Pacific Repertory Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and Tacoma Actor's Guild. BFA, Cornish College of the Arts.

Sean Griffin
Director of Patron Services
Contact: 510.845.8542 x396 or
For Box Office matters, please contact for a faster response.

Anna Hecht
Marketing Communications Manager

Anna joined the Berkeley Playhouse team in 2019 and has enjoyed combining her love of theater and marketing skills. Previously she was the Marketing Associate at 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, CA. Anna has a B.A. in Print & Online Journalism from San Francisco State University and an A.A. in English from Santa Rosa Junior College. Anna is originally from Petaluma and happy to call the East Bay her new home.

Santiago Hutchins
Facilities Manager
Contact: 510.845.8542 x319 or
For theater and studio rentals, please contact .

This is Santiago's fourth year at Berkeley Playhouse as Facilities and Maintenance Manager. He brings with him over 12 years of experience in the skilled trades field. His hands-on approach to much of our building's physical issues makes him a strong asset. In his four years he has accomplished many projects including: installation of a restroo, laminate flooring to one of the facilities' studios, an exceptional curtain system to our studios, painting the building, and many other projects. Santiago enjoys and takes pride in the work he provides. He loves the building and the community it serves, and is proud and grateful in his position at Berkeley Playhouse.

Sarah Garcia
Office Manager

Sarah is thrilled to join the Berkeley Playhouse team as their new Office Manager! Although born in Hong Kong and raised in Hawaii, Sarah has always felt like a Bay Area native, being the fourth generation in her family to live here. She studied at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where she received an AA and BFA, both in Acting, and is a working film and theatrical actress in the Bay Area under her stage name, Sarah Zehner. Her professional experience also includes working closely with children and the arts. She has previously taught drama to children ages 4-11 and worked as a Studio Coordinator for School of Rock, Berkeley. Sarah currently happily resides in Berkeley with her partner, Sean, cat, Stevie, and pug, Pippin and can usually be spotted vintage shopping with a chai latte in hand.

Tara Vargo
Finance Manager
Contact: 510.845.8542 x306 or

Resident Teaching Artists: YouthStage

Laura Marlin
Resident YouthStage Director

Laura is a teaching artist, dancer, teacher, storyteller, and writer. Laura has a Masters in Education from the Bank Street College in New York and over the past 13 years has taught subjects from middle school English to kindergarten movement. She has trained in Movement Education with Luna Kids Dance, and for five years has worked with Imagination Players as a writer, choreographer, stager, teacher, and collaborator, not to mention game player, bubble juice maker, Frisbee catcher, lunch monitor, snack bringer, and minivan driver. Laura will almost always say yes if you are a kid and you ask her to tell a story. As a dancer, Laura has performed with Bay Area notables Nina Haft & Co, Carol Keuffer, Dana Lawton, Rebecca Johnson, and, currently, Paufve Dance.

Mel Martinez
Resident Teaching Artist

Mel has worked as a performer, choreographer, director, and teaching artist in the Bay Area for the last 6 years. She received her BFA in acting from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Mel is the Associate Director of Theater at Contra Costa School of Performing Arts as well as a resident teaching artist with The Quinan Street Project in Pinole, where she continues to teach theater and dance to students ranging from 2-18 years old. Her directing and choreography credits include Bye Bye Birdie, Shrek The Musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, and James and the Giant Peach with Berkeley Playhouse. Mel is also a working actor and her favorite roles include Diana Morales from A Chorus Line with Solano College Theater, Hermia from Midsummer (Jon Tracy’s original adaptation of A Midsummer Nights Dream) with Solano Repertory Company, and a featured dancer in The Wiz with Berkeley Playhouse.

Weston Scott
Resident Teaching Artist

Weston is a playwright, director, and teaching artist from the Central Coast. After graduating from UC Berkeley, he completed a Directing Internship at PCPA and worked for several months in London theatre. At the Berkeley Playhouse, he has directed shows for YouthStage such as The Little Mermaid, Into the Woods, and Bye Bye Birdie, all while teaching several additional camps and classes. His writing has been produced by PianoFight, Custom Made Theatre Co., and FaultLine Theater, where he is a proud Associate Artist. His best-known work may be as the lyricist for the millennial musical Tinderella, for which he was named a TBA Finalist. Apart from the theater, Weston has written an album of original parody songs, contributed to several podcasts, and studied improv at the Groundlings and the Upright Citizens’ Brigade. He is ecstatic to be one of the first Resident Teaching Artists at the Berkeley Playhouse and looks forward to mentoring young artists for many years to come.

Erika Oba
Resident YouthStage Musical Director

Erika is a composer, pianist/flutist, and educator based in the SF Bay Area. As a performer, she is a member of the 
Montclair Women’s Big Band , Ends Meat’ Catastrophe Jazz Ensemble, electro-jazz duo  Rice Kings , and  The Sl(e)ight Ensemble . As an artist, she is interested in exploring ritual, diasporic identities, and community through performance. She received her BM in Jazz Piano Performance from Oberlin Conservatory and her MA in Music Composition from Mills College.

Daniel Alley
Resident YouthStage Musical Director

Daniel has been obsessed with musical theater since playing in his high school pit orchestras and is excited to join this amazing team in helping a new generation of young artists refine their craft. He first joined Berkeley Playhouse in 2018 as music director of the Riffs Show Choir and has since worked on productions of TeenStage Chicago, Pippin, and Freaky Friday, as well as several camps and classes including the 2019 summer a capella camp. He is looking forward to music directing the 2020 mainstage production of Memphis! Recent credits are music director for The Fantasticks at the Piedmont Center for the Arts, Threepenny Opera and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Oakland School for the Arts, and rehearsal pianist and choir master for La Bohème and Aroldo at West Edge Opera. He is the choir director and organist at Christ Lutheran Church in El Cerrito.

Resident Teaching Artists: Classes & Camps

Sarah Thompson
Resident Teaching Artist

Sarah holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies with Designated Emphases in Classics and Classical Receptions and Feminist Theory and Research from the University of California, Davis. Her academic research focuses on the contemporary adaptation and translation of Greek tragedy. She has taught at UC Davis and Los Medanos College. She has been a Teaching Artist at the Berkeley Playhouse since 2013, where she feels lucky to work with so many creative, hilarious, and dedicated kids. She loves being involved in theatre education at all levels, from kindergarten to college!

Henry Halkyard
Resident Teaching Artist

Henry is an educator and actor raised in Las Vegas, and is thrilled to be returning to Berkeley Playhouse for his third season. His credits at Berkeley Playhouse include directing Cinderella and the Music Man, as well as assistant directing the Wizard of Oz and leading a wide variety of summer camps. At Sarah Lawrence College in New York, he worked heavily in the school’s Theatre Outreach program and studied child psychology at its Early Childhood Center. He also worked as a guest teaching artist for Palisade Prep High School and Greenburgh-Graham UFSD in Yonkers, and performed in a variety of children’s shows at the Hudson River Museum. After graduating with a concentration in Arts Education and Film Acting, he established his Bay Area footprint working at the Children’s Creativity Museum, but has now worked with young actors and students at a variety of theaters and programs across the Bay, including Town Hall Theatre Co, Each One Reach One, and StageWrite. He is ecstatic to jump aboard as one of Berkeley Playhouse’s Resident Teaching Artists, and looks forward to creating exciting artistic experiences for young actors for years to come.