meet the fuse BOARD

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Lara Morton, President

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Barbara Henschel, FUSE Board.png
Elizabeth Santaus FUSE Treasurer.png

Elizabeth Santaus, Treasurer

Barbara Hentschel, Member


Lyndsey Chance Simmons, Member


Jake Egan O'Hara, Member

Lara Morton, President


Lara Morton has been working professionally in educational and community outreach theatre for over twenty years.  Passionate about the power of theatre to transform lives, she has a keen ability to identify and enhance students’ natural gifts while also strengthening their self-image, problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and relationship to the world around them.


Lara currently directs and instructs FOCUS Teen Improv of Madison, The Awkward Stage Players (adult improv), and teaches across the state and online in a freelance capacity through her company Handful Productions. She also performs regularly for the Yale School of Medicine as a Standardized Patient actor.


Previous engagements include Artistic Director/Playwright-in-Residence for the Yale-based Open End Theatre, Program and Education Director for Young Audiences of CT (Arts for Learning), and Assistant Director of the Mental Health Association Players (Binghamton, NY), where her lifelong relationship with Improvisational Theatre began.  She has directed numerous educational theatre projects through Lyme-Old Lyme High School, Madison Arts Barn, WiSP, Alliance Children’s Theatre, Milford Public Schools, New Haven Public Schools, the West Haven Council on the Arts and the West Haven Child Development Center.


As a playwright, she has been honored with several professional staged readings in Manhattan (Epic Theatre Ensemble’s Sunshine Series of New Works, 2011) and New Jersey (Speranza Theatre’s Fall Festival, 2013), and her one-woman touring educational piece about CT State Heroine Prudence Crandall, The Prudence Crandall Story, has been gracing Connecticut school stages since 1998.

She co-founded FUSE Theatre of CT with Susan Larkin in 2019.  She co-produced and directed their first production, Disney 'The Lion King Jr.' in 2020.

Elizabeth Dressler Santaus, Treasurer


Elizabeth Dressler Santaus graduated from Wellesley College with a major in studio art and a minor in mathematics. Elizabeth has over thirty years of experience in the financial accounting software and bookkeeping industry. With previous experience consulting and as CFO for three sister companies in Branford, Elizabeth knows how to help businesses prosper and grow. She has consulted, trained, and provided bookkeeping services for more than 300 small businesses in Connecticut and New York since launching Dressler Santaus LLC in 2006. She has been a QuickBooks© trainer for the Community Economic Development Fund's Bridgeport location and currently presents seminars in conjunction with SCORE.  Elizabeth has been Treasurer of The Network of Executive Women of Milford, Inc. for seven years.


The arts, particularly fine art, musical theater, and dance, have been her unpaid passion, and she is thrilled to be able to combine this love with her financial management skills working with FUSE.

Jake Egan O'Hara, FUSE Board Member


Jake Egan O'Hara  holds a Bachelors (Hons) in Drama, Applied Theatre, and Education from the Royal Central School of Speech of Drama, and has completed Masters coursework through Harvard University and the Harvard University Extension School with a concentration in the Dramatic Arts. He is a licensed Theatre teacher (all levels) through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Additionally, he  is a master teacher and adjudicating member of the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild, and a member of the New Hollywood LGBT, a leadership group and think tank comprised of entertainment professionals dedicated to giving back to the community and helping shape the future of the film, television and theatre industries. Jake is the personal stylist to Broadway legends (watch the video for a clue as to who that might be).


In 2019, Jake joined the FUSE Board of Directors and contributed his incredible mask and custom costume pieces to our production of Disney's 'The Lion King Jr.'  Jake's unique design sensibility, combined with his incredibly strong dedication to story and sensitivity around working with actors of all shapes and sizes, makes him the perfect costumer for FUSE.  

Visit Jake's website HERE

Barbara Hentschel, FUSE Board Member


Barbara Hentschel is a Connecticut and New York based actor and teaching artist. As an actor, Barbara has worked professionally in theatre (Westport Country Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, Legacy Theatre, Circle in the Square Downtown), film, television (Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, All My Children) and commercial print.  


As a Resident Teaching Artist at Long Wharf Theatre she taught in-school residencies and crafted curriculum for schools in New Haven and throughout Connecticut.  She also facilitated Long Wharf's Student Theatre Series, Educators' Laboratory (professional development), the Moments and Minutes Festival (Spoken Word Festival), Elder Play (with Tower One, New Haven) and The August Wilson Monologue Competition (Co-op High School). In addition, she taught adult acting classes and coached in LWT's Studio School. 


Barbara earned her BA in Theatre Arts (performance) at Fordham at Lincoln Center and holds an MFA in Acting from the inaugural class of the Actors Studio MFA Drama Program at The New School, NYC. Barbara coaches acting privately and serves as a mentor for Theatre scholarship winners of the CT Shoreline Arts Alliance. She also volunteers with the Guilford Performing Arts Festival where she helps steer the programming committee for Drama. 


Barbara’s greatest creative endeavor is being a mother to her two children and life partner to her best friend.  Barbara believes that theatre is where we come together to learn empathy, community, creativity and teamwork; and that theatre teaches us what it means to be human.


Please visit  for additional information.

Lyndsey Chance Simmons, FUSE Board Member


Lyndsey is a New-York based, professional actress, singer, dancer, playwright, and member of Actors’ Equity Association. She has appeared at famous New York theatre venue 54 Below and in numerous local, regional, and Off-Broadway productions: including the World Premiere of 100 Famous Views of Otzi, Chess, Single Ladies, The Favor, Making Some Noise (Critic’s and Audience Choice Awards), and her one woman show Once in a Lifetime: The Songs of Judy Garland. She is currently developing her first original, full length musical, Will Wilson Saves the World, loosely based on the oral history of her maternal grandfather.

Lyndsey earned two Bachelor’s (Texas Christian University) and a Master’s (Southern Methodist University) degree and, subsequently, she gave back four years to teaching musical theatre at Summit High School in Mansfield, Texas. Here, with the help of her colleagues, she produced, designed, directed, and choreographed 15+ plays and musicals. She produced numerous scholarship winning actors and designers, as well as Betty Lynn Buckley and Schmidt and Jones awards nominees and winners in the Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Actor/Actress in Minor and Ensemble Roles, and Scenic, Lighting, and Costume Design categories. She also directed and choreographed an annual Musical Revue and Theatre for a Cause (with which she helped her students to raise thousands of dollars for over 16 charities- including Broadway Cares- Equity Fights AIDS).