meet the fuse creatives
Lydia Arachne, Composer/Music Director
Lara Morton, Director
Noah Golden, Production Designer/Video Editor
Lyndsey Chance Simmons, Movement Director
Nightwing Whitehead, Costume Designer
Jake Egan O'Hara, Costume Designer
FUSE Theatre of CT has been busy planning for our next production, Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' and we really want YOU to audition for the show. It's going to be quite unlike anything you've ever done before, and we know it sounds like a line ("LINE?!"), but we truly mean it.
To better understand the wonderful brand of crazy we're about to serve up, please watch our MCT (Midsummer Creative Team) Closeup Video Series. Each member of our team is interviewed about their background, training, philosophies around theatre and youth mentoring, approach to new projects, feelings about creating theatre in the time of an international health crisis. In addition to words ("Words! Words, words..."), there are lots of pretty images to look at of shows we've done (and possibly even our pets).
“In this time, when things are all up in the air and the rules have just sort of gone away, we have to recreate ourselves as theatre-makers and figure out how can we still tell stories safely and effectively and in an exciting way, face it head on and make lemons into lemonade.
I think that my process as director actually lends itself very well to this sort of uncertain circumstance, because I’m very much a director who works instinctively. Whatever presents itself, I’ll be able to pivot and work with it, and come to a solution that is not a compromise as much as it is a new possibility" -- Lara Morton
Lara Morton, Artistic Director / Vice-President of FUSE Board of Directors
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 co-founded FUSE Theatre of CT with Susan Larkin in 2019.
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.
“Being a kid is hard, and as an adult, I don’t think we should make their life harder. There are many kids are who are in theatre who are facing puberty or issues of body or of self, and sadly I’ve worked with adults who have had awful experiences with costume design or their relationship with clothes outside of theatre. With kids, you see where those issues come from and what a young age they come from. Your job as designer is to empower that performer. The costume should fit the performer. The ego leaves as the minute you start working with someone else in relation to their appearance… Whether your skinny, whether you’re curvy, it doesn’t matter. To me, respect is paramount.” -- Jake Egan O'Hara
Jake Egan O'Hara, FUSE Board Member and Costume Designer
Jake Egan O'Hara, holds a Bachelors (Hons) in Drama, Applied Theatre,and Education from the Royal Central School of Speech of Drama, and completed his Masters 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, 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, as well as a member of Soho Muse, an exclusive global network of leading creative artists founded by Conseula Vanderbilt Costin, Duchess of Marlborough. Jake also is grateful to be concierge designer and stylist to Broadway legends and prominent tv, film, and social media actors and artists (watch the video for a clue as to who that might be). Having worked on several award-winning projects, such as the Emmy-winning Netflix LGBTQ++ series “EastSiders”, and producing, directing and playing the role of Hanschen in “Spring Awakening” featuring a cast and team of both Broadway actors (including John Arthur Greene, Alice Ripley, Tyla Collier, Beth Malone and Devon Stone) and regional performers during the pandemic, most recently he took on the role of wardrobe designer and wardrobe curation of the “gone viral” social media sensation series “Quaranteatime” written and performed by up and coming sensation. Michael Judson Berry.
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.
Watch the video closeup to learn more about Jake's background, design aesthetic and philosophical perspective around creating Theatre, specifically what it means to be one of the driving forces behind an upstart non-profit startup like FUSE Theatre of CT in the time of Covid-19.
Spoiler alert: He sees it as an opportunity to do something great a a and meaningful (and we think he's right! )
“I think mentoring youth is extremely important— they’re the future. Who else is there to follow us?
I think FUSE is mentorship and a guiding light in kids’ lives. I know what theatre meant to me as a kid, and I know what theatre still means to me as an adult. Having worked with many groups, there’s a level of expertise that comes along with FUSE, and the level of performances by the kids makes it obvious that the education and the direction is a cut above. Also, there’s that feeling. There’s that love and life and energy that comes from working with and learning from people who are so incredibly passionate about their work, they really bring out the joy in the craft.”
April Chateauneuf, Scenic Designer/Scenic Artist & FUSE Board Member
April has designed and painted just over 100 sets for local community Theaters and school productions. She has many Regional Theater credits and an independent film credit under her belt. April's favorite projects, to date, are the Boston Ballet's Nutcracker designed by Robert Perdziola and Broadway's A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder designed by Alexander Dodge.
April holds a certificate in Technical Design and Production: Scenic Art from Yale School of Drama and is currently employed as a Scenic Artist at the historic Goodspeed Opera House.
“I’m more of a #TeamSondheim over a #TeamShakespeare guy, but I think it’s important to do things that are out of your comfort zone, do things that scare you a little bit and do things that allow you to grow and stretch. I hope that’s something I can pass on to the students in the show, if there’s any of them who don’t come from a place of being huge Shakespeare fans, we can work together and figure out a way to make this show interesting and relevant and meaningful.”
-- Noah Golden
Noah Golden, Production Designer & Video Editor
Noah Golden has been involved with theater for most of his life. Favorite onstage roles include Barfee (“25th Annual...Spelling Bee”), Sancho Panza (“Man of La Mancha”) and Chas (“Trestle at Pope Lick Creek”). He has also worked as a director (The Orange Players), assistant director (A Shared Stage Productions), writer (Vintage Soul Productions, Long Wharf's upcoming New Haven Play Project) and played drums in the pit for several musicals around CT. Noah also covers New Haven theater for Onstage Blog and, during the day, is a video producer for Yale School of Medicine.
“I studied Sociology and Anthropology in college, and I think that has a big influence on my music too, because I’m very interested in what music says about the time in which it was written, how it’s all part of this tradition going back hundreds of years, where every composer sort of builds on the composers before them. And that’s something I think about when I’m writing my own music.”
-- Lydia Arachne
Lydia Arachne, FUSE Composer & Music Director
Lydia Arachne (FUSE Composer/Music Director) is a composer, producer, writer and multi-instrumentalist, a transplant to CT from frosty Buffalo, New York. Lydia is the creative force behind Semaphora (semaph.org), a folk-funk fusion project featuring songs that tell stories about the ways people navigate technology and the natural world. Semaphora's albums, 'Zoonotic' and 'Sister Administrator' are available wherever you might typically find music on the internet. Lydias's previous Music Direction credits include 'Jesus Christ Superstar' with Madison Lyric Stage, 'Legends of the Forgotten Borough' with New Haven's Bregamos Community Theater, Handful Productions' S.A.T.B. Cabaret, and FUSE/Handful's 2020 production of Disney 'The Lion King Jr.' Lydia would like to remind you to support local artists and love the earth. Lydia looks forward to composing an original score for FUSE's filmed Covid-safe production of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.'
Check out Lydia's original music HERE
Lyndsey Chance Simmons, FUSE Choreographer
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).
Nightwing Whitehead, FUSE Costume Designer
Nightwing Whitehead was born in 1958. The Barbie was born in 1959...so for a year Nightwing had nothing to do. She has been trying to make up for lost time ever since. Nightwing has been around theatrical wardrobe departments all her life, her first paying job at an opera house in Colorado. After many years of self-training, Nightwing went back to school and earned a BS in Fashion Design at Philadelphia University.
Her creations have been seen in plays at every level from Community to Equity, as well as several independent films. Nightwing has also done work for world-class magicians, faire-workers, and many others in mysterious professions.
She is a professional full-time enigma who, in what spare time she has, enjoys reading and howling at the moon.