top of page

Emily Funicello

Founding Member/

Director of Dance

Master’s Degree (Ed.M.) Rutgers University - Dance Education Graduate School of Education; recipient of the 2014 Ed.M. Dance Education Excellence Award- Summa Cum Laude - Mason Gross School of the Arts

BFA Dance Rutgers University


Emily has performed with Zella Dance and Hysterika Jazz Dance Companies at venues that include the Dumbo Arts Festival, Dixon Place, Breaking Glass Project (Ailey Citigroup Theater), Boston Contemporary Dance Festival (Paramount Theater), Jersey New Moves (NJPAC), and the NY Jazz Choreography Project (Salvator Capezio Theater). Emily is a full time Dance Teacher for Trenton Public Schools. She was a recipient of the Disney Musicals in Schools programming through NJPAC, bringing musical theater to her students at Fred W. Martin Center for the Arts in Jersey City, NJ. Her students also partnered with the professional dance company, Nimbus Dance Works, to perform the Jersey City Nutcracker. In 2016 she joined the creative team of the nationally recognized Conwell Kidz Drama Program at P.S. 3 school as choreographer. The Conwell Kidz have received top awards at The National Performing Arts Festival in Walt Disney World and The Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, GA. They have piloted musical productions with iTheatrics, Musical Theatre International and Disney Musicals. Emily is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher who has successfully completed the American Ballet Theatre Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-primary through Level Three of the ABT National Training Curriculum.


Nicole Oliver

Founding Member/

Director of Music

BA Theatre Performance - Fordham University at Lincoln Center; NJ Certified Teacher of Theater and Speech, Vocational teacher of Theater, Teacher of Elementary Education (St. Peter's University)

Nicole worked as a professional actor in regional theatre, educational touring companies, and Theatre for Young Audiences. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. She holds a teacher certification as Teacher of Theater, Vocational Teacher of Theater, and Teacher of Elementary Education. Her love of teaching came when she performed at the Kaleidoscope Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland where she was tasked with teaching a workshop. She went on to develop children’s programming with The Forum Theatre in Metuchen, NJ. Nicole was hired to teach drama at PS#3 by The JCPS in 2004. She founded the nationally award winning Conwell Kidz Drama Program. The Conwell Kidz Drama Program has been highlighted on ABC, CBS, News12 NJ,, the Jersey Journal and others. They have also performed at community events such as Mayor Fulop's Inauguration, All about Downtown Festival, I Love JCPS festival, Van Vorst Park Children's Festival, The Hoboken Arts Festival, Kidz in Concert, and The NJSBA Conference in Atlantic City, NJ. The Conwell Kidz have also won top honors at The National Performing Arts Festival in Walt Disney World, FL as well as The Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, GA. Students have piloted productions with iTheatrics, Disney Musicals, and Musical Theatre International. They recently launched the national release of Mary Pope Osborne’s “Magic Treehouse: Pirates Past Noon” at the prestigious New Works Festival in Atlanta, GA. Students who participate in the program go on to work in NYC with such companies as iTheatrics, Music Theatre International, Disney Musicals, Wingspan Academy, TaDa and Kidz Theater of NYC. Many students continue to pursue the craft by majoring in musical theatre, dance, music and acting at Hudson County's High Tech High School, Jersey City's Performing Arts High School, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Kean University, NJCU, and Montclair State University. Nicole directed a district production of “Les Miserables” which was given critical acclaim by Broadway producer Ken Davenport. "The future of the theater is in good hands, thanks to people like you.” quoted Mr. Davenport. The production ran at NJCU to an audience of over 2,000. parents, community members, JCPS staff members, students, the JCPS District Superintendent, and many industry professionals. Nicole recently received the NJ Governer's Award for her work in arts education. She was the recipient of the Freddie G Teacher Fellowship through iTheatrics, MTI, Disney Musicals, and theatrical guru Freddie Gershon. Through the fellowship, she studied under the tutelage of Broadways finest including director Jeff Calhoun and choreographer Chris Gatelli. Her program also received a generous $5,000 grant from the Gershons. Nicole was JCPS 2016-17 District Teacher of the year. Jersey City is the second largest district in the state. She proudly serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s premier TYA company.


BA Theatre Education Kean University, Summa Cum Laude

Lissette is a singer, as well as an actress, she has numerous performance credits, some of her favorite roles include: Rona Lisa Peretti-The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Beggar Woman-Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, & Maria in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Lissette has been a theatre educator and director for The Jersey City Public Schools for the last seven years. In recent years, she has developed a Drama Department from inception at Public School Number 11, where she has directed multiple showcases (The Historical Wax Museum Project) and musical productions (The Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka Jr., The Lion King Jr.) She is excited to continue her work with young performers at City Kidz!

Lissette Valentin

Company Member/

Director of Acting

amaya montañez headshot.HEIC

BFA Acting - Rutgers Mason Gross

Amaya Montañez is a proud Puerto Rican  Actor/Poet born and raised in Jersey City, NJ. She was introduced to her passion for performance and collaboration with other artists at a young age. Since then, she has made it her life’s goal to diversify creative spaces. She also wants to remind POC that we are allowed to be Freaks™, Weirdos, Kooky, “too much” and that no form of self-expression is exclusive. Outside of Acting, she writes, coaches and performs spoken word poetry. She is curious about screenwriting and how she can mesh her love for acting with her love for language. Some of her credits include Cleopatra in The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra at The Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London, and LAByrinth’s Barn Series at Cherry Lane Theater. 

Amaya Montanez

Teaching Artist/Acting

N.J.C.U. - Musical Theatre Major


Katrina Rada is a proud Filipina American theatre artist who specializes in dance and acrobatics. She has been dancing since the age of three and has followed that passion to this day. Her prior credits most recently include playing Connie Wong in NJCU’s production of A Chorus Line and while attending High Tech High School as a musical theatre major, she performed in Evita and The Drowsy Chaperone. For the past couple of years, she has served as The Artists Avenue’s main dance educator and continues to choreograph for their MainStage productions such as Shrek Jr and Moana Jr. She aspires to encourage younger generations of artists to follow their dreams and provide them with the necessary tools for success in anything they do.

Katrina Rada

Teaching Artist/

Dance & Musical Theatre


BA Theater Arts/Musical Theatre  - Marymount Manhattan


Caroline is a performer, singer-songwriter, and teacher originally from Great Falls, VA. She's been taking voice lessons herself since she was 10, and holds a BA in Theatre Performance and Musical Theatre from Marymount Manhattan College. At the center of her philosophy is singing with ease, healthy technique, and storytelling. When she's not sharing the magic of singing with her students, you can catch Caroline and her band playing shows around NYC and beyond. 

Caroline McQuaig

Teaching Artist/



B.A. Theater Arts -  N.J.C.U


Melissa Jayme began her love of the performing arts in elementary school where she participated in the NYC dance program NDI (National Dance Institute), created by the American Ballet great and Kennedy Center Honors recipient, Jacques D’Amboise. For 3 years she participated in the program performing at
Madison Square Gardens’ Felt Forum Arena and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.
She began her theatre training with stage and film veterans Annette Charles, Marilyn Sokol, and Jim Niesen, earning her Bachelor's Degree in Theater Arts from New Jersey City University (NJCU) in 2001.
After graduation, she became a member of the Actors Equity Union with The Irondale Ensemble Company becoming a performer and teaching artist for the company until 2003. In 2005 she trained in Salsa, Latin Jazz and Ballroom dance, passing with high honors in 2010, the Bronze Level Teacher
Certification exam with DVIDA (Dance Vision International Dance Association) in the areas of Rhumba/Cha-cha, Latin Hustle, East & West Coast Swing, Argentine Tango and Salsa.
In 2004 Ms. Jayme became an Elementary Public School teacher in the Jersey City Public Schools District. While being a classroom teacher, she began coordinating small after school dance and theatre performances for the community. In 2010 she became PS #23’s first Theatre/Performing Arts Teacher,
coordinating larger scale middle school productions such as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Little Shop of Horrors and The Lion King Jr. Ms. Jayme is entering her 4 th year at PS#20. Her Blue Dolphin productions include The Jungle Book kids, Annie Jr and most recently Into the Woods Jr.
Ms. Jayme is very excited to be part of City Kidz Playhouse Jr. and Sr. Division!

Melissa Jayme

Teaching Artist/PTA Clubs

Dance & Acting

bottom of page