Our Staff

Dena Davis

Co-Founder of Arts Alive! | Artistic Director

Dena Davis has worked professionally as a Children’s Theatre Director, Educator and an Actress for over 20 years. She trained in theatre at the California Institute of the Arts (BFA), and at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (MFA).

More About Dena

As an actress, Dena has appeared in plays all over the UK and Europe, including the London West End’s Apollo Theatre where she was part of the original cast of Ben Elton’s West End production of Popcorn, (Olivier Award winner: Best Comedy in 1998). She also appeared in various television productions, including Grange Hill, and the classic British series Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Dena was the Co-Founder and Managing Director of the AFK School of Dance and Drama based in Wimbledon, England, is a qualified LAMDA exam coach (London Academy of Music and Drama), and was also Theatre Director at the Coventry Preparatory School in England. As of 2016, Dena has directed over 18 plays in the Barrington School District through Arts Alive!

Dena is also the founder and president of ACTion Performance and Leadership, which takes her skills from the theatre into the corporate world, where she coaches executives and teams in communication, presentations, team building and leadership. She also works with teens and college grads on interview preparation and presentation skills. Dena is an adjunct professor at both RWU and BCC. “I am most proud to see the kids emerge into leaders, mentoring the younger children as they move up, becoming role models and young professionals. There is no limit to what they can achieve with confidence, commitment and integrity. My advice: acknowledge specifically what they are good at – they are not always aware; … and you can change a life.”

Kimberly Durkin

Co-Founder of Arts Alive! | Costume Designer

After attending The University of Colorado, Boulder, Kimberly worked as a Costume Supervisor in Los Angeles for 15 years in Film and Television.  She is a member of the Los Angeles Local 705, and also a member of the New England Local 481.

More About Kimberly

Kimberly worked with many studios including Sony, Warner Bros., Disney, HBO and Universal. Some of her credits include Lethal Weapon 4, Conspiracy Theory, Payback, While You Were Sleeping, Phenomenon, The Bodyguard, Primal Fear, and Wayne’s World.

In recent years, she worked on Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and the Oscar–nominated films The Town and American Hustle. Most recently, Kimberly worked on the film November Criminals as well as the horror film The Purge. Kimberly is also a former tap dancing teacher.  In 2009, Kimberly joined forces with Dena Davis and co-directed The Wizard of Oz at Nayatt School, which eventually led to the founding of Arts Alive!. This partnership has blossomed over the productions of Willy Wonka, Kids, Peter Pan, Bugsy Malone, Jr., Aladdin, Broadway Rules, Pinocchio, High School Musical, Jr., The Aristocats, Kids, The Wizard of Oz, Into the Woods, Jr., Seussical, Jr., 101 Dalmatians, Little Mermaid and Shrek.  It has always been a dream for Kimberly to bring her love of theatre and design to her children’s schools —  to watch it expand through the community is extremely rewarding!

Elizabeth Jones

Executive Director

Elizabeth received her B.A. in dance and secondary education from Roger Williams University, graduating summa cum laude. She holds a teaching certificate in dance, grades Pre-K to 12. 

More About Elizabeth

Elizabeth has taught and managed dance programs extensively in both the public and private sectors. She is a member of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) and served as the State Affiliate for the Rhode Island Dance Alliance. In 2014, Elizabeth was honored as “Dance Teacher of the Year” by the Rhode Island Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.

Elizabeth worked with Arts Alive as a teaching artist from 2011-2014. From 2014-2020, she was Director of a large dance studio in Weymouth, MA. Elizabeth brings with her a wealth of knowlege and experience in business management, event planning, and youth arts programming.

Originally from Bristol, RI, Elizabeth now resides in Dighton, MA with her husband, son, and chocolate lab Jackson. Elizabeth is thrilled to be a part of Arts Alive! and bring theatre to the students & families of the East Bay.

Kirsten Davis

Business Manager

Bio Coming Soon…

 

Molly Millard

Director

A Barrington native, Molly began working with Arts Alive! in 2012 on her high school senior project on the production of Peter Pan at Nayatt School. Since then, she has worked at Arts Alive! Summer Theatre Program starting as a counselor, and is now is the co-director of the summer program.

More About Molly

In 2016 she began working as a teaching artist for the Arts Alive! school programs and has been involved with the productions of Aladdin KIDS, Mulan Jr, Alice in Wonderland Jr, Annie KIDS, Cinderella KIDS, and Beauty & the Beast Jr. In our 2019-20 season, Molly served as Stage Manager for all Arts Alive! productions. Molly is proud to continue to be part of the Arts Alive! staff.

Molly is a graduate of Keene State College, earning degrees in Acting (BA) and Elementary Education (BS). While at Keene State College, Molly acted in multiple plays, was the Costume Head for the department musicals, was president of the colleges improvisational comedy team, and was a member of the Theatre and Dance Honor Society, Alpha Psi Omega. Molly also spent six months studying acting in London, England at  Goldsmiths, University of London. Molly is currently teaching 5th Grade at Hugh Cole School in Warren.

Kimberly Lagana

Director & Rehearsal Assistant

Kimberly is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University. She has been involved with theatre production throughout high school and college. Kimberly loves teaching children and most of all enjoys watching them Blossom into talented professional performers! 

 

More About Kimberly

Originally from New York, Kimberly brings with her a lifelong passion for theatre arts. She has partnered with Arts Alive for over five years on productions such as All the Worlds a Stage, The Aristocats KIDS, Suessical Jr., The Jungle Book KIDS, The Little Mermaid Jr., The Lion King Jr.,  Alice in Wonderland Jr., Mulan Jr., The Wizard of Oz, and Beauty & the Beast Jr.

Jennifer Tilley

Director & Choreographer

Jennifer Tilley Freeman is a Rhode Island native, currently working as a dance educator with various local organizations, including Arts Alive! She began her dance training as young child and grew up performing in showcases and competitions, where she earned many honors and awards.

More About Jennifer

Since completing the Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston’s Dance Education Training Course in 2003, Jen has had the pleasure of teaching hundreds of students. Jen continued her training at Rhode Island College and was fortunate to work with talented artists and choreographers while performing with the college’s dance company and in musical theatre productions. Professional performances include Providence’s Modern Movement Festival, “Up to Speed” choreographed by Nathan Andary, Open for Dancing’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” choreographed by John-Mark Owen and “In Full Flight” with Heather Ahern’s Aerplaye. “Parasite/gHost,” a collaborative project that combined body prosthetics, music, dance, and video, was performed in 2016. Jen is a veteran dance instructor with experience teaching all ages at schools and studios in RI and MA, including the Portsmouth Abbey School, Rocky Hill School, St. Philomena’s School, Just Dance!, Twinkle Toes Dance Studio, Dance with Energy, and RI Dance Alliance’s Chance to Dance.  In 2014, she was a dance artist in residence at Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. Since joining Arts Alive! in 2013, she has had the pleasure of choreographing and directing many shows including Lion King, Seussical, Willy Wonka, Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, and Pinocchio. An award winning choreographer, Jen is passionate about her craft and is fortunate to share it with young performers.

Danielle Grilli

Assistant Director

Danielle Grilli, soprano, is a recent graduate of the University of Rhode Island where she obtained her Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance.

More About Danielle
Danielle has performed full operatic roles such as Josephine in HMS Pinafore, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus,  Gianetta in The Gondoliers and has performed many operatic scenes with roles such as Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Marie in Daughter of the Regiment.  She has performed with the Warwick Symphony Orchestra as the soprano soloist in the Schubert’s Magnificat and Handel’s Messiah Part I.  She has also performed as the soprano soloist for Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Sparrow Mass, and Rutter’s Magnificat in various choirs.
 
Most recently, Danielle was the cheer and stunt choreographer for Bishop Hendricken High School’s Summer Stage production of Bring It On! The Musical.  She teaches private voice lessons at Michelle Lavin Music, where she specializes in audition and performance preparation.  Danielle is excited to be joining the Arts Alive! Staff as the Assistant Director for the Hampden Meadows production of Shrek Jr.

Becky Midler

Assistant Director & Choreographer

Becky is a choreographer and licensed mental health clinician based in Providence, Rhode Island. With the intention of integrating dance, movement and mental health, She has been able to help provide individuals throughout the lifespan with the ability to find their voice, tell their story and reconnect.

 

More About Becky

Ms. Midler has been privileged to study and work with artists across the country. Her work has been performed throughout New England, including the American College Dance Festival, Boston University, The Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA, as part of the Shared Choreographers’ Program, the FIGMENT festival, featured as a guest artist with Kelley Donovan and Dancers, Empire 95 and has presented work on behalf of the Emerging Artist program at Green Street Studios. Becky has trained with the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group to teach “Dancing with Parkinson’s”, a dance class specifically designed for people with movement disorders. She is also a certified facilitator for Dancing Mindfulness (http://www.dancingmindfulness.com/) and Trauma Process Yoga Group. (https://www.tpyg.org/) She holds a BA in Theater and Dance and a BS in Clinical Psychology from Keene State College as well as an MA from Lesley University. She is currently studying with Little Flower Yoga to reach certification to become a children’s yoga teacher. Becky began her career with Arts Alive! working as a choreographer on High School Musical.  She is thrilled to begin her second season working with the creative and talented students of Barrington Middle School

Vanessa Roman

Director

Vanessa Roman has been directing children’s theater for the past 8 years, mainly working in schools.

More About Vanessa

In addition to teaching and directing children in theater, she is a registered yoga teacher and also teaches classes on racism and gender studies to middle schoolers at the Acera School.  She is thrilled to be entering her second season with Arts Alive, a wonderfully inclusive and dedicated organization for children!

Our Team

Dena Davis

Co-Founder of Arts Alive! | Artistic Director

Dena Davis has worked professionally as a Children’s Theatre Director, Educator and an Actress for over 20 years. She trained in theatre at the California Institute of the Arts (BFA), and at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (MFA).

More About Dena

As an actress, Dena has appeared in plays all over the UK and Europe, including the London West End’s Apollo Theatre where she was part of the original cast of Ben Elton’s West End production of Popcorn, (Olivier Award winner: Best Comedy in 1998). She also appeared in various television productions, including Grange Hill, and the classic British series Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Dena was the Co-Founder and Managing Director of the AFK School of Dance and Drama based in Wimbledon, England, is a qualified LAMDA exam coach (London Academy of Music and Drama), and was also Theatre Director at the Coventry Preparatory School in England. As of 2016, Dena has directed over 18 plays in the Barrington School District through Arts Alive!

Dena is also the founder and president of ACTion Performance and Leadership, which takes her skills from the theatre into the corporate world, where she coaches executives and teams in communication, presentations, team building and leadership. She also works with teens and college grads on interview preparation and presentation skills. Dena is an adjunct professor at both RWU and BCC. “I am most proud to see the kids emerge into leaders, mentoring the younger children as they move up, becoming role models and young professionals. There is no limit to what they can achieve with confidence, commitment and integrity. My advice: acknowledge specifically what they are good at – they are not always aware; … and you can change a life.”

Kimberly Durkin

Co-Founder of Arts Alive! | Costume Designer

After attending The University of Colorado, Boulder, Kimberly worked as a Costume Supervisor in Los Angeles for 15 years in Film and Television.  She is a member of the Los Angeles Local 705, and also a member of the New England Local 481.

More About Kimberly

Kimberly worked with many studios including Sony, Warner Bros., Disney, HBO and Universal. Some of her credits include Lethal Weapon 4, Conspiracy Theory, Payback, While You Were Sleeping, Phenomenon, The Bodyguard, Primal Fear, and Wayne’s World.

In recent years, she worked on Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and the Oscar–nominated films The Town and American Hustle. Most recently, Kimberly worked on the film, November Criminals as well as the horror film, The Purge. Kimberly is also a former tap dancing teacher!  In 2009, Kimberly joined forces with Dena Davis and co-directed The Wizard of Oz at Nayatt School, which eventually led to the founding of Arts Alive!. This partnership has blossomed over the productions of Willy Wonka, Kids, Peter Pan, Bugsy Malone, Jr., Aladdin, Broadway Rules, Pinocchio, High School Musical, Jr., The Aristocats, Kids, The Wizard of Oz, Into the Woods, Jr., Seussical, Jr., 101 Dalmatians, Little Mermaid and Shrek.  It has always been a dream for Kimberly to bring her love of theatre and design to her children’s schools —  to watch it expand through the community is extremely rewarding!

Elizabeth Jones

Executive Director

Elizabeth received her B.A. in dance and secondary education from Roger Williams University, graduating summa cum laude. She holds a teaching certificate in dance, grades Pre-K to 12. 

More About Elizabeth

Elizabeth has taught and managed dance programs extensively in both the public and private sectors. She is a member of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) and served as the State Affiliate for the Rhode Island Dance Alliance. In 2014, Elizabeth was honored as “Dance Teacher of the Year” by the Rhode Island Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.

Elizabeth worked with Arts Alive as a teaching artist from 2011-2014. From 2014-2020, she was Director of a large dance studio in Weymouth, MA. Elizabeth brings with her a wealth of knowlege and experience in business management, event planning, and youth arts programming.

Originally from Bristol, RI, Elizabeth now resides in Dighton, MA with her husband, son, and chocolate lab Jackson. Elizabeth is thrilled to be a part of Arts Alive! and bring theatre to the students & families of the East Bay.

Molly Millard

Director

A Barrington native, Molly began working with Arts Alive! in 2012 on her high school senior project on the production of Peter Pan at Nayatt School. Since then, she has worked at Arts Alive! Summer Theatre Program starting as a counselor, and is now is the co-director of the summer program.

More About Molly

In 2016 she began working as a teaching artist for the Arts Alive! school programs and has been involved with the productions of Aladdin KIDS, Mulan Jr, Alice in Wonderland Jr, Annie KIDS, Cinderella KIDS, and Beauty & the Beast Jr. In our 2019-20 season, Molly served as Stage Manager for all Arts Alive! productions. Molly is proud to continue to be part of the Arts Alive! staff.

Molly is a graduate of Keene State College, earning degrees in Acting (BA) and Elementary Education (BS). While at Keene State College, Molly acted in multiple plays, was the Costume Head for the department musicals, was president of the colleges improvisational comedy team, and was a member of the Theatre and Dance Honor Society, Alpha Psi Omega. Molly also spent six months studying acting in London, England at  Goldsmiths, University of London. Molly is currently teaching 5th Grade at Hugh Cole School in Warren.

Jennifer Tilley

Director & Choreographer

Jennifer Tilley Freeman is a Rhode Island native, currently working as a dance educator with various local organizations, including Arts Alive! She began her dance training as young child and grew up performing in showcases and competitions, where she earned many honors and awards.

More About Jennifer

Since completing the Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston’s Dance Education Training Course in 2003, Jen has had the pleasure of teaching hundreds of students. Jen continued her training at Rhode Island College and was fortunate to work with talented artists and choreographers while performing with the college’s dance company and in musical theatre productions. Professional performances include Providence’s Modern Movement Festival, “Up to Speed” choreographed by Nathan Andary, Open for Dancing’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” choreographed by John-Mark Owen and “In Full Flight” with Heather Ahern’s Aerplaye. “Parasite/gHost,” a collaborative project that combined body prosthetics, music, dance, and video, was performed in 2016. Jen is a veteran dance instructor with experience teaching all ages at schools and studios in RI and MA, including the Portsmouth Abbey School, Rocky Hill School, St. Philomena’s School, Just Dance!, Twinkle Toes Dance Studio, Dance with Energy, and RI Dance Alliance’s Chance to Dance.  In 2014, she was a dance artist in residence at Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. Since joining Arts Alive! in 2013, she has had the pleasure of choreographing and directing many shows including Lion King, Seussical, Willy Wonka, Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, and Pinocchio. An award winning choreographer, Jen is passionate about her craft and is fortunate to share it with young performers.

Kimberly Lagana

Director & Rehearsal Assistant

Kimberly is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University. She has been involved with theatre production throughout high school and college. Kimberly loves teaching children and most of all enjoys watching them Blossom into talented professional performers! 

More About Kimberly

Originally from New York, Kimberly brings with her a lifelong passion for theatre arts. She has partnered with Arts Alive for over five years on productions such as All the Worlds a Stage, The Aristocats KIDS, Suessical Jr., The Jungle Book KIDS, The Little Mermaid Jr., The Lion King Jr.,  Alice in Wonderland Jr., Mulan Jr., The Wizard of Oz, and Beauty & the Beast Jr.