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!

Danielle Zavada

Executive Director

Originally from Philadelphia, Danielle and her family relocated to Rhode Island in 2014. With a lifelong passion for the arts, Danielle made a career shift after nearly 20 years in healthcare advertising, deciding to apply her corporate skills to the non-profit world.

More About Danielle

She brings to Arts Alive a wealth of client relationship management, marketing, and project management experience. Prior to accepting the Executive Director role, Danielle served as a Board Member and Board President for Arts Alive. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Dickinson College. Danielle resides in Barrington with her husband, Jim, and their two daughters.

Glorimar Vargas-MacDonald

Director

Glorimar is extremely proud to have joined Arts Alive last fall as the director of The Little Mermaid Jr. at Sowams School. Glorimar lives in Dighton, MA with her husband Chris and her 19-year-old son, Nathaniel. Originally from Puerto Rico, she’s been living in Massachusetts for the last 27 years.

More About Glorimar

Glorimar received her BA from UMass Boston. She has been involved in children’s theater for the past 12 years. She is the founder/director of Little Folks Theatre, a “Teaching Theater” for children in the Dighton, MA area, performing yearly since 2002. She has directed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, A Pirate’s Life for Me!, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Wagon Wheels West, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Monster Bash, The Poison Apple, Haunting on Oliver St. and Cinderella among others. Glorimar also instructs and develops drama classes and workshops, directs for the Beckwith Middle School in Rehoboth, MA, teaches Preschool at Dighton Nursery School and runs the Reader’s Theater Program at Dighton Elementary School.

Gladys Cole

Director

Ever since Gladys first performed in her kindergarten class production of The Cat in the Red Hen she fell in love with theatre. After receiving her AFA from the Community College of RI and a BA in Theatre Performance from Rhode Island College, Gladys has performed throughout RI with numerous theatre companies including Mill River Dinner Theatre, Pawtucket Community Players, CCRI, WWVHS, RI Theatre Ensemble, Met Charter School, Epic Theatre, and Newport Dinner Train.

More About Gladys

Gladys worked for seven years at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School as the Drama Coach. She taught Hip-Hop dance, Theatre, and Creative dance for three years at The Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland/Lincoln RI and worked as a director as well as a playwriting and dramaturgy Instructor at the Manton Avenue Project, a non-profit organization working with at risk youth in Providence.

As a seasoned teacher and director, Gladys has directed theatre productions at CCRI, Rhode Island College, Epic Theatre, Map, Next-Generation Theatre, Courthouse Center for the Arts, Narragansett Theatre, and Woonsocket Stadium Theatre. In addition, she worked as a Choreographer at JV Doyle School, the Artistic Director for Next Generation Theatre, the Production Manager for Epic Theatre, and the Choreographer for Spamalot at Cumberland High School.

In the fall of 2013, she went on to launch GCole Productions, a musical theatre program for children. She has been an extra in the movie Lean on Me, the 1980’s Dance show Dancin on Air, and a fashion model. While working for Macy’s, Gladys acted as the DJ for their annual Shop for a Cause event.

Gladys has directed Disney’s Beauty & the Beast and Hairspray at Woonsocket Middle School, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella & Rockerfella, A Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz with GCole Productions, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, and Fun on 42nd Street at Williams Hall Library in Cranston.  Gladys has also written several plays including Journey to Christmasland, Grimm Brother Adventures, A Fairytale Mixup, and Thumbelina, and Annie Jr. at Woonsocket Stadium Theatre where she and is returning to direct Mulan Jr. this fall.

Gladys recently returned to Warwick Veterans Memorial Middle School as the Drama Coach. She also teaches at Theatre Wyman Elementary School. Gladys has many years of experience working in all technical aspects of theatre, loves playwriting, and continues to mentor children in theatre arts.

Jenna Lea Scott

Assistant Director

Jenna Lea Scott is a proud member of Actors Equity and works as an actor/director/teaching artist in the Boston Area. She lead the award winning professional production of Hairspray at Wheelock Family Theatre becoming the first Asian-American actress to play Tracy Turnblad.

More About Jenna

Jenna was last seen at Ocean State Theatre Company’s production of Avenue Q. She will be in Beauty & The Beast at WFT in 2018 as Madame de la Grande Bouche/Waredrobe. Credits include Dogfight, Charlotte’s Web, Seussical, Annie, Once On This Island, Anne of Green Gables, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Peter Pan, and many others. A graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, NYC and a Dorothy Haas Acting fellowship at Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Jenna is excited to join Arts Alive and continue their mission in bringing the love of performing arts to young people.

Jennifer Tilley

Assistant Director & Choreographer

Jennifer Tilley is a Rhode Island native, currently working as a dance educator with various local organizations, including Arts Alive! and Chance to Dance. She has been dancing since the age of three and has received training in all areas of dance, including ballet, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, hip hop, and ballroom. She grew up performing in showcases and competitions, where she earned many honors and awards.

More About Jennifer

In 2003, she completed the Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston’s Dance Education Training Course and has since had the pleasure of teaching hundreds of students. Jen continued her training at Rhode Island College, majoring in Dance Performance. During her four years at RIC, she was fortunate to work with many talented artists and choreographers while performing with the college’s dance company and in musical theatre productions, including Tommy, Sweet Charity, and Damn Yankees. In 2013, she worked with Daniel McCusker and performed with talented local dancers in Providence’s Modern Movement Festival. Also in 2013, she performed “Up to Speed” choreographed by Nathan Andary and participated in Open for Dancing’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” choreographed by John-Mark Owen. In 2014, she was a guest dancer with Heather Ahern’s Aerplaye performance of “In Full Flight.”

Jen is a veteran dance instructor with experience teaching all ages at schools and studios across the state, including the Portsmouth Abbey School, Rocky Hill School, St. Philomena’s School, Just Dance!, and Twinkles Toes Dance Studio. In 2014, she was a dance artist in residence at Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. She has worked with Arts Alive! on productions including Aristocats, Seussical, Jr., 101 Dalmations, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Willy Wonka, and Mulan. This season, Jen will be on the creative staff for the Nayatt school production of Seussical, Kids, the Sowams School production of Cinderella, Kids, and the Hugh Cole production of The Wizard of Oz. Jen is passionate about her craft and is fortunate to share it with young performers.

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!

Danielle Zavada

Executive Director

Originally from Philadelphia, Danielle and her family relocated to Rhode Island in 2014. With a lifelong passion for the arts, Danielle made a career shift after nearly 20 years in healthcare advertising, deciding to apply her corporate skills to the non-profit world.

More About Danielle

She brings to Arts Alive a wealth of client relationship management, marketing, and project management experience. Prior to accepting the Executive Director role, Danielle served as a Board Member and Board President for Arts Alive. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Dickinson College. Danielle resides in Barrington with her husband, Jim, and their two daughters.

Glorimar Vargas-MacDonald

Director

Glorimar is extremely proud to have joined Arts Alive last fall as the director of The Little Mermaid Jr. at Sowams School. Glorimar lives in Dighton, MA with her husband Chris and her 19-year-old son, Nathaniel. Originally from Puerto Rico, she’s been living in Massachusetts for the last 27 years.

More About Glorimar

Glorimar received her BA from UMass Boston. She has been involved in children’s theater for the past 12 years. She is the founder/director of Little Folks Theatre, a “Teaching Theater” for children in the Dighton, MA area, performing yearly since 2002. She has directed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, A Pirate’s Life for Me!, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book, The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, Wagon Wheels West, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Monster Bash, The Poison Apple, Haunting on Oliver St. and Cinderella among others. Glorimar also instructs and develops drama classes and workshops, directs for the Beckwith Middle School in Rehoboth, MA, teaches Preschool at Dighton Nursery School and runs the Reader’s Theater Program at Dighton Elementary School.

Jenna Tremblay

Director

Jenna Tremblay is a seasoned artist and theatre professional with over a decade of industry experience. Her focus is aimed at bringing the Performing Arts experience to children at a young age where children gain practical experience in voice, singing, acting, dance, stage movement and team work.

More About Jenna

An accomplished performer herself, Ms. Tremblay graduated from Rhode Island College in 2006 with a degree in Musical Theatre and currently lives in New Bedford, MA. She is presently the Director of Drama at Barrington Christian Academy, Resident Choreographer at Pilgrim High School in Warwick, and a performer with Ten31 Productions in Rhode Island. She studied dance in New York City at Luigi’s Jazz Centre at Ballet Maestro and Broadway Dance Center and had the opportunity to work with many accomplished Broadway dancers. She then decided to put down her roots in Connecticut for 8 years where she worked at Long Wharf Theatre in production, company management, and development. She also was a business executive at The Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, managed a yoga studio and was a musical theatre teacher at Achievement First Elm City High School. Jenna was also a counselor of the Rhode Island College Summer Performing Arts Camp for 9 years. Ms. Tremblay has performed in dozens of productions both locally and nationwide.

Her most recent projects include Director, A Connecticut Yankee, Director, Barrington Christian Academy, May, 2016, Choreographer, The Lion King, Hampden Meadows School, May 2016, Assistant Director, Shrek, Barrington Middle School, March 2016, Artistic Advisor, The Curious Savage, Barrington Christian Academy, February 2016, Director, 101 Dalmatians, Primrose Hill School, January 2016, Choreographer, The Drowsy Chaperone, Pilgrim High School, November 2015. Jenna will also be directing the 2017 Nayatt School production.