Since our founding in 1972, TOY has continued to gain expertise and experience in our field and grow in our dedication to bringing theatre into the lives of young people. Our plays are performed by professional actors in full-scale mainstage productions. Our professional staff members have excellent training and many hold advanced degrees in their fields.
MEG QUINN, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Meg Quinn was a founding member of Theatre of Youth and has held several positions with the company over the years – Actor, Teacher, Marketing Director and for the 25th year, Artistic Director. Meg holds a BFA in Theatre from Daemen College and a MS in Creativity and Creative Problem Solving from the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College. Meg studied children’s theatre with Grigore Pogonat of the Ion Creanga Children’s Theatre of Romania and Reg Bolton of The Long Green Theatre Company, Scotland. She has directed over 100 plays for child audiences. Meg also has written and developed a series of plays for TOY’s Health and Wellness series including: SAM: THE STROKE AWARENESS MISSION preparing children to educate adults about the warning signs of stroke; INSIDE OUT addressing the issue of childhood obesity; HEADS ON WHEELS encouraging young people to wear bike helmets; THE HIDDEN SUGAR PROJECT teaching children about the unhealthy sugar content of many foods; and HOW THE FITNESS KIDS GOT FIT engaging children in an interactive play about exercise and healthy eating. Meg was presented The Buffalo News Outstanding Citizen Award 2000 upon the opening of The Allendale Theatre. In 2001, she was selected to participate in a cultural exchange program with Ireland sponsored by the US State Department. She has been honored to receive the Daemen College 2006 Alumni Award for Outstanding Service to the Community; the Mount Mercy Academy Outstanding Alumna Award 2006; and the ARTVOICE 2011 Career Achievement Award. Meg serves on the steering committee of the Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance and the theatre panel of the New York State Council on the Arts. Meg and her husband, Chester Popiolkowski, are the excited grandparents of Evelyn and Julia who inspire and delight them every day.
KENNETH SHAW, HEAD OF DESIGN
Ken started as Head of Design for Theatre of Youth for the 1994-1995 season. In that time he has designed the scenery and costumes for over 100 TOY productions and received the Artie Award for outstanding design 12 times. In 1998, Ken was the recipient of the David Fendrick Award for his adaptation of NANCY DREW AND THE MYSTERY OF THE CRANDALL JEWELS. He has also adapted the stories of PINOCCHIO and THE HARDY BOYS IN THE CLUE OF THE SCREECHING OWL for the TOY stage. Born in Toronto, he graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada and apprenticed at the International Theatre Institute in Prague. His assistantship at the Shaw Festival Theatre completed his training and while there he designed THE MAN OF DESTINY. Other local credits include BAREFOOT IN THE PARK for Studio Arena Theatre, WINTER’S TALE, 12th NIGHT and TAMING OF THE SHREW for Shakespeare in Delaware Park, THE MANDRAKE, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, DANCING AT LUGHNASA for the Irish Classical Theatre. Ken is a lecturer for the Department of Theatre and Dance at Buffalo State College.
CHESTER POPIOLKOWSKI, RESIDENT COMPOSER/PRODUCTION MANAGER/SOUND DESIGNER
Chester holds a BFA in Theatre and a MA in Theatre in Media. He has created sound and music for over 100 TOY productions. He has been composer/music director of the popular TOY productions of Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. Chet produced sound and music for Studio Arena’s productions of A CHRISTMAS STORY, A THOUSAND CLOWNS, THE DRAWER BOY, ART, THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE, HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVE, and GREETINGS. He also composed original music for Just-for-Kids audio tour at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Chet has been a keyboard artist for many musical ensembles in the Northeast and was the musical director for National Touring’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Chet has taught radio drama as part of an arts-in-education program and has presented seminars in audio technology and sound design. He is also a NYS certified EMT and President of the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corp. Chester swears he gave Bob Dylan a book of matches at Woodstock in 1969.
BARBARA PRIORE, HEAD OF WARDROBE
Barbara has built costumes for over 55 productions since starting in 1999. In the past she has worked with Shakespeare in the Park, Studio Arena Theatre, several community theatres, schools and competitive dance teams. Barbara has also designed costumes for TOY's productions of THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, THE HARDY BOYS IN THE CLUE OF THE SCREECHING OWL, and TUCK EVERLASTING. Barbara and her husband, Robert, have two children, Sarah and R.J.
|Brittany Wysocki, Stage Manager||John Rickus, Lights & Effects|
|Gabe Gutierrez, Carpentry/Stage Crew||Edward Lawton, Carpentry/Stage Crew|
|Todd Proffitt, Lights & Effects||Brian Wantuch, Sound Operator|
KEVIN LEARY, MANAGING DIRECTOR
Kevin has a BFA in Acting/Musical Theatre from Wright State University (2002) and an MA in Humanities-Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Theatre and Arts Management from the University at Buffalo (2013). As an actor, Kevin enjoyed a long career including national touring productions of THE MUSIC MAN, 42ND STREET (Japan and North America), and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. Upon returning to Buffalo, Kevin began work as the Assistant to the Director in the Arts Management Program at the University at Buffalo and in 2013, took on additional duties in UB’s Techne Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies. Never one to rest, in this same time period he worked at the Lancaster Opera House on creative teams for – among others – the critically acclaimed productions of DAMN YANKEES, OKLAHOMA!, THE GLASS MENAGERIE, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, and LEND ME A TENOR. He is delighted to be working with Artistic Director Meg Quinn and the rest of the talented artistic and administrative staff.
LISA GRISANTI - GARCIA, MARKETING DIRECTOR
Lisa has more than 15 years of experience in theatre marketing and public relations and previously was the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Born and raised in Buffalo near the historic Allendale Theatre, she has been working with the local community and media for over 20 years. She is excited to work with Kevin Leary, Meg Quinn and the entire team at TOY, focusing on new initiatives while spreading the message of TOY’s mission throughout Western New York and beyond. Lisa holds a B.S. in Business with a Concentration in Communications from Ithaca College. She is a proud aunt and enjoys spending time with her young nephews. Her hobbies include travel photography and Latin ballroom dancing. Lisa saw her first musical in the fourth grade at a Buffalo Public School and has been inspired by theatre ever since!
ALEKS MALEJS, EDUCATION COORDINATOR
Aleks has a BFA in Acting from The University of Montana and an MFA in Acting from The New School for Drama in New York City. Her teaching journey got started at TADA! Youth Theatre in New York City and with the Missoula Children’s Theatre in Montana. Since her arrival in Buffalo in 2013, Aleks has split her time as a teaching artist and actor. As a teaching artist, she has worked with TOY, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, Aurora Waldorf School, Irish Classical Theatre Company, Young Audiences of Western New York, Tapestry Charter School, P.S. 89 and the Inclusive Theater of WNY. As an actor, she has been featured in 10 shows and has two Artie nominations, winning one for her performance in Grounded at The Kavinoky Theatre in 2016-2017. She is currently an adjunct professor at Buffalo State College and Niagara County Community College. “I am primed to nurture and grow the existing success of TOY’s educational offerings,” says Ms. Malejs. “I look forward to working with Meg Quinn and the TOY team to take TOY’s education program to a new level.”
STEPHANIE SULLIVAN, DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
Stephanie is “excited to share the magical stories of TOY with our community.” She found a passion for helping those in need right around the corner at Buffalo State College while receiving a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. That enthusiasm led her to work at People Inc. and Child & Family Services, where she worked to build donor databases, execute special events and build relationships with community partners. Stephanie is excited to bring her knowledge and experience to ensure all families in our community can experience the wonder of live theatre. She loves spending time with her family and future theatre star: her 19-month old daughter.
MICHELLE TSOUKATOS, BOX OFFICE MANAGER
Michelle has been TOY’s Box Office Manager & School Booking Coordinator since the 2012. Michelle' holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Production & Design from SUNY Fredonia. She most enjoys creating & implementing prosthetic makeup designs and working as or with M.E. & Lighting Crew. She has worked as lead scenic painter at The Kavinoky Theatre and in the past at the Buffalo Central Library. Michelle' is an avid artist, biker, nature enthusiast & jack of all trades. Her favorite shows at TOY have been: FROG & TOAD, ROBIN HOOD, and SLEEPY HOLLOW
|Debbie Honsberger, Accounting||Dan Torres, Teaching Artist||Victoria Perez, Teaching Artist|
|Chris Kelly, Teaching Artist||Lisa Vitrano, Teaching Artist||Bobby Cooke, Teaching Artist|