The original inspiration for Star Kidz dates back to 2001, when Alyson Isbrandtsen was asked by a summer camp to develop and teach a music program. “Knowing that I had 10 groups of campers of all ages coming each day, I knew I needed to create a program that would keep them entertained and interested, so I decided to combine singing, acting and dancing in each session."
After that summer program became such a hit with parents and students, Alyson thought about creating a unique performing arts program that would teach the same three disciplines in a single class. Based on her years of experience as a performer and singing teacher — as well as her observations of her own kids and their friends — she had concluded that kids learn best in classes that offer variety, fun and individual attention.
In 2003, Alyson and Suzanne joined forces and Star Kidz was launched as a 4-week pilot program with 40 students. Star Kidz was an immediate hit and before long had over 90 students — ranging in ages from 4-14. Within a year, Suzanne and Alyson carefully selected a professional staff of teachers and expanded to locations across Westchester and had over 300 students enrolled. Star Kidz-Westchester’s biggest hit.
Alyson and Suzanne believe that what makes Star Kidz unique is their commitment to nurturing each child’s individual needs. This approach allows students to focus better on each area of performing arts without getting bored, receive individual attention and stay engaged in a fun, creative, supportive setting.
Raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Alyson grew up in Show business booking her first National commercial at the age of 7 (Twining’s Tea). At 10 years old, she landed the part of Duffy in the first national touring company of Annie. Her other credits include Off Broadway shows, several national commercials, voiceovers, and various film and TV roles.
Alyson received extensive training in theater arts and gained experience working with record producers, writing and recording Pop and R&B songs. She studied voice at the Lucy Moses School of Music, and with renowned New York City voice teachers in classical and various voice methods. She studied Meisner and Method acting techniques with Greg Zittel, The Neighborhood Playhouse, Stella Adler and HB studios. In dance, she trained at Phil Black, Steps, and Broadway Dance Center.
Alyson began her transition to the other side of “the business,” working in New York City as a talent manager. With these connections, Alyson has held successful workshops through Star Kidz with top NYC casting directors, talent agents and managers from Broadway and the Film/TV industry. In 2019, Alyson created AI Talent which incorporates all aspects of her private business. She also conducts regular workshops in singing, acting, and auditioning at summer camps and in the NYC area.
She has been a highly regarded singing teacher for over 25 years, developing singers and actors of all ages who have appeared on TV and in Broadway and National touring companies including Stranger Things, Frozen (Broadway), School of Rock (Broadway), Waitress (Broadway), The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Broadway and Nat’l Tours), Les Misérables (National Tour), Fun Home (National Tour), Mary Poppins (Papermill Playhouse) and more. She also still continues to scout talent on behalf of agents and managers in NYC.
Alyson lives in Westchester with her husband Rob and 3 children, Jordan, Danielle and Tyler, and their dog Riley.
Suzanne moved to NYC at the age of 20 and spent 13 years in show business performing as an accomplished singer, actress and dancer whose credits include Grand Hotel on Broadway and the leading role of Grizabella in the Vienna company of Cats. She also worked as a recording artist and performer in Europe. Suzanne completed the two-year acting program and master courses at the William Esper Studio, and studied voice and dance with leading teachers in NYC.
Following her career as a performer, Suzanne graduated from The Culinary Institute of America for Pastry and worked in NYC restaurants. But when Suzanne realized how much she loved children and wanted to work with them, she joined the inclusion program at Greenwich Elementary School, where she worked for three years before co-founding Star Kidz singing, dancing, & acting classes for children in New York.
Suzanne was thrilled to join forces with Alyson at Star Kidz, where she has been able to unite her love of children and teaching with her experience as a performer. She has 3 grown girls and lives with her husband in Yonkers. She is proud to be a grandma, too!
Born in Brooklyn, raised in Los Angeles, Hannah returned to NYC after graduating with a BFA in Musical Theatre from the Hartt School of Music. She spent many years pursuing a career on the stage performing Off Off Broadway and touring the country in various children's theater companies. More recently she was the lead singer in the local band, Four Chicks, Two Mics, and performs, when given the chance, in various Westchester theatre productions.
Hannah resides in Westchester with her husband Dan, two daughters, Ella and Georgia (who sadly want nothing to do with performing) and their dogs Pepper and June.
Natalie is a singer/dancer/actor who has had many exciting experiences in the business, including: being a finalist on America’s Got Talent, being a guest artist on Holland America cruise lines, and singing for Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS with some of Broadway’s biggest names such as Liz Calloway and Kristin Chenoweth. She currently performs in rock cover bands around the city, Long Island and Connecticut and is contracted with the Hank Lane Agency for weddings and special occasions. Natalie has had over eighteen years of training in jazz, tap, ballet and musical theatre dance and is the assistant choreographer for Star Kidz. Favorite roles include Anita in West Side Story, Toni in Cactus Flower, and Frenchy in Grease.
She has always been a believer that learning to use your imagination is the first tool to becoming well rounded and interesting person and loves to see kids develop from timid to outgoing and confident with a little encouragement.
Verna is a graduate of the Circle In The Square Professional Theater School. After graduation, she continued studying with Zina Jasper. Her regional stage work includes The Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Phoenix Theatre and The Children’s Theatre Center of New Jersey.
Off Broadway she has appeared in Wilder, Wilder, Wilder (Drama Desk Nomination – Best Revival), Who Will Carry The Word?, A Child’s Christmas In Wales, The Balcony, Street Scene, and Don Juan Comes Back From The War, all with the Willow Cabin Theatre Company. She has appeared in numerous soap operas, commercials and films. She is a member of Actors Equity and SAG/AFTRA.
Verna has also worked as a teaching artist in the New York City School System, teaching Daniel Sklar’s “Playmaking” program. A mother of twin girls ,Verna spent four years coaching soccer for the White Plains Department of Recreation with girls ages 8 through 12.
Jordan Singer is a NYC based actor, director, teacher and choreographer. Jordan studied theater at Ithaca College and SUNY Purchase and will soon be graduating with his BA in theater. He has performed in many productions throughout Westchester County. Favorite roles include, Edna in Hairspray, Cat in the Hat in Seussical and Fester in The Addams Family. Jordan has spent the last five summers as co-head of theater at Camp Hillard. He also judges for the Metropolitan High School Theater Awards throughout the tri-state area. His choreography can be seen on elementary and middle school stages all over Westchester county. Jordan enjoys working with kids year-round. He wants you to know, he’ll never say no to a good sushi meal.
Rosie Veltri is a lifelong resident of Westchester, New York, where she grew up performing in local theatrical productions. While studying for her BA in Psychology, she continued her passion for music by studying voice and becoming a member of Ithaca College’s competitive all-female acapella group, Premium Blend. In addition, she auditioned and was selected for a study abroad opera program in Italy, where she trained closely with renowned performers from around the world. She later went on to receive her MSEd in Childhood and TESOL Education from Hunter College and Pace University. Rosie is currently a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher in Westchester, New York. Some of her most notable credits include playing a principal role in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, season 3, "Dot" in Soman Chainani's NY Times best selling book Campaign for The School For Good And Evil (Secret Project), and for her Helen Hayes “Best Actress in a Leading Role” Metro Award winning performance as "Tracy" in Hairspray. Rosie’s combined education and performance experience has set the foundation for her passion of the performing arts and teaching.
Kristen Ashley Ragusa is an actor, dancer, singer, and playwright living in Connecticut. She received her BFA in Musical Theatre from The University of Miami with a dance scholarship. Kristen has been previously seen touring the Northeast in Hercules and the Heroes and Aladdin. Other credits include: The Wild Party (Mae), Chicago (Choreographer), In the Heights (Carla), James and the Giant Peach NY tour (Aunt Spiker/Choreographer), and I, Survived where she got to work with the one and only Dascha Polanco. Great theater instructors are what inspired her to be in the industry. She loves teaching theater to children and watching them get the acting bug like she did. For more information about Kristen visit kristenashleyragusa.com !
Emily McNamara was recognized by Time Out New York as one of the “top ten local women every[one] should know—and be obsessed with.” New York credits include: A Musical About Star Wars, NEWSical The Musical, The Awesome 80’s Prom (also co-wrote), My Big Gay Italian Wedding, My First Time, The Karaoke Show, and Around The World In 80 Days. Regional favorites: Gettin' The Band Back Together at George Street Playhouse (also co-wrote), Little Shop Of Horrors, Fiddler On The Roof, Dreamgirls, Godspell, Smokey Joe's Cafe, and Chicago. Emily performs regularly as a host, singer, and comic at venues all over NYC including Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, Ars Nova, The York Theatre, The Laurie Beechman Theater, The Comedy Cellar, The Village Underground, and at her MAC award nominated show Mostly Sondheim at The Duplex. She recently co-starred on the HBO drama Vinyl, produced by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger. Other TV: Sex And The City and Billy On The Street. She is a creator and book writer of the Broadway musical Gettin’ The Band Back Together. Emily is the lead singer for 80's tribute band, White Wedding Band, and 90's tribute band, Uncle Jesse. When not performing, Emily is home with her husband David and baby girl Lucy
Karen (K) is thrilled to be a part of the Star Kidz family. She is the proud mom of three teenage girls, all of whom perform, both on stage and behind the scenes. Her oldest, Natalie is a busy Freshman studying Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, Her middle daughter, Ava is a Junior in High school and has been in film, television, commercials as well as professional theaters. Her youngest, Audrey is in 8th grade and plays saxophone, volleyball, basketball and softball. She has been married to her amazing husband Tom for twenty years!
K has taught Elementary children for 15 years, and has a Master’s Degree in Education.
She recently had the pleasure of teaching Enrichment in a homeschool learning pod, where her favorite subjects were singing, acting and dancing! Currently, K is stepping in to teach a three year old preschool class while their teacher is on leave.
K has been performing in musicals since high school and continues to find fun ways to perform today in Regional theaters, singing with bands and in fundraisers and cabarets. She also creates costumes for local theaters and is a seamstress for her children’s school productions. K can’t wait to share her passion for the arts with your children in fun and exciting ways!