It is with great joy that North Texas Performing Arts recognizes and congratulates the NTPA – Academy graduating class of 2021.
Elizabeth Barnard has worked on and off with NTPA for two years and has performed in a total of four shows there and taken five classes. These shows included Lord of the Flies (Ralf), Taming of the Shrew (Vincentio), Twelfth Night (Malvolio), and Chicago (Hunyak). Out of all of these shows and classes, Elizabeth says her favorite memory was her participation in Lord of the Flies. A script delay left the cast with a week and a half to learn their parts and put together the entire show. Despite how hectic this was, they were able to put on an incredible show. She loves this memory because it taught her how truly dedicated the people at NTPA are and how much she as an actress could accomplish. Throughout her relatively short three years of acting in shows, she has received several awards, including the Best Actress award for Twelfth Night, and Standing Ovations and Best Scene awards for numerous other shows outside of NTPA. After graduation, she plans to earn a master’s degree in Psychology.
Benji Davis is an accomplished musician and dancer. They have eleven shows under their belt at NTPA with roles ranging from Amos in Chicago and Belinda in Noises Off to harp accompaniment for Twelfth Night. Benji plans to take a gap year next year and explore different interests before committing to a path and future education. The upcoming year will likely include teaching piano, an internship, writing, producing and editing a podcast drama, continuing music studies in harp and piano and assisting the music director for the NTPA Repertory’s production of In the Heights.
Matthew Gabrillo joined the NTPA family in 2018 when Danny Miranda cast him as Race in Fairview’s Newsies. He plays Nicely Nicely in NTPA Academy’s upcoming Guys and Dolls, which will be his 20th NTPA show. Previous shows include: Beauty & the Beast, Shrek Jr., Midsummer Night’s Dream, Legally Blonde, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Urinetown, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Heathers, ballet productions of Nutcracker, Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, Sleeping Beauty & Coppelia. Matthew remembers performing “96,000” from In the Heights with Joseph Morales at the Gershwin Theatre for the 2016 Arts for Autism Benefit in New York City. He was awarded Most Entertaining Teen Solo, The DCNT Darrell Cleveland Memorial Scholarship at Ballet Academy of Texas & Joffrey Ballet School Scholarships. Matthew had prior performance training but wanted to focus more on his craft – so he enrolled in the NTPA Academy in Fall 2019.
Matthew has received many NTPA Awards including 2018 Fairview AMP Outstanding Dancer (Newsies), 2019 Senior AMP Outstanding Comedic Musical Performer (Aldolpho – Drowsy Chaperone), 2019 Senior AMP Musical of the Year (Les Miserables – Grantiere). In his free time, Matthew enjoys jogging, playing video games & watching anime. Matthew will graduate from the NTPA – Academy with a General Theatre Certification & will graduate with his high school diploma from iUniversity Prep.
In the Fall he plans to attend Collin College & continue his performance training in dance at Joffrey Ballet School in Dallas as well as private vocal training. Matthew plans to continue honing his acting craft in community theatre. Matthew would like to thank to God, his family, all of his teachers, directors and fellow cast mates & the entire NTPA family for their support through the years.
Jane Hunter is a 17-year-old senior at the NTPA – Academy and a full-time dual credit student at Dallas College. She will be graduating high school and receiving her Associates of Science degree at the same time. Jane plans to attend St. Louis University in Missouri this fall and will be majoring in English and minoring in Theatre Studies. Jane has done 5 productions with NTPA, 3 with the Academy, and will be appearing in 3 more shows this summer. Her favorite role was Poppy in Noises Off. Jane has spent most of her youth and high school as a champion level competition Irish Dancer and also currently serves on the Secretariat team of the Global Elementary Model United Nations. Jane is thankful for the opportunity she has had to grow with NTPA – Academy and is appreciative to the staff and directors that she has had the pleasure of working with. She is also grateful for the support of her family.
Gracie Lee, and has been at the NTPA – Academy for one year. Coming into NTPA as a newer musical theatre student, Gracie said she was welcomed with open arms and love. During her time at NTPA she was in two shows that meant a great deal to her. She says she has never experienced so much growth in herself while she worked with the students and directors. She made so many friends that she now considers family. The students and teachers taught her that performing ultimately comes down to your love for the stage, and says each time she performed, she was able to put her whole heart out there because of the amazing support from everyone. She will be pursuing Musical Theatre and Dance moving forward. She will train under a BFA program to further her training and expand her resume. Gracie’s end goal is Broadway, and with the training she has already received at the NTPA – Academy, she believes we are all made out to be stars in whatever we do. Her love for the arts since attending the NTPA – Academy has only grown stronger, and she cannot wait to see what the future has in store.
Lorien Lovell has been with NTPA since she was very young. She was 8 years old for her first two shows, Princess and the Pea, directed by Sara Akers, and Shrek, directed by Jeff Swearingen. Over the years she has performed in 42 shows total, 24 of them with NTPA, getting to work with many amazing directors.
She will be attending Texas State University to pursue a BFA in Performance & Production in their theater department, and she was very excited to receive an academic merit scholarship. She is very interested in physical acting and comedy, and her dream role is to be a comic in a Cirque du Soleil show.
Lorien says moving from Allen High School to the Academy was a big step for her, but she was so happy that she did! She was learning much more than she ever had before. There was a lot of focus on different aspects of the industry. She loved the dance classes, as well as the acting classes and productions. She says it was great to be challenged!
She would like to thank Sara Akers, DeAnna Stone, Mike Mazur and all the Academy staff past and present for creating this opportunity and for making NTPA feel like her 2nd home.
Jayden Mathews is 18 years of age. He’s been pursuing theatre for 7 years but has had a huge interest in the arts his whole life. After graduation he is moving to New York and will be attending Pace University. By the end of summer he will have been in 21 NTPA shows and over 34 shows total. His favorite memories of the Academy are the people he has met, the Academy shows, and learning stage combat. One of his proudest accomplishments in high school is founding an improv troupe at Reedy High School. He is a member of the International Thespian Society and the Acting Company of Excellence. His favorite roles include: Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet, Thenardier in Les Mis, Buddy in Elf, and Bottom in Midsummer. He would like to thank his directors for pushing him to do better, his mother for raising him and supporting his dream, and his older sister Skylar for inspiring him and setting the perfect example of kindness, compassion, and love.
Allie Stokes has performed in 8 NTPA shows and most recently was the Witch in Into the Woods (at the Acting Studio), as well as various musicals at Lucas Christian Academy. Her favorite roles include: Jo March in Little Women, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Eponine in Les Miserables, and the Witch in Into the Woods. As an honors student who loves to learn, Allie received the Leadership Award from Lucas Christian Academy two years in a row.
Highlights at NTPA – Academy include: Spelling Bee her 1st semester, acting classes, flubbing her way through dance classes, and all the laughs with her fellow Academy students. Allie would like to thank her parents, especially her mother for taking her to Broadway, which prompted her to leave traditional school and attend the Academy.
Since she was 10 years old, she has served at an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico. Prior to covid, she made 3-4 mission trips per year to Juarez and will continue to minister to orphans and families in poverty. She’s also travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal for mission work. Allie enjoys reading, playing piano, leading worship, drinking coffee, laughing with friends, and eating chocolate.
Upon graduation, Allie will attend the University of Arkansas where she plans to study Psychology, pursue her doctoral degree, and become a Neuropsychologist. She would like to thank the Lord, her family, and her amazing NTPA teachers and directors. Allie looks forward to God’s plans for her life!