Directing from the house inside the Indian Wells Theatre at California State University San Bernardino/Palm Desert Campus.
David Catanzarite, Founding Artistic Director David Catanzarite is both a master stage director and expert educator with thirty years of teaching experience. He has directed more than 100 professional and college productions on both coasts, Chicago, and Toronto. Catanzarite worked as a resident artist in (the new) South Africa, and met Nelson Mandela during the country’s first free presidential elections. He toured twice in (the former) Czech Socialist Republic on the cusp of the “Velvet Revolution”. In 1998 he partnered with the Goethe Institut/LA as Artistic Director of the West Coast Bertolt Brecht Centennial Festival, curating two dozen different performances at theatres and bookstores throughout Los Angeles. From 2004 to 2012, he was Resident Director and Board Member at Watts Village Theatre Company. In 2011 the company was recognized as one of the nation’s top ten developing theatres by the American Theatre Wing (the Tony Awards Organization). During his tenure on the Watts Village Theatre Company board, he helped the company expand the budget from $25,000 to $350,000. Catanzarite began his teaching career at the age of 21 as an adjunct theatre instructor at Stanford University. He is currently on the Theatre faculty at California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus, and is Lead Senior English teacher at Rancho Mirage High School. He served full-time as head of the Directing programs at Pomona College (Claremont, CA) and Towson University (Baltimore, MD). He has also taught classes at UCLA; the University of Southern California; the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts; the California State Universities at Los Angeles and Northridge; and five California community colleges. Catanzarite served on the committee that wrote California’s first Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards in 2001, and leads professional development trainings for teachers throughout the state. He has taught theatre at every grade level in the California public schools. From 2002 to 2006 he was a Visual and Performing Arts Adviser for Los Angeles Unified School District Local District 7, serving 82,000 K-12 students in Watts and South Central Los Angeles. He then became Assistant Principal at USC/32nd Street K-12 Performing Arts Magnet. Catanzarite co-directed a A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Ben Donenberg for Shakespeare Festival/Los Angeles, which was attended by more than 40,000 spectators on the Los Angeles Cathedral Plaza. He worked for two seasons as Directing Assistant for New Plays Development at the Mark Taper Forum under Oskar Eustis, Jose Luis Valenzuela, and Robert Egan. In 1999 the German Consulate of San Francisco commissioned him to direct a marathon reading of Faust I and Faust II at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for Goethe’s 250th birthday. At Green Room Theatre, Mr. Catanzarite has directed Twelve Angry Men, To Kill A Mockingbird, several melodramas, and a production of Gift of the Magi that toured African American Churches across the Coachella Valley. For Green Room’s Summer Conservatory he directed sold-out productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, and Mary Poppins at the 400-seat Indian Wells Theatre; his production of Tuesdays with Morrie, starring Hal Linden, was one of Indian Wells Theatre’s first hits. At College of the Desert he directed award-winning productions of At Risk, Our Town, and Blood Wedding; at Palm Springs High School he directed a record-breaking production of Phantom of the Opera, as well as Hairspray and The House of Bernarda Alba. His productions have garnered numerous Desert Star Awards, a Los Angeles NAACP Image Award Nomination, and numerous “picks of the week” in the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly.
Karen Lin, Board President Karen is the founding President and the Managing Director/Producer of Green Room Theatre Company (GRTC). She is a National Board Certified teacher and a California State Credentialed teacher. She taught in public elementary school for a ten-year span in varying grades. During this time, she taught theatre to children through the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Arts Prototype Program. She produced and directed children excerpts of Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, and Mary Poppins. She also directed 13 The Musical, Story Theatre, The Holiday Shuffle, The Three Peccaries, It Could Be Worse,The Peddler and the Monkeys, and The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Three Little Javelinas, The Hare and the Tortoise, The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Stinky Cheese Man, The Fox & Crow, Mice Council by Tony Padilla, Bird Bat and Beast, The Bullfrog, I’m Not Santa, Christmas in July, Sally’s Christmas Miracle, Bah Humbug, The Baker’s Dozen, The Princess and the Bowling Ball, Dog Cries Wolf, The Golden Touch, The Moneylender, All Three of Us, Casey at the Bat, When the Twins go to War, and many more short plays. She also taught acting for short children’s excerpts of Karen was the media designer for At Risk at College of the Desert. She designed the set for Suzanne Lori Parks’s 365 Days with Watts Village Theatre. She also performed in At Risk, Jesus Christ Superstar, Mame, South Pacific, King and I, You Can’t Take it With you, Fiddler on the Roof, Godspell, Children’s Hour, and Once Upon a Mattress. Karen also became a Getty Fellow in the Teacher’s Art Study Program at the Getty Museum. Locally, she serves actively as a Community Partner for the Ophelia Project. In addition to all this, she also enjoys playing piano.
Lillian Ayote, Board Member/Treasurer
Irene Creighton, Board Member/Volunteer Coordinator Irene Creighton has been Green Room Theatre’s Parent/Volunteer Coordinator since 2015. She is co-owner and operator of the Thai Smile Restaurant on El Paseo in Palm Desert, one of the Coachella Valley’s most popular upscale restaurants. She and her husband Matt have been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years.
Irene coached theatre performances for three years for Odyssey of the Mind - an international student collaborative problem-solving competition. In 2016, she led a team to Odyssey’s World Competition, which placed sixth in the World.
Irene is very active in the Desert Unified School District Foundation, and a dynamic member of the Palm Desert Middle School Parent Foundation.
Sue Emery, Board Member/Career Pathways and Scholarship Coordinator Sue Emery is Green Room Theatre’s Career Pathways and Scholarship Coordinator. She has an extensive background in business, customer service, and marketing. Emery is currently Career Guidance Specialist at Rancho Mirage High School, before which she served ten years in Career Guidance at Desert Hot Springs High School. She coordinates valley-wide college and career fairs, schedules visits from college representatives and various professional guests, manages the high school’s awards and scholarship programs, and assists students with applications for colleges, employment, and college financial aid. In her career, Emery has worked with more than 5,600 graduating seniors to transition into jobs and post-secondary education.
She recently partnered with Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort to coordinate interviewing and hiring of fifty Rancho Mirage High School students as new seasonal employees. She is the high school’s liaison with many community organizations, including the Ophelia Project, Rancho Mirage Rotary Club, and Rancho Mirage Women’s Club. She holds a BA in English Literature from California State University, Long Beach, and earned two teaching credentials at California State University, San Bernardino. Ms. Emery became a board member of GRTC in December 2016.
John Alex Houlton, Board Member/Literary Advisor John Alex Houlton was bornand grew up in the north of England, served in the Royal Air Force, and earned his BA degree at Oxford in English language and literature. He first came to the United States for an advanced degree in Theatre, Film and Television at UCLA. His professional career was in British Government service in the United States, at the British Consulate-General in Los Angeles, largely in public affairs. During that time he produced five television series for US television, shot in Britain, and six large multidimensional British Festivals in the Southwestern US. His final position was as Co-Creator and Director of the British Film Office in the United States. He was awarded both an OBE [Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire] and an MBE [Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire] for his services.
On retirement, John Alex was free to make use of his talents for theatre -- directing and acting, as well as for writing fiction. He had founded Theatre 40, an Equity waiver theatre in Beverly Hill some 50 years ago, and rejoined the company in 2002 to act and direct, before moving to Palm Springs in 2006.His first collection of short stories was published also in 2006, and he has had a novel published every year since that. He writes both historical and contemporary gay-themed books, usually in the mystery and relationship genres. After settling down in Cathedral Cove, he became involved with local theatre, working with such groups as Palm Canyon Theatre, Desert TheatreWorks, Dezart Performs, S2 Ss S, and Green Room Theatre. He has been nominated for six Desert Theatre League Awards and has won three.John Alex was married to the late Christine Evenson Houlton for 33 years, with two adult children and four grandchildren [number five is expected shortly]. He is now happily partnered with Michael Patino. He still enjoys working out at the gym, but has gradually and sadly given up riding and owning horses.
Stephen Merritt, Board Member at Large Stephen Merritt performs daily in front of a packed house teaching fourth grade at Martin Van Buren Elementary School; but Steve’s entertainment career started years ago when he was a student at the University of Toronto. There he studied theatre, produced and directed numerous original plays, and co-produced a 13 part educational television series on William Shakespeare which aired on TV Ontario. After graduation, Steve managed Canada’s first pay tv network for Roger’s Cablesystems and later, while managing Roger’s Cablesystems of California, became Executive Producer of Cloris Leachman's “Perfectly Frank” for Showtime Networks and the La Mirada Civic Theater. In the early-90’s Steve moved to Palm Springs to manage the conversion of the desert’s cable system to fiber optic cable, the expansion of it’s channel lineup, and it’s eventual sale to Time Warner Cable. In 1998, Steve retired from business to found the non-profit corporation, Community Gardens of the Coachella Valley where he oversaw the construction of 15 community gardens in the Coachella Valley and was the subject of an HGTV half hour program. In 2003 he entered Chapman University’s Masters of Education program and began his career teaching the children of low income farm workers.
David Peña, Board Member at Large David Peña’s professional accomplishments are as varied as his career. He was a candidate for public office at the age of 23, began his career in the insurance industry, transitioned to a business owner, lobbyist, to non-profit executive. For over nineteen years he has worked for multiple non-profits in roles such as Executive Director for the Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships (VAMOS), Director of Advocacy (Lobbyist) for the American Heart Association, Executive Director for the National Hispanic Business Association (NHBA), Senior Vice President of Programs for the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA), Founder/Consultant for the DJP Consulting Group and President of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, and Executive Director/CEO for the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA).
Leigh Tomasko, Board Member at Large Leigh Tomasko has been a Green Room Theatre Company board member since October 2016. She has lived in the Coachella Valley since 2006, when she moved here to be closer to her mother and her sister’s family. Leigh is studying to be a teacher at California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus. She will complete her education in December 2018. Leigh is a customer service expert. She worked at New Leaf Book Distributors in Atlanta, Georgia for thirteen years and helped to develop many of the bylaws and operating procedures. This included establishing managerial structure, inventory procedures, and standard operating procedures. She has also worked at a startup scenic arts company called Mind’s Eye Scenic Arts that specialized in the creation of theater sets. Leigh believes that her varied experience along with her passion for volunteering will greatly benefit GRTC.