Meet Our Teachers
Sierra School of Performing Arts is proud to contract with some of the finest performing arts teaching artists in Northern Nevada and Northeastern California. If you have any questions about our teachers, please email us.
Janet Lazarus is the founding artistic director of SSPA, and has been directing their musical productions since 2005. She is a graduate of the MFA program in acting at UCLA and has appeared in over 30 productions in such places as New York, Los Angeles, Rome (Italy) and most recently Northern Nevada. She has been directing and teaching theater in Hawaii, Reno and Tahoe schools and arts organizations for over 25 years, including Hawaii School for Girls, Lake Tahoe Community College, Arts for the Schools, UNR, Bishop Manogue and Sage Ridge School.
Jennifer Rae is an Equity actor who loves improv. She enjoys teaching all aspects of theatre, acting, and improv. She graduated from Gonzaga University. Jennifer Rae was bit by the acting bug at the age of 10 and has been involved in theatre, improv, and film for more than 30 years. She looks forward to teaching for and working with Sierra School of Performing Arts.
Jesse Briggs is ecstatic to work with and teach for SSPA! Jesse began performing just shy of a decade ago at the age of 15 in classical voice competitions. Since then, she has fallen for theatre of all sorts and is always looking for ways to grow the theatre community in the Reno-Tahoe area. Jesse has performed with a variety of theatre companies in the Truckee Meadows, including Good Luck Macbeth and Bruka Theatre of the Sierra. When not on stage or teaching for SSPA, you can find Jesse serving on the Good Luck Macbeth Theatre Company’s Board of Directors and teaching special education and theatre courses for the school district.
JoAnna Hayes Wagner started her professional acting career in 1981, when she was cast as a dwarf at Disneyland. Going to college at Cal State Fullerton during the day and performing at the park at night was fantastic training for this young girl. She was then cast on a National tour for Sesame Street Live and thus began a 30 year career with VEE Corporation. With VEE, JoAnna danced, moved into management, assisted highly respected choreographers and was able to build shows in Australia, Japan, England and Germany. She spent 10 years choreographing, directing and designing shows for the Beaches properties in Jamaica and Turks and Caico properties. One of the biggest highlights of her career was co-directing and choreographing Everyone Makes Music, better known as Elmo Makes Music, which is still touring after 19 years.
After moving to Reno, JoAnna danced at Lake Tahoe's Horizon and Harrah's. JoAnna now teaches jazz and musical theater at three local studios, including Sierra School of Performing Arts.
Stephanie McCoy Bio coming soon
Mandy Flocchini Bio coming soon