Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey (Executive Artistic Director) has been teaching, directing, and acting in theatres, colleges, and high schools for over two decades. He holds an MFA in Directing from Rutgers University, and his teaching specialties include directing, acting, stage combat, and rehearsal techniques. He is the former Education and Outreach Director for Taproot Theatre Company in Seattle, and has been a guest instructor at high schools, colleges, and universities.
Nathan’s directing work includes productions for San Juan Community Theatre, Taproot Theatre Company, Driftwood Players, A Contemporary Theatre, American Globe Theatre, Abilene Shakespeare Festival, Transparent Storytellers Theatre, and the Seattle Play Series. In January of 2018, he joined San Juan Community Theatre as Executive Artistic Director and now divides his time between directing, acting, teaching, and leading SJCT’s team of talented staff and volunteers. He is thrilled to be a part of this vibrant and creative island community!
Penelope Haskew (Director of Education) has been working with kids at SJCT since 2010 . Since then she has been directing the Family Theatre productions each fall and has offered a variety of camps and workshops after school and in the summers. In 2015 she started the Summer Musical Theatre Camp which gives more experienced and enthusiastic kids an added opportunity to hone their craft as they create a fully-staged musical in three weeks. She has also started the High School Internship Program for students from Friday Harbor High School in order to provide more training in technical theatre. Students interested in the technical side of theatre can spend a class period with Penelope for a semester or entire year to get more hands on experience with what happens behind the scenes at a busy theatre. She is also an active supporter of the Friday Harbor chapter of the International Thespian Society which aims to provide even more opportunities for theatre loving youth to participate in theatre.
Penelope has also been the Production Assistant at SJCT since 2012 and as such designs lights or sets for many of the theatre's productions as well as being a general jack-of-all-trades to help get the shows up and running smoothly. She has also occasionally been found onstage enjoying her first love, musical theatre.
Penelope has worked around the country at Illinois Shakespeare Festival in IL, Hackmatack Playhouse in Maine, Summer Fun Theatre in Montclair NJ, Trinity Rep in Providence RI, and Island Theatre Workshop on Martha's Vineyard. She grew up on the East Coast and studied in theatre programs at UConn, Catholic University of America, NYU and Illinois State University. She holds a BA in Technical Theatre from Rhode Island College.
Carol Hooper (Teacher) started making music at the age of three at the piano. She played at Fullerton Hall in Chicago at the age of 10 and won the privilege of playing a concerto with the Chicago West Suburban Symphony at age 14. She began studying voice in high school and presented a recital of piano and voice as a high school senior. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from DePauw University as a piano major and voice and music education minor. Other musical endeavors include accompanying shows and fellow musicians, playing orchestral violin and viola, playing and directing handbells, and directing and singing in semi-professional, church, and school choirs. She enjoyed decades of participation in musical theater- both on the stage and as director, musical director, and musician. She taught piano and voice privately for over 40 years in the San Francisco Bay area before moving to San Juan Island.
Here in Friday Harbor Carol has been the vocal coach for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Sound of Music, and Annie and was seen on stage in Silent Sky and Souvenir. In recent seasons she has directed Almost, Maine, The Addams Family Musical, The Velocity of Autumn, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and For Better.
Amanda Smith (Teacher) has spent most of her life performing. Her journey began as a 7 year old in dance class in Portland OR. The natural progression was to musical theater and this is where her heart remains! After graduating high school she was accepted into the Theater program at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA. Throughout her four years there she was introduced to varied theatrical styles and genres opening her up to the possibilities that Theater could provide. After receiving her BFA in Theater with an emphasis in Voice and Speech, Amanda made her way to New York City to pursue Theater as a career. While there she worked consistently, but was left missing the Pacific Northwest. She fell in love with the San Juan Islands while staying with her parents who had retired here and in a serendipitous turn of events she met Nathan Smith, the man who would become her husband and father of her 2 beautiful little girls, and the rest is history.
While discovering her new home she stumbled upon the San Juan Community Theater and auditioned for The Dining Room under the direction of former Executive Director Merritt Olsen. Amanda’s involvement at SJCT has spanned from performer to administrator to volunteer coordinator, and now educator. She has truly found a home at SJCT and on San Juan Island and thanks the community for welcoming her with open arms.
Jamie Mountford (Teacher) has had a passion for musical theater since she was a young girl, and participated, co-wrote, and co-directed multiple productions in high school. She then pursued vocal performance at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. Although changing majors, she continued to participate in choir, bands, worship team, musical theater, and writing and directing children's productions for the next 15 years.
Since moving to the island in 2015, she has jumped into San Juan Community Theater life. She has acted in Addams Family, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Beauty in the Beast, and music directed multiple youth productions, including youth summer musical theater camps, family theater, and middle school. Some recent productions include James and the Giant Peach, Jr., Wind in the Willows, and Stepsisters. Her favorite part of working with youth theater is watching kids discover their potential and develop deep friendships...oh, and teaching young people to sing with skill, harmony, and diction! She is very grateful to her co-conspirators in youth theater, Penelope and Jenni, for giving her a chance to do what she loves best. Outside of theater, Jamie enjoys spending hours in her garden, reading, homeschooling her children, singing in San Juan Singers, and serving at church and the fire department.