Teatro San Diego was dreamt up in the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in order to help San Diego become the vibrant, all-inclusive community it has always had the potential to be. At the time of the organization’s inception, the two largest minority communities in San Diego were Mexican and Filipino. Thus, the city’s two most prevalent languages aside from English were Spanish and Tagalog. "Teatro" means "Theatre" in both languages.
Despite being two of the most influential communities in their city since before California’s admission into the United States, these original San Diegans have been under-served and under-represented in San Diego’s performing arts community. The same is true of many other communities of color. Teatro San Diego works to rectify this disparity by emphasizing and accounting for the inclusion of all local nationalities and languages. It is this fusion of distinct cultures that will make San Diego truly San Diegan.
Teatro San Diego exists to further the founding social activists and artists' vision of bringing to life the multi-cultural spirit of San Diego through world-class visual and performing arts. To create an extended community by bringing together its many isolated and under-served communities in order to raise their visibility. By building facilities in southern San Diego and putting on grand professional productions across the globe, Teatro San Diego aims to provide arts education for all people while celebrating and maintaining San Diego's rich cultural heritage.
We respect each individual's experience and culture. We value how stories are portrayed and who they are serving.
We value professionalism and believe artists must be paid living wages.
We are mindful of cultural appropriation, anti-racism and seek to repeal tokenism.
We are committed to equal accessibility and exposure to arts education and professional productions.
The performing arts add to the vibrancy of our community by providing an integral service.
For years, the term All-American has been used to describe the ideal persona in the American literary canon, yet its meaning has always been vague. In order to maintain the values our nation has cultivated since its foundation, we need to define this term. At Teatro San Diego, we define All-American as those who strive to better themselves, pursuing excellence and accountability in any given vocation. The United States has always been a nation of immigrants, a melting pot of culture at the forefront of innovation, ingenuity, and leadership. We believe the performing arts have the power to define our culture and dictate the American brand. Therefore, through competitive hard work and collaborative intelligence, we at Teatro San Diego commit to continue to define the All-American persona.
What does it look like to hire and cast the very best of America? To a dreamer with newborn ambitions, this answer is vitally important. We believe it looks like the United States at its best: a vast representation of the entire world where no one is overlooked because of ethnicity, gender, or disabilities. We aim to achieve this by monitoring the census to ensure that the San Diego population is represented accurately. There are many stories that need to be heard before American art can become truly All-American. Teatro San Diego intends to write, choreograph, film, and sing those stories.
Board of Directors
Born and raised in Pearl City, Hawaii, Sheldon attended Kamehameha Schools, a Native Hawaiian serving institution with a vigorous performing arts department. He grew up speaking the Hawaiian language and performing traditional hula and chant while also studying ballet and performing musical theater. He grew up doing productions with casts made up of local actors, many of them of mixed Polynesian and Asian ethnicities. Leading roles were often played by local actors of color which made seeing people that looked like him on stage the norm. When he left the islands to attend Chapman University in Orange, CA, the reality that characters were cast from a certain ethnic background was an eye-awakening learning curve.
He rarely saw himself authentically represented in the traditional musical theater canon outside of Hawaii, and because of this, he leaned away from theater and dove into dance roles. He secured his first professional job performing in parades at Disneyland which led to a plethora of other opportunities in Orlando, FL at Walt Disney World including High School Musical at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the national tour of Disney Live, Mickey’s Rockin’ Road Show. After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Theater, Dance, and Cultural Anthropology, he moved to New York City. There he worked with Disney Theatrical Productions at The New Amsterdam Theatre and found an artistic home with organizations like Musical Theatre Factory and The Tank, spaces that cultivated new musical theater works in its developmental process. He began to create relationships with writers and artists of color who were creating more authentic representations in their own original work. This sparked a passion to find more platforms for actors and artists of color to develop new work in musical theater.
He moved to San Diego in 2020 to attend the MFA in musical theater program at San Diego State University to continue learning how to create these platforms from the ground up. There he met his classmate, Julio Cataño, one of the founders of Teatro San Diego. They instantly related to feeling like an outsider in the field and shared a mission to use their experiences and relationships to build a professional platform in San Diego. Most recently, Sheldon served as assistant director to Stafford Arima at The Old Globe in Dial M For Murder, assistant director to Jesca Prudencio at the Musical Theatre Factory (NYC) in Unremarkable and is currently a parade performer at Disneyland in Magic Happens.
Sarah Marie Hernandez
Chairwoman & Casting Director
Sarah Marie is a proud first generation Filipino-American performer, theatre producer, arts administrator, and educator. Hailing from Moreno Valley, CA, she first joined Teatro as a performer--participating in their first cabaret and was Woman 1/Feminism in the company's inaugural production of Songs For A New World in 2021. She joined the administrative team as a consulting Resident Artist, and eventually became the company's Casting Director. She was recently elected Chairwoman in 2023, taking over from founding member Hannah Balagot. Sarah Marie is a summa cum laude graduate from San Diego State University’s musical theatre program, where she earned a B.A in Theatre Performance: Acting & Musical Theatre. Her artistry is fueled by an immense passion for arts advocacy, specifically in education and equity, diversity, & inclusion (EDI). Her goal is to promote the arts as a necessary and vital cornerstone of life, and to nurture safe, diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist artistic spaces for everyone, uplifting those in marginalized communities. Sarah Marie’s artistic versatility has given her such opportunities to collaborate with Disney, East West Players, Diversionary Theatre, the San Diego Symphony, celebrated conductor Rob Fisher, and Broadway greats Kelli O’Hara, Norm Lewis, Megan Hilty, and Adrienne Warren.
Sarah Marie began her producing and arts administrative career during her undergrad at SDSU, where she was a leading advocate for the artistic and educational livelihoods for her peers in the School of Theatre, Television, and Film (TTF). From 2020-2022 she served as Executive President of Skull & Dagger Dramatic Society, the school's largest non-profit theatre company and SDSU's oldest student organization. From 2020-2022 she served as Student Representative on the TTF Diversity Committee, and served as the Performance/TYA Emphasis representative on the theatre department's Season Selection Committee. She was also the inaugural recipient of the McKenzie Award for Excellence in Acting from the SDSU School of Theatre, Television, & Film.
Outside of her artistic career, she's a TK-12 educator in her hometown. sarahmariehernandez.com
A proud San Diego native, Julio never forgets being raised in a trailer by immigrant parents. He is very grateful for everything the city and all of his mentors have given him.
Mr. Catano has performed nationally and internationally under the name Julio Catano-Yee. He has performed in 5 continents in over 20 countries and on national tours to over 40 U.S. states. Graduate of Fordham University, with a BFA in dance through The Ailey School in New York city. He has danced in repertory companies including Ballet Hispanico, MOMIX, New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble, San Diego Opera and City Ballet of San Diego. He has performed repertoire by Alvin Ailey, Jerome Robbins, Robert Battle, Anabelle Lopez Ochoa, William Forsythe, Peter Chu, Ray Mercer, Geoffrey Holder, Ramon Oller, Stefanie Batten Bland, Julie Bour, Thang Dao, Nathan Trice, Elisa Monte and Bradley Shelver.
He also had an extensive career in musical theatre, performing in the international tour of West Side Story, national tour of The Addams Family and many prominent regional theatres in the United States, including the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, Theatre Under The Stars, Barrington Stage Company among others. Film credits include Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021), Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, TNT’s Animal Kingdom and FOX’s Pitch.
Mr. Catano has had an extensive career in education, teaching at various arts and dance institutions around the world. Mr. Catano was on faculty at Gramercy Arts High School, Broadway Connection, Broadway Bound Kids, California Ballet and Coronado School of the Arts. He is currently completing his MFA in musical theatre at San Diego State University where he has successfully completed his certificate in Grant Writing Development. Julio is currently an Adjunct Professor in Musical Theatre History at Syracuse University.
Mr. Burtanog has a diverse background that includes theater, counseling, psychology and higher education. He has a Master of Education in College Student Affairs and worked in Higher Education for nearly 10 years. He has worked at both private and public universities, and has advised students organizations and faculty members providing leadership and mentorship. He was named New Student Affairs Professional of the Year for Southern California.
Ryan also has an MA in Counseling Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy and has worked as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist as a counselor at North County Lifeline with at risk youth and adolescents along with teaching parenting classes. He currently works as the on-campus counselor for the Woodbury University- San Diego Campus.
He worked actively as an award-winning actor and director, having performed throughout the San Diego theater community. He has performed at the Coronado Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Lyceum Theatre and has sung with the San Diego Symphony. He has also advised the theater group of the Asian Pacific Island organization at Cal Poly Pomona. His monologue he wrote describing the Filipino experience as seen through the eyes of a newborn, was featured in an LA Times article. As a theater teaching artist, he worked with elementary school students by providing them life skills through theatrical performance and taught youth and adolescent acting classes.
Kevin "Blax" Burroughs
Kevin “Blax” Burroughs is a PROUD African American Singer/Dancer/Actor/Director/Choreographer/Lighting Designer born and raised in San Diego, CA. He has been a Resident Choreographer & Resident Lighting Designer for two separate theatre companies in San Diego County for a total of 6 years (2014-2020). He has worked with companies performing, or as part as the creative team, such as San Diego Repertory Theatre, New Village Arts, Moonlight Stage Productions, Cygnet Theatre, UCSD, Southwestern College, San Diego Ballet, LEGOLAND California Resort, Lamb’s Players Theatre, Carlsbad Playreaders, Coronado Playhouse, The Barn Stage Company, Common Ground Theatre, Blindspot Collective, La Jolla Playhouse, Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, Old Town Temecula Community Theatre, ION Theatre, The 413 Project, Onstage Playhouse, Scripps Ranch Theatre, La Jolla High School, Marshall Middle School and his alma mater, the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.
Blax started performing in the arts at a young age. He was one of the little kids in the church productions and local small family based theatre companies. He took a break from theatre and took on instrumental music playing the saxophone for 5 1/2 years as well as taking on choir training. Near the end of that time, he caught the bug for theatre all over again in 2010 in a memorable production of “Hairspray” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. With the help of his instrumental musicality and classical/jazz vocal training, he then turned his focus back into musical theatre in high school and graduated in 2013. The middle/high school he went to in Paradise Hills, the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, was an arts based school in which he attended for 7 years (6th-12th). He was not blessed with the opportunity to attend a college to get a degree at the time so he immediately went into the theatre business as a performer and choreographer and never looked back. His career took off and he doesn’t regret anything.
Some of his favorite/notable roles as a performer include (Flick) in Violet, (Judas) in Jesus Christ Superstar, (Benny) In The Heights, (Seaweed) in Hairspray, (The Wiz) in The Wiz, (Enjolras) in Les Miserables, and others. Select Director, Choreographer and/or Lighting Design credits include Carrie, Legally Blonde, Grease, All Shook Up, Matilda, Next To Normal, In The Heights, The Addams Family, James and the Giant Peach, Little Shop of Horrors, Shrek The Musical, and others. Later in his career as a performer and choreographer, he taught himself to become a lighting designer via videos on the internet as well as other designers giving him tips and just overall practice from designing show after show. Notable thanks to his career from educators and personal influences go to The Burroughs Family, Bill Doyle, Erin O’Connor Fetters, Miss Leigh Scarritt, Gail McKinney, Javier Velasco, Justin Fry, Kristianne Kurner and the rest of the New Village Arts staff, Charles W. Patmon Jr, B.Slade, Timyra Joi and his other close loved ones.
Theatre Advisory Council
Artistic Associate of Theatre
Erin graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre. Some notable performances include but are not limited to: Sylvia in All Shook Up (SDMT), Lucretia Collins in Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical (San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, and soon Alabama), Matron Mama Morton in Chicago (Torentino Music Festival), Meg in Little Women (New Village Arts) and Wanda in Bee Hive: The 60s Musical (New Village Arts). Erin Vanderhyde is a founder of Teatro San Diego.
Artistic Associate of Theatre
Chris has been singing since he can remember being forced to sing Karaoke at the many Filipino parties and gatherings. A lot of ABBA and Celine Dion, but even as a kid he loved every minute of it. Singing and Music has always been a part of Chris’ life, from doing Choir and Band from Elementary school to College and performing in his first musical his senior year of high school. His first show ever was Bye Bye Birdie and High School Musical and after taking his first bows in both shows he knew that being on stage and sharing a story to people is what he wanted to do with his life.
Chris Bona is a local Filipino-American performer living in Temecula, CA. Born in Manila, Philippines and lived and grew up in San Diego and Temecula. He has been performing professionally since 2013 after getting his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, CA. Chris has also worked all over Southern California and even Southern Utah and The Big Apple itself, NYC. Some theatres include The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Repertory Theatre, The Welk Resorts, San Diego Musical Theatre, New Village Arts, OB Playhouse, The Barn Stage Company, Premiere Productions, The 413 Project, Diversionary Theatre, Performance Riverside, Palos Verdes Performing Arts, 3-D Theatricals, Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Ivins, Utah, and Feinstein’s 54 Below in New York City. Chris has also performed and worked at LEGOLAND California Resort and The Disneyland Resort. Aside from performing Chris has also directed and choreographed at many youth companies around San Diego.
Huge thank you to the following people. Mama and Papa, thank you for supporting and loving me unconditionally and knowing that I am happy and that I will always make you proud. Darian Archie, Bearnardo Manescalchi, Collin McCarthy, Paul Kehler, Derek and Megan Heid, Jillian Stones, every single teacher and professor I had at AMDA, you have taught me exactly how to be me and ended up finding myself in the process. TJ Dawson, Kristianne Turner, Leigh Scarritt, Katherine Harroff, Juztine Tuazon-Martin, Chris Gilbert, Michelle Ruiz, and to the many friends and colleagues I’ve met in this business, you are one in a million and I love you all.
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out.” – Dr. Seuss
Dance Advisory Council
Dance Advisory Chair
Khamla serves as the Dance Advisory Chair of Teatro San Diego. Appointed May 26, 2020
Khamla Somphanh is a passionate teacher, educator and choreographer. Ms. Somphanh has provided classes at colleges, universities, high schools and world renown institutions such as The Kennedy Center and her choreography performed throughout the country. In addition, Ms. Somphanh currently holds the position of Artist-In-Residence at Canyon Crest Academy High School and Artistic Dance Lead for The San Dieguito Academy Dance Ensemble.
Her performing credits include ODC/San Francisco Dance Company, Wyliiams/Henry Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Na- Ni Chen Dance Company, East/West Repertory Ensemble, New World Dance Company, Soundance Dance Company, Malashock Dance Company, principal dancer for the San Diego Opera and and lead dancer, “Eliza” for the Broadway revival of The King and I on Broadway and 1st national touring company, where she also held the position of Assistant Dance Captain to name a few.
In addition to directing concerts of her own works, her choreography has been commissioned by LITVAKdance, San Diego Dance Theater, The PGK Project, Trolley Dances /San Diego, Visionary Dance Theater, Canyon Crest Academy and Malashock Dance School.
Ms. Somphanh graduated from Duke Ellington Performing Arts High School in Washington, D.C., received her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary’s College of California and Horton Pedagogy Certification from The Alvin Ailey School in NYC.
Alyssa (Ajay) Junious
Alyssa Junious is an Artist, Educator, and Creator. She was born in San Diego, California and raised by two military veterans. She received her BFA in Performance and Choreography from the University of California, Irvine. At UCI she was able to study and train under living legend and world renowned choreographer Donald McKayle in his Etude Ensemble. After graduating, Alyssa began performing and choreographing throughout San Diego.
In 2015, she won San Diego Dance Theater’s “Audience Choice Award”. In 2018, She founded Continuum Arts and began to work as a freelance artist and choreographer. In 2019 she produced, directed and choreographed her first evening length show titled EMERGENCE. As a choreographer, Alyssa's work explores themes around the intersection of culture, identity, spirituality and social justice.
Her choreography blends diverse styles of movement to showcase the complexity in which the body can move. For the past 10 years, she has worked professionally in the commercial dance, concert dance and theater industry. Her professional credits include: Disneyland Resort, Entity Contemporary Dance Company, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Dance Theater (Trolley Dances), San Diego Musical Theater, PGK Dance Project Oceanside Theater Company, Legoland Resort, Disney’s ABC Christmas Special, Demi Lovato, Anika Noni Rose, and Cheryl Burke. To learn more visit AlyssaRJunious.com and @continuum.sd
Alyssa is a founding artist of Teatro San Diego.
Born in the Philippines, Mr. Zapanta moved to the United States at the age of one. He began training at Burbank School of the Ballet under Elizabeth Sutton. Mr. Zapanta has trained at a number of summer intensives including: the American Academy of Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, LINES Ballet, and Los Angeles Ballet Academy. He graduated in 2013 with a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of California, Irvine as a William J. Gillespie and Glorya Kaufman Scholar where he studied under David Allan, Donald Mckayle, and Jodie Gates. Zapanta has danced as a Soloist with California Ballet under the direction of Jared Nelson, as well as San Diego Dance Theater under the direction of Jean Isaacs, and at Malashock Dance under John Malashock. Zapanta has danced with the Traverse City Dance Project in Traverse City Michigan for 5 summers and recently toured with the group to New York City. Jeremy is a resident artist and choreographer at The Rosin Box Project and a founding artist of Teatro San Diego.
Marya Barragan is an interdisciplinary artist from San Diego. She began her dancing career at Southwestern College and in 2016, she graduated from the Professional School of Contemporary Dance in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Since 2011 Mayra has presented work in Mexico, California, Costa Rica, Spain, & Italy. She has been teaching for 10 years and specializes in the handling of energy, physicality, & the individual search of stage presence. Mayra currently trains in contemporary, breakdancing, calisthenics, & yoga and directs GATONEGRO, a training and research project in outdoor spaces that seeks to collaborate with children and teens to generate interest in movement from an early age. Mayra is a founding artist of Teatro San Diego.
Advisory to the Board
Alex Goodman (Managing Director, New Village Arts)
Anamaria Labao Cabato (Executive Director, Philippine Performing Arts Company)
Anthony Cafferata (AT&T Fiber Solutions, San Diego, CA)
Armando Catano (Teacher, San Diego Unified School District)
Bernardo Mazón Daher (Arts and Culture Director, Casa Familiar)
Colleen Kollar Smith (Managing Director, Moonlight Stage Productions)
Chris Shin (Broadway: Mary Poppins)
Daniel Marshall (Artistic Director, La Diego Dance Theater)
Eddie Gutierrez (Choreographic Assistant to Baayork Lee)
Fadi J. Khoury (Artistic Director, FJK Dance)
Dr. Francisco Guajardo PhD (CEO, Museum of South Texas History)
Israel Palacio (CEO, Othentik Productions)
Kaitlin Hopkins (Head of Texas State University Musical Theatre Program)
Kevin C. Patterson (Founder & CEO, San Diego International Fringe Festival)
Kristianne Kurner (Executive Artistic Director, New Village Arts)
Kristy Greenway-August (Dance Director, Eastlake High School)
Lizz Picini (Faculty, Broadway Dance Center)
Lorena Yee (Speech Pathologist, San Diego Unified School District)
Michael Berg (Farmers Insurance Agent, Lake Forest, CA)
Michael Pesko (Dancer: Radio City Music Hall)
Michelle Camaya (Broadway: Lion King)
Molly Smith (Artistic Director, Arena Stage)
Robert Meffe (Head of SDSU MFA Musical Theatre Program)
Roxane Carrasco (Theatre Chair, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts)
Stephen Brotebeck (Artistic Director, Okoboji Summer Theatre)
Steven Rada (NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom, The Gallery Players)
Victoria Andrea Guajardo (Artistic Director, Ballet Nepantla)