Meet our Instructors!


Beth Christensen — Dance and Acro — Beth proudly holds her BA in Dance, and has been teaching for over 20 years! After serving as the Education Director at Playhouse Merced from 2001-2005, Beth moved to New York City, where she continued to teach ballet, tap and jazz, while also choreographing and costuming Off-Broadway. She also proudly choreographed the Spring Musical for 4 seasons at Friends Seminary--the oldest co-educational private school in Manhattan.  In 2011 Beth was asked to choreograph a production of Chicago for a college in Canada, where she met her Now-husband Josh, who will also be joining her on staff at Playhouse Merced! Can’t wait to dance with you!

Brian Kubo — Acting II and III — Brian has been a staple of the Merced Theater community for over 30 years as an actor, director and teacher. Audiences may remember him as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Dave in The Full Monty. He earned his BA in English from CSU Stanislaus and holds two teaching credentials. He is married and has two beautiful daughters, Lily and Abigail.

Dusty Guthier - Acting II -  has performed and directed on the Playhouse stage for over 25 years. He studied Theater Arts at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo while running a successful community theatre near Santa Maria, CA.  His directing credits include A Christmas StoryLittle Women, Beauty and the Beast, Noises Off, Damn Yankees, To Kill a Mockingbird and several others.  When not directing, his onstage credits include Jane Eyre, Ragtime, A Christmas Carol, Parade, “9 to 5”, 1776, and A Few Good Men. Dusty is a proud employee of  Fresno State.


Rachel Rodrigues — Level I acting — Rachel has been a part of Playhouse Merced for 10 years, and has been teaching conservatory classes for 5 years. In 2017, she started teaching the Play Anywhere Program, and stepped up to being the Education Associate in charge of Play Anywhere Facilitation during the 2018-2019 school year. She has her AA In Theatre Arts from Merced College, has worked with kids of varying ages for 15 years, and has been involved in theatre for the same amount of time. 

Cossette Asenjo — Voice I — Cossette has been performing at Playhouse Merced for 11 years, starting with the children’s conservatory, and could not be prouder to return as a teacher! She has always loved music- she has been clarinet section leader for concert band and has taught beginning piano lessons for 4 years. She has also danced ballet for 13 years and taken vocal lessons for 7. She recently was accepted and attended the AMDA Summer Conservatory for musical theater in Los Angeles. You may have seen her as Jo or Dorothy at PHM, and plans to pursue a career in Musical Theatre.  Cossette loves working with children and can’t wait to get started!

Lauren Taylor-Berkman Voice II and Voice III Lauren is an actor, singer, and teaching artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She has performed and taught throughout the U.S. and internationally,from Argentina to Switzerland. Lauren received her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from the Boston Conservatory, then went on to study theatre at L’Ecole de Comédie Musicale in Paris, France. There, she taught English through theatre, piano and voice at Ecole de Musique de Feucherolles, and worked with non-profit companies bringing
new musical theatre to France. Since returning to the states in 2016, she has had the joy of directing and vocal directing numerous JR. shows including Bugsy Malone, Singin' in the Rain, Disney's Aladdin, and Into the Woods.

Jenni SamuelsonVoice II and Voice III Jenni Samuelson has enjoyed a versatile career on opera and musical theater stages across the country.  She received her Bachelors Degree in Musical Theater and Masters Degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from Northwestern University and has been teaching voice for over twenty-five years in various settings; studios, conservatories, master classes and on the faculty at two universities.  She is passionate about teaching students, at every age, healthy vocal technique and is thrilled to team with Lauren T. Berkman to offer PHM kids a challenging and FUN journey through song.


Becca Whitmyre — Assistant Acro Instructor—Becca has been working with children in many capacities for 15 years, and could not be more excited to be joining the Conservatory Staff! Previously, Becca worked with ministries here in Merced (Central Presbyterian Church, Yosemite Church), and overseas (Reign Ministries UK). She studied English at Merced Community College and received her BS in Human Behavior at CSU Stanislaus. This summer, Becca co-directed Willy Wonka Jr., at Playhouse Merced and recently played Glinda in the 2019 production of The Wizard of Oz. She can’t wait to see you all in class!

© 2015 Playhouse Merced | 452 W. Main St. • Merced, CA 95340 | (209) 725-8587 |

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