Teaching Faculty

Theatre School of WNY Faculty

Masterclass guest artists and mock-audition industry panelists to be announced soon!




Chris J Handley

Mr. Handley has worked in theatre for over twenty years in Buffalo, New York City, and across the country as an actor, teacher, director, and producer.  As producer and director, his work has earned four Artie nominations as he oversaw a dozen musicals, including two local premieres: Stephen Sondheim’s SATURDAY NIGHT and Jason Robert Brown’s THE LAST FIVE YEARS. He has worked as an actor on stage in new, classic, and contemporary plays and musicals, television commercials, an award-winning independent soap opera, over two years as an entertainer on a Mississippi riverboat, and numerous developmental workshops of new plays and musicals. Along the way, his colleagues included many current Broadway performers, and several TONY-nominees. Locally, he earned two Artie nominations for Best Actor in a Musical: ASSASSINS and Alleyway’s REEFER MADNESS. 

As a teacher, he is head of the Alleyway Theatre School of WNY. He is on staff at the Broadway Mentors Program, has led various workshops on the craft, taught privately, and spent three years teaching BFA and BA theatre students Acting and Voice & Speech. He works regionally as a director as well as production speech/dialect coach.

He has trained with Patsy Rodenburg at NYC’s Michael Howard Studios as well as Lincoln Center Education. Mr. Handley holds an MFA in Acting from Indiana University, a BFA in Musical Theatre from SUNY Fredonia, and is a graduate of Canisius High School where he received the Kenny Award.  Mr. Handley is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. 


Ellise Chase

Ellise Chase is a current MFA candidate in Acting at Indiana University. When not bouncing around the stage, Ellise loves reading, hiking, riding her horses, and eating cheese. Some fun facts about Ellise: she worked on a dude ranch in Wyoming as a wrangler for three years, she speaks a little Irish Gaelic, and can perfectly quote all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls.

Some of her favorite roles have been Stella A Streetcar Named Desire, Wendy Peter and Wendy, and Roma The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Ellise’s dream is to work at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, grow a vegetable garden, and have a house that is modeled in the style of her favorite show: Fixer Upper.

She has performed at the Erie Playhouse and with the Erie Philharmonic. She studied at Point Park and Gannon Universities.

Karen McDonald

Karen has worked as a theatre professional for over 25 years as an actor, singer, writer and educator. She has performed in major theatres across the United States, Canada, Asia and Eastern Europe. Locally she has been featured at Alleyway Theatre, Studio Arena, Showboat Festival and Dominion Repertory Theatre. In Toronto: Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music, Nunsense, Anne of Green Gables, Guys and Dolls, Oliver! to name a few. In New York: Funny Girl, Those Were The Days, Gypsy and Othello. International and National tours: 42nd Street, Pirates of Penzance and Big River.

Many of her plays have been featured at festivals and theatres, most notably “Up In A Balloon” which premiered at the Metro Room in NYC, subsequently at Cape May Stage in NJ and Dominion Rep in Fort Erie.

Karen has taught through the Arts in Education of Western New York, Studio Arena Theatre School, Learning Through The Arts in Toronto, many performing arts schools. She continues to be a guest instructor at various institutions and as a private coach.

A proud member of Actor’s Equity, ACTRA and the Dramatist’s Guild, Karen is the first recipient of the Senator Dale Vulcar Award for Excellence in The Arts.

Neal Radice

Mr. Radice received his Master of Arts degree from the University of Buffalo where he taught acting and play production as a graduate fellow and adjunct lecturer.  In addition to having directed and produced more than two hundred stage plays, musicals or operas during the past fifty years, he has taught directing and acting for the British Theatre Association, directed and designed for the Stephenville Festival of Newfoundland, and represented the United States at the International Theatre Association Conference in Krakow, Poland. He has designed sets, costumes, or lighting for well over a hundred productions and his credits as a playwright, composer, or lyricist include incidental music for theatre, full-length plays and musicals, modern operas, comedy and music revues, plays for children, and an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Mr. Radice is Founder and Executive Director of Alleyway Theatre.

Joyce Stilson

Joyce Stilson is a graduate of University of Buffalo where she received her Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts In Humanities. She is a former teaching artist of the Western New York Institute for Arts in Education and The Regina A. Quick Center, member of New York State Theatre Education Association, served as Marketing Chair of Buffalo’s annual Curtain Up! Celebration.  She is a founding member of the Coalition of Arts Providers for Children of Western New York, Chair of its Professional Development Committee as well as Vice President.  In addition, to serving on the faculty of the Empire State Partnership Summer Seminar conference for three years, she has also been a guest lecturer for Buffalo State College Fine Arts Department having taught Introduction to Theatre and has been a guest instructor for several Western New York and statewide arts in education conferences. Ms. Stilson is a two time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Artist in Residence at Olmsted School 67 and has been a panelist for, as well as recipient of, an SOS grant (Special Opportunity Stipend) from New York Foundation For the Arts, has served as a panelist for New York State Council on the Arts/Arts In Education program and the New York State Council on the Arts Theatre Program, was honored with an Artvoice Arties award for Best Supporting Actress as well as Costume Design and is a recipient of the Pathfinder award for excellence in education from Business First and Buffalo Alliance for Education.