Instructors and Guests
Lisa Carlson- Owner/Director
Jazz, Tap , Ballet , Contemporary, Hip Hop, Commercial Jazz, College Prep, Audition Prep, Musical Theatre, Private Lessons (voice, acting, dance), Career Coaching, Self-Tape Coaching
Lisa, a native of Manahawkin, NJ, founded Starlight Performing Arts in 2006. She is a graduate of the American Music and Dramatic Academy (NYC), where she studied Musical Theatre. Lisa has a wide varitey of credits, including the National Tours of The Buddy Holly Story and Sweet Charity, Production and Wardrobe with a little "Enough is Enough" singing with Donna Summer, A back up dancer for Neil Young and three seasons with Ocean Professional Theatre Company, where roles ranged from Mama Morton in Chicago to tapping in Crazy for you. Choreography credits include Nunset Boulevard with Ocean Professional Theatre Company, The Sound Of Music (06) through Grease (12) on the Southern Regional Stage, and many competitive and recital dances over the years! For more of Lisa's extensive list of credits, visit
Musical Theatre (all Levels), A Cappella (all levels), Acting , Mommy & Me, Creative Music, Intro To Music, College Prep, Audition prep, Private Lessons (voice, piano, acting, violin)
Jenny grew up in Illinois, surrounded by a family of music educators! She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from St. Ambrose Univeristy and spent six years in New York City. Jenny's 20 years of performance credits have taken her to stages such as The Laguna Playhouse, Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Wayside Theatre, The El Dorado Casino, and more! She also performed in two National Tours of The Buddy Holly Story. In addition to theatre, voiceover, commercial and film credits, Jenny enjoys arranging music for Starlight's performance groups. For more, visit
Tap II, Acting, Boys Ensemble, Adult Tap, College Prep, Audition prep, Starlight All-Stars Competition team, Private Lessons (Voice, Tap, Acting, Piano)
James Patton, a "quadruple" threat instructor, is originally from Indianapolis, IN. He earned his bachelor's degree from DePauw University, studying classical voice with the late great bass, Stanley Irwyin, specializing in vocal pedagogy and musical theatre piano accompaniment. At university, James directed several theatrical productions. James moved to NYC where he completed the Integrated Musical Theatre program at AMDA. Through his intense training, he was exposed to great tap dancers such as Germaine Goodson, Lars Rosager and Julie Tomaino. James performed with the national touring cast of BUDDY, and regional credits include 42ND STREET, RAGTIME, NEWSIES and HAIRSPRAY. James has subbed at Steps on Broadway, was a drama faculty member for The School of The Future (Brooklyn, NY), and teaches private voice, piano and tap.
Dylan Pearce is a freelance teacher, choreographer, and performer from New York City. He began dancing at the age of 5 going on to study extensively at the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC on scholarship along with Broadway Dance center, Steps, and The Ailey School. Dylan is an Assistant Choreographer for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and before that spent 7 seasons performing in the Christmas Spectacular. He also performed in the Radio City Spring Spectacular along side Derek Hough and Laura Benanti. He has choreographed for the Samsung Group, Radio City Rockettes, Americas Got Talent, Brenda K. Starr, Amy Lynn and The Gun Show, and all over the United States for studios and Universities. He’s performed in televised and staged productions including Off Broadway in Shea Sullivan’s ‘Dancing on a Dream’, WNBA All-Star Halftime Show, Miss New Jersey, Miss New York and The Miss Florida pageants, The Michael Awards, Trump Signature Events, Equity Fights AIDS, Knicks City Dancers, Jazz Dance America’s Tri-State Youth Invitational, Ray-Ban and Rite Aid industrials, and the International Dance Festival in NYC. Dylan toured with Recording Artists Brenda K. Starr, and Tina Ann, and was a dancer in the modern company, Momix. He was also dance captain for Walt Disney World’s “Twas The Night Before Christmas” and toured the world performing and setting shows for Princess and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Dylan is a highly sought after Master Teacher and Choreographer. His distinctive style sets his choreography apart and gives his dancers a cutting edge above the competition.
Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop
Ballet & Tap
Origianlly from Oklahoma, Miss Paula has worked as a Director, Choreographer and Educator ever since receiving her M.A. in Humanities from the University of Houston. Miss Paula served as the Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Houston for several years, where she taught graduate and undergraduate classes in Ballet, Tap, Dance Composition and Dance History. Miss Paula's long list of achievements include:
Director of Creative Dance For Children (University of Houston)
Co-Founder of the Texas Tap Ensemble (which toured internationally)
Teacher Recognition Award for Excellence In Teaching from the National Board of Education
Miss Paula's teaching skills speak for themselves, as her students have gone on to attend Julliard, NYU, and perform with groups such as Tap Dogs and the Mark Morris Dance Company. In addition to teaching, Miss Paula has directed and/or choreographed professionally in many theatres around the country, including Theatre Under The Stars, Casa Manana, Plan B Productions and Surflight Theatre, as well as numerous national tours.
Alyjah Decker -Online
Pop Vocal Coach, Songwriting Coach, Career Coaching, Studio and performance prep
Alyjah is a singer/songwriter who grew up in the music industry, meeting with major record label executives, working with award winning producers, and performing at famed venues on the East Coast. On the team of Grammy Winning Producer/Engineer Earl Cohen, Alyjah has most recently written songs for 2013 winner of American Idol, Candice Glover, and 2nd runner-up of The Voice’s 13th Season, Brooke Simpson. As a teenager, she had been pursuing a recording contract as an artist, and was represented by the former manager of artists such as The Cheetah Girls, and had met with and performed for privately for the presidents and executives of major labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony, EMI, MBK, Interscope, and more. She is a BMI associated songwriter and certified from the semi-annual invitation only BMI songwriters workshop. Alyjah offers vocal coaching, songwriting lessons, Performance coaching, pre- recording studio prep and career coaching.
Private Lessons Services :
Vocal Coaching - Specializing in pop styles, working on breathing, tone, range, and performance. I aim to guide my students in finding their unique voice!
Songwriting - Using my 10+ years of experience in songwriting, I help my students to develop a sense of structure for songs, finding their style and what sets their original music aside from other artists.
Career Coaching - Guiding students with my experience in the music industry on how to break out and get heard, how to collaborate, how to find producers and management, and developing a following through social media and live performance.
All Dance styles, Specializes in Hip Hop, Head of the Starlight All-Stars Dance Division, Special needs certified dance instructor
Elizabeth was 14 years old when she started assisting and teaching classes for local dance studios. Ever since, she has made it her goal to share her love for dance with the next generation of dancers. With a huge passion and over 20 years of dance experience, she has gone on to teach children’s ballet at the City University of New York, and has taught numerous Hip Hop classes at Broadway Dance Center. Elizabeth is trained in various styles such as Hip Hop, Contemporary, Jazz, Musical Theater, Ballet, Freestyle, and more! Her passion for dance is never limited. Being a versatile dancer and choreographer is something Elizabeth takes to heart. With having the chance to live in New York City for over 4 years, Elizabeth has performed with numerous companies, taught for various workshops, and has choreographed for music videos. Throughout her years of dance Elizabeth has learned a lot about teaching dancers of all ages, levels, styles and has picked up a variety of teaching methods from her instructors. Elizabeth is taking everything she has learned about teaching, dancing, performing and applying it to every class she teaches.
Mr. Wright has served as a music educator in the Southern Regional School District since 2007. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education with a focus in percussion from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts in Instructional Technology from Stockton University. Mr. Wright, who resides in Manahawkin with his wife and two children, has also enjoyed playing percussion or music directing the orchestra for local school and community theatre productions.
Online Instructor- Private Voice, Movie/Musical script workshops, Song/Dance workshops, Original Broadway Choreography workshops.
Currently performing on Broadway in Disney's hit show Aladdin! Lauryn understudies 'Princess Jasmine' as well as several other roles in the award-winning production. As an original cast member with the show she has had the opportunity to perform on the 2014 Tony Awards, The View & Good Morning America. She, along with three of her colleagues were also featured on the cover of the July/August 2014 issue of Dance Magazine complete with a six page spread of their experiences dancing at Aladdin.
Before making her Broadway debut in Aladdin Lauryn traveled throughout the United States with numerous Broadway tours, they include 'West Side Story' (Maria u/s), 'A Chorus Line', 'The Addams Family', 'The Wizard of Oz', 'The Wedding Singer' and 'The Little Mermaid'.
Lauryn's passion and commitment to the arts stems from her parent's love of Italian opera and classical music which was always playing on the stereo in their house. This inspired her to study voice with world renowned opera singers Shirley Love and Renata Scotto of the Metropolitan Opera while attending SUNY Purchase College where she received a BA in Drama Studies. After performing at a vocal competition at The Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn, Lauryn received a scholarship to perform opera in Puglia, Italy where she performed at The Van Westerhout Theater in Mola di Bari. It was this trip that solidified Lauryn's pursuit of a career in performance. The following year she was invited to study and perform in the Tuscany Music Festival in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. In 2004 Lauryn performed a solo concert of Italian opera arias on Costa Cruise Line with Mauro Bartolino, classical pianist from Milan, Italy.
Lauryn is equally passionate about the arts as she is children's arts education. Throughout her high school and college career she was an ambassador with the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Organziation. Lauryn continues to donate her time to numerous organizations such as St. Jude's Children Hospital, Susan G. Komen Cancer Research, Phyllis Newman's Women's Health Initiative and Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS. Lauryn was involved in a benefit production of the Broadway musical Next To Normal, supervised by writer, Tom Kitt and Broadway conductor Jason Lofreddo, both fellow Byram Hills High School alumni. Lauryn portrayed the role of Diana, a woman struggling with bi-polar disorder and depression. This sold out performance not only raised $25,000 for the Armonk school district's arts program but also brought awareness and guidance to the Westchester community about mental illness.
Lauryn is a proud member of Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA
Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Jumps and Turns, Pointe
Elizabeth Troxler began her dance training in Western Pennsylvania with Paula Scriva Jersey. She continued to study at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet, and under Vagonova Masters Irina Kolpakova, Vladilen Seminov, & Mansur Kameletdinov of the Kirov Ballet (now Mariinsky Ballet). Later Elizabeth trained under Maureen Price with the Royal Academy of Dance where she passed all of her RAD vocational exams with Distinction (including a perfect score on Advanced 2). She continued on to achieve her Solo Seal Award with the Royal Academy of Dance, and is now a Certified Teacher for the Royal Academy of Dance.
Elizabeth has performed roles such as the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and the Pas de Trois from Swan Lake with The Nacional Ballet de Panama & The Illinois Ballet. Other ballets in which she has enjoyed performing are Don Quioxte, Les Sylphide, Ballet Etudes, The Little Mermaid & Alice in Wonderland. She conceived, created, choreographed and produced a full length ballet version of the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Snow Queen, as well as a children's production of The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg in conjunction with Northern Arizona University.
As the dance captain and a performer, Elizabeth travelled with the National Tour of Sweet Charity. She has also performed in regional theater productions of Mame (Riverside Theatre), Beauty & the Beast (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), The Wizard of Oz (The Fireside Theatre), Anything Goes, CATS, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Thoroughly Modern Millie (OPTC), as well as in Peter & the Wolf at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has choreographed many musicals including productions of Dames at Sea, Godspell, Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, and Sweet Charity.
Elizabeth has trained and coached hundreds of students for the Royal Academy of Dance Children's and Vocational Exams and the Youth American Grand Prix Ballet Competition. Her students have continued on to dance with American Ballet Theatre, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, Miami City Ballet, Elements, New York Theater Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and in various National Tours, Broadway, and Off-Broadway shows such as 42nd Street, Beauty & the Beast, Oklahoma!, and Bullets Over Broadway.
Elizabeth is currently on the faculty at the Martha Graham Dance Company & School and teaches weekly at Broadway Donation. She continues to teach and guest teach in and around NYC, coaching and training dancers of all ages and disciplines. Elizabeth directs a monthly choreography lab in which she creates new works of all genres of dance.
Improv, Acting, Adult Improv workshops, Page to Stage workshops, Directorial coaching
Jim McCabe is the Improv teacher at Southern Regional High School. He directed the District musicals for over 15 years. "McCabe" is also involved with Bellarine Theatre Company and has directed shows for them over the years. His improv classes are full of fun and on the spot thinking. They encourage public speaking, quick thinking, and build confidence. Check out a class this week!
Acoustic/Electric Guitar and Beginner piano
Ty Mares is a singer-songwriter from Denver, Colorado. He plays a combination of R&B, pop, and rock, relying heavily on long flowing riffs and colorful chord progressions to accompany the melody. Ty started writing and playing his own music at the age of 13 and hasn’t stopped. Moving from place to place, he has had the opportunity to play and learn from people all over the country; from principle pianists to college jazz guitar professors. After high school, he attended the Berklee College of Music for two years where he began to see the guitar as more than just a platform for vocals and writing. From Boston, Ty relocated to New Jersey to begin his professional career. He started at the bottom, playing bars and restaurants, and is slowly working his way up to playing bigger venues and trying to push his original music. Ty’s ultimate goal is to share his music with the world. As a teacher, Ty brings ease and comfort to learn the skills and theory necessary for playing while having fun!
Max Kasler- Online Instructor
Music Theory, Composition, Coach for writing your own musical, Practice and performance track creation.
Max recently graduated from Muhlenberg College with a degree in Music Composition and Jewish Studies. He started playing guitar in Kindergarten and has been making noise ever since! Compositionally, Max specializes in choral and musical theatre music. Although he now focuses on writing musical theatre, he grew up performing (favorite roles include Horton (Seussical), Cogsworth (Beauty & The Beast), and Piragua Guy (In The Heights)) in musicals and has a deep appreciation of being on both sides of the piano. In 2018 he teamed up with his best friend, Gwen Wilkie, to form Kasler & Wilkie. Together, Kasler & Wilkie have completed their first project, Woven Stories, which is a musical theatre song cycle that tackles the joy and pain that comes with being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is about love and acceptance, from others, and most importantly from yourself. It has been performed twice in full at Muhlenberg College and multiple songs have been showcased at the New York Musical Festival (July 2018 and August 2019), the A Little New Music Festival in Los Angeles (December 2018) and will be performed for the first time internationally this coming October in Cape Town, Africa. The album of the song cycle is set to be released later this year! Currently, Kasler and Wilkie are working on an acoustic musical that deals with climate change and aims to teach children and adults about environmentalism via a post-apocalyptic lens.
Kelsey Fowler -Online
Online Workshops and Masterclasses, Private lesson coaching, Voice, Acting, Audition Prep, College Prep, Career coaching
Kelsey Fowler is an actress, dancer, singer, vlogger and advocate who began her acting career portraying the role of Lee Bouvier in the original Broadway production of Grey Gardens. Her other Broadway credits include Louise in Sunday in the Park with George, Jane Banks in Mary Poppins, and Young Bonnie in Bonnie & Clyde. Kelsey is a creative entrepreneur who is constantly working to create new opportunities for herself and others. She earned a BFA in Musical Theater and a minor in Homeland Security from Pace University. Kelsey continues to work alongside her brother to be a passionate advocate for those with disabilities and even wrote her senior thesis on the power and portrayal of disabilities in the entertainment industry. You can follow Kelsey on Twitter and Instagram @kelseyfowlernyc and visit her website at www.kelseyfowler.com
Daniella Castoria - Online Instructor
Career Coaching, Agent/Manager, Dance, Voice, Acting, Commercial coaching, Self-Tape coaching, Audition prep., On Camera.
Originating as an East Coast native, Daniella Castoria was born in New York and raised in Southern New Jersey. Daniella holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting for Film and Television from Studio School Los Angeles. She is also an Alumni of both the Choral and Theatre Department at Southern Regional High School. Daniella is a versatile Dancer, Singer and Actress currently residing in Los Angeles, California. She began her training at Spotlight Academy of Dance and continued to study at Ovations Performing Arts Academy, Atlantic City Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Broadway Dance Center and Millennium Dance Complex. At the age of 16, Daniella signed with her first Manager and shortly after she signed with her first Agent in New York City. Daniella has booked numerous commercial opportunities such as AARP and Pepsi. She is also most recently known for starring in the action concept trailer "Satan's Seven." In Los Angeles, Daniella has performed at numerous venues such as the Rockwell Table and Stage, Wilshire Ebell Theatre, The Montalban, Sidewalk Studio Theatre, Mack Sennett Studios and Los Angeles Center Studios. Daniella is currently a Theatre Teacher at a Private School in North Hollywood for students from 4th to 8th grade, while working and auditioning professionally. If she's not teaching, you will find her Choreographing or Music Directing for Discovery Onstage where she recently choreographed "Shrek the Musical." Daniella is thrilled to be educating and inspiring the next generation of artists!
Dara D. Kawka
Stretch and Strength, a Substitute teacher in all areas of dance, Maternity sub for Liz Trotta January/Feb 2019
Dara D. Kawka has been dancing for over 35 years and holds a B.A. in Theater Arts and Dance from Santa Clara University, California. She was born and raised in San Francisco, California and moved to New Jersey in October 2005 after marrying her husband D.J. Dara is a proud mother of her daughter Kallie (11) son Josh (9) and daughter Dylan (4)! She is in her 21st year of teaching dance and fitness to students ages 2-adult. Dara has performed on MTV as well as for the NBA All-Star Games. Dara is also a Certified PiYo Instructor, Zumba Instructor and Stott Pilates Mat & Reformer Instructor. Her many talents include Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Modern, Hip-hop, Creative Dance, Acrobatics, Body Maintenance, Pilates Mat & Reformer, Floor Barre, Lyrical, Mommy & Me, Pre-school Movement, Nutrition, Dance History, Choreography, Bosu, Stability Ball, Foam Roller, Improvisation, Group Exercise Classes, Musical Theatre Dance, Kahnotation, Zumba Latin Dance Aerobics, KidZanity Fitness classes, Yoga, PiYo & Cardio-Kickboxing. Dara was also the Head Coach for the Santa Clara University Dance Team. She has also been a guest choreographer for numerous elementary and high schools, as well as holding her New Jersey Substitute Teaching Credential for Vocational Arts/Dance. Dara believes that in dance and fitness there are no limits! Life is NOT a dress rehearsal!
Meet our TA's!
Liz, Adina, Henry, Emily, Carly* and Aly!
Jr. TA's in training
Hadley*, Kendall*, and Mitch*
* Not Pictured*
Teaching Assistants assist our Instructors in many group classes! They are 9th-12th grade students who have been studying with Starlight PAC for many years and are excited to help the next generation learn and grow!