The Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe is extremely grateful that Stephanie Hart was willing to step into the roll of director for the 2017-2018 season. An experienced music educator, Stephanie Hart joined the Troupe’s artistic team in 2011.
A graduate of Alabama’s Samford University with a degree in Music Education, she came to Thomasville from Central Florida, where she was the director of the Indian Trails Middle School chorus program and musical director of Broadway Blazers, a successful youth musical theatre program.
She also experienced teaching in Alabama and was on staff with the Birmingham Boys Choir. A positive, enthusiastic musician and teacher, she has helped bring additional focus on vocal technique to the program. As the former outreach coordinator, she facilitated Music in Motion, Troupe’s collaborative performing arts outreach program with the Marguerite Neel Williams Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Georgia. These students were invited to perform in various community events, including the Flowers Foods Annual Shareholders Meeting. She is currently the music teacher at Scott Elementary School, through The Thomasville Center for the Arts. She has also been on the artistic staff for various camps and theater arts classes through The Center and teaches private voice lessons, helping prepare students for literary competition, musical productions and other vocal competitions and performances.
Since 2012, Raymond Hughes has been the Artistic Director for the Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe. Raymond is honored to be serving as a guest adjunct with the Deutsche Staatsoper Unter den Linden - the German State Opera - for the 2017-2018 season. The troupe looks forward to having Raymond and Stephanie as a team again for the 2018-2019 season.
Fred Allen, Founder & Director Emeritus
In 1972, Fred and Winnie Allen, and their daughter, Allison, moved to Thomasville from New York where they had all worked as professional entertainers and performers. With 20 charter members, they formed a new group of singing teenaged entertainers they would call the Thomasville Music & Drama Troupe and began sharing skills he had gained from training at the world-renowned Juilliard School, professional experience on the New York stage and a career as an artist and repertoire producer with RCA Records.
A Georgia native and graduate of LaGrange College where he earned degrees in Performance and Psychology, Fred Allen went on to earn his Master's Degree in Education from Auburn University and his Master's Degree in Sacred Music from Union Theological Seminary/Yale University Institute of Sacred Music. He completed his doctoral work in Adolescent Psychology at New York's Columbia University and holds the Artist's Diploma from Juilliard, where he studied voice with Hans Heinz, the eminent authority on the tenor voice.
In founding the Thomasville Music & Drama Troupe, Fred Allen set out to create a vehicle through which he could share his talents and his experiences with area teenagers, give them the opportunity to learn first-hand about musical theatre and showcase their talents. Four decades later, he remains a valued member of the Troupe's artistic team.
As an alumna of the Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe Raina is thrilled to be working with this talented group! Raina began her dance training with her mother, Leslie Hodges, and grandmother, Sydney Bowen, and later went on to study dance at the University of Georgia where she earned degrees in Dance Education and Public Relations. After graduation, she worked as the Assistant to the Director of the ballet department at the University of Georgia assisting with the reconstruction of classical ballets such as Swan Lake and choreographing original contemporary works for the company.
After working with the UGA dance department for several years Raina switched gears and moved to New York City where she accepted a position with Chopard, a prestigious Swiss-based watch and jewelry company. Working as the high jewelry sales manager on Madison Avenue, she had the opportunity to plan and orchestrate VIP client experiences around the world. A few highlights included the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, the White Tie and Tiara Ball at Elton John’s home in Windsor, UK, and the Oscars in Los Angeles, California. After working with Chopard for eight years Raina decided to return to her southern roots moving back to Thomasville, GA where she continued to work with the brand remotely. In 2015, she accepted a new position with premier Italian jeweler, BVLGARI. In addition to traveling frequently to Rome where the company is based she has also had the opportunity to entertain private clients in various European cities including Florence, Cap Ferrat, and Venice.
Whether in Georgia or New York the arts have continued to play a primary role in Raina’s life. For the past four years, she has been teaching dance classes at Flint River Dance Arts in Camilla, specializing in advanced contemporary dance. She has also had the pleasure of being the choreographer for the Thomasville Rose Queen pageant for the past three years. Raina currently resides in Thomasville with her husband Elijah and their three children: Asher, Jackson, and Sydney Mae.
Tom Whiddon has spent the past 35 years playing piano, conducting and musical directing Broadway tours throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. A native of Sparks, GA, Tom graduated magna cum laude with a B.Mus. degree in Piano Performance from Valdosta State College.
Extremely active in various organizations, Tom received numerous awards, including Music Awards in his sophomore and senior years and the coveted Mac Award, given to the outstanding undergraduate throughout the college. He was nominated for a Danforth Scholarship and was listed in Who’s Who in Colleges and Universities. After graduation, Tom completed 2 years of graduate work at Georgia State University and The University of Louisville. His major piano instructors were Dr. Ruth Anne Rich and concert and recording artists William Masselos, Lee Luvisi and Evelyne Crochet.
Tom spent the next few years in New York City, coaching and playing for singers in studios at Julliard and Manhattan School of Music. During this period, Tom began to accompany auditions for musicals and made connections that eventually led to his theatre career.
Since then he has worked with many of the best known directors, choreographers and conductors in New York. He has conducted shows for many stage performers, including Chita Rivera, Petula Clark, Richard Chamberlain, Jason Alexander, Martin Short and The Radio City Rockettes, not to mention hundreds of young, talented ensemble members and “stars-to-be”. After a long career in the theatre world, Tom is happy to be back home in South Georgia and welcomes the opportunity to share his musical experience with the people of Thomasville.