Meet our CASA Staff
Gina Cerimele-Mechley, Founder/Artistic Director/Core Teacher
Gina Cerimele-Mechley began acting at eight, dancing at nine, singing at eleven, choreographing at thirteen, performing professionally at thirteen, teaching at eighteen, professional fight direction at nineteen, directing at twenty-two, became one of the few female Certified Teachers in the country with the Society of American Fight Directors in 2001, and was a founding member of several professional theatre companies in Cincinnati including the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and Clear Stage Cincinnati.
Gina is recognized nationally for her achievements as a professional artist. She currently works extensively as the Fight Director for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and the Cincinnati Ballet, and as the Dance Choreographer for the Tony Award-winning Regional theatre, the Denver Center Theatre Company. She has received rave reviews for her work by the Wall Street Journal and locally has been nominated by the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for her acting. Her other credits include Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Human Race Theatre in Dayton, Playhouse in the Park, the Sterling, New York Renaissance Festival, Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre, Busch Gardens, and Cincinnati Children’s Theatre.
For her teaching, Gina has been honored by the English Speaking Union (ESU) for her excellence in teaching “Acting Shakespeare,” by the National Foundation for Achievement in the Arts (NFAA) for her excellence in arts education, and was one of twelve teachers in the country in 2006 to receive the Presidential Scholars Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2015, Gina became the first recipient of the Arts Educator Award with the Cincinnati Arts Association.
Cheryl Couch, Core Teacher
Cheryl Maxine Couch is a theatre director, actress, writer, teacher, and private drama coach with over thirty-six years of professional experience. Cheryl earned her B.F.A in 1980 for Theatre at the University of Montevallo and a M.F.A in 1990 for Theatre Directing at the University of Cincinnati CCM. In her work with the Alabama Art Council, The Whole Package, Ohio Arts Council, Raymond Walter’s Kids Camp, School of the Creative and Performing Arts, California Theatre Center, Overture Academy, Playhouse in The Park, and AAAE, Cheryl has taught students of all ages the best ways to improve their theatre knowledge. She taught students theatre skills, such as; drama, clowning, mime, mask performance, character movement, and improvisation. Most rewarding is collaborating with classroom teachers to develop new ways of working on academic elements.
Much of her work is in developing new scripts or directing plays by emerging playwrights. As a former member & co-founder of Intuition Theatre Company, she developed and performed original material such as The Singing Lemon Sisters. Cheryl has also directed plays such as The Odyssey, How I Got That Story, Jungle Book, and Transformations. In the past she was a member of the local women’s writing collective: Women’s Theatre of Cincinnati working on script development, and also as co-director of improvisational writing and actress on such worked as Nobody’s Perfect.
In 1990, Cheryl received an M.F.A at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music in directing where she directed works by contemporary and classic playwrights such as Langford Wilson & George Bernard Shaw. In the past few years Cheryl has helped develop and direct such new works as A Grey Matter, Suits Me Fine, and Prankster. Cheryl has taught children’s and adult’s classes at the Cincinnati Playhouse in The Park, Northern Kentucky University, and The School of Creative and Performing Arts as well as Hyde Park Elementary and St. Mary’s in Hyde Park, to name a few. When Cinergy as part of the Overture Awards sponsored a week long Overture Academy, Cheryl coordinated and taught the theatre division for the first two years. Cheryl has performed improvisational theatre with Fairview Impromptu Band and Whit’s End. Cheryl just returned from Edinburgh, Scotland, where she performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to premiere her new show My Grandmother’s Chair. As a devoted mother of growing boys, Cheryl is dedicated to the belief that the arts are intended to be an illumination of the best humanity has to offer!
Ms. Couch’s goal is not only to train the whole actor, but to train the whole person; equipping students with communication skills that will be useful throughout their lives.
Erin Carr (E), Core Teacher/Marketing Director
Erin Carr is an actor, teaching artist, director, physical theatre creator, activist, and theatre practitioner. She is an effervescent, fierce and imaginative artist whose creative goals are to explore and express the range of human experience through all artistic mediums.
She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she received her BFA in Acting. While at NYU, she trained at the Experimental Theatre Wing, where she created and mounted original pieces. Through her training at NYU, Erin not only had the chance to work with legendary professionals but also new groundbreaking artists. Since graduating, she has lived and worked on the stage, in front of the camera or in the classroom around the globe, including Ireland, Italy, Australia, NYC, and Philadelphia to name a few. She has also performed and devised pieces for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and Cincinnati Fringe Festival. In addition to teaching, she is a constant student herself. Recently she received a grant to study at the Acrobatics of the Heart program in Massachusetts with Stephen Wangh and Wendell Beavers. Erin is also currently working on her MBA at Northern Kentucky University.
Along with performing and collaborating, Erin works as a teaching artist, director of educational theatre, and advanced physical theatre practitioner around the U.S. She has worked with dozens of theatre companies in varying capacities either as an actor, teaching artist or in a developmental/administrative position. These organizations include Walnut Street Theatre, Plays & Players Theatre, Theatre Horizon, Miami University - Oxford, Cincinnati Music Academy, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Falcon Theatre, The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati, Performance Gallery, Pones Inc, the Educational Theatre Association and the International Thespian Society. Along with performing, directing and teaching, Erin is the Co-Artistic Director of ReVamp Collective, a feminist-centric theatre company based in Philadelphia, as well as the Co-Founder of Solasta Theatre Lab, a physical/puppet theatre company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Her artistic philosophy (inspired by Mary Overlie's Six Viewpoints): obstacle as opportunity. By teaching kinesthetic awareness, she believes that empathy will also develop which can create a more open, understanding and accepting community. The growth of a student does not stop in the classroom but rather should blend into their own self-discovery.
Evan Holzman, Adjunct Teacher
Evan Mark Holzman began making films at 13. He attended NYU and a few other schools in a prior century. Filmmaking was always his great love and in that pursuit the studies of acting, singing, writing, and life, in general, became primary.
Along the way, he left the artistic life and raised a family in the corporate world. At the next turn was a return to art, creating & teaching. A decade at Leaves of Learning taught me how to teach with respect for students. The joy of teaching and creating theater at CASA was the most fulfilling experience of my life. The latest challenge – Super Saturday School – is a great idea to connect creative teachers with gifted students.
He produced The Willis Music WoodSongs Coffeehouse for 10 years along with numerous other productions, musical, narrative, commercial and poetic.
“Giving my children the opportunity to live a life on earth is certainly the most creative & risky prospect I can imagine. So far so good.”
For more: heavensmarkproductionsinc.com
Marisa Holzman, Managing Director
Marisa Holzman is an actor, director, manager, producer, stage combat fighter, and teacher assistant. She studied at Northern Kentucky University and has her Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Acting. She started at Cincinnati Actor's Studio and Academy when it first opened in 2007 as the first Teacher's Assistant. She currently is the Financial Manager and Managing Director of CASA. Marisa works at a software development company in Kenwood as a Revenue Cycle Consultant.
Shelley A. Lindsey, PCC-S/LSW; Resident Therapist
EDUCATION: BA Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri; Major in Theatre Arts, Minors in Spanish and Education; Masters in Education from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio. Focus in School and Community Counseling.
Shelly Lindsey is a native Cincinnatian. As an undergraduate, she majored in theatre, and began her professional career as a teacher. It was her mother who suggested she consider becoming a counselor, but it took several years before Shelley was able to admit that her mother might be right.
Her professional experiences include teaching, group facilitation and non-profit agency management. SHe is grateful that her career has given her the opportunity to work with people across the spectrum of the human developmental cycle, socio-economic backgrounds, and cultures.
She has also received training in Reality Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Trauma Informed Care, and Play Therapy Interventions. She feels that her theatre background has been useful in integrating psychotherapy and theatre through her work with an improvisational theatre group to educate the community about mental health issues.
However, despite job titles or professional setting, her personal and professional goals are to facilitate (individually or collectively) in the identification of goals, and the implementation of strategies that facilitate the accomplishments of these goals.
Discounted rate for CASA students/donors: $50/hr