Associate Artists

Fitz&StartZ Productions Associate Artists are a group of performers, musicians, composers, writers and designers who create and appear in productions during our seasons. The ensemble is augmented by local much-younger actors and current college students when roles require additional actors. Interested in joining us? Send your inquiry to

Rachel Lampert – Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director

RACHEL LAMPERT has been writing, directing and producing plays for young people and their families for more than two decades.  She loves theater, music and dance and uses Fitz&Startz Productions as a way of sharing enthusiasm with audiences of all ages.  Her plays include I Have A Song to Sing O!, The Amazing Tale of the Overnight Backyard Adventure, The Mystery of the Magic Flute, and with composer-collaborator Lesley Greene Physics Fair, the Emmett & Ella Trilogy, and Winter Tales.  She served for twenty years as artistic director of Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca, NY where she produced challenging and provocative new and recent plays. She championed women and artists of color and led the theater’s capital campaign to build a permanent new home.  She retired from KTC in June 2017.  Since retiring she has been spearheading Fitz&Startz Productions.  “A perfect Third Act! I write, I get to work with talented young theater artists, and continue exploring the nature of performance and new theatrical formats. The best retirement I could imagine.” 

Lesley Greene – Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director

LESLEY LISA GREENE is an Ithaca-based writer, composer, dramaturge and producer. With creative partner Rachel Lampert, she has collaborated on 18 plays, musicals, and dance pieces. Her three degrees in science from Cornell University became useful in Fitz&Startz' production of Physics Fair, performed at Kitchen Theatre Company in January 2015 and at the American Association of Physics Teachers Annual Conference in College Park, Maryland. In addition to composing music, she plays flute, trumpet and ukulele, and all these have been incorporated into Fitz&Startz Productions performances. For the past 18 years, she has worked at Kitchen Theatre Company as Associate Producer, resident sound and projection designer, leader of the marketing department, and go-to person for all things technical. She is an avid swing dancer, and her choreography has been featured in Fitz&Startz Productions as well as for fundraising events around Ithaca. Lesley is a co-founder of Porchfest, a music festival held on the porches of the Fall Creek and Northside neighborhoods since 2007 that has now spread to over one hundred cities across the U.S. and Canada.

Travis Knapp  Music Director/Accompanist

TRAVIS KNAPP is a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter originally from Clinton, NY. He studied piano at Ithaca College ('07), and now lives in Erin, NY. He is also a vegetable gardener and touring bicyclist.

Natasha Bratkovski Performer/Web Designer

NATASHA BRATKOVSKI , soprano, is an active performer of classical and musical theater works in the central New York area, where she was most recently seen in Opera Cowpokes at Triphammer Arts.  Recent credits include featured ensemble member in La Liberazione di Ruggiero and Mrs. Anderssen in A Little Night Music (Opera Ithaca), Adelaide in Fitz&Starz’ production of The Sisters Fitz&Startz: A Case for the Classics, Ado Annie in Triphammer Arts' production of Oklahoma!, Ella in Emmett & Ella: The Puppy Plot, and Mack/Mabel in Auburn Public Theater’s production of Precious Nonsense.

Benno Ressa Performer

BENNO RESSA is a proud Fitz&Startz veteran performer, having performed the role of Uncle Howard in Adventure in Apartment G#, Emmett in both Emmett & Ella: Big Apple Escapade and Emmett & Ella: The Puppy Plot and Alfonso/Papageno in The Mystery of the Magic Flute. Another recent musical theatre credit includes Will Parker in Triphammer Arts' production of Oklahoma! A trained opera singer, Benno's favorite opera roles include Bully in Bully Pulpit, Le Dancaïre in Carmen and Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance (Opera Ithaca).

Nicole Bethany Onwuka Performer

NICOLE BETHANY ONWUKA is an actor, singer, dancer, and writer with a huge love for both the stage and film. She is originally from New York City but is currently studying in Ithaca at Ithaca College for an acting BFA degree. This is her first time working with Fitz&Startz Productions at the Kitchen Theatre Company and she is excited and grateful to be able to be a part of this production. Her recent credits include a principal role as Toby Gaddarn in Coram Boy and Cinderella’s Stepmother in Into the Woods at the New Beacon Theatre and performed annually at the Kaye Playhouse in New York City. 

Mike Cyr Performer

MIKE CYR first worked with Rachel during freshman year as an Acting Major at Ithaca College waaaay back in 2001.  His first show directed by Rachel was a Fitz&Startz production of A December Suite.  Mike graduated IC in 2004 and has been performing ever since in New York, New England, and once again, Ithaca.  Mike made Ithaca his permanent home in 2013 and is enjoying it every day with his wife and son.  He is a proud company member of Fitz&Startz productions and believes that children's theater can inspire us all.  Some of his past favorite roles include: Archie in Secret Garden, Quartet in Music Man, Durdles in the Mystery of Edwin Drood, and most recently, Louella in Emmet and Ella: The Puppy Plot.  When he's not performing, Mike is a lawyer in Ithaca at his law firm, Newman & Cyr.  

Evie Hammer-Lester – Assistant Director

Evie Hammer-Lester came to Ithaca as a Kitchen Theatre Fellow in 2015 and thanks to Rachel Lampert, she’s worked in Ithaca, Endicott, and Auburn as an assistant director, associate choreographer, and stage manager. She teaches theatre and dance at the Hangar, CSMA, and the Ithaca Youth Bureau. Most recently she had the pleasure to work as production stage manager for Running to Place’s production of Songs for a New World and as choreographer/asst. director of the Hangar Theatre's A Christmas Carol. At the end of October, Et Le Lion, a solo performance by Elizabeth Seldin and directed by Evie will premier at the United Solo Festival in NYC. 

Ellen Jackson Director/Performer

ELLEN JACKSON is an opera and theatre director based in the US. Directing and assistant directing credits include work with The Glimmerglass Festival (Silent Night, Beyond Liberty, The Soldier’s Tale), Arizona Opera (Charlie Parker’s Yardbird), Opera Delaware (Trial by Jury, Scalia/Ginsburg, Young Artists: Make a Scene), Opera Ithaca (Tosca, Bully Pulpit, Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Kitchen Theatre Company, Metropolis Opera Project, Ithaca New Music Collective, and Savoyards Ithaca. Previous credits with Fitz&Startz include Elmira in The Mystery of the Magic Flute, Louella in Emmett and Ella: The Big Apple Escapade, and assistant director for The Adventure in Apartment G#.

Sylvie YntemaPerformer

SYLVIE YNTEMA has worked locally with Civic Ensemble (On the Corner, After Orlando, In the Parlour), Homecoming Players (In the Next Room, From the Mississippi Delta), and will appear this winter in The Cherry Arts production of The Snow Queen. She is a graduate of the Actors Workshop of Ithaca, a Pilates instructor, and a recent graduate of Finger Lakes School of Massage.

Kristin Sad Performer

KRISTIN SAD has been an Ithacan for 11 years now. Since graduating from the Actor's Workshop of Ithaca, she has been lucky enough to play with some of the most talented people she has ever known. Favorite roles include Martha & Dotty in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Dotty, (Homecoming Players); Lady M in Macbeth, (Ithaca Shakespeare Company); Gingy & Nat in Love, Loss & What I Wore and Rabbit Hole, (AWITC); Nasty Woman in  Mrs. Satan and the Nasty Woman, (Kitchen Theater Company) - directed by Rachel Lampert, and Lydia in I Carry Your Heart, (Hope On Stage). FINALLY, she gets to play a character named Ashtabula! She is very excited to be a part of this wonderful Rachel Lampert confection with these amazing actors. (The director's no slouch either!) Love & thanks to Blaise & the fam. Have fun!

Meet our Artists!


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