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Theatre Education

By on May 29, 2019

Tina Crandall-Gommel of Greece is Founder and Artistic Director of MT Ed, a musical education performing arts program for students ages five to adult. Crandall-Gommel founded MT Ed in October of 2018 after the closing of Rochester Area Performing Arts, where she worked for two years as a teacher, director, choreographer and scenic designer. 

Crandall-Gommel is a Greece resident who grew up in North Greece, was educated in the Hilton School District’s elementary and middle schools and attended High School at Nazareth Academy. She received her Bachelor Degree in Theatre and Dance from the University of Buffalo and her Master’s Degree in Education at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. “I have always wanted to work in the arts doing something to give back to the community where I grew up. The MT Ed program is founded on the concept that we provide a school that is all inclusive, for all students including all ranges of abilities. We have students that are on the autism spectrum, and visually impaired. We never turn anyone away because of abilities or inabilities. Our hearts and doors are open to everyone. We provide a safe space for students in the LBGQ community and for students that have financial limitations,” Crandall-Gommel says.

MT Ed offers dance including ballet, tap, jazz and musical theatre, voice and acting lessons. At MT Ed programs are chosen very carefully by Crandall-Gommel and her Vocal and Music Director Heather Lonardo. Lonardo has a B.M. in Music Education and is currently working in the Masters Program at Nazareth College for Music Therapy. “Heather and I work together to find programs that will not only engage the audience but also the performers. We are constantly looking for learning opportunities for our kids. If they come in knowing all the music there is no opportunity to learn a different genre in song and dance. I recently taught the Mambo to students for a dance number. It was something they had not worked on in the past. It added to their skill set and helped them to become more rounded performers,” Crandall-Gommel says. For Rochester’s Fringe Festival this coming Fall the teen programs chosen are Green Day’s American Idiot and Lin Manuel Miranda’s 21 Chump Street. 

“We believe musical theatre education should be a place where the dialogue is open. The teen programs address things that are a reality in their world. Teen years are many times difficult. Kids can feel like misfits and that no one understands them. In the theatre they meet kids that feel the same way as they do and are living the same issues. It is important that kids have a space to be able to open up about their emotions and talk about real life. Many times when they open up about what they are feeling it is brought into their performances and makes it a much richer experience. I have had classes where kids come in and immediately want to have a discussion about something that is going on in their life. It is so important to provide an open environment where listening to kids is a priority,” Crandall-Gommel says.

MT Ed holds fundraisers to assist their students with financial limitations. “Our goal is to not turn away anyone because of financial needs. We offer payment plans to help. We want theatre to be accessible to everyone, and we strive to make it happen. We have even had a mother that cooked for us in exchange for her children’s tuition in our school. I think it speaks volumes when parents work it out so their kids can participate in the arts. Just ask the question,” Crandall-Gommel says.

MT Ed is based at the Bruce Music & Theatre Academy, 75 Stutson Street, Rochester. The Bruce Music & Theatre Academy was founded over 50 years ago by the Bruce family and has been a cornerstone of the Greece and Rochester music scene for many years. Located in a renovated church, the building is the home of all things performing arts for local and touring artists. The space includes music and theatre instruction space and two performance spaces, one that seats 120 people and a second space, the original church worship space, seats 205 people. 

MT Ed also offers something unique in the Rochester area, drop-in tap dance classes. “It is for those that are unable to commit to several weeks of class. It was something that I was looking for in the past and decided to offer it through our school. It is held on Sunday nights at 5PM and has been very successful. I hope to expand the drop-in class programs in the future,” Crandall Gommel says. 

Their summer camps are unique in that they offer something that sets them apart. “Because of our location so close to Ontario Beach we take our summer classes outside everyday for a mental break. It really helps to get outdoors. Our summer camps are from 9AM to 4PM which allows us a 1-1/2 hour lunch break daily where we incorporate outdoor activity. It may be yoga on the beach or some other relaxation activity. It really makes a difference in mental clarity,” she says.

MT Ed also offers internships to their students. The internship program is for students that are looking to be a professional in the field. Internships are available in all areas including vocal, musical direction and choreography and in the technical side of theatre in stage management, costume, scenic and sound design. Students shadow the professional while they are doing their job and get to see what the job really looks like. They even are given the opportunity to take the reigns on the project whenever they feel comfortable doing that.  

For more information and a complete list of programs and summer camps for MT Ed visit