Spearheaded by Broadway theatre professionals and Bay City Central High School alums—Korie Lee Blossey, Katie Travis and Ryan VanDenBoom, along with Dr. Matt Travis, Director of Choral and Orchestral programs at the Midland Center for the Arts, Thad VanTifflin of the Bay City Public Schools and Katie Miller of the Midland Center for the Arts —SPARK leaders believe in the power of diversity in the arts and seek to ignite the passion in students to help create tomorrow’s leaders.
A New Yorker by way of Bay City Michigan, last seen as The Genie on the 1st National Tour of Disney’s Aladdin. Korie is thrilled at the opportunity to share his joy and passion for performing with young adults who might not know about the opportunities out there. “ Growing up in Bay City, I knew I had to be on stage. I just didn’t know how to make that dream a reality…”
Currently serves as the Manager of Community Engagement at Midland Center for the Arts, is the president of the Michigan Presenters Network, and on the board of the Midland County Inclusion Alliance. Katie graduated from St. Norbert College with a BA in Political Science, Communications, and Theater Studies, and has been engaged in Michigan performing arts community for almost 20 years. Before moving to the Midland Center for the Arts, Katie was the Artist Relations and Administrative Manager for Interlochen Presents at Interlochen Center for the Arts (ICA), the Executive Director of the Playhouse at White Lake in Whitehall, MI. She is a theater performer, director, choreographer, producer and teacher and a passionate advocate for arts education.
Dr. Matt Travis
A native of Bay City, Michigan, Matt is Senior Director of Artistic Planning at Midland Center for the Arts. In this position, Travis oversees artistic administration for community theatre, choirs, Midland Symphony Orchestra and elements of presented programming. An active choral conductor, Travis is music director of Chorale, Camerata and a guest conductor in schools and community ensembles throughout the region. Matt has been recognized as an emerging leader through programs and accolades by the League of American Orchestras and Association of Performing Arts Professionals.
Prior to joining Midland Center for the Arts in 2017, Matt completed a Doctorate in Conducting at University of Connecticut where his research was on musical function in HAMILTON by Lin-Manuel Miranda. From 2010 – 2014, he served as choral instructor and music director at Trinity-Pawling School just outside of New York City, where he also conducted The Kent Singers (CT). In addition to studies at UCONN, Matt completed a bachelor’s degree in voice performance at University of Michigan and a master’s in choral conducting at Penn State. Matt is an avid runner and baseball fan and lives in Bay City with his wife, Amanda,and daughter, Beatrice.
A performing artist based in New York City whose talents have stretched both onstage and the screen. He recently returned to Broadway in the new Michael Jackson musical, MJ, thrilling audiences each night at the Neil Simon Theater. Other Broadway credits include BANDSTAND, SOMETHING ROTTEN!, and the Broadway revival of ANNIE. In Chicago, he appeared in the national run of HAMILTON. He has also performed with the Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestras. On film, Ryan can be seen in the Coen Brothers’ HAIL CAESAR!… sharing the screen with Channing Tatum. On the “small screen,” he danced the role made famous by Bob Fosse in “Who’s Got the Pain?” in the FX series, FOSSE/VERDON, starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams. Ryan enjoys sharing his work with collaborators and students, alike, and finds inspiration from telling stories that bring people together.
An award-winning singer, actor and educator best known for playing Christine Daae in The Phantom of The Opera throughout North America. Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera Regional: Cosette in Les Miserables at The MUNY, Fireside Theater, Liederkrantz Opera Theater. Katie has recently performed Symphony concerts with the Saginaw, Midland, El Paso and Mt Rainier Symphonies. She is a winner of the Lys Symonette award in the Lotte Lenya Competition. As an educator, Katie holds her MFA from Penn State University and is currently an Adjunct Voice Professor at Penn State University and Montclair State University. She has presented at the Musical Theater Educators Association and Penn State’s Vocal Pedagogy conference. Katie is passionate about SPARK and music training and education for all students.
An employee through the Bay City Public School district and living in Bay City for 6 years. Working in the education field for 8 years and passionate about getting the younger generation involved in the arts. Since the age of 10, theatre has also been a passion. As an active member of the Bay City Players and have participated in numerous shows including, Annie, Lend me a Tenor, Snow Queen, They’re Playing our Song, and latest production, One Slight Hitch. These opportunities have really heightened his love for community theatre.
Thad admires what SPARK is doing in the community and is thankful to be a part of getting others more involved in the arts.
Kimberly is an award winning writer, filmmaker, and public speaker from Saginaw, MI. Her passion and determination to tell authentic stories from her culture has afforded her amazing opportunities to work closely with with Academy Award Winner, Spike Lee, Emmy Award Winner, Kerwin Devonish, Super Bowl Champion and Filmmaker, LaMarr Woodley, among others. Kimberly is passionate about helping foster the next generation of creatives, especially those from the Great Lakes Bay Region, and she jumped at the opportunity to work with Spark.