Instructors and Staff

Lisa Villamaria Casia - Voice, Piano

Lisa is the Artistic and Executive Director of Theater Steps and Theater Steps Theatrical Society. She is a proud member of the National Association for Music Education (NAFME) former Music Education National Conference (MENC), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), Music Teachers' Association (MTNA), and a board member of the Mid Atlantic Music Teachers Guild (MAMTG). Lisa serves as the current recording secretary of the Music Educators Association and Vice President and member of the board of directors of the New Jersey chapter of the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC). Lisa also serves as the New Jersey representative for the national NFMC and currently heads the online presence committee for the NJFMC. Lisa is also NPM Cantor Colleague Certified by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. She serves as the Musical Director at Saint Nicholas Church in Jersey City, NJ. Lisa holds a Bachelors of Music degree from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts with a concentration in Vocal Performance and Music Education.

Lisa is a public school certified music teacher for Grades K-12 where her teaching expertise ranges from Kodaly and Orff general music activities to advance music theory in voice and piano. Lisa has had experience in teaching general music, choir music, choir ensembles, and hand bell ensembles at the Murray A. Chittick Elementary School, East Brunswick High School, North Brunswick High School and St. Peter’s College’s 4R Program in Jersey City, NJ. Lisa has also been the Musical Director for the musical Tommy at St. Peter’s Preparatory High School. More recently, Lisa was teaching Stages Junior at Art House under Christine Goodman. Lisa was recognized with the Certificate of Music Excellence award given by Governor McGreevy for her record of excellence as one of the New Jersey’s top 100 music teachers in music education .

Alongside Lisa’s teaching career, she is an accomplished performer being a member of Actors Equity Association (AEA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). She recently performed in the New York City premiere of Noli Me Tangere the Opera and continued on tour with them at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2014. She has traveled throughout North America and New Zealand performing with various shows ranging from Miss Saigon, CATS, Cinderella, Godspell, South Pacific, Viet Rock, Junie B. Jones, and Disney’s Aladdin. She is no stranger to New York City’s Off-Broadway scene performing as the title role in Naughty Marietta and more recently as Peony in Shanghai Lil’s. She has sung classically in concerts at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with Gospel singer, Sandi Patty and Broadway star, Ann Hampton Callaway. On T.V. she played multiple characters on CBS’s Guiding Light, Blue Bloods, and WB’s Gossip Girl.

Currently, Lisa is enjoying teaching her private students the techniques of voice and piano and watching their successes as they grow. Lisa promotes vocal health with innovative pedagogy exercises to keep each individual engaged. She not only stresses the importance of a proper foundation but also provides the service of a coach to bring out the total performer in everyone. Her coaching techniques assist even the youngest performer in focusing their energy and delivering the message within each musical selection.

Portrait of Lisa Villamaria Casia

Lisa Villamaria Casia

Rebecca Benitez - Voice, Piano, Guitar

Rebecca Benitez graduated with a Master of Music from Florida International University in Vocal Performance in the studio of Dr. Kathleen Wilson and a Bachelor of Music from Montclair State University in Music Education. She currently works as a Music Teacher in Newark and most recently worked as the Program Manager for Magic City Opera's "A Voice to Give" and Artistic Manager for the Florida Singing Sons. Rebecca loves to work with children of all ages and those that are children at heart!

Not only does Rebecca love teaching and sharing her passion but performing on the stage. Some of her recent performances CoLab's 48 HR Musical, Alice Beineke (Addams Family), Mimi (La Boheme), Charlotte from Thomas Pasatieri’s Before Breakfast and Desdemona’s Scena from Verdi’s Otello with FIU Opera Theatre. Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) with Opera Theatre of Montclair, Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Suor Genovieffe (Suor Angelica) with New York Lyric Opera Theatre, Due Conversa and Seconda Cercatrice (Suor Angelica) and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) under the baton of Michael Rossi and Yuriy Bekker with the Miami Music Festival.

As well as being on the opera stage, Rebecca has performed as a soloist in concert works as a Soprano soloist in Martin Palmeri’s Misa Tango, Franz Schubert’s Mass in G Major, and Mesut Ozgen’s Istanbul Express and Three Turkish Folk Songs. She also performs with her trio “La Passeggiata” around Miami and Broward County. “La Passeggiata” formed to share our journey of life through music. Our most recent concert “Perception” brought mental health awareness to the forefront.

Rebecca is looking forward to sharing her passion and journey with the Theater Steps' Community through a solid foundation of vocal and piano pedagogy.

Portrait of Rebecca Benitez

Rebecca Benitez

Apryl Chanco - Voice

Apryl Chanco is a proud member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and is currently the Vice President of the Montclair State University's collegiate chapter. Apryl holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Montclair State University. Currently, she is completing a Masters of Teaching degree with a concentration in Music Education at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University and is studying under the renowned Metropolitan Opera and La Scala star, mezzo-soprano Barbara Dever.

Apryl Chanco has been working with Theater Steps since 2013 as the teaching assistant to Mrs. Lisa. With Theater Steps, she has participated and competed in several voice festivals such as the New Jersey Federation of Music Clubs and the Mid-Atlantic Music Teachers Guild in which she received superior ratings.

Apryl performed alongside the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Princenton University’s Richardson Auditorium, Rutgers University’s State Theatre, and the Mayo Performing Arts Center. She has also sung at Madison Square Garden where she performed in The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Godesses and Carnegie Hall where she participated in the New York Choral Festival. She is also no stranger to Towson University, University of Delaware, and New Jersey City University where she has participated in several master classes. Some of Apryl’s favorite works are: Handel’s Messiah, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream, Verdi’s Requiem, and Mozart’s Requiem.

Apryl continues to show her love for music by being a part of the MSU Singers, Vocal Accord, and Chorale. She is also a resident cantor at her church in Nutley, NJ.

Portrait of Apryl Chanco

Apryl Chanco