Our unique programming would not be possible without our talented ensemble of teaching artists and administrative staff, all of whom bring a wealth of experience in performing arts and community service.


IJ CHAN (She/Her/Hers)
IJ CHAN (She/Her/Hers)Teaching Artist
IJ is a dance artist and educator born, raised and now based in Boston. She graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in Dance and Journalism and has dedicated her life to training and performing intensively in multiple dance genres, for multiple local and international dance masters. In her own choreographic work, IJ is interested in intersecting and exploring the Asian-American narrative. She is committed to bringing quality dance instruction to low-income and minority youth populations within Boston. She also works as freelance graphic designer and visual artist, with a specific focus on creating marketing materials for other dance artists in the community.
COOPER EVELLO (He/Him/His)Teaching Artist & Freelance Players Music Director
Cooper joins the Urban Improv community with a background in music production, performance, arranging and composition. He is super excited to get involved in the re-writing, editing, recording, and performing of the music of Urban Improv. Cooper studied music production and composition at the Cambridge School of Weston, Hampshire College, and the Berklee School of Music. When Cooper isn’t working at Urban Improv he can be found music directing in JP and Dover, composing and recording music in his home studio for various freelance projects, and performing around New England.
LILLIAN GOMES (She/Her/Hers)Teaching Artist
Lillian is a Cape Verdean American actress born and raised in Massachusetts. She has been performing in and working on various productions, since graduating from Bridgewater State University with her BA in Communication Studies and Theater Arts. Lillian has toured the country bringing theater to areas that are often forgotten, utilizing theater to learn about social issues like empathy, peace, consent and bystander intervention. She plans to spread this kind of theater all over the world and to empower the youth and marginalized people everywhere. A teaching artist position with Rehearsal for Life is a sign that she is certainly on to something! When Lilli isn’t dabbling in the various roles of theater, she is likely spending time with her huge family or getting happily lost in a new city.
JACKSON JIRARD (He/Him/His)Associate Director: Urban Improv
New Orleans born and Pennsylvania raised, Jackson Jirard is now a Bostonian artist and educator. He received his BA in Psychology from Stanford University, his M.Ed. in Human Development & Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has been researching power, responsibility, and emotional well-being in artistic spaces for many years. He’s danced professionally with Ballet Austin in Texas, Sacramento Ballet in California, and Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. He’s also choreographed for New Repertory Theatre and Columbia Pictures, and performed for several other local companies. Having grown up in Massachusetts, Jackson continues to excitedly re-familiarize himself with the New England scene. He is so grateful to Rehearsal for Life for bringing him on this team in pursuit of a wonderful, revolutionary vision for social-emotional learning.
ZEENIA KOLAH (She/Her/Hers)Intern/Teaching Artist
Zeenia is a leadership and conflict dialogue facilitator, dancer and performer from Mumbai, India. She started dancing at a young age and later began to seek ways to use movement and the arts as valuable tools for community connection and personal growth, which is reflected in most of her facilitation work. She is currently getting her Masters in Mental Health Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapy at Lesley University. She is obsessed with working at the confluence of community building, social emotional learning, and arts based activism – which is what brought her to Urban Improv!
LISA McCOLGAN (She/Her/Hers)
LISA McCOLGAN (She/Her/Hers)Office Administrator
Lisa oversees the database and administrative functions for Rehearsal for Life. Lisa has a BA in Theatre from Saint Leo University and received her MFA in Creative Writing & Literature from Emerson College. A singer and percussionist, she performs with the B-52s tribute band Bikini Whale. She is also a lifelong horror movie nerd and co-hosts and engineers Stay Scary Podcast. Lisa is passionate about theatre and its ability to transform and save lives, and is honored to be a part of Rehearsal for Life.
MERLE PERKINS (She/Her/Hers)Teaching Artist
Merle is a founding member of Urban Improv, with the company since 1992. An Independent Reviewers of New England award winner, she’s played roles at theaters in New England and abroad. Credits include TV shows like HBO’s “Six Feet Under”, films and local commercials. The Governor’s office, the Mayor of Boston, and the Red Sox have requested Merle to sing at events. Merle trained at Boston University and Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts.
KRISTEN SHERMAN (She/Her/Hers)Head of Development and Finance
Kristen oversees philanthropy, marketing, and administration for Rehearsal for Life. She has worked in museums, public parks, education, and nonprofit foundations in Boston and NYC. Kristen studied Art History at UMass Amherst and received her MBA from Endicott College. A daily dose of art continues to be a connective thread in both her professional and personal life. Kristen believes the arts are an important tool, and can serve as a lens to interpret current events.
FAITH SOLOWAY (They/Them)Interim Artistic Director
Faith Soloway (they/them) is a writer, director, composer, and performer. Faith was the music director for Urban Improv for over 20 years (1994 through 2016), and now they have hopped the fence from a member of the RFL board to the role of Interim Artistic Director for Urban Improv. They wrote for all four seasons of Amazon’s groundbreaking television show “Transparent” and composed all the songs for “Transparent: Musicale Finale.” With roots in the musical comedy world, Faith was the musical director at Second City in Chicago from 1985-1990. During that time, she was also a founding member of The Annoyance Theater.
HOLLY TARNOWER (She/Her/Hers)Teaching Artist
Holly has been performing her entire life. She was a “Freelance kid”, performing in countless shows with the Freelance Players over the years. After receiving her BA from Drew University in Theater and Dance, she headed back to her roots in Boston and with Rehearsal for Life. Combining her passions for performance, education and social justice, working with Urban Improv is a dream come true. For over a decade, Holly has taught and performed in various places throughout the Boston area, including being a founding member and Education Director of Improvincetown, Provincetown’s premiere improv comedy company. Holly also teaches in the Comedic and Performing Arts Department’s at Emerson College, where she received her MA in Theater Education in 2017. In 2019, she returned to her studies at Emerson, receiving her MFA in Applied Theater. She was awarded the “Performing Arts MFA Graduate Award” for her qualitative research and thesis which centered around Urban Improv’s Youth Unscripted and its benefits on students’ Social Emotional Learning.
KELSEY TIDBALL (She/Her/Hers)Marketing and Development Assistant
Kelsey, who was born and raised in Oregon, has been happily calling Boston her home for the past few years. She is a recent graduate from Emerson College, with an MA in Theatre Education and an MFA in Applied Theatre and Performance. She also holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Oregon. Kelsey has worked as an actor, a writer, an event coordinator and an educator and she is thrilled to now be working at Rehearsal for Life, delving deeper into her passion for theatre and its potential to change the world.
MARY TORPEY (She/Her/Hers)
MARY TORPEY (She/Her/Hers)Head of Program and Creative Director: Freelance Players
Mary has been a director, teaching artist and creative collaborator in the Boston area for many years. She joined the organization in 2003 as assistant director with Freelance Players and teaching artist with Urban Improv and has been directing Freelance Players troupes since 2011. She is endlessly motivated by the collaborative, inclusive and expressive work she sees in the young artists as well as her colleagues. Originally from Maine, Mary graduated from Indiana University with a B.A in Theater and Drama and studied movement, voice and acting at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
JAMIE ULLRICH (She/Her/Hers)Head of Program: Urban Improv & Head of Community Partnerships
Jamie has worked for this organization for over 15 years. Prior to joining Urban Improv, Jamie worked for several radio stations in Boston and Seattle. She also worked as a stage manager and house manager for many years. Originally from South Dakota, she earned a B.A. in Communication Studies from Seattle University and her M.A. in Media Arts from Emerson College. Jamie is gratified to be working for an organization that values artistic expression and social justice.


Narcissa is the Program Manager and a music director for Freelance Players. She joined the organization in 1982 and served as its Managing Director from the late 1980’s until 2019. An accomplished composer and arranger, she has won two Massachusetts Arts Lottery grants for composition. Narcissa is a graduate of Wellesley College, where she was awarded the Lamb Prize for composition, and the Barrett Fellowship for the study of musical theater. She has composed over 25 musicals for young people.
KIPPY DEWEY (She/Her/Hers)
KIPPY DEWEY (She/Her/Hers)
As Founding Director, Kippy serves as artistic adviser to all programs of Urban Improv and oversees the Freelance Players. Kippy has taught and directed at the Charles Playhouse and the Next Movie Theatre and held artist residencies in schools throughout the metropolitan Boston area. Kippy is also the founding director of Creative Arts at Park, a multi-arts summer program for young people ages 8-15.