Growing up in NY Merrideth could not help but to develop a love for theatre at a young age as her parents would frequently take her to see Broadway Shows. Although as a child and young adult her focus in school was Science, she was constantly asking friends to show her dance steps they had learned, creating stories and characters with all of her toys and singing in the school choir. Finally, her mother signed her up at NY’s June Claire School of Dance. She took all forms of dance, but Tap was clearly her strong suit and she had the greatest teacher, Bill DeRico (who is still teaching around the US in special workshops with Dance Olympus).
She was accepted to college pre- med with a scholarship to High Point University, a private school in NC, but it was only a matter of time before Theatre Professor Ron Law invited her to take Acting classes. Under his guidance, she became a theatre major, and began her journey as an actor. The classes were hard in that they taught not only acting technique, play analysis, and theatre history, but also the discipline involved in the work. Ron never let her “get away” with anything other than trying her best- she is so thankful that he took such an interest in her development. Merrideth also had the good fortune to study voice privately with Alexa Jackson Schlimmer (her credentials are too numerous to mention). Alexa became a major role model for Merrideth in that she “had it all”- talent, education, a family and a giving heart with her students. It was Alexa that truly helped Merrideth develop the confidence needed to ‘get out there” and perform- in addition to teaching her to sing while balancing a roll of toilet paper against the wall using her diaphragm LOL.
After College, Merrideth performed all over the US. She spent three summers doing out door drama in Theatre West Virginia, She toured with a Children’s theatre out of South Carolina, and she did several theatre’s in the Florida Circuit including The Broadway Palm, The Showboat, and Musicanna Supper Club. Performing was great- she never seemed to be with out a job, and it gave her the opportunity to put what she had learned to the test. But there was always a little something missing. No matter what she was doing, she always found herself thrust into teaching situations as either dance captain, choreographer, or coaching other people with their work. It was after her NY national tour with the musical production of GYPSY, that she realized she needed to go back to school so she could teach. It was time to “give back”.
She went to graduate school on full scholarship at FAU in Boca Raton Florida. It was a conservatory program with an MFA focusing on Acting and performance. There she studied with Carbonel Award winning, Matthew Wright (The Carbonel is one of Florida’s highest accolades). She also had the opportunity to study with Bill Homewood and Estelle Kohler of England’s Royal Shakespeare. At FAU, she refined her approach to the Stanislavski acting technique, became exposed to the vocal theories of Kristen Linklater, and experienced the use of the Alexander technique and Laban movement exercises for the actor. She graduated in 2000 with an MFA, a terminal degree for the actor.
She moved to Atlanta and LOVES IT! In Atlanta, Merrideth has performed at Stage Door, 7 Stages, Onstage Atlanta, and with several companies doing fundraisers and cabarets. “This is a great city for Art”. Her focus, however, has been on fulfilling her dream to teach. She teaches Intro to theatre and Acting part- time at Georgia Perimeter College in Dunwoody, She spent three summers working with “Youth Creates” a new program for young adults at 7 Stages. Summer 2006, she will do the Stage Door Theatre summer program “Filling the Actor’s toolbox”. During the year, she works for The Studio Atlanta Dance teaching their adult tap and their “Evening at Emory” tap classes. She has also taught tap, musical theatre and voice coaching at several schools in the Atlanta area. With all of this experience under her belt, she finally feels ready to start her own educational program.
Through M.Z.STAGEWORKS, Merrideth wants to create a positive, productive learning environment that uses the performing arts as a vehicle for self-expression, self-esteem and a sense of community in learning. “It does not matter if you want to perform as a career or not- the arts can help you develop confidence and it is a great way to learn to get out there and follow your dreams- whatever they are.”