SAMANTHA JONES (Founder/Director) brings over 25 years live comedy experience in NYC to HVI. With four solo shows and fifteen years in stand up comedy and sketch under her belt, JONES is known for her booming stage presence and outrageous characters. As a professional actor/director, improvisation has inspired all of Jones’ artistic work. Along the way she had founded, performed with and directed dozens of troupes including Faux Show, The Mug Shots, The Outrageous Instincts, The Baker Dozen, The Free Association and Please Stand By. Her credits include Bull on CBS, Sonia in Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Law & Order SVU, Comedy Central, MTV's Run's House, The Uprights Citizens Brigade and Jack Black's Acceptable TV. She produces STICKY with her company Mimi Entertainment and is a proud member of Upstate Women in Films and Television (UPWIFT)
More at www.therealsamanthajones.com
VICTORIA FORD (Company Member) is a native New Yorker and has been living in the Hudson Valley for the last 20 years. Her first introduction to theatre was with the Nat Horne Theatre, many moons ago, in NYC, where she trained for musical theatre. She studied acting at HB Studios with Michael Beckett, and went on to become a member of Equity and worked with the Puerto Rican Travelling Theatre, and The Henry St. Settlement where she did educational theatre, performing in schools in NYC. She has done commercials, film and print work. By day, she is a certified lighting consultant and is the sole proprietor of NY Lighting Design. Scared to death of improvisation, she jumped into the HVI classes and is so happy she did.
TRISTA POLO (Company Member/ Show Director) brings a long career of performance and speaking to HVI. Improv is not new to Trista, but she usually brings it to her speaking engagements. As an EMCEE for 400+ person trainings and trainer of classes all over the country, Trista is known for an energetic and comedic performance that engages her students/audience and leaves them better than she found them. Trista is not afraid to bring vulnerability to her performances and is trusted by her fellow actors. She was lead singer for MAD CITI a 60’s rock band based on Long Island. Trista is an award-winning trainer and speaker as well as
a Toast Master.
PUNKY DAVIS (Company Member/ Show Director) got her theatre degree at Marymount Manhattan College. She is an actress, writer, singer/songwriter and guitar player. Lizzie studied at UCB, Michael Howard Studios, and wherever else they would allow her to take the stage. She also studied with Fay Simpson, Deborah Kampmeier, and is currently studying with Samantha Jones. Her most recent appearances have been in Deborah Kampmeier’s film “Split,” and John Jeserun’s episodic masterpiece, “Chang In A Void Moon” The Lizzie Maya Band performed throughout many downtown Manhattan venues, before Manhattan was taken over by the zombies. She is thrilled to be a company member of HVI.
BRETT EIDMAN (Company Member) is an award winning comedian/writer/actor who is best known for his song parody of “Shaft, Barack Theme” which was played on thousands of radio stations and CNN. Comedy bits from his, “What’s So F#@k’n Funny?” CD are played regularly on Sirius XM .A graduate of The Second City, Chicago and the Upright Citizens Brigade, NYC, Brett has been seen on several TV Shows including Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, What Would You Do?, Law & Order, CollegeHumor, FunnyorDie, and Impractical Jokers. Brett has also appeared in the films 4th Man Out, Taken In The Night, Gray Areas and he's the subject of the 5 time award winning short film documentary entitled- "In The Name Of Comedy", which is currently in distribution. Recently, Brett Co-Starred with Bruce Willis in a Funny or Die video and has a principal role in an upcoming Netflix series. Brett is proud to be part of Hudson Valley Improv. www.bretteidman.com
MICHAEL WITHALL (Company Member/Show Director) has been performing with Hudson Valley Improv since its start. He studied Theatre and Improv at SUNY New Paltz way back in the early 90’s and got his Improv start with The Baker’s Dozen Improv Troupe and at Parker Theatre’s Summer Rep Cabaret. Michael has recently been seen at Half Moon Theatre’s Ten Minute Play Festival and Tenth Year Anniversary Gala Performance, and will be seen in Half Moon Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol this Holiday Season. He lives in Rifton with his beautiful and talented partner, Samantha Jones and his two wonderful daughters, Cricket (13) and Calico (12). Michael loves: coffee and improv, his family and friends, good food, living in the Hudson Valley and visiting New York City. He loves: movies, baseball, short walks on the beach, wet kisses and dry martinis.
JOHANNA TACADENA (Company Member)has performed on stage and on-camera for over 20 years and is blessed to finally dive into the powerful acting world of improv. With a background in dance from SUNY at Buffalo, Johanna’s acting work spans from regional theater to Broadway as well as regional and national commercials. She is also one of the co-owners and casting directors of BreakThrough Casting, a freelance makeup artist and a certified health coach. If she could offer you a gold nugget, it would be: IMPROV is LIFE, scary as hell but crazy fun, so…TAKE THE LEAP!!!
JENNIFER NOLAN ( Company Member) has been acting and improving for as long as she can remember. Whether it has been home movies as a kid or traveling between the east and west coast for movies and commercials, Jennifer craves the camera and stage. While some believe that acting and improv call to her because she can't sit still, it's really because it's her passion. Her love for the arts drives her forward and always gives her audience the best performance they can get. So come catch her latest performance while you can because she'll be off to her next project.
GAIL HANDELMAN (Company Member) grew up in Brooklyn, New You and relocated to the Hudson Valley at the age of 27. As a child she enjoyed acting in plays with friends and performing in school and summer camp productions. She's now performed improv at various venues in both Ulster and Orange counties, is featured in an upcoming film, Candied Violets and has performed in a STICKY play. Having been a Probation Officer for the past 30 years, improv skills have been a useful and crucial tool for the job. Thinking on your feet is a must!
PHILIP MEHL (Company Member) began his performance studies at the famed LaGuardia High School of the Arts. Since that time he has appeared in television commercials and series, held a recurring role on the improv show Live from Off Center, and has sung in Carnegie Hall over a dozen times. He has written several original poems and short pieces; some of which have been transformed into performance art with Hudson Valley Improv. Philip is an award winning social worker and healthcare administrator and speaks at conferences throughout the region on the topics of person-centered care and LGBT inclusiveness. He relies heavily on his two extraordinary daughters and husband to keep him sane.
ELAINE MAGGIORE (Company Member) is grateful to be included in the company of HVI.. Elaine began her informal training in improv while working in the healthcare setting as a Registered Nurse. Upon retiring from her nursing position she decided to hone her skills formally with Samantha Jones at Hudson Valley Improv. In 2017, Elaine was in her first play The List which was featured in STICKY at the BSP Kingston, New York. She was cast in the feature film, Love Comes Later, directed by Sonehjuhi Sinha. Delving into the world of clown, Elaine has studied with Zachery Fine in New York City and most recently in Brattleboro, Vermont with Nettie Lane of New England Center for Circus Arts. She has also studied acting with Matthew Corozine. Elaine's goal is share her zany, offbeat characters with others in order to help them heal through laughter.
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