Founder / Artistic Director
Brianna Larson is an actor, director, producer and teaching artist. She is the founder and artistic director of Theatre eXceptional, a company that produces work for, about, and including artists with disabilities. In addition to Theatre eXceptional, she has also directed at ThinkTank TYA, PowerStories Theatre, Gypsy Stage Repertory, St. Pete City Theatre, and more. She also produces the annual 4x6 FEST, a 24 hour play festival that has produced over 40 new short plays. Brianna graduated with a BFA in Theatre from the Tisch School for the Arts at New York University in 2012. Since then, she has performed and produced work in New York City; St. Louis, MO; Dublin, Ireland and Tampa Bay. She is a Jeff Norton Dream Grant recipient, Theatre Tampa Bay Outstanding Director Nominee, Best of the Bay Recipient, and was named one of Creative Loafing’s “25 under 25” in 2015. Brianna currently works as the Managing Director of the Center for the Arts Wesley Chapel and is a Theatre Tampa Bay Board Member.
Founder / Managing Director
Michelle Wilder Larson has directed or co-directed over 100 full length productions, short plays, and improvisational pieces since dancing through the pain with a sandspur in her foot during an elementary production of The Nutcracker when she was in the second grade. Her passion for theatre and for social awareness and change have easily merged as she feels strongly that theatre is an important element to raise awareness, transform lives and change perspectives. Theatre – for a cause, not just for entertainment. In addition to Blue Butterfly Productions, she is the founder and Executive Director of A Three Fold Cord Community Theater (St. Louis, MO (1999 – 2011), founder former vice president, and guest director for The Riverside Players (St. Louis, MO), 2005 – 2011. She also served for two years as a high school theatre teacher. Additionally, she has written and produced numerous short plays for churches, schools, and community centers. She has worked as a Speech and Dramatic Interpretation Coach for middle school and high school students. A few of her favorite productions have been Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Whistle Down the Wind, (A Three Fold Cord Community Theatre) The Miracle Worker,(Washington High School, Missouri) and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee ( The Riverside Players) Michelle also directed Theatre eXceptional's inaugural performance of The Boys Next Door. As Executive Director, she manages the finances and assists with the day to day operations of Blue Butterfly Productions.
William Glenn is a Designer, Performance Maker, and Production Manager from the Tampa Bay area. After acquiring a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of South Florida, William worked in a variety of settings ranging from crewing for touring rock 'n roll to design and draughting for the Home Shopping Network, before heading off to England to get his MA in Advanced Theatre Practice from the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in 2011. Since that time, Will has toured the world with his own original work (A Brief History of Beer), managed downtown theatres (the Kraine, and UNDER St Marks) in Manhattan, and founded the Tampa International Fringe Festival, now entering its seventh year in Ybor City, Tampa. When he's not hanging around on the fringe, Will is proud to act as Technical Director for Theatre eXceptional, a theatre group for by and about adults with disabilities. Since February of 2022, Will has been the full time Technical Director and Theatre Professor at the Pasco Hernando State College Instructional Performing Arts Center in Wesley Chapel, FL.
Advanced Musical Theatre instructor
When not teaching Advanced Musical Theatre for Theatre eXceptional, or working as a Digital Media Buyer at Marshall Advertising, Katie Wilcox is the Marking Director and acting Secretary on the Board of Directors at Blue Butterfly Productions. Katie has been with Blue Butterfly since its inception in 2015, having helped create the company's brand and acting in the company's first production of Boys Next Door with her role as Clara. Before her professional career, Katie had always been involved in the arts. In 2007, Katie started to compete on the state and national level in Commercial Photography through SkillsUSA, winning first in the start of Florida in 2008 and then going on the compete Nationally in Kansas City. Through childhood and high school, Katie had been involved in community and school theatre and continued her passion after graduating in 2009. After High School, she joined Actors Reaching Out, performing children's theater at local libraries and schools. In 2010, she co-founded Accio Actors where she directed and produced their first production A Very Potter Musical by Starkid Potter, and took on the role of her favorite literary character: Molly Weasley. She also played various colorful aliens in Trek: An Intergalactic Spoof Musical, an Accio Actor’s original production, at Studio @620 in St. Petersburg. In 2017, Katie graduated with her Bachelor in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida and began her professional career. Now she works with clients in the entertainment field across the United States during the day and wears many hats with Theatre eXceptional at night. She is excited to be a part of such a loving and giving program and cannot wait to see where Theatre eXceptional and Blue Butterfly Productions soar for years to come.
Advanced Acting Instructor
Johnny Garde (he/him) has been a professional actor, director, technician, and educator in Tampa Bay since 2012. Johnny has worked with several professional theatres and has also taught with many reputable schools and conservatories. He has worked for several districts in Florida judging their Individual Events and One Act competitions. His teaching has ranged from pre-school age all the way up to high school, and he also focuses and teaches for students with developmental disabilities. Johnny also has a wealth of technical theatre knowledge, working as a stage manager, light board operator, props master, and sound designer and operator. He works and has worked in arts administration and has worn many hats including arts marketing, box office work, audience engagement, and admin work. Johnny graduated from USF here in Tampa with a BA in Theatre Performance and immediately went on to begin working professionally (booking his first professional role while still in school.)
Musical Theatre Accompanist
Originally from South Florida, David is a trained accompanist and is proud to have served as Theater eXceptional's resident music director and teacher since 2017. Over the past 5 years he's developed a unique teaching style to better engage Theatre eXceptional's students in way that helps them thrive musically. In addition to educational work with Blue Butterfly Productions and numerous other programs across the state, David's full-time position is as an Install Music Supervisor at Norwegian Cruise Line Holding. He oversees musical elements of two vessels of the company's fleet of 29 ships. While not onboard a ship, you'll find David working at numerous theatrical venues across West Central and South Florida.
Advanced Shakespeare Instructor
Jonathan Foster got bitten by the acting bug in the 5th grade & hasn't stopped "acting up" since! After high school, the opportunities to perform dried up. Fortunately, he met founding members Katie Wilcox & Alicia through their troupe, Accio Actors. Through them, he finally was able to join Theatre eXceptional in 2018, playing Mr. MacAfee in Bye Bye, Birdie. Now, when not teaching Shakespeare & assisting with various events for Theatre eXceptional or working as an Underwriting Clerk for American Integrity Insurance, you can find him performing in various community theater productions around Pinellas County. He also was able to land the role of Baldur in the independent film, Father of Lies. An avid reader, he feels that teaching Shakespeare is a natural fit, and loves the versatility that comes with performing the works of the Bard!
Assistant Instructor (Shakespeare, Dance)
MacKenzie Aaryn is new to the Theatre Exceptional staff and has been teaching for the past two semesters after having been in their production of Into the Night as the character Jenny. Being new to Florida she has been lucky enough to have a great start to her professional theatre career working at multiple theatres in the Tampa Bay Area. She most recently was awarded the honor of being named a “Lady In Film and Entertainment” at the 2023 Sunshine City Film Festival. In her free time she enjoys taking scene study classes at Station 12 studios with Eugenie Bondurant, reading as many books as possible, and watching as many movies and TV shows as possible to remain involved in her art form. Growing up MacKenzie was always a very artistic person and enjoyed writing poems, reading, making up stories with friends, and singing for her family at every holiday. This led her to studying acting at Wright State University, just a couple of hours away from her hometown of Toledo, OH. Since, she has performed professionally in Detroit and Tampa Bay, as well as in commercials. She is currently represented commercially by Level Talent Group. She is beyond thankful to have found Theatre Exceptional and to work alongside the amazing students. Every person has something beautiful to offer this world, and being with this company is a constant reminder of that every single day!
Advanced Acting Instructor
Matthew has worked as a professional artist in the Tampa Bay Area since he graduated from The University of South Florida in 2009. He has performed on stage for Tampa Repertory Theatre, Stageworks, Jobsite, Hat Trick Theatre, Powerstories, Tampa Shakespeare Festival, St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival, and Theatre eXceptional. Outside of Tampa Bay, he has worked with The Studio at Terra Del Sol and Cherokee Historical Association Unto These Hills. He is happy to help bring his passions for theatre and art to Theatre eXceptional and Bluebutterfly Productions.
Theatre 101 Instructor/Playwriting Instructor Sketch/Comedy Instructor
Gabby Cabrera has been teaching at Theatre Ex since 2019. She has served as both teacher/teacher assistant for Theatre 101, a teacher for Playwriting, and a teacher assistant for Sketch Comedy. She has a double major in Communication and Film from the University of Tampa. In 2019, Gabby wrote, directed, acted, and produced her play (Re)union, which won the Social Good award at the Tampa Fringe Festival and was showcased at the Tampa Theatre Festival. She is most proud of helping her students discover their creative talents and find their voice. She is most proud of the role she plays in providing a platform for self-expression, particularly for those with unique and underrepresented perspectives. In addition to her involvement in theater, Gabby is both a licensed esthetician and massage therapist, where she continues to pursue her passion for helping others feel their best inside and out!
Dance Instructor / Advanced Musical Theatre Instructor
Katie Duchinksy is a choreographer, costume designer, musical theatre instructor, and is head of the Dunedin Highland Middle School's Drama program. She has been involved in the performing arts since 2009 and has been lucky enough to be working with Theatre Exceptional for the past 8 years. She has been involved in the Advanced Musical Theatre program at Theatre eXceptional since it's inception and as well as the dance program. She is also the company's resident choreographer and costumer on all major productions since 2016 and she looks forward to many more to come!
Sketch Comedy Instructor
Harrison Baxley is an actor, teacher, and theatre artist based out of Tampa Bay. He has a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of South Florida and has worked as a professional actor since 2019. Harrison has been writing and performing sketch comedy since 2018 with the bad boys of sketch comedy, Some Sort of Show Tampa. Teaching Sketch to the brilliant students at Theatre eXceptional has been a blast and combines his love of sketch and teaching. Currently, Harrison teaches technical theatre to baby geniuses at Gibbs PCCA. When he's not making theatre, Harrison loves spending time with his cat and playing Dungeons and Dragons. He can solve 5 different types of Rubik's Cubes and can say the alphabet backwards (and forwards).