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Soprano, Crossover & Belting Specialist - Director of Teaching Fellowship, Voice, Master Clinician

In demand as one of the finest vocal coaches of belt, legit and classical vocal technique, Maryann Kyle has dedicated her professional life to guiding singers in their pursuit not only of exceptional singing, but also captivating performance. Kyle has extensive experience teaching, coaching, and performing opera, recitals, concerts and Broadway shows. Kyle is currently the vocal coach for Twist, a new musical by composers Tena Clark and Gary Prim, and directed by Debbie Allen, which opened in Atlanta in 2010 at the Alliance Theatre, and opened at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2011. Kyle is the creator of Maryann Kyle’s COMMAND PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP, which focuses on the integration of the voice into the total actor.

Maryann Kyle is an active performer of opera, concert, and recital repertoire, and has shared the concert stage with some of world’s greatest artists, having sung the role of Micaela in Carmen opposite internationally known mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves; performing as a guest soloist with The Miami Festival opposite famed bass-baritone William Warfield; and singing the soprano solos in Mendelssohn’s Elijah opposite baritone Timothy Noble and mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson. Kyle has appeared as a soloist on the pop music stage with famed artists Patti Labelle, Patti Austin, Dionne Warwick, Ann Nesby and Vesta Williams. Kyle’s Sondheim Cabaret will premiere in NYC at the Laurie Beechman Theatre/West Bank Café in October, 2011.

Specializing in belt and legit style Broadway technique, Kyle has had a tremendous success in training singers in the best and healthiest use of their voice, and in integrating the function of singing with their character and physical acting process. She maintains studios in Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta. Her students include famed New York dancer Jared Grimes, Emily Hindrichs (English National Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Tanglewood, Seattle Opera), Olivia Diane Joseph (off-Broadway production of The Wiz, Suzi Bass Award Winner), Alaman Diadhiou (title role in Twist, America’s Child Tap Dance Prodigy, Oman…O Man!, Jerry Lewis telethon), Pop/R&B singer, Matthew Johnson (Twist) and Aijia Lise, (headliner at the Viper Room in Hollywood and the House of Blues on Sunset Strip, Twist).

Kyle’s coaching talents are not restricted to Broadway musicals. Her students are successful in the classical realm as well, many of whom have performed leading roles with New Orleans Opera, Seattle Opera, Oper Frankfurt, and EnglishNational Opera.

Her students have garnered numerous awards including top placements at state and regional Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. Her students have earned apprenticeships with Seattle Opera, Lake George Opera Festival, Aspen Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, Ohio Light Opera, Brevard and Operafestival di Roma; many continue to pursue their studies in major conservatories and schools including Indiana University, San Francisco Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory, Oklahoma City University and New England Conservatory of Music.  Kyle’s main opera roles include Mimi and Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme Countess and Susannah in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, Violetta in La Traviata, Pamina in Die Zauberflote, Lady Billows in Albert Herring, Micaela in Carmen, the title role in Floyd’s Susannah, and the Evil Queen in the world-premiere of Snow White.  

Soprano, Crossover & Belting Specialist - Founder, Voice, and German

As a master class instructor and vocal technician specializing in musical theatre belting technique as well as operatic vocal technique, soprano Darla Earnest has worked in Austria, Germany and the United States producing students currently working in the musical theatre and classical music industries worldwide. Her students can be seen in touring productions of musicals as well as in opera houses, conservatories, universities and young artist programs around the globe.  Studying under Metropolitan Opera soprano Dr. Barbara Daniels and Ms. Daniels’ former teacher, Lucille Evans, Ms. Earnest developed as an opera singer as well as securing a technique for belting that is well suited to the modern ingénue repertoire for 20th and 21st century musical theatre.

As a performer, Ms. Earnest has a diverse career that includes being a member of the vocal jazz ensemble “Voices of Liberty” at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, as well as being the soprano soloist in EPCOT’s Italy specializing in Neopolitan songs and Italian opera arias. She has also sung numerous musical theatre and opera roles including Grace Farrell in Annie, Laura in the world premiere of Parable, the Soprano role in Trouble in Tahiti, Lead Role in Nightclub Cantata, Anna in The King and I, and The Sound of Music’s Maria, Ms. Southingham in a modern adaptation of Mozart’s Impresario, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, Valencienne in The Merry Widow, Gretel in Hansel & Gretel, Edwina in Mystery on the Docks, Gasparina in La Cantarina, Maria in Monkey See, Monkey Do, Blonda in The Abduction from the Seraglio, and Drusilla in The Coronation of Poppea. Concert works to her credit are various Rodgers and Hammerstein tributes, Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass, Bach’s Jesu, Meine Freude, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, Menotti’s Steal Me, Sweet Thief.  Ms. Earnest has sung as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, was the soprano soloist in the Brahms Requiem under the baton of New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor, Delta David Gier and made her debut in the role of Liú in Puccini’s Turandot with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, also conducted by maestro Gier.  She will be making her Mobile Opera debut as Musetta in La Boheme in 2018.

Darla has served on the voice faculties of the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater/Bayerische Theaterakademie August Everding (Conservatory for Music and Theater/Bavarian Theater Academy) and in the Prinzregententheater both in Munich, Germany. She is currently adjunct Professor at the University of Mobile teaching Musical Theatre and Classical Vocal Technique. Darla holds a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Central Florida where she studied under lyric soprano Elizabeth Wrancher. 


Ryan Graytok is a theatrical director and choreographer who believes that the art of live storytelling can truly change the world. He received a BA in Theatre and BA in Sociology from Florida State University In Tallahassee, Florida before moving to New York City, where he is currently based, and traveling the world. 


Ryan is passionate about teaching and working with artists at every level through equal parts of hard work, dedication, and fun. While he has a true soft spot for old MGM-style “song and dance” production numbers, he also equally enjoys working with artists who don’t consider themselves dancers. He believes that movement used in many ways, not just traditional dancing, to tell a story. Movement should not be scary, and every artist can develop those skills to enhance any character, scene, or song onstage. 


Most recently, Ryan created original choreography for a regional production of A Chorus Line in central Florida. Other favorite credits include Jekyll & Hyde (Co-Director, Choreographer) Off Broadway at The Players Theatre, Ragtime (Choreographer) and Chess (Choreographer, Asst. Director) Off-Off Broadway at The Gallery Players, and Titanic (Director and Choreographer) with Village Light Opera Group in NYC.


Ryan was accepted into the 2018-2019 Observership class with the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation. From within that class, Ryan was chosen as the SDCF Observer to work under and assist Karen Azenburg, Artistic Director of Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, Utah, on her production of Sweeney Todd at PTC. Upon completion of this prestigious opportunity and yearlong development  program, Ryan became an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the theatrical union for professional directors and choreographers in the United States. 



Theatre Performer - Dance & Movement, Musical Theatre Scenes

Christopher Niess is pleased to return to IPAI this summer. His creative work spans over 200 productions in musical theatre, dance and devised work; as director, choreographer, actor, dancer, performance artist or movement coach throughout the U.S., and in Canada, Germany and Scotland. He has received meritorious citations from the Kennedy Center-American College Theatre Festival for directing and choreography for his work on The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein, Reeling, Trevor, Scapin, Lend Me A Tenor, and Marisol. He co-directed, with Artistic Director Jim Helsinger, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby as well as served as an associate director for West Side Story and The Hound of the Baskervilles for the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

Mr. Niess has served as Chair/Artistic Director for the University of Central Florida Department of Theatre, Artistic Director for the Great Lakes Festival Ballet and Ballet Theatre Ohio. Directing and choreographic credits cover a diverse roster including Godspell (Balhaus, Rosenheim – featuring a cast from the U.S., Netherlands and Slovenia), Grease, Urinetown, West Side Story, Camelot, Working, Babes in Arms, Bye Bye Birdie, Waiting for Godot, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Equus, and As It Is In Heaven. Dance choreography has included productions of Giselle, The Firebird, Aurora’s Wedding, a full-length Alice in Wonderland with commissioned score, and many contemporary works as well.

Niess has performed for companies including the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Cleveland Play House, Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Porthouse Theatre, the Berkshire Ballet, the Tennessee Festival Ballet, and the Lexington Ballet; danced a good share of the classical repertoire and noted as a "memorably fine-scaled" performer by critic Jennifer Dunning (NYTimes); acted in productions of Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, King Lear, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Country Wife, Proof, To Kill A Mockingbird, as Richard in a Suzuki-style Richard III, and Off-Off Broadway in Tap Shoes.

His current research interest includes creating movement for Street of Crocodiles, a devised imagining of the work of Polish artistic icon Bruno Schultz during World War II. His work with movement for actors and dancers has been presented at national and international conferences, and led to publishing Essence to Action: An Actor’s Developmental Journey into Process, and a contribution to Playing with Theory in Theatre Practice (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012).

He also has been working in the area of health & wellness for the performing artist, presenting or collaborating with Nemours Childrens Hospital, UCF Medical Center, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Niess also manages a Health & Wellness class for Music and Theatre students at the UCF School of Performing Arts, where he teaches acting and stage movement – having designed the movement sequence for the MFA Acting program and the BFA Acting track. Niess has been fortunate to have taught students who have gone on to perform on Broadway, regional theatre and internationally.

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