Instructors/Facilitators

Magnet workshops are led by a fearless and friendly team of improv, storytelling and presentation skills instructors.  They also have a variety of experiences in fields from advertising and marketing to education, neuroscience and public service.  We’re lucky they ended up with us.

Check them out below.

Rick Andrews

Rick AndrewsRick Andrews is an instructor and performer at The Magnet Theater, and has been studying, performing, and teaching improvisation since 1999. He began improvising with Improv Boston, and continued with a stint in Saint Louis, MO. He has been fortunate to learn from many improv greats, including Armando Diaz, Ed Herbstman, Joe Bill, Mark Sutton, Amy Pohler, Ian Roberts, and more.

Rick has conducted workshops for Google, PepsiCo, Sony, SEIU, Chobani, The Saint Louis Zoo, McKinsey, and countless schools, theaters, and festivals.

He enjoys running, thinking about the brain, and he loves improv more than anything.

Rick is a member of the Magnet Theater Touring Company.

Ed Herbstman

ed herbstman Ed Herbstman began teaching improv to organizations with SC Communications in Chicago while he was a member of the Second City National Touring Company. He was also a founding faculty member of IO West, the Los Angeles comedy theater and training center. Currently he teaches improvisation at Magnet, and for Syracuse University where he is a Professor of Drama in the School of Visual and Performing Arts. Adjunct. Totally Adjunct.

Ed loves the transformative power impov training can have on both groups and individuals, and is continually impressed by the creativity people reveal once they start to play.

He has written for Public Radio (The Truth, Here’s The Thing, This American Life) and was a contributing writer for HBO’s Da Ali G Show. He also worked in advertising, creating branded entertainment for P & G, Ford, L’Oreal, Cadbury, Lincoln Motor Cars, and Sun Life Financial. If you’d like to see some of it, we can’t stop you.

Ed has played an NYPD cop in a movie, a TV show, and in real life as an actual NYPD cop (70th Precinct). He has also appeared in commercials for Milk, Cars, Phones, Cruises, Gum, Burgers and Insurance.

Ed is a co-founder of Magnet Theater and lives in Hastings On Hudson, NY with his wife, two kids, and dog.

Melanie Hoopes

Melanie HoopesMelanie Hoopes is the Executive Storytelling Coach for The Rutgers Executive Leadership Program for Women and holds a Master’s Degree from NYU’s Gallatin School Of Individualized Study with a concentration in Education, Performance and Nutrition. She has taught storytelling to dozens of companies including Verizon, Chubb & Son, Pfizer, Towers Watson, AT&T, Johnson and Johnson and Novartis.

Melanie loves working with real stories from real people, and helping them tell those stories with clarity and power. Melanie has written for WNYC’s ‘Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin’, and her stories have been heard on WBEZ’s ‘This American Life’, KCRW’s ‘Unfictional’, and PRX’s ‘The Truth’. She teaches Solo Show creation at Magnet Theater where she performs regularly.  She also created and writes “Laurie Stanton’s Sound Diet”, a long-running story-based radio variety show performed in New York City, and archived at SoundDietRadio.com.

Elana Fishbein

large_elanafishbein2013Elana Fishbein is a performer, instructor, and Director of the Youth Program at the Magnet Theater. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Theater from NYU. Elana enjoys working with students of all ages and walks of life. She has lead workshops in corporate, non-profit, and educational sectors with such organizations as Bon Appétit Magazine, Bulgari, the Edelman Group, Young Women’s Leadership Network, 92ndStreet Y, the Berkshire School, and the University of Notre Dame. She also co-created two professional development workshop series for teachers: “Beyond Winging It: Improv in the Classroom” and “Play.”

Elana believes that improv is great way to foster collaboration, encourage creativity, and build a foundation of trust and support.

Elana has been performing at the Magnet Theater since 2005 and can be seen improvising with Featherweight, Kiss Punch Poem, the Armando Diaz Experience, the Magnet Theater Touring Company, and her solo improv show, Pepita. Her favorite succulent is jade.

Nick Kanellis

nickkanellisNick Kanellis is an instructor, performer, and coach at the Magnet Theater. He was born and raised in Iowa, and began his theater and improv training at Northwestern University. Nick has taught workshops for Gravitas Technology, PepsiCo, Google, Metlife, Edelman, and several colleges, and continues to be amazed at just how much improvisation can improve teamwork, creativity, and positivity in the workplace. He continues to teach improvisation to children and adults of all ages with Magnet Theater, Story Pirates, and the Calhoun School. At Magnet he can be seen improvising in The Armando Diaz Experience, Kiss*Punch*Poem, The Weave (Splitsider “Best Weekly Show”), and in his duo Trike (Time Out Critic’s Pick, NY Times Critic’s pick, Splitsider “Best Weekly Show”) which the New York Times calls “reliably one of the best improv performances in the city.” When he’s not at the Magnet, Nick works as an actor and writer and can be seen in ads for Quirky, Toys R Us, Topps Juicy Drop Candies, Lexus, and more. He enjoys Greek Mythology, freestyle rapping, and reading about animals. Nick is a member of The Magnet Theater Touring Company.

Jocelyn Chia

Jocelyn is our Director of Corporate Events.  She is a former corporate attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and represented clients such as Goldman Sachs, Citibank, General Electric and American Capital Strategies.  She was also an innovation consultant at Innosight, where she worked with large pharmaceutical, medical devices and F&B companies to initiate and execute on innovation and growth strategies.

She is also a storyteller (two-time Moth Storyslam winner) and standup comedian (winner of Gotham Comedy – New York’s Funniest Lawyer contest), and helps us bridge the gap between the creative and business worlds.

Russ Armstrong

large_russarmstrong

Russ feels very lucky to get to teach, direct and perform with nice, funny people almost every day. Russ teaches improvisation at Magnet Theater where he performs regularly.He has written for Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars (Emmy Nomination) and FUSE’s Billy on the Street and has written for and appeared in several pilots for Comedy Central and MTV.  Russ has appeared on NBC’s 30 Rock, MTV’s Failosophy, NPR’s Studio360 and commercials for NY Lotto, La Quinta and lots more. He performs live with Magnet Theater’s Friday Night Sh*w (NY Magazine Critic’s Pick) and co-stars in UCB’s Guilty Bystanders (NY Times and Time Out Critic’s Pick) among many others.

 

Russ was selected as a 2013 New Face of Comedy for the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival and is a member of the Magnet Theater Touring Company.

 

Megan Gray

large_megangraynewMegan is the Artistic Director of the Magnet Theater, a writer, performer, teacher and native New Yorker. She has been studying improvisation for over a decade, with Armando Diaz, Kevin Dorff, Christina Gausas, Dave Pasquesi, TJ Jagodowski, Dave Razowsky and many talented others.Megan has performed with Second City aboard the NCL Gem and has taught improvisation at C.W. Post University, Fairfield University, and festivals around the country (and Canada), as well as companies and organizations, including Revenue Breakthrough, Columbia Business School, Davis & Company and more.She believes that improvisation unlocks the creative potential in every individual and should be practiced everywhere. She also does a lot of yoga.

Louis Kornfeld

large_louiskornfeldLouis Kornfeld is a teacher and long-time ensemble member at the Magnet Theater. He is also is the Director of the Megawatt House Teams at Magnet Theater.

He can be seen regularly performing with The Boss and Kiss*Punch*Poem, and is an award winning writer/actor for the podcast ‘The Truth’.

Louis has appeared in countless shows at the Magnet and elsewhere, including Theory of Everything, The Armando Diaz Experience, and a stint touring with The Second City onboard the NCL Gem.

He is also the host of The Magnet Theater Podcast on iTunes.

Peter McNerney

large_petermcnerneyPeter McNerney is head of the Conservatory Program at the Magnet Theater.

He served for three years as the Artistic Director at the Magnet Theater where he has directed and performed in over 30 productions. Currently he performers with Nick Kanellis in the improv duo Trike (TimeOut New York Critic’s Pick) as well as The Magnet Theater Touring Company.

As an actor Peter can be seen as a series regular in the Science Chanel scripted comedy Stuff You Should Know. Peter also serves as the Associate Artistic Director and Casting Director for the nationally respected education and media company The Story Pirates with whom he writes and performs on Absolutely Mindy! on SiriusXM Radio and through a partnership with Penguin Publishing has co-written and performed in the interactive touring shows Endangered Authors, Theodore Boone and The Thrill of Rights and The Ranger’s Apprentice: Escape to Areluen. Peter is the co-writer and director of theater/sketch comedy fusioneers Sax & Dixon, who have been featured at Ars Nova NYC and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival. He is from Winnetka, IL, graduated from Northwestern University and currently lives in Brooklyn with his beautiful and hilarious wife Beth Newell.

Adam Wade

adamwadeAdam has been performing in New York City for the past ten years. He’s an 18-time StorySLAM Champion at The Moth (“New York’s hottest and hippest literary ticket” by The Wall Street Journal), and a 2-time GrandSLAM Champion. He’s toured across the country with The Moth Main Stage with stops in Portland, Oregon; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Boston, Massachusetts; Portsmouth, NH; Aspen, Colorado; and Detroit, Michigan. He’s also been featured on both The Moth Radio Hour Episode 1305, Episode 1410 and The Moth Podcast. He teaches Storytelling at Magnet Theater.

Hannah Chase

hannahchaseHannah Chase is a teacher and performer of improvisation, as well as a career counselor. She uses applied improvisation techniques to work with individuals and companies on a variety of professional development and leadership topics, and has worked with large companies, startups, and education institutions all over the country. She has been studying and performing improvisation since 2002, and currently teaches classes in improvisation at the Magnet Theater. In addition to teaching improv, Hannah has worked at Columbia Business School since 2007, both in the Career Management Office and in the Office of Admission, and also maintains her own career consulting practice. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Theater from Dartmouth College, and is currently completing her Master’s of Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Start The Conversation:

Email our Director of Corporate Events, Jocelyn Chia.