Co-Founder & Teacher
Rick is a highly regarded actor, singer, dancer and teacher with over 35 years of experience starring on Broadway, national tours, the concert stage, as well as the dance world. He has enjoyed a successful and diverse international career. His parents recognized his growing interests in art, music and dance. With a solid foundation early on in vocal technique and an interest in dance, he was pointed in the right direction. Rick’s professional performing experience commenced directly after high school. He was chosen to be a member of the Academy Award winning singing group The Young Americans, based in Los Angeles. He was also accepted to the Acting program at California State University, Fullerton. There he studied all aspects of the theatre arts, from acting technique with Gretchen Kanne and Kirk Mee, to scene study, makeup design, fencing and mime with Whitney Rydbeck. Rick returned to his native Chicago where he worked in the area theatres and studied dance with Lou Conte. The internationally acclaimed Hubbard Street Dance Company was in its infancy at the time and Rick became the first male principal dancer with the troupe where he appeared in two PBS TV specials. He had a long tenure with HSDC as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. His students have gone on to successful careers on Broadway, in film, television and stages around the world. His performing career took a large step forward when he was cast by the famous stage director Harold Prince in the First National Company of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. He starred as The Phantom for over 1200 performances, receiving a nomination for the prestigious Joseph Jefferson Award. He would go on to work for Mr. Prince in Parade, and again for Mr. Prince and Stephen Sondheim in the original cast (and recording) of Bounce. Broadway credits include: Caractacus Potts in the high flying Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Big Davey in the multiple Tony Award winning, Billy Elliot: The Musical, directed by Stephen Daldry. Favorite roles include, most recently, Fred Graham/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate with his wife, Sarah Pfisterer, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady in Boston also with his wife, Sarah as Eliza Doolittle. Also Henry Ford in the original Chicago company of Ragtime; directed by Academy Award winner, Frank Galati; Herbie in Gypsy with Karen Mason; Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls; Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol; and Harold Hill in The Music Man. His longtime association with friend and esteemed voice teacher and media coach for NBC, Bruce Kolb, continues to inform his career, as both an instructor and a performer. Rick is also an accomplished artist. His landscape and still life paintings have been exhibited in area galleries and shows. (www.hilsabeckstudio.com) Founding Wiremill Academy™ with his wife Sarah Pfisterer and Mary Jo Duffy, offers a wonderful opportunity to pass along some of his experience and passion to young people from all our surrounding communities. Rick is also a media coach in Westchester and Fairfield counties and in New York City, working with radio and television professionals.
Co-Founder & Teacher
B.M and M.M. from Northwestern University. Sarah is one of Broadway’s most esteemed leading ladies, having starred as Christine Daae in over 1000 performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, as well as an acclaimed portrayal of Magnolia in Showboat! (Both for director Harold Prince). Her experience as a successful actor and her passion for teaching, have led Sarah to a busy private voice studio. She finds joy in communicating the knowledge of her craft and takes great pride in her students’ many accomplishments. Her students have appeared in film, television, and on professional stages as well as having gone onto some of the top programs in the country such as, The Stratford Festival, University of Michigan, Boston University, Boston Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, NYU Tisch School, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music, UCLA, Elon University, Boston University at Tanglewood, Pace University, Syracuse University and Berklee School of Music. Sarah had a solid foundation, graduating from Northwestern and discovered the professional experience in Phantom and Showboat to be an invaluable extension of that. Teachers include many leading pedagogists in the industry:Bruce Kolb, William Riley, Edward Zambara, Lorna Haywood, Sunny Joy Langton, Elizabeth Fischer, and Sherrill Milnes to name a few. After a highly successful run in the New York company of Showboat! with John Cullum and John McMartin, she toured the show with Tom Bosley. Also on Broadway she was seen in Children and Art directed by Richard Maltby, celebrating Stephen Sondheim’s 75th birthday. Off-Broadway she played Anna Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis at the Irish Repertory Theatre directed by Charlotte Moore. Regionally Sarah has appeared in The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Maria in Sound of Music (IRNE award – Independent Reviewers of New England – for Best Actress) with John Davidson and Patrick Cassidy, Julie in Carousel (IRNE award for Best Actress) with Shirley Jones, Marian in The Music Man (IRNE award nomination), Anna in The King and I (IRNE nomination), Belle in Beauty and the Beast (IRNE nomination), and Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady. A Metropolitan Opera semi-finalist, Sarah has sung in concert with symphonies around the world with performers such as, Rick Hilsabeck, Ciaran Sheehan, Michael Feinstein, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Betty Buckley and Ruben Studdard and has worked with conductors such as Michael Tilson Thomas and John McGlinn. She also made a recording of Jerome Kern’s “Oh Boy” in London under the direction of Mr. McGlinn. Sarah has a busy concert schedule, working with Broadway Pops International. She has appeared on The Today Show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and on The Food Network. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sarah lives in beautiful Wilton, Connecticut with her husband, actor and fellow Wiremill Academy™ Founder Rick Hilsabeck. She also teaches professionals in New York City.
MARY JO DUFFY
Co-Founder & Teacher
Mary Jo Duffy discovered the joy of teaching and directing children after years of performing on Broadway, internationally, and in film and television before co-founding Wiremill Academy™ with her three dear friends and colleagues. Wiremill Academy™ is the exciting result of a series of serendipitous circumstances that coincided to make this dream happen and we are all very excited to embark on this theatrical journey together! Mary Jo began her formal vocal training with Metropolitan Opera singer Mimi Lerner in Pittsburgh, PA, and went on to study with Lorenzo Malfatti and Margaret Ross at Chatham University as a Minna Kaufmann Ruud voice scholar. Mary Jo continued her vocal training after college with Beatrice Krebs at Carnegie-Mellon University before moving to New York City where she studied extensively with Tony McDowell. Mary Jo played Liberty in Tom O’Horgan’s Senator Joe on Broadway, Magnolia, in the European tour of Showboat, and has spent years working in regional theatres across the country, as well as industrial trade shows and television commercials. Mary Jo’s regional credits include Shelby in Steel Magnolias, Maria in West Side Story, Julie in Carousel and Laurey in Oklahoma. Mary Jo has worked with film director David Lynch at BAM and has performed as a soloist in several Columbia Artists Concert tours across the country. Ms. Duffy has been directing the musicals at various public and private schools in Connecticut for the past eight years as well as guest directing for many independent arts organizations. Ms. Duffy’s private voice students have been accepted into such elite summer theatre programs as Interlochen, Walnut Hill, and Carnegie-Mellon University. Many of Ms. Duffy’s vocal students have graduated high school and earned acceptance into theatre and musical theatre programs at Northwestern University, NYU, CCM, CMU, University of Michigan and Oberlin College to name a few. Mary Jo is thrilled to have Wiremill Academy to call home and to continue to teach musical theatre, drama, and private voice. Ms. Duffy is looking especially forward to watching Wiremill Academy™ flourish into a quality educational experience for young people! Member AEA, SAG.
Kelley O’Grady was born in Stamford, CT and began her dance training at the Stamford City Ballet under the instruction of Allegra Kent, legendary ballerina and Principal dancer at the New York City Ballet (NYCB), and Carol Sumner, Soloist at the New York City Ballet. She performed in several children’s roles in Stamford City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the Palace Theater. Kelley was invited to audition for the New York City Ballet’s summer season. She was accepted and performed in NYCB’s production of Coppelia, Circus Polka and A Midsummers Night’s Dream at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. In addition to her dance training, Kelley performed in musical theater productions at the Darien Dinner Theater. Shows include The Sound of Music, The King and I, Evita, Annie, and South Pacific. Additional acting credits include commercial modeling shoots for Colgate, Cabbage Patch Kids, Aetna, and Danskin. Kelley continued her love for dance and musical theater in Wilton. Kelley enrolled in The Walter Schalk School of Dance and performed in several productions and also served as a High School Instructor. During that time, she was also a member of Wilton High School’s Chambers Singers and was accepted into Connecticut’s All-State choir. She performed in high school productions of Anything Goes, Brigadoon, A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum and Little Shop of Horrors. During the summer season, Kelley performed in New Canaan Summer Theater’s production of Oliver and The Wizard of Oz as well as Wilton Playshop’s I’m Sorry the Bridge is Out. After graduating from Wilton High School, Kelley attended Miami University where she majored in Communications and minored in Theater. Following her graduation, Kelley began her 20-year career with Macy’s Inc. and held many leadership roles in Human Resources. In 2014, Kelley and her family moved back to Wilton where she returned to The Walter Schalk School of Dance as a Jazz/Hip-Hop dance teacher. Kelley had the privilege of teaching at this historic school for its remaining years before closing in 2019. Currently, Kelley is a proud member of the Wilton Singers and performs in their seasonal concerts. Kelley is thrilled to be joining the Wiremill Academy as a Jazz/Hip-Hop dance teacher and looks forward to sharing her passion and love of dance performance with the community.
Patricia is a dedicated and experienced Pilates and Dance educator, specializing in the art of movement. A former professional dancer, Patricia recently had the surprise opportunity to come out of retirement and audition for Emmy award winning choreographer, master teacher, and in-house choreographer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Marguerite Derricks, for a flashmob wedding scene as a “dancer over 50” for the final episode of Showtime Series, The Affair. Patricia booked the job on the spot and had the most fun shooting the outdoor scene, on location. Patricia is thrilled and honored to be able to continue teaching her local students, welcoming new dancers with fellow teacher, Kelley O’Grady, and working with the esteemed founders of Wiremill Academy. Growth as a student of life never stops! She is so excited to begin connecting with each individual in a playful yet organized group setting and explore movement potential within many dance genres. Her early years, from ages 4-10, were happily spent in Middle Village/Rego Park, NY. Patricia loved her ballet & tap teachers and classes at the Queensborough Institute of Music. She hung out on the floorboards of the local parish community theatre basement, while her mother, Aurora Moya, accompanied the musical theatre veterans on the piano. One day she started performing with those players, as she was cast as part of the ballet ensemble in Oklahoma! She “became” the Dew Fairy in the children’s theatre rendition of Hansel and Gretel. Having moved to Wilton at age 11, Patricia continued to study classical ballet with local ballet grande dame, Martha Krueger.At age 13, Patricia started taking jazz & musical comedy class with Walter Schalk. She also carpooled to study classic Jazz & Broadway dance with NYC professionals at A Dance Class of Westport. From age 14-16, Patricia was a student instructor for WSSD—She co-student directed the all-girl division for the last two years of HS, giving up Varsity cheerleading her senior year to focus solely on dance. Patricia earned a small stipend for assisting Mr Schalk every day, after school, in staging and choreography. Upon graduation from WHS, Patricia continued teaching for Mr Schalk, for 3 consecutive summers, as co-director of his Summer Dance Program in Nantucket. She instructed students, ages 3-16, as well as taught ladies’ dance and aerobics classes. Early in her high school years, Mr Schalk invited Patricia to attend Jackie Sorensen Aerobics workshops, along with a few select WSSD instructors. She continued to perform on the island in numerous fundraiser shows, benefitting local causes. Patricia performed in WHS musicals as well as spent a summer at the Wilton Playshop, in the junior production of Promises, Promises, in the role of Miss Wong and ensemble. Patricia double majored in Spanish Literature and Theatre, with an emphasis in Dance, at Smith College. She had the privilege of studying ballet, modern, musical theatre and dance history under the tutelage of the late Rosalind deMille and Gemze deLappe, the latter most known for keeping the work of Agnes deMille alive. Patricia was an original member of Smith College’s dance company, Celebrations, and enjoyed collaborating and performing with this close-knit group. Several are her closest friends to this day. But it was Patricia’s exposure to and two year study of West African Dance with MFA scholar Eno Washington, that led her to understand the depths and possibilities of dance exploration. Patricia’s favorite performance experience while at Smith was as a soloist in Westwind, part of Mr Washington’s MFA Thesis Concert, set to music and lyrics of the same title, by Nina Simone. Patricia’s next great influence was The Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. She auditioned and was accepted into The Ailey School, where she competed the two year Certificate of Dance Program in 18 months and continued studying as the school’s first recipient of The Friends of Alvin Ailey Scholarship. (As a student, she danced with many great modern dance choreographers such as David Gordon, Senta Driver and William Luther. She performed principal and ensemble parts in Ailey excerpts with the Third Company, at local Universities and schools, such as Rutgers, CUNY, and BMCC. Mr Ailey would personally thank them backstage at each performance and often gave the group tokens for their subway ride home! She performed the Second Company section with the First and Third Companies in Ailey’s largest ensemble work, Memoria, for their Winter Season at City Center, NYC. Around the same time, Patricia joined former principal Graham dancer, Daniel Maloney’s new company, DanceProbe, and performed in art house venues such as Symphony Space.) Patricia was “discovered” at the Ailey School, in Graham class, by choreographer, Patricia Birch, best known for her Broadway and feature film productions of Grease. Ms Birch is less known for having been a soloist in Martha Graham’s Dance Company. Cast by Ms Birch, who was the in-house choreographer for Saturday Night Live, Patricia became a regular Weekend Update News Dancer with Dennis Miller and played in numerous comedic sketch scenes during the 1985-86 season. As well, Patricia performed in several of Ms Birch’s Hamptons fundraisers, video projects, such as The Rolling Stones’ Harlem Shuffle and the Rock’n’Roll multi-media national tour, Elvis: An American Musical, which also played in residency at Elvis’s famed Las Vegas Hilton & a full summer season at NYC’s historic Beacon Theatre. Other wanderlust travel credits include, a 6 month run of the musical revue, Steppin’ Out, in St Thomas, USVI’s, and a European tour of WEST SIDE STORY, playing Francesca and Anita’s Understudy. Next, Patricia was cast by Tony Award winners, Des McAnuff and Wayne Cilento in Tim Rice’s First National Tour of CHESS, music & lyrics by ABBA. She later followed the dynamic duo to La Jolla Playhouse, in the role of Tintinabula in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Upon returning to the east coast, Patricia resumed dance classes and began studying Meisner acting technique with William Esper, while working with commercial agencies. In 1991, Patricia booked a principal role in her first National Network commercial for AT&T. Shortly, she signed with Cunningham, Escott, Dipene Agency, now CESD, and has been signed with them ever since. Patricia has done nearly 50 National Network, internet and print spots and is a vested member of SAG/AFTRA. In the mid 90s, Patricia earned a dream job on Law & Order, as the recurring role of Deborah Curtis, wife of Detective Ray Curtis, played by Benjamin Bratt. SAG went on strike sometime in 1999—this provided the opening for Patricia to rediscover Pilates, Yoga and the art of movement, now with a greater awareness and a desire to remain pain-free. Having studied Pilates Mat at the Ailey School, Patricia commenced training in apparatus & mat in 2000, under Joseph Pilates’ protégés, Romana Kryzanowska, and received her Authentic Pilates certification in 2002. For nearly 20 years, Patricia has thrived as a Private Pilates instructor at several boutique establishments, from DLFIT, in Soho, NYC, to Pilates Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, NM, and enjoyed teaching Pilates fitness and dance classes exclusively at Equinox health clubs, in NYC and Ct. To deepen her practice, Patricia completed the first 200 hour yoga teacher training program in 2014, under the direction of Mitchell & Tracy Bleier, of the now defunct, Yogapata, in Wilton.From 2016-19, Patricia devoted four years teaching, choreographing and assisting Walter Schalk in the functioning of his WSSD empire, from pre-k thru HS, along with helping to sustain & build his legacy, until he retired his school on the last performance, March 31st, 2019. Presently, Patricia’s second home is the private gym, PTP, where she has built a lovely, sustainable, exclusive Pilates practice. In between clients, Patricia brings her mat to Soul Tribe Yoga, in Wilton and SYJ in Sono, to practice with the best yoga teachers in the area. Patricia looks forward to pouring her passion for dance into the mix of the vibrant students of Wiremill Academy. She resides in Wilton, with her husband, Charles Herbstreith, and daughter, the one and only: Ava Rose and Grandma Aurora Moya.