Matt White

Stand Up Comedian

Matt White is just a small town guy with a huge personality! Which comes out every time he steps onstage with his brand of observational humor, mixed with improv/theatre training leaves audiences engaged and ready for more. He is an award winning comedian, winner of 2012 Port City Top Comic (Wilmington NC) and 2013 Carolina’s Funniest Comic (Carrboro NC). [ See More ]

Joan Darling

Joan Darling has been nominated four times for an Emmy (the first woman to be nominated) and twice for a Director’s Guild of America Award, winning one Emmy and one DGA award. Also winning an Emmy for her performance as Dorothy Parker in Woven in a Crazy Plaid…  [read more]

Ray Dooley

Special Guest Instructor

Ray Dooley’s career as a professional actor has spanned forty years on stage, television, and film. Since 1989 he has been an actor with PlayMakers Repertory Company, and since 1992 he has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Dramatic Art at UNC Chapel Hill. He currently serves as Head of the MFA Acting program. Ray received an OBIE award for Distinguished Performance in Peer Gynt at CSC Repertory Company in New York, and played Father Flynn in the European premiere of Doubt at Vienna’s English Theatre. His students have appeared on and off Broadway, in major regional theaters across the country, at the National Theater of Great Britain, and on numerous popular television programs. [read more]

Copyright © 2014 Moonlight Stage Company. All rights reserved.

Moonlight Stage Company

Acting Studio and Performance Venue In North Raleigh

Special Guest Instructor

There is no one more passionate about her students or more committed to the craft. She has an uncanny ability to pull performances from her actors they never thought possible.

Eric Stonestreet
Modern Family

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I learned so much from Jeris about trusting my instincts and “living in the now” on stage. She taught me how to find the honest moments in any acting situation. My auditioning and performance benefited greatly from what she taught me. They are skills I still use today. If you have a chance to study with her…you should! It will change how you approach acting and writing.

Angela Kinsey
The Office

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Carrie Marshall


Carrie Marshall’s voice and original songs can be heard on iTunes and Pandora Radio. She was named the Singer/Songwriter of the Year in 2010 for the NC Songwriter Co-Op competition. She was also a semi-finalist in the 2008 BBC Songwriter Competition. Carrie is very involved as a professional performing artist, studio session singer, producer, keyboardist, vocal coach, music director, actress and model. She holds a B.A. in Music and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and has had several years of private study in both piano and voice under reputable teachers such as Mark Baxter in Boston, MA and Dr. John Hugo. As a teacher, she has worked at the prestigious Middlesex School in Concord, MA., Concord Youth Theater, Carlisle Public Schools and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. In Nashville, TN she spearheaded the children’s music department for Christ Presbyterian Church, overseeing three performance choirs. Carrie specializes in mentoring serious students in the study of voice, composition, and performance. As a performing singer/songwriter, Carrie’s life experiences are a valuable asset in coaching students who desire to take their craft to the next level. Her submersion in the music and entertainment business allows her to uniquely address the multifaceted aspects of a lifestyle as a performing artist.

Estes Tarver

Acting Instructor / Artistic Director

Jeris Donovan


Jeris Donovan is an actress and comedian who has worked at all levels of the business. She has performed and directed improv for over twenty years and performed stand-up comedy all over the country. She studied improv at the renowned “Second City” in Chicago, Improv Olympic-Chicago, and Annoyance Theater, and has taught all levels of improvisation at the Improv Olympic West conservatory in Los Angeles, where she created and directed several shows and coached many teams. Jeris is a Meisner trained actor, and has worked on such television shows as Spin City, Two Guys and a Girl, and much more for networks such as ABC, CBS, etc

2008 BBC Songwriter Competition


Singer/Songwriter of the Year 2010

NC Songwriter Co-Op Competition

Top Charlotte Vocalist

Carolina Entertainment Network

Sean McCracken


Sean McCracken is an actor, singer, and improvisor who has over 20 years experience on stage, as well as in film, television, commercials, web series, and industrials. He has most recently been seen on television in Outcast (Cinemax) and AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies, and on stage in Moonlight’s Seascape with Sharks and Dancer, Theatre Raleigh’s The Secret Garden, Rock of Ages, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Broadway Series South’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the Duke Energy Center. He was also in the 2012 LA Weekly Award nominated production of Turbo Tartuffe at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre in North Hollywood. Sean has studied acting from Emmy Award-Winning director Joan Darling, as well as locally with Estes Tarver, and has improv training from The Upright Citizen’s Brigade and The Second City in Los Angeles, and locally with Jeris Donovan. Sean’s students have booked major roles on Stage, Film, and Television, including The King and I (Broadway), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Theatre Raleigh), Once (Theatre Raleigh), Office Christmas Party, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2, House of Cards, Good Behavior, Daytime Divas, Misfits and Monsters, Black Lightning, The Resident, Swamp Thing, Uncle Frank, Champaign ILL, and many more, as well as many local plays, shorts, commercials, and industrials. He has a BA in Dramatic Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Estes Tarver is an award wining actor, director, writer, and producer working out of Raleigh, NC. He has acted in NYC, LA, NC, and regionally. Estes has recently been working on such recent shows as Mr. Mercedes, Swamp Thing, Black Lightning, House of Cards, The Outsiders, and Burden.  You might also have seen him as a recurring guest star in season two of Under The Dome on CBS as Tom Tilden.  He has also been seen on such shows as Turn, One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek, As The World Turns, The Guiding Light, and appeared in Colin Firth’s Arthur Newman Golf Pro. On stage, Estes has worked off-broadway and regionally with oscar/emmy nominated award-winning directors and actors. He has written and produced award winning film and is in post production on the feature film, Changeover. He has also produced, written, and directed national brand commercials (Walgreens, Alli, Hasbro…etc).  Estes’ students have booked major roles on shows and films such as Disney’s The Lone Ranger, Terminator Genesis, Turn, Sleepy Hollow, Barely Lethal, Triple Nine, Last Vegas, Eastbound and Down, Hunger Games, The Bay (Barry Levinson), Army Wives, Hick, Banshee, Revolution, and have had callbacks to many Feature Films, Disney TV, Nickelodeon, Disney XD, the National tour of Peter Pan…etc. They have also worked on or had callbacks to Broadway shows, been accepted and won scholarships into top college programs (Tisch, UNCSA, Elon), had callbacks to CBS, Nickelodeon, HBO, L & O, etc.Estes coaches actors at the professional level, taught acting at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and also the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory. He has an MFA in acting from UNC-Chapel Hill and has students regularly acting in stage, film, and television.

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Katie Paxton


Katie Paxton is an actress, writer, teacher and coach. Her film and television credits include The Long Road Home (National Geographic, series regular), Billy and Billie (DirecTV written and directed by Neil LaBute, recurring), The Good Wife (CBS, recurring), Forever (ABC, guest star), The Black List (NBC, guest star), How He Fell in Love (dir. Marc Meyers) and The Heart Machine (dir. Zach Wigon). Recent theatre includes The Way of the World by Theresa Rebeck (world premiere at Dorset Theatre Festival), Bedroom Farce (Huntington Theatre Company), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, In the Next Room, The Imaginary Invalid and Noises Off(PlayMakers Repertory Company). She has booked multiple commercials including a Crest national network spot and has years of experience working and auditioning in the top casting offices in New York.Katie’s students have booked major roles on film and television, including The Blacklist, Quantico, The Deuce, Mr. Robot and Bloodline. Katie holds a BA and MFA in Acting from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has taught at the college and professional level for the past six years in NYC.


Oliver Riera


Oliver Riera is professional actor and improviser who has worked in film, commercially, and on stage. He is well versed in both improv and acting.  Oliver has always been in a passionate pursuit of his craft both as an actor and filmmaker. Oliver has also been fortunate to study with Rich Talerico (Head Writer for Key and Peele, Mad TV, SNL, Tonight Show) as well as Emmy Winning Director/Actress Joan Darling, Kerry Shear (who studied directly with Lee Strasburg), and Jimmu Carrane (Second City). As a teacher, he has worked on getting students out of their shell, into their craft, and teaching them how to become outstanding performers both on film and stage, as well as coaching/taping different actors for auditions they have for major TV/Film/Stage. Oliver can also be seen on CMT’s Hit TV Show; Nashville. As well as other films he has directed and produced. His students have had callbacks to producers and booked major film and television such as The Accountant (Ben Affleck), Disney Channel, Mercy Street, Bare Knuckle, Outcast, Fist Fight (Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracey Morgan), Big Little Lies (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Kravitz), and many more.

Paul Paliyenko


Paul Paliyenko is a professional actor with considerable experience performing on stage, screen, television, radio, and audiotape as an actor and improviser in Boston and NC. He is also an award-winning producer, director, cinematographer and sound designer with hundreds of film, video and audio producing and directing credits in Boston as well as nationally and internationally. Paul’s humorous broadcast promo, Play-by-Play, for The Learning Channel series Robotica aired during the 2002 AFC Championship Game and was renewed for the Super Bowl.His Triangle professional stage credits include August: Osage County and Barefoot in the Park for Theatre Raleigh’s Hot Summer Nights. In addition, Paul has been a member of Burning Coal Theatre Company since 2009 having performed in their highly-acclaimed productions of To Kill a Mockingbird andtheAmerican professional theatre premieres of Way to Heaven/Camino al Cielo and David Edgar’s The Prisoner’s Dilemma. He also performs as guest narrator with the Mallarmé Chamber Players, stock performer with “It’s a Mystery,” and lead actor and director of “Constitutional Tales.”Paul performed improv in Boston for many years with the U.S. Improvisational Theatre League. As a founding member of the U.S.I.T.L., he coached the US team in the 1992 Fifth Annual World Cup of Improv at the Spectrum in Montreal, QC. This first-ever English-language exhibition match with the premier Quebecois team was broadcast live nationwide across Canada on CTV.Paul was invited as guest director by the Kennedy Middle School in Somerville, MA to prepare three students’ performance of their original play, The White Rose Project, to present in Washington, DC at the National History Day Final Competition. With only four rehearsals, the students went on to win the 1996 National Championship in the Junior Division Performance & Presentation.Paul trained in acting with Michael Shurtleff, Jeannie Lindheim and Bill Young; in improvisation with Keith Johnstone and Adam Felber; and in voice, speech & movement with Leigh Smiley (Linklater), and Annie Thompson.He was a frequent guest presenter for the Conservatory workshops of the Boston SAG/AFTRA chapter on the process of auditioning and casting as well as improvisation for the actor. Paul has held appointments teaching film production at Boston University and Emerson College. Some of his former film production students include film and television director, Gary Fleder and screenwriter Peter Filardi.


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Mark Cornell


Mark Cornell is a playwright, director, screenwriter, and filmmaker.  Over 80 of his plays have been produced in theatres around the world, including Sprucehaven B with Rising Sun Performance Company in NYC; Two Turtle Doves (Common Ground Theatre); On Pine Knoll Street (Dayton Playhouse FutureFest; O’Neill semi-finalist; Garry Marshall Theatre New Works Festival finalist; Austin Playhouse Festival of New Plays finalist) won the AACT NewWorksFest 2020 and will premiere at The Sauk in Michigan in February of 2020; Carolyn Adamswill premiere in the fall of 2019 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro; The Other Half won the 2019 Charlies Getchell Award.  His short plays have won numerous awards, including the LW Thomas Award for Bad Thing, Best Playwright at Pittsburgh New Works Festival and Best Script at the City Theatre of Independence for Story Road; and the Short and Sweet Award in Brisbane, Australia for The Rental Company.  Mark has had many of his short plays and skits appear on the Moonlight stage.  Mark has written, produced, and directed numerous short films, including The Camera, which won Best Script at the Carrboro Film Festival.  He also directed Mr. Moonlight (with Estes Tarver and Joan Darling), which was written by Estes Tarver.  He is partner with Mark Jantzen with Marked Men Films and co-creator of Full Nelson Theater with Paul Newell.  He has an MFA in playwriting and a BA in English and Creative Writing from UCLA.

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Lisa Jolley


Lisa Jolley is an actor, singer, improviser, and a teacher/coach of all of those things. New York/Regional credits include: Hairspray (Broadway), The King Stag, (Yale Rep) Sweeney Todd (Paper Mill, PlayMakers Rep), Disaster (NCC Summer Theater), among others. Since relocating to North Carolina, she has appeared in Into the Woods, Les Miserables, Hairspray, and The Producers (North Carolina Theatre), Spamalot (Cape Fear Regional Theatre), Next to Normal (Deep Dish), Souvenir, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and Sylvia (Theatre Raleigh). She is also a featured soloist with the North Carolina Symphony.Television appearances include Law & Order: SVU, Sex and the City, Hope and Faith, and Banshee.As an improviser, she has been a cast member/team player with Amsterdam’s Boom Chicago, at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, The Magnet Theater, The PIT, and DSI Comedy in Chapel Hill. Her solo musical improv show, Jolley On the Spot, played to critical acclaim in New York, LA, and at the Chicago Improv Festival, Del Close Marathon, and the New York Musical Improv Festival.Public speaking engagements include Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh (Welcome Address) and three appearances at the North Carolina State University Scholars’ Forum.A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, Lisa has taught improvisation in NYC, the Yale School of Drama, the Wharton School of Business, Camp Broadway, Broadway Theatre Project, and in the Netherlands. She currently teaches voice and acting privately and is an Adjunct Instructor of Voice at William Peace University in Raleigh, and instructor of improv at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory, and now, Moonlight!

Estes Tarver and his company Moonlight are some of the most professional coaches and audition taping resources I’ve had the good fortune to have clients utilize. Tapes coming from Estes are perfectly lit, framed, and edited and compete with the best self-tapes I see from a variety of markets. Making them even more competitive is the coaching Estes provides. Clients of mine who have worked with Estes have been flown to LA to screen test for everything from studio features to independent film to network tv to the latest streaming shows and several have gone on to book significant, career building opportunities.

Michael Hepburn
Industry Entertainment

Los Angeles

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Estes is a true gem and it thrills me that the artists I work with regionally have Estes in their corner. He provides a tremendous support to the actor and their families, while navigating projects. He also has great insight on the appropriate direction needed for flawless execution. His tapes and coaching are spot on and better than most I have seen coming out of Los Angeles.

Liz York
Principal Entertainment
Los Angeles

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Vinny Valdivia


Vinny has been an improv comedian since 2008. Originally from Long Island, Vinny started taking classes at the ComedyWorx Theater shortly after seeing his first improv show. After a couple of years of being a stage performer his journey continued in 2010 to Chapel Hill where he became a full time company member and in 2012, Associate Producer at the DSI Comedy Theater. Vinny has been on multiple long form improvisational teams and toured the country performing in NYC, Atlanta, Charleston, Virginia and Washington D.C. Since 2011 he has been teaching improv and focuses on team mates being honest with their emotions, using one’s environment and performing in a way that not only surprises the performer but the audience watching as well.When not performing he loves to play the drums and watch reruns of Mr. Show, The State and Kids in the Hall. Vinny is dedicated to the art of improvisation and the positive influence it has on those who not only perform to their highest potential but also the audience who walk away from shows wanting to see more or perform just like he did a decade previous.