Verve Studios

Verve Studios is proud to be made up of working, degreed, professional coaches. Our coaches don't just teach, they do. They are active actors, directors, producers, filmmakers.


Head Coach (Acting, Cello) and Owner

Amanda Melby, a native Minnesotan, made her way to Phoenix via Southern California, Washington, DC and Cleveland.  She has worked as a professional actress for over 25 years and is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA.

Amanda can be seen in the feature films LOCKER 13 with Ricky Schroeder, Jason Spisak and Jon Gries, JAKE’S CORNER with Richard Tyson, Danny Trejo and BJ Thomas, NETHERBEAST INCORPORATED with Darrell Hammond, Steve Burns, Dave Foley and Jason Mewes, THE MAJESTIC with Martin Landau and Jim Carrey, FAREWELL DARKNESS, MADISON HALL and THE LANGUAGE OF KICKBALL.  Her short film credits include OUROBOROUS, COVET, CULT STATUS, IMPOTENT, VIEWFINDER, SMALL HAPPYS, THE FENCESTITUTE, COCKTAIL WIZARD, THE DARKNESS OF LIGHT, among others.  Her television credits include S.I.S. (Spike TV), BOSTON PUBLIC (Fox), THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS (CBS), AdTV and SCREEN WARS (AZTV). 

Her Los Angeles theatrical credits include understudying for Peri Gilpin as Gwendolyn in FRASIER GONE WILDE: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at the Mark Taper Forum, starring as Sonia in the LA premiere of LIFE x 3 at the Elephant Asylum, as Doris in SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR at the Long Beach Playhouse, and as Amy in the premiere of CHENILLE STEMS AND COCO MIDRIB at the Secret Rose Theatre.   Regional theatrical credits include the Cleveland Play House, Porthouse Theatre, Dobama Theatre and Cleveland Shakespeare Festival.

Locally, she has appeared at Actors Theatre of Phoenix: BODY AWARENESS, Phoenix Theatre: PLAYERS IN THE GAME and Theatre Artists Studio: SHAKESPEARE’S FRIENDS, RIDING TO BETHLEHEM, KISSING, COLLECTED STORIES, MEDEA’S GHOST and THE SHADOW BOX. 

She also works in commercials, industrials, voice over and print, having shot her 25th commercial, a national spot for Courtyard by Marriott, and appearing on the cover of a Pier One ad.

In addition to acting and teaching, Amanda also works as a producer, director and spokeswoman.  She was the Executive Director of IFP Phoenix 2005-2011 and is the owner/Head Coach of Verve Studios, a boutique acting studio.  She is a three-time Emmy® nominee for her work as Producer and Host of the television show SCREEN WARS, was honored with the 2007 Phoenix Film Foundation Board Member of the Year, with the 2008 Layne Award and was nominated for the 2011 Governor’s Arts Award for her contributions to the Arizona Entertainment Community.

She has studied with Howard Fine in his Master Class in LA.  Amanda is an accomplished cellist and holds a BA in theatre and English from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota.  She is repped by the Leighton Agency (Arizona) The Talent Shop (LA) and Artist Management Agency (California).


Film Acting, The Core, Scene Study (Sub), Commercials, Youth Classes

Susan K. Brigham is an award-winning independent filmmaker, who began her career as an actor. She studied acting at The Actor’s Lab in Scottsdale, AZ, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, CA, and the British American Drama Academy at Stanford University. Her studies prepared her for the variety of roles she played in commercials, theater, and several independent films. From there, she segued into writing, directing and producing her first feature film, GREASEWOOD FLAT, which is available on DVD and streaming as ARIZONA FLATS. She directed DEFLATED, a short film, now playing at film festivals and Susan is currently in post-production on THE FENCESTITUTE.


Voice Over, The Core, Commercials, Scene Study (sub)

Gene is an award-winning actor, producer and sound designer in the Phoenix market. 

In addition to having hundreds of TV/radio commercials, films and industrial projects to his credit,  he has over 20 years of professional onstage experience and teaches Acting for the Camera  and Film Production at Arizona State University as well as independent workshops.

Will Hightower


Will Hightower is a graduate of both the Phoenix College (AA) and Arizona State University (BA) theatre programs. As a teaching artist, he has worked with Childsplay, Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Jewish Theatre, The Boys and Girls Club, numerous private studios, and is currently the Improv Director of the Valley Youth Theatre “HaHa’s”. As an actor, Will has performed with Actors Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Childsplay, Arizona Jewish Theatre, and American Stage Theatre located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Will is currently a Theatre Teaching Artist at Arizona School for the Arts located in Downtown Phoenix.

Ashley Faulkner


Ashley Faulkner is an Arizona native with a strong passion for acting and music. Working in many mediums, she will always find her way to a film set or stage. She graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Theatre and Film Studies. Ashley is building her resume in theatre and film working on short films with valley filmmakers. Most recently, Ashley has had the opportunity to act in Crimes of the Heart as Babe, The Heiress, and Baby With the Bathwater at Theatre Artists Studio. Ashley has had the privilege of studying with Amanda Melby, Elayne Stein, Barbara Acker, and Susan K. Brigham.


Accents and Dialects, Voice Over

Diane Senffner has been working in theater for over 30 years and honed her craft at the venerable University of Cincinnati CCM and the famed Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston, IL. Over the years, she has professionally coached dozens companies and hundreds of actors in such shows as Pygmalion, The Elephant Man, Dancing at Lughnasa, Enchanted April, Educating Rita, Lady Windermere's Fan, She Stoops to Conquer, Henry V, Wind in the Willows, Noises Off, Misalliance, Oliver!, Cabaret, The Ritz, My Fair Lady, Molly Sweeney, Crimes of the Heart, and Beard of Avon to name just a few.  

In addition, Diane prides herself in coaching actors and non-actors alike to speak professionally and with confidence. She teaches workshops on vocal techniques for voice-over production and is a member of VASTA - Voice and Speech Trainers Association.  She is also an award winning video director.

Diane recently coached actors Ron Livingston, Lizzie Caplan and Matt Walsh in their 'cowboy' dialects for the motion picture, "Queens of Country."  


Judith Eisenberg


Judith Eisenberg is an actor, writer and producer. Her current short film "Deflated" which she wrote, produced and acted in has received many awards at film festivals this year: Best Comedy Short, Best Arizona Short and Judith was nominated at two festivals for Best Actress. Her first short film "Kerry and Angie" also won multiple awards: Audience Favorite from the Thurrock International Film Festival, an Award of Merit from the Accolade competition and Judith received best actor in a short from the Bloody Hero Film Festival. The film is now being broadcast on ShortsTV!

Judith has also appeared in many films and theater productions. She was also the producer of the Pandora Festival a playwriting festival for Arizona Women Playwrights.

Judith taught History for over 20 years at Phoenix Union High School at Maryvale, Camelback and Metro Tech high schools.


Breathing In The Physical Character/Voice/Shakespeare

Laura Winstin, a native Chicagoan, has been involved in the theatre for more than 35 years. Starting out as a dancer, Laura moved into the realm of acting when she began her college career.  She pursued her passion leading her to New York to study with the National Shakespeare Conservatory.  Her love of Shakespeare and the classics has been a mainstay for her.  While in New York, Laura performed with the Conservatory Theatre, exploring new works, both as an actress and director.  She appeared in multiple MTV videos, several films and a variety of voice overs. Returning to Chicago, she completed a Master's in Fine Arts for the Theatre School at DePaul and began working in the Chicago theatre scene and teaching Voice and Speech at The Center Theatre and The Organic Theatre.  She has appeared in Love' Labour's Lost, The Maids, And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little, Another Part of the Forest to name a few.  She co- wrote and directed The Unripe Fruit which was mounted throughout the Chicago Public School system.  She has trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as The Moscow Art Theatre. Laura's passion embraces developing new talent, directing, writing and being on stage in a collaborative setting.  During her free time she is the mother to 3 teenage girls and loves hiking and horseback riding.


Honest Improv

Chris Redish is a director, actor and writer from England, now living in Arizona. He can currently be seen in a national commercial for Major League Baseball. He also recently appeared in the feature film Suspicion.

His short comedy films have played at festivals around the world, winning accolades including Best Student Short Film at the Orlando Film Festival. His 35mm short, The Blacksmith and the Carpenter, was selected by the Phoenix Film Festival as one of their Top Ten Arizona shorts of all time.

Chris Redish joined the Oxymoron'z improv troupe in Scottsdale 21 years ago, where he studied with Louis Anthony Russo for 5 years, performing and directing weekly shows. From there, he continued with the Jester'z, then Beyond the Red Couch and now performs with Zenprov in Sedona.

Chris is also a film director who has directed such notable actors as Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot), Robert Picardo (Star Trek:Voyager), Charles Baker (Breaking Bad), Krista Allen (Significant Mother), Liz Sheridan (Seinfeld) and Christopher Atkins (Blue Lagoon).


Barbara Acker

Voice & Speech

Barbara Acker is an actor, vocal coach, and director. She taught voice and acting in the ASU School of Theatre and Film for 19 years and, before that, was at Miami University OH, Louisiana State University and SUNY Binghamton.  She holds a BFA in Drama (UT Austin), MA in Theatre (Case Western Reserve), and a Ph.D. in Theatre with a minor in Speech Science (Wayne State University).  Over the years, Acker has participated in workshops with Arthur Lessac, Patsy Rodenburg, Cicely Berry, Roy Hart practitioners, Pilates' trainers, Marjorie Barstow (Alexander), and the Canadian Voice Intensive with David Smuckler.  She served as president, Board member, and Director of Conferences for the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA), the national organization of voice teachers and coaches.  Acker co-edited The Vocal Vision: Views on Voice, and has published articles in theatre and voice journals, and given conference presentations and workshops on voice and acting in the US, Canada, Wales, and Australia. 

Acker recently appeared as Sister Aloysius in Doubt for the River City Repertory Theatre. She has performed at the Arizona Jewish Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Teatro Bravo, Theatre Works, and Theatre Artists’ Studio. During her four years with the Hilberry Repertory Theatre in Detroit, she enjoyed such roles as the Duchess in Duchess of Malfi, Queen Mary in Vivat! Vivat, Regina!, and Miss Marple in Murder at the Vicarage.   Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker and Alma in Summer and Smoke are her favorite roles.  She was awarded an AriZoni for the four different women she played in Teatro Bravo’s production 14.  She also does voice-overs, vocal coaching, and voice training for private clients and businesses, including American Express, SunSounds, GE Healthcare, and KPHO/CBS Channel 5 in Phoenix.