Teachers

All teachers at the BHP are homegrown, with a minimum of ten years as a student at BHP as first prerequisite for becoming a teacher. This ensures a very consistent application of the BHP approach across all our classes. 

Allen Barton (BHP Owner and Advanced-level Teacher): A native of Boston and a graduate of Harvard University, Allen has been a part of the BHP community since 1990, working directly with Milton for over 16 years before Milton’s death in 2008. He is a playwright/author, director, teacher and classical pianist. Plays include CIRCLING (2020), DISCONNECTION (2015), YEARS TO THE DAY (2013), and ENGAGEMENT (2010).  YEARS TO THE DAY was named one of Los Angeles’ 10 Best New Plays by LA Weekly, and has since been performed in ten cities across three continents. Directing credits include ENGAGEMENT, THE REAL THING, RABBIT HOLE, THE LAST FIVE YEARS, BURN THIS, THE HEIDI CHRONICLES, OLEANNA, SPEED-THE-PLOW, GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES, BRILLIANT TRACES, DUET FOR ONE, CIRCLING. Allen earned many years’ worth of L.A. stage, television and film credits as an actor, and he is also active as a classical pianist - he was a prizewinner in the 2002 Los Angeles Liszt Society Competition, has recorded five compact discs (available on Apple Music and other streaming services) and performs solo recitals regularly on both coasts. In 2010 he was made a Steinway Artist. His 2017 book THE OASIS OF INSANITY (available at Amazon) is a memoir of his apprenticeship with Katselas, as well as a guidebook to the study and pursuit of acting in the 21st century, and is one of the books used in training at the BHP.

Art Cohan (Orientation and Intermediate classes): Art is an accomplished, award-winning actor and director who has worked extensively for over 30 years in New York and Los Angeles in theater, film and television. Art first started his studies with Milton Katselas in 1987 in a workshop in New York and has been a regular member of the BHP community since 1992. In addition to his regular scene study classes, Art teaches our “What’s This Play About” class and the BHP Audition Workshop, a 12-week intensive where actors can discover what's getting in the way of them booking jobs and solve that problem. Many of his students enjoy a higher percentage of callbacks, booking ratios and landing professional representation.

Art's primary focus is human nature and he is passionately committed, dedicated, and devoted to the student who wishes to understand every aspect of emotion, motivation, agenda, plot, plan, scheme or trick that any human is capable of in trying to determine a character. Many of his students credit him with changing their life as a person as well as a performer. It's one thing to dig deep inside and find your strengths and weaknesses to make the character live and breathe; it's quite another to take that inner journey and re-emerge with additional personal power as a human and an artist.

Melissa Hayden (Lead teacher, Kids/Young Adults Program): Melissa was nominated twice for an Emmy Award and won for her role in Guiding Light. In addition, she has won both the Soap Opera Digest Award and Young Artist Award. Melissa has been a series regular on: Almost Grown, TV 101, and Kids for Kids. She guest starred on Hunter, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Love American Style. Melissa appeared in the Movies of the Week: Silence of the Heart, Not My Kid, and Tattletales. She was in John Huston's Annie, Herb Ross' Pennies From Heaven, and on the cutting room floor of David Seltzer's Punchline. Daytime credits include contract roles on General Hospital and Guiding Light, which she did for six years. She has been a voice over artist, a dancer, a teacher to special education students ages 2-20 years, an on-set coach, a mentor and was a long-time student of Milton Katselas. 

Mia Christou (Orientation and Intermediate Classes): Mia Christou has been a longtime member of the Beverly Hills Playhouse, having previously trained with Irma Sandrey, Geoffrey Horne and Robert Castle at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York. She has lived all over the world, working in Film and Television as well as in theatre in Tokyo, New York and all over the UK, which is where she was born.  Early training included study with Cicely Berry of the Royal Shakespeare Company.  She has a BA Hons in Drama & English from the University of Surrey.  In addition to working extensively as an actor, she is also a director, screenwriter, author and a prolific painter.   

Neal Matarazzo (New York Scene Study Program): Neal is a Film, Television and Stage Actor as well as an in demand acting teacher and coach.  He attended and graduated with a BFA in Acting from one of the top programs in nation, Ithaca College.  He then moved to NYC and auditioned and was selected to study with legendary acting teacher Uta Hagen. Just six months after arriving in NYC, he landed his first commercial. It not only got him his SAG card, but it put him on his first professional film set. He was hooked. Since then he has appeared over 100 commercials as an actor or as a voice-over artist.

While working in off-off Broadway theatre productions, he landed work in some Daytime Dramas, which further piqued his interest in working with the camera.  He moved to Los Angeles and immediately started studying with Milton Katselas.  It was here, during a decade at the BHP that his career started to take off. By learning and applying Milton’s techniques on Acting, Attitude and Administration he landed his first studio film Free Willy 2 and Stephen Bochco’s series Brooklyn South and has continued to work ever since. 

Some of his TV work includes Guest Starring roles on The Blacklist, Boardwalk Empire, Blue Bloods, Law & Order: SVU, White Collar, 24, Damages, and many, many more.  Films include Coming Up Roses opposite Bernadette Peters, Domino,  The Clique, Murder By Numbers and Desperate Measures. He has worked with directors Tony Scott, Barbet Schroeder, Robert Zemeckis, Jeannot Szwarc, Michael Zinberg, Paris Barclay and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, just to name a few.

He and his wife Pam have three children and they live in the same small town they grew up in just outside of NYC in Northern New Jersey.

Howie Deutch (Guest Teacher for the Advanced Classes): Born and raised in New York, Howard Deutch attended Ohio State University and began his career in the entertainment industry at United Artists, becoming director of advertising and was responsible for all marketing. Eventually he formed his own firm, KMD, which specialized in trailers and created the campaigns for a host of iconic films including APOCALYPSE NOW, ROCKY, ANNIE HALL, and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.

Deutch began his directing career with music videos for an assortment of top recording artists including Billy Idol and Billy Joel. In addition, he became one of the most respected commercial directors in the industry, having helmed numerous spots for a wide range of products.

Deutch’s credits extend to the stage as director for several plays at New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre. He has also directed works at both the Beverly Hills Playhouse and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Deutch has brought his deft and resolutely humanistic touch to a number of successful films since making an auspicious feature debut in 1986 on PRETTY IN PINK, starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer, Harry Dean Stanton and James Spader. Produced by John Hughes and confirming Ringwald as the preeminent young actress of her time, the film was an instant hit and is considered to be definitive of the era’s youth genre movies. Since then, Deutch has gone on to direct SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, THE GREAT OUTDOORS,  ARTICLE 99, GETTING EVEN WITH DAD, GRUMPIER OLD MEN, THE ODD COUPLE PART II, THE REPLACEMENTS, THE WHOLE TEN YARDS, MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRL, and others. 

In recent years, Deutch has also had an impressive career as a director, executive producer, and directing producer for a long list of respected television series in including BIG LOVE, HUNG, HARRY’S LAW, RINGER, LIFE UNEXPECTED, JANE BY DESIGN, WAREHOUSE 13, TRUE BLOOD, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, GETTING ON, JANE THE VIRGIN, OUTCAST, CLAWS, PROVEN INNOCENT, EMPIRE, YOUNG SHELDON, and many others as well.

Rick Podell (Guest Teacher): has spent his career in all areas of the business - actor, writer, producer, director, and teacher at The Beverly Hills Playhouse. Rick's theatre career began by being hired by Andrew Lloyd Webber to be the original narrator in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Rick went on to do such Broadway shows as Evita, Company, Two by Two, Sugar, The Fantasticks, Chapter Two, and most recently co-starred as one of the original Broadway cast members of Sunset Boulevard, opposite Glenn Close and Betty Buckley.  Rick has starred in over 75 episodic television shows, including a year on Days of Our Lives, and has co-starred in movies opposite such stars as Anne Archer and Melanie Griffith.

Also a stand-up comedian, Rick has played Las Vegas and around the world, opening for such stars as Cher, Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mac Davis, The Mills Brothers, and George Benson. He was the first American comedian ever to perform in South Africa.

As a writer, Rick wrote during the golden era at MTM, the home of such shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and others. His screenwriting break came when he wrote the script for Nothing in Common, starring Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason. His most recent script was for the CBS Movie Gleason, starring Brad Garrett.