Kathleen Berger: Singer, Musical Theater Actor and Teacher

Kathleen Berger, singer, musical theater actor and teacher, photographed at her home in Litchfield Park, Arizona, by Nicki Escudero

Kathleen Berger, singer, musical theater actor and teacher, photographed at her home in Litchfield Park, Arizona, by Nicki Escudero

Kathleen Berger
www.kathleenberger.com

Kathleen Berger knows how to hit the high notes. The classically trained singer, who has had extensive experience singing opera in Europe, can be seen often on local theater stages as a musical theater performer. The 43-year-old Litchfield Park resident comes from a musical family and continues to carry on the legacy, as a performer, teacher and artist manager.

Catch her playing the Queen in Southwest Shakespeare Company‘s SpellBound! beginning May 7, and see her in The Joy of Sextets at Desert Foothills Theater beginning May 29.

Berger shares what fuels her passion for singing, as well as shares some tips, and you can watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I grew up here. I was born at Maryvale Hospital and grew up in Litchfield Park. I went to Agua Fria High School, then to ASU, where I majored in vocal performance and minored in French. I finished my degree at University of Missouri—Kansas City.

After that, I moved to New York for 10 years, and in 2006, I got an offer to sing on a tour of La Traviata in Madrid, Spain. I took it, I learned the role in two weeks, got on a plane, and went to Spain without speaking a word of Spanish. I spent seven weeks on the tour and decided I wasn’t going back to the United States, so I deliberately missed my plane and stayed in Spain for seven years.

I met my husband there, and when the economy collapsed in 2013, we decided to try moving to Arizona so my family could meet my husband, and so we could make a living instead of being in a country with 25 percent unemployment. We’ve been back ever since. Continue reading

Jennifer Boonlorn: Founder of Soul Carrier

Jennifer Boonlorn, founder of Soul Carrier handbags and accessories, photographed at Sip Coffee and Beer House in Scottsdale, holding one of her products, by Nicki Escudero

Jennifer Boonlorn, founder of Soul Carrier handbags and accessories, photographed at Sip Coffee and Beer House in Scottsdale, holding one of her products, by Nicki Escudero

Jennifer Boonlorn
www.SoulCarrier.com

A tragedy inspired Jennifer Boonlorn to pursue her true passion: fashion. After losing both her parents in a car accident she was also in, Boonlorn has created Soul Carrier, a line of handbags and accessories in upliftingly named collections, such as her upcoming Conscious Intentions collection. Items from that collection will be available exclusively through a Kickstarter campaign this month — check the Facebook page for details — while current offerings are found at www.soulcarrier.com and at Chestnut Fine Foods and Provisions in Phoenix.

Learn more about the 36-year-old Phoenix resident’s goals with Soul Carrier, and keep reading to hear Boonlorn name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised here and was home-schooled before studying marketing at ASU. I spent four years in New York City going to fashion school for design and marketing at Parsons The New School for Design. I interned for Oscar de la Renta, got to go to Marc Jacob’s Christmas party, Kate Spade and Tory Burch spoke to our class — it was a wonderful experience.

It was really my little niece who was born who brought me back to Phoenix. I loved New York, but I really love the sunshine and having a car, and was craving home. Continue reading

Jacque Arend: Improviser and Instructor with The Torch Theatre

Jacque Arend, founder of, performer with, and instructor at The Torch Theatre in Phoenix, photographed at Federal Pizza in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Jacque Arend, founder of, performer with, and instructor at The Torch Theatre in Phoenix, photographed at Federal Pizza in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Jacque Arend
www.thetorchtheatre.com

No matter who she is playing on stage, Jacque Arend has a talent for engaging audiences, making viewers feel like they’re a part of her world, no matter how absurd it might be. Arend has been making improv lovers laugh for 10 years in the Valley, and the 35-year-old Phoenix resident is a founder of and instructor at longform improv theater The Torch Theatre.

Besides also doing corporate workshop training through The Torch Theatre, Arend can be seen playing on stage often, as she’s a member of improv troupes Light Rail Pirates, Mail Order Bride, JaxN Reed, MuChuChu, The Foundation, and Hickory Dickory Dock, and performs in regular shows such as The Wedding Party, The Skewed News Hour, and Birds and Broads. You can catch Arend on stage this week as part of the 14th Annual Phoenix Improv Festival at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. She’ll be with Light Rail Pirates Thursday, April 16, and Mail Order Bride Saturday, April 18. For more information and tickets, head to www.phoeniximprovfestival.com.

Read on for what makes Arend so passionate about longform improv, and to hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

When I was in my freshman year in college, I was going to Grand Valley State University for film and video in Michigan. I was on winter break, and my parents came home from a vacation, sat me down, and said, “We have something to tell you.” They told me my dad was taking a job in Arizona and that they were moving within the next couple months.

My mom grew up here, her siblings and parents lived here, and my parents had always wanted to retire here. I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, because I cried and was like, “What, we’re leaving Michigan?”

They asked me what I wanted to do. At the time, I wanted to stay and go to my sophomore year at college, but I made a deal I would move down after that, because I thought, as the youngest, that’s what I needed to do, is be with my parents. I moved out here in 1999 and took classes at Scottsdale Community College, where I had an acting/directing focus and took acting classes through the theater program.

I was born in Harbert, Michigan. Continue reading

Meghan Pearce: Founder of Pearce Family Foundation

Meghan Pearce, founder of Pearce Family Foundation, photographed at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, by Nicki Escudero

Meghan Pearce, founder of Pearce Family Foundation, photographed at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, by Nicki Escudero

Meghan Pearce
www.pearcefamilyfoundation.com

Meghan Pearce is a fifth-generation Arizona resident who wanted to make a difference in her community and keep her family legacy alive by helping others. In 2013, she founded the Pearce Family Foundation, an organization that donates to families with children suffering from a chronic or life-threatening illnesses. With her foundation, the 30-year-old Scottsdale resident raised more than $60,000 through events in year one alone and has granted out another $13,000 to families in need, helping them with everything from paying grocery and electric bills, to getting service dogs.

The Pearce Family Foundation sponsors the Runway of Hope fashion show Friday, May 8, with a DJ, nine boutiques (including Pepper) and designers showcasing their fashions, cocktails and an open bar, pop-up shops, a silent auction and hors d’oeuvres. The event takes place in the old Coors warehouse building at 475 E. Lincoln Street in Phoenix, and doors open at 7 p.m. Get tickets here.

Learn more about Pearce and where her passion for helping others comes from here, and keep reading to watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m fifth-generation Arizonan. My family has been here since before it was even a state. I was born at Good Samaritan Hospital, went to high school at Desert Mountain, and went down to U of A and graduated with a degree in family studies. I moved back to the Valley after graduation. Continue reading