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Our STORY & Staff


Croton Academy of Arts in Westchester County, NY,

provides unique programs for children, teens, and adults

that foster creativity, communication, self-awareness, confidence, and social interaction

A view of rows of seats from the stage.
Our Story

Croton Academy of Arts was founded in 2003, by two theater professionals, Catherine Riedel and Myrlin Valerio, to help children and teens develop their self-expression and individuality through creative exploration.


The initial program, Croton Academy of Comedic Arts (caca) began with a class of 18 students in Catherine's living room. Performances were staged in village auditoriums and restaurants, and caca troupes traveled to schools, shelters, and other area venues for benefit performances.

Co-creators Myrlin and Catherine stand next to a sign for an after school program

Initially focused on improvisational and sketch comedy, Croton Academy has grown to include other performing and fine arts classes, summer camps, after-school care, and theatre shows for all ages.


In 2012, CAA moved to their permanent location at 8 Old Post Road South,  Croton on Hudson, New York. The center includes space for workshops, rehearsals and performances.


Well over a thousand students have participated in Croton Academy programs, with enrollment expanding every year. 

Staff headshot for Myrlin Valerio


Myrlin Valerio

Myrlin is a theatre director, producer, and costumer working in the Hudson Valley for over 25 years and director of Croton Academy of Arts since its formation in 2003.  Myrlin works with children, teens, and adults teaching drama and comedy improvisation. She is a professionally trained actress, director, and community arts activist.  Myrlin served as director and drama club advisor at Croton Harmon High School for nine years.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. 

Staff headshot - Andrea Furey

CAA Administrator & Asst. Director, After School Program

Andrea Furey

Andrea has a wealth of experience in arts administration, education,  public affairs, and communications that includes directing national arts programs for the National MS Society, administration for the International Council at the Museum of Modern Art, teaching Pre-K at Childrenspace, and serving for a decade on the Croton-Harmon School Board, 

Staff headshot - Janice Paganelli

Site Supervisor, CAA-CET After School Program

Janice Paganelli

Janice came to CAA with many years of experience working with children as the Resident Choreographer for Actors Conservatory Theatre.  Janice is an Ossining Girl Scout leader for 24 years as well as the Community Director for 8 years and has worked as a Child Behavior Specialist for Andrus Children's Home.  Janice was Director of our CAA after school program CONNECTIONS before taking on the after school program at CET Elementary School in Croton on Hudson.

Staff headshot - Melissa Shawcross

Lighting Designer

Melissa Shawcross

Melissa is a CAA alumn and graduate of SUNY New Paltz with a BA in Theatre Arts. She is Technical Director for 59E59 Theaters in NYC. Melissa enjoys working both on and off the stage. She has designed lights for The Indigo Girls, Dweezil Zappa and most recently, Amy Schumer, Lewis Black and others.

Staff headshot - Irene Corvinus

Sound Designer

Irene Corvinus

Irene is a CAA alumn and SUNY New Paltz graduate with a BA in Digital Media Production and English: Creative Writing. Irene has worked in theatre her whole life both on stage and behind the scenes. Stage Manager: Willy Wonka Jr., Alice in Wonderland Jr., Coney Island Christmas, and Tapestry. Sound Design: Coney Island Christmas, Free To Be You and Me, Willy Wonka Jr. and Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some).

Board of Directors


  • Patrice Davidson (Secretary)

  • Trey Files (Treasurer)

  • Melissa London (Vice President)

  • Myrlin Valerio (President)

​Board Members

  • Amelia Coccaro

  • Adam Decker

  • Khamla Erskine

  • Susan O’Keefe

  • Catherine Riedel

  • Cindy Secunda

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