About Rise Above

Rise Above Performing Arts was formed with a dedicated group of talented individuals who shared some common dreams. The vision and mission of this not for profit organization is to help those with the desire and love of the performing arts to be able to express that love in a way that exceeds all expectations. We partner with local organizations to help them achieve their performance goals. In addition, we provide financial support to send young actors to receive the training they desire to help them attain their goals.

Meet Our Team

Jacob Ruscoe
Artistic Director

Jacob has always been a natural actor. As a child, he studied at Florida Studio Theatre and has been a part of countless productions throughout his career. He has directed numerous shows including Into the Woods, Children’s Letters to God, All My Sons, and The Love Note to name just a few.

Jacob served as the dramatic director for YEX which is a national youth organization for 10 years. During his tenure he wrote, directed, and produced theatrical productions which were seen by thousands of people each year. He has been recognized with the Outstanding Actor’s Award by the National Theatre Festival and has received multiple awards for his playwriting works.

Jacob holds a Doctoral degree in Administration and Management and has personally helped aspiring actors attain their lifelong performance dreams. In addition to his work with Rise Above, he dedicates his time to help local elementary school students learn and experience the art of the theatre in ways that equip and prepare them for future success. Jacob brings a relentless dedication and virtuoso skill set to every production he produces.

Joi Chapman
Musical Director

Joi holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Bowling Green State University, and has taught elementary, middle, and high school music at different times in her teaching career. She is a high performing, model music teacher for Sarasota County Schools. Along with being a performer herself, she has directed musical theatre productions for several elementary schools, as well as for a local dance studio’s musical theatre encore program. She also teaches private piano and voice lessons.

Joi directs multiple Choir and Show Choirs and brings an engaging and instructional approach to her musical direction. Under her tutelage, performers are able to expand their musical talents as she continually produces Nationally Award winning productions including her most recent accomplishment where her Concert Choir placed first in the nation!

Rachael Johnson

Rachael discovered her love for dance and theatre at the age of 4. Since then, she has studied tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, ballet, and musical theatre at multiple studios. She has performed in countless musical theatre productions. Some of her favorite roles include Little Red in “Into the Woods,” Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Sophia in “Fools,” Winnie Tate in “Annie Get Your Gun,” and Frenchie in “Grease.” Rachael is also a founding member and now teacher for the awarding-winning musical theatre troupe Spotlight Kids. She has travelled with them to national theatre competitions and conventions including one where she was awarded Best Student Choreographer nationally.

Rachael has worked with numerous Broadway professionals in her many years with Broadway Artists Alliance as both a student and work-study. She has also had the opportunity to work with Musical Theatre International, iTheatrics, and Disney in filming the Choreography DVD for Lion King Jr. She learned so much from these experiences and has made invaluable connections. Rachael is currently studying Musical Theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. She hopes to pursue a career in the performing arts as both an actress and choreographer.

Krista Baker
Development Coordinator

Krista is an educator who has helped direct numerous productions including Seussical Jr., Little Mermaid Jr., Beauty and the Beast Jr. and Aladdin Jr. Krista has always enjoyed the arts. In high school and college, she was on Dance Teams and involved in Concert Bands.

Krista has extensive experience in marketing and management. She has a unique talent for bringing stakeholders together to support the work of Rise Above. Krista possess a passion to help individuals find and express their gifts and talents.

Kevin Ray Johnson
Creative Artistic Advisor

Kevin is a Singer, Actor, Writer and Director and is so happy to be serving on the board and as The Creative Artistic Advisor since 2016. He has helped out with a number of productions at Rise Above including fight choreography for The Love Note, and Grease.  Writing Credits – Broadway: The Unpredictable Times (Industry Reading, Hudson Theatre), Off Broadway: A (Funny) Imagination! (The Dixon Place), Before it Got “Unpredictable” (The Davenport Theatre), The Next Day (New York Theater Festival & Manhattan Repertory Theatre), Regional: The Unpredictable Times (The Kennedy Center – Page to Stage Festival) Life Inside an Open Kaije (Capitol Fringe Festival). Acting Credits – Off Broadway: King Lear (Royals Shakespeare Company at Brooklyn Academy of Music), Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida (The Metropolitan Opera), Merrily We Roll Along (Astoria Performing Arts Center), The Love Note (Original Off Broadway Cast, Actors Temple Theatre), Other NYC Credits: Showboat (Joe), Funny Thing Happened… (Miles), and James and the Giant Peach (Ladahlord), National Tour: Blues Journey (Kennedy Center TYA on Tour). In Florida Kevin has performed at The Asolo Repertory Theatre in Guys and Dolls (Directed by Josh Rhodes). He also writes for OnStage Blog (www.onstageblog.com) and has been published with Musical Theater Today Vol. 2 (www.musicaltheatertoday.com). He would like to thank everyone at Rise Above who has made his time very memorable and the highlight of his career.