FunikiJam Creative Team

BRIAN BARRENTINE

Creator/Executive Director

Georgia native Brian Barrentine has crafted a professional life based on his passion for music and theatre.  As a child he dreamed of traveling the world and making people happy with music and his path to achieving that goal has brought him experiences that make him uniquely qualified to go beyond that dream and, in fact, educate as well as entertain.

Receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance and Music Composition from Bennington College, Brian then got his professional certification from American Musical and Dramatic Academy before setting off on his theatrical career, which has crossed borders, spanned genres.  Playing in venues around the world, Brian’s stage career culminated in a three-year European tour as Elvis Presley in Elvis: The Musical, further exposing him to new cultures and people around the world.

Temporarily trading the stage for the studio in 1997, Brian developed an innovative curriculum Gymboree Music, where he was chief writer.  It was franchised across the country. He discovered a passion for early childhood education and realized that parents and teachers were hungry for contemporary education programs that were fun. So, to meet this need, FunikiJam was born in 1999. 

Built on a foundation of Brian’s original songs, rhymes, chants and stories. FunikiJam includes live stage shows, interactive curriculum, classes, camps, CD’s, books, and videos that explore world culture. Started in Nashville, it has expanded across the Southeast, to New York City, and internationally to South America, Europe and Asia. 

Expanding his educational resume, Brian developed curriculum as an Early Elementary Music Specialist at Education Through Music, received his certificate in Early Childhood Music from New York University and was an Early Childhood Director at tbe Brooklyn Conservatory.  He is also a certified PK-12 educator, training teachers and implementing dynamic music programs around the world.  He is currently a Professor of Early Childhood Arts at NYU.

As FunikiJam has grown, so had Brian’s production company. World Music Theatre Company includes a highly trained team of experts in music, movement, language truly come from all over the world, including Atlanta, Belgium, Brazil, Brooklyn, China, Dominican Republic, France, Japan, Nashville, and Peru. FunikiJam’s repertoire, shaped by our unique perspectives and universally shared experiences, aim to build global community and empower world citizens to reach their highest potential.

ROSEMARY NEWCOTT

Consulting Director

Rosemary spent 20 years as the Sally G. Tomlinson Artistic Director of Theatre for Youth and Families at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. In addition to directing, and sometimes devising two TYA productions a season, Rosemary also mounted David Bell’s lavish production of A Christmas Carol, featuring an all-Atlanta multi-cultural cast. Rosemary developed the Alliance Palefsky HS Collision Project and created its thriving Bernhardt Theatre for the Very Young program. On the National level, Rosemary has developed two plays at New Visions New Voices: Einstein is a Dummy with Karen Zacarias and Debbie Wicks La Puma and Pearl Cleage’s Tell Me My Dream. She also directed the premieres of Mo Willem’s Knufflebunny: A Cautionary Musical and Laurie Brook’s Jason Invisible, both at The Kennedy Center, and Zacarias’ and La Puma’s Frida Libra at LaJolla Playhouse. Earlier in her career, she also acted/directed in nearly every Atlanta theatre company, starting her path at the Academy Theatre. Rosemary is a recipient of a Princess Grace Foundation Fellowship and also a Princess Grace Special Project Award for her adaptation and direction of Andre’ Benjamin’s Class of 3,000 Live! at the Alliance. She has received several Atlanta Suzi Awards for direction and the 2010 Spirit of Suzi award. In 2018 she received the Suzi Lifetime Achievement award and in 2019, the Harold Oaks Excellence in TYA award and the AATE Compton Bell Lifetime Achievement award. She is a member of the adjudicator/workshop leader team at Atlanta’s Junior Theatre Festival. Throughout her career, she has served as guest artist at Augusta College, Emory University, Ga. State College, Hartwick College, Oglethorpe University, University of West Ga. and Kennesaw University, as well as numerous high school programs, most notably as a 10 year theatre director at the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program. Rosemary has proudly served on the board of TYA/USA and is a member of AEA and SDC.

Maarten Cornelis.jpeg

MAARTEN CORNELIS

Executive Producer

Maarten started working with FunikiJam in 2017 and gave himself the un-official title of “Agent Lumière.”  Why Lumière, you ask?  Well, in the beginning, Maarten was asked to work as a Light (Lumière) Designer for the FunikiJam Off-Broadway shows.  This led into him being the Production Manager, then Producer, and now with his company, Gatehouse Entertainment, a producing partner to many of the upcoming projects.  Here is a little background to Maarten:

 

Over the last 20 years, Maarten has worn multiple hats.  His interest in the technical world of entertainment spiked after studying at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in Los Angeles.  At the age of 21, he led their theater group.  He was in charge of producing and directing their shows, and eventually held the role as the Institute’s Technical Director.

 

He ended up working as a Technical Director at various venues and has had the honor of designing the lights for numerous live events, working for Francis Ford Coppola, the late Ennio Morricone, John Legend, Bianca Del Rio, and many more.  He is a frequent guest Light Designer at the exclusive Carnegie Hall in New York City.  He has won several awards for his light design work, including being named one of the best Light Designers in all of Los Angeles by Broadway World, as well as being published in international design magazines.

 

Maarten is the CEO of Gatehouse Entertainment (www.gatehouse-entertainment.com), a company focused on film and theater productions.  He is the co-owner of Cinematory (www.cinematory.com), a company that maintains and operates 6 major film festivals in North America.  He is the founder of Producer’s Night (www.producersnight.com), an exclusive yearly VIP event for new film makers to introduce their work to world renowned producers and directors.  Maarten is also an investing and producing partner at the Park Theatre, in Union City, NJ (www.parktheatrenj.org).

 

Maarten was born in Belgium and grew up in Los Angeles.  He is currently based in New York City, and divides his time between both NYC and Los Angeles.

 

For more information on Maarten, please visit: www.maartencornelis.com

Joe Mazza 1.jpeg

JOE MAZZA

Music Director

Joe Mazza is a Denver-based guitarist and music director. Born outside of Detroit and raised in the fertile soil of the Midwest, Joe studied guitar at the University of Miami and was formed by the diverse music and musicians of that city. While in Miami, he performed with artists of different genres including tours with Puerto Rican international pop star Chayanne. After relocating to Nashville, Joe worked as a touring and recording guitarist, going on the road with artists like country music’s Little Big Town, RnB Gospel singer Nicole C. Mullen, and many others. His travels as a working musician have taken him from Royal Albert Hall in London, to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, to the Quinta Vergara Amphitheater in Viña Del Mar, Chile, and local venues across the United States. Joe also works as a music producer, recording and producing music for independent creative artists as a way to help promote local music outside of the industry.

 

Together with his wife, Theresa, an accomplished singer/songwriter, Joe now lives in Denver and contributes to the vibrant music scene alongside local musicians John Common, Eben Grace, Amberly Chalberg and others. A passionate musical collaborator, he is always interested in playing music with anyone who wants to make meaningful, inspired art. Their son, JJ, is a Downbeat Award winning jazz and experimental drummer who is up and coming in the Denver scene and beyond.

 

Joe has worked with Brian and FunikiJam since 2000 in Nashville, TN. 


For more information on Maarten, please visit: JoeMazza.com

XIMENA SALGADO

Choreographer

XIMENA SALGADO is an international multifaceted artist originally from Peru where she earned the title of National Salsa Champion as a Soloist in 2015. Her Dance Awards in the US includes 1st place in the Samba Team Division at the World Salsa Summit 2020, 1st place in Salsa Pro Heats and 2nd place as a Soloist at Salsa Con Fuego, Pittsburgh 2017, 2nd place in Bachata Rising Stars and 3rd place in Samba Soloist at the World Salsa Summit 2017.


As a dancer she has performed in arenas such as the Madison Square Garden and MET Life Stadium. She worked for Balmir Latin Dance Company performing, teaching and competing in diverse Latin Dance Festivals around the US.

Her experience in musical theater includes In the Heights US Spanish Premiere at Gala Hispanic Theatre in Washington DC, Hairspray, Disney’s High School Musical (Sharpay), Beauty and the Beast and The Wizard of Oz in Peru.
Between her most important roles in theater she played Hamlet (Ophelia), Don Juan Tenorio (Ana) in Peru, where she also played diverse featured roles in TV series and soap operas.

Based in New York City, she is Founder and Artistic Director of Rumbamena Dance Company. She also teaches her Latin Rhythms class, salsa and bachata in diverse dance studios and venues of the city.  On top of all, she still pursues her acting career among other passions.

A non-stop dreamer and hardworking woman deeply grateful and inspired by her friends and family for the love and endless support.