The Team

Who We Are


Nicki Cabaniss

Artistic Director

Ms. Cabaniss has been on stage since the age of 3 when she was in her first ballet recital and played a robin. Since then, the theatre bug has always had a hold. Ms. Cabaniss has done all forms of dance from Ballet, lyrical, tap, jazz and Irish. She holds a B.A. in English with Theatre Endorsement and a Masters in the Arts of Teaching specialized in the Theatre and English classroom from James Madison University.  Ms. Cabaniss is a  fight choreographer and a member of the Society of American Fight Directors and a dance choreographer. She has also served as a lighting designer and producer for volunteer and hire throughout the community. Ms. Cabaniss's students have won multiple awards in the community and at State Conferences and she has been nominated multiple times for best direction as part of the NYA Awards as well as a nomination for Teacher of the Year in 2021. Ms. Cabaniss's is also a playwright and has produced two original shows with one show winning Best Storytelling at the Virginia Thespian Fesitval (2020) and her most recent play was named Best New Work as part of NYA Awards for 2020. Ms. Cabaniss also serves as a Vice Chair for the Secondary Division of The Virginia Theatre Association and as the One-Act Festival Chair for Virginia Thespians. Ms. Cabaniss has always wanted to be a teacher and served as Professor of English before taking over the Theatre program at John Champe in 2013. 


Sarah Anderson

Assistant Director/Choreographer

Sarah comes to Avalon with over 20 years of fine arts performing and directing experience. Prior to her tenure as a choreographer and assistant director for the theatre program, Sarah served as the director of Champe’s award-winning outdoor and indoor color guards.  As a performer, she was a member and choreographer of the Kansas State University Color Guard, a division of the renowned Pride of Wildcat Land Marching Band.  She is passionate about musical theatre and storytelling through movement and looks forward to developing strong dance fundamentals in our performers.  Additionally, she is an avid crafter and costumer.  She would like to thank her parents for pushing her into the arts from an early age (even when she vehemently wanted to quit), as well as her cat, Lilly Belle, who makes every day snuggly! In addition to working with Avalon, Sarah is one of the librarians at John Champe High School and a sponsor of the Project Lit Community.

Molly Harper

Technical Director

Molly Harper (she/they) accidently stumbled into theatre after failing to make the volleyball team in high school; it was the best decision they ever made. Harper graduated from Sweet Briar College with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Arts (Theatre/Music) with an Arts Management Certificate. During those four years, Harper worked as a carpenter, a painter, a SM, a fly rail operator, and any job in between. The best part is Harper would typically work both onstage and offstage for all the productions; therefore, Harper has always been obsessed with doing everything all at once. Later, Harper went to Mary Baldwin University to earn an MFA in Shakespeare and Performance. While spending time in Staunton, Harper developed a love for Early Modern plays, theatre of the imagination, and Linklater technique. Over the past decade, Harper has worked in such companies as: Endstation Theatre, StageDoor Manor, Sweet Wag Shakespeare, American Shakespeare Company, ASC Theatre Camp, California Shakespeare Company in Paloma, and a short tenure at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory (just to name drop a few). Now Harper works with young adults as an English teacher for John Champe to help them bridge the gap between literature and communication (maybe even get them to love plays too). Harper has one furry child, Billie the Beagle, and feels no shame in saying how much they love that dog.