Tom Lanno - Acting Coach, Makeup Artist & Theatre Specialist

About The Instructor

Our office.

Tom Lanno is an award-winning teacher, recently retired from New Jersey and relocated to Watauga County, North Carolina. He has coached 5 NJ Championship Drama teams and 29 NJ Governor's Award winners. He was named 3 times to Who's Who Among America's Teachers (1992, 2004 & 2005) and was awarded New Jersey's highest arts honor, The NJ Governor's Award for Outsanding Teacher of Speech & Theatre -1990. He since 2005, he has resided in Blowing Rock with his wife, Pat, an elementary school music teacher, and their greyhounds Sonny and Laney, and a cute beagle named "Rose."

Many of his students have gone on to professional careers in theatre and the related arts.
They include many actors in regional theatres (1776, Balm in Giliad, Equis, Sweet Charity), on Broadway (Salome, By Jeeves, Frogs, LeStat, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Tour), film (The Producers, The Polar Express, Liberty Heights, Jersey Girl, Kiss Me Guido, The Pirates of Silicon Valley, Futurama - Bender's Big Score, Spiderman I, II & III), and television (Bionic Woman, Law & Order, Third Watch, The Sopranos, Sex & The City, ER, The David Letterman Show and Futurama.) Other students have gone on to enjoy careers as film editors (Warner Brothers) film animation managers (Sony Film), a circus clown (Ringling Brothers), teachers of theatre and improvisation (Mod 27), stuntwork (Six Flags, The Sopranos), mask-making and theatrical props (, a professional make up artist, a playwright, and a career soldier enjoying a second career as a film extra and independent film actor.

"I was born in Jersey City, NJ, and raised in Oakland, NJ. After graduating in 1968 from Indian Hills High School, I attended The College of New Jersey (Trenton State College) and graduated in 1972 with a B.A. in Speech Communications & Theatre, with a minor in English and teaching certification.Upon graduation, I accepted a position to teach Speech, Theatre and English at North Plainfield High School in central NJ. There I taught for 33 years, until my retirement in 2005.

During my tenure, I designed and taught a 4-year Theatre & Speech program with such courses as Creative Dramatics, Introduction to Speech & Theatre, Acting Workshop, Advanced Theatre Workshop, Public Speaking, Makeup and Technical Theatre. I directed all of the productions at the high school and coached the competition drama teams and the school's public speakers.

In addition, I performed as an actor in local community theatres and directed a number of productions in that venue. I was a local makeup artist and facepainter. I decided to retire in 2005, after 33 years of service to the community."

A representative list of productions include:


COMEDY: Harvey, Arsenic & Old Lace, Don't Drink the Water, Luv
DRAMA: Twelve Angry Jurors, The Miracle Worker, The Laramie Project, The Bad Seed, Wait Until Dark, The Effects of Gamma Rays...,
MYSTERY: Mousetrap, Murder's in the Heir, Moose Murders
ABSURDIST: Marat/Sade, A Pinter Review, The Serpent
MUSICALS: Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Grease, Guys & Dolls, Working, Sugar, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
SENIOR CIRCUS '78 - A cast & crew of over 300 students
NYC SHOWCASE - The Prisioner of Second Avenue
INDUSTRIALS - Voice and video training tapes for Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson company
PRESIDENT & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR - Theatreworks Traveling Reperatory Company



THEATRE: Rashomon
(Priest), Waiting For Godot (Pozzo), The Fantastics (El Gallo), One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (Chief Bromden), Inherit the Wind (Brady), Don't Drink the Water (Axel), Grease (Vince Fontain,) A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (Pseudolus), The Threepenny Opera (Peachum), The Roar of the Greasepaint...(Sir) and Brecht on Brecht.
FILM: Trackdown: In Search of the Goodbar Killer (disco dancer)
INDUSTRIALS: Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson) - salesman training voice-overs and improvisation, Middlesex County State Trouper - Training with Improvisation


Teaching Experience:

North Plainfield High School (NJ) - Teacher, Director, Debate Coach, Football Announcer, Public Speaking Coach, Adult HS Instructor of Accent Reduction, Adult HS Advisor
Watauga High School - Guest Artist Workshops in Acting, Beauty, Stage & Special Effects Makeup, Facepainting
Watchung Arts Center (NJ) - Director, Creative Dramatics
Theatreworks (NJ)- Private theatre & improvisational company
Plainfield YWCA - Summer Camp Director, Creative Dramatics & Facepainting Instructor
Watauga Arts Camp (NC) - Creative Dramatics Instructor
Make A Difference Camp (NC) - Theatre Games & Public Speaking Instructor


"I have been priviledged to work with many talented students, actors, technicians and theatre people in New Jersey, who continue to love  theatre as much as I do; they are as passionate about the craft as I am. It is now a pleasure to bring quality instruction and professional training to the Watauga County High Country and western North Carolina!"
- TL



My Goals
  • To provide an opportunity to improve theatre skills
  • To provide a creative environment 
  • To promote theatre in the community
  • To offer advanced study in acting
  • To offer advanced study in makeup (beauty, stage and special effects)

Teacher's Desk in Shakespeare's Classroom, Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK


I am dedicated to serving my students' needs in a creative and educationally sound environment. I will strive to bring you the best in quality service and an honest evaluation of your abilities. I hope to bring some insight into the improvement of your skills, and perhaps bring new ideas for you to try.











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