Our Instructors

Rachel Cushnie Portrait

Rachel Cushnie

Principal & Artistic Director

Camp Director (drama)

Rachel, a native of Salisbury England, has been involved in Musical Theatre since the age of 4, having starred in many performances with Uk theatre companies and dance schools. She made her first television appearance at the age of 9. After extensive vocational training and many examinations leading to qualifications with, The Royal Academy of Drama, Royal Academy of Dance and singing exams with The Royal Academy of Music, she then went on to professional training with several drama schools in England, including the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and Hertfordshire Theatre School.

This led to her starring in many performances across the UK including the Edinburgh Festival and the Shakespeare Festival. Among her favourite UK stage highlights are Sandy in Grease, Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Victoria in Cats and Potiphers wife in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Rachel appeared in two well-known British series, Eastenders and The Bill, and also had roles in two major motion pictures, Judge Dredd, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Recently, Rachel had been performing in various productions around Vancouver, e.g.Don’t Dress For Dinner, Me and My Girl to name a few.

As a teacher in the Uk, Rachel worked for various dance schools and Britain’s biggest children’s theatre school as a dance instructor and choreographer. In 2001 Rachel and her husband Blake emigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she opened and successfully ran for 12 years StageCraft Theatre School, in various locations around greater Vancouver, Kelowna and Whistler BC.

2013 brought Rachel and her family across the country to a new home in beautiful Ottawa, where with much excitement she now brings all this experience and passion, both on and off stage, to your young performers in the opening of Stagecraft Children’s Theatre School, Ottawa.

However Rachel’s biggest achievement to date was the birth of her beautiful daughter Poppy in 2010, being a mummy is the most rewarding, exhausting and hardest role of her life!


Wendy Portrait

 

 

Wendy Berkelaar

Musical Director – Vocal Instructor

Camp Musical Director

 

 

 

Originally from Nova Scotia, Wendy moved to Ottawa nineteen years ago to pursue a Masters degree in classical piano performance. She side-stepped into musical theatre in 1998 for a production with Orpheus Musical Theatre Society and has since gone on to work nationally and internationally as a musical director and pianist. Favourite credits include the Australian premiere of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” (Spotlight Theatre), “Little Shop of Horrors” (Okanagan Stage), The Centre Stage Cabaret Series (Zucchini Grotto), and “Grease – Das Musical” (European Tour.) Wendy’s is the Ottawa Franchise Musical director for The Confidential Musical Theatre Project in Ottawa.

 


Alex Portrait

 

Alex Forster

Head of Dance and Choreographer

Camp Choreographer

Alex was born and raised in London England . His first professional role was at the early age of 12, where he worked with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber on the show “Young Apollo”. Alex then went on to train at the prestigious Arts Educational School in London where he was awarded the Andrew Lloyd Webber scholarship for Musical Theatre. During his time at college Alex performed at the Royal Variety Performance and the Brit Awards working for Arlene Phillips.

After graduating Alex went straight into professional theatre landing a role in Sir Andrew LloydWebber’s ‘Sunset Boulevard’, working with Sir Trevor Nunn and the legendary Bob Avion. Alex was the youngest cast member in the history of the show. His next show was ‘Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ again teaming up with Andrew Lloyd Webber and again becoming the youngest person in the history of the show to play the title role of Joseph on stage.
Many shows followed including ‘Les Miserables’ ‘RENT’ and ‘WE WILL ROCK YOU’ which he made his home for 6 years, performing and acting as Dance Captain working alongside Ben Elton, the legendary Brian May and reunited again with Arlene Phillips.

Alex has taught at many of the top Performing Arts colleges in the UK including RADA, BRISTOL OLD VIC, GUILDHALL, PINEAPPLE STUDIOS and was Head Of Dance at the American Musical Theatre Academy of London for 5 years.
A newcomer to Canada Alex is thrilled to be working with such an amazing creative team at Stagecraft and looks forward to sharing his experience and energy with the students!

It will be a lot of hard work, and a lot of fun!


Alex Portrait

 

Skye MacDiarmid

Musical Director and Vocal Instructor

Skye’s passion for musical theatre began in early childhood. She has devoted herself to the craft and to encouraging others to develop and share their gifts. Skye has been teaching voice for over 20 years, receiving her vocal training through The Royal Conservatory of Music. She has recently returned to University to further her musical studies. This mother of five boys also continues to make time for performing, recent credits include Diana; Next to Normal, Cinderella; Into The Woods, Mrs. Potts; Beauty and the Beast. She also loves being behind the scenes in a variety of roles. Musical Director, Backwards Broadway; Tototoo, Glorious; Linden House, The Last Five Years; indie women productions and Children’s Letters to God; 9th Hour. Vocal Coach/Assistant Musical Director, A Man of No Importance; indie women productions, Spring Awakening; Orpheus Musical Theatre Society, Goodbye Piccadilly; Ottawa Little Theatre. Assistant Stage Manager Spring Awakening; Orpheus Musical Theatre, Bent; Tototoo.

 


Alex Portrait

 

 

Chris Santillan

Vocal Instructor 

 

 

Chris is thrilled to be joining the Stagecraft team after being on the road for the past year with the North American tour of Mamma Mia! An Ottawa native, he has been actively involved in the local theatre scene as a musical director and accompanist since his high school days. He has worked with the Aylmer Community Theatre Company, the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society, Sock ‘n Buskin Theatre Company, and the Carleton University music theatre ensemble.
An active educator, Chris has taught at several theatre schools in the National Capital region, including the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, The Acting Company to name a few. Chris is the co-founder of the Carleton Musical Theatre Society at Carleton University.

 


Alex Portrait

 

 

Adam Reid

Vocal instructor – Substitute staff

 

 

A graduate of University of Ottawa’s music program (B. Mus, 2013), Adam completed his Bachelor of Education degree in 2014. Adam is proud to be the Music Director at the Church of the Ascension in Ottawa since 2015.
Adam studied the organ with Brad Mills and Jennifer Loveless. He studied piano with Andrew Tunis and Frédéric Lacroix in Ottawa, and Jean-Paul Sévilla in France, adding significantly to his skills as a talented pianist. While at the University of Ottawa, he studied Choral Conducting with Laurence Ewashko and Orchestral Conducting with David Currie.
As a former member of the Opera Lyra Chorus, the Ewashko Singers, the NAC Pops Chorus and the Calixa Lavallée Chamber Choir, Adam has acquired an impressive singing background. He is also active in musical theatre as an actor (Robert, The Drowsy Chaperone, Gaston, Beauty and The Beast, Max Bialystock, The Producers, Mr. Bumble, Oliver!) pit band musician (Grease, Little Women, Beatlemania) and music director (Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street). He will be performing as guitarist in Studio Theatre Perth’s upcoming production of The Spitfire Grill, in June 2017.

A distinguished educator Adam has spent many years teaching private piano, voice, guitar and drum lessons, and is the former choir director and organist for two rural choirs in Lanark and Balderson ON. He also worked a short contract for Calvary Christian Academy in Franktown conducting the grade 5, 6, 7 and 8 concert band classrooms. He is frequently seen working as a substitute accompanist/coach for Ottawa Choirs, theatre companies and private music programs.
Adam is an enthusiastic explorer of piano duets and duos, and is a founding member in two groups: Tetrapod with Risa Tonita and Pianofourte with Aidan Shenkman.

Adam is looking forward to sharing his love of music performance and education in any way he can.

 


Chris Lucas Portrait

Chris Lucas

Vocal Instructor – Substitute staff 

Chris has a BMus (Hons) in Music from the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester, as well as The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) in Cardiff.

His masters is an MMus in Conducting from Leeds College of Music in the UK. His principal study was Classical Singing and later Conducting; under the baton and tutelage of Clare Hogan-Taylor and Dr Howard Evans respectively. In the last 5 years, Chris has held positions with a variety of ensembles including: LUUMS, Heswall Symphonia, Salford Singers and Liverpool’s “Big-Phat” Band. He has a wide ranging repertoire, some highlights being Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, all nine Beethoven symphonies, Tchaikovsky’s fifth and sixth symphonies and a vast amount of Music Theatre. He is currently working on two Musical Theatre orchestration projects and also as Resident Musical Supervisor for Sir Andrew LloydWebber’s, London based production company “ Really Useful Group”. He very much enjoys inspiring and encouraging new and developing talent at all ages: Most pertinently, imparting unto students his love for the art.


Louise Clatney Portrait

Louise Clatney

Dance Instructor – Substitute staff

Born, raised and trained in the UK, performing was a passion for Louise from an early age. After training vocationally at White Lodge, The Royal Ballet School and the prestigious Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts, in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Tap, Vocal, Drama and Musical Theatre, Louise went on to a professional career in the UK, performing on TV and theatre.

After emigrating to Canada, Louise decided to take things full circle and become a qualified dance teacher. With her Cecchetti Associate Diploma and MRT from The Royal Academy of Dancing, Louise has taught in Ottawa for over 12 years. With such respect, admiration and gratitude for the amazing teachers that inspired her, she continues the line, and teaches students, young and young at heart, to be passionate about music and dance and to follow their dreams in their desire to perform.

With Musical Theatre Louise’s primary love, her students have performed Annie, Oliver, Grease, The Boyfriend and Mary Poppins, to name a few. Louise’s students perform regularly at the National Arts Centre and Algonquin Theatre. Many have gone on to train at Canada’s National Ballet School, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Alberta Ballet and many other incredible school’s in Europe and the US.

Becoming that ‘triple-threat’ gives students such versatility in the world of dance and Louise is thrilled and excited to be a part of such an incredible school that offers top notch training, Stagecraft Children’s Theatre School.


Della

 

 

Della Woodger

Assistant Instructor – Assistant Team Leader 

 

 

 

Della has been performing since the age of 7, studying acting at WEST End Studio Theatre from ages 11 until she graduated high school. In high school she participated in the schools yearly one-act plays as both an actor and a director. After graduating Della knew she wanted to continue pursuing her passion for both teaching and performing and is happy to be doing so at Carlton University. She has worked as summer camp counsellor at WEST End Studio Theatre, and as a summer camp counsellor at Great Big Theatre Company in Toronto. She is currently a member of Carleton Improv Association (CIA), where she performs and competes with other universities throughout Ontario. In the future Della hopes to pursue a full-time career in teaching the arts!

 

 


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Charlotte Cain

Assistant Instructor 

 

 

Charlotte has been dancing ballet since the age of 6 with National Capital Dance Educators, studying the Vaganova syllabus. Charlotte recently completed the pre-elementary examination by the Society of Russian Ballet with a grade of Highly Commended. She was also awarded her recipient of the Nesta Toumine Award of 2016. Charlotte studies jazz, contemporary and modern. Presently, Charlotte attends De La Salle high school. Here, she is enrolled in the dance program in the Centre d’Excellence Artistique (Artistic Excellence Centre). Passionate for the performing arts, Charlotte wants to make dance her career in the future.


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Sarah Cousineau

Assistant Instructor 

 

Sarah started in musical theatre when she was 9 years old and has been performing on stage in various musicals ever since! After having performed in three musicals with Stagecraft herself, she is thrilled to be working behind the scenes, teaching others who share her passion for the performing arts. This past summer, Sarah was accepted into a musical theatre intensive in New York City, where she studied with the Institute for American Musical Theatre for two weeks. She hopes to continue her training in the future and turn her love of musical theatre into a career one day!


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Mia Weekes

Assistant Instructor

 

Mia started dancing at the age of 6 at National Capital Dance Educators studying ballet, tap and jazz. At her high school Immaculata, she takes part in the urban dance troupe where she starting learning, performing and even winning for the first time at the Momentum  Dance Challenge in the 9th grade. Mia’s love for hiphop extended further when she joined Future shock in 2015. Recently, she joined an urban dance company called Work N Play with which they won first place at BYOB, a competition in Toronto. Mia continues to dance all styles and plans to expand her versatility as a dancer in the coming years.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dahlia Lesh 

Student Assistant  

 

Dahlia is currently a student at Canterbury high school in her last year of the drama program. She has been a part of musical theatre since the age of 6. She enjoys acting, singing, and dancing and hopes to pursue a career as a full time actor. Dahlia is beyond excited to work at stagecraft and share her love of performing with others!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Maya Lesh 

Student Assistant Broadway babies and Junior Star Kids 

Maya has performed in many musicals since the age of 6 and has had a passion for singing, acting, and dancing ever since. She is currently in the grade 12 vocal program at Canterbury High School and was the recipient of the CHS vocal award in 2015. She has performed in three stagecraft shows and is now very excited to work behind the scenes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Heather Hardy

School Administrator

 


Be a part of this dedicated team

Do you have a passion for teaching and Musical Theatre? We would love to hear from you!

Contact the Artistic Director with your resume and information, look forward to connecting.

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