History & Team

Passionate about Musical theatre from a very early age, Rachel dreamed of a career on the West End Stage. Extensive training led to a flourishing career on the stage in which a passion for teaching others was ignited.

When a opportunity to move to Vancouver was presented to Rachel and her husband they jumped at the change to move to Canada. Rachel quickly recognized a need for a comprehensive program offering instruction in all three elements of Musical theatre. Stagecraft was born and what started with 24 children quickly grew to several hundred students and 16 members of staff in 7 locations.

After 12 successful years in Vancouver, Rachel is thrilled to be in the seventh year of the school in Ottawa, after a move in 2013 brought her family to this beautiful city. Thank you to everyone for your support.

Rachel Cushnie Portrait

Rachel Cushnie

Artistic Director


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 Potiphars 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. 

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. Stagecraft Ottawa was launched and are successfully running in various locations around the city and in Kanata. With so much talent and enthusiasm within the schools Rachel and the team are excited to watch the school continue to grow and develop in this wonderful capital city.

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

Ast Artistic Director  / Musical Director – Ottawa

Camp Manager / 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.





Victoria Fruci

Star kids Choreographer /  Coach – Ottawa


Originally from Brampton Ontario, Victoria began her dance training at the young age of 3 and has since been involved in the industry. She has over 20 years of dance experience in a variety of styles including Jazz and Tap (training under the ADAPT syllabus), Hiphop, Contemporary and Lyrical. After 15 years of technical and artistic dance training in her hometown, she set out to move to Ottawa in 2017 to gain a Bachelors of Global and International Studies at Carleton University. 
While attending University, Victoria continued her passion for dance through teaching youth in the Ottawa area in both competitive and recreational settings. Additionally, she continued to learn and grow as a dancer herself by joining the Ravens Dance Pak, where she had the opportunity to compete and represent Carleton University in dance competitions across the province. 
Over the years Victoria has had the pleasure of working with and learning from industry leading professionals including, Ryan Foley, Devin Perry, Mia Michaels and a number of other talented artists. She continues to take classes and attend dance workshops herself in her free time as she believes there is always space to keep learning, especially in the world of the arts. Victoria is excited to be apart of the Stagecraft family and looks forward to welcoming and embracing every student that walks through the doors by empowering their passions through movement! 



Della Woodger

Star Kids Director/ Manager Ottawa

Camp Manager




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



Alex Portrait


Laura Merani

Spotlight Choreographer / Coach Ottawa

Laura has been dancing for over 20 years and knows first-hand the joy that it can bring. Originally from the UK, she attended Leicester College of Performing Arts and received professional training on a 3-year dance and musical theatre course.  After graduating, Laura went on to perform as a professional dancer internationally. Where she gained experience performing in live shows and working on film sets for various Bollywood movies and music videos. She went on the dance in Dresden, Germany, as part of a circus inspired dinner show before returning back to the UK to perform in an all singing all dancing Christmas Spectacular.

Since moving to Ottawa in 2013 Laura has become a certified ADAPT and Acrobatique dance instructor. After finding her love for teaching she is keen to attend training workshops and seminars to further her knowledge of the dance world – taking her from Toronto to Las Vegas.  Laura’s passion for dance and enthusiasm for continued education has also led her to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Practice for the Arts through Middlesex University, UK. It is a work-based program that allows her to continue working as a dance instructor while completing the course.

Laura is thrilled to welcome into the world this August 2019 her own little performer and eagerly looks forward to telling us all the news. Laura will be retuning to Stagecraft in Feb 2020 after maternity leave. 

Laura looks forward to sharing her love of dance and the theatre with all of the students!”




Kali Mason

Visiting Vocal Coach Ottawa




Kali has been singing since the age of 6. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ottawa where she studied theatre with a minor in music. Kali will be completing her Bachelor of Education in the spring 2022. Kali attended Sudbury Secondary School as a Vocal and Drama major in their arts education program. She has had the opportunity to compete in plenty of music competitions and workshops such as the Kiwanis festival, and MusicFest Canada. She has performed in several musicals where she discovered her love for backstage. Kali has worked in stage management for YES Theatre, the University of Ottawa, and the Ottawa Pops Orchestra. 

When not in the theatre, Kali works as a private vocal coach for Sing House Studios. She is the co-president and music director of her acapella group,  the uOttawa Glee Gees.

Kali is very excited to share her passion with the students!


Alex Portrait

Isabella Stanisic

Visiting Choreographer Ottawa

Isabella passion for dance flourished at the young age of 4 years old. She has trained, competed and performed in the following dance genres: musical theatre, tap, jazz, ballet and lyrical. She holds her RAD Vocational Intermediate Ballet and her ADAPT Intermediate 3 Tap certifications.

Isabella starred in many lead roles, such as Mary Poppins and Mama Odis in end of year productions of “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Princess and the Frog”.

Isabella has over nine years of teaching dance and choreographing experience to students ages 4 to 17. Her choreography has been highly recognized within the competitive dance world. Selected Students’ Awards include: First Place in the Competitive Level 1 Tap Performance Category at Inspire Dance Challenge; and Top Musical Theatre Production at Move Dance Competition. In 2014, Isabella coordinated with “Brightspark Travel” for students to dance in Disney’s Magic Kingdom parade, as well as perform her choreographies at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Alongside teaching dance, Isabella has over 6 years of experience managing Summer Dance Camp programs.

In addition to Isabella’s dance background, she is a Bachelor of Arts graduate from the University of Ottawa and will be completing her Bachelor of Education Degree in April 2018.

Isabella aspires to make a difference in her students’ lives. She believes that all students have individual goals to achieve, and she helps, encourages and supports children with their endeavours. Isabella finds great satisfaction in seeing the smiles on children’s faces after accomplishing tasks that initially had been so difficult for them.

Isabella is caring and accessible, and ensures that students feel safe and respected. She creates an inviting atmosphere where students feel comfortable to ask questions, express concerns and celebrate accomplishments.

Isabella is always eager to foster students’ love of the art form that is musical theatre!

Alex Portrait



Chris Santillan

Visting Md Ottawa



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.

Chris is currently on tour with ” we will rock you”


Alex Portrait


Alex Forster

Visting 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!

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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