History & Team

SCTS Ottawa Celebrating our 10th Anniversary, 2023/24 Season

 Thank you to everyone for your support.

Rachel Cushnie

Artistic Director


Rachel, a native of 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 this Season SCTS celebrates their 10th Anniversary 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

Musical Director/ Singing Coach – Ottawa




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.


Wendy Portrait



Josh Rigo

Director / Drama Coach  – Ottawa




Josh Rigo is a director, actor, and choreographer who has been actively involved in the arts since a young age. He holds a degree in music and theatre, as well as a master’s degree in theatre education. Currently, he is busy launching his latest project – the opening and first season of Elevator Theatre Company (ETC). In addition to his role as Owner and Artistic Director for ETC, Josh is actively involved in teaching and directing with other local theatres across the Ottawa region. Visit www.ElevatorTheatreCompany.ca to learn more about ETC, and visit www.JoshRigo.ca to learn more about Josh!


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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!”

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Rachel McCarthy

Star Kids Choreographer/ Coach Ottawa

Rachel has had a love and appreciation for dance since the age of 4. She has danced at both the recreational and competitive level in numerous styles including musical theatre, jazz, lyrical, ballet, tap, modern dance, hip hop, and more. Rachel attended  Canterbury High School in the dance program where she got the opportunity to practice her dance technique each day, learn about the history of dance, take dance exams, perform in front of large audiences, and work with different choreographers. 

Rachel found a special love for musical theatre dancing and getting the opportunity to play different characters on stage. She has played many different roles in musical theatre numbers receiving overall awards at competitions and even special recognition for story telling. She loves all aspects of dance, especially getting the chance to be apart of a team to make and share something magical.

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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!

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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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