Our Instructors

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 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. 

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 schools continue to grow and develop in this wonderful capital city.

September 2019 brings another new challenge and with much excitement she now takes all this experience and passion, both on and off stage, to young performers in the opening of Stagecraft Children’s Theatre School, Toronto.

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!


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Sarah Cousineau

Venue administrator Ottawa 

 

Sarah first started musical theatre when she was 9 years old and has been performing on stage in various musicals ever since. She has trained with various theatre companies in Ottawa including performing in three musicals with Stagecraft. Sarah has years of vocal training in addition to being trained in multiple styles of dance, including ballet, jazz, and tap. She recently studied with the Institute for American Musical Theatre in New York City during a two-week intensive program on a scholarship. Sarah is very involved with community theatre and her most recent stage credits include Jan in Grease and Ali in Mamma Mia, both with the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society.

Sarah is thrilled in taking on this new role as venue administrator with Stagecraft 


Alex Portrait

Isabella Visentien

Dance teacher and 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

 

Laura Merani

Dance teacher and Choreographer 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!”


Alex Portrait

Rosanna Hoult

Dance teacher and Choreographer Ottawa

Winning a National singing competition at the tender age of seven gave Rosanna the theatrical bug. She began her training at Susan Robinson School of Ballet and later went on to train at the prestigious London Studio Centre, graduating with a first class honours degree, winning the Sheila O’Neill award for excellence in musical theatre and receiving the critics choice from The Stage newspaper for her performance in the end of year showcase at the Criterion Theatre, London. 
Rosanna has had a varied career across Film, TV and Theatre. She recently completed filming the lead in feature film Nightshooters due for release in 2018. She is also delighted to have worked with Oscar nominated director Yorgos Lathimos playing opposite Colin Farrell in The Lobster and on the highly regarded Kill Your Friends based on the best selling book from author John Niven.
Her diverse acting career has ranged from roles in the Marvel blockbuster Captain America; The First Avenger, to the critically acclaimed Monk3ys, which won best Micro Budget at the Raindance Film Festival. She also starred in the urban British hit film Adulthood, and in the American action film Tin Holiday. Other film credits include Viking Siege, The Fox and the Rabbit, Flotsam, Hammered, United and Jayne Eyre.
 She is thrilled to have worked with one of her idols, Joanna Lumley, on Little Cracker; Baby Be Blonde, and has also starred in popular television shows such as Hollyoaks, Skins, Jonathan Creek and the Demon Headmaster. 
Other credits include performing live on stage with Michael Jackson at The Brit awards, playing the role of Mrs Potifar in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and Rosie in Sweet Charity at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Rosanna worked with Bryan Ferry on his worldwide tour, and also with The Kitts Project and band worldwide gigs. 
Other stage roles include Art by Yazmin Reza, Four by Copi, The American Dream and Moby Dick.  She has also starred in several commercials for brands including Persil, Nestea, Lotus Biscuits, CSL, The Co-Operative, Staples, Mars Balls and T-Mobile as well as various UK pantomimes.
 
Rosie is thrilled to be retuning to Stagecraft this Fall after the birth of her beautiful daughter Aurelia.

Wendy Portrait

 

 

Wendy Berkelaar

Musical Director – Vocal Instructor Ottawa

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.

 


Della

 

 

Kali Mason

Musical Director in training Ottawa

 

 

 

Kali is a third year student at the University of Ottawa where she studies theatre with a minor in music. Kali has been taking private vocal lessons since the age of 6 and attended Sudbury Secondary School as a Vocal and Drama major in their arts education program. During her final two years of secondary school, she worked as an assistant vocal music teacher for the junior grades and the choir. 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 can be found singing and arranging for her two vocal groups. She is a proud member of Tonal Eclipse and is in her university’s official acapella group, the Glee Gees. 

Kali is very excited to be joining the stagecraft team, and can’t wait to share her passion with the students!

 

 


Alex Portrait

 

 

Cara Pantalone

Drama teacher – Director (Drama) Ottawa

Camp Director (drama)

 

Cara is a professional actor/singer and has been teaching youth for over 18 years at the Randolph Academy, Toronto.  She has been coaching improv, music theatre and college prep courses across Ontario and Canada, in addition to directing countless youth theatre productions.

When she isn’t teaching you can catch her on stage here in Ottawa ( Ottawa musicals annual holiday Panto at the Gladstone Theatre ), in Toronto and across Ontario. Selected stage credits include : As You Like It ( Shakespeare BASH’d), God of Carnage( STF), The 25 Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee( STC), The Trail Of Judith K ( TFFP), Seussical the Musical ( Linus Hans Productions), Songs for a new World (STF), In Flanders Fields ( Smile Theatre).

Cara is thrilled to be returning home to Ottawa after 18 years in Toronto and we are ecstatic to welcome her to the Stagecraft family  

“ we must all do theatre to find out who we are, and to discover who we can become”

 


Della

 

 

Della Woodger

Drama teacher in training  Ottawa

Camp councillor 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 Choreographer – Dance teacher – Camps Ottawa

 

Charlotte has been dancing ballet since the age of 6 with National Capital Dance Educators, studying the Vaganova syllabus. Charlotte has also studied jazz, contemporary and modern dance. Charlotte completed the dance program in the Centre d’Excellence Artistique de l’Ontario at De La Salle high school. She is currently attending a three year professional training program in contemporary dance with The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Passionate for the performing arts, Charlotte wants to make dance her career in the near future.


Alex Portrait

 

 

Chris Santillan

Visting Vocal Instructor 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!


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.


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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