AMANDA WEST LEWIS
FOUNDER, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & INSTRUCTOR
Amanda Lewis has directed and taught acting to children, youth and adults in theatres and schools throughout Ontario for over thirty years. Originally trained as an actor, she has a specialized background in movement, voice and language arts, and a particular interest in developing work that is by, for and about youth.
From 2003 – 2011, Amanda was the Executive Director of the Ottawa School of Speech & Drama (OSSD) where she created such projects as the “Our Stories Project” (acting for youth at risk); “The Red Kite Project” (performances for children on the autism spectrum); and “The Children’s Republic” (a co-production between OSSD & GCTC).
Working with a team of respected theatre professionals, Amanda founded The Ottawa Children’s Theatre in 2013. In 2015, she co-produced the hit show “Up to Low” (with Easy Street Productions), and worked as a dramaturg on the show when it was re-mounted at the National Arts Centre in May 2018.
A published author of seven books for children, Amanda’s most recent novel, “The Pact” was listed on the 2017 USBBY List of Internationally Outstanding Books for Young People. She recently completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Youth from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Amanda fundamentally believes in the power of arts education to change and enrich lives.
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR & INSTRUCTOR
Jennifer is an actor, singer, teacher and transplant from Chicago, IL. After receiving her BFA in Acting from Michigan State University, she worked professionally in both the United States and Canada with companies such as The Michigan Shakespeare Festival, The Wharton Center, Williamston Theatre, A Company of Fools, and The Great Canadian Theatre Company. Recent Canadian credits include: Ordinary Days (Great Canadian Theatre Company), Pericles, Prince of Tyre (A Company of Fools), Guys & Dolls (CMTP), Company (CMTP), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Indie Women). Some favorite past credits include: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cabaret, As You Like It, The Tempest, and The Rocky Horror Show.
Throughout her career, Jenn has taught acting to youth of all ages, and she is thrilled to continue her work with The Ottawa Children's Theatre. Jenn loves nothing more than encouraging young creators and performers to find and share their unique voices with the world.
ADMINISTRATOR & INSTRUCTOR
Emily is a dramatic arts enthusiast who has a great love for teaching. She is passionate about using the arts to teach children important life skills such as building confidence, teamwork and creativity.
She has experience in writing, choreographing, conducting, leading yoga and doing music outreach in the community. With Lotus Centre in Kanata, Emily has worked with children who have special needs, and she facilitates adapted music activities. Emily believes that music should be incorporated into every classroom and plays a growing number of instruments which includes violin, voice and guitar. She is currently working on her Bachelor of Music with a Minor in Mathematics at Carleton University.
Her training in acting began at the age of seven and she quickly learned that musical theatre is her niche. With the director David Hersh she played John in Peter Pan and d’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers. At Earl of March Secondary School under the direction of Matthew Minter, Emily played Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and Edwin Drood in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Most recently, she played Cinderella in The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon with Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre Company.
She has worked with OCT as a teacher’s assistant for Nick Miller, Kristina Watt and Catherine Ballachey. These instructors have inspired her deeply, and she is very excited to join the instructing team at OCT.
Karen Balcome is a theatre artist and educator based in Ottawa. Her writing has been produced by such companies as Gruppo Rubato (Snapshot) and New Theatre of Ottawa (Alice). As co-creator of THUNK!theatre with Geoff McBride, she has taken audiences in a rowboat through a hurricane in Far & Near & Here (Fresh Meat Theatre Festival) and through making and baking their own loaf in bread (GCTC's undercurrents festival). Other devising works include She Hath Done What She Could (SubDevision festival, Skeleton Key Theatre) and The Curator (SubDevision festival; In the Soil festival, Skeleton Key Theatre). She recently toured Kate Smith's Swan River for Salamander Theatre, performing for children and families across the Ottawa area.
Karen brings a variety of experience in delivering programming to children, youth and adults with special needs, including developing and leading the Black Box Theatre drama program in partnership with the City of Ottawa's Special Needs Arts Initiative for the past 5 years. She also assisted with the Ottawa School of Speech & Drama's Drama Sensations series of courses and Red Kite performances specifically designed for individuals on the autism spectrum. Other teaching experience includes the City of Ottawa's Arts Animation and Arts Leadership programs for children and youth, and OSSD's Our Stories outreach program for seniors and children and youth at risk.
Kodi is an actor, singer dancer, director and teacher. He has a BA from The University of Ottawa specializing in Theatre, to which he graduated summa cum laude and received the faculty award for highest achievement. Kodi has performed with many professional and community theatres, such as Eddie May Murder Mysteries, Theatre Kraken, The Gladstone Theatre, Under The Pines Festival, Confidential Musical Theatre Project, Indie Women, Toto Too Theatre, Orpheus Musical Theatre Society and Zucchini Grotto. Past favourite roles include: Leo (The Producers, CCC Award), Seymour (Little Shop of Horrors), Robert (The Drowsy Chaperone), Brian (Avenue Q), Dr Madden (Next To Normal), Enoch (Carousel), Dalton (The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek), Bobby (Urinetown) and was part of the Dance Ensemble in Spamalot.
He directed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for Indie Women Productions, and recently worked on The Last Five Years for Orpheus Theatre.
Kodi studied Musical Theatre and Classical voice with Yoriko Tannno and is a Kiwanis provincial champion. He has gone on to coach students in preparation for Kiwanis and auditions. Among his experiences with youth education, he developed a theatre camp program for Heritage College and has worked in coordinating and running youth events for the past several years.
Nikki Carriere discovered her passion for the arts at the age of seven. Ballet was her first introduction to dance adding modern, jazz, tap and pointe. At the age of ten, Nikki began dancing competitively. Her dance and performance career included festivals, television productions, galas, and fashion shows. Nikki has had the pleasure of studying at the National Ballet of Canada, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, and the Dance Commons School of San Francisco and Peggy Baker Dance Company/ Dance Educators Intensive 2018. Nikki has also studied Early Childhood Education at Algonquin College and Art History and Photography at University of Ottawa.
Nikki has instructed Pre-School Dance and Drama and Youth Drama at OSSD, the City of Ottawa, Teacher’s Assistant on the Drama Sensations and Program and Preschool and Youth Drama at OYPTS. She has been fortunate to have been a part of some great productions; such as, Red Kite/Blue Sky (Chicago Children’s Theatre on the Spectrum), Front of House Coordinator for The Walk (MoonDog Theatre), historical roles in the Beechwood Annual Historical Tours (2012-2017), Stage Manager OYPTS All Ages Plays ( Ritchcraft Theatre & Harold Shenkeman Theatre 2013-2016), Director/Designer Youth Drama Production 2012-2016 (Ritchcraft Theatre) , Stage Manger/Wrangler OIVA Awards 2015, and was the Assistant Coordinator for Nuit Blanche 2014-15( Arts Court),Kontunuum 2017(City of Ottawa) television /movie roles in Lifetime Channel MOW and Hit By Lighting starring Jon Cryer and Will Sasso. In addition, Nikki is a active member with the Ottawa Arts Council, Galerie SAW Gallery and the Ottawa Art Gallery. Nikki is very excited to be the part of the artistic team at Ottawa Children’s Theatre!
Megan is an actor, physical theatre artist, puppeteer, and drama educator. She fell in love with live performance while attending the Canterbury Arts Drama Program, and then went on to train at Studio 58 in Vancouver as well as One Yellow Rabbit in Calgary. With a deep connection to her roots, Megan chose to bring everything she learned back to her hometown and develop her professional career here in Ottawa. She is Artistic Director of multi-award winning theatre company Cart Before the Horse, whose mandate is to use theatre as a powerful outlet to explore topics we are otherwise afraid to talk about. Founded by Megan and Paul Griffin (Head of the Canterbury Drama Program) has produced multiple shows including The Shape of a Girl, Perfect Pie, girls!girls!girls!, and Lungs.
Megan has also performed at the National Arts Centre English Theatre and Magnetic North Theatre Festival (Up to Low), Magnus Theatre (The Book of Everything), Thousand Islands Playhouse (Violet’s the Pilot), Theatre Wakefield (Bridge to the Past, A Summer…A Fair), Bear and Co. (Cymbeline), Cellar Door Project (In the Room, Stubborn Stone), and Cue Penny Productions (Burn). Megan also spent three years touring across Canada with Rock the Arts Puppet Company voicing and manipulating over 30 different characters. The only thing Megan loves as much as performing is teaching.
Leah Cogan is a trained actor and musician who has worked in performance, facilitation and arts education for over 13 years. She holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Brown University, received Musical Theatre training at Sheridan College, and is winner of CBC’s Canada’s Triple Sensation (2009). A nationally recognized talent, Leah has worked in New York City, Toronto, Halifax, Calgary, Ottawa, and Providence.
Leah now works as a performance coach in the Ottawa area, offering classes, workshops and one-on-one performance coaching in educational, community and corporate settings. She teaches Acting Skills, Musical Theatre Performance, and Presentation Skills to anyone with a passion for storytelling and a penchant for play. Her work combines a focus in physical storytelling, emotional authenticity, trust building, and arts literacy, with the goal of inspiring vocal, physical and imaginative freedom in her students.
She is pleased to be back in Ottawa (her hometown) to raise her family, and to take part in the creative growth happening in our capital city.
Charles is an actor, singer, dancer, and fight director from Orléans.
After graduating with honours from Sheridan College’s Music Theatre Performance program, Charles went on to study the Michael Chekhov technique of acting at the Chekhov International Theatre School in Melikhovo, Russia, and with Michael Chekhov Europe in Istanbul, Turkey. He also studied stage combat at Rapier Wit, in Toronto, and received full distinction on his Advanced Exams for Fight Directors Canada.
As an actor, credits include: Fred in A Christmas Carol and Roy in Anne & Gilbert: The Musical (National Arts Centre- English Theatre); Ferdinand in The Tempest, The Turn of the Screw (Two Planks); Beauty and the Beast, Shrek the Musical, The Addams Family, Into the Woods, Mary Poppins (Neptune Theatre); Taming of the Shrew, Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare by the Sea); Evangeline and Anne of Green Gables (Charlottetown Festival). Fight Direction credits include: Beauty and the Beast (Neptune); Unconscious at the Sistine Chapel (2b Theatre); Romeo and Juliet (Watermark); and Macbeth (Off the Leash).
Laura has loved singing, music and drama for her entire life. Her passion for music and drama grew while singing in choirs throughout her years in school, and reading aloud plays and stories in classes and to her siblings. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Toronto, Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama (now the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies). While in school, she performed in several musicals and plays; favourites were Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”, Feydeau’s “Wooed and Viewed” and Brecht’s “Informer”.
Laura has taught music and drama in a variety of capacities, including: Ruby Chorus, Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus (conductor); KidSingers, Orkidstra – The Leading Note Foundation (conductor); City of Ottawa (music and drama instructor); The Ottawa School of Speech and Drama (drama and music instructor); Mothercraft Ottawa (music programming for Toddlers, Preschoolers and Kindergarteners).
Laura currently sings with the Canadian Centennial Choir, and studies singing and piano privately. As well as teaching with the Ottawa Children’s Theatre and being a busy mum of three, Laura is a Tour Guide and Mentor with See Our City / Haunted Walks and is an Arts Educator with Arts Express, Ottawa. Laura is very happy to be part of the Ottawa Children’s Theatre team!
Alli is an Ottawa based Actor, Musician and Creator. She is a graduate of the Musical Theatre Program at St Lawrence College and has worked with children for over 10 years nannying, working at summer camps and afterschool care. Alli won two Prix Rideau Awards for Emerging Artist(2018) and Best New Creation for her self written and performed one woman musical comedy, High School High. Other Credits include: Rocky Horror Picture Show (Ovation Productions) Badges (Fresh Meat ) Rhythm and Burgundy: The Comeback Tour (creator and performer), Little Shop Of Horrors(Theatre Kraken), My Favorite Year (Confidential Musical Theatre Project), Romantic Poetry (Black Sheep Theatre), Getting Odd(Toronto Fringe). Most recently she composed the music for the Company of Fools "Romeo and Juilet".
Matt Hertendy is an Ottawa based playwright, actor and producer. Matt is a three-time Prix Rideau Award winner, for his play Rideshares & Rope Swings (2016 Ottawa Fringe & 2017 Halifax Fringe) and his performance in Cart Before the Horse Theatre Company’s Lungs. Rideshares has been produced as far as Philadelphia and Halifax. His most recent play Swedish Furniture premiered as part of the TACTICS Mainstage Series. Matt serves as a playwright mentor for the Youth Infringement Festival, and as Assistant Dramaturg for the Emerging Creators Unit.
Nick Miller is an Ottawa-based performing arts instructor and performer. His passions include theatre, circus, musical theatre, and improvisation.
He has taught and performed from coast to coast in Canada and has traveled abroad for many productions. Some highlights have been creating and touring An Amazon Odyssey (Neptune Theatre, Halifax, NS), Hansel and Gretel (Festival Antigonish, NS), The Ant and the Grasshopper Musical (Kaleidoscope Theatre, Victoria, BC), Red Kite Blue Sky (Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, Ottawa ON) and Yeomen of the Guard (Ottawa Savoy Society) for which he earned a best actor award from the Capital Critics Circle.
He has a theatre degree from Brock University and has taken education courses from Roehampton University (UK). He paid for his education by performing as a professional busker and improviser. Over the years, he has performed his improv and busker shows for Montreal’s Just for Laughs, the Nanjing (China) Clown Festival, fringe festivals (Edinburgh, Edmonton), busker festivals (Halifax, Dundas, Ottawa, Kingston, Edmonton, Covet Gardens), and children’s festivals (London, Ottawa, Singapore).
Over the years, Nick has truly enjoyed teaching and staging productions for young people, including courses and workshops for Ottawa Circus School, Dovercourt, City of Ottawa, Salamander Theatre, Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, the National Arts Centre, and the Circus Tent for the Ottawa Busker Festival. Other teaching credits include Neptune Theatre School, Kaleidoscope Theatre School, and London’s Circus Space. Nick is thrilled to be a part of the Ottawa Children’s Theatre team.
Clara has been a longtime student of the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama (OSSD) and the Ottawa Children’s Theatre, including taking classes in Acting Skills, the Senior Performance Company, Shakespeare Performance and partaking in Trinity Exams. She is currently attending Canterbury High School in the Drama Program.
Clara’s love for theatre has led to roles in several professional productions including: The Sound of Music (NAC), Anne and Gilbert (NAC), A Prodigal Son (9th Hour Productions) and A Christmas Carol (NAC). She also has been seen on the small screen in the TV series Odd Squad and in the TV movie Crossfire.
Clara enjoys working with children and has been working as a Teacher’s Assistant for the Ottawa Children’s Theatre for a several years.
Kate Smith has been working in Canadian theatre for nearly 15 years, and is Co-Artistic Director of Skeleton Key Theatre. A trained actor and singer, Kate has performed across Canada and has twice been nominated for a Prix Rideau Award for Outstanding Female Performance. She recently won the Outstanding Ensemble Award at the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival for her company Smith & Somers' original dark musical comedy HOOTENANNY!. Her work with Skeleton Key has been presented at the Ottawa International Children's Festival, the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, the In The Soil Festival (St. Catharines), the undercurrents festival, the Fresh Meat Festival, and all iterations of site-specific theatrical event subDevision. Kate performed with A Company of Fools in Twelfth Night summer 2018, and can be seen next in The Virgin Trial at the Great Canadian Theatre Company September 2018. www.skeletonkeytheatre.com
Kate has been teaching drama in schools and arts organizations for over a decade to students, participants and professionals ranging in age from 3 to 80 years old. She recently collaborated with community members on Swan River, an outdoor show for families that plays September 2018 on Petrie Island, presented by the Shenkman Arts Centre.
Kristina Watt is an Actor, Artistic Director of 100 Watt Productions, instructor, musician & former dancer. Resident Company member of Third Wall Theatre & core member of Deluxe Hot Sauce, she has performed at the NAC, GCTC, New Theatre of Ottawa (as Sid Viscious), St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, and the Ottawa Fringe Festival.
Some of Kristina's past projects include roles in Blackbird and Top Girls, for both of which she won Prix Rideau Awards. She recently created "Wild Life", a collective creation with students age 11 - 13. It was performed at the Ottawa International Children's Festival on the 100 Watt Earth Stage.
Born in Scotland, Kristina grew up in Colombia, trained in the U.S, England & Canada. She is an instructor at the University of Ottawa, Third Wall Academy, Ottawa School of Speech & Drama, as well as teaching privately.
Kristina's company, 100 Watt Productions: Innocent Anarchy, creates innovative theatre for all audiences in intensive collaboration between professional artists and young people. The work is driven by a curiosity for Nature and Human Nature itself.
Niamh is thrilled to be working with the Ottawa Children’s Theatre as a musical theatre dance teacher. She developed a love for the arts at a very young age, and went on to study drama at Canterbury Arts High School and musical theatre at St. Peter High School under their Musical Theatre Specialist High Skills Major. She also began taking vocal lessons with Jennifer Fontaine (ASNY) in 2009, who she continues to study with. In addition to that, she studied dance at Cumbrae School of Dance from 2004 – 2015 in styles such as Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, Tap, Musical Theatre, Irish, Lyrical and Ballet. She has been teaching dance and choreographing in Ottawa since 2014 and currently choreographs for Ottawa based companies like Orpheus and ASNY. Some of her favourite choreography credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Orpheus), Shrek the Musical as apprentice choreographer (Orpheus), Legally Blonde Jr. (ASNY) and Hairspray Jr. (ASNY). She can also be found performing on stage from time to time in between choreography projects. Some of her favourite credits as a performer include Sister Act (Orpheus), Chicago (CMTS) and Mary Poppins (ASNY).
Niamh loves the arts in all of its capacities, but her true passion lies in teaching children, as nothing makes her happier than helping a child shine. She has spent the last 6 years teaching performing arts camps such as those of ASNY Productions and Ottawa Little Theatre, and hopes to continue with projects similar to those in the years to come. She is delighted that Ottawa Children’s Theatre has given her another venue for perusing this passion.
Sue Yendall is a qualified teacher of English and Drama who has taught for both the Toronto and Ottawa/Carleton Boards of Education and she has had the opportunity to practice her craft in several International Schools around the world. At each location she taught Drama in Middle and High School curriculums and was an active innovative member of ISTA, the International Theatre Schools Association based in London, England.
From 2007-2010 Sue was hired to teach Middle School Drama in Cairo, Egypt at the Cairo American College where she produced numerous productions including “Charlotte’s Web”, “A Shakespeare Night to Remember” “Flashback” The Cards of Fate” selections from “Under Milk Wood” and “Grims Tales”. A wonderful experience.
Sue taught at The Ottawa School of Speech & Drama beginning in 1994, where she worked on exciting theatre productions, page to stage classes and to continued her love of poetry and language with the Trinity Examination Program.