AMANDA WEST LEWIS (she/her)
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 has a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Youth from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her new novel for young people, These Are Not the Words, will be published by Groundwood Books in 2022.
Amanda fundamentally believes in the power of arts education to change and enrich lives.
JENNIFER CECIL (she/her)
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.
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.
HEATHER MARIE CONNORS (she/her)
BOOKKEEPER & ADVISOR
Heather Marie Connors (aka HM) is a certified bookkeeper and registered tax professional. She has over 15 years experience working in administration, HR and financial management for non-profit arts organizations. In 2018 she started her own bookkeeping business, specializing in charities and small business, as well as HST and tax preparation for self-employed artists. Current clients include the Ottawa Fringe Festival, The Gladstone Theatre and The Ottawa Children’s Theatre
REBECCA BAUER (she/her)
Rebecca is a performer, theatre creator, and drama educator. She first discovered her love for performance while attending the Specialized Drama Program at Canterbury High School. Thereafter, she attended Concordia University’s Theatre Performance Program in Montreal (BFA, 2018). She has spent countless hours training vocally with Jonathan Patterson, earned her Basic Actor-Combatant certificate with Fight Directors Canada, and partook in a 2-week long Viewpoints/Suzuki intensive with SITI Company in New York City. Rebecca has performed locally and internationally at a range of venues, from Montreal’s Segal Centre, to Germany’s Figuren Theatre, and Toronto’s Hart House Theatre. She is passionate about creating inclusive, playful spaces where powerful storytelling can come to life.
For more information, visit Rebecca’s website: https://rebeccabaueractor.com/
HILLARY BUSHELL (she/her)
Hillary Bushell has been active in the theatre community since she was young. Trained in Clown and having graduated from the theatre program at Bishop’s University, she followed her love of theatre to the East Coast where she performed everything from farces and Shakespeare to Halloween horrors and dramatic reproductions. Since her time on the East Coast Hillary has been touring the globe bringing her love of theatre to audiences young and old, teaching the art and craft of theatre to children. You can currently find her in Ottawa belting Shakespearean sonnets to whoever will listen.
KODI CANNON (he/him)
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 (she/her)
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!
MAGAN CARTY (they/them)
Magan Carty (they/them) is an actor, theatre-maker and drama educator anchored in their hometown of Ottawa but passionate about working out of many places. They received their acting training from Studio 58 (Vancouver), One Yellow Rabbit (Calgary), The Movement Theatre Studio (NYC) and Arts Canterbury's Drama Program. Magan has performed professionally in every province across Canada and is the founder of multi-award winning theatre company Cart Before the Horse. Favourite recent credits include Up to Low with the National Arts Centre English Theatre and Robin Hood with the Royal Canadian Theatre Company. Magan has been working as a drama educator at The Ottawa Children's Theatre for four years now and absolutely adores it. When not onstage or in the rehearsal studios teaching others, Magan can be found adventuring outdoors, developing their portfolio as a journalist or hanging out with their twin black cats, Juno and Lenny.
LEAH COGAN (she/her)
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.
AL CONNORS (he/him)
Co-founder of Ottawa’s Canadian Comedy Award winning Crush Improv, AL’s worked with thousands of improvisers across Canada. As President of Canadian Improv Games, AL helped produce training materials and develop curriculum taught in schools across from Coast to Coast. He also teaches improvisation for leaders as a part of the Telfer School of Management’s EMBA in Complex Project Leadership at uOttawa. He believes that working in a group of folks with varied backgrounds and experiences is what maximizes the learning potential for everyone.
CHELSEY FAWCETT (she/her)
INSTRUCTOR & ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
Chelsey is an accomplished freelance creator working as a director, playwright, and choreographer and has taught physical theatre across Canada and Australia. Chelsey’s writing and academic work comes from her research on the feminine narrative. Chelsey is an award-winning animation director winning Best Director – Alberta for Telus Storyhive in 2015, and was nominated for Director of the Year from the Calgary Critter awards for 2014.
Chelsey is a graduate from the University of Windsor’s Drama department. She continues to travel through Canada and internationally teaching physical theatre and acting techniques for dancers and actors. She is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Theatre Ontario, and the Women in Management with the Tefler School of Business.
In arts administration, Chelsey has served as a spear head for fundraising with both Kaeja d’Dance, Alberta Dance Theatre, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, later to become a grants consultant (Ryan ULC) assisting multiple not-for-profits with their funding ambitions. Through mentorship her goal is to continue educating and empowering women into upper management roles in the arts.
Chelsey is currently pursuing her MFA in directing at the University of Ottawa, and is so excited to be creative with the students of the Ottawa Children’s Theatre!
NICK MILLER (he/him)
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.
EMILY POULSEN (she/her)
INSTRUCTOR & ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
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.
CASSANDRA SILVER (she/her)
Cassandra is a theatre maker, credentialed nerd, and teacher and who has crossed the country collecting experience.
Cassandra's journey as a theatre-maker started in dance, with nearly two decades of ballet training (notably at the University of Ottawa, the National Ballet School, and Canterbury). After an injury and coming to terms with her too-tallness for classical dance, she pivoted to working in theatre where she is primarily a director and dramaturg. She has particular interests in physical theatre, opera, and in post modern experimental work, but feels just as at-home with canonical dramatic literature. Her most recent projects have been directing youth productions of Our Town (Wilder), An Ideal Husband (Wilde), and Les Fourberies de Scapin (Molière) with The Abelard School in Toronto.
On the nerdy front, she completed her undergraduate degree in theatre at the University of Ottawa before continuing to a master's degree at the University of Alberta and doctorate at the University of Toronto. Her studies have broadened her perspectives on performance, and given her the opportunity to learn from nationally and internationally regarded artists and scholars. She thinks and writes about things like multilingual drama, digital interactivity on stage, what audiences actually do, and how video games are like live performance.
Through her studies, Cassandra has honed her skills as a teacher too. She has been an adjunct professor at the Universities of Alberta, Waterloo, and Toronto, teaching subjects as diverse as play analysis and theatre history to playwriting and intro to acting. She also spent six years as a middle and high school teacher, where she learned just how incredible younger students can be!
LARRY TAROF (he/him)
Larry Tarof ("Dr. L") is an Ottawa-based collaborative musician approaching three decades of professional experience in musical theater, jazz, rock, Jewish and classical genres.
Current roles include MD/accompanist for the Carleton University Musical Theatre Ensemble, Friday night soloist at Temple Israel (voice/guitar/piano), musical director (voice/guitar/curriculum responsibility) at Temple Israel Religious School and private teaching/gigs. Classically trained, Larry has coached/accompanied >1,000 competitive musical theater performances at Kiwanis/OMFA Provincials, directed multiple choirs/instrumental ensembles and gigs frequently. His continually growing body of original works (100+) includes jazz, musical theatre, pop/rock and sacred music. At the studio, he has produced/performed on many demos, thousands of backup tracks/arrangements and six complete full-length CDs.
Selected recent credits pre-pandemic: Songs for a New World (2018, CUMTE), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2016, CUMTE); "In the Next Room" (2013, Same Day Theatre), "My Name is Asher Lev" (2012, 9th Hour Theater); "C is for Cosmopolitan" (2012, >100 NPR radio stations airplay); Olympus the Musical; Juno Award winner Jen Gould's Music Soup Concert (DVD, piano, 2010); 11 Note Chords educational iPad piano apps (2012, principal, creative authority).
On the eclectic side, "Dr L." is also an R&D scientist, having earned his M.Eng/Ph.D. in semiconductor physics, and even has CEO, CTO and "Principal Scientist" day gigs in the high tech world interspersed with bouts of being a full-time musician. Someday maybe he'll join Twitter/Instagram.
CHLOE VANGRONINGEN (she/they)
Chloe has been active in the theatre community since a very young age. She was introduced to community theatre at the age of 8 and instantly fell in love with it. Chloe is currently a theatre major at the University of Ottawa, getting their undergraduate degree. With a background in clowning, child and youth work, and little theatres throughout Southwestern Ontario, Chloe is extremely excited to join the Ottawa Children’s Theatre team and collaborate with creative young minds!
KRISTINA WATT (she/her)
Kristina Watt is an award-winning theatre performer & creator, Artistic Director of 100 Watt Productions, instructor, dancer and emerging writer. Born in Scotland, she grew up in Canada & Colombia (SA), trained and worked in North Carolina & London, and then lived in New York City for over a decade.
She has taught many aspects of theatre performance & theory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and currently at the University of Ottawa. She served as Arts Outreach Coordinator & instructor for children at PS22 in NYC, coached performance for figure skaters and has worked as a private coach internationally for all ages (including coaching politicians & lawyers on communication skills). Now relocated to Ottawa, she continues her love of teaching all ages. She works with the BFA program at the University of Ottawa, offers masterclasses & workshops with the National Arts Centre and Great Canadian Theatre Company, and acts as a mentor to individual youth & with Youth Infringement Festival. With the Ottawa International Children’s Festival, she offers the annual “100 Watt Earth Stage”, a mini festival-within-the-festival that showcases the artistry of youth ages 3 to 23.
As a performer and theatre creator in Canada, she has performed with the National Arts Centre, Great Canadian Theatre Company, St Lawrence Theatre Festival, New Theatre of Ottawa, Tactics, MiCasa Theatre, Third Wall Theatre Co., among others. Her own creations include Holding Mercury and Particle. She has served on the Board of Directors at the GCTC, and currently works with Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre.
She received her MFA (Acting) in North Carolina then continued to train at institutions such as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Central School of Speech & Drama, The Acting Center (NYC), and Lincoln Center (Leadership Training), and at Volcano Theatre in Toronto. She is part of the National Alliance of Teaching Artists in the United States.
Much of her passion to create & teach is fueled by a desire to give a voice to the needs, thoughts, and infinite potential of youth. Hand in hand is her awe, love and concern for our planet. Much of the work of 100 Watt Productions aims to ensure that both are heard by all ages. It is a gift to have been working with Amanda and the Ottawa Children’s Theatre for many rich years of collaboration. May it continue.
SUE YENDALL (she/her)
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.