Ovation! Performing Arts Academy Faculty

At Ovation! we pride ourselves in working with accomplished instructors who are also highly-acclaimed professionals. Our teachers are all fabulous artists who bring an enormous wealth of creativity, talent, humour, and genuine humanity to the studio. Our faculty really understands the ‘real-world’ of show-biz - because they’re all in it!

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Skill Acquisition + Technical Development + Performance Application = Personal Growth

Every student is unique.  There are myriad learning styles.  And we know that every student is ready to take on challenges at their own time/in their own way.  Something that may seem ‘small’ to one student could be a HUGE LIFE-CHANGING achievement to another!! That’s why we always talk about personal bests/milestones and individual achievements.  As artists we all ‘compete’ with ourselves to progress and become our own best!!!!

So we know that part of our job as teachers is to help students set and manage goals and expectations by tailoring instruction and activities to each and all.   To help that along, we have real curriculum outlines, goals and plans, plus EXPERIENCED and CARING TEACHERS who can deliver those within the reality of working with a class of fabulously unique individuals!  The end result?  Each student learns, grows, and experiences their own accomplishments, feeling that boost of self-esteem and confidence as a result!  BOOM – it’s like magic – well-crafted so the student can’t see how it happens – but they feel it ~ SO COOL!!!!

DIRECTORS

Bonnie Craig

Ovation! Co-owner and Artistic Director - Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre & Dance); Arts Management Certificate Program (Banff Centre for the Arts)

Hi there! I’m Bonnie! I’m a Mom, an Arts Educator, a Singer/Dancer, a Producer and Artistic Director, and I’ve been described as a ‘non-stop arts machine’! Always an advocate for arts and education programs, I’ve worked with some of Canada’s largest, smallest and most successful arts organizations. I ran my own arts consulting company for many years, I’m one-third of the vocal trio SKYLARK, I’m the Co-Owner and Academy Director of Ovation! Performing Arts Academy in Richmond Hill. Career highlights include: 2 seasons each at the Stratford Festival and the Canadian Stage Company ; 5 seasons Managing and Presenting at the Flato Markham Theatre ; and performing for the NHL All-Stars and with legendary comedian Bob Newhart. With 30 years in the biz, my message to my clients and students is always simple: Have fun and work hard. Reach higher than you think you can. And for those students who are really aiming for a career in the arts, I remind them…. if you can’t learn, progress, do, market, sell, organize, produce, and keep track of the $$, then you aren’t working hard enough!

Next to my amazing family, the most important thing to me is developing a world of talented and creative people I honestly believe the world would be a better place if everybody found a way to express themselves in some artistic/creative way. Seriously, if we all just did musicals, we’d be much happier and less violent!!! Ok, so it’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek sentimentality, but the basic premise is serious. Arts and culture define, mirror, and express humanity. And when children in particular study and train in the arts world, they become more confident, empathetic and dynamic – they accomplish things! And helping them find their path in the world is an honour and a privilege. 

Welcome to Ovation! So glad you’re here with us! Let’s get started!

Chris Madsen

Bachelor of Commerce Ovation! Co-owner and Business Director

A career running small companies, and managing arts programs and projects makes him almost qualified to do so!  More importantly, a long term passion for the performing arts makes him excited about Ovation! and how we’re able to help students and their families.

The arts impact all of our lives.  We hope Ovation! can be part of that impact for you.

FACULTY

Alan Kinsella

Acting Faculty

Alan trained in performance at Liberties College Dublin and has a Masters from IADT (Institute of Art, Design & Technology). He began his career as an actor and his debut was at the Abbey Theatre. His directorial debut was with Muted Cupid Theatre Company at Andrew’s Lane Theatre, Dublin, where he then directed French Company, 2B’s world premier of the musical Creatures. He went on to direct over one hundred productions in Ireland, notably Gary Duggan’s Dedalus Lounge and TransEuro Express and Spike Productions awarding winning production of Steven Berkoff’s Decadence. In 2009 Alan directed his first off Broadway show Lunch. In 2013 he moved to Canada and his Toronto debut was The Woman in Black at The Lower Ossington Theatre. Toronto credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Beauty and the Beast, Hairspray, Joseph, The Little Mermaid, Legally Blonde, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Anne of Green Gables, Newsies and Priscilla Queen of the Dessert at Lower Ossington Theatre, Al Green Theatre and The Randolph Theatre. His production of Mary Poppins won the Broadway World award for Best Musical in 2015. He also directed Blithe Spirit  for the Watermark Theatre in P.E.I. Alan has written many family shows that have toured China, Jamaica, Qatar, Singapore, Oman and Sharjah. In 2017 he directed productions of Aladdin and Fame at the Madinat Theatre Dubai and he had four shows he wrote playing in Turks and Caicos.  He also frequently directs with Toronto Youth Theatre. Alan most recently directed It’s a Wonderful Life at the Medley Theatre and Stones In His Pockets at the Wychwood Theatre. Alan is passionate about teaching and has over 20 years of experience. He was a principal lecturer and tutor at the Bull Alley Theatre Training Company which was part of the Liberties College Dublin for over a decade. He has been with Ovation! since his move from Ireland, and has taught all aspects of theatre, stage acting, and comedy to all ages.  He is also delighted to put his Masters in Film to use in his screen acting classes too.

ALYSE SQUIRREL

Dancing and Musical Theatre Faculty

Alyse is thrilled to be a part of the Ovation Performing Arts family! Living in Barrie and originally from Keswick, Alyse has been an avid part of the GTA’s performing arts community for over 20 years, both as artist, educator and leader. As an educator she has had the pleasure of working with amazing companies such as Ovation Performing Arts for many years, Judy and David’s various shows, Dance Express Art Academy and a few other schools across the GTA and Simcoe County. She has also had the pleasure of being Choreographer and Dance Captain with community theatre groups such as Mariposa Arts, The Queensville Players, Scugog Choral Society Musicals and Kempenfelt Players. Some of Alyse’s most recent on-stage credits include: Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors (Queensville Players), Babette in Beauty and the Beast (Queensville Players), Columbia in The Rocky Horror Show (Mariposa Arts Theatre). When she’s not performing or teaching, Alyse can be found at her full-time job, Sea Doo Manager at St Onge Recreation, where she manages and sells FUN or spending a quiet night at home with her husband Craig! Alyse specializes in creating strong characterization in her students, helping them to tell the story of their piece, instilling them with proper movement technique and helping them to understand the “big picture” and what a performance should look and feel like at the end. She has a deep understanding of what it takes to bring a show to a stage, the importance of team work, organization and commitment. Alyse is so excited to bring her skills and love of the arts to Ovation students!

Paige Madsen

Acting, Dancing and Musical Theatre Faculty

Paige Madsen holds a BFA in Performance Acting Program from Ryerson University, and is a Toronto-based actor and arts educator. After working for many years as an instructor at the Flato Markham Theatre summer camps, and at the Ryerson University Performance Youth & Community Programs, Paige is thrilled to be a teacher with Ovation!. As an avid actor, singer, and dancer, she loves being able to share her love for the performing arts with students. Paige understands first-hand how vital the skills gained from the training at Ovation! are – not only is it rewarding to see students’ talent and enthusiasm for the arts grow, but also their confidence, initiative, teamwork, empathy, and many other ‘life’ skills gained through arts education.

Paige is a Co-Founding Artistic Director of Panoply Collective, a Toronto-based actors’ initiative dedicated to exploring classical texts for modern audiences. She is also a member of Skylark Vocal Trio, a jazz/swing/big-band trio based in the GTA.

Andrew Fantasia

Acting, Screen Acting and Comedy Faculty

Andrew Fantasia is a film and stage actor from Brampton, Ontario. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School of the Arts, where he was a five-year-running member of both the Drama Club and the Improv Team, as well as President of the Aquinas Thespian Council. In 2004, he played the lead in the Aquinas main stage production of “Lend Me A Tenor”, which won #1 High School Play in Canada of that year (as adjudicated by the International Thespian Association); Andrew and the cast went on to perform the show at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Later, Andrew graduated with honors from Humber College’s Acting For Film & Television program, and did small background work on the film “Man of the Year” and such TV shows as “Degrassi” and “Little Mosque on the Prairie”.

When he’s not steeped in the world of acting, Andrew spends his time writing  fantasy/sci-fi books (he’s a self-published author) and moonlighting as a pop-culture-centric YouTube and podcasting personality.

Brooke Madsen

Dance, Acting and Comedy Faculty

Brooke Madsen holds a BFA in Acting for the Theatre from Concordia University where she studied a variety of theatrical techniques such as corporeal mime, Meyerhold’s biomechanics and viewpoints. Brooke is a multi-disciplinary artist, having been trained in dancing, acting, and singing. Her passion for all 3 disciplines shines brightly through her work onstage and her playwriting works.  As well as her passion for performance, she discovered a love for arts education through her time working at the Flato Markham Theatre summer camps and is honoured and amazed by her opportunity to help shape the next generation of Canadian artists with Ovation! Having grown up in the arts, Brooke understands the power and joy that the arts can give to a young child and her main goal is to help spread that message through her own artistic endeavours and her teaching philosophies.

Joshua Clemenger

Voice, Acting and Musical Theatre Faculty

Tenor Joshua Clemenger began his training at The Theatre Aquarius Performing Arts Programme in Hamilton Ontario, where he performed in Miss Saigon, Chess, and Grease. He received a Bachelor’s degree in vocal Performance from the University of Western Ontario, and then spent 4 years living and teaching abroad before returning to earn a Master’s degree in Opera from the University of Toronto. Joshua now runs a thriving vocal studio while continuing to perform around Ontario. Recent credits include; Alfred in Toronto City Opera’s Die Fledermaus, Colin in L’Amant Anonyme, with Opera in Concert, Jupiter in Orpheus in the Underworld with Toronto Operetta Theatre, Jo the loiterer in Mother of us All (OIC), L’abete in Adriana Lecouvreur (OIC), Luiz in Gondoliers (TOT), Camille in The Merry Widow (Opera York) Alfredo in La Traviata (SOLT), Fatty in Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (OIC), Count Belfiore in La Finta Giardiniera (UofT Opera), Ferrando in Cosi Fan Tutte (La Musica Lirica), and Ralph in TrypTych opera’s production of H.M.S. Parliament. Joshua loves teaching and is thrilled to be part of the Faculty here at Ovation!

Brandon Swann

Brandon is very excited to be teaching for Ovation! He graduated from Queen’s University with a BAH in theatre and music  and has been music directing, performing and teaching for years. His most recent past credits include: Music Director (Markham Theatre Virtual Camps), Composer and Lyricist (Markham Theatre Virtual Camps), Junie B. Jones (Electric Moon), Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk (Education Arts Canada), JiggiJump (Education Arts Canada), Music Theatre Specialist with Bayview Glen Summer Camps, Teaching Artist with Electric Moon Theatre Company, Red’s in the Hood (Education Arts Canada), Raising the Barn (Globus Theatre). Brandon is thrilled to be a part of this great team!

GUEST ARTISTS AT OVATION

Gabi Epstein

A Toronto native, Gabi has been performing for as long as she can remember. From the age of 6 she has been singing, dancing, acting and performing in a variety of schools, organizations, and productions both on stage and on camera.  She fast-tracked her university program and completed her Bachelor of Music Degree at McGill University in just 2 years.  Her first professional role and the opportunity of a lifetime came along at age 21 – playing Fanny Brice in a one-woman musical about the renowned performer’s life. Since then, Gabi has been working in the theatre world non-stop performing and traveling to New York, Orlando, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Saskatoon, the Caribbean, and even Dubai.   Highlight performances  include Tzeitel in “Fiddler on the Roof” (Stage West), “To Life” (HG Jewish Theatre– DORA AWARD nomination, Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Musical), “Blood Brothers”, “The Sound of Music”, “Perfect Wedding”, “Cowgirls” (Drayton Ent.), Diana in “I Love You Because” (Angelwalk), Dani in “Dani Girl” (TIFT), “Edges” (Acting Up), “The Panto of the Opera” (Moonpath Productions), “The West Side Story Suite” (National Ballet of Canada), and various Disney characters including Belle, Ariel, and Bo Peep aboard Disney Cruise Lines and in the original cast of “Toy Story: The Musical”.  September 2013 brings on a couple of exciting projects –  she is playing Rona Lisa Peretti in Easy Street Productions’ inaugural show, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, and finally on September 30th she’ll play her dream role and star as Fanny Brice in a ONE NIGHT ONLY fundraising production of FUNNY GIRL in Concert for the Harold Green Jewish Theatre. Known as one of Canada’s leading young cabaret performers, Gabi’s infectious cabaret performances have brought her to places like The Stratford Springworks Festival, The Rex, The Toronto Centre for the Arts, The Berkeley St. Theatre, the Pantages Hotel, The Green Door Cabaret as well as the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, and most recently at Don’t Tell Mama in New York City which the Times Square Chronicles named “Top Cabaret of 2012”. As well as being a stage and cabaret performer Gabi is also a recording artist!  You can check out her debut CD “Show Off” on her website www.gabiepstein.com.

Over the years, Gabi has added teaching to her repertoire working with students of all ages.  Her ‘real-world’ focus matches Ovation’s!, and she is excited to be teaching voice/musical theatre and ‘the art of performance’ at Ovation! this season!

Jacqueline Teh – Voice & Musical Theatre Faculty

Jacqueline is an active performer, composer, and educator in the Toronto jazz scene. An album she co-wrote called “With You” won the 2021 Jazz Album of the year Juno Award!   A graduate of the University of Toronto with a Masters of Jazz Performance, majoring in voice, she has performed at several venues in Toronto and at U of T singing in various ensembles and styles. She has worked with renowned Canadian jazz musicians such as Mike Murley and Terry Promane and has sung in masterclasses for Dave Liebman and Norma Winstone. Jacqueline has composed music for and performed with the U of T Jazz 12tet, the U of T Vocal Jazz Ensemble, the U of T Hybrid Ensemble, and the Cantabile Chamber Singers. She has also participated in  several grand scale music projects such as R. Murray Schafer’s “Apocalypsis” during the Toronto Luminato Festival and the “1000 Voices for Peace” Project in Belgium. Jacqueline is deeply passionate about music education and sharing her knowledge of singing and its benefits.  She is currently a sessional instructor at the University of Toronto, a conductor’s assistant with the Toronto Children’s Chorus Kindernotes Program, and a private vocal, piano, and song-writing teacher.  Jacqueline is excited to join the Faculty here at Ovation! where arts education encompasses technical development, skill acquisition, and personal development through applied performance training.

Cheryl Cline

An active teacher, performer, coach, director, and music director, Cheryl holds her Master of Fine Arts in Music Theatre from San Diego State University, a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto.

Cheryl takes pride in being an engaging and relevant teacher, helping students achieve their goals, whether it be personal growth or professional careers.

She’s the Vocal Music Teacher at Westmount C.I., one of the new arts schools in York Region, and she teaches privately as well: Cheryl Cline Voice Studio located in Thornhill.

Wherever Cheryl teaches, she specializes in healthy technique, a variety of music including music theatre repertoire, and performance.  She has a large music library, and specializes in choosing repertoire that is appropriate for each student’s ‘type/style’ & age.

Cheryl is thrilled to be teaching at Ovation!, a terrific organization that is geared towards quality arts training.

Kelly Holiff

Kelly is a graduate of The Randolph Academy of Performing Arts.  A Canadian Actor’s Equity member, she has starred in many popular musicals including Rent, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Nunsense, The Sound of Music and Hairspray.  As a vocalist she was proud to portray the iconic Rosemary Clooney, and was also the official singer for the Tim Hortons 2012 rally campaign.  She is a well-known, and well-loved Toronto Cabaret performer, who has traveled internationally to sing in a variety of venues from the most intimate jazz lounge to the grandest of concert halls.  Kelly recently portrayed the role of Marie Dressler in a one-woman show across Canada, and she’s honoured to be the voice of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Campaign.  A talented and enthusiastic teacher, Kelly is always excited to  work with students of all ages, and is thrilled to be on Faculty with Ovation

Chris Di Staulo

Chris is an award-winning motion picture director who has established himself as one of the most exciting directors in the industry. He is known for his focused and intricate work with actors, beautiful cinematography and original narrative work. Chris is a natural-born storyteller, and this is reflected in his internationally distributed films. His unique vision and innovative style have led to awards in film direction at the Cannes International Film Festival, Las Vegas Film Festival, National Screen Institute, Toronto Film Challenge, and many more.  His energy will make this week an unforgettable experience for those selected to participate!

http://www.chrisdistaulo.com

Alana Shields Barker

 Alana is a certified PEERS facilitator, Social Coach and Roleplay Coach.  She trained at the Geneva Centre for Autism as an Autism Intervenor specializing in Social Skills and Managing Anxiety.  As well, she has spent over 35 years as an actor, improviser and drama/improv teacher.  She has acted and  taught at The Second City, George Brown Theatre School and independently throughout Canada. She is the creator of Social Improv* and the Director of ImprovAbility.

Monica Pain (del Rio)

Monica is thrilled to be invited to teach Tap at Ovation!

She has danced and taught professionally for over 15 years. She attended York University’s Fine Arts Dance Program and is a graduate of Randolph School of the Arts where she further studied, jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet, modern, acting and singing. She attended the LIVENT Summer Intensive at York University under the direction of Garth Drabinksy, and received a dance scholarship to study at Steps Dance Studio in Los Angeles, CA.

She has appeared at Canada’s Wonderland, Ontario Place and toured across Canada with the Legends Alive Tour.  She has been a long standing company member of the Contemporary Afro-Caribbean Dance Company – Ballet Creole, where she performed in more than 100 schools and theatres over the years, educating and inspiring children of all ages.  She also performed the soloist Tap work in their yearly Holiday production of “Soulful Messiah”.

She attempted acting, and did appear in some community theatre productions and television commercials …but then decided to produce them instead and became an accomplished Television Commercial Assistant Producer for 5 years, before taking leave to start a family.

She has worked both as a dancer and an Arts Administrator with Ballet Creole and most recently as the Outreach Coordinator for Flato Markham Theatre. She continues to branch out in various capacities and expand her love of dance in many different ways.  She enjoys inspiring the young and the young at heart! Monica is a proud mother of two and looks forward to watching them grow with the arts in their lives as well.

Anita Nittoly

Anita Nittoly is excited to be working with Ovation!  A graduate of the Humber Acting for Film and Television program, she started her career as a dancer and choreographer, and during her time in college found a natural talent for film combat and stunts. She attained her Advanced Actor Combatant certification from The Academy of Dramatic Combat and has since undertaken film and television stunt work, as well as theatrical fight direction with Havoc Stunts. Her recent screen credits include “Blood”, “Boss of Me”, Book Club”, “The Statement”, “Charon’s Obal”, and “Under”.

 

Anita was the assistant fight director for the 2013 season at the Stratford Festival of Canada — shows included The Three Musketeers, Romeo and Juliet, Mary Stuart, and Fiddler on the Roof. She was also the assistant fight director for Lord of the Flies at St. Andrew’s Theatre and Sweeney Todd at the Al Green Theatre. Anita was the fight director on Blood for DogHouse Riley Productions, Kiss Me Kate at the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts, and Whipped Dream for Dimension Productions. Her stunt performer credits for film and television include Reign, Bitten, Played, Bomb Girls, Alphas, XIII: The Series, The Listener and Under. Stunt safety credits include Book Club, Boss of Me, and Gumboots. Anita has been an assistant stage combat instructor for several organizations such as the National Theatre School of Canada, The Birmingham Conservatory at the Stratford Festival, the Sears Festival, and Etobicoke School of the Arts. Anita is a past recipient of the Brian Linehan Award for Artistic Promise.

Clara McBride

Clara recently returned to Canada after 17 years in Paris, where she worked as a theatre/film artist around Europe. Clara is a founding member of The Improfessionals, an international theatrical improv troupe, which has performed in European festivals since 2001.  As part of the Improfessionals, Clara co-founded the Impro Academy Paris, a training school for improvisational theatre where she created curriculum and led hundreds of classes.  Clara has directed and co-produced several short films, including Last Stop for Miles, which was awarded a BravoFACT award in 2006 and was a festival favourite in Canada; Cleo et Celine, which screened at international festivals in 2008; and Death at Dawn, a Cannes Festival entry.

 

A major part of Clara’s journey has been teaching her craft. She was one of Acting International’s most beloved instructors, teaching a wide range of classes in Meisner Technique, Improvisational Theatre. As a mask, improvisation and ensemble physical theatre teacher at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, Clara has been helping students to develop their dramatic skills for the Masters in Text and Performance and the Masters Theatre Lab since 2006.

 

In Toronto since 2014, she continues to perform (at the Bad Dog Comedy Theatre, and in Toronto Fringe) and direct (for the Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival).  She teaches at Ryerson University and Second City in Toronto, and at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She teaches and directs both children and adults at the Ovation! Performing Arts Academy.

Meredith Busteed

Meredith is a professional musical theatre performer in Toronto, recently returned home after a year in the United Kingdom where she received her Masters in Music Theatre Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. A graduate of the Queen’s University Drama Program, Meredith also holds advanced standings in R.A.D and I.S.T.D for Ballet (Pointe), Tap, Modern and Jazz. An accredited dancer, singer and actor, Meredith has dedicated her life’s work to the pursuit of all three areas of performance. Favourite theatre credits include: 9 to 5; Assassins; Waiting for Godot; Blood Brothers; Anne of Green Gables; Mary’s Wedding; Candide; Our Town, and many more. Meredith can also be seen in the Roger’s Next Issue Commercials.

 

Her love of teaching began as a music theatre and dance instructor with the Mississauga Youth Theatre, where her passion for arts education was sparked. As a teacher, Meredith is dedicated to teaching music theatre, voice, acting and dance. Favourite teaching credits include: acting coach at the H’Art School of Smiles, choreographer for the Thousand Island’s Playhouse and company choreographer with Momentum Dance Toronto. Meredith also teaches with the Travelling Stage Company, providing drama and dance workshops to schools across the GTA. Meredith is thrilled to be teaching with Ovation! and is proud to be a member of such a wonderful and talented team of performers and educators!

Daniella Warner

Daniella Warner is an accomplished dancer, actor and vocalist, having been trained in dance, drama and voice for over twenty-five years. Daniella’s training includes Unionville High School’s ARTS YORK DRAMA-Intensive Program, the THEATRE-DANCE program at Ryerson University and MILLENNIUM DANCE COMPLEX in Los Angeles, California. In addition to being an experienced performer, choreographer and director, Daniella has worked for the York District Catholic School Board, teaching drama and dance to students in Grade 3-8 through the Artist In The School program. Her film credits include My Baby’s Mama and a YTV film. She has also provided background vocals on an album by recording artist PATRIA. Her stage credits include A Christmas Carol, The Wizard of Oz, Anne of Green Gables, Carousel, A Chorus Line, The Nutcracker and many more.Daniella owned and directed her own Performing Arts School- Centre-Line Productions, for two years. She has been instructing dance, drama and vocal for over fifteen years. Her training styles include Jazz,Tap, Hip Hop, RAD Ballet/Pointe, Lyrical, Modern and Spanish, as well as mime, clowning, robotics, stage- combat and commedia dell’arte.  Daniella is thrilled to be working with Ovation! as the Director of Dance, and Choreographer for the musical theatre programs.

Alison Smyth

Nominated as “Best Actress” by the Capital Critics Circle for her performance as Susy in WAIT UNTIL DARK (Classic Theatre Festival, 2015), Alison Smyth is a Toronto-based actress, yogini and performing arts educator.

 

She won the Broadwayworld.com title “Best Featured Female” for her performance as Francine in JERSEY BOYS (Dancap, 2010). Other stage credits include: HAIRSPRAY! (Mirvish), EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL (Starvox), ANNE OF GREEN GABLES – THE MUSICAL (Charlottetown Festival), and I OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES (Classic Theatre Festival).

Alison finds so much to be gained physically and mentally from incorporating yoga into one’s life. Certified in Ashtanga through the revered Downward Dog Yoga Centre in Toronto, Alison is also a certified Yoga Nidra teacher through Sananda Yoga Toronto.

 alisonsmyth.com  @alimaryisabel

Natalie Semotiuk

Natalie has worked in the film and theatre world for over 15 years. Starting with attending the New York Film Academy’s Acting Conservatory in 2005 and then attending the University of Southern California in 2010 where she interned for companies such as Ish Entertainment, a subsidiary of Lionsgate, and the Center Theatre Group, the largest theatre company in Los Angeles. She also co-founded the stand-up comedy club, the Uncensored Students of Comedy, during her time at the University of Southern California and has performed at the Laugh Factory and the Hollywood Improv. In 2015 she completed her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from York University, as well as co-wrote, produced and starred in “Heartbeat and Other Ways to Say I Love You,” which debuted at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Since then, Natalie has worked as an Associate for the Canada’s National Voice Intensive, an Associate Theatre Professor for York University, as the Casting Associate for Casting Director Nicole Hilliard-Forde, as well as the Business Affairs & Artist Liaison for Motel Pictures. In the fall of 2017 she also took over as the Producer for the Toronto International Film Festival’s prestigious Rising Stars Programme. In 2018 she also released her very first original EP – available to download now and founded her production company Courageous Heart Productions. When she isn’t teaching, Natalie is constantly working on her own film, theatre and music projects.

Alex Karolyi

Alex founded Shadowpath, a charitable theatre company in 2002 as a professional outlet for local performers in York Region. She developed the site-specific theatre series; Plays in Cafes, Readings In Wineries and Hotel Solstice, transforming everyday spaces into creative places for suburban audiences. She develops and delivers workshops for youth and seniors and is training the next generation of female creative leaders with a paid apprenticeship program at Shadowpath. Shadowpath is the recipient of Newmarket’s Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Innovation and Richmond Hill’s Creativity Symposium Award for Best Innovation for their Cafe Cruise project. Shadowpath has been nominated for Not-For-Profit of the Year by Vaughan’s Chamber of Commerce and Artistic Director, Alex Karolyi recently received a Leading Women Leading Girls Award from MPP Chris Ballard recognizing her work to advance female leadership in Canadian Theatre.

Alex began as an actor training at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, York University and the Randolph Academy for Performing Arts in Toronto. After travelling to Scotland in the musical, That’s Life, Alex founded Shadowpath, transforming everyday spaces into creative places.

Shadowpath, allowed Alex to developed into a theatre producer and playwright gaining her the position of General Manager with Resurgence Theatre Company in 2007 and as the Programming Coordinator of the York Region Festival Alliance in 2015 – 2016. Her own plays have been produced in Toronto, Vancouver and the UK. She has travelled as a global artist to Hungary, Scotland, Paris, Vienna, Italy, Panama City and most recently, PEI.  Alex has worked on and off with Bonnie and Chris at Ovation! over several years and is thrilled to be jumping on board to run their Devised Theatre program!

Brady Madsen

Brady Madsen is an actor and acting teacher based in Markham. He is a graduate of the BFA Honours Acting program at the University of Windsor, where he received the Daniel Patrick Kelly Award.  He has trained in a wide variety of acting, voice and movement methodologies for performance, including with the Stratford Festival intensive program, the Prince Edward County Festival Players Intensive, and the SITI Company Suzuki/Viewpoints intensive.  His love of Shakespeare and the classics as well as global contemporary theatre has led him to roles as diverse as Hamlet and the Simpsons’ Mr Burns in Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Play. He is currently fulfilling his childhood dream of being a pirate, performing with Pirate Life Toronto. In his role as arts educator, Brady has taught acting to students in Windsor and throughout the GTA at the university, high school and elementary age and experience levels in a variety of settings.  He is thrilled to bring his love of acting and his variety of style explorations and approaches to the fabulous team at Ovation!

Rachel Levitt – Dance Faculty

Rachel Levitt is a graduate of the Broadway Dance Center’s International Student Visa Program in NYC (concentration in ballet and musical theatre) and Centennial College’s commercial dance program. Some of her performance highlights include the 2015 Pan Am Games Closing Ceremonies, Expect Theatre’s To The Kid I Was (performed at Nuit Blanche 2015), Premier Awards, Inspire Awards as well as the The Odd and Okward Sirkus and Fever After Dark: Eclipse with Dark Dance Company. Select teaching credits include Inspire Ballet and Dance (UK), Attitudes Master Class (Markham), Rhythm Dance Studio (Toronto), Stagecoach Performing Arts (Mississauga and Oakville), and the highly acclaimed summer training institution Stagedoor Manor (New York) where she was the assistant choreographer for Oklahoma, Seussical, All Shook Up and Leap of Faith, as well as the choreographer for Picnic.  Rachel is the creator and lead choreographer of Dance : Corps, a company whose credits include Dancing in a Time of Quarantine (Convergence Theatre’s Covid Commissions), Counting Blessings for Grey Area Collective’s Art in Isolation, “Normal People” (The Assembly Theatre’s Window of Opportunity Festival) and Something Different (Nicole Decsey Dance Projects’ The Gallery Show #1).

Alyssa Pothier

Alyssa is an actor, playwright, and arts-educator based in Toronto, Ontario. She received her BFA from Ryerson’s Performance Acting Program , and has performed, written and directed shows across the GTA.  Alyssa co-founded Panoply Theatre Collective, which is an actors-initiative focused on bringing a purposefully feminist lens to re-tellings of classical works.  She both produces and performs with Panoply, and is excited to be creating a Panoply/Ovation! youth connection.  Alyssa has been an Arts Educator for the past eight years in a variety of positions, from Assistant Director of Ryerson PYC Programs, to Co-Founder & Educator of Youth Theatre Online. She is thrilled to be a part of the Ovation! family, and is constantly inspired by the passion and dedication from both staff and students!

Gevevieve Stevens

Genevieve Stevens, a Toronto native, started performing at age three and has had a passion for theatre ever since. Genny, started training and performing as a competitive dancer. After graduating from Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA) she decided to pursued dance at the post-secondary level, graduating with a BFAH in performance dance from Ryerson University. Post graduation, Genny worked for two years with Disney Cruise Line performing in multiple Broadway style shows before returning to Toronto. Once back in the city, Genny appeared in Toronto productions of The Producers, Newsies and many others, both a performer and as Dance Captain. Most recently she was the associate choreographer for Beauty and the Beast with the Lower Ossington Theatre (LOT) and finished her second year as the Choreographer/Dance Director at the Flato Markham Theatre summer camp. Genny is thrilled to be part of the amazing faculty here at Ovation! and is excited to share her passion of performing with everyone.

Emlyn Sword

Emlyn Sword is an enthusiastic, ambitious, choreographer, dancer, and teacher who is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for anyone who wants to dance. She attended one of Niagara’s best dance schools, where she trained in contemporary, hip hop, ballet, jazz, lyrical and tap. She took her dance education further by attending Centennial Colleges Dance Performance Diploma Program. During her time in this program, she had additional training in acrobatics, singing, acting and anatomy of the body. After graduating, she decided to continue what grew her passion for dance in the first place, choreographing and teaching. Outside of dance, Emlyn’s main focus growing up was always family and caring for her two siblings with severe disabilities. They would accompany her to her dance classes and performances, where they would try and join in on the fun; however, there were no classes or educators willing to teach people like her siblings. Emlyn saw the lack of accessibility in dance from a very young age and has always wanted to help rectify it during her career. She now has over seven years’ experience constructing and teaching dance classes to children on the autism spectrum and hopes that through her career, another child doesn’t have to sit in the audience watching, when they should be on stage dancing.

Hannah Martin

Hannah Martin is a multidisciplinary musician and teacher based in Toronto, ON.  After finishing her Masters in Music from Ithaca College, Hannah has toured as lead vocals in Backtalk Band, NEO Project, and on drums and vocals for her own jazz fusion duo, MaMa.  An avid teacher as well as performer, she brings interactive workshops on improvisation, jazz stylization, and ensemble arranging to music programs in schools across Central New York and Toronto.  Recent clinician work includes Toronto Arts Academy, Running to Places Theater Company, and as music supervisor for an Off Broadway production set for 2023. She is thrilled to be teaching at Ovation! where the creative arts philosophy and teaching processes align for the benefit of each student in every discipline.

Mayla Donachie

Mayla Donachie has been a professional performer for over 12+ years in the GTA, specialising in audition prep, “how to get into the industry” (headshot advice, resume, portfolio, etc), vocal lessons, on-screen film/television training and improvisation/comedy on stage. She played the principal role as Pinkalicious in “Pinkalicious” (Vital Theatre) which was and still is the longest running show in Toronto. She has also been a part of the Original Canadian Casts of “Camp Rock” (Principal, CYP) and “American Idiot” (Principal, LOT). Past favourite musical credits (out of the 40+ shows she has performed in) also include: Anita in West Side Story, Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Princess Fiona in Shrek: the Musical, and many more. Besides musical theatre, Mayla has worked behind the scenes on many hit shows (FUBAR, UMBRELLA ACADEMY, LOCKE & KEY, and more).