Esme Allen

 is a Boston-based actor and educator and designer. Boston-area acting credits includeMuch Ado About NothingThe Cherry OrchardMiddletown and The Merry Wives of Windsor (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); Muckrakers, Elephant Man and Amadeus (New Repertory Theatre), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (IRNE Nomination- Best Supporting Actress – Greater Boston Stage Co.); Gloucester BlueNorth Shore Fish (Gloucester Stage Company); Coriolanus (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company) and Dog Paddle (IRNE Nomination – Bridge Repertory Theater). Television credits include The Devil You Know (HBO) and The Good Wife (CBS).  Scenic design credits include Bridge Repertory Theater’s production of Mud Blue SkyJulius Caesar and Gidion’s Knot. She earned her MFA in Acting from The California Institute of the Arts. She is a Founding Artistic Associate of The Bridge Repertory Theater and teaches at performing arts at Salem State University and Wheelock Family Theatre.

Nick Anastasi

is thrilled to be apart of the Wheelock Family Theatre family for his fourth year! He is an actor, director and educator out of Watertown, MA. He recently graduated with a Theatre and Communication degree from Curry College, receiving the 2018 Curry College Theatre Hall of Fame award, and winning Curry’s Finest 2018. Favorite on stage credits include Noises Off, Legally Blonde The Musical, The Laramie Project, Into The Woods, WASP, Once On This Island, Seussical, The Skin of Our Teeth, Bye Bye Birdie and Grease. Directing credits include Once On This Island (Watertown Middle School) and The Birthday of The Infanta (Curry College). Film credits include The Drive-In Horrorshow (Grim Films) “You can’t blend in, when you were born to stand out.” -RJ Palacio

Jamie Aznive

Audience Services Manager

is the Audience Services Manager and ADA Coordinator at Wheelock Family Theatre (WFT). Jamie’s love for theatre evolved when she started working at WFT as a student in 2009; participating as backstage crew, producer’s assistant, box office clerk, and Captioning Coordinator. Jamie has worked as the Box Office Manager for Interlakes Theatre (IST) in Meredith, New Hampshire. At IST she received her first directional credits in 2013 with the Children’s Theatre production of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Jamie graduated from Wheelock College with a degree in Education Studies and Theatre, and in 2014 she became the Box Office Manager at WFT, where she also trains new work- study students in effective practices for both Front of House operations, and Box Office. Jamie’s passion for merging theatre and education is reflected in her work for both production and educational capacities, as a Teaching Artist, Stage Manager, and Director.

Brynnalee Blackmar

Danny Bolton

is thrilled to be entering his twenty-first season of teaching for Wheelock Family Theatre. He divides his time between acting and teaching and directing and has also had the good fortune to teach with such companies as Watertown Children’s Theatre, Wellesley Summer Theatre For Children, New Art Center in Newton, North Shore Music Theatre and City Spotlights at The Wang Center For The Performing Arts. As an actor, he has worked at theatres ranging from Speakeasy Stage Company to Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lyric Stage Company of Boston Reagle Music Theatre and Wheelock Family Theatre. Some of his favorite roles include parts in The Drowsy Chaperone (IRNE Award for Best Actor In A Musical), 1776 and Deathtrap; Wheelock Family Theatre’s Annie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and Trumpet of The Swan; Holiday, Hay Fever and The Last Night of Ballyhoo at Wellesley Repertory Theatre and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, When Pigs Fly (IRNE Award for Best Actor In A Musical), Jewish Theatre of New England,  and Nora Theatre Company. The veteran of three national tours, Danny is a graduate of Boston College and continues to keep busy in video and commercial work and as a Company Member of Theatre Espresso. Member of Actors’ Equity Association since 1995.

Alexandra Brodsky-Benedetti

is a drama educator originally from Abington, PA (just outside Philadelphia).  She went to Ithaca College for undergrad where she majored in English, with a minor in Theater.  She has also studied Theatre and Drama in London at the Ithaca College London Center, and took part in a certificate program at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Alex moved to Boston in 2002, and received her Masters degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College.  She loves Boston very much and has called it home for over 16 years now. Alex has had the pleasure of working at Wheelock Family Theatre since the Summer of 2017.  WFT is a magical place for all involved, and she is proud to be a part of it.

Alyse Clinton

Cori Couture

Laura DiGiacomo

Rebecca Elowe

is a drama educator, actor, and musician from Chicago. She recently graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University with a degree in Theatre and a concentration in Theatre for Young Audiences. In Chicago, Rebecca taught drama workshops at Lifeline Theatre and sensory-friendly fine arts classes with Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Camp Red Kite program. In Boston, in addition to WFT, Rebecca teaches theatre classes and directs for Artbarn Community Theatre, Watertown Children’s Theatre, and The Advent School’s After School Program.

Julia Fiske

Ellie Friedland

Advisory Board

Ellie Friedland, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education at the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development and has been a teaching artist for the Wheelock Family Theatre for twenty years. As a teaching artist for the Wheelock Family Theatre she leads workshops for teens and adults in Theatre of the Oppressed and clowning. She is a practitioner of Theatre of the Oppressed, and her book “Come Closer: Critical Perspectives on Theatre of the Oppressed” was published in 2011.  Her chapter “Image Theatre as Reflective Practice in Teacher Education” was published in Warren Linds and Elinor Vittrano’s book Playing in a House of Mirrors:  Applied Theatre as Reflective Practice in 2015.

Ellie studied and trained with Augusto Boal, the originator of Theatre of the Oppressed, and with Allen Schoer of The Actors Institute, in New York and Boston.  She is a past secretary and past president of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, and has presented at every Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed annual international conference since 2003.

Ellie integrates her background in theatre in her teaching in early childhood education and in her professional development work with teachers. At Wheelock College she taught Clowning for Social Change and Education and Theatre for Social Change, as well as other theatre courses. Ellie frequently presents at state, national and international conferences and provides professional development for early childhood education professionals on anti-bias education, integrating drama and movement throughout the curriculum, and creating welcoming environments for LGBTQ families and staff and for children with gender expansive behavior. She does Theatre of the Oppressed and professional development for teachers in Guatemala, with the Safe Passage program, an enrichment program for children and families who live and work in the Guatemala City Dump, with UPAVIM (United for a Better Life) a  women’s collective in Guatemala City, and with CEIPA, a not-for-profit organization in Quetzeltanango that educates and advocates for child laborers.

Todd Gordon

Neil Gustafson

Jeri Hammond

Director of Education & Community Engagement

brings to her work over thirty years experience as an educator and a lifelong passion for the arts. An alum of Wheelock College, Jeri has degrees in early childhood/ elementary education and special education with a minor in theatre arts.  She also holds advanced degrees in Reading/ Literacy Development and Educational Leadership. She loved her years as a teacher of students in grades K-2, more than twenty of which, at the Driscoll School in Brookline. Jeri has been part of the Wheelock Family Theatre “family” since the very beginning and has worked as a  teaching artist in the education program, a director, and both backstage and on stage. A member of Actor’s Equity, Jeri was seen on the Wheelock Family Theatre stage in such roles as Mayella in To Kill a Mockingbird, Emily in Our Town, and Mary Warren in The Crucible. She loves her work as Director of Education where she plays a role in fostering empathy, creativity, and intellectual curiosity in the hundreds of students (pre-K-grade 12) who participate in Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston University’s Education Program each year.

Arlen Hancock

is a teaching artist and stage combat choreographer who is currently pursuing his MA in Theatre Education at Emerson College. He’s also a resent transplant from the Philadelphia Theatre scene where some of his favorite past credits in acting and choreography include Tiger Style (PAPA/InterAct), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Philadelphia Theatre Co.), Anna (EgoPo) and It Girl (Simpatico) . Additionally, Arlen serves as co-founder of Theatrical Trainer which incorporates theatre artistry and movement to provide mindful and physical wellness to the community.

Marshall Joun

Elliot Lazar

Elliot is so excited to be teaching this year at WFT! For the past two years he has been in Boston, working towards his MFA in Musical Theatre at The Boston Conservatory, where he has appeared in The Caucasian Chalk Circle,The Cradle Will Rock, Another Roll of the Dice, and Dogfight. In March he will be performing again in the conservatory’s production of Cabaret. Originally from Winnipeg, Canada, Elliot holds un undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Manitoba. He has appeared in plays, musicals, opera, concert and film in his native Winnipeg and around Canada. In the spring he will briefly return to Winnipeg to perform in Guys & Dolls with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He is passionate about teaching theatre and music – especially in the ways it teaches empathy and builds community

Jen Lewis

works to connect and challenge our world with honest, playful theatre. An actor, director, teacher, coach, and playwright, Jen presently teaches Acting at Bunker Hill Community College and Wheelock Family Theatre. She holds a Masters degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College, a BFA from NYU, and has trained extensively with Shakespeare and Company. Favorite roles include Rosalinde in As You Like It which she produced as Merely Players; Desdemona in Othello (Dream Role Players), Hermia in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dogberry in Much Ado (It’s a Fiasco); Legally Dead (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); Kate in Taming of the Shrew; Living Out (Lyric Stage); and The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Stickball). She can also be found on commercials and interactive media projects, both on-camera and voice-over. Proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and StageSource.

David Lien

Dev Luthra

Rachel Maddox

John Manning Jr.

Eva Murray

Grace Napier

John O'Neil

has been a teaching artist with Wheelock Family Theatre for over 15 years.   John’s core philosophy is to help singers find and tell the story within every song through exercises, games, role playing and developing an understanding of the text. Wheelock Family Theatre recognized John for his “contribution to the vitality and growth of the Wheelock Family Theatre” on the occasion of its 30th anniversary season. Credits: A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE Wheelock Family Theatre, MISS YOU LIKE HELL Company One, MAME and LUCKY STIFF Greater Boston Stage Company, TITANIC: THE MUSICAL Revolution Theater Company. AND THE WORLD GOES ROUND Riverside Theatreworks, MISS GULCH RETURNS First Night Boston.  DRAGGED INTO THE WOOD) and WICKED MEAN GURLZ Heart and Dagger Productions. John is also a proud recipient of numerous artist grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for his work in the field of cabaret.

Jeremy Ohringer

Julia Paolino

is a New England based teaching artist and youth theatre director. As a Wheelock College graduate, she has been involved with Wheelock Family Theatre in a variety of ways including acting in productions of Charlotte’s WebShrek,Hairspray, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Last year, Julia served as the education apprentice for the Tony-award winning Hartford Stage Company where she taught literacy through theatre in schools throughout central Connecticut. In addition to WFT, she is the Performing Arts Director of the Hockomock Area YMCA and a teaching artist for the Gamm Theatre.

Mary ElizaBeth Peters

Beth has been working with WFT since 2005, and has served as a teaching artist, assistant director, and access coordinator. Beth is an inclusion-based drama teacher for the Boston Public Schools, where she teaches drama to K0-5th grade students, including students with Autism and multiple disabilities. Her work centers on social emotional learning and wellness, and includes a focus on trauma-sensitive teaching and bullying intervention. Beth is also a playwright and director, and founded the Accessible Theatre in 2013, with the mission of creating art for and with disabled artists and patrons. Beth holds a Masters Degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Performance Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Beth has worked with Boston Actors Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, New Repertory Theatre, Watertown High School, the Boston Health Commission, The Learning Center for Deaf Children in Framingham, the Watertown Children’s Theatre, and the Community Art Center in Central Square, Cambridge, among other organizations. Professional affiliations and conference presentations include the American Alliance for Theatre Education, the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild, the Emerson College Theatre Festival, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Cystic Fibrosis Research Institute.

Emily Ranii

Artistic Director

Emily serves as Artistic Director of Wheelock Family Theatre at BU, Academic Program Head of BU’s Summer Theatre Institute (BUSTI), and Lecturer for BU’s Opera Institute. She has directed Sweets by Kate, The Cradle Will Rock, and Hydrogen Jukebox for Boston University; Mrs. Packard for Bridge Repertory Theatre Company/Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company; Tongue of a Bird for New Repertory Theatre; 9 Parts of Desire for Playmakers Repertory Company; The Normal Heart, Heisenberg, Romeo and Juliet, Brigadoon, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer for Burning Coal Theatre Company (Company Member since 2002); as well as Blood Wedding and The Body Project for Cornell University. Emily has collaborated as an Associate Director on World of Wires at MIT and Live Video Editor on Persona with Beth Morrison Projects, both productions adapted and directed by Jay Scheib. Previous arts leadership/teaching positions include Assistant Professor of Performing Arts at Wheelock College, Visiting Lecturer at Cornell University, and Artistic Director of ArtsCenter Stage in Carrboro, North Carolina. Emily holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Boston University and a B.A. in Theatre Arts and English from Cornell University.

Sophie Rich

is a drama educator, director, actress, and Boston native. She grew up as an enthusiastic participant in WFT’s education program and has now served as a teaching artist at WFT for over ten years. Sophie graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University, where she concentrated on theatre for young audiences and directing and was awarded the Winifred Ward Award for creative drama. Sophie is the Education Director of Boston Theater Company, where she designs and runs Shakespeare programming touring to schools around MA. She teaches students of all ages at the Atrium School in Watertown and serves as the Education Coordinator at Watertown Children’s Theatre. She is a company member of Theatre Espresso as well as an avid tap dancer.

Lynda Robinson

Jenna Lea Scott

is grateful to be back at WFT @ BU. Credits: It’s A Wonderful Life (GBTC); 2018 Moss Hart Award winning, A Piece Of My Heart (Wellesley Rep.); Elliot Norton Award winning for Outstanding Musical Production and Outstanding Ensemble, both for Hairspray (Wheelock Family Theatre) and Avenue Q (Lyric Stage Co.); Beauty & The Beast (WFT); Dogfight (SpeakEasy Stage Co.) Jenna dedicates her performance to immigrants just like her and BAE, Joshua. She will be seen next in Wellesley Rep’s production of This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing.“How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver

Nick Vargas

Associate Artistic & Education Director

is a director, educator, casting director, and arts administrator and has been Wheelock Family Theatre’s Associate Artistic & Education Director since November 2016. Nick is a proud alum of Emerson College where he studied theatre education and directing. WFT directing credits include Stuart LittleSeussical (Boston Children’s Museum), A Year With Frog & Toad (Boston Children’s Museum) and this season’s production of Ragtime. Other WFT credits include Honk!, Annie (Asst. Director); The Secret Garden, Aladdin’s Luck (Production Asst.). Before returning to Boston, Nick was the Casting Director and Artistic Associate at Imagination Stage, the mid-Atlantic’s leading theatre for children and families. In his time there he directed productions in the My first Imagination Stage Program (for children ages 1-5); the education department; and the Pegasus Ensemble, a two-year theatre training program for teens with cognitive and developmental disabilities. Nick was also a founding member and Artistic Director of Field Trip Theatre, a Washington, D.C. based theatre company dedicated to providing local playwrights with readings and full productions of their plays.

Fran Weinberg

Fran Weinberg is in her twelfth year as the Director of Wheelock Family Theatre’s Teen Advanced Performance Intensive Acting Program and has taught a variety of classes at WFT.  She runs ongoing acting workshops, is a freelance adjudicator and an award-winning director. Fran has received the Best Director Award from the Independent Reviewers of New England and her critically acclaimed productions have also garnered the IRNE’s Best Ensemble Award. Fran teaches Scene Study and Monologue classes at Boston Casting, where she has been a member of the teaching faculty since 2004.

Fran is one of the Boston area’s best-known private acting and audition coaches. Her clients attend and are graduates of the country’s top undergraduate and graduate performance programs. They can be seen on-and off-Broadway, in films and television, and on stages throughout New England and across the country. Fran received her Masters degree in Theatre from Emerson College where has taught on the performing arts faculty, as well as at Stonehill College, Stoneham Theatre and Riverside Theatre Works. She teaches teen acting classes for Needham Community Theatre and runs a monthly workshop for professional actors in Boston called the “Actors Workout.”

Brian "BC" Williams

Assistant Technical Director

is a 28-year-old theatre artist from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Williams has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, where he studied Acting and Dramatic Writing. Before joining the team at the Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston University, he worked as the Technical Director at the Cape Cod Theatre Company- Home of the Harwich Junior Theatre in 2014 and 2015, and the Technical Director / Master Carpenter at Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln, NH in 2016 and 2017. B.C. has been teaching Technical Theatre since 2012, and he enjoys golfing, acting, and writing plays in his spare time. For more info, please visit

Stefani Wood