Summer 2022 Teaching Artists

Full Teaching Artist Roster

Marianne Adams

is a teaching artist who is all about arts integration.  Other than teaching for Wheelock Family Theater Marianne teaches kids in elementary schools, undergraduates who want to be teachers, and graduate students who already are. She loves writing plays for Play Production- especially the comic ones, and really likes how the team of young artists come together to design and act in them. She has a dog named Olive who is REALY frisky, and is building a house with her own two hands.

Lindsay Albert

Esme Allen

(she/hers) is a Boston-based actor, educator, and designer. Boston-area acting credits include Hurricane Diane (Huntington Theatre).  Gloucester BlueNorth Shore Fish (Gloucester Stage Company); Much 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 (Greater Boston Stage Co.); Dog Paddle (Bridge Repertory Theater) and Coriolanus (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company). Television credits include The Good Wife (CBS). She earned her MFA in Acting from The California Institute of the Arts. She is a Resident Acting Company Member with the Actors’ Shakespeare Project and teaches at Salem State University and Wheelock Family Theatre at BU.

Greg Allen

Jamie Aznive

Jamie Aznive

Audience Services Manager (She/Her/Hers) 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.

Emma Bergman

Steve Bergman

Lionel Blaise Jr

has had a deep interest in the visual arts ever since he was a child. He was inspired by movies, cartoons and comic books. Over the years, he has honed and expanded his skills. From drawing to filmmaking, Lionel is now able to create the types of work that inspired him. He has a degree in illustration from Mass art and has gained years of experience in teaching youth from middle school to high school. Just like his passion for art Lionel has a passion for teaching youth. He hopes to inspire young minds to express themselves in creative mediums.

Here are examples of Lionel’s work:

Danny Bolton

(He/Him/His) is thrilled to be entering his twenty-second 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.

Matthew Brettschnider

(He/Him/His) is an actor and educator who has trained extensively in Clown. He holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with advanced training through the Pandemonium Studio. He has performed with the Huntington Theatre Company, The Flea Theater, Theatre RowBoston Playwrights’ Theatre, and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Television credits include Law and Order: SVU and The Path. Matthew teaches Clown and other subjects for arts organizations including the Wheelock Family Theatre, the Gamm Theatre, and Trinity Repertory Company.

Alex Brodsky-Benedetti

(She/Her/Hers) is a drama educator originally from Philadelphia, PA.  She went to Ithaca College for undergrad where she majored in English, with a Theatre minor.  She has also studied Theatre and Drama in London at the Ithaca College London Center, and she took part in a certificate program at the A.R.T Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University.  Alex moved to Boston in 2002, and received her Masters degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College.  Alex has had the pleasure of working at Wheelock Family Theatre since 2017, where she teaches grades K-3.  Some of her favorite classes she has taught so far are: Characters Take the Stage, Dancin’ Disney, and Fairy Tale Adventures.  WFT is a magical place for all involved, and she is proud to be a part of it.

Alisa Cassola

Check back soon for an update.

Stephanie Charlton

(She/Her/Hers) is an actor, singer, teaching artist, dancer(ish), knitter, cat mom, bird watcher, mischief maker, and more. Originally from Kansas City, she and her amazing husband moved to Boston in 2015 and are thoroughly enjoying being New Englanders. Stephanie has had the pleasure of working with theaters such as The Coterie, Starlight, Theatre UnCorked, Theatre for Young America, and is honored to be joining to Wheelock family.

Joy Clark

Alyse Clinton

(Any) has been a part of the WFT family since she was in the Education Programs herself and has been working as an intern, captioner, and teaching assistant for the past three years. Some of her favorite projects have been stage managing for the Teen Ensemble production of Once on This Island and assisting for a class on stage combat for Shakespeare. Alyse recently graduated from Northeastern University as a Theatre (Performance) Major and ASL/English Interpretation Major. She now works at The Learning Center for the Deaf as a Classroom Assistant predominantly working with 1st and 2nd graders with high support needs. Recent acting credits include: As U Like It, Play On!, Ovid’s MetamorphosesThe Wolves, The Winter’s Tale, and How I Learned to Drive.

Nora Dahlberg

is originally from the DC-Metropolitan area but now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah where she works in the Hale Centre Theatre Costume Shop.  She graduated from Bates College with a double-major in Theater Design and Studio Art where she was introduced to costume design and stage makeup.  Nora has worked on Broadway productions such as the premiere of “Frozen.”  She has also worked at a number of theaters in the DC area including the National Opera.  Nora has always enjoyed design and fabrication but she is especially passionate about the art of transformation through makeup and costume!  In her free time she enjoys building cosplays for herself and her clients, going hiking with her pittie Violet in the mountains, and skiing during the snowy Utah winters.”

Emily Damron

(she/her/hers) is a Wig, Hair, & Makeup Designer and Theatrical Technician based in Boston, MA. Emily is the staff Wig, Hair, Makeup, & Wardrobe Dresser at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. Additional work backstage for Boston Ballet, BU Opera Institute, and Huntington Theatre Company. She has designed for productions at Lyric Stage, Greater Boston Stage Company, and Speakeasy Stage. Emily is a designer and educator at local schools and programs, working with students ranging from first grade to graduate school. Emily is a graduate of Emerson College, BFA Theatrical Design and Technology.

Laura DeGiacomo

has been teaching at Wheelock Family Theatre since 2003.  She is a Boston based singer, dancer, actor, educator and choreographer.  In addition to her classes at Wheelock Family Theatre, she has choreographed for a number of companies in the area including Freelance Players, Littleton High School, The Village Theatre Project, and Stonehill College.  Laura also teaches Family Music Makers classes at NEMPAC, a Pre K music class for little ones and their parents/caregivers.  As an actor, Laura had the pleasure of being cast in the National Tours of Grease and Showboat, as well as the European Tour of K. Hills’ Phantom of the Opera.  Other Regional Theatre favorites include Mary Poppins (Wheelock Family Theatre), Sisters of Swing (Greater Boston Stage Company),  A Christmas Carol (The Hanover Theatre), Better off Dead (Village Theatre Project), Fiddler on the Roof (Artpark), Anything Goes (Shawnee Playhouse), among others.  Laura received her BFA in Musical Theatre with a secondary concentration in Dance and graduated cum laude from Emerson College.  Laura is a proud member of Actors Equity Association since 2005.

Jennifer Duval White

loves being a teaching artist at Wheelock Family Theatre! She holds a degree in Theatre Arts and Communications from Bridgewater State University, where she twice traveled Europe singing with the BSC Chamber Singers. Favorite on stage roles have included Elvira in Blithe Spirit, Sister James in Doubt, Joy (stepsister) in Cinderella and Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan. Favorite offstage roles have included running an after school theatre program, working and volunteering at arts based summer camps, teaching preschoolers in a variety of settings, and being a mom and foster mom. With life and work experiences in theatre, music, art and creative thinking, Jennifer often enjoys working with the youngest of WFT’s students on projects that bring all of those things together in fun and exciting ways.

Rebecca Elowe

(she/her) 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. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in Drama Therapy and Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University.

Amanda Fallon

(they/she) is a theatre artist, visual artist, lighting designer, and educator with a deep love for new work and devising. She and her characteristically loud bouts of laughter have called parts of Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts home. After the recent completion of an MFA in Lighting Design at Boston University, they’ve continued to enjoy designing, teaching, and eating miscellaneous baked goods along the East Coast.

Diamond Family Circus

Massachusetts-based teaching artists Marci Diamond, MPA, AEA, SAG-AFTRA & Marisa Diamond, BFA, AEA, SAG-AFTRA, are professional stage & screen actors, and co-founders/directors of Diamond Family Circus  They have extensive teaching, performance, choreography, and consulting experience for professional & student productions, workshops, and classrooms, including facilitation of live, virtual circus & theater arts programs across North America. Marci and Marisa have training in Circus Arts Therapy, and are approved providers by MassHousing TAP Program and New England Foundation for the Arts NEST program. Diamond Family Circus is nationally recognized by the American Youth Circus Organization/American Circus Educators Social Circus Network for utilizing circus arts as tools for social justice and youth/community development. In addition to teaching at WFT@BU, Marci has taught at BU School of Public Health & BU Dance Program, and Marisa is also a freelance filmmaker & graphic designer  and producer of the International Circus Film Festival,

Maureen Finnerty

is an actor, dancer, choreographer teaching artist, & disability consultant. She has studied movement, improv dance, and acting extensively with many professionals in the field. She has collaborated with choreographer Gianni Di Marco in the development of World Affair and been a presenter in Dance Across the City. As the Movement Director for ATT (Access to Theater), Maureen instructs children and adults with and without disabilities that everyone has a place in theater and that each person enriches the creative process when he or she keeps an open mind. Maureen is ATT’s Movement and Acting Director. She has been a resident teaching artist, disability consultant for Open Door Arts (formerly VSA arts of Massachusetts) for over 13 years & has assisted with several workshops that focused on teaching the elements of improvisational movement and story telling to participants of all ages and abilities; included in these workshops is the concept of access for all through universal design. Through movement story telling & playwriting Maureen also teaches the importance of self- advocacy. Also, for 8 years she has been the co-director for All Voices Count, an improvisational acting and movement troop for adults with and without disabilities. All Voices Count focuses on creating social justice theater. Maureen is currently on a committee sponsored by the Boston Dance Alliance to increase the accessibility & inclusion in theater & dance. She is working with OWL to ensure that new public spaces will be accessible for artists of all ages and abilities.

Moe Finnerty

Pascale Florestal

(She/Her/Hers) is a Director, Educator, Dramaturg and Collaborator based in Boston, MA. Directing Credits include; MetroWest Opera, NorthEastern University, Boston Conservatory, Huntington Theater Company, SpeakEasy Stage, The John F. Kennedy Center and others. New Play development with Marcus Gardley, Obehi Janice, Phaedra Michelle Scott, and others. As an Assistant to the Director she has worked with Kimberly Senior, Liesl Tommy, Billy Porter, Paul Daigneault and M. Bevin O’Gara. Recent dramaturgy for Christina Anderson’s play The Resurrection of Michelle Morgan, Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over and Breathe & Imagination by Daniel Beaty. She is the Education Director for The Front Porch Arts Collective where she created The Young Critics Program, an educational program that strives to foster and incubate the next generation of arts critics. She is an Assistant Professor of Theater at Boston Conservatory and is the recent recipient of The Greg Ferrell Award.

Ellie Friedland

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.

Jon Goldberg

Music Director

Jon Goldberg has been a musical director at WFT since Cinderella in 1995 – most recently last year’s production of Ragtime, and Billy Elliot in 2017. Recent credits include Pacific Overtures at the Lyric Stage, and Flora The Red MenaceWorkingUrinetown and Titanic at Emerson College, where Jon is a member of the Musical Theatre faculty. Jon has received IRNE awards for Lyric Stage productions of A Little Night MusicMan Of La ManchaKiss Me, Kate and Grey Gardens. Upcoming – Jon will be involved in productions of Spring Awakening (Emerson) and A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder (Lyric Stage).

Todd Gordon

(He/Him/His) is a voice instructor/coach in the Boston area. He is an instructor of voice at UMass Boston, Emerson College, Berklee College of Music, and maintains an active private studio in Jamaica Plain. Todd has been music director for productions with New Rep, the Publick, Gloucester Stage, Charles Playhouse, Brandeis Univ., Greater Boston Stage Co., Emerson Stage, and composed music for Wheelock Family Theatre’s recent production of Stuart Little. For his musical direction, Todd received two IRNE awards from the Independent Reviewers of New England and five IRNE nominations. His educational degrees are in voice from the University of Arkansas and the New England Conservatory of Music. Many thanks to the cast and WFT for their hard work.

Neil Gustafson

 is thrilled to return to the WFT stage, where he played multiple roles in Stuart Little, directed by Nick Vargas.  Other favorites at WFT include Dad (Jackie Elliot) in Billy Elliot, The Musical, Captain Keller in The Miracle Worker, Ben Weatherstaff in The Secret Garden, Henry Drummond in Inherit The Wind, Mr. Sir in   Holes, and Teddy Lloyd in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Neil continues to tour in a one-man show, Isaiah Thomas – Patriot Printer, produced by the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester and once spotlighted on WCVB-TV’s Chronicle. Internationally, he has performed in productions of Chekhov’s The Seagull and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Television credits include The Practice, Spenser-For Hire, A Midwife’sTale, Africans in America, and Black Bellemy’s Treasure. On the big screen, he was Yuri Spinov in Brad Anderson’s Next Stop, Wonderland.

Jeri Hammond

Jeri Hammond

Director of Education & Community Engagement (She/Her/Hers) 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

(He/Him/His) is a licensed teaching artist and stage combat choreographer who holds an MFA/MA in Theatre Education and Applied Theatre at Emerson College alongside a BFA in Acting from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Arlen has taught and choreographed with multiple organizations around Boston including Boston Arts Academy, SAY Summerville, Pierce School, and Company One. He is a certified actor combatant through the Society of American Fight Directors and is pursuing certification of consent based teaching/choreographing through Intimacy Directors and Coordinators. Arlen is also a 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.

Kayleen Honan

(She/her) is currently a Theater Educator at Billerica Memorial High School. Kayleen grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. She graduated from Syracuse University with her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting with a minor in Education Studies, and then received her Master’s in Theater Education from Emerson College. Kayleen has also studied at Shakespear’s Globe Theater and City College of New York. Previous directing credits include: Director of Rumors at Billerica Memorial High School (2022) and Six Feet Under, BMHS’s Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Competition Festival show (2022). Assistant director of Fishmonger at the Carroll School in Lincoln MA (2020), Director of Authorial Intent at Emerson College (2019). She now lives in Boston and could not be happier to be following her passion for Theater Education at Wheelock Family Theater this summer!

Erin Huiett

Elbert Joseph

Elbert Joseph is known as EJ (They/Them/He/Him) is Deaf actor who is fluent in both American Sign Language as well as spoken English.

EJ started acting when I was thirteen and his passion turned into a career. He received professional theatrical training at the Boston Arts Academy and has worked with several award-winning theaters in the Boston area including American Repertory Theater, Huntington Theatre, and Wheelock Family Theatre. EJ is a professional actor who is funny, good hearted, smart and passionate. He dreams of transforming lives and inspiring the world through his craft. EJ believes success is found in collaboration, desire for personal growth and the constant pursuit of new opportunities.

In 2002 – 2003, EJ was nominated by the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Louis in The Trumpet of the Swan at Wheelock Family Theatre and Special Recognition for his performance as Yeffim in Uncle Vanya at American Repertory Theater. In 2012, EJ was part of the IRNE recognition of Best Ensemble for The Arabian Nights at central Square Theater. In 2016, EJ was honored by the IRNE’s with a Special Recognition for his performance as Tuc in Suzan Zeder’s Ware Trilogy: Mother Hicks, The Taste of Sunrise and The Edge of Peace; performed over a three month period and produced on three separate stages by Emerson Stage, Wheelock Family Theatre, and Central Square Theatre. He also co directed with Betsy Goldman, new work for Moonbox Productions last year, Turning the Tide. Past winter, he was in Parade with Moonbox Productions as Newt Lee. He is in Queen Mab Theatre Company’s The Tempest.

Isaac Leaverton

is a teaching artist new to the Boston area!  Specializing in musical theatre, Isaac has worked internationally as a vocal coach, music director, dialect coach, and accompanist with various schools and organizations. A native of Ohio, he graduated from Capital University’s Conservatory of Music where he earned a Bachelor’s of Music in vocal music education with an emphasis in organ studies.  In 2016, Isaac completed his Master’s degree in a vocal pedagogy program called the Practice of Voice and Singing at the Guildford School of Acting.  In addition to teaching at Wheelock Family Theatre, Isaac is a theatre faculty member of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Jen Alison Lewis

works to connect and challenge our world with honest, playful theatre. She currently serves as the Interim Executive Director of StageSource. An actor, director, teacher, coach, playwright and mom, Jen has taught at Bunker Hill Community College, Dean College, Northeastern University, and Wheelock Family Theatre, where she has been part of the faculty since 2015. She holds an MFA in Theatre Education and Applied Theatre from Emerson College, a BFA in Acting 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 has aided in the development of countless plays at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. She can also be found on commercials and interactive media projects, both on-camera and voice-over. Proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, Mass. Teachers’ Association, and StageSource.

headshot of man with blue button up shirt

Dev Luthra

(He, Him, His) trained at East 15 Acting School, London, England and at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA.  Acting credits include Sorin/Seagull at Arlekin Players; Antigonus, Old Shepherd, Bottom/The Winter’s Tale and Midsummer Night’s Dream at Bay Colony Shakespeare Company, Father/Brilliant Adventures and Azdak/Caucasian Chalk Circle (Apollinaire Theatre Company), Mr. Biedermann/Firebugs (Huellas Vivas), Orsino/Twelfth Night (Sun Valley Shakespeare Festival) Northumberland/Henry IV, parts 1 & 2 (Actors Shakespeare Project), M. le Comte/N. Bonaparte (Pilgrim Theatre), Leonato/Much Ado About Nothing (Public Theatre) Worcester/1 Henry IV (Palace Theatre).  Dev has taught at Wheelock Family Theatre for 7 years. His courses include Shakespeare/Stage combat, Actors Toolbox, and Page to Stage, among others. Dev also offers residences at schools throughout the area. He has taught acting and movement at Boston College and Emerson College and currently at Boston University’s Prison Education Program. Dev serves as the Artistic Director of And Still We Rise Productions, a theatre company committed to the advocacy of the rights of people impacted by the prison system. He is a contributing author to The Heart and Soul of Psychotherapy, S. Linden, ed. Macbeth’s Children, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, co-written with Michael Bettencourt, won an AATE New Play award. Dev also works as a presentation skills and presence coach in the corporate sector. Of Anglo-Indian parentage, he has lived and worked in the Northeast since 1978.

Rachel Maddox

(they/them/their) is a non-binary playwright and critical educator with a K-6 teaching credential. A New Jersey native, they graduated from Connecticut College in 2016 with a BA in Theater (Playwriting Concentration) and an Elementary Education Teaching Certificate. Since graduating, Rachel has acquired a wide variety of skills at the intersection of their study of theater and education. They worked in stage management and design on a professional musical production in San Francisco while also working as Plugin Editora Special Education Instructional Support Specialist in the Oakland Unified School District. Upon returning to the East Coast, Rachel worked as a long-term substitute teacher for a 4th/5th grade classroom, and as a teaching artist for Boston-based theater programs throughout the summer. Most recently, Rachel has been working as a production manager for the Rhode Island Black Storytellers and a freelance teaching artist, while pursuing and developing playwriting.

You can learn more about Rachel on their website and the work of the Rhode Island Black Storytellers on their instagram page (@riblackstorytellers). 

John Manning Jr.

Saskia Martinez

is a theatre artist originally from Connecticut. They’re a recent graduate of Boston University’s BFA Scene Design program and excited to be returning both to Wheelock and to their love of Dungeons and Dragons for She Kills Monsters! Previous Wheelock credits include Little Women: The Musical. They currently work at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA as a scenic artist. Find their work at

Zachary D McConnell


(He/Him/His) From a small town in West Michigan, Zachary D. McConnell is thrilled to be back on the WTF stage! He received his BFA in Music Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University where he played such roles as Angel in RENT and Mr. Magix in My One And Only. He then attended The Boston Conservatory at Berklee for his MFA. Notable professional roles include: Four-Eyed Moe in Five Guys Named Moe at the Mason Street Warehouse Theatre in Michigan, Mitch Mahoney in …Spelling Bee and Richie in A Chorus Line, both at the Wagon Wheel Theatre in Indiana. Most recently he was in the company of All is Calm at Greater Boston Stage Company. Up next, he will be playing Geoffrey in The Psych Drama Company’s upcoming production of The Lion in Winter. He would like to thank his supportive and loving parents Tammra and Justin as well as his partner Adam, “who is my best muse and loving companion.” Website:

Dwayne P. Mitchell

received his Bachelor of Arts in music from Fisk University, and is a current M.F.A. musical theatre student at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee (‘20). Stage credits include: Choir Boy (SpeakEasy Stage), Fences (The Umbrella Stage Company), Ragtime (Wheelock Family Theatre), La Cage Aux Folles (Reagle Music Theatre), The Frogs, Metamorphoses, and Good Kids (Boston Conservatory at Berklee). Screen credits include: Reed Between the Lines (BET), Reconstruction: America After The Civil War (PBS), and My Parents, My Sister, and Me (NBC). Dwayne would like to thank God, his family, and the Wheelock Family for this opportunity. 

Eva Murray

(She/Her and They/Them) is a theater artist, educator, director, choreographer, and performer dedicated to serving and supporting the magic of young people! Eva believes that we are all students of life and is honored to be able to share in collaboration, creativity, curiosity, and imagination with her students. Eva keeps their dedication to the growth, agency, and expression of young people as their driving force in their classes. She graduated from Connecticut College in 2017, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in both Theater (with a performance concentration) and Gender and Women’s Studies – Now Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectionality Studies). Eva is always excited to continue being a part of the WFT community, ever since taking classes there herself since they were 9!

Zoe Nadal

(She/Her/Hers) is a Boston-based performer and teaching artist. Originally from Los Angeles, Zoe moved to the Midwest to study at Northwestern University where she graduated summa cum laude earning a BA in Theatre with a concentration in Musical Theatre. Favorite Chicago theatre credits include Parade (Writers Theatre), The Little Mermaid (Paramount Theatre) and Ragtime (Marriott Theatre.) Television credits include The Exorcist (FOX.) In addition to teaching at Wheelock Family Theatre, Zoe is a member of the Arts Elective Faculty at Shady Hill School in Cambridge where she teaches playmaking and directs and choreographs both the Fall Play and Spring Musical. She is an MFA Candidate in the Theatre Education and Applied Theatre program at Emerson College. She is most passionate about facilitating meaningful theatre training experiences for young people where their creativity is valued and where cultivating empathy and creating community are paramount.

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.

Yewande Odetoyinbo

is a native of Detroit, MI and a proud graduate of Howard University, where she earned a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre and became a member of Sigma Alpha Iota. She also earned an M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Performance from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She returns to WFT having performed as Daniela in In The Heights and Sour Kangaroo in Seussical. Some of her favorite performances include roles in Fannie Lou at Carnegie Hall, the national tour of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (Adventure Theatre), Trav’lin: The 1930s Harlem Musical (Seven Angels Theatre), Show Boat (Reagle Music Theatre and Fiddlehead Theatre), Passing Through (Goodspeed Opera House), Finish Line (Boston Theatre Company) and The Wiz (Lyric Stage Company). She was most recently seen in as Angel Mo’ in Breath and Imagination; a co- production with the Front Porch Arts Collective and Lyric Stage Company. It is her lifelong dream not only to perform and teach theatre to inner-city youth, but also to open up a performing arts school in Nigeria.  She thanks the Lord for His many blessings and her family (especially Mom, Dad and Yemisi) and friends for their love and support. Also thank you to Nick and the WTF. Ase!

Juanita Pearl

Actor, Dancer,  Choreographer, Arts Educator and Fitness Professional. Juanita is a graduate of Pace University’s Commercial Dance program and has worked many years as a performing artist and teacher in Boston and New York City. As an artist she is firmly dedicated to the afro-diasporic roots of urban dance, and curious to learn and share how movement is passed down through generations. She has formally studied Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Hip Hop dance, and has also explored Tap, Vogue, Lindy Hop, Salsa, Dancehall, Bachata, Merengue, Sabar, Afro-Fusion, Haitian Fokloric Dance etc. She has performed with Boston based dance companies Phunk Phenomenon, Danza Organica and Rainbow Tribe. Her Theatre Credits include The Wiz at Lyric Stage company and James and the Giant Peach at Wheelock Family Theatre.

Beth 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.

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Sarah Plotkin

(She/Her/Hers) is a teaching artist, director and cultural worker.  She collaborates with first time artists, professional artists, and young people to build original theatre that celebrates stories of community, connection and creation.  Sarah has taught theatre, movement and puppetry in New York City and Boston, and is the founder and lead facilitator of Artist Gym, a creation and creativity workshop series for teens and adults.  Sarah holds an M.A. in Theatre Education and Applied Theatre from Emerson college and a B.A. in Directing from Sarah Lawrence College.

Emily Ranii

Artistic Director (She/Her/Hers)serves as Academic Program Head of BU’s Summer Theatre Institute (BUSTI), and Lecturer for BU’s Opera Institute. She has directed Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlotte’s Web for Wheelock Family Theatre; After Life, Sweets by KateThe 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 HeartHeisenberg, Romeo and Juliet, BrigadoonMuch 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.

Mehdi Raoufi

(He/Him/His) is thrilled to be designing again with Wheelock Family Theater. His previous Wheelock credits include Sound Designer and Technical theatre instructor for the Teen Ensemble production of Nightfall with Edgar Allen Poe, as well as sound designing and assistant directing She Kills Monsters with the virtual Teen Ensemble. Mehdi has worked for over a decade as a sound designer and teaching artist in the Washington, D.C. area, including Constellation Theatre Company, Faction of Fools, Imagination Stage, Artstream inclusive theatre company and Gallaudet University, just to name a few.

When not designing, Mehdi is a Career Readiness Outreach Coordinator for Partners for Youth with Disabilities, a non-profit organization where he helps develop internships and real-world work experiences for youth with disabilities. 

In his free time, Mehdi loves live music and art, playing and creating music, and his dog, Coltrane. He holds a M.A. in Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley University as well as a B.A. in Theater with a concentration in Directing/Dramatic Literature from Christopher Newport University.

Brad Foster Reinking

returns to WFT@BU after starring as Lumiere in Beauty & the Beast, and appearing in the companies of Billy Elliotand Shrek. Most recent credits include Topper in A Christmas Carol (The Hanover Theatre), Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone (Priscilla Beach Theatre), and Lumiere in Beauty & the Beast (Cape Cod Theatre Company). He has also enjoyed working with Feinstein’s/54 Below, Commonwealth Shakespeare, Lyric Stage Company, Wagon Wheel Theatre, Ocean State Theatre, Millbrook Playhouse, Moonbox Productions, Reagle Music Theatre and many others. Brad holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from The Boston Conservatory. He lives in Boston with his fiancé, Andrew, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Belle. As always, this one is for

Sophie Rich

(She/Her/Hers) is a Boston-based theatre educator and director who grew up as a student in WFT’s education programs! Sophie graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with her Ed.M. in Arts in Education. She is the Performing Arts Director at the Atrium School in Watertown, as well as the Education Director of Boston Theater Company. She has taught and directed for Watertown Children’s Theatre, Greater Boston Stage Co., Freelance Players, and more. She is also a proud company member of Theatre Espresso, a singer, and an avid tap dancer. Much of her work, such as her interdisciplinary curricular venture entitled Histories/Hi-Stories: Greeting History through Theatre and Literature, revolves around harnessing creative drama as pedagogy for arts integration.

Dan Rodriguez

Dan is happy to return to Wheelock Family Theater for Make Way for Ducklings! Dan previously appeared at Wheelock as the music director for the award-winning production of In The Heights. Other recent area credits include work with the Lyric Stage Company (Little Shop of Horrors, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Gypsy), Huntington Theatre Company (Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music), Reagle Music Theater (La Cage aux Folles, Sound of Music, Mame), American Repertory Theatre (The Lily’s Revenge, The Blue Flower), New Repertory Theater (Hair), Moonbox Productions (Caroline or Change, Cabaret, The Wild Party) and many other theaters as well as work at the Boston Conservatory, Emerson, Brandeis, and other schools. His work has earned him five IRNE Awards for Best Music Direction.

Josephine Ross

Lisa Rowe-Beddoe

(She/Her/Hers) is a british-born actress,teacher and voice over artist – (AEA/Sag/AFTRA) who has taught drama to actors of all ages for over 25 years. She holds a BA in english and drama from Exeter University,(UK) an MA in performance,(specializing in Shakespeare), and received her conservatory training from Mountview Theatre Academy of Theatre Arts in London. As a teacher, Lisa taught for over 20 years in both the UK and US school systems as well as privately coaching individuals and facilitating courses and classes to actors of all ages. Some of her favourite’s include; ‘Shakespeare for Teens’, Improvisation, Scene Study, Character Development. Monologue and Audition Prep, and Play Productions. In Boston, she served as Assistant Diirector of Education for WFT for several years and as british dialect coach on several productions for Zeitgeist Theatre Co. As an actress Lisa co founded Robideez a theatre company that toured extensively through southern England, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland.  She also earned her UK Equity card, acting in BBC radio 4 drama productions. Since living in the US she has earned many regional acting,stage managing and directing credits and as a voiceover artist has been in countless industrials and commercials. Most recently Lisa’s voice can be heard in the movie, ‘The Good Liar’ with Helen Mirren and Ian Mckellan, as the ‘receptionist’, on the other end of the ‘line’ with Sir Ian!

Jenna Lea Scott

(She/Her/Hers) started performing at six years old as Rabbit from Winnie The Pooh. She jumped across the stage to the record of the theme song during a summer program and just loved it. As a teaching artist, Jenna gets to share her love for live performances. Trained at New York City’s American Musical and Dramatic Academy and Walnut Street Theatre’s Acting Apprentice Program in Philadelphia, PA. Jenna has taught at Wheelock Family Theatre, Hanover Theatre Conservatory, Brookline Music School, New Arts Center, The Spurwick School, Arts Alive, Turtle Lane Playhouse Summer Workshop, Walnut Street Theatre, Reed Academy, New School of Music, and Derryfield Repertory Theatre Camp. Jenna can be seen onstage all over the New England Area and buying a hotdog at Fenway in a commercial for Bank Of America on TV.

Brynnalee Simmons

Kristala Smart

is currently a Theatre Teacher at Vassal Lane Upper School and the Amigos School in Cambridge.  She has also worked as a teaching artist with American Repertory Theatre and Boch Center in Boston.  Kristala holds an M.F.A. from Eastern Michigan University in the Drama and Theatre for the Young program, an M.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University, and a B.A. in Theatre from Kalamazoo College. Kristala moved to the Boston area with her family in 2018 after living, performing, and teaching throughout Michigan, Chicago, Los Angeles, Alabama, Maine and the DC/Maryland/Virginia area.

Zahirah Nur Truth

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Nick Vargas

Associate Artistic & Education Director (He/Him/His) is a proud alum of Emerson College where he studied theatre education and directing, and is currently pursuing his MBA at Questrom School at Boston University. WFT directing credits include Little Women, Ragtime, Stuart Little, Seussical (Boston Children’s Museum), A Year With Frog & Toad (Boston Children’s Museum) The Drowsy Chaperone (Teen Ensemble). Nick previously served as the Casting Director and Artistic Associate at Imagination Stage, in Bethesda MD and was a founding member and Artistic Director of Field Trip Theatre in Washington, D.C.

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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.”

Kevin Williams

(he/him/his) is a theater teaching artist and playmaker striving to develop and strengthen a community of critical thinkers and empathetic individuals through theatrical experiences. He is a licensed theater teacher in the state of Massachusetts and holds a Master’s Degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College and Bachelor’s Degrees in both Musical Theatre and Psychology from North Central College. Previous collaborations include developing and facilitating curriculum in playmaking, playwriting, improv, and acting through organizations including Watertown Children’s Theatre, Endicott College, Central Square Theater, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and the Boch Center. In 2019, Kevin participated in the Creative Youth Development Teaching Artist Fellowship through the Mass Cultural Council to further enhance the support system for teaching artists and students alike across the Greater Boston community. More information can be found on his website.