About Us

Our Team

Leigh Janson Cooke, Co-Director/Instructor

It is a dream come true for Leigh to be running The Children's Theatre. An educator and an actress herself, she understands the tremendous growth and learning that drama education can enable. Leigh has been working with children in many capacities since she was very young and she has never ceased to be amazed at the creativity, insight and passion that children possess and she hopes to empower children using these natural talents. An honors graduate of John Abbott College's Theatre Workshop Program and graduate of Concordia's Child Studies program, Leigh has found that combining education with drama creates a powerful vehicle for children to explore their strengths and conquer their fears as well as to learn about themselves and the world around them.

Birdie Gregor, Instructor

Growing up in industrial Cape Breton taught me the worth of a good story. I've been a storyteller since I first discovered the magic of making someone laugh. I think I was 4. Haven't looked back since. I graduated with a BFA in theatre from Concordia University, Montreal in 2010. Never one to limit myself, I specialize in theatre research, management and direction; working as everything from a teacher, actor, stage-manager, writer, director, to my new roles as producer and company founder (www.playshed.ca). Anything to keep these hands working.

I have had the privilege to work on some incredible pieces over the years and some selected credits include; 7 time META nominee and the English Montreal Premiere of Michel Tremblay's Hosanna (Table D'hote Theatre); Atlantic Fringe's Best of Festival Winner Punch Up (Theatre Brouhaha/Presented by Highland Arts Theatre); 2 Pianos 4 Hands (Marquis Entertainment); Travesties (Segal Centre for Performing Arts); Intimate Apparel (Centaur Theatre); Beethoven Lives Upstairs (Geordie Productions); Haunted Hillbilly (SideMart Theatrical Grocery); Lieutenant of Inishmore (Highland Arts Theatre).

Elsa Perez, MFA, MA, Instructor

Elsa is drama therapist and theatre artist. She holds an MFA in Theatre Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and a MA in Creative Arts Therapies from Concordia University. As an actor, Elsa has worked in both English and French for companies such as Théâtre de la Source and Théâtre bilingue de Montréal, which she founded. As a teaching artist, she has extensive experience leading groups and has taught theatre workshops in elementary and high schools across the city and beyond. She taught for five years at the Academy of the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, where she also directed the Wandering Stars theatre troupe, and has been an instructor at the Children's Theatre since 2011. Elsa is passionate about using theatre with special populations, including youth on the autism spectrum, adults living with mental illness, youth at risk, and individuals of all ages living with intellectual disabilities. She is currently finishing her Masters in Couple and Family Therapy at McGill University, after which she will establish her practice working with children and their families.

Jacqueline Van de Geer, Instructor

Jacqueline has taught theatre to children, teens and adults for over 15 years!   A graduate of the Willem de Kooning Art Academy in Rotterdam, Jacqui immigrated in 2005 to Montreal and loves to be a part of this eclectic city.  She has not only worked in numerous theatre-productions,both as actress and director, but has also studied pantomime, clowning, mime and mask. Her hobbies are dancing the argentina tango,traveling and cuddling with her cat Poekie.

Naomi Krajden, Instructor

Originally from Toronto, Naomi Krajden is a new member of the Montreal Children's Theatre team. During her time in Toronto, Naomi taught in various kids' programs, including at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts and the City Playhouse Academy. Recently, Naomi performed in Elly's Emotion, a new musical which was nominated for two 2015 Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Other credits include As the Foo Turns (Toronto Festival of Clowns), In 40 Year (Sterling Studio Theatre), and Betty in the transmedia project Memoirs 11. Naomi earned her B.A. Honours in Theatre Studies at York University, specializing in theatre creation.

Trevor Barrette, Instructor

Trevor Barrette is a Montreal-based actor, director and playwright. A graduate of John Abbott College’s Professional Theatre program (2011 Pamela Montgomery Award / 2008 Carla Napier Scholarship), Trevor has spent the last year majoring in Playwriting and Classics at the University of Toronto (2015 Robert Gill Directing Award). In 2011 he founded Kaleidoscope Theatre Montreal (2015 Frankie Most Promising English Company / 2014 Curtain’s Up Arts, Culture and Entertainment Award, nominated) and has directed their productions of AntigoneThe Tempest, the Canadian premiere of None of the Above as well as his own creations Mixtape (presented by CETM), To Be: In Concert and Captain Aurora: A Superhero Musical (2015 Frankie Best English Production, nominated). Selected credits include: Actor: The Rocky Horror Show (MainLine Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Repercussion Theatre), Innocence Lost: A Play about Steven Truscott (Centaur Theatre / National Arts Center, 2015 META Outstanding Ensemble), To Be (Persephone Productions) and The Tin Can People (Diana Productions / Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Director: Captain Aurora: A Superhero Musical (upcoming, Kaleidoscope Theatre Montreal / Centaur Theare’s Wildside Theatre Festival), Ond (SMC Troubadours, Winner Best Ensemble), The Age of Arousal (Annual MainLine Gala for Student Drama, Best Production) and Coma Unplugged (Assistant Director, Talisman Theatre). Choreographer: Little Shop of Horrors, Oklahoma! (JAC Theatre Workshop), Hairspray!, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Gypsy (WISTA) and Into the Woods (upcoming), Marathon ’33, St-Carmen of the Main (JAC Professional Theatre).

Carmen Rose, Instructor

Carmen fell in love with drama in the third grade, and they've been going strong ever since! This is Carmen’s second season with Montreal Children’s Theatre and she is thrilled to be back. A graduate of The Stella Adler Acting Conservatory in NYC, Carmen returned to her hometown of Montreal in 2014. She currently teaches drama at Riverview and Akiva Elementary Schools and performs regularly at the Montreal Improv Theater.

Jen Viens, Instructor

Jen Viens is an actor/director, teacher and producer originally hailing from BC. While there, she studied theatre at UBC, and trained with Matthew Harrison at the Actor’s Foundry in Vancouver. Jen relocated to Montreal two years ago and has been an active member in the arts community since. Currently, she studies at Straeon Acting Studios, trains with a certified Alexander Technique coach, and a vocal technique coach.

Last year, she founded the pop up theatre collective ‘Don’t Tell Mama’, and played the part of Rae in We Are One Theatre’s ‘The Blood Harmonic’. Most recently, she performed the one-woman show ‘The Passage’ at the Montreal Fringe and took home the award for Best Solo Production.

Some of her credits include: Helix, Stunt Double on Twilight, Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest, and ‘Jen' in the acclaimed web series Battle Jar; Resolving Arguments Since the Dawn of Time.

Jenny Brescia, Instructor

Jenny is thrilled to be working with the Montreal Children's Theatre! Origionally from New York City, Jenny moved to Montreal in the Spring of 2014 with her husband. She has a Bachelors in Music Theater from The Hartt School, University of Hartford, and has been teaching the performing arts since 2008. She has extensive performance credits along the US East Coast and is a classically trained vocalist and musician. Some credits include: Cait, Danny Boy,(Dir. Jonathan Patterson), Rachel, Inherit the Wind (Forestburgh Playhouse), Carla, NINE(New York Summer Voice Festival) Napoleonic Apparition, A Christmas Carol (Hartford Stage, dir. Darko Trensjak) 

Jenny is currently working in various schools throughout Montreal as a creative movement and dance instructor, music director, and also has a private vocal studio. She first joined the Montreal Children's Theater this past summer as choreographer for the Summer Intensive Camp. She is excited to be working along side such a strong and creative team and to share her knowledge with your children!

Lisa Drupsteen, MA, Instructor

Lisa is overjoyed to join the Children's Theatre team as an instructor. She has previously taught stage acting and improvisation classes for children and adolescents in the Greater Toronto Area. Having received a Regional Arts Program certificate, a minor in Theatre from Concordia University, a Master's degree in Drama Therapy, and full completion and ongoing training at Montreal Improv, Lisa is eager to continue assisting others to discover the magic that the art of performance brings to any class setting. Some of her other interests include musical improv, puppetry, and visual arts!

Past Team Members

Danusia Lapinski , B. Ed, M.A., Consultant and supervisor

A professional teacher and a Creative Arts Therapist, Danusia was born and raised in Ontario. Before settling in Montreal, Danusia could not get enough of the world. Using theatre as a constant vehicle for communication and education, she spent 10 years teaching, running summer camps and leading teen travel groups through Canada and Europe. She has called the Children's Theatre home for the last eight years working as both a teacher and director. She also runs programs at Concordia University's Centre for Arts in Human Development and for Royal Vale School.

Donovan King, B.F.A., M.F.A., Instructor

Donovan King is a Montreal-born theatre artist and Drama teacher who has worked extensively in Canada, England, the USA, and New Zealand. Holding degrees in Professional Acting (DEC, John Abbott), Drama-in-Education (BFA, Concordia), and Theatre Studies (MFA,University of Calgary), Donovan advocates Drama as a powerful medium for human development, empowerment, and community-building. Having collaborated with Augusto Boal and other theatre-activists, Donovan also works on behalf of community organizations such as the Quebec Drama Federation, Montreal infringement festival, and NYC-based Theatres Against War.

Patricia Summersett, Instructor

Patricia is thrilled to be part of Montreal Children's Theatre ensemble! She holds a Masters of Classical Acting from The Central School of Speech and Drama in London England and a BFA in theatre performance from Concordia University. Aside from professional theatre, she lends her voice to countless projects, is a budding writer and has a background in competitive ice dance. She is the founder of Limin.ice theatre, dedicated to exploring ice as a metaphor and venue. Her love of ice most recently brought her to the arctic,  where she ran theatre workshops for children in Nunavut. Patricia has trained, taught and performed across Canada, the United States, London and Russia. And the best way to keep celebrating these experiences, is to keep sharing them. Let's have fun!

Heather Solloway, B.F.A., M.A., Instructor

Heather joins the Children’s Theatre family with a wealth of theatrical training and teaching experience under her belt. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University, with a Major in Theatre and a Minor in Creative Writing. She went on to train at the world renowned American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) in San Francisco and at Harvard University’s Stanislavski Summer School. Heather’s longstanding passion for working with children led her to pursue a teaching career as well which she has integrated into her theatre background. From a Drama Instructor, to an Early Childhood Educator, Heather has worked in a multitude of settings with children ranging in age from 18 months to 16 years old. Heather is currently working towards her Masters degree in Child Studies at Concordia University and is teaching at Hebrew Day School. 

Cindy Coady M.A., Instructor (special needs)

A graduate herself form The Children's Theatre, Cindy is so happy to be back in the fold once again. Drama has always been a fierce passion. Once a child actor, she left the world of performance to learn how to integrate the arts in a therapeutic setting. After working as a drama therapist for 5 years, Cindy opened up her private practice as a Autism specialist and parenting coach (www.autism-montreal.com). She is so excited to be part of the Children's Theater initiative to bring the arts to children with special needs. Giving them the opportunity to explore their world in a whole new way.

Michelle Heisler, Instructor

Michelle’s acting career has taken her across Canada, the United States, and Europe.  A graduate of McGill University and AMDA in NYC, she has worked on the stage, and on the big and small screens in English, French, and most recently in Yiddish. She’s also voiced characters in such cartoons as Caillou, Mona the Vampire, Arthur, and Miss Mallard Mysteries (Cinar). She recently expanded her career into the realm of directing and teaching at the Segal Centre on the youth division of Montreal's Yiddish Theatre (YAYA). And she is thrilled to join the Children's Theatre to share her passion for theatre with more students.

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