Meet the Team

Our Theatre School staff is comprised of local and visiting actors, singers, dancers, directors, puppeteers, magicians, comedians, and more. The team is dedicated to getting to know our students, and help them discover their artistic potential. We love our students, and look forward to seeing them back year after year!


LAURA CASWELL - Director of Education

Laura Caswell has been a part of Neptune for over a decade playing various roles on stage (including 5 witches!) as well as a director and choreographer. Laura trained in Musical Theatre in New York City and London, England earning a Masters in Performance through the University of East Anglia. She has also trained extensively in improv, puppetry, voice work, singing, dance, acting, and film and television. Laura has worked as an artist and educator at theatres all over the country.

Working as a teacher in all forms of performance of all levels led to Laura taking over the role of Director of Education at Neptune two years ago. She is excited to be sharing her third summer of Camps with her incredible staff and wonderful students.

JULIA TOPPLE - Theatre School Administrator

Julia Topple is a local actor who has worked at the Neptune Theatre School since 2009. Starting as a Teaching Assistant, she has held the position of Instructor, Camp Director, and now Theatre School Admin.

She is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program, and Neptune Theatre School’s Musical Theatre Foundation program. She is currently working as an actor in Halifax, and is thrilled for another summer at Neptune!

GINA THORNHILL - Camp Director

Gina (she/they) is a Kjipuktuk (Halifax) based theatre artist. Her training is in ensemble based physical theatre. They are a founding member of Tea Time Creation Co. Select theatre credits include Some Blow Flutes- HomeFirst Theatre, This is Nowhere- Zuppa Theatre, Neptune Theatre Touring Company 2018,  Pugwash- Ship's Company Theatre, The Blazing World/Faustus- Villain's Theatre, On the Verge- Once Upon a Theatre Collective.  Film/TV: From, Chapelwaite, Diggstown, The Mist, Feverish. Gina has also been an instructor at Neptune Theatre School for over 14 years, working with youth in various capacities; choreographer, stage manager, assistant director. They are thrilled to be spending the summer back at camp!

LUCAS ARAB -  Assistant Camp Director

Lucas Arab (He/Him) is currently pursuing studies in Stage Design and Technical Theatre at Dalhousie University. Lucas considers himself a "professional make-believer" and is passionate about both the on and off stage experience. He incorporates his skills in improv, live performance, and design in his work and everyday life. Lucas has competed with the Canadian Improv Games at both the provincial and national levels, and captained his winning team at Halifax West High School. Lucas is currently leading as a member of the Neptune Theatre School team as Assistant Camp Director, Administrative Assistant, and Social Media Coordinator. 

ANTHONY MACPHERSON - Teen Camp Director

Born and raised in Fall River, Nova Scotia, Anthony has been a Toronto based performer and creator since 2010.  After graduating from Sheridan College with an Advanced Diploma in Music Theatre Performance, Anthony has traveled all over North America courtesy of two national tours: Matilda and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Wizard of Oz, performed regionally all over Canada, and appeared in various TV/Film projects. As an arts educator Anthony has been on faculty at Sheridan College, George Brown College, and Humber College. He has also developed and delivered youth centred theatre arts programming all over Canada, the United States & Taiwan. Anthony recently acquired an Honours Baccalaureate Degree in Musical Theatre Performance from Sheridan College with High Honours and completed the Stratford Festival of Canada’s Teaching Artists Training program.

MADDIE MAITZEN - Assistant Teen Camp Director

Maddie is currently in her second year of Voice at the Dalhousie Fountain School of Performing Arts. This is her second time teaching weekend classes at the theatre school, and has previously been involved with the theatre school through TD YPCo and Prep. She is also interested in post-production editing, and she directed/organized an entire virtual musical over the past few months. Maddie is thrilled to be working with students again this summer!

AVERY JEAN BRENNAN - Instructor

Avery Jean (They/Them) is a Transfeminine actor, director, musical director, playwright, and producer. They are currently the Production Coordinator for Bad Dog Comedy TV, and a recent graduate of Generator’s Artist Producer Training program. Over the past four years, they have facilitated workshops on Trans Inclusive Practices in the Arts, which they have facilitated for theatre and film production companies across Canada. Recently, they were nominated for the Bra d’Or Award from the Playwrights Guild of Canada for their advocacy work. Avery Jean received their musical direction training through various Associate and Apprentice positions in theatres across Canada, including a residency through Neptune Theatre’s RBC Chrysalis Project. They have studied writing under dramaturg Christopher Weddell, composer/lyricist Leslie Arden, and through The Musical Stage Company's NoteWorthy program. Avery Jean's first original musical, The Pansy Craze, was the recipient of Queer Theatre Toronto's inaugural LGBTQ Fringe Award for pushing boundaries in representation for Queer & Trans characters in musical theatre. Their most recent appearance on stage was in Neptune Theatre’s Peter Pan, where Avery Jean became the first out Transfeminine person to play a Transgender character in a Canadian regional theatre musical.

 

BRETON LALAMA - Instructor

Breton Lalama is a multi-medium artist who loves exploring identity and overlooked parts of everyday life. They can often be found making jokes and sweating profusely while playing accordion. Credits include: Comedy: Yuk Yuks, JFL Showcaser 2020, Toronto Sketchfest. Film/TV: Y The Last Man (Hulu/FX), Slasher (Shudder), Pretty Hard Cases (NBC/CBC). You can find them @bretonlikethecrackers on social media.


BRITTNEY WHITAKER - Instructor

Brittney is super excited to be back at Neptune for her 4 th summer! She graduated from Dalhousie University with honours in Acting a few years ago and has worked with many people in the Theatre community such as, Phillip Akin, Linda Moore, and Zuppa Theatre Company. She is very eager to share all of her new-found knowledge with eager, young minds.  She loves music, sketch comedy, collective creation, and detailed script work, like Shakespeare. Ask her about the funniest thing that has ever happened to her on stage!

BECCA GUILDERSON - Instructor

Becca has been working with the theatre school for the past few years as an instructor, and is a graduate of the Pre Professional Training Program.

She has been on the Neptune mainstage in the holiday pantos: Cinderella as a wicked stepsister, and Peter Pan as Tink.

She is thrilled to be working with the musical theatre students here at Neptune.

CHARLOTTE SAMSON - Instructor

Charlotte Samson (She/They) is a Halifax based theatre student and artist. They have been a Neptune Theatre School student since she was 8 years old. She has done many summer camps, completed the YPCo musical theatre bootcamp, she was in YPCo’s The Hobbit and has just recently completed the Neptune Prep program. She is so excited to be a teaching assistant for her first summer as a Neptune Theatre School staff member! They are looking forward to helping kids create fun memories like the ones they hold from their childhood at Neptune summer camps. She will be attending Randolph College for the Performing Arts in Toronto this upcoming fall. They are so stoked to be a part of the summer 2021 Neptune Team!

EMILY JEWER - Instructor

Emily Jewer (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artists working in theatre, film, and the visual arts. She began her work in theatre at the age of four as a mermaid in a very inspiring kindergarten production of Peter Pan.

Emily graduated from Mount Allison with a BFA and spent a year training with Neptune Theatre’s Pre-Professional Training Program in acting. Since then they have worked as an actor in theatre and film and as an emerging theatre director. Emily was part of the inaugural Chrysalis Project at Neptune in the directing stream. She is also currently writing her first short film!

Emily also works as a photographer with their company MJ Photographics, focusing on portraiture and performer headshots!

Emily is excited to be teaching at Neptune Theatre School again this year! For the the last few years they have been Kirstin Howell's teaching assistant in the teen film classes. She is now working as an associate coach with the LA Technique, helping local actors with coaching and self tape auditions. Emily is looking forward to working with another great group of teens this summer!

EMMA STRANG - Instructor

Emma (She/Her) is so excited to be back teaching at Neptune this summer! She has been involved with Neptune through TD YPCo for many years, and has appeared in productions of Frozen, She Kills Monsters, and Les Misérables. She also appeared as Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare by the Sea Studio Company zoom production of Macbeth, and spent five years as a member of the touring show Project ARC Theatre. When she’s not at Neptune, Emma enjoys surfing, reading, and boxing.

ETHAN PALLISER-NICHOLAS - Instructor

Ethan Palliser-Nicholas is an indigenous male that has found a love for art. He is currently enrolled at Halifax West High School and is a mentor worker for the Mi'kmaq Native Friendship Centre. He started to gain interest in theatre through Neptune Theatre School, as he has done 3 productions with the YPCo program. Other than productions within Neptune, Ethan has been teaching with the Theatre School for the past couple of years.

HARMONY ADESOLA - Content Creator

Harmony has been working in film for longer than one would expect, given that he is only 19 years old. He has created numerous music videos and short docs with his work showcased on numerous social media venues, including his own YouTube Channel. He is a filmmaker, actor, and musician, with aspirations to build his craft in order to be a successful artist working in the Nova Scotia Film & Music Industry. He is very excited to work at Neptune!

GRACIE MCNEIL - Instructor

Gracie (she/her) is so excited for her rst summer of teaching at Neptune Theatre! Gracie is a huge lover of theatre, and is very passionate about sharing that love with others. She has been an active member of the Neptune community for several years and has been a part of lots of Neptune programming, including YPCo and the Prep program! Gracie’s love of theatre has led her to pursue a career in the arts, and she will be studying theatre at Memorial University in Fall 2021. She is ecstatic to be a part of the Neptune team!

GWEN DAWSON - Instructor

Gwen is well known in both the professional theatre and classical worlds across Eastern Canada in particular as an accomplished vocalist, pianist, music director, teacher, and choral director. Over her thirty plus year career to date, she has worked in an array of disciplines, including in theatres across the Atlantic Provinces and Ontario as an actor, singer, dancer, director, music director, pit musician (piano and keyboards), and accompanist; on the international stage as a piano bar performer; in several schools, conservatory programs, and universities as a vocal and choral teacher, and in her very active private studio, working with many students who have graduated to careers of their own both on the national and international stage in both musical theatre and opera. Her history with Neptune both on the professional level and with the Theatre School dates back to the early 90s; she now works with many of her former private students as professionals themselves! These days, she spends her time teaching music, theatre, and choral singing to high school students as well as instructing the Neptune Prep and YPCo students through the Theatre School and acting as regular audition accompanist at Neptune Theatre, while still working in the professional ranks as an MD and pit musician…. and best of all, being Mom to her best production ever, her son Sam!!

JEREMY FOOT - Instructor

Jeremy is thrilled to be back for his third summer of teaching at Neptune Theatre School! He has been a participant in many Neptune camps and programs over the years, including the 2017 Youth Performance Company and the Prep program. He is a lifelong fanatic of plays and musicals, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Musical Theatre from Sheridan College. Jeremy has worked with children at both day and overnight camps, as a volunteer program instructor. He is very happy to be back home in Nova Scotia and at Neptune!

JILLIAN PETERS - Assistant Instructor

Jillian is very excited to be joining the neptune theatre school staff for her first time! She has been in four YPCo productions over the past three years including she kills monsters, as Agnes and The hobbit, as Bilbo. Jillian took the neptune prep program this past fall and is now planning on attending Randolph College For the Performing Arts to continue studying musical theatre. She looks forward to sharing her love of theatre with students this summer.

KIRSTIN HOWELL - Instructor

Kirstin is a Canadian actor, singer, writer, and acting coach. She is a member of both CAEA and ACTRA and is the current chair of the ACTRA Maritimes Branch Council Training Committee.

Kiki has been coaching and teaching actors of all levels for over 10 years, and is the owner and operator of The LA Technique Acting and Self-Tape studio (Halifax). She has taught kids and teens workshops, adult workshops (Self Tape Masterclass, LA Technique Level 1 and 2, Ongoing  classes, weekly workout, etc) as well as hundreds of one-on-one coaching sessions in the past 3  years. Clients have booked roles on such shows as The Sinner, The Umbrella Academy,  Moonshine, Diggstown, Mr. D, The Good Doctor, to name a few, as well as roles in theatre  productions, films, voiceover, and commercial work.  

Recently she has branched into running a self-taping studio which is a trusted resource for locals  and visitors to the area alike.

LAUREN SCOTT - Assistant Instructor

Lauren is a current YPCo student at Neptune Theatre and has performed in Runaways and Frozen Jr. She has also been cast in Neptune Theatre's production of Billy Elliot the musical. Lauren has 13 years of dance training from Coastal Dance in Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Pointe, with 7 years of vocal training from Andrea's Music Studio. This is Lauren's second summer teaching at Neptune Theatre and she can't wait to share her love of theatre and performing with each of the amazing young performers she gets to meet! 

RHYS BEVAN-JOHN - Instructor

Rhys is a multi-award winning actor who has studied and worked in the theatre for over 25 years. He once spent 6 months living in the woods with a mime and a ballerina, and has toured the world with puppetry shows. He is most well known for performing a one-man version of A Christmas Carol each year, at Neptune Theatre.

SAFFRON HYDE - Instructor

Saffron Hyde (She/ Her) is overjoyed to be a part of the Neptune summer camp team for the second time! Saffron has taken many classes at Neptune, and has also performed on stage in many of Neptune’s YPCo shows. This fall, Saffron will be continuing her studies in the Performing Arts at Sheridan College. Overall, Saffron loves theatre and can not wait to share her love of theatre with everyone at camp this summer!

SARA COURTNEY - Instructor

Sara is a former student of Neptune Theatre school, where she took seasonal classes and performed in two shows with the Youth Performance Company. She works primarily in childcare and is also involved in conducting youth programs in Dartmouth. She has many years of training in dance and voice, and has performed with companies like Project Arc, Broadway Atlantic and Terra Novella Theatre. In her spare time, she loves painting, baking and doing fun crafts! This is her fourth year teaching at Neptune, and she is so happy to be back in action!

SARAH ENGLISH - Instructor

Sarah English is an actor and theatre educator, hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Theatre-Acting) at Dalhousie University and taught theatre education at Neptune Theatre School before moving to Toronto, Ontario to further pursue her career. Sarah has performed in theatres across Canada and she has also recorded the first three audiobooks in the ongoing Aggie Morton Mystery Queen series with Random House Canada. She has received Robert Merritt Award nominations for her work in Bone Cage and How Do I Love Thee?, and produced new Canadian works in Toronto and Halifax. She has worked as a theatre youth educator for over 17 years, and she is also a dialect coach. In the fall of 2021 Sarah will be attending the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama to receive a Masters in Voice Studies. As she has grown as an educator, Sarah has always held the same goals; for students to feel challenged, to gain confidence through their shared work and knowledge, and to celebrate their individuality. 

 

SARAH SMITH - Instructor

Sarah Smith is a Halifax-based actor, musician, and theatre creator. She has a BFA in Theatre Performance from Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, and a certificate in Musical Theatre from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. When not teaching at Neptune, she can be found performing at venues around the city.

SOPHIE NADEAU - Instructor & Content Creator

Originally from the Quispamsis, NB theatre scene, Sophie is a content creator and all around human who loves to share her passion for theatre and exploration. She has created her own production company called "Heckin' Fresh Tornado TV" featuring new original web shows. Sophie has 15 years of dance training in tap, jazz, contemporary, lyrical and musical theatre. She has been a player, volunteer and teacher with the Canadian Improv Games for the last 7 years and has performed with Saint John’s Improvisation Corporation and HRM’s Make Em’ Ups. This is Sophie’s third year at Neptune Theatre School Summer Camps and she is very excited to be encouraging young performers to be everything they want to be! Her favourite type of dog is a golden retriever and her favourite Summer Blizzard®️ Flavour is Cotton Candy.

TAYA MILLER - Theatre School Assistant

Taya is very excited to be working as an assistant with the teen camps this summer.  Taya is a student in the Bachelor of Arts program at Saint Mary's University, with the goal of becoming a teacher.  Taya has attended numerous camps and classes at Neptune.  She was a member of YPCo and performed in Neptune's production of Frozen.  Taya was also involved with musical theatre at Citadel High.  Taya is looking forward to spending the summer at Neptune!

TODD HUNTER - Instructor

Todd Hunter is a native New Yorker who studied Drama Therapy at Concordia University, Montreal. He also holds a master’s degree in Urban Sustainability with focuses on social justice and environmental health impacts. As a Drama Therapist he has worked with individuals and groups in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities as well as people with living with developmental challenges. As a community leader and liaison, he has worked to build better communities with same neighbors by creating joint efforts engaging both community stakeholders and city government agencies. Awarded the City of Los Angeles, Community Development Commendation for his strategic community organizing and planning as well as Outstanding Contribution to the University of Montana, theatre school, he also founded the Health Education Theatre Project for underserved populations. Working with all ages to transform anxiety and trauma through a therapeutic experience, personal transformation using improvisation and Drama therapy techniques, coupled with a pillar of social justice, can promote mental health well-being and offer alternative actions for positive outcomes.

 

TYLER CRAIG - Instructor

Tyler is a Teacher/Actor based out of Halifax and is thrilled to be teaching with Neptune again this summer! Tyler has both a B.A. in Theatre as well as a B.Ed in Drama and English from Acadia University. You may have seen him in Whale Song Theatre Productions like Heathers: The Musical, Peter and the Starcatcher or Assassins: The Musical. Throughout the year Tyler also teachers and choreographers for the HRCE and for private schools around the city. Tyler has a deep love for Neptune and their passion for inclusivity and is proud to be a part of their teaching staff.

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