Meet our Staff

Lucie Grys, Executive Director

Lucie Grys brings a creative energy and talent for getting the job done. Her strategic visioning, strong fiscal management, writing and programming skills are great assets to Suitcase Theatre. With an Honours B.A. from McGill University, she spent numerous years working for not-for-profits and museums such as The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, The Royal Ontario Museum, The Ontario Crafts Council and FUSION: The Ontario Clay and Glass Association. Her roles in communications and development and her position on the Board of Directors with the Ontario Crafts Council offer a strong foundation in managing a not-for-profit organization. Following her passion for people, food and culture, Lucie went on to a ten-year career in the media as a television producer and a journalist for a number of national magazines and newspapers. Today, as a busy parent, she understands that families want quality, memorable and affordable programs for their children. She is committed to bringing arts experiences to children and families and sparking a lifelong love of creative expression.

Lucie can be reached at lucie@suitcasetheatre.com

Victoria Snell, Education and Workshop Manager

Born and raised in Toronto – with strong family roots in southwestern Ontario – music, storytelling, and the arts have always been integral to Victoria’s life. After studying English and Film Studies at Ottawa’s Carleton University, she embarked on a number of globetrotting adventures, living briefly in the UK and New Zealand, while traveling extensively through Europe, Southeast Asia and South America. Her fascination with the cuisines of various cultures led to culinary studies at George Brown College, where she completed the Food and Media program, and ultimately to work as a food stylist for programs on several Canadian TV networks. Stemming back to her days as a City of Toronto instructor and counselor, Victoria has always held a keen interest in working with children; now, as a mother of two active young boys, she’s an enthusiastic student of developmental programs and activities designed to instill families with a sense of community and wonder. She is excited to join Suitcase Theatre as a workshop facilitator where she can combine her love of music, the arts and children.

Victoria can be reached at workshops@suitcasetheatre.com

Nicholaas Visscher (Actor/Stage Manager)

When I first walked into the audition room for Suitcase Theatre 7 years ago I never imagined how far this little theatre company would come. Now approaching my 200th performance with them, I am thrilled to be performing/ stage managing this new Suitcase show. Having attended Sheridan College for music theatre, and having always loved kids(especially my two nephews) a company like this is an ideal fit for me. The joy, laughter, and imagination brought to life by kids every time I perform fills me with inspiration and joy!

Nicholaas can be reached at info@suitcasetheatre.com

Jess Vandenberg, Program Director and Program Leader

Jess has enjoyed teaching for Suitcase Theatre’s summer camps, Sing Out programs and school workshops. As Program Director, Jess oversees the March Break and Summer Camp programs and is responsible for hiring staff, programming, teaching and seeking out enthusiastic volunteers to work with the children. In addition to her various roles with Suitcase Theatre, Jess has enjoyed performing, choreographing, and teaching professionally all over the continent and the Caribbean. She grew up in Ottawa training in many forms of dance at Kanata Ballet School and Les Petits Ballet. After graduating high school and attending Palm Beach Atlantic University (training in dance performance and pedagogy, whilst cheerleading professionally) she began a career in Music Theatre. Favourite performing credits include the World Premier Production of Disney’s Toy Story: The Musical Disney Imagineering (Legs), Freezing Gladstone Theatre (Adele), Disney Dreams and The Golden Mickeys Disney Cruise Line (various roles), Mary Poppins Citadel Theatre/Theatre Calgary Co-Pro (Glamorous Doll/Miss Smythe, U/S Mrs Corry, Katie Nana) Chicago Stage West Calgary (Liz/Kitty U/S), A Christmas Carol and Everything I Love About Christmas Upper Canada Playhouse (Choreographer, various roles) Cabaret Rose Theatre (Ensemble/Dance Captain), RENT Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre (Swing/Mimi, Joanne U/S). Jess is a proud Sheridan Institute honours graduate, where she trained in Music Theatre. She was seen there in Sweeney Todd (Lucy Barker/Dance Captain), Oklahoma! (Dorothy/Asst Choreographer), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Jaquenetta/Choreographer), and Once Upon A Mattress (Ensemble/Stunt Captain). Film/TV credits include Lucky 7 (ABC), Hemlock Grove (Netflix Original), Warehouse 13 (SciFi), Suits (USA), Bomb Girls (Global), Make Your Move (CJ Entertainment), and Being Erica (CBC). Jess has taught all styles of dance, as well as music theatre, voice, cheerleading, kindermusic, private audition coaching (vocal, dance, acro, and acting) and fitness. She has taught in Ottawa at Kanata Ballet School, Ottawa Music Camp, and The Christian Dance Studio, and in the GTA: Hamilton Conservatory of the Arts, Relever, You Got Dance, Goodlife Fitness, and the prestigious Granite Club.

Jess can be reached at programdirector@suitcasetheatre.com

Ryan Jacobs, Artistic Director and Program Leader

Ryan is a highly energetic, motivated and artistically focused individual who has developed a passion for working with young people in creative and artistic settings. He has had the privilege of working with children from all over the globe at the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts; a residential summer facility in upstate New York that offers theatrical programming to young people aged 7 – 18. Through this endeavour he has had the opportunity to develop programming that provides youth with a nourishing and safe environment to engage with and explore their artistic and creative natures. Ryan also has experience working with children with special needs, both in group and one-on-one sessions. Complimenting his work as an artistic facilitator he has also pursued a successful career as a performer, through this work he has been involved in creating and delivering children’s theatre where he has harnessed skills in communicating with young people in an animated, fun and articulate way.

Ryan can be reached at ryan@suitcasetheatre.com

Grace De Madeiros, Educational Consultant and Workshop Facilitator

Grace De Madeiros has over 22 years of experiences working with children. Grace earned her Bachelor of Arts from York University and graduated with her ECE certification from Centennial College. Grace knows how to engage children and help them to learn and grow. Her love of art, drama and storytelling shines with each class presentation. Not only does Grace work for Suitcase Theatre as an educational workshop consultant and facilitator, she has also been with Scientist in The Schools for nearly ten years. Grace is an excellent communicator and her sense of fun and adventure encourages children of all ages and abilities to embrace the arts and drama and help create a lifelong love.

Grace can be reached at grace@suitcasetheatre.com

Michelle Di Febo, Educational Consultant

Michelle is a child life specialist, who is fun, creative and not afraid to get messy! After completing her studies in Child Development and Community Health Sciences at Brock University, Michelle went on to receive her post-graduate diploma in Child Life Studies from McMaster University. As a certified child life specialist, she has worked with children and families in a variety of settings including SickKids Hospital, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, The Children’s Aid Society and Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto.

After spending many years working with families, developing and managing children’s programming, Michelle has used her skills and experience to develop a quality before and after school childcare experience for her own children as well as others in the community. She is currently running a private before and after school program in her home. Michelle comes to Suitcase Theatre with the belief that children learn to navigate their world, gain understanding, cope with challenges and expand their creativity through play-based interactions. She is the proud mother of two active and imaginative young girls who ensure that her ability to bring relevant, innovative ideas to children’s programming is always on point!

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