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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
Jess Vandenberg, Camp Director and Arts Educator
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.
Tyler Check, Artistic Director
Tyler Check is an actor, singer, musician, and writer originally from Kingston Ontario. Tyler is currently developing a new TYA show discussing mental health, well-being and self- regulation that is set to tour to schools in the GTA in the Fall of 2019. His previous show All Aboard! about three explorers on a journey across Canada aboard the “Learning Locomotive” toured to schools throughout the GTA as well as out to New Brunswick and down to New York. As Artistic Director, Tyler will continue to develop new connections with schools and communities both in Toronto as well as across the country. Through this new show and in partnership with The George Hull Centre of Children and Families, Tyler continues fostering dialogue and constructive conversations around the challenges facing today’s youth.
Outside of Suitcase Theatre Tyler’s show Liam: the Musical about an 18-year-old boy with non-verbal autism has had several workshops at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre and the Stephenville Theatre Festival as well as a production in Toronto through No Strings Theatre and a school tour in Burlington. Tyler was most recently commissioned by George Brown College to write the music and lyrics for a TYA show based on the stories of Robert Munsch. He has also worked in the George Brown theatre department as the Head of Music working with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year acting students on vocal technique and performance.
Tristan Hernandez, Musical Director
Originally from Brantford ON, Tristan is currently based out of Toronto where he works as an actor, musician, teacher and writer. Tristan is currently developing a new Suitcase Theatre show that is in partnership with The George Hull Centre of Children and Families discussing mental health, well-being and self-regulation. The show is set to tour to schools in the GTA in the Fall of 2019. His last show All Aboard!, a show about a journey across Canada on the “Learning Locomotive”, has had a one week tour in New Brunswick, a workshop out in New York, and has toured and continues to tour through schools in the GTA.
As a writer, Tristan has composed and co-written the full length musical Liam: The Musical. This show has been workshopped at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre and the Stephenville Theatre Festivals as well as a full production in Toronto with No Strings Theatre and a small school tour in Burlington.
Along side writing for the musical theatre world, he is the co-writer and front man for Toronto local band Quarter Heads. Tristan has also taken the stage as a triple threat performer. Selected credits include: Jersey Boys, and Rock of Ages (Stage West Calgary), A Christmas Carol (Ross Petty Productions).
Michelle Di Febo, Educational Consultant
Michelle is currently working as a Family Navigator with the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook Hospital. The Family Navigation Project supports families and youth in finding appropriate mental health and/or addictions services across the GTA. Michelle is a Certified Child Life Specialist who has worked with Suitcase Theatre to help develop interactive, creative and fun school workshops for students. After completing her studies in Child Development and Community Health Sciences at Brock University, she went on to receive her post-graduate diploma in Child Life Studies from McMaster University. Developing personal care plans to support youth and families in coping with challenging healthcare and life experiences has been part of her clinical role in a variety of settings including SickKids Hospital, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, The Children’s Aid Society and Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto. Michelle also has experience facilitating grief and bereavement groups for children and youth.
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!
Lynda Pogue, Educational Consultant
Lynda’s professional career in education has always integrated the arts throughout the curriculum for children of all ages. Consulting in the arts, becoming an author, giving motivational speeches across the world, designing and teaching several university level courses across North and South America, coordinating the Virtual Classroom at TVOntario, being Director of Education for the Royal Ontario Museum, becoming Second City Canada’s first educational interpreter, and creating educational programs in Los Angeles, New York, Texas and Toronto have all involved using the arts to add deeper levels of meaning.
She is often asked to be a guest/motivational speaker for numerous educational and business groups, leadership training courses and accomplished charrette leader. In addition, she has edited and written for such publications as Women with Vision magazine (Canada), and ARTisSpectrum Magazine (New York). She is busy keynote speaking and leading workshops across the world, designing and teaching Expressive Arts courses and consulting with artists and educators who feel the need to renew their focus and energy. Lynda Pogue is also an award-winning Canadian artist.