Theatrix Youtheatre Society – Faculty

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Lauren Hillman – Artistic Director

Lauren Hillman is an actor, writer, director, and all-round creative artist from Vancouver, B.C. She received her BFA in Acting from the University of Windsor in 2007 and favorite on stage roles include Puck (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Charlotte/Nurse (7 Stories), Amalia Balash (Parfumerie), and Maria (The Government Inspector).

Lauren has been working as a theatre instructor and director of youth productions for 18 years. She is a co-founder of Stage One Theatre in her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, a graduate of the Stratford Academy summer intensive program, and has written and published her first novel, a middle-grade fantasy called Outcast.

Lauren has been a regular instructor with Theatrix’s Lunchbox Theatre, Spotlight Theatre, and spring and summer camps for ten years and now also directs the Production program. Lauren has great faith in her students’ abilities, and her greatest joy comes from seeing them improve beyond what they’d thought possible.

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Deborah Solberg – Operations Manager

Deborah is founding Artistic Director of Theatrix Youtheatre Society, which incorporated as a non-profit, charitable performing arts organization in 1991.

  • Over the last three decades, she collaborated with thousands of kids to create shows as a vehicle to learn confidence and self-expression.
  • Deborah produced and directed over 100 productions, from short school touring shows to full scale musical theatre productions.
  • She is playwright for over 30 original plays, with a passion for adapting classical children’s literature.
  • Theatrix is a 17-time Theatre BC festival award winner.
  • Young people in Theatrix programs have become professional actors, dancers and singers around the world.

Heading into the 30th anniversary in 2021, it is time to pass the Artistic Director hat to Lauren Hillman and assume the new role of Operations Manager.

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Ashley Binette – Dance Instructor

Ashley found her love for dance and performing at a very young age. With over 20 years in the performing arts industry, she has earned titles such as National Gold Champion for two consecutive years in dance competitions in Las Vegas and Orlando, as well as National Silver Champion in Portland, Oregon.

Ashley is trained in tap, hip hop, jazz, musical theatre and ballet and has trained with many masters, including Jeni Le Gon, Jason Samuels Smith and Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo (NappyTabs).

She was a backup dancer for Tazneem Tarmohamed, has been featured in television commercials such as Alley Cats, and performed in local productions, including For The Luv Of It, West Side Story and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games Ceremony.  Ashley is always eager to share her knowledge and continue to learn in every aspect in the performing arts industry.

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Lauren Trotzuk – Vocal Instructor

An avid musical theatre enthusiast, she just can’t get enough of performing. Lauren is a singer, actor, dancer, director and playwright whose favorite credits include Little Red in Into The Woods (NSLOS), Jemima in CATS (Fighting Chance) and Bianca in Taming of the Shrew (Bard in The Valley).

Lauren is also the artistic director of her Langley based theatre company Capricorn Theatre Productions, which just wrapped up it’s fourth tour of her original musical Confessions of a Grocery Clerk. When not performing, Lauren finds any opportunity to share her theatre passion by teaching it to others.

With a background in education, she currently teaches private voice and piano lessons in addition to musical theatre at Lights Up Langley Musical Theatre School. She believes there is room for everyone in theatre and works hard to create a place where others can express themselves through the arts.

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Tina Balachandran – Instructor

A creative, committed and experienced Television Professional with 19 years of experience in mainstream Television programming in India. Worked on award winning, path breaking, blockbuster format shows and home grown formats. Experience ranges from conceptualizing, development, pre- production / production, multi camera on-line direction to scripting, content development, team management and client liaison.

A driven and self-proclaimed lifelong learner open to absorb new ideas. Valued as a competent leader to efficiently and successfully manage conceptual projects from beginning to end.

Personal growth and calls led to some wonderful explorations in the past few years; from Television content creation to live content creation in the space of performance oriented art as a Storyteller and Drama Coach. Ardent believer that stories have the power to bring personal and social transformation, stories are under-utilised medium to bridge, heal and explore the world.

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Fiorella Artoni – Instructor

Fiorella is super excited to be joining the Theatrix Team. She has been singing since she was 6 years old, and started to train in Musical Theatre when she was 12. She recently completed the 3 year Musical Theatre Diploma at Capilano University, and then went on to complete her 4th year at Douglas College and acquired a Bachelor of Performing Arts.

Recent credits include Ensemble in Mamma Mia (Fraser Valley Stage), Wife/Ensemble in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Gateway Theatre), and Ms.Stacy in Anne of Green Gables (CapU theatre). She is passionate about creating art with younger generations and exploring the magic that theatre holds.

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Tessa Trach – Instructor

Tessa is a performer, sound designer and has been teaching musical theatre for almost ten years.

Recent credits: Hello, Dolly! (Theatre Under the Stars); Bad Hat’s Theatre’s Peter Pan (Carousel Theatre); Amelie (West Moon Theatre – Ovation! Nominee); Kathy in Singin’ in the Rain (Royal City Musical Theatre – Ovation! Nominee); Rock of Ages (Renegade Arts Company); A Christmas Carol (Carter-Ryan Productions); Grease, All Shook Up (Chemainus Theatre Festival) and From Broadway with Love (Circle Bright).

Tessa is a graduate of Studio 58’s Acting program.  She also studied Classical Voice at Capilano University and holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts. She started performing when she was six and is glad she gets to inspire the next generation of performers.  

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Makayla Leonard – Drama Instructor – P.A.

Makayla Leonard has been creative since she was young. Starting as a dancer at the age of 5, she trained in several dance styles including: Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, and Song and Dance. She eventually joined Abbotsford Children’s Theatre (ACT) and made her debut with them in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever which 5 years later also ended up being her last play with them.

Makayla has had the opportunity to play many amazing roles but some of her favourites include: Iago in Aladdin (CDG), Gerda in The Snow Queen (ACT), Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music (ASIA), Emily in Finding a Chord (ASIA), and Susan in The Late Christopher Bean (Surrey Little Theatre).

Makayla has a passion for teaching children and enjoys allowing them to express themselves through the art of Musical Theatre. Makayla truly believes if you can talk you can sing, if you can move you can dance, and if you can smile, you can make someone’s day.

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Yurgen Ilaender – Composer / Entertainer

A German native, Mr. I started teaching at the Maillardville facility in 1982 after the person he was substituting for took another job. With a diploma from Vancouver Community College (with additional training from UBC, University of Calgary and University of Washington), he created his Musical Rainbow based on the Kodaly and Montessori concepts.

Under those streams, children set their own course while the instructor acts as an advisor on such techniques as sequence, rhythm and movement. Yurgen is a composer for decades of Theatrix original musicals. He teaches throughout the lower mainland and is a popular festival
performer.

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Janina Russell – Composer / Instructor

Janina Russell graduated from Winnipeg’s Musician’s College in 1989 where she majored in Classical Vocal Training with vocal specialist, Brenda Bakos. In 1991 Janina moved from Manitoba to British Columbia. Here she set up her entertainment business, ‘Once Upon A Time Kids Entertainment’ and began establishing connections with other musicians and music producers.

Her first album of songs for children, ‘Colours of the Rainbow’, produced by Olav Rixen is still popular today. Since then she has done over thirty recordings for both children and adults, including the song ‘Children Are The Healer’s Of The World’ that was written with symphony orchestra accompaniment and performed at Vancouver’s fund raiser for the firefighters and their families of 9/11.

Janina has performed thousands of shows for children. Her creativity is boundless, her humour catchy. Children always leave happy and inspired when experiencing her interactive concerts. Children adore her. Janina’s most treasured talent is her voice! To hear her sing is a delight. She has a
passionate love for children and always tries to connect with the beauty of our many different cultures here on this planet. Janina strives to show how we can all learn to live in peace and harmony with one another.

Today she lives in Pitt Meadows, BC with Mr. I. Together Janina Russell and Mr. I create inspired music, sparkling concerts and popular music education programs for children and adults.

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