Meet our Lead Instructors
Jennifer Roca- Executive Director
Director of the MainStage & Junior Productions, Director of Classes+Workshops, Salt+Light Lead Coach, and Tap Instructor
Jennifer began acting when she enrolled in The Peter Pan Players of Worcester at age 7. For the next 10 years, she received specialized musical theatre, dance and improvisation training with the popular group, and performed in over 50 productions, as well as being in a touring company. At the age of 15, she began choreographing and ultimately directing the theatre company at her high school. She graduated with a degree in theatre from UMass Amherst, all the while still directing at her high school. She then traveled with professional touring companies, did summer stock productions, and eventually landed in NYC, where she worked for Disney Theatricals (“The Lion King”) and MTV during the day, while she continued her acting career in the evening.
Roles that she has played (many of them multiple times) are Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” Luisa in “The Fantasticks,” Kim MacAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie,” Esther in “Meet Me In St. Louis,” The Artful Dodger in “Oliver!” and Luna in Columbia University’s Short Film “Luna,” among many others! A few of her favorite shows she has directed and/or choreographed are “The Wiz,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “42nd Street,” “Anything Goes,” “Noises Off!” “Annie,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Narnia,” “Alice in Wonderland,” among many others! She has directed MainStage productions at UMass Dartmouth, and was the drama teacher at Good Company Tutorials for five years- which is where she was introduced to the wonderful world of homeschoolers! She currently directs, writes and acts with Illuminate Theatricals at Crossway Church in Franklin, Ma, and is thrilled to be part of A Work in Progress, which is a dream come true for her. While living in NYC, her life changed… and she found herself singing in the choir of Times Square Church, which meets in an old Broadway Theatre. Only fitting that she would find herself there. She would love to tell you the whole story! She recently appeared in a music video for Kelce Mclernon’s single, “Mirrors,” and was selected as a national spokesperson for Noom.
She is grateful to her husband and to her three children for being patient with her as she has moments of ‘creative outbursts’ from time to time at home, resulting in a half-hour choreography lesson or script-writing session, or some other dramatic endeavor 🙂 Her children are only happy to take part in these moments, and are budding performers themselves.
Instructor of Poetry, Creative Writing, Swinging Thru History, Acting Basics, The Dramatic Presentation, and more!
Nicole received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Theatre from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. She has worked as an actor and teacher and looked forward to becoming a writer of children’s books to combine her passion for the arts and education – which culminated in her first book being published, called “The Ribbit Exhibit.” She has taught acting and theatre at the YMCA, with Drama Kids International Academy, and her own “Hulabaloo and Hodgepodge Too,” which is an all-girls course combining theatre arts with history, poetry, and more. She has also taught master classes at John Robert Powers. She has acted in many professional productions, including “Steel Magnolias,” “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” “Dancing at Lughnasa” and many more. Her film experience includes “Me, Myself and Irene,” “Strikingly Single,” and “The Union,” as well as many commercials (Harley Davidson, Countrywide Bank, Dunkin Donuts, and Cinemax to name a few). She most recently co-wrote the acclaimed “Leaving a Mark” children’s book with Dorian Murray, also known as #DStrong. Her most valued role is that of mother of three children; Nicholas, Olivia and Noelle. Raising them with her husband Jay has been one of her life’s greatest accomplishments.
Musical Director and Instructor of “High Notes” and “Joyful Noise”
Emily Cuellar fell in love with music at a very young age. Her dad is the music director at her Church, so she was able to start singing at a very young age. She is the second oldest of 7 children, and all of them play an instrument and/or sing. Growing up in such a faith filled and musical family has been a tremendous blessing, and is one of the reasons she decided to pursue music as a career.
In high school, Emily taught herself piano, guitar and started writing music. Her oldest siblings along with a few friends decided to form a Christian rock band where they led retreats and put on worship nights. She also loves theater! Emily grew up taking improve classes, directed “The Passion of the Christ”for two years and later played the role of Mary twice, and performed in multiple church skits. In May 2018, she was in the ensemble of “Beauty and the Beast” at Stadium Theatre.
The past four years, she has been studying at Salve Regina University. She played soccer there for two years, and then decided to quit so she could focus more on her faith and music. She is a triple major in Music, Philosophy and Psychology. Emily currently works as a Youth Minister at two churches, teaches voice lessons, and now is excited to be working and sharing her love of music with AWIP.
Sewing Instructor & Costume Director
Raised in the midwest, Pam Macbeth learned to sew under the loving instruction of her grandmother Nina, who made clothing from feed sacks and newspaper patterns. Pam began her theater and sewing experience in high school by making her own costume for Guys and Dolls. As a homeschool mother of five delightful daughters, creations continued to be stitched from smocked baby clothing, matching holiday dresses, quilts, Civil War reenacting garments, costumes for play and home dec items. She continues to pass on the love of sewing and creating through mentoring, charity sewing workshops and teaching. Two daughters have pursued professional opportunities in the sewing field but all have been involved in various aspects of performing arts from orchestras to the stage. “Alice in Wonderland” was Pam’s first costume department theatrical experience with Jen Roca and it was the perfect marriage of the love of creating and the stage. “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Annie” followed as well as numerous smaller children’s productions. Pam looks forward to imparting the excitement to the next generation of creative stitchers and has added sewing opportunities to the table at A Work in Progress this year!
Instructor for Stage Management, Dramaturgy, Set Workshops, Director of the TIP Crew, and Stage Manager of productions
Melissa Lamb is a graduate of WPI with a degree in Chemistry and Theatre Technology. While at WPI, she worked in every aspect of technical theatre, with a concentration in stage management. She was also a member of Lens and Lights, which provided sound, lighting, and projection for concerts and other on campus performances.
Since leaving WPI, Melissa has worked with a variety of community theatre groups, including an assistant management position at The Vineyard Playhouse, a professional theatre company located on Martha’s Vineyard. She also worked with The Gazebo Players of Medfield where she was the stage manger for Helen Keller and Brighton Beach Memoirs, and worked as the Producer for their annual outdoor Shakespeare summer shows.
This is Melissa’s third year with AWIP, and is excited to be sharing her love of theatre with the next generation.
Instructor of the Set Workshops, Director of the TIP Crew, Tech Director of Productions
Jason Lamb, a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was introduced to theater production his freshman year and has been involved ever since. During his time at WPI he was the President of Lens and Lights, WPI’s lighting, sound and projection club. He has worked on numerous productions as the Master Electrician, Lighting Designer, Master Carpenter and Technical Director. Jason actively participated in and served as the President for The Gazebo Players of Medfield. Jason has recently joined AWIP and is delighted be running Master Classes in Lighting and Set Construction. While not working on productions Jason finds himself immersed in the activities of his four busy children and his career as an IT Director.
Production Scenic Designer; Instructor of “From Periwinkle to Picasso” Art Classes, Scene Design Workshops, and Props Classes
Jennifer Wilson is a homeschool mother of 4 bright talented kids, and her passion for the arts brought them to see “Singing in the Rain” by A Work in Progress in 2013. From that evening on, her family has been heavily involved in AWIP through main stage productions, classes, and Salt and Light.
Jen is an interior designer by trade, and studied interior design and residential space planning at the Art Institute of America. She enjoys drawing and painting, prop making, and sewing and has been the set designer for Mary Poppins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, White Christmas, Narnia, and our upcoming Newsies at AWIP. She teaches our popular Periwinkle to Picasso art classes and our Set and Prop Design classes.
Jen’s second passion is children and she also studied Early childhood education at Gordon College and Endicott College. She has been a preschool teacher and has taught many homeschool co-op classes in her 10 years of homeschooling. Jen loves being a part of the AWIP family, and looks forward to each new semester!
Instructor of Recreational Yoga + Ballet
Heather began her training with Boston Ballet and continued with Ballet Theatre of Boston performing as a member of Youth Works. Through college, she was able to continue her study of ballet with Rockford Dance Company of Illinois and became a part of the Celonia Modern Dance Company of Beloit. At that time, she also started teaching beginner ballet to the mostly modern dance population of Beloit College. She has performed in a broad range of classical and contemporary works including The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Wreath of Memories. She has been performing with Spindle City Ballet since 2008 and started teaching ballet and modern in 2011. In 2013 she decided to rededicate her life to teaching and creating dance. She is currently teaching ballet and modern in several schools in the New England area and performing on occasion with Freedom Dances. Her most recent choreography was performed as part of the aMaSSiT program at The Dance Complex in Boston. She is looking forward to another great season with A Work in Progress.
Instructor of Hip Hop Classes, Choreography Assistant for the MainStage Productions
Michelle is a graduate of Dean College, with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. She began her training at a local dance school at a very young age, and was a competitive dancer until she graduated high school. She also began teaching at her dance school in her late teen years, and choreographed pieces for the annual recitals. Through her dance school, she had the experience of dancing in Disney World, Carnegie Hall, and attended countless master classes. She furthered her dance education at Dean College, where she became part of the dance company her senior year. She performed as part of the hip hop and tap company. During college she also choreographed her former high school’s musicals, and still taught classes at her former dance school. After graduating, she began teaching at another local dance school where she taught ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop, and tap. She has choreographed for her church’s Christmas production, “Another Chance.” Michelle is a homeschooling mother of four, and is so incredibly grateful to be back teaching the amazing art of dance.
Instructor of Film Workshops and Media Department Mentor
Chad studied film at Calvin College, with an emphasis on direction and media production.Upon leaving school, Chad employed his passion for film compiling a mini-documentary for Congresswomen Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and now is professional wedding videographer and freelancer. He continues learning new techniques and is studying to be a professional colorist. He believes it’s not the camera that counts, but the creativity behind the camera.
Meet our Student Instructors
Instructor for Classical Ballet, Ages 4-12
Instructor for Creative Dance + Acro
Instructor of “Joyful Noise” and “High Notes Junior”
Kelsey McLernon has grown up in a musical family her entire life, and has been singing since she can remember. She began musical theater at age 9, and has played Annie in “Annie,” Winthrop in “The Music Man,” Martha Watson in “White Christmas” and many other roles. Taking lessons from her father and later teaching herself, she has played piano since age 6. She has used that skill to write her own music, and is releasing her first EP this year. Check out her music videos here and find her music on Itunes, Spotify, and wherever digital music is sold! She has been involved in A Work In Progress since 2013, participating in four Mainstage Productions, interning for two Junior Productions, and interning for High Notes Junior last year.
Instructor of Junior Tap
Meghan Lamb has been a dancer since she was 2 years old. For the last 10 years, she’s been a student at New England Dance Academy, where she has been a member of their elite competition team. She also studies at Heritage Ballet in Lincoln, RI, where she is beginning her pursuit of being a professional ballet dancer. A veteran of the stage, she has been in several AWIP productions, including her role as Neleus in “Mary Poppins.” She enjoys working with young children and passing along her love of dance.
Nathaniel de Vries
Nathaniel de Vries was homeschooled his entire life and graduated in 2016. Throughout his homeschool years, Nathaniel was involved in choir with Good Company Tutorials, and during high school, was a member of the A Capella group. He enjoyed acting in GCT productions such as The Music Man, Guys and Dolls, A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, and A Christmas Carol. Most recently, he played the scarecrow in AWIPs production of The Wiz. Nathaniel was one of the founding team members of Salt+Light, and served the community with the group during his junior and senior years of high school. Currently, Nathaniel is on staff with the Rhode Island Children’s Chorus, serving as a Tenor section leader. This year, he has been singing with the Providence Singers, presenting works such as The Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living. Nathaniel is pursuing a bachelors degree in mathematics at Worcester State University and continues to pursue his musical interests through a minor in music. He lives in Uxbridge and is proud to be a Salt+Light coach.
Meet Our Staff
Patty Mclernon, Production Manager
Patty McLernon has home schooled her children for 22 years and has graduated five of her six children from high school. She has involved herself with music and theater since childhood, and has sung as part of a church worship team for over 25 years. In fact, Patty met her husband, Mike, on an international Christian singing tour. Patty has led children’s choirs and women’s worship teams and has helped to direct home school drama presentations for the past five years. In 2014, Patty served as assistant to the production manager for A Work in Progress’s outstanding production of *Annie.* She is also in her second year of aiding in a drama intensive class. Patty has informally coached high school students in public speaking for the last six years, and in 2009 guided two of her children to qualify for the national tournament of the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association. One of her greatest joys is to have a front row seat in watching and encouraging children as they grow through theater and public speaking in their relationships with others and with God.
Stephanie LaFond, Bookkeeper
Stephanie is a graduate of WPI, in Worcester, MA and of the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a BS/MS in Civil Engineering as well as a licensed Professional Engineer. After college she worked in her field for many years until her oldest daughter was born. After working in engineering consulting for a several years, she decided to switch to full time mothering and homeschooling. She has been homeschooling her 4 children since they were school age. Her 11, 9, 7 and 5 year old are all very active in AWIP classes and productions. After spending so much time hanging out in the parent lounge she decided to use her talents to aid an organization that has brought her and her children so much joy. She joined the AWIP staff as our bookkeeper, last year. Stephanie is also very active with her church, teaching Sunday School and as a member of the Ladies Philanthropic Society. Stephanie loves to bake and craft when she gets the chance. Always a huge fan of musical theater and singing throughout her life, she has been involved with many productions, choral groups and choir in her younger days, but prefers the behind the scenes work to center stage.
Traci Macomber, Volunteer Leader for Hospitality Fundraising and Administrative Assistant
Traci has been homeschool mom to one for the last six years. She had previously served at her daughter’s school on the fundraising and parent organization committees. When the school closed, she found A Work in Progress and jumped at every chance to be involved. She organizes and runs the front of house for our Productions and events. She organizes and promotes all Fundraising for AWIP and assists with bookkeeping and administrative tasks for all of AWIP. This is her 5th year serving the AWIP community.