Meet Our Lead Instructors
Jennifer Roca – Artistic and Executive Director
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! AWIP 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 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.
Nicole Cannella – Creative Arts and Acting Dept. Instructor
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.
Pamela Macbeth – Sewing Instructor and Costume Dept. Consultant
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!
Melissa Lamb – Stage Manager and Tech Dept. Instructor
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.
Jennifer Wilson – Art Dept Instructor and Scenic Designer
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+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!
Michelle McWilliams – Hip Hop Instructor and Choreographer
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.
Jason Lamb – Tech Director and Tech Dept Instructor
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.
Daniel Latham – Salt+Light Coach and Music Director
Daniel Latham has had extensive training and experience in theater, music, public speaking, ministry training and development, and group involvement.
He has been playing music since the age of 6, with lessons in drums, piano, guitar and vocals, including 5 years in an a cappella group and 8 years in musical theater. He attended a 1 year ministry training/leadership school and studied bible doctrine and worship music. He currently serves in his local church as the drummer and as a worship leader assistant.
Daniel loves helping people find out more about themselves and reaching their potential in every area.
Meet Our Student Instructors
Hannah Macomber – Dance Dept Instructor
Hannah began gymnastic as soon as she could walk and began dance at age 3. She has 10 years of dance background in ballet, tap, jazz, ballroom and hip hop. She has been a competitive gymnast for 9 years. She has been a State Champion and a Regional Championship competitor. She is currently a Platinum level gymnast at Marcov Sharp Gymnastics in Bellingham. 2018 will be her 5th Mainstage Production with AWIP and most recently, she played Judy in “White Christmas.” She has been an acting intern for the last three Junior Productions, as well as the Creative Dance Intern last year. She is entering her third year as a member of AWIP’s Salt + Light outreach team.
Kelsey Mclernon – Music Dept Instructor
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.
Meet Our Staff
Patty (Trish) 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, Costume Designer and 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, Business Manager and Fundraising Coordinator
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.