Instructors and Staff

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Meet our Lead Instructors

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Jennifer Roca- Executive Director

Director of the MainStage & Junior Productions, Website Programmer, Director of Classes and Workshops, Salt+Light Lead Coach, and Tap Instructor

Jennifer Roca

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,” and with A Work in Progress she directed the highly acclaimed “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Annie” productions on the Tolman Stage. 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 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.


Laura Jenkins

Music Director for MainStage Productions, Instructor for  Vocal Technique, and “High Notes”

Laura Jenkins

 

Laura Jenkins holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music, Voice Performance, from the University of Massachusetts.  A classically trained soprano, Laura has appeared in a variety of venues and genres throughout Western Massachusetts and the Providence, RI area, including recital, oratorio, operetta and musical theatre/cabaret settings.  She has been a featured soloist with the Pioneer Valley Symphony, Keene Chorale, Arcadia Players and Quinnebaug Singers.  She has also been a regular performer for the Tuesday Morning Music Club and Wistariahurst Museum Recital Series in Springfield, MA.  Laura has also taught voice as an instructor at the Springfield Community Music School for ten years, as well as running a private studio out of her home for over twenty years.  As a director, Laura was music director at West Springfield Covenant Community church for many years, coordinating and leading music worship as well as conducting both adult and children’s choirs.  Here in Providence she has appeared with the Providence Singers both as a chorister and soloist, and serves on the music team at Trinity Presbyterian Church.  Laura has four children, aged 5 to 19.  She also enjoys knitting, biking and reading in her free time.

 

 


Nicole Cannella

Instructor of  Creative Word, Creative Writing, Swinging Thru History, and the Staged Reading

Nicole Cannella

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.

 

 


 

Heather Brown

Instructor of Recreational Yoga + Ballet, and the MainStage Featured Dancers for ages 12-18

Heather Brown

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.


Pamela Macbeth

Building Supervisor, Sewing Instructor & Costume Director for all productions

Pam Macbeth

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

Instructor for Behind-The-Scenes Class, Director of the TIP Crew, and Stage Manager of productions

Melissa Lamb

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.

 


Jason Lamb

Instructor of the Behind-the-Scenes Class, Assistant Director of the TIP Crew

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Jason Lamb

 

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.

 


Lorin Olsen

Drawing Instructor and Make-Up Head Coach for MainStage Productions

Lorin Olsen

 

Lorin had the great privilege of being raised in an environment where creativity was encouraged and time for practice was left wide open. Being given this, and the drive to chase after his imagination allowed him to try his hand at many artistic and unique endeavors, while also instilling a love for creation in many forms. He is now a freelance illustrator and has worked on card games, a children’s book, and various other projects. He has also served as a make-up artist in more than ten theatrical productions between A Work in Progress and Good Company Tutorials. Additionally, he teaches drawing and art at Crossroads Learning Center.He is something of a creative Jack of all trades. While drawing and digital paintings are his focus, he loves to dabble in costumery and prop making, has an Associate’s degree in video game design, and is almost always game to try something new. Lorin is more than honored to be part of the Work in Progress team, and always looks forward to doing whatever he can to help the next generation of creators.

 

 


Chad Bowditch

Chad Bowditch

Instructor of “Film Making + The Art of Storytelling” 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.

 


Jennifer Wilson

Scenic Designer and Instructor of “Periwinkle to Picasso” Art Classes, Scene Design Workshops, and Behind-the-Scenes Class

Jennifer Wilson

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, set design, and sewing and has been the set designer for “Mary Poppins” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at AWIP this last year, as well as assisting with costumes and props in past productions.

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 9 years of homeschooling. She is very excited to continue leading the set and prop classes behind the scenes, as well as teaching art classes at AWIP.


David Wilson

Sound Tech, Scenic Designer and Instructor of Behind-the-Scenes Classes

(more info on Dave forthcoming!)

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Meet our Student Instructors

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Danielle Chace

Danielle Chace

Instructor for Creative Dance, Ages 4-12

Danielle’s love for dance began at a very young age. After discovering Donald O’Connor for the first time, she begged her mother to sign her up for tap dancing lessons. Soon after, she fell in love with all styles of dance. Danielle currently trains over 12 hours a week in tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical, hip hop, and acro with Shooting Stars School of Dance in Seekonk, MA. Her favorite genre is acro and she received the Acro Dancer of the Year Award for 2015.

Additionally, Danielle has been competing for the past three years and is currently a class demonstrator at her studio.

 

 

 


Bailey Tolliver

Bailey Tolliver

Instructor for Classical Ballet, Ages 4-12


Bailey began dance instruction at the age of three at The Turning Pointe School of Dance, in Plainville MA.  After almost a decade of taking ballet, jazz, and lyrical, Bailey decided to focus on classical ballet, Isadora Duncan, and contemporary. In 2014 she performed in The Nutcracker as a Spanish chocolate, flower, and angel, and decided to dance full time at Foxboro Classical Ballet under the direction of 3 former Boston Ballet performers, including a former Boston Ballet Mistress and the current Ballet Mistress for Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. In 2015 she joined Perceptions Concert Dance Experience, a pre-professional contemporary company, and performed in For the Living under the direction of Alexander Drapinski. In addition, she was the 2016 nutcracker Kissy Doll, lead Trepak, and Snowflake. She has also begun dance modeling.

Bailey has enjoyed demonstrating for 3 different studios in jazz and ballet, and likes to attend dance intensives. For fun she has taken classes in hip hop, tap, and acro but also enjoys the outdoors and camping with her family.

 


Nathaniel de Vries, Salt+Light Coach

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.


Audrey Wilson

Instructor of “Maestro Classics” and “High Notes Junior” as well as Director of “Narnia”

Audrey Wilson

Audrey has been playing music for 12 years, including piano, guitar, ukulele, and vocals. She started playing piano at age 5 and has learned classical and contemporary piano. Since then she has been involved in many piano concerts and also started learning guitar at age 12 and has taught herself guitar for 5 years. She has been involved on her worship team since 2013 and is proficient in harmony and vocal work. She has interned and taught at A Work In Progress in the High Notes children’s choir for three years. She has served in Salt and Light for two years, and last year she was a captain of Salt and Light with an emphasis on music leadership.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Meet Our Staff

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Patty Mclernon, Production Manager

Patty Mclernon

 

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.

 


Cheryl Torku, Bookkeeper

Cheryl Torku

Cheryl Torku

Cheryl holds a business degree from Texas A&M University.  However, her love for finance didn’t come until her very last semester in college from a professor who inspired her immensely!  Not too long after, Cheryl, and her husband Steve, were provided an opportunity to travel to New England for his job (with 2 children in tow), where they have resided for nearly 10 years.  Even still, with her never ending desire in the area of finance, she has been able to assist others with personal finance on her own time, she has contributed as a staff member at TD Bank and now she serves as AWIP’s bookkeeper.  She has always wanted to use her skills and passions for money “sense” to benefit others.  She currently keeps busy gladly serving her family.  She has been homeschooling her six children for the past eight years and is always looking for more and more opportunities to learn, grow and shine!

 

 

 


Traci Macomber, Fundraising Chair and Hospitality Lead

Traci has been homeschool mom to one for the last four 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 served the front of house for “Annie,” “Stuart Little,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “The Wiz.” She also organized and ran the Fundraising Team for “The Wiz.”  She works as an office manager for a small company in Mendon.  

 


Special Thanks to Shawon Davis and Mason Pimental for the majority of headshots on this page.

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