Established in 1995, the Canadian Children's Theatre Co. has been a community staple in York Region for over 25 years. CCTC is dedicated to the continual development of quality, recreational, performing arts programs for children and teens aged 18 months to 18 years. With programs in theatre, musical theatre, dance, and music, all young people with a desire to become involved are accepted, engaging them in lively and fun, high-quality productions to be performed for and within the community. Our passionate and professional staff, led by Artistic Director Jennifer Martin, foster a safe space for students, with an emphasis on equality, inclusion, and a sense of community. Unlike other programs of its kind, CCTC prides itself on cultivating meaningful relationships while training with students, focusing on the process over the final product.
Remarkably, only one rule of conduct has ever been needed at the CCTC, for students and staff alike: “No upstaging.” And by never stealing someone else’s spotlight, CCTC participants soon learn the power and joy of treating everyone with respect, dignity, and integrity – a certainty that extends beyond the walls of the CCTC studios and stages into the students’ homes and schools and communities. It is no wonder that families return year after year to the CCTC. Over 7000 child and youth participants have attended CCTC classes during Jennifer’s tenure, a singularly impressive number for any recreational program.
Why has Jennifer chosen to maintain the CCTC as a quarterly recreational program and not a year-round company? The recreational format gives children a chance to explore their personal fit with the theatrical arts at different ages and stages as they explore their world, to discover their ideal fit without making an expensive year-long commitment ahead of discovery. Parents are often surprised by Jennifer’s enthusiastic response to children’s choices to study arts not available at the CCTC -- karate, for example -- celebrating a child’s opportunity to find their passion at any age and stage.
MEET OUR TEAM
Known affectionately by her students and around the community as “Miss Martin”, Jennifer began her life in the performing arts at the tender age of 3, studying ballet, flute and choral music in Newmarket until her late teens.
Jennifer celebrated 20 years as Artistic Director of the Canadian Children’s Theatre Co. in the Fall of 2022. As well as AD, Jennifer is the company’s advocate, costume and prop designer/creator, dramaturge, registrar and master crafter.
Jennifer values and is most grateful for the sense of community and family that is the hallmark of the CCTC. “Every child deserves the chance to shine, to be heard, to be the star of their own life”, said Jennifer in a recent interview. “For our staff, I look for people who share my understanding and respect for children’s unique importance and style. We value each and every child. We see their potential; we know how to inspire them, to motivate them and allow them to go beyond anyone’s expectations – their own, their peers’, and their families’. We create a mood of discovery, of joy, wonder and safety” in the magical world of storytelling through drama, music and dance and in the technical arts of set and prop design/build and staging that is the CCTC experience.
Jennifer and her CCTC staff push their students to have a sense of ownership in their final production: “It is all about them”, said Jennifer. “The children hear and understand when we say, “You did this”. They know it’s not “We did this for you”. Her instructors become the instruments of the creative process, not the owners of the successful production, and they stay as loyal to the CCTC as do her students. As one of her staff recently wrote to her, “Working for you is the best thing I do.”
The transformation of the CCTC children and youth is visible to all. The changes that the children predictably exhibit are impressive: they move from being shy to confident, from being uncertain to “Being comfortable with others and in their own skin”, said Jennifer. “They find their voice. They find their rhythm. They find their place.”
A graduate from the Canadian Dance Company, West End Studio Theatre and Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, becoming a performing artist and choreographer has been a lifelong journey. She has choreographed musical theatre (Shrek, Dora the Explorer, Hair, Seussical the Musical, The Little Mermaid, Fame, Little Women LOT/FirstActProd) and children's touring theatre (Little Red Theatre). She has choreographed music videos for Juno award winning Splash n' Boots and with production company Yeah! Films for Canadian bands Seaway and Pin Up. Her work has been shown at festivals like Fever After Dark with Jerome Bobb and Bazaar. She has taught dance, musical theatre and scene study with several different Toronto based companies including York University and Ryerson School of Performance Summer Intensives. Her work with the bold indie theatre company, Echo Productions, has given her the chance to choreograph stories like, Bonnie and Clyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dog Sees God and Charles Manson: Son of Man. She has performed contracts in Newfoundland, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Yukon Territory and has toured across the United States (Hair National Tour-Starvox Ent.), Europe (Hair European Tour), Maritimes Canada (The Great Big Boo) and South America (Norwegian Cruise Line). In 2018, she launched her independent dance company, Dance Fachin with their premiere work, Worldly Women. Worldly Women is a story about the different kinds of oppression women face around the globe. The show won the prestigious Jury's Choice Award (Ottawa Fringe) and Patron's Pick Award (Island Fringe). In early 2019, she performed in the first regional production (since it's run on Broadway) of An American in Paris with Arizona Broadway Theatre. There she was in the female ensemble, singing, dancing and en pointe. Most recently, she has been dancing in various music videos with MMEntertainment. Notably, Jassa Dhillion's video PYAR HOGYA (in which she appears dancing) has 17 million views. She is currently showing her full length dance work, The Fourth R: reduce, reuse, recycle, Revolutionize. The Fourth R has toured across Canada (Edmonton, Charlottetown, Halifax), debuted in Toronto on Earth Day 2022, and has shown in 15 schools reaching 5000 students with its important message. This summer, The Fourth R will be presenting at the Toronto and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. Check out www.dancefachin.com !
Aidan Naworynski started his acting career at the early age of 3 with the CCTC production of Mary Had a Little Lamb. Since that production Aidan has remained with the CCTC as an actor, volunteer and most recently, an assistant director. Aidan has been a part of many plays and musicals both on stage and off and is so excited to be back at the CCTC. Aidan has a particular fondness for the character of Nick Bottom, a role he has played in both the CCTC production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and York University’s production of Something Rotten. Aidan has received his BA in Theatre with a focus on acting from York University and is so excited to bring all the lessons he has learned and tips and tricks that he has gained into the projects at the CCTC. Aidan’s goal for theatre is to make it a space where audiences and actors alike can just enjoy the show.
Persephone has been performing since the age of three, beginning at the CCTC in Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Since then, her love of performing has taken her to Wexford Collegiate School for The Arts, where she graduated with Music Theatre, Vocal, Drama, and Tech credits and is now going into her second year of Music Theatre Performance studies at St Clair College. Persephone has performed in several musicals and plays over her performance career, including The Sound of Music, East of Berlin, Hairspray, and most recently, Heathers. Since being at St Clair, she has learned many new skills including stage combat and film and tv acting. Persephone is very happy to be working with the CCTC and can’t wait to sing and dance with you soon!
Thom Stoneman started acting at age 6 in "The Easter Forest Mystery" and was pleased to be acting and directing at the Canadian Children's Theatre Co. since the very beginning. As a graduate of Arts York at Unionville High School and then from the Acting Program at Toronto Metropolitan University, Thom has gone on to gain his Bachelor of Education to continue his love of theatre education. He has since written, directed, produced, and performed in theatre in Toronto and overseas in South Korea and Australia. Recently, he has been involved in productions for The Templeton Philharmonic, Lakeshore Arts, and Community Living. He likes to incorporate fun, inclusion, and advocacy in all his projects and can't wait to once again be a part of The C.C.T.C. community.
Brooke began her career at the CCTC when she was just 3 years old in The Three Little Pigs. That performance created a long running passion for performing and theatre. Brooke performed in many plays in roles such as; Mary Poppins, Wicked Witch of the West, Maid Marian and Cindy Lou Who. Through to the age of 18 she continued performing, and now continues to be a part of the CCTC as a Director. She is currently following another passion of hers, playing lacrosse at St. Bonaventure University pursuing a major in psychology and a minor in sports studies. Brooke carries the life skills and lessons that she learned from the CCTC with her throughout every aspect of her life. She is beyond excited to be able to watch other young performers find their passion in theatre and help them shine!