Our Staff

The staff of Initial Stages possess qualifications, experience and skills in both the performing arts and in working with young people. This is an ideal catalyst of skills and expertise to bring a concept such as Initial Stages to life.

Helen Janke – Director

Helen has been involved in many local theatrical productions, winning over nine awards for her performances in both Singing and Acting. With a Bachelor of Arts (Music Industry) and nine years of solo voice studies at the Melbourne Conservatorium, Helen decided to use her passion for the Theatre in educating young students. After 6 years working in child care and over ten years working in primary and secondary schools teaching music Helen’s experience with working with children is extensive.

Casey Fogarty - Senior Drama

Once she was hooked on theatre in high school, Casey studied at university and is currently employed as the VCE Theatre Studies teacher at Notre Dame College, Shepparton. It was there she moved into direction, design and stage management and helms full scale musicals and plays. She works with students on all elements of theatre from being on stage to designing costumes to production management. As well as her work at Notre Dame College and Initial Stages, Casey is a member of the Shepparton Theatre Arts Group where she has been on stage as a performer as well as behind the scenes as a director, producer and designer.

Connie Austin - Senior Dance

Connie has over 10 years experience teaching Classical Ballet and Jazz. Learning and teaching the Cecchetti method. She completed a Bachelor of Education in 2011 and teachers at a local primary school. Connie has a love and passion for musicals and has appeared in or choreographed for many shows including Caberet, Annie, Hairspray, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat and Mary Poppins.

Jacquie Monk – Junior Drama

Jacquie has a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood and has been teaching for twenty years. She has a personal passion for Performing Arts that has led her to teach Music and Drama for the past eight years. Jacquie's' patience with younger children is second to none, and nothing gives her more satisfaction than working with the students and watching them grow in theatrically and confidence.

Melanie Mathews - Junior Dance

Melanie has over 25 years experience as a dance teacher, which has included private dance studios in Melbourne and the Greater Shepparton area. Joining Initial Stages in 2018 she has choreographed various production including The Wizard of Oz and Mulan Junior, as well as showcase performances. Melanie works as a social worker but also remains a keen performer herself. She has performed with STAG in The Sound of Music, Calendar Girls, Wicked and Jesus Christ Superstar. She is thrilled to be a part of Initial Stages, and loves seeing each child develop their love for the performing arts and feels honoured to be able to play a small part in nurturing this passion.