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.

Cassandra Willis - Choreography

Cassie is a former member of the Northern Ireland National Dance Fitness team and UK Aerobics Champion (2004-2010). Hailing from Belfast, her interest in Dance and Musical Theatre has led her to many performance and competition opportunities, including performing in Grease with the Ulster Operatic Company, Rigoletto with the Castle Ward Opera, and at the Royal Albert Hall (London) with the N.I. National Team.

Cassie is a Teacher of Performing Arts, Dance, PE & Health, achieving her dance teacher qualification through Basement Dance Studios, London (2010). She created her own a dance company, and stage school and also founded the Ulster Fitness & Dance Championships in 2007, which sees hundreds of dancers from across Northern Ireland competing in this 3 day event, annually. She has choreographed numerous exam pieces for her students, as well as creating many dance and aerobics performances for various dance competitions across the country.

Cassie has produced and/or choreographed several school productions including: Joseph & his Technicolour Dream coat, Grease, The Sound of Music, Annie, High School Musical and The Wizard of Oz. She has also been creative director & choreographer for Rock Eisteddfod performances, since 2001, achieving numerous Northern Ireland titles and runner-up titles in the UK Open finals, as well as awards for Choreography and Performance skill.

Since moving to Australia at the start of 2017, Cassie has been involved in performing and choreographing for the Numurkah Singers production of The Wedding Singer, as well as producing and choreographing the Numurkah Secondary College productions of High School Musical and The Wizard of Oz. She performed in the ensemble of Jesus Christ Superstar with S.T.A.G in 2019, and was subsequently invited to choreograph their next production: Mamma Mia, which is currently postponed until 2022, due to covid.

Anthony Gooley - Drama

A NIDA Acting graduate, Anthony’s many theatre credits include A View from the Bridge, Death Of A Salesman (Ensemble Theatre), The Glass Menagerie (State Theatre Company of South Australia), Calamity Jane (Belvoir/The Comedy Theatre/Arts Centre Melbourne), Assassins (Sydney Opera House/Hayes Theatre Co.), Replay (Griffin Theatre Company) The Crucible, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Othello, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors (Sport For Jove), Good Works, All My Sons (Eternity Playhouse) and The Lost Echo (Sydney Theatre Company). As director, Steve Martin's The Underpants (GLUG Award nominee for Most Outstanding Independent Production, Broadway World nominee for Best Professional Production and Best Director of a Professional Production), Orphans (Red Line Productions) and Gruesome Playground Injuries (The Kings Collective). In 2021, Anthony will star in the feature film Buckley’s Chance (Blacklab Entertainment) opposite Bill Nighy, and the feature Venus and Adonis (Sport for Jove). Television credits include Sheilas, Australia: The Story of Us, Underbelly, Packed to the Rafters, Tough Nuts, Satisfaction and Home and Away. Anthony is a Sydney Theatre Award winner for his performance as Rochester in The Libertine (Sport For Jove/Darlinghurst Theatre Company) and was also nominated for his performances in Inner Voices (Old Fitz Theatre), Of Mice and Men and A Doll’s House (Sport For Jove).

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.

Grace Newman – Junior Dance

Grace has performed in various productions throughout her life with several notable roles including Dewey Finn in School of Rock, receiving a guild commendation and Uzo in Godspell receiving a Georgy Award. Grace had danced at Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet for 13 years with styles of Classical Ballet and Jazz. Grace is also choreographer for ‘Dramarama’ from Shepparton Access. Grace looks forward to working with a variety of students this year.