Helping Students Grow
Our incredible team is truly the heart of Stageworx School Of Performing Arts. It’s their dedication, passion and talent that keeps students invested in the learning process. Take a look below to learn more about the team.
Founder and Principal
Gemma has worked in the entertainment industry for over 25 years, starting her career as a performer, she then moved to mentoring and teaching young performers (Stageworx School Of Performing Arts), Producing Stage Shows (Born To Perform) and booking and creating bespoke entertainment for a variety of corporate, marketing and entertainment venues.
Originally from the UK, in her performance career Gemma performed in a variety of musicals both internationally and nationally including, Mama Mia, Boys In A Photograph, My Fair Lady, Hairspray, Jesus Christ Superstar and the ABBA show. She has worked with artists such as Robbie Williams and Gerri Halliwell and has toured the globe as a musical theatre artist, vocalist and dancer.
Gemma has a passion for the development of arts education in South Africa and has been responsible for the implementation of the Trinity London College Examinations in SA and regularly consults with them on the syllabus. She is the owner and principal of Stageworx School Of Performing Arts which prides itself as the leader in arts education in South Africa.
Gemma is also the CEO of The Born To Perform NPC, which has produced over 6 full-scale productions, the most recent being the “SHINE” show at the Montecasino Teatro, which won the 2019 award for most entertaining stage show and highlighted young upcoming talent in South Africa alongside celebrity featured entertainment. The foundation has provided scholarships and bursaries for training in the arts for many upcoming performers that otherwise would not be able to follow this career path. She has also produced productions for the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra, Gold Reef City, Montecasino, The Roodepoort Theatre to name a few. Her vision is to spread the importance of arts education for the youth and assist in building the foundations for viable arts related business models in South Africa. In 2020 Gemma will be releasing her first book on navigating a career in the entertainment industry.
School Director and Head Of Songwriting
Matthew has been a prominent figure in the South African Music Scene for over 10 years. His experience ranges from playing Drums and Percussion in shows such as Chicago, Lion King, We Will Rock You, Boys in The Photograph and Skouspel, to playing and recording with the likes of Zebra & Giraffe, RJ Benjamin and The Graeme Watkins Project.
Matthew’s love for film saw him opening a video production company called The Custom Content Collective (www.customcontentcollective.com). Some of his clients have included Elvis Blue, The Colab Network, Montecasino, Hollard Insurance, Regent insurance, Gold Reef City, Alan Ford Productions, Brightrock insurance, Investec, Showtime Australia, Louise Carver, Daniel Baron, Paxton, Think Theatre, Zinah, The Muses, Bernard Jay Productions, Afro Asia, Wonderboom, Jonathan Roxmouth and Swing City.
In 2015 Matthew joined forces with Gemma Marinus to create the Born To Perform platform, merging his music skills with his video skills in creating a platform to showcase the young talent of South Africa in a professional way, with the goal of creating a new demand for young talented performers in the country.
Matthew has always had a passion for songwriting and developing young songwriters. In 2019 Matthew was appointed Head of Songwriting at Stageworx School of Performing Arts with the goal of nurturing the next generation of Songwriters in the country. Matthew aims to use the Born To Perform Platform to grow and showcase up and coming Songwriters. Matthew’s vision is to see original music that is truthful, meaningful and inspirational.
With a passion to steer the body of business through planning, organizing and development, Laurelle has gained vast business acumen working alongside goal orientated and driven entrepreneurs.
Over the past 15 years, Laurelle has successfully partnered in business, assisted in various start up's and actively executed the re-alignment and focus of distressed small businesses.
Having joined the diverse Stageworx Performing Arts team 3 years ago, Laurelle wears multiple hats and thrives on supporting a creative studio of diverse people. With her passion for organising and maintaining operations, Laurelle handles administration, finance, communication and management supportive roles.
Dillonne Prince - Full Time
Dance and Trinity College London
Dillonne hails from Cape Town. She attended the University of Cape Town (1999-2002) studying BMUS in Dance. She studied various forms of dance namely Ballet,Contemporary,Jazz,African and Spanish Dance, majoring in Choreography. She. has worked with well-known choreographers such as Christopher Kindo, Adele Blank, Akram Khan, Gregory Maqoma, Vincent Mantsoe and Sylvia Glasser amongst others.
Dillonne worked with the Guild Theatre Dance Company in East London and the Tswane Dance Company between 2002 and 2004. She went on to tour Sweden with the Moving into Dance Company in 2004-2005.
In 2005 she joined the world-renowned Vuyani Dance Theatre, under directorship of internationally-acclaimed choreographer Gregory Vuyani Maqoma. She was nominated MEC contemporary dancer in that year. One of the highlights being a performance in Paris, France in 2006. Dillonne has also worked as a dancer and a choreographer for various corporate events such as the Peroni Festival, Multichoice, Nedbank Golf Challenge as well as in Casino Productions for Sun International and Tsogo Sun. From 2007-2008 she was a Choreographer and Dance Captain for selected international venues all across Cyprus, producing Extravaganza, Variety, Latin and New Year's Eve shows.
During the World Cup in 2010, she was chosen to join the local production team and performed with Shakira, John Legend and Black Eyed Peas at the Opening Concert.
She also has over 15 years teaching experience, which includes Moving into Dance Trainee First Year Students, Dance Café, Fred Astaire, The Dance Junxtion and Dance Zone. She has further taught at various Outreach Programmes in Mdantsane (East London), Alexandria, Soweto, Langlaagte and Riverlea.
Dillonne joined Stageworx Performing Arts School in 2017 as a teacher and choreographer. She is also the director of her own company, Music Video Parties, conceptualizing Music Videos for various occasions.
Mullin Krienke - Full Time
Dance, Trinity London College
After an extensive career in Hip Hop for over 16 years, Mullin has had an extensive career through competing in national and international competitions, to judging and adjudication. He has choreographed for adverts with brands such as Vodacom and Jet including choreographing for the World Hip Hop Championships, choreographing and performing the opening for Kanye West, choreographing for the Soccer World Cup opening and working alongside B.O.B.
Mullin has been being mentored directly by Gemma in musical theatre and performing arts and has continued to grow as her protégé
Over the years, Mullin has performed in many events and corporates as a vocalist and dancer for Montecasino, Gold Reef City, Stageworx Entertainments and many others. Although his passion remains in choreography, he has also been a vocalist as part of a campaign for Aero.
He was also assistant choreographer 2017 Pantomime at the Johannesburg Theatre.
Bryan Schimmel - Part Time
Musical Theatre, Music, Singing
Bryan Schimmel is widely regarded as one of the top Music Directors, Arrangers and Orchestrators in South Africa. With a career of more than thirty years, he has worked in theatre, special events, recording and television across a full spectrum of music from rock bands to Big Bands, string quartets to symphony orchestras. pop to hip-hop. He is the recipient of the 2017 ABSA Jewish Achiever Award in the category of Art, Sport, Science and Culture. He is a ten-time Naledi Theatre Award nominee, winning four times for Music Direction of CHICAGO, JERSEY BOYS and ANNIE and for Musical Arrangements of KNIGHTS OF MUSIC. He won the Vita Award for A HANDFUL OF KEYS and was also honoured with the King David Schools Foundations’ David Award for Considerable Contribution to Performing Arts. In 2014 he completed a dissertation on arranging, orchestration and music direction in rock musicals, for which he graduated with a Masters Degree in Music Cum Laude from Wits University.
His theatre credits, working alongside international creative teams, include music direction of CHICAGO, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, ANNIE, JERSEY BOYS, DREAMGIRLS, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, WE WILL ROCK YOU and RENT. He co-created the now legendary A HANDFUL OF KEYS and played the first 350 performances. Bryan’s talents have taken him to the United States of America, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Turkey, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia where he has music directed or supervised a number of international touring productions.
Bryan has worked in a creative capacity on numerous high profile industrial events including the Opening Ceremonies of the 60th and 63rd Annual FIFA Congress, eight BIDVEST CEO Awards, six VODACOM CEO Awards, Nelson Mandela's 85th Birthday, and performing before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
He sat on the Board of The Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company for three years, has conducted the UNISA Foundation and Johannesburg Festival Orchestras, and lectured 3rd and 4th year Composition students in Arranging at WITS University School of Arts Music Division for nine years. He is a founding Board member of Born To Perform Worldwide NPC, a platform that works to develop, transform and inspire young talent on a multitude of levels.
In 2016 he launched a unique act entitled The Flying Maestro, a never-been-done before act of conducting an orchestra while simultaneously performing aerial stunts. He also entered the world of inspirational and motivational speakers expanding on his personal mantra: ‘live to inspire’.
Rowan Bakker - Part Time
Musical Theatre, Repetoire, Singing
Rowan is a multi award winning Musical Director, pianist, producer, performer, songwriter, vocal coach, and arranger.
Credits include POLKADOTS THE COOL KIDS MUSICAL (Naledi Award Winner- Best Production for Children and Young Audiences 2018), THE COLOR PURPLE (Naledi Award Winner 2018: Best Musical Director), SISTER ACT (Naledi Award 2015: Best Musical Director) SWEENEY TODD (Naledi Award Nomination), JERSEY BOYS South Africa and International Tour (Naledi Award 2013: Best Musical Director), MAMMA MIA! (Naledi Award Nomination for Best Musical Director), PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Naledi Award Nomination for Best Musical Director), WE WILL ROCK YOU South Africa and International Tour, RENT, MENOPAUSE-THE MUSICAL, SEUSSICAL, KNIGHTS OF MUSIC, ROBIN HOOD AND THE BABES IN THE WOOD, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, HOT MIKADO, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and CARRIE
Other credits include THE VOICE SOUTH AFRICA, EVITA International Tour, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT New Zealand Tour, Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, BOYS IN THE PHOTOGRAPH and DREAMGIRLS.
Educator experience includes Music Facilitator in Diepsloot Doorstep Outreach Initiative, Crawford College Sandton, lecturer at Oakfields College, Tshwane University of Technology, Stageworx School of the Performing Arts, and JATA.
Over the last two years Rowan has ventured into producing. Shows include Kate Normington in STORM IN A B-CUP, GERMANDT GELDENHUYS IN CONCERT, and SEUSSICAL JR.
Mark Guthrie - Part Time
Mark Guthrie is an alumnus of Fourways High School and went on to achieve his Honours Degree in family therapy, ecosystemics and psychopathology. He has been a staff member at Fourways High School for the past 20 years.
In that time he has been involved in the RAPS plays festival and he has directed a number of musicals at the school including: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, West Side Story, Urinetown, The Wedding Singer, Dracula, Fame, Hairspray, Bonnie & Clyde, Bring It On, Chicago, Jekyll And Hyde and is currently busy with Spamalot. He has also co-created and directed three Shakespeare musicals: Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
He works with a dedicated team to bring these musicals to life and always strives for excellence. Some of his students have gone into international professional careers in the Performing Arts. More recently, his students have been involved in BTP and some have gone on to study full time at Stageworx.
He is the HOD of Tourism, Visual Art and Drama at Fourways High School and serves on the senior management team as well as the colours committee.
Kaelan Damon - Full Time
Music and Songwriting
Kaelan studied Music at the National School of the Arts (NSA). At NSA, Kaelan received full colours for Music Production and also obtained music grading practical and theory grading, as well as numerous awards during his 5 years studying at the school.
Kaelan was involved in many events and productions at NSA such as, "High School Musical" and "Songs of Freedom", in which Kaelan won Best Actor Award for his performance as Lead Singer of Ladysmith Black Mambazo well known song, "Homeless", in 2014.
Currently, Kaelan heads up the Praise and Worship Team, and plays Piano/Keyboard at church. He also plays for The John Tsenoli Band as the Keyboardist.
Kaelan is passionate about creating and developing or assisting in the development of young people's talents and gifts for the Music Department within the Arts Industry.
Philippa Higgins - Full Time
Trinity London College Teacher
Philippa Higgins completed both her LTCL Diploma in Musical Theatre at Stageworx School of Performing Arts and received the highest mark for Stageworx's 101 Industry Course in her year.
Her performance experience includes theatre work such as: The Abba Tribute Show with which she toured Australia and Canada as backing vocalist and second guitarist and she has also been in other productions such as The Gospel Spectacular at the Joburg Theatre, The Big Bad Musical and Born To Perform. She has also gained screen experience from being on the South African Soap Opera, Binnelanders, on Kyknet, as Carina Hattingh. She has also been interviewed as Phil Higgins on YO-TV where she performed her original work. Philippa has released original music and is currently working on her first EP. She plays piano, guitar and bass.
Philippa has taught Trinity Musical Theatre and Performance Arts classes at Stageworx for two and a half years. She loves teaching and seeing her students develop and grow through the arts. She has learnt a tremendous amount from teaching and has realised how much of an impact the arts can have on a person's life, well-being and development. There is no other field outside of the arts that I would rather be part of.
Chris Kasongo - Full Time
Technical Photography and Videography Team
Chris started full time with Stageworx in 2019 after completing the 101 course with distinction and his ATCL Diploma with Distinction. Chris has a multitude of talents including photography (assisting students with their professional headshots) Videography (working with our in house video team for self-tapes and showreels), Choreography and assistance in the recording studio on track development.
Chris is the newest member of our full time teaching staff.
Trinity London College
Siphokazi Msimang better known as ZINAH ROSE started her journey in the music industry at 16 after attending Stageworx Performing Arts school and graduated with her LTCL in Musical Theatre with Distinction. Through the Born To Perform platform she's toured with the Whitney Houston Tribe Show in Europe, she was a backing vocalist for the ABBA Tribute Show and went onto releasing her latest single FEVER. She started as presenter at the first Born To Perform in 2015 and has since then MCed for Wahl Clipper. This personality is one to inspire and change the youth of South Africa.