Freddy Tree Theatre was created to captivate and educate audiences on the importance and acceptance and inclusion for people with different abilities.
Erin Elizabeth (Founder and Artistic Director) graduated from the University of Ottawa with a bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in Theatre. She has been working with people with intellectual disabilities for years and grew up with a brother with down syndrome. She has worked for other Theatre Companies, such as, Famous People Players, Dramaway, and Solar Stage Children’s Theatre. After years of experience and hard work she is now ready to pursue her dream of starting her very own Theatre company comprised of individuals with intellectual delays. She is so excited to begin her journey with Freddy Tree Theatre!
Erin came up with the idea because her two biggest passions in life are the performing arts, and working with individuals with intellectual disabilities, so she decided to combine them into a working Theatre Company. Growing up with a brother with down syndrome, she knew there was always something very special about him, and people like him. It was during her forth year of University when she was taking a course called, “Theatre for young audiences,” that she realized this was what she wanted to do with her life. For a final project they were to come up with an idea/performance for the class that would be ideal for children’s theatre. Erin decided to have her brother come join her for the show and they performed a small play which educated the class on what it means to have down syndrome and how amazing people like him are. He was phenomenal and they loved him.
The name Freddy Tree comes from her brother’s nickname, Freddy (Actual name is Chris). She included the word tree because trees are a symbol of transformation and liberation. Erin wants Freddy Tree to be more than a theatre company; it’s a place to grow. Through performance the actors and audiences will gain inner growth and strength. Through knowledge and acceptance, everyone will endure something very special.
Darcy Welch- Musical Director
Darcy is very honoured to be a part of Freddy Tree Theatre. She has a Bachelor of Music from Acadia University and is very passionate about education through imagination and the arts. She runs her own theatre company for young audiences called, Enchantment Theatre. She also has enjoyed performing in many musicals over the years. She hopes everyone has an amazing time watching and learning from our shows!
Sam Forbes- Performer
My name is Sam Forbes and I am 18 years old. I go to Marshall McLuhan and am in the Co-op program until I am 21. Last summer I got a job at Starbucks and am learning to becomea barista. I was in a video with my Starbucks boss, Chris Ali, that went viral earlier this year called, “A teenager named Sam” on Facebook, or “the dancing barista” on the internet and on youtube. The video got over 72 million hits on Facebook. Since then, I was the Ellen DeGeneres show with Chris and have done about 20 speaking engagements; some on TV when the video was “hot”; some at schools to visit other kids with autism, some at autism fundraisers. Since then I have also got another part time job with Community Living Toronto. I work there one day a week and am a Public Relations & Fundraising Ambassador! I love acting for fun, singing and dancing. I also love movies and books and pop culture and pop music. I have two step sisters and and a stepdad and I live with them part time in the west end of Toronto.my Dad in the east end of Toronto. The rest of the time I live with my Dad in the east end of Toronto. I have ASD and an intellectual disability and my goal is to be a productive advocate for people with special needs.
Lindsey Chalmers- Performer
Lindsey has had a passion for the arts all her life, beginning with music lessons through the Humber College Community Music Program. She has been part of the Theatre Orangeville Youth Program, DramaWay and RhythmWorks Programs at Swansea Town Hall and Centauri Summer Music Theatre Dance Camp where she trained in hip hop, musical theatre, ballroom and breakdancing. Besides attending countless musicals over the years, in May 2012, Lindsey acted in a Clearwater Theatre Company production of Seussical the Musical at the Meadowvale Theatre. In 2014, Lindsey was part of a cast of 5 actors with disabilities in a play called Wolf Sounds that ran for two weeks at The Box Theatre in Toronto.
Lindsey graduated from Heydon Park S.S. in June 2013 and was presented with the Edith L. Groves Award for the student demonstrating Determination, Self-Advocacy and Compassion throughout her high school career. She then attended Humber College for two years in the Community Integration Through Co-Operative Education Program followed by one year in The Culinary Skills Program sponsored by Christian Horizons and Humber College.
In 2013, Lindsey participated in the Mentorship in Motion project where she created an original painting that has been displayed in art exhibits in Toronto, including at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg. Lindsey just got hired this fall by McDonald’s Restaurant and is so excited to start her first paying job using the skills she has acquired through her culinary program at Humber College.
Lindsey is extremely honoured and thankful to be chosen as this year’s Special Olympics inductee into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame. Lindsey has always been an avid athlete beginning with the Caledon Cougars Basketball Team when she was a youngster. In 2007 Lindsey moved with her family to Etobicoke and immediately joined the Etobicoke Stingers Special Olympics Basketball Team and the Etobicoke Eagles Baseball Team. She has participated in countless tournaments throughout these years and has always enjoyed and been proud of the camaraderie and team spirit that these two teams have exuded.
Ben Clement- Performer
My name is Ben Clement , I am 22 years old. I am very proud to be the the newest member of Freddy Tree Theatre. I am really thankful for this great opportunity because Erin has some really neat ideas so I am really interested to see where things go. I am really excited to start working with Sam , Lindsey and Erin because they each bring their own talent .I am passionate about acting and musical theatre. In 2008 I was involved in my first musical called ‘Once On This Island’. I ended up going to a musical theatre intensive that summer because the camp I was supposed to attend was shut down due a city garbage strike! That was a funny way to get into theatre! I have seen many musical theatre productions since I was little. Some of my favourites that I have seen in Toronto are : Les Miserables, Rent, Wicked and Phantom of the Opera. I have been to Broadway in New York 3 times and I’ve seen Something Rotten, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. This past summer I saw A Chorus Line in Stratford. I have been in musical theatre productions such as Les Mis , Sweeney Todd and Curtains with No Strings Theatre Company. What I hope to get out of working with Freddy Tree Theatre is to learn what it is like to work with a small cast and learn what it is like to produce a play that is based on real life stories. I also want to learn about producing a show because I have been onstage but it’s only been in the last little while that I have started learning about the directing and teaching side of things . I am excited to learn more backstage skills because Erin wants to produce the show with us . I was so excited to audition for Freddy Tree theatre because it’s a theatre company that hopes to perform for children. I also love working with children. in fact I am the Assistant Director at an inclusive children’s musical theatre program at the MNJCC. I have lots of volunteer experience with children and theatre. I have volunteer at Young People’s theatre as an usher and assistant during P.A. Day camps. I also have volunteered in the after school program and daycare Centre at the MNJCC and at Pauline public school . Overall I am really excited to see where this goes .