Emerging Artists

AGES 19-35

Our Emerging Artists Program invites participants who are studying or have recently graduated from a performing arts training program, to further develop their skills under the mentorship of experienced industry professionals.  Participants in the program could intern all aspects of a musical theatre production, including performance, stage and production management, design and directing, budgeting, marketing, and promotion.  The program will also encourage exploration of new repertoire for musical theatre through table reads, workshops, and developmental projects. 

This program is a Canadian-funded program for the promotion and advancement of young Canadian artists and appropriate for participants in post-secondary fine arts education, or those who are launching careers in theatre performance or production.


NST presents

 In Development - a virtual workshop for emerging artists



Dario et la Diablesse: A Caribbean Musical

By Sasky Louison and Darryl Joseph - Dennie

Similar to mermaids and vampires, the Caribbean is filled with its very own mythical creatures. La Diablesse is one of them. She hangs around the local rum-shops and dark, lonely corners, awaiting her unsuspecting male passerby.

Legend has it that she is a female devil, so beautiful, that men, who lust after her, fall into a trance, following her deep into the forest, until they are lost forever. La Diablesse is said to be clad in a long flowing dress and broad brimmed hat, used to hide her soul-less eyes. She has one human foot and one hoof which she hides beneath her long dress.

It is rumored that stories like these were concocted by Creole- Caribbean women to scare their husbands into being faithful and not speaking to beautiful women hanging around places that they - the men - frequent. It is also rumoured that husbands concocted adventurous stories of how they got away from La Diablesse, when trying to answer their wives questions about their suspicious whereabouts.

Dario et la Diablesse: A Caribbean Musical, is a story with a twist. Instead of harming Dario - her prey- La Diablesse falls deeply in love with him and is willing to do whatever it takes to be his wife... even if it means becoming fully human. La Diablesse however, must convince Dario’s stern yet eccentric grandmother that she loves her grandson. La Diablesse must also convince her father - the Devil - to not steal Dario’s soul.

The musical is filled with the sounds of the Caribbean namely drums, steelpan, soca, calypso, reggae, extempo, zouk, jazz and R&B. It is poetic, filled with prose and a good laugh for all. It is safe to say that Dario et la Diablesse: A Caribbean Musical is a cross between Once On This Island and The Little Mermaid.

The playwright Ms. Louison, who is also creole believes in Dario et la Diablesse: A Caribbean Musical and is certain that if given the opportunity, it may very well fall into the ranks of Disney’s The Frog Princess and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.

Although there are some dark -yet truthful - aspects to this musical, it is masked with comedy, colour and music. It is for everyone. Young and old, families and friends, Christians and non-Christians alike. It is culturally unique yet comprehendible for all. The main theme is love, forgiveness and mercy. Three very important gifts one can give and receive. A lesson for all.  


Sasky Louison, playwright

Darryl Joseph – Dennie, composer and music director

Mentoring Creative Team:

Richardo Keens – Douglas, script dramaturg, director

Mark Cassius, music dramaturg, mentoring music director

Shakeil Rollock, choreographer




Denise Williams


Workshop Dates:                              Virtual Presentations:

July 6-8, 13-15, 20-22                               July 30-August 6, 2021



  casting is complete.  Please check out our presentation




Growing up on the beautiful islands of Saint Lucia and Barbados, Barbados being her place of birth, Saint Lucia where she did all of her primary and secondary schooling, Sasky Louison, who considers herself to be the epitome of an island girl, draws from her Caribbean-Creole culture and incorporates it in her art. 


She fondly recalls, sitting with her cousins on boulders in the river close to her grandparents house, listening - scared out of her wits - to stories of mythical creatures occupying the island, hiding in plain sight but only appearing to a selected few. Sasky recalls paying special attention to the measures one should take to get out of the gasp of these mythical creatures should an unwanted encounter with one take place. These experiences birthed Dario et la Diablesse: A Caribbean Musical.


Sasky is a Theatre Arts and English teacher, Jazz, Soul & Classical Crossover musician and writer. Her credits include, Laff it Off (2019 Barbados), Rayn’s Song (2017 Barbados), Island Tales (2016 Toronto), Dario et la Diablesse- A Caribbean Musical (2015 Toronto), Da Kink in my Hair (2015 Canada Tour), Celebrant Singers Orchestra USA & France Tour (2014), The Passion Play Musical (2014, 2015, 2016, Toronto) , Xmas Xtravaganza (2014, 2015, 2016, Toronto), A Special Kind of Love (2013 Barbados), Bridgetown Goes to la Habana (Cuba, 2012) and others.


Most recently she collaborated with Mr. Jamie Lonsdale on his Footprints Album which was released in London, England and was number 10 of the classical charts. She and Mr. Lonsdale wrote 9 songs together, 5 of which made the album cut.

On May 22, 2021, Sasky will also be launching her memoir, 16 Years Ago in which she shares her experiences growing up in a disadvantaged environment but striving for excellence despite all odds.


Sasky dreams of seeing her musicals on stages and arenas throughout the world and her memoirs/novels being New York Times Bestsellers.


Composer/Music Director

Born October 5th, 1989, Darryl showed interest in music at a very early age. By the time he was three years old, he had already taught himself how to play all of the demos on the family's keyboard at home and was attempting to teach other family members how to do so as well.           


At 4 years of age, Darryl embarked on a 13 year journey of studying classical, jazz and theory at the renowned Merriam School of Music, where he is now currently positioned as a music education specialist. During those 13 years, Darryl was accepted into Merriam's Keyboard Ensemble and Enriched programs for students showing exceptional potential. Darryl also participated in numerous Festivals and competitions winning multiple first place awards and scholarships.                                  


After attending Humber College for Jazz and Contemporary music in Toronto, Darryl then furthered his musical development by joining the music ministry at a local church. It was there that he learned how to fuse the precision of classical, the harmony of jazz and the functionality of gospel music to create his own unique voice on the piano. Darryl, later, spent four years as the lead pianist for The Church on the Queensway's Christmas and Easter musicals which also included a run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.                               


In 2016, Darryl headlined the Toronto Beaches Jazz festival's opening night as part of the band Really Big World (formerly 7Sould). In 2017, Darryl performed and recorded with Desiigner during Spotify's I'm With the Banned sessions. In 2019, Darryl Toured Trinidad and Tobago for the international Carifesta Festival.                       


Darryl also operates as the producer, music director, arranger and keyboardist for various churches and groups within the GTA including JUNO award winner; Carlos Morgan and Vocal coach for The Launch, Lorraine Lawson



Script Dramaturg/Director

Dora Mavor Moore Award winner Richardo Keens-Douglas’ career spans many disciplines. Actor, Playwright, Director, Choreographer, Dancer, Children’s author.  His play The Nutmeg Princess won the Dora Mavor Moore Award, for Outstanding New Musical of 1999. (It had 5 other nominations)


The musical The Obeah Man, which he wrote and had the lead garnered him a Dora Nomination for lead actor in a musical. (1985) His Book Freedom Child of the Sea was chosen the official book for children for the ( 200 years of the Abolition of slavery - 1807) Bicentennial Year in Canada  2007. In 2005 he won the Prestigious Golden Oak Award in Canada for his children’s book, Tales from the Isle of Spice. La Diablesse & The Baby won the World Award.  In 2003, Mr. Keens-Douglas was inducted into the Caribbean Hall of Fame for Excellence in Theatre


He wrote and directed the hit sold out show AY YA YAI IVAN, a musical about Hurricane Ivan which successful toured the USA, England and Canada.  He has also written and directed plays such as, Kidnap Love-2018, Uncle -2014, The musical Sapodilla (Caribbean Cinderella) 2008, Sparky (Childrens’ musical) 2006, Mas’ Camp - 2002,  Full Moon -2001.  He has toured Canada, USA and the Caribbean with his Sterling Award nominated one-man show Once Upon An Island, playing to sold-out audiences. He made Caribbean history by being the Host of the Caribbean version of the hit show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

 He has authored 12 Award winning Children’s books that have been translated into six languages.


1991 to 1994 he achieved national recognition in Canada as the host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's acclaimed storytelling radio talk show ”Cloud 9.  He was also the host of the CBC TV show Sunday Arts Entertainment, which garnered him a 1996 Gemini Award nomination for Best Host in an Arts Program or Series.


He has appeared on a variety of leading Canadian stages, including the prestigious Stratford Shakespearean Festival, St Lawrence Centre, Theatre Plus, Centre Stage, Factory Theatre, TWP, Theatre Fountainhead, The World Famous Apollo Theatre in New York, Harbourfront,  Saidye Bronfman Centre, and around the Caribbean.


Favourite roles include his popular portrayal of Ken, the lead in “The Playboy of the West Indies” (at the Du Maurier World Stage Festival) He has had leading roles in plays such as, Pinocchio, Ain't Misbehavin', Sophisticated Ladies, The Unseen Hand, The Boyfriend, Dames at Sea, The Threepenny Opera, Guys and Dolls, Smile Orange, Twelfth Night, Measure For Measure, Uncle, Souvenirs. He was the resident choreographer for the Childrens’ Theatre of Montreal for five years.


Keens-Douglas has had leading roles in such films as Zero Patience, Dance to Remember, Fields of Endless Days, Fred Penner series, The Aderley series. He has had leads in numerous radio dramas, including the solo reading of fifteen episodes of Cecil Foster’s “No Man in the House” for CBC Canada. As a storyteller, Keens-Douglas has thrilled audiences across Canada, England, the USA, the Caribbean and at international storytelling festivals. His one man show, Once Upon An Island was a Sterling Award nominee for Best Touring Production in Edmonton in 1991. As a Motivational speaker he is in demand across North America and the Caribbean.


Music Dramaturg/Mentoring Music Director

Mark Cassius made his Broadway debut in the revival of Shenandoah in 1989. He was an original cast member in the World Premier of Ragtime (1996) in Toronto. Ragtime took him to Broadway for a 2nd time in 1998. The 3rd time’s a charm and he was on Broadway again in the revival of Jesus Christ Superstar in 2012. That production came out of his 2nd season at The Stratford Festival of Canada in 2011.


In his first season, 2007, his performance as “Mr. Magix” in My One and Only won him critical acclaim. Mark Cassius was a cast member of many of Canada’s Mega-Musicals in the 1990s, such as Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (with Donny Osmond), Miss Saigon, and Showboat. Regionally, he enjoys performing in shows for D2 Entertainment - Hollywood Sings, A Starbright Christmas. And always feels at home in front of Drayton Entertainment audiences, - Damn Yankees, The Little mermaid, Sweet Charity, Dance Legends. One of the few times doing theatre in Toronto in the past decade, he received a Broadway World, “Best Actor” nomination, for his role in The Musical of Musicals (The Musical). From 1997 – 2005, he was a member of world-renowned acapella group, The Nylons, touring with them extensively. He has been a Kiwanis Musical Festival adjudicator, is a wildly sought after vocal coach, has taught at the Randolph College for the Performing Arts and continues to mentor and support young performers. Presently completing a Masters in Music Composition at York University, Mark is passionately invested in and dedicated to the creation and survival of Art.                            

Follow him on Facebook and Instagram @TheMarkCassius




After years of independent and company work, now venturing into the world of Musical Theatre, Shakeil Rollock is an emerging dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor whose styles encompass urban, modern, ballet, contemporary and jazz. Most recently having finished contracts with The Grand Theatre’s Mary Poppins – and currently working on a Disney Plus project alongside Emilio Dosal (In the Heights) and Ebony Williams (Beyoncé). A graduate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Shakeil developed experience working alongside established artists with tenure in such productions as Cirque Du Soleil (Julie Perron & Debra Brown), the Step-Up Franchise (Draico), Jully Black Entertainment (Hollywood Jade) and Allen and Karen Kaeja (Kaeja d’Dance). Having been fortunate enough to also work within the Afro-Contemporary Diaspora with Esie Mensah Dance and Lua Sheyenne Dance Company. Lastly, his love for dance extends performing; currently one of Theatre Passe Murialle’s 2020 BUZZ Residency creators and BCurrent’s 2020 resident artist.

Check him out at:


Artistic Director/Producer

Denise Williams is a professional singer, music educator and facilitator.  She holds an ARCT in Singing Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music, a Masters in Community Music from Wilfrid Laurier University, and studied Arts and Entertainment Administration at Ryerson University.  


Her 30+ year international solo performance career has put her at home on the concert, opera, and theatre stages, presenting a myriad of self-produced concerts and working with, to name a few national companies,  The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir,  Mirvish Productions, Eastern Front Theatre, Theatre Northwest as well as international appearances.   Highlights of her performance career include most recently a concert performance in with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Oriente in Cuba, and in Toronto, Walk Together Children - A Cross-Cultural Concert Celebration (Black, Jewish, Muslim) at the The Toronto Centre for the Arts, now known as the Meridian Arts Centre (Fall 2018),  the Nathaniel Dett Chorale’s concert performance of Treemonisha at Koerner Hall,  Andrew Craig's King’s Playlist at the Harbourfront centre's Fleck Dance Theatre (2017), the cast of Mirvish's North American Premier of The Sound of Music at the Princes of Wales Theatre (2008-2010), and other notable solo performances.   Her CD, Walk Together Children, is a cross-cultural initiative, featuring music from the roots of Black & Jewish music.


Denise currently concentrates her time on performance education, and has founded No Strings Theatre with a desire to aid youth in developing their skills in music theatre as well as grow in their team skills for life.  She has been a private voice teacher for over 30 years, as well as Royal Conservatory of Music examiner and national adjudicator for over 20 years.   She is currently a part time faculty member in Sheridan College’s Music Theatre department, a certified advanced voice teacher for the RCM and sessional sacred music professor for the Canada Christian College.  


Professional memberships include President of The Central Toronto Branch of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association (ORMTA-CTB), executive of the National Association for Teachers of Singing (NATS), and the Canadian Actors Equity.

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