Building Your Child's Character, One SCENE at a TIME

Emily Najjar: Music Director


Emily began her musical career at age 6 when she joined the Children's Choir at her church. Since then, she has studied and taught piano and choral music for over 24 years, earning a Music Degree from Gustavus Adolphus College. By day Emily is an IT Network Administrator and by night a freelance musician. She now conducts the very same Children's Choir where it all started and continues to teach piano. With Northern Starz, Emily has done Music Direction for The Sound of Music and is now working on Peter Pan.


Recent: Peter Pan (Music Director) 

Ben Layne: Stage Director


Ben is Co-Artistic Director of Freshwater Theatre, which has had 13 productions since 2010, including the 2013 Ivey Award winning Freshwater Goes Back to High School. With Northern Starz, Ben has directed Sound of Music and is in rehearsals for both Peter Pan and Princess Whatsername. Ben has also directed for Fortune's Fool Theatre, Swandive Theatre, Box Wine Theatre, Eden Prairie Players, the Minnesota Shorts Festival, and Mermaid Productions. 


Current: Directing Class (Teacher)

Meggie Grievell: Stage Director / Teaching Artist


Meggie is a freelance theatre director and teaching artist in the Twin Cities. She has worked for Theatre Unbound, Freshwater Theatre Company, Buoyant Collective, WorkHaus Collective, 20% Theatre Company, Theatre Pro Rata, Mixed Blood Theatre and Pillsbury House Theatre. Meggie hails from Wisconsin where she received her B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Wisconsin Parkside. Meggie loves directing and teaching youth theatre because she believes that theatre can help you learn, grow, connect with others and express yourself creatively.


Upcoming: Acting 101 (Teacher), The Nutcracker​ (Director)

Annelise Eckelaert: Stage Director / Education Director


Annelise is an artist in the Twin Cities area who is most passionate about fairytales and bringing new plays to the stage. She graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota with a focus on Directing and Creative Collaborations. With Northern Starz, Annelise has directed 80's themed Cinderella and is currently writing an adaptation of The Nutcracker. Other companies Annelise has worked with include: The Children's Theatre Company, CLIMB Theatre, The Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and The WorkHaus Collective.


Current: Playwriting 101 (Teacher), The Nutcracker​ (Playwright)

Rachel Bohnsack: Choreographer / Executive Director


Rachel has been with Northern Starz since it's inception and has choreographed and produced more than 50 shows across her career, including The Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Carol, Cinderella, The Snow Queen, Lady Pirates of Captain Bree, and Kokonut Kapers. In addition to her love of the Theatre, she has received 4 national baton twirling titles, coached and judged local and national beautiy pageants and performed for several years with a local dance troop as a competitive tap/jazz dancer.