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TFS Acting Students Bring Quentin Tarantino Characters to the Stage

From his older cult classics like Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Kill Bill, all the way to his more recent hits including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood  and Django Unchained – Toronto Film School students will be tackling many of Quentin Tarantino’s quirkiest characters when their upcoming production of The Tarantino Cabaret takes to the stage.

The Tarantino Cabaret play poster
Artwork by Colton J. Strong

“With his uniqueness of vision, iconic characters and dialogue, films bursting with action, imagery and
unforgettable music, Quentin Tarantino is arguably the most original, influential director in cinema over the last 30 years,” said Jonathan Higgins, who conceived and directs the 75-minute play.

“So why then am I choosing to showcase the work of this film director for the fifth term TFS play? Quite simply, because his body of work offers a feast of unique, vivid characters to these talented, soon-to-be graduates, as well as the opportunity to strut their stuff – to pour everything they have into the creation of an utterly original evening in a cabaret format that I truly feel showcases the wonderful collection of talent we have at TFS!”

The Tarantino Cabaret, which is stage managed by Elvin Lejano, will take to the stage at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse for a three-performance run on June 21, 22 and 23 as follows:


Wednesday, June 21 at 9 p.m.

Thursday, June 22 at 7 p.m.

Friday, June 23 at 9 p.m.

The Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse is located at 79 St. George St. Tickets are free and are available at the door.

The Creative Team Behind The Tarantino Cabaret:


Nathan Gideon Berhanu


Nathan Gideon Berhanu was born in East Africa, in a city located in northern Tanzania called Arusha. He now resides in Toronto, where he’s attending Toronto Film School in pursuit of his acting goals. He is majoring in acting, writing for actors and directing for film and television. Nathan appeared in a couple of local plays during high school and played quintessential roles in a number of short films, including Jim, the main lead in True Romance. He’s also producing his own short silent film Man, Dark, Room. Nathan has never been shy of the camera and modelled for numerous events from 2017 to 2021, including Toronto Fashion Week, AO DAI Canada, Canadian Asian Fashion Week and Raw talent. Nathan has participated in a number of different sports, such as swimming, rugby, shot-put, but specialized in basketball in his teens and now boxing in his 20s. He plans on being a successful amateur boxer. When it is all said and done, Nathan plans to leave a legacy of being a versatile actor and a jack of all trades, using all the skills he cultivated during the years of struggle to propel his acting career to greatness.

Ajeet Singh Dhaliwal


Ajeet Singh Dhaliwal was born in Princeton, British Columbia, and now lives in Toronto, where he’s studying acting, writing for actors and directing for film and TV. Now in his 5th term at Toronto Film School, Ajeet has written and produced a short film titled True Romance, and has starred in a few other short silent films, including Dear Lonelinessand Christmas Love. Since he was a child, Ajeet has always wanted to act and watched many films growing up. He is also a hip hop and Bhangra dancer, and has played a wide variety of sports, including hockey, basketball, and soccer at a select level. His goal is to be able to keep on entertaining and being able to share the truth through storytelling at the highest level he possibly can.

Jessica Duval


Respect, Loyalty, Integrity brings the energy. Jessica Duval was born in Montreal and raised all across Ontario. Now residing in Toronto, she is currently a 5th term student attending Toronto Film School studying Acting, Writing and Directing for Film & T.V. During her time at TFS, Jessica has written, directed, produced and starred in her very own short film titled Blood Sisters. She also produced and co-directed a silent film called Struggle to Change, and embodied Rachel – a loving, naïve adolescent who becomes a victim to a murderer in a silent film called Impulses. While in Theatre Acting in term 2, instructor Catherine McNally picked out ‘Elizabeth’ as a perfect character for Jessica to express herself through in the 1953 play The Crucible by American playwright Arthur Miller. In term 3, Tanya Rintoul selected Jessica to perform the role of Shirley in Criminal Genius by George F. Walker. Jessica is super excited to work with other individuals with the same drive and creativity as herself.

Gabriel Martin Geller


Born in Portland, Oregon, Gabriel Martin Geller is an American-Canadian actor. He played the lead role of Pete in his high school’s production of Almost Maine, as well as the supporting role of George in Who Are We This Time? At Toronto Film School, he’s played Louis Ironson in Angels in America, as well as a dozen roles in short student films, including The Muse of Leaves (2022) and Vault (2023). He also wrote, directed, edited, and starred in his own film, Finding Ivories (2022). Gabriel is a self-taught pianist and guitarist, having completed a piano album consisting of original material in 2021. He also has a strong interest and talent in photography. He is an avid endurance athlete, competent in running, biking, swimming, and climbing. He also loves theatrical acts such as juggling and card tricks. Having an enduring passion for cinema, Gabriel likes to channel his creative interests into all aspects of filmmaking, both behind and in front of the camera.

Gustavo Dickel


Gustavo Dickel was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil and now lives in Toronto, Canada, where he’s currently studying acting, writing and directing at Toronto Film School. While at school, he had the opportunity to write and direct in Struggle to Change. He also wrote, directed and acted in The Answer and Hello! I’m John (Megafin Production). He also starred in a number of other productions, including Hunted 2: Lost Pursuit, Hermie – Saving Humans from Themselves, and The Turn. His upcoming productions include: Hunted 3 and Gemstone (Megafin Production), The Focus Challenge and Roommate Rumble. Gustavo can speak English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently and has some knowledge of Italian and French. He is experienced in martial arts, such as Judo and Jiu Jitsu, and can swim and ride horses. Gustavo is hardworking and loves to take directions to make his performances better.

Angel Holgado


Miguel (Angel) Holgado was born and raised in Cusco, Peru. After three years of medical studies, he moved to Toronto, Ontario to pursue his acting goals. He is currently in his 5th term at the Toronto Film School, where he is studying acting, writing, and directing for Film and TV. During his time at TFS, he has had the opportunity to create, direct, and star in a number of short films, including Impulses, What I Didn’t Tell You, and Oceans Apart. Angel got into acting after participating in a couple small theatrical pieces in La Merced Private Boys School’s theatre class. He knows how to play the piano and hopes that one day he can use his musical talents in a role someday. His goal is to express his talent so that he can inspire others.

Rahil Mamdani


Rahil Mamdani is a passionate student actor. Born and raised in a small town in India, Rahil developed a love for acting at a young age and has been pursuing it ever since. In 2017, Rahil moved to Canada to pursue his education and acting career. He holds a degree in Pharmacy Tech and has worked in the healthcare field for several years. His true passion, however, lies in acting, and he is currently an acting student at Toronto Film School, where he has been honing his skills in acting, voice, and movement. In his free time, Rahil enjoys playing badminton and is known for his skill on the court. He has worked on several school projects, including a PSA and a short film project called I Told You to Leave. He is a dedicated and hardworking student who is always looking for ways to improve his craft. Rahil hopes to one day pursue a professional acting career and is excited to see where his passion for the craft takes him.

Rasmin Mathur


Rasmin Mathur was born in India and raised in Canada. She is currently in her fifth term at Toronto Film School, where she’s studying acting, writing, and directing for film & TV. During her time at TFS, she has starred in A, a short film by Kalpit Patel, playing a young naive English girl looking for love. In the 1917 play Close the Book by Susan Glaspell, she played a rebel Roma fighting for her rights. Rasmin has many roles in The Tarantino Cabaret and is also the play’s Music Director and Set Designer. She has six years of vocal training and can play any instrument she spends time with. She is thrilled to be a part of the play and puts her whole heart into the show, creating many musical layers and interesting set pieces to pull in the crowd.

Lenny Mudugu


Lenny Mudugu was born and raised in Bujumbura, Burundi, before moving to Canada at the age of 15 with his family. Lenny began taking drama classes in high school and fell in love with the art world. He completed two years in film production at La cité collégiale and is currently in his 5th term at the Toronto Film School, studying drama. He is fluent in three languages: French, English and Kirundi (Burundi). During his studies, he had the opportunity to create and direct a short silent film entitled Oceans Apart. He also starred in a French short film named Les débranches. Lenny is also a talented dancer – a skill he believes could be the key to his success.

Kaya Pienkowska


Kaya Pienkowska was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, and is a devoted actress and student who is currently in her 5th term at Toronto Film School. During her time at TFS, Kaya  has performed the role of “Camille” in a school short film production called Lonely Love, and “Jenny” in What I Shoulda Said. She has also performed in nine other theatrical productions and short films – including her high school play, which she directed, choreographed, and performed in. When she was younger, Kaya took intermediate Hip Hop dance classes. She is also proficient in makeup and spends her free time learning different ways of applying makeup.

Eugene Ser


Eugene Ser is a young and upcoming actor who is currently in his 5th term at Toronto Film School. Born and raised in Oshawa, Eugene has always dreamed of being on the big screen and will do what it takes to make his dream come true. During his time at TFS, he has participated in multiple student short films. Eugene is bilingual and can speak both English and Korean fluently. A true professional, he is also a great listener who follows instructions well and can easily be molded into what directors want him to be. Eugene has always had a passion for working out and has been doing so for a few years, leaving him with a muscular body suitable for taking on athletic roles. He often likes to hike to clear his mind and to prepare for any new upcoming gig.

Hanya Sun


Hanyu Sun was born and raised in China. She comes from Shanghai Theatre Academy in China, where she studied acting for a year. She is currently studying acting at Toronto Film School. In her first four semesters at TFS, she learned a lot about actors and different acting skills. Hanya has been very interested in movies since she was young and understands the differences and similarities between learning to perform in China versus learning to perform in Toronto. She is willing to try different roles and hopes to get some good acting opportunities in the future.

Ziqi Zhao


Ziqi Zhao was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China. Before enrolling in the Acting program at Toronto Film School, she was a performance student at Shanghai Theatre Academy. In her third term at TFS, she created, directed and produced a short film called Love Competition. Ziqi also has some experience performing in stage plays. At the age of 12, she starred in a children’s musical called Positive, and has also played some small roles in TV plays. She loves acting very much, and she thinks it’s cool to experience different lifetimes inside. Expect her to shine!


Jonathan Higgins


Jonathan Higgins is an actor, writer and director. Recent acting credits include Reacher, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, V-Wars, and the upcoming Painkiller for Netflix. His solo show, Evening in Samarra: An Appointment with John O’Hara premiered at Harvard’s Signet theatre and was then selected for the Elizabethan Club Centenary Festival at Yale. Most recently, he directed the Toronto premiere of John Kolvenbach’s Olivier award nominated comedy Lovesong at the Actor’s Imagination Studio.

Elvin Lejano

EL LEJANO – Stage Manager

Elvin, mostly known as EL, Lejano (he/him) is a Filipino-Canadian actor, writer, and creator born in Mississauga, Ontario. A physically active child, EL grew up playing competitive basketball, martial arts, and volleyball. Before deciding to pursue his passion for the performing arts, EL was a young auto-mechanic who participated in the 2017 School District and Nationals Skills Ontario Competition. But after seeing the success of former classmates and other artists within the GTA, a mantra of “Why not me?” Began repeating itself in his head, so he took the plunge and enrolled at Toronto Film School in 2020. Since then, his passion and enthusiasm for the work has only continued to grow through the exploration of different classes and studies. During his time at TFS, EL wrote, directed and starred in the silent film The Choice You Made, and performed in a John Wick parody as a stunt extra. After graduating from TFS, he continued to work behind the scenes on the production aspects of films. Some upcoming credits include the ACTRA short A Last Push for Love, as well as an upcoming international Netflix film titled, Maple Leaf Dreams. From script work, to improvisation, to performing live theatre, and work behind the camera, EL’s love for the entertainment industry has become deeper than just hoping to become a successful actor. As a TFS graduate, EL aims to continue to work within the entertainment industry as an actor, writer and potentially as a director, as well. His dream is to one day work alongside many great actors and directors. Even though the journey has been more than challenging, EL aspires to use his success to help and inspire those around him and show them that with patience, determination, and heart, anyone can succeed in their dreams; and also ask themselves, “Why not me?”

Cynthia Reason

Cynthia Reason (she/her) is a former newspaper journalist turned communications professional who currently works as Toronto Film School’s Manager of Communications. Prior to joining TFS, she spent 13 years working as a reporter for Torstar/Metroland Media Toronto, writing for publications including Toronto.com, the Etobicoke Guardian, and the Toronto Star, among others. Her byline has also appeared in the National Post. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph and Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Humber College.


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