Staff

Admin Team

broadway-4 Lisa Lang

Founder/Artistic Director

Lisa Lang is the Founder and Artistic Director of Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop. Lisa has been performing since the age of five and for the past 2 decades has been sharing her love of the theatre with children of all ages. After graduating with degrees in both Elementary Education and Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa, Lisa taught Music to grades K-5 at Lincoln School in Highland Park as well as Music and Drama to grades K-8 at the AUTEC School on Andros Island, Bahamas. Upon returning back to the States, Lisa taught at the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School for eight years where she specialized in early childhood as a Junior Kindergarten teacher and later became the Lower School Drama Integration Coordinator, where she developed and taught their K-4 Drama Program. During this time she expanded her services to the Andersonville community, out of which Dream Big was born. As she continued building her business, Lisa was offered the opportunity to teach the Music and Drama program at the Hyde Park Day School, a private, not-for-profit day school serving the needs of children in first through eighth grades with learning disabilities. In addition to her extensive teaching background, Lisa has performed all over Chicago with companies including Metropolis Performing Arts Center, Light Opera Works and Chicago Kids Company. She has also blended her two passions of teaching and theater in her work as a tutor and child wrangler for national tours including Addam's Family, Billy Elliot and, most recently, Dreamwork's production of Shrek the Musical. Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop is Lisa’s big dream where she works to provide students a safe environment to express themselves creatively through the performing arts while having lots of fun! Pictured with her here are Dream Big's very first students!

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Siobhan Maycraft

Education Director

Siobhan Maycraft holds a Bachelor of the Arts from East 15 Acting School in London, England where she specialized in Community Theatre. As a small child Siobhan's mother had her attend drama classes and camps to increase her confidence and now Siobhan is passionate about facilitating these experiences for the next generation. She has worked as a teaching artist and in community arts across England, Ireland and now the U.S.A with companies such as Stagecoach Theatre Arts and Cornerstone Theater Company. She is very excited about her move to Chicago and working with Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop.

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Louise Rook

Western Suburbs Director of Operations

Louise studied drama throughout school and University in the UK graduating with a degree in Performing Arts. This led to her first job as the 'Flying Eye' for the Capital Radio Group in London. Upon finding her voice and flair for presenting, Louise spent the next ten years presenting various radio shows across England and taking numerous parts in radio plays alongside performing in a range of theatre productions at London's Kings Head Theatre and at the Edinburgh Festival.

A move to Dubai and her subsequent years of experience led to her teaching with 'School of Little Voice', running workshops in both Radio & Drama. She then founded the Theatre Company, 'School of Little Drama's' providing acting, improvisation and devising classes in Dubai and then Canada; she has a talent for finding kids voices and bringing out the actor/actress side in them all, even the shy ones! Louise is very excited by the opportunity to be part of the Dream Big team in helping to expand into the western suburbs of Chicago.

Chicago Teaching Artists

Amelia HefferonAmelia Hefferon

Amelia Hefferon is thrilled to be working with Dream Big! Amelia holds a BA from Northwestern University in Theatre with certificates in Theatre for Young Audiences, Music Theatre, and Playwriting. Amelia has worked as an actor in and around Chicago with several companies, including Lookingglass Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Porchlight Music Theatre, the House Theatre, and Lost Compass Collective. Amelia has also served as an arts educator for Adventure Stage Chicago, American Theatre Company and Northwestern University's Purple Crayon Players in addition to Dream Big.

 

 

AmberRaySnyderAmber Ray Snyder

Amber Ray Snyder has performed, taught and directed with various companies and schools in Chicago as well as Texas, Iowa, Tennessee, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Florida and South Korea. Her most recent directing endeavor was through Olive Juice Theatre’s first production of Jason and the Argonauts, an interactive musical family adventure. The production made its mark at the Kansas City Fringe Festival and Elgin Fringe festival, where it received “Fringe Favorite Performing”. She is also excited to also be involved with Pride Films and Plays attempt to begin programming for Young Audiences. It’s an invaluable opportunity to make sure everyone's story is heard. Amber has also dabbled in after school activities through the Beverly Arts Center and looks forward to "dabbling" with Dream Big!

AndrewAndrew Ritter

Andrew Ritter is a freelance teacher, director, actor, producer, writer and facilitator living in Chicago. He has worked with and performed for children for over 20 years. He is the director and producer of the interactive kids show The Greatest Story Never Told and performs regularly with the music improv comedy ensemble Mansical. In addition to Dream Big, he also teaches adults and children at The Second City Training Center and Emerald City Theater School. In the past, Andrew has performed for kids with a variety of theater companies like Novel Ideas, American Eagle Productions and Emerald City Theater. He also spent several years working with special needs kids both in and out of schools. Andrew is represented by Big Mouth Talent and has a BA in Theater & Psychology from Middlebury College in Vermont and is the very proud papa of two amazing girls.

Ariel M DorseyAriel M Dorsey

Ariel M Dorsey is a native of Chicago, she began dancing at age of 7 at Southwest fine Arts Academy now known as Premier One Dance Academy. She began her formal training at Chicago Academy for the Arts under the direction of Ana Peskevska and Randy Duncan. Ariel went on to further her studies at SUNY Purchase College in New York where she graduated with a BFA in dance. Through out her four years of study she work with choreographers such as Nelly Van Bommel, Pam Tanowitz Jonathan Alsberry, and Ori Flormen. Mrs. Dorsey is currently teaching Ballet at PDA, Hip Hop at Xilin Arts Academy,while dancing with Winifred Haun and Dancers.

Arin MulvaneyArin Mulvaney

Arin is an actor, director, and costume designer who is passionate about providing arts enrichment opportunities for children. Arin is the founder and Artistic Director of the Shakespeare All-Stars, a touring ensemble that educates, entertains, and inspires diverse audiences through performances and workshops. Arin has led drama workshops in Chicago and Kalamazoo, MI for over ten years and was the Assistant Director of the Kalamazoo Civic Youth Theatre Camp for two summers. Arin coordinated the inaugural year of an after school program serving over 100 K-8th students at Chicago International Charter School: West Belden Campus. Arin has taught at Whitney Young Magnet H.S., Edison Regional Gifted Center, MLK Jr. Lab School, Disney II Magnet School, and the Special Rec Program at Chase Park to name a few.

Arin graduated with honors from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Theatre Performance. In 2008, she completed an intensive Classical Theatre Study Abroad program in Greece through the University of Detroit-Mercy and performed there as Helen of Troy in Trojan Women. Arin is also an AFAA certified group fitness instructor and a big fan of crossword puzzles.

Audra BlaserKeeshin Rebecca Headshot (1)

Audra Blaser is a Chicago-based teaching artist and actress. She is very excited to be a part of the team at Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop! As an educator, she has instructed students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado Shakespeare Festival School of Theatre, Southern Hills Middle School, and Skyline Studios. As an actress, she has appeared on network television, in feature films, and on stages throughout the United States, including Off-Broadway at The Public Theater in New York. She holds a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University and an MA in Theatre from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Audra is passionate about sharing the joys of theater with others!

 

 

Brianne FitzpatrickBrianne Fitzpatrick Headshot1

Brianne Fitzpatrick was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, where she began her career in the performing arts. She holds an Honours BA in Drama and Theatre Studies from Trinity College, Dublin, and was a founding member of sketch comedy troupe The Mercer Island Rodeo and creator of Improv, She Wrote, Ireland's first university improv group, while at college in Dublin. In the years Brianne spent in Dublin after graduating from Trinity, she worked extensively as an actor, as well as an improv and drama teacher in various schools, drama programs, and youth theatres. Brianne moved to Chicago after being offered a place in The Second City's Conservatory Program, which she is now a graduate of, as well as The Second City's Musical Conservatory. Brianne performs regularly in various scripted and improvised shows all around Chicago, with such companies as Story Town, Anarchy: An Improvised Rock Opera, Thirsty, and Valid Hysteria, and has been seen on stages including The Second City's Skybox, The Second City's DeMatt, Stage 773, Strawdog Theater, The Apollo Theater, The Playground Theater, and more!

 

Brittny_C_3_HeadshotBritta Schlict

Britta Schlict is thrilled to be joining Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop for her first year! Originally from Madison, WI, Britta is a passionate theatre educator, choreographer, and director new to the Chicago area. A 2013 graduate and Founders Scholar of Indiana University, Britta earned her degrees in Secondary Theatre and English Education with a particular enthusiasm towards leadership in dance and musical theatre. Britta has been sharing her love for arts education through her 8 years teaching at various schools and companies in the Midwest. Other theatre education credentials include Education Director/Youth Director and Choreographer- Improv Playhouse Theatre (Libertyville, IL), Teaching Artist- Emerald City Theatre (Chicago, IL), Director of Theatre- Carmel High School (Carmel, IN), and Youth Theatre Director -Children's Theatre of Madison (Madison, WI). Britta has also choreographed professionally for the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, Middleton Players Theatre, Improv Playhouse Theatre, among several high schools and middle schools. Additionally a performer, Britta has most recently been seen onstage with the Chicago Kids Company, Prop Theatre, MadKap Productions, and Middleton Players Theatre.

Brittny_C_3_HeadshotBrittny Congleton

Brittny Congleton is pumped to be back working with Dream Big! A big haired Kentucky gal at heart, Brittny followed her sparkly dreams to Chicago in 2010 to train in musical improv and physical comedy.  When she's not wearing a tutu and wig or a pig nose and a tail performing with Chicago Kids Company, she's helping them to teach Fairy Tale and Junior Musical Theatre Camps!  With her ukulele in hand, Brittny also works as a teaching artist with Bubbles Academy, focusing on early childhood arts-integrated education, as well as afterschool imagination adventures.  Performing musical sketch comedy, improv and tons of kooky characters around town with Storytown and her all female Southern Musical Sketch group, HEY LADIES, Brittny stays busy performing in all kinds of one-woman shows and cabarets in between!  Put Something Silly in the World! www.brittnycongleton.com

 

 

CynthiaBangertCynthia Bangert

Cynthia Bangert a Chicago native, is a performer, improviser and teaching artist all over town. She has a BFA in Theater from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and also trained at iO, The Second City Conservatory and One Group Mind. Cynthia has taught at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program in the mountains of southern California, with the Chicago Children's Theater's Red Kite Program for children with autism. She currently teaches with The Second City Teen and Youth Program, The Stage School in Park Ridge and Bubbles Academy. She can be seen performing with her Harold team Dogs at iO as well as every Friday at the Annoyance Theater. She is delighted to be working with Dream Big!

Darcy CoussensDarcy Rose Coussens

Darcy Rose Coussens is a Chicago-based actress, choreographer and educator. She began performing professionally in Chicago at the age of ten and learned firsthand how theatre can empower young people whether in the classroom, on stage or from the audience. Darcy is a recent graduate of Northwestern University with a BA in Theatre. While at Northwestern, she directed the first campus production for young audiences on the Autism Spectrum and was awarded the Aurand Harris Award for Excellence in Children’s Theatre. She has been teaching in the arts for eight years and currently teaches with Mudlark Theatre Company and Windy City Music Theatre in addition to Dream Big.

ElizabethElizabeth Dowling

Elizabeth Dowling is an actor and teaching artist in Chicago.  As a teaching artist she has also worked with Lifeline Theatre, Free Street Theatre, Pegasus Players, Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre, Gorilla Tango, and LaSalle Language Academy.  As an actor she has performed with Chicago theatres such as the Paramount, Next, Lakeside Shakespeare, Drury Lane Water Tower, Metropolis, Porchlight, Strawdog and Lifeline.  This winter Elizabeth will be taking a break from performing for the birth of her first child, but you might see her on tv in a commercial in the meantime!

EmilyEmily Senkowsky

Emily Senkowsky is a Chicago based actor and teaching artist! She recently moved to the area from NYC, and is thrilled to be working with Dream Big! As an actor, she has worked in theaters around the country. She is currently working with Spotlight Youth Theater and Williams Street Repertory Theatre in the Chicago area. As a teacher, she has worked with kids of all ages teaching music, vocal technique, theater, and dance. She holds a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance-Music Theatre. Emily is so excited to get to share her love of music and theater with the kids of Dream Big!

Erin NealErin Neal

Erin Neal is a Chicago-based actor and teacher.  Locally she has performed with Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists, About Face, The House, Remy Bumppo, The Griffin, and Defiant Theatres.  Her regional credits include work with Milwaukee Rep, The Dallas Theatre Center, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Creede Repertory Theatre, and Fusion Theatre.  She also spent two seasons acting and teaching with The Stratford Shakespeare Theatre.  Erin cherishes her work as a teacher and feels like it adds immensely to her growth as an artist.  She has taught for Improv Playhouse, The Old Town School of Folk Music, American Theatre Company, Redmoon Theatre, The Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Remy Bumppo Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Musical Magic and St. Clement School.  She holds a BFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University, a Teaching Artist Certificate from York University and has had additional training with The Stratford Shakespeare Festival and The British Academy of Dramatic Arts in Oxford.  One of Erin’s most rewarding teaching experiences was serving as a Girl Scout leader for four years.

Evelyn GaynorHeather Marotti

Evelyn Gaynor, MFA is an instructor of Voice and Speech and Acting for The Chicago High School for the Arts, a company member of Barrel of Monkeys, and a teaching artist with Chicago Youth Shakespeare and ​The Viola Project. She recently understudied the original play COCKED by Sarah Gubbins at Victory Gardens Theater, and appeared on Chicago P.D. Other stage credits include work at Syracuse Stage, Indiana Festival Theater, and The Hangar Theatre. Evelyn recently moved to Chicago after living in NYC where she was a teaching artist with Periwinkle Theater for Youth, Broadway Classroom, and Inside Broadway. She received her BFA in Acting from Syracuse University and her MFA in Acting from Indiana University.

Gail GallagherGail

Gail has worked as a freelance musician and actor throughout the Chicago theatre scene for the past six years. She has experience facilitating music and theatre classes with people of various ages and learning abilities. She is a music director for many improv and sketch comedy groups including Storytown Improv. She is a company member with Cuckoo's Theatre Project where she recently was the sound designer and composer for their production of The Green Bird. . She has a BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Theatre Performance & Theatre Management/ Directing.

Jamie Olah HeadshotJamie Olah

Jamie Olah is delighted to be part of the team at Dream Big! She is a Chicago-based theatre artist and educator, as well as the founder of Firefly Storytelling, an organization presenting improvised interactive performances for children of all ages (www.fireflystorytelling.blogspot.com). Jamie cofounded Grassroots Theatre Project, where she served as Artistic Director. She is a former company member with both DalVivo Theatre and The Moving Dock Theatre Co. She has taught drama to students at Chiaravalle Montessori School, Skyline Studios, Old Town School of Folk Music, JCC Apachi Chicago Day Camp, and Eileen Boevers Performing Arts Workshop. Her training includes playwriting with Chicago Dramatists, red nose clown with Paola Coletto, the Michael Chekhov acting technique with The Moving Dock Theatre Company, and physical theatre with the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from Viterbo University. Jamie Olah has been awarded an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to workshop my new play, Eden in Silence. To see images from the staged reading of Eden in Silence and to learn more about Jamie's work as a theatre artist please visit jamieolah.com/playwright.

Jessica AlldredgeJessica Alldredge

Jessica Alldredge is an actor and teaching artist from Birmingham, Alabama where she graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In Birmingham, she frequented the stage with the Birmingham Park Players and the Bards of Birmingham as well as appearing in the film Awakened. Jessica founded the drama program at Creative Montessori School in Homewood, Alabama for preschool and elementary students and served as a mentor, actor, and director for the Bards of Birmingham. In Chicago, Jessica's acting work includes projects with CUBE Ensemble, Fury Theater, Dream Theater Company, and Transcendent Ensemble Theatre Company. As a teaching artist, she also works for Mudlark Theater Company, Northlight Theater, the Viola Project, and Bubbles Academy. She has also worked for American Theatre Company and directed the Skokie Kids Film Festival. Jessica is a proud member of the Teaching Artist Development Studio 2015 cohort through CCAP at Columbia College!

 Jill OlsonJill Olson

Jill Olson is the founder and producer of Storytown (www.storytownimprov.com), a fully improvised, interactive story for children 3-10 years old and their families.  She just recently joined Funny Bones Improv (www.funnybonesimprov.com) as their Chicago Director.  Jill graduated Cum Laude from Towson University with BA in Theater Arts. She is a graduate of the iO and Second City Conservatory improv programs and has performed around Chicago with iO, Second City’s Skybox Theater,  Moving Dock Theater Company, Redtwist Theatre, and WNEP with Seven Deadly Plays and 365 Sketches. She also studied playwriting at The Chicago Dramatists. Writing credits include Left Unnamed as part of the 5th Annual Women’s  Performance Art Festival with Stockyards Theatre Project, Eleanor in American Machine and Other Works.  She wrote and produced Mayfly: A Collection of Short Plays.  Jill Olson has served as Program Coordinator for This Is ME and Child Whisperer for The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival. In addition to teaching with Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop, she is an improv Professor or Merriment with The Laughing Academy (www.thelaughingacademy.com).

katwilsonKat Wilson

Kat Wilson is a new resident of Chicago, and excited to be a part of the Dream Big Teaching Staff. She graduated from Baylor University with a BFA in Theatre Performance. During her artistic career, she has developed a passion for many aspects of the theatrical process including the way theatre circulates stories, based on truth, in order to generate empathy in the world. Many of her projects as actor/collaborator include those of original or devised works in a post modern style. Through these experiences, she declares theatre as a process for the encouragement of personal discovery and development. Her favorite roles include Nora in Nora, Cassidy Lafayette in Appropriate, and Ensemble member in Arabian Nights. She claims theatre as a medium to embolden students to take ownership of their own creativity and an outlet to allow them to develop confidence within themselves and their abilities. She is ready to explore with the students of Dream Big and delighted to continue to create with the youth in Chicago.

katherinescottKatherine Scott

Katherine Scott is a teaching artist, dancer, and choreographer in the Chicago area. She recently graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Dance, Psychology, and Theatre, with a concentration in Theatre for Young Audiences. Katherine has performed in works by Jeff Hancock, Laura Wade, Amanda Lower, and Vanessa Voskuil, and she performed Hancock’s “Impolite Society” in the American College Dance Festival Association's 2014 National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center. She recently had her choreography featured in Jump Rhythm Jazz Project's 2015 show, GETTING DOWN, GOING FORWARD. Her choreography was also selected to represent Northwestern at ACDFA's North-Central Regional Conference and was chosen for American Dance Festival’s 2013 Student Concert. Katherine teaches drama through Mudlark Theater, and she teaches dance, Zumba, and creative movement for individuals with cognitive and developmental differences at Dovetail Studios. Katherine is currently working as company member and Education Director of Striding Lion Performance Group under the direction of Amanda Lower.

kellyvokeKelly Haramis

Kelly is thrilled to be part of the Dream Big team! Kelly is an actor, writer, improviser, teaching artist and storyteller. She is a graduate of Penn State University, Second City Conservatory and iO Chicago. She is also one class away from graduating at the Annoyance. She has taught improv workshops to everyone from preschoolers to college students. Kelly performed her one-woman show that she wrote “Double Happiness: A Tale of Love, Loss, and One Forever Family” in New York City, Montreal, Chicago, Orlando, Ithaca (NY), and Highland Park (IL). Locally, this past year, she has performed at Public House Theatre, Den Theatre and Annoyance Theatre, to name a few. You can often find her storytelling, improvising or performing in plays (www.kellyharamis.com).

kellyvokeKelly Voke

Kelly is a Chicago actress, writer and teaching artist. She previously worked in Los Angeles where she trained, taught and performed professionally. Since moving to Chicago, Kelly has helped facilitate four different CPS theater education programs at Senn Arts, Kelvyn Park, Bronzeville Scholastic and Wells High Schools, and piloted a CPS elementary program at Gellespie Elementary. In addition to teaching with Dream Big, Kelly works with The American Theater Company and the Beverly Arts Center. She specializes in helping students devise their own work, and believes fully in the power of imagination, improvisation and fun. She received her BA in Acting from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

 

KristynKateHegner.Commerical3Kristyn Hegner

As a theatre practitioner and teaching artist throughout Chicagoland, and Kristyn has worked with the education programs at American Theatre Company, Arden Theatre, Bloomington Public Library, Chicago Dramatists, Mudlark Theater Company, and Northlight Theatre. Prior to moving to Chicago, she trained with Philadelphia's Arden Theatre as an Arden Professional Apprentice.  Kristyn works throughout the city as an actress and choreographer. Most recently, she collaborated with A Red Orchid's Youth Ensemble to choreograph Our City, Ourselves, which was part of Now Is The Time, a city-wide initiative to end youth violence. In addition, Phenomena, an original piece she choreographed in collaboration with Red Tape's Fresh Eyes Project, was presented at the 2013 Chicago Fringe Festival.  She has worked creatively with First Folio Theatre, Genesis Ensemble, Red Tape, Tympanic Theatre, and the Chicago Fringe Festival. In addition, she has studied sketch and improvisational comedy at iO and is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory.  Most recently, Kristyn joined the team at NBC's Chicago Fire.

 

lauradromerickLaura Dromerick

Laura Dromerick recently graduated UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Dramatic Art. In college she was a directing producer of UNC’s Undergrad Theater Program and wrote for and performed in shows. She also trained for two years at Gately-Poole Acting Conservatory in Chicago, which inspired her to move here to pursue theater after graduation. Laura also works for Storybook Princess Parties where she performs as Elsa and other Disney Princesses at kids birthday parties and events. She has only been in Chicago for a few months but is incredibly excited to join such a great theater community and teach with Dream Big!

 

lesleychapmanLesley Fisher Chapman

Lesley Fisher Chapman is a Chicago-based teacher and director. She has worked with a variety of theatre companies including The Actors Gymnasium, The House Theatre of Chicago, Stage Left Theatre and Forget Me Not Theatre Company. Before coming to Chicago, Lesley taught, directed and performed in Columbus, OH. Lesley attended The Ohio State University where she earned a B.A. with Honors in Theatre and Distinction in Directing and a B.S. in Anthropology.

Lisa Barber

Lisa Barber is a Chicago actor, writer, and improviser with a MA in Communication. A proud graduate of The Second City Conservatory and Writing Programs, she's sailed the high seas with Second City Theatricals and recently toured with The Second City Touring Company. She is also a member of Actors Equity. She’s taught a variety of improv and acting classes to students and adults alike and is excited to be working with The Dream Big Performing Arts. Be sure to check out her multi-nominated web series, Growing Alice, on her website lisakbarber.com.

marydoctorMargaret Grace Hee

Margaret Grace Hee is a theatre professional and teaching artist focused on developing work on stage and in the classroom that influences tangible positive change in the world. Margaret received her BFA in Acting from the Santa Fe Institue of Art and Design and her MFA in Directing New School of Performing Arts School of Drama. She is also he founding artistic director of Baby Crow Productions. Margaret has had the fortune of working with the following organizations as a teaching artists: New School for Drama, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Redwood High School, The Leadership Project, Chicago Youth Shakespeare, Mudlark Theatre, and Adventure Stage Chicago. As a freelance director, Margaret has worked with Collaboraction, Ugly Rhino, Wide Eyed Productions, Dream Theatre, The Midtown Int. Play Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Fringe NYC. As an actress she has worked with Victory Gardens, Eclipse Theater, Adventure Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Soft Cage Films, The Agency, and New School for Drama. (margaretgrace.net, babycrowproductions.com)

marydoctorMary Doctor

Mary Doctor is so excited to be teaching for this wonderful company. A graduate from Saint Mary's University in Minnesota, Mary has also spent time traveling Europe and studying at Rose Bruford in Sidcup, England and at The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland. The daughter of an elementary school music teacher, Mary has always loved sharing music and really came into her own when she started a children's theatre camp in her hometown Aurora, IL. She moved to Colorado to teach at Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids in Boulder for a while but now is back to Chicago to help more children create beautiful works of art. Not only does Mary love to teach, but she has also toured with The National Theatre for Children and AlphaBet Soup Productions performing in Chicago, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and more. Her most recent performances have been on the stage at Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero. "Let's imagine and create together"

michaelwhittenMichele Stine

Michele Stine is so excited to be teaching with Dream Big Performing Arts! She is a graduate of Illinois State University with a B.S. is Political Science and Acting, and she has performed throughout Chicago with various companies including Collaboraction, First Floor Theatre, Trip, among others. Michele is a teaching artist at American Theatre Company with their Mosaic program, Emerald City Theater, and Chicago Children's Theater. Michele is also a writer in Chicago, she has worked with The New Colony, Collaboraction, Red Theater-Chicago and many others. She is thrilled to be working with your children as we play, learn, and grow this summer.

natebuursmaNate Buursma

Nate is ecstatic to be working with Dream Big! Nate graduated from Butler University with a BA in Theatre. Since graduating, he spent two years in Little Rock, AR working with The Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre as an actor and educator. Nate also spent a year touring in upstate NY with Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in schools and classrooms. Other recent credits include Tomato Queen; Return of Neverland (Quest Theatre Ensemble), Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged with Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in upstate NY, and Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz with Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in VA.

 

Shapiro_R_369webRachel Shapiro

Rachel Shapiro has spent the last 3 years working with Dream Big as a teaching artist instructing both Broadway Kids and Broadway Bound classes. When she is not teaching, she works as an actress performing with various regional and local theaters, including: Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre, Theater Wit, The House Theatre of Chicago, Emerald City Theatre, and Metropolis Performing Arts Center, among others. She also marries her love of working with children and acting through her work with Storybook Princess Parties (a company she co-owns that provides live character entertainment for private and corporate events). She is a graduate of Northwestern University where she majored in Theatre and Music Theatre.

 

 

Thomson-JaffeThomson Jaffe

Thomson Jaffe very excited to be working with Dream Big. Originally from Cohasset, MA, she earned her B.A. in Theatre and teaching certification in Secondary English and Communications from DeSales University (Center Valley, PA) in 2014. While in college, Thomson worked as an administrative assistant with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Thomson previously spent 17 months with the Missoula Children’s Theatre, traveling the US and Canada as a tour actor/director. Since moving to Chicago in Aug. 2016, Thomson has had the pleasure of working with Poetry Pals, Adventure Stage Chicago, American Theater Company, Emerald City Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre. She would like to thank her friends, family and Ryan Lind for their support.

 

VahishtaVahishta Vafadari

Vahishta Vafadari is a graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul University with an MFA in Acting. She has studied theater at UC Berkeley and American Conservatory Theater. Before moving to Chicago, Vahishta worked as an actress in the SF Bay Area and also holds a BA in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley. In addition to being fluent in Farsi and burgeoning knitter, Vahishta is a member of the SAFD as an Advanced Actor Combatant. Coming up Vahishta will be performing with Rasaka Theatre Company in A Widow of No Importance (January 2016) and with The Brown Paper Box Co in a gender and ethnicity conscious production of Julius Caesar (March 2016) as Marc Antony. Vahishta is represented by Gray Talent Group.

VictoriaVictoria R. Golden

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Victoriaspent two fun-filled summers at Lexington Children's Theatre in Kentucky as a teaching artist before moving to Chicago. She earned a BA in Spanish Studies from American University in Washington, DC, where she performed her all-time favorite role as a villainous octopus in Chem Mystery. In Chicago, she is a company member of Barrel of Monkeys and a founding member of InGen Productions.

Western Suburbs Teaching Artists

katherinescottCaitlin Dunlap

Caitlin graduated with her BFA in Acting from Michigan State University in 2015. She has worked as a teaching artist with 4th Wall Theatre Company, Great Big Planet, and the prestigious Stratford Shakespeare School in Ontario, CA. Since moving to Chicago, she has performed with many local theatre companies, including touring one woman shows to elementary schools with Historical Perspectives for Children, where she gets to combine her passion for both acting and teaching. Last year, Caitlin played the astronaut Sally Ride and she is currently playing Helen Keller. Caitlin is so excited to teach with Dream Big!

katherinescottKathleen Foster

Kathleen Foster is pumped to join the Dream Big team. She has her undergraduate degree in musical theatre and her graduate degree in education with a specialization in early childhood education. For the last six years, Kathleen has been moving around the county performing in musicals and teaching preschool, drama and dance. Some companies Kathleen has been fortunate enough to teach and/or perform with are Lexington Children’s Theatre, Missoula Children’s Theatre, Stage School Park Ridge, Beverly Arts Center, Riversong Dance Studio, and Emerald City Theatre. Kathleen is a Chicago native and avid Bears fan. When she is not teaching, she enjoys hula hooping, group fitness, playing darts and spending time with her small and naughty chiweenie (chihuahua/dachshund) named Nugget.


Kelsey Fenske is very excited to join the Dream Big team. A lifetime resident of Joliet, she received her undergraduate degree in both History and Theatre from the College of William and Mary and is currently finishing a Master’s degree in Theatre with a focus in Dramaturgy and Education Outreach. Kelsey has worked for Pride Films and Plays in Chicago and had the opportunity to work as a costumed actor at Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. She currently teaches an introductory undergraduate course in Theatre and is excited to teach and inspire the next generation of theatre artists. When she is not working on a production or teaching, she enjoys reading, singing along to the Hamilton soundtrack, playing with her rambunctious Chocolate Lab named Lily, and watching her
brother play baseball.

katherinescottNicole McCallion

Nicole is ecstatic to join Dream Big Performing Arts! Nicole has a bachelors degree in theatre and psychology from North Central College. She has been involved both onstage and backstage, but one of her favorite activities would have to be building props. Nicole has also been involved with costumes, makeup, lights, and assistant stage manager. When Nicole is not concentrating on theatre she can be found fantasizing about all things Disney.

katherinescottRichard Oberbruner

After graduating as an English Major from the University of Wisconsin, Richard moved to Chicago to train at The Second City Theater. He then lead his own workshops with inmates at the DuPage County Jail, where he produced an original play written by one of his actors. This lead Richard to lead improv-based drug prevention workshops through Operation Snowball. Concurrently, he was a workforce development job coach, infusing his resume and interview classes with improv. Richard inspired thousands of job seekers during the Great Recession. Currently, Richard is a corporate trainer for ROI: Richard Oberbruner Improv … http://www.buildingbrighterteams.com/

SarafinaSarafina Vecchio

Sarafina is thrilled to be part of the Dream Big team! A proud Chicago native, she has been working as an actor, director, voice over artist and model in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles for over two decades. She holds a Post Graduate Award in Teaching Shakespeare from the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, where she had the honor of working with The Royal Shakespeare Company, learning the benefits of ensemble building both in and out of the drama classroom. She is a graduate of The Theatre Conservatory of Roosevelt University and also studied Classical Acting at Richmond University in London. She is on faculty at several private acting schools in Chicago and the suburbs and also works as an acting coach for theatre, television and film. Having the opportunity to remain a working actor while also being able to teach young artists how to use their creativity to grow into successful, disciplined and kind artists is an absolute privilege!

TatjanaTatjana Moffitt

New to Chicago, Tatjana has spent the last four years working with children of all ages to develop and produce musicals such as The Wizard of Oz, Seussical Jr., Alice in Wonderland, and many more across thirty states and six countries.

A native of North Carolina, she loves fields of grass and sing-alongs, and is excited to be working with Dream Big this summer!