Theatre and Dance presents live stream of Angels in America

Theatre and Dance presents live stream of Angels in America

Angels in AmericaThe NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents a live streamed performance of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Tickets are free of charge and can be reserved online. Performances will be streamed at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27.

The School of Theatre and Dance began experimenting with presenting theatre online in early 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In the Spring 2021 semester, we are continuing this presentation of non-traditional performances to showcase the work of our students and faculty, and we are pleased to be able to now share them with you!

This performance will be streamed on Zoom Webinar. You will receive a confirmation once you place your order. Then, 60 minutes prior to the show, you will receive a customized link and password to the performance. Please ensure your email address is accurate when checking out.

We are currently transitioning to a new ticketing system and appreciate your patience. Please email if you have any questions or trouble reserving your ticket.

If you would like to donate to the School of Theatre and Dance, please follow this link and choose “School of Theatre and Dance” in the menu. Thank you, as always, for your patronage.

Theatre and Dance to present “Everybody” via webcast March 5 and 6

Theatre and Dance to present “Everybody” via webcast March 5 and 6

The NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents “Everybody” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. There is no charge for tickets but you must reserve your space.

This modern riff on the fifteenth-century morality play Everyman follows Everybody as they journey through life’s greatest mystery—the meaning of living.

The production is directed by Edwin Lee Gibson. The assistant director is Victor Jaimes.

For tickets, visit the School of Theatre and Dance online Box Office. (Don’t forget to make sure you choose the performance date you wish to view.) The School of Theatre and Dance began experimenting with presenting theatre online in early 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In the Spring 2021 semester, we are continuing this presentation of non-traditional performances to showcase the work of our students and faculty, and we are pleased to be able to now share them with you! Performances will take place at 7:30 pm each night listed. Please check back for more information and where these productions will be streamed.

This performance will be streamed on Zoom Webinar. You will receive a confirmation once you place your order. Then, 60 minutes prior to the show, you will receive a customized link and password to the performance.


Isabelle AjemianIsabelle Ajemian (Mind/C) Isabelle Ajemian is a sophomore BFA in acting candidate, and this is her second show with NIU. She is so grateful to get to share this work with you all and is excited to show what can be accomplished in this new zoom theatre world that she has gotten the unique opportunity to be a part of. The rehearsal process of this show has been the first time in a year that she has gotten to act and dance in the same room as other creators, and she has never felt more moved, humbled, and abundantly grateful. She would like to thank the cast, crew, and the genius Edwin Lee Gibson for making this a possibility. Nothing is more powerful than a room full of artists all creating with the goal to inspire.

Sophia Arnold

Sophia Arnold (Chorus/B/Beauty/4th Somebody) is s a third year BFA in acting candidate. She has understudied with Indianapolis Shakespeare Company and interned with Oak Park Festival Theatre. Some of her favorite roles at NIU include Helen in Troilus and Cressida, Kitty in The Time of Your Life, and O’Casey in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Past productions include Adrianna in The Comedy of Errors (Two-Town Theatre Company), Margaret in Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare Playworks), and Maria in Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Playworks).


Nicholas BishopNicholas Bishop (Kinship/Evil) is a television, film, and stage actor who has appeared in Chicago Med, Hamlet, and Art Collectors. He is a second year BFA candidate at Northern Illinois University. Nicholas has an interest in script writing and starting a production company and in his free time he enjoys playing guitar and skateboarding. Lastly, he is thankful for being a part of this amazing show and cast.



Marcell BoclairMarcell Boclair (Cousin/1st Somebody) is a second year BA in theater studies candidate with a focus in acting and health sciences major here at NIU. He hopes you enjoy the show as he makes his debut!



Caroline ByrneCaroline Byrne (Stuff/Chorus) This is Caroline’s fourth production with the school of theatre and dance. She hopes you enjoy the show!




Clark CheathamClark Cheatham (Chorus/Cousin/3rd Somebody) is a Junior BFA in acting candidate from St. Charles, Illinois. His credits at NIU include: Nick in The Walk Across America for Mother Earth, Dudley R. Bostwick in The Time of Your Life and Jim Crocket in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Other favorite credits include Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest, Marius in Les Miserables, and Squire Trelawney in Treasure Island.



Wesley HutchinsonWesley Hutchinson (Strength/A/5th Somebody) is a second year BFA in acting candidate from Michigan and a student at NIU. This is his second role at NIU. Some of his past roles include: NIU’s production of Love and Information, Grandpa Joe in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and Vice Principal Douglas Panch in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Romeo High School.


Morgan MalloryMorgan Mallory (Girl/Time/2nd Somebody) is a second year BA in theatre studies candidate, and she is very excited to be a part of this production of Everybody. Some other things she has been a part of are Northern Illinois University’s 24-Hour Theatre Play Festival as well as Crete Monee High School’s productions of Mamma Mia and Noises Off. She hopes that you all will enjoy the show!



Savannah-Lee MumfordSavannah-Lee Mumford (God/Usher/Understanding) is a second-year MFA in acting candidate here at NIU. Savannah-Lee’s NIU credits include #7 in Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves and Actor in Love & Information. Savannah-Lee is a North Carolina native who holds a BFA in drama from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. After graduating, Savannah-Lee primarily worked in New York. Some of her credits include: Off-Broadway: Candy in 12 Steps: The Musical (Original Off-Broadway Cast). Workshops: Barb Holland in Stranger Sings: The Parody Musical (Original Cast), Sigourney Weaver! in PITS: The Unauthorized Holes Musical. Concerts: Barb Holland in Stranger Sings: The Parody Musical with Christina Bianco at 54 Below. Regional: Evil Stepmother/Witch u/s in Into the Woods (Charlottesville Opera), Sherrie in Rock of Ages (ATC, BroadwayWorld Nom.), Fiona u/s in Shrek: The Musical (SSMT). Other credits include Imelda in On the 20th Century, Mae in Reefer Madness, The Drowsy Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone (UNCSA), Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker (UNCSA), Claudia in Nine (UNCSA), Lady of the Lake in Spamalot. As always… this is for Sandy Beam.

Jamaque NewberryJamaque Newberry (Everybody) hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He received his BFA degree in filmmaking from Western Kentucky University while competing for their world-renowned speech and debate team. While competing, he accumulated multiple national awards in dramatic and poetic performance. Before coming to NIU, Jamaque taught dramatic performance and film techniques for various middle school and high school programs. He is now furthering his love for performance and art at Northern Illinois University as an MFA in acting candidate.



Naava Ofri-AkmanNaava Ofri-Akman (Senses/D) is a sophomore BFA in acting candidate. This is her second production at NIU, the first being Bird in the Hand. It has been such a joy to work in the space and craft this piece. May we all define and find peace within our own realities.



Kaz QutabKaz Qutab (Death) is an MFA in acting candidate from central Massachusetts. Everybody is his third virtual production at NIU. He dreams of doing a traditional show before graduating, though he couldn’t ask for better people with whom to weather this storm. Previous credits: Nick in The Time of Your Life and Givola in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.




Makenzie WeatherfordMakenzie Weatherford (Love) is a second year MFA in acting candidate. At NIU, she recently performed as Susan in A Bird in the Hand and as Maria in a reading of Summertime. Raised in Idaho, she moved to California and received two BAs at Concordia University Irvine: English and theatre. Some of her favorite performances at Concordia include Antigone in Antigone, Beatrice in The Servant of Two Masters, Mrs. Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer, ensemble in All Shook Up, The Secret Garden, and The Plain Princess, and her favorite, an original script adaptation of Ten Days in a Madhouse as Nellie Bly.


Rachel YoderRachael Yoder (Friendship) is a second year MFA in acting candidate, who is thrilled to join the Everybody team for this special virtual production. Favorite credits include, NIU: The Wolves, Girls and Dolls. Regional: Sleepy Hollow (Capital Repertory Theatre) A Christmas Carol, Amadeus (Geva Theater Center) Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale (MaineStage Shakespeare) Love’s Labour’s Lost, Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare in the Valley) New York: Fifth of July, Independence (Stella Adler Studio) Pretty Theft (Jordan Bean & Co). Rachael also serves as managing director of The Outer Loop Theater Experience, overseeing partner projects in Tanzania with her husband Michael. For more information, please visit Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Production Team

Branden Jacobs Jenkins (Playwright): Hailed as “as one of this country’s most original and illuminating writers about race,” Jacobs-Jenkins has written on a variety of topics, often taking a much-older play as a starting point. His 2014 hit An Octoroon, slyly subverted an 1859 melodrama about mixed-race romances. Everybody riffs on an even older model: a late-medieval morality play called Everyman. Because the title character in both plays represents any human on the verge of death, the actor who played the role in the original run of Everybody was chosen randomly every night. Jacobs-Jenkins explains: “The concept…is that every night there’ll be a different Everyman, chosen by lottery, so the cast will shift a lot. This may be an insane idea. We’re assuming all these lovely actors are going to memorize the entire script.” The NIU production isn’t quite so ambitious.

Jessica Ferreira (Assistant Stage Manager) This is Jessie’s first show that she has worked on and completed. Previously she had worked on Time of Your Life, but sadly that show never saw the light of day. Jessie is a sophomore in the school of Theater and Dance and is pursuing a BFA design and technology degree. In taking on the role of assistant stage manager, Jessie is one step closer to her goal of one day becoming a stage manager.

Vincent Juarez (Student Choreographer) is a third year BFA in acting candidate at Northern Illinois University. His past NIU credits include Paris in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, Newsboy in The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan, and Gabriel in Bird in the Hand by Jorge Ignacio Cortinas. Vincent is grateful for the opportunity to have collaborated with Sophia Day Arnold, Jamaque Thomas New-berry & Kendra Holton to direct and produce the Danse Macabre.

Justin Williams (Stage Manager) is a BFA design and technology alumni class of 2016 and has been in the professional world ever since. With his first production in 2011, he has spent almost 10 years doing shows all over. Starting at Crete-Monee High School and finishing at Northern Illinois University, Justin spent years learning multiple skills in the entertainment world that made him the success he is today. Most notable work experiences are Cedar Point Amusement Park, Carnival Cruise Lines, and now currently at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Ltd. When asked how it feels to be doing a NIU show again he said, “Returning to NIU and joining the production of Everybody has been an unexpected pleasure.”

Director / Edwin Lee Gibson
Assistant Director / Victor Jaimes
Stage Manager / Justin Williams
Assistant Stage Manager / Jessica Ferreira
Technical Director / Brysen Hannappel
Scene Shop Supervisor / Ethan Rosing
Movement Coach / Kendra Holton
Student Choreographers / Vincent Juarez, Sophia Arnold Costume Consultant / Jeremy Floyd
Casting Director / Dr. Kay Martinovich
Production Liaisons / Kendra Holton, Jeremy Floyd
Director of Marketing / Suzanne Rosenik
Outreach Coordinator / Sylvie Baldwin
Run Crew / Elijah Bustamante, Hernan Acosta
Student Editors / Jamaque Newberry, Alexander Boyer, Clark Cheatham, Wesley Hutchinson, Aidan Murphy, Alexa Wiljanen Properties Designer / Dave Doherty

Theatre alumna Nicole Upton promoted to managing director of Ingenuity

Theatre alumna Nicole Upton promoted to managing director of Ingenuity

Nicole UptonNicole Upton, an NIU graduate who earned her bachelor of arts in comprehensive theatre studies from the School of Theatre and Dance has been promoted to managing director of Ingenuity.

Ingenuity is an organization founded in 2011 to increase arts education access, quality and equity in Chicago Public Schools in direct response to decades of arts divestment. They believe Chicago has a once in-a-generation opportunity to make change within the arts on a scale that matters.

Upton had previously served as Ingenuity’s director of partnerships and professional learning beginning in 2015. In her new role she is responsible for the strategic and operational progress toward Ingenuity’s mission of ensuring every CPS student has access to a high quality arts education.

Prior to joining Ingenuity, Upton worked in the CPS Department of Arts Education where she oversaw projects, programs and initiatives for students, teachers, principles and community stakeholders.

She also worked as the senior director of education at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, where she launched ArtsXChange, a collaborative professional development program for classroom teachers, and directed Hands Together, Heart to Art, an arts-based summer camp for children who have experienced the death of a parent. Upton also has experience as a director and stage manager and as a high school theater teacher.

In addition to her BA in comprehensive theatre studies from NIU, she has a master of arts in educational theatre from New York University.

South African actor Anton Krueger to serve virtual residency at School of Theatre and Dance

South African actor Anton Krueger to serve virtual residency at School of Theatre and Dance

South African actor, playwright, director and scholar Anton Krueger will be serving a virtual residency in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance with free events on Thursday, January 21 through Saturday, January 23.

Krueger is a writer and scholar specializing in South African performance modalities. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on subjects ranging from indigenous dance to Zef. His book, Experiments in Freedom: Issues of Identity in New South African Drama (2010) won the Rhodes Vice Chancellor’s Book Award and Magnet Theatre: Three Decades of Making Space (2016, co-edited with Megan Lewis) won the Hiddingh-Currie Award.

Free Events

January 21 – 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. – Zoom Workshop
“Playful Mindfulness: Improvisation and Spontaneous Creativity”

January 22 – 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. – Participatory Online Performance
“The Voice in Your Head” written and performed by Anton Krueger
Limited to 15 participants – contact Dr. Gibson Cima, NIU Head of Theatre Studies for a link.

1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
“Current Trends in South African Theatre” with Renos Spanoudes

January 23 – 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Participatory Online Performance
“The Voice in Your Head”
Limited to 15 participants – contact Dr. Gibson Cima, NIU Head of Theatre Studies for a link. 

12:35 to 1:00 p.m. – Post-show discussion with Anton Krueger

For more information and links to these events, contact Dr. Gibson Cima, Head of Theatre Studies.

Dance minor Jill Belluomini chosen as NIU’s Lincoln Laureate

Dance minor Jill Belluomini chosen as NIU’s Lincoln Laureate

Jill BelluominiJill Belluomini can gracefully conquer both a molecular dynamics simulation and a pirouette.

Her major and minor at NIU—chemistry and dance—represent her two passions. As different as they may seem, to her, they’re intertwined.

For Belluomini, life is all about learning, discovering, inspiring.

“Being able to continue dancing here is amazing. They treat their minors like majors,” said Lincoln Laureate Jill Belluomini, shown here at NIU’s 2018 Spring Dance Concert. Source: Northern Illinois University

“I think she feels it’s her responsibility to make the most of what she has around her,” says her friend and mentor Robin Marchiori, a 1995 NIU graduate and co-owner of Cary-Grove Performing Arts Centre, where Belluomini began dancing at age eight.

“Plus, she’s just funny, kind and brilliant.”

Belluomini, a 22-year-old Cary native, will graduate this May as NIU’s 2020 Student Lincoln Laureate, an honor reserved for the university’s top senior. The Lincoln Laureate Award is given to an outstanding senior from each of Illinois’ four-year universities for excellence in both curricular and extracurricular activities.

You could say Belluomini hit the ground running—and dancing—upon transferring to NIU from Harper College in Palatine.

She’d always planned to major in chemistry, but sought a university where she could also minor in dance. She threw in a couple more minors of biology and mathematics along the way.She’d run across campus between dance classes in Gable to her science classes in Faraday Hall, often arriving at organic chemistry in a leotard, her hair in a bun.

“I always loved science, and I always had a knack for it,” Belluomini said. “I wanted to go a little deeper to understand why things work the way they work. I knew I wanted to do research. I wanted to help discover things and learn more. It was more about never wanting to stop learning and helping other people learn.”

She remembers being assigned famed scientist Maria Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, as part of a “really big terrifying” fifth-grade project at Saints Peter & Paul School in Cary. Students pretended to be part of a wax museum, reenacting their famous characters.

Belluomini chose Curie for another project in seventh grade and has looked up to her ever since.

After grade school, she homeschooled with the support of her parents, Brian and Diane. She took a couple classes through a homeschool cohort, but said, “For the most part, I taught myself.”

A rare find

Applying to graduate schools now, Belluomini aims to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry and says she likely will remain in academia. Whatever path she takes, she hopes to mentor and inspire more women to pursue the fields of science.

Those who know her say she’s already doing that.

“She is not only a brilliant classroom student, but she is also uniquely creative in research,” said Ralph Wheeler, professor and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry chair. Wheeler nominated Jill Belluomini for the Lincoln Laureate Award. Source: Northern Illinois University

Among an endless list of activities and involvement on campus, Belluomini has served as a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) tutor as part of ACCESS Tutoring and Support Services. A University Honors student, twice awarded as an Honors Scholarshe’s also part of NIU’s Belong in STEM Scholars Program. She’s volunteered for STEMFest and serves as president of NIU’s Alpha Chi Sigma Delta Nu chapter and as a member of the NIU Chemistry Club.

She’s done all this while not only taking dance classes, but also performing in several shows. Having grown up dancing at Cary-Grove Performing Arts Centre, she taught there after high school. The studio became “her second home.”

“More impressive than simply being the top student in several classes is the range of fields she has mastered,” Sunderlin said of Belluomini, who has a near-perfect GPA. “Even in the sciences, it is rare to find a student who is equally adept at the biological side of chemistry and the mathematical/physical side.”“I don’t know where Jill finds the time to do her highest-quality classwork, involvement in departmental activities with both chemistry and dance, and her outreach activities (not to mention a job),” said Lee Sunderlin, Ph.D., associate professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

‘Uniquely creative’

Sunderlin and Belluomini’s research mentor, Ralph Wheeler, Ph.D., professor and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry chair, nominated her for the Lincoln Laureate Award.

Wheeler asked Belluomini to join his research team during her first year at NIU. Interested in computational chemistry, Belluomini’s research involves analyzing the structure of a protein and its mutation.

“That’s the bare bones idea of what I’m doing,” she said.

There’s so much more, though.

“I wanted to help discover things and learn more. It was more about never wanting to stop learning and helping other people learn,” Jill Belluomini said of her decision to pursue chemistry at NIU. Source: Northern Illinois University

“Jill Belluomini owes her success as a student and a researcher to hard work, an excellent memory, exceptional problem-solving skills and extraordinary creativity,” Wheeler wrote in his nomination.

“She is not only a brilliant classroom student, but she is also uniquely creative in research. As a second-year college student, Jill already showed skills that I would expect from a mature graduate student.”

While dance naturally allows her to express herself, so does her research, she said.It’s that hard work and creativity that connects Belluomini’s two loves.

“With research, you have to be really creative, and I don’t think people realize that as much,” she said. “You have to think about a problem in one sense and then you have to think about how you want to solve it. There are a lot of things that don’t go right. Dance has helped my creativity grow.”

Encouraged to go to NIU by Marchiori, who doubled majored in performing arts and communications at NIU, Belluomini said she’s felt as valued in NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance as the chemistry department.

“Dance is more than just a hobby to me,” she said. “It really is a part of who I am. Being able to continue dancing here is amazing. They treat their minors like majors.”

Although the Lincoln Laureate Award came as a shock to her, those who know her say it’s no surprise really. “I think the discipline and hard work is really naturally to her,” Marchiori said. “It’s just who she is.”

NIU’s 2020 Lincoln Laureate finalists and nominees:

• Matt McCoy of Downers Grove, first finalist. Double-major of mechanical engineering and music performance-jazz. McCoy excelled both inside and outside the classroom as part of NIU’s nationally ranked Supermileage team, the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology’s 3D Maker SpaceNIU’s Jazz Ensemble, the McKearn Fellows Program, the Mechanical Engineering Honors Society Pi Tau Sigma and more. McCoy’s nomination included nine recommendation letters from faculty both in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology and the NIU School of Music, as well as his academic advisor and professional connections he’s made through an internship and his extensive involvement on campus. “Clearly it takes something special to be able to do all of that academic, technical, artistic, research and professional work simultaneously,” wrote Nicholas Pohlman, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

• Brooke Lavite of Waterman, finalist. Double-major of English with a literature track and philosophy. Among her many achievements, activities and awards, Lavite has earned numerous scholarships and won the Baker Prize for Best Undergraduate Essay twice. She has served as treasurer of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society, editor-in-chief (2019-20) and managing editor (2018-19) for the student-run Stonehouse Academic Journal and a member of the Committee to Improve Undergraduate Academic Excellence. “Occasionally a department is gifted one of those students whose dedication, drive and knowhow make her essential to the connectedness, production and well-being of the student-body as a whole. How, we find ourselves asking, will we get on without her? Brook Lavite has most definitely become that student for the English Department over the past several years,” wrote Ryan Hibbett, assistant professor of English.

• Claire Miller of Rockton, finalist. Double-major of political science and philosophy, double-minor of history and communications. An NIU Presidential Scholarship winner in 2017 and awarded the NIU Congressional Internship Scholarship in 2020, Miller has been part of the University Honors Program, the NIU Competitive Debate Team, the Competitive Forensics Team, the NIU Federal Relations Intern program, the Model United Nations and more. She also serves as the undergraduate representative on the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. “Her academic record is as strong as they come; she has an extensive record of co- and extracurricular successes; and she has been a humble and selfless leader on campus in ways that could be, but should NOT be, overlooked,” wrote J. Mitchell Pickerill, chair of the Department of Political Science.

• Brad Beyer of McHenry, nomineeEconomics major, biological sciences minor. Speaker of the Student Government Association Senate, Beyer’s involvement and service to the community stand out, along with his academic record. He’s the Balanced Man Scholarship Chairman for Sigma Phi Epsilon, ambassador for the NIU Foundation’s Huskies United, vice president of the Economics Student Association and the Economic Department’s representative to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Advisory Council. “Brad has demonstrated a great deal of commitment and loyalty to NIU by his efforts to enhance the experience for students here,” wrote  Carl Campbell III, professor and chair of the Economics Department.

• Mark Raupp of Crystal Lake, nomineeHistory major and part of the Secondary Educator Teacher Training Program. Raup served in the U.S. Navy from 1992-98. A returning student after working as a development manager for an insurance company for six years, Raupp came to NIU to “realize a dream of becoming a teacher, of mentoring students to appreciate the value of history and helping them to connect past and present,” wrote Rosemary Feurer, associate professor in the History Department. He was a student teacher at Woodstock North High School this year and provided seminar and ongoing instruction on tactile learning for visually impaired student in his teaching cohort at NIU. He won NIU’s Student Engagement Fund Award and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society Golden Key Award in 2019.

This article originally appeared on