Fall Dance Concert runs from November 18-21

Fall Dance Concert runs from November 18-21

A celebration of Broadway musicals is the theme of this year’s NIU School of Theatre and Dance annual Fall Dance Concert.

The Best of Broadway opens with a performance Thursday, October 18 at 7 p.m. with subsequent performances Friday, October 19 at 7 p.m., Saturday October 20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, October 21 at 2 p.m. All performances are held in the O’Connell Theatre in the Stevens Building on the main NIU Campus.

Tickets are available through the Annette Johns School of Theatre and Dance Box Office at $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, $9 for students and NIU students are free with a pre-reserved ticket.

Performance Pieces

Opening and Audition from 42nd Street
Dream Ballet from Oklahoma!
Mambo! from West Side Story


Can-Can from The Merry Widow
Goodbye My Lady Love from Showboat
Duet from An American in Paris
Nowadays and Hot Honey Rag from Fosse

Costume Design: Christina Leinicke
Scenic Design: Eric Brockmeier
Lighting Design: Aidan Murphy and Alexa Wiljanen
Properties Design: David Doherty
Assistant Properties Design: Joshua Smith
Stage Manager: Jordan Clifton
Technical Director: Elizabeth Ahles
Assistant Technical Director: Adam Rager

Dance Notes

Opening and Audition from 42nd Street
Book: Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble
Lyrics: Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer
Music: Harry Warren
Choreography: Paula Frasz, Ensemble, Gower Champion
Lighting Design: Aidan Murphy
Dancers: Andy Lee: Mathew Skorupski, Oscar (rehearsal pianist): Beverly Kearns
Chorus: Athei Chagai, Millicent Collins, Kate Drury, Darya Ellickson, Antonio Houston, Gwenlyn Jones, Abigail Kresno, Maya Paletta, Tianna Stubbs, Kendall Woodberry

Tap dancing is an American dance form, resulting from African rhythms and movements combining with Irish hard-shoe step dancing. As a native dance, tap is passed down by example and by copying. The choreography in this number is a combination of my favorite steps, steps devised by the dancers and us stealing steps from the original production. Special thanks to Bev Kearns who not only accompanies us for this performance, but accompanies ballet, pointe and tap classes in our department throughout the year. She’s a real pro!

Dream Ballet from Oklahoma! 
Book and Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
Music: Richard Rodgers
Orchestration and Arrangement: Daniel Kluger
Choreography: Marc Macaranas
Lighting Design: Aidan Murphy  Dancers: Taneya Ball, George Curtis, Rachel Day, Victoria Herrera, Toby Thomas

This work is a reimagining of a reimagining. Originally choreographed by Agnes de Mille in 1943, the “Dream Ballet” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! represented a pivotal moment for narrative choreography in American musical theatre. In it, the character Laurey dances through her own fears and anxieties surrounding her relationship with two men, Curly and Jud. For 2019’s Broadway revival, “Dream Ballet” was reimagined by choreographer John Heginbotham as a powerful, intimate solo about dreams and awakening. Inspired by both de Mille and Heginbotham’s versions, this original choreography asks the question: “What is the American Dream and who gets to have it?”

Mambo! from West Side Story
Book: Arthur Laurents
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Music: Leonard Bernstein
Choreography: Jerome Robbins (1957)
Adapted by Rich Grund
Lighting Design: Alexa Wiljanen
Dancers: Alyssa Altadonna, Taneya Ball, Anna Lindstrom, Franki Mastrone, Darius Murray, Maya Paletta, Kai Poe, Michael Rojas, Taryn Sarto, Mat Skorupski, Ariana Williams

Mambo! is one of the treasured dances from Laurent, Robbins, Bernstein, and Sondheim’s 1957 Tony Award winning West Side Story. The musical, set in the upper west side of New York City, is a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet. The central theme of love versus hate is played with in this classic high school dance.

Can-Can from The Merry Widow
Librettists: Viktor Leon and Leo Stein
Composer: Franz Lehar
Restaged: Judith Chitwood
Lighting Design: Alexa Wiljanen
Dancers: Alyssa Altadonna, Athei Chagai, Millie Collins, Rachel Day, Darya Ellickson (Thursday evening, Saturday matinee, Sunday Matinee), Renae Frank, Gwen Jones, Abigail Kresno, Anna Lindstrom (Friday evening, Saturday evening), Ansley Pierce, Taryn Sarto

The Merry Widow was originally an operetta with a delightful score by Austro-Hungarian composer, Franz Lehar. The “Can-Can” was a high energy and physically demanding dance that first appeared in the working ballrooms in Paris around 1830. The dance featured the use and manipulation of the skirts with high energy kicking and suggestive body movements. The “Can-Can” was a way of fighting against Victorian values, particularly for women. Women were not to be out of breath, show their ankles or lift their legs. The dance challenged political conventions at the time and was a call for change.

Goodbye My Lady Love from Showboat
Book and Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
Music: Jerome Kern
Choreography: Paula Frasz
Lighting Design: Aidan Murphy
Scenic Design: Eric Brockmeier
Dancers: George Curtis and Kai Poe

“The cakewalk was a pre-Civil War dance originally performed by slaves on plantation grounds. The uniquely American dance was first known as the “prize walk”; the prize was an elaborately decorated cake. Hence, “prize walk” is the original source for the phrases “takes the cake” and “cakewalk.”  

Here’s how the dance worked: Couples would stand in a square formation with men on the inside perimeter and then dance around the ballroom “as if in mimicry of the white man’s attitudes and manners,” according to Richard Kislan. The steps included “a high-leg prance with a backward tilt of the head, shoulders and upper torso.”  

Plantation owners served as judges for these contests — and the slave owners might not have fully caught on that their slaves might just have been mocking them during these highly elaborate dances.” — Lakshmi Ghandi  

The dance was so popular that it was absorbed into white American culture and performed on Broadway, in Vaudeville, television and movies. The irony is for many years the Black performers whose ancestors originated the dance were banned from performing on Broadway, in Vaudeville, television and movies because of their race.

In the musical Showboat, the characters seen here, Frank and Ellie, would never have been portrayed by a Black couple. We are happy to put the cakewalk back into most capable and talented hands.

Pas de deux from An American in Paris 
Script: Alan Jay Lerner
Lyrics: Ira Gershwin
Music: George Gershwin
Original Concept and Choreography: Gene Kelly (1951)
Rechoreographed for Broadway: Christopher Wheeldon (2014)
Adapted by Rich Grund
Lighting Design: Alexa Wiljanen
Scenic Design: Eric Brockmeier
Dancers: Ansley Pierce and Michael Rojas

The An American in Paris duet comes from Minnelli and Lerner’s 1951 musical film, which was inspired by George Gershwin’s 1928 orchestral composition. Gene Kelly choreographed the dancing for most of the film, receiving an honorary Academy Award. The dancing has been replicated and rechoreographed numerous times, perhaps most famously by Christopher Wheeldon for the 2014 Broadway revival.

Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag from Fosse
Conceived by: Richard Maltby Jr., Chet Walker and Ann Reinking
Original lyrics from Chicago: Fred Ebb
Original book from Chicago: Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Original music from Chicago: John Kander
Choreography: Bob Fosse
Restaged by: Paula Frasz
Lighting Design: Aidan Murphy
Dancers: Rachel Day and Lizzie Moore (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday Matinee); Renae Frank and Victoria Herrera (Thursday, Saturday Evening, Sunday)

When you see a Fosse dance move, you know it’s a Fosse move. Think curved shoulders, turned-in knees, bowler hats, punctuated hand movements, finger snaps, sideways shuffling — and, yes, jazz hands.


Alyssa Altadonna is BFA major in dance performing arts. She has been dancing for about 15 years and is a freshman at NIU this year. Prior to NIU she lived in England where she trained at Cygnets and Hazelwood dance studios. Before moving to England she lived in Germany where she would train in the Netherlands every day expanding her different types of techniques. Alyssa hopes to move back to Europe and join a company particularly hopes to gain a place at The Dutch National Ballet.

Taneya Ball is a sophomore dance performance major at Northern Illinois University, she started dancing at the age of three. She continued to dance her way through life by taking a few dance classes and training at the Chicago High School for the Arts. So far, Taneya has enjoyed her at NIU. She feels like she’s learning how to be more comfortable as a dancer and being comfortable being a part of the dance conservatory at NIU. She would like to give a special thank-you to her teachers for always pushing her at all times and she appreciates them for not giving up on her but always believing she can do anything.

Athei Chagai is a freshman at NIU from Clinton, Iowa. Athei is a BFA dance major and has been dancing for the past 16 years. Before NIU, Athei received most of her dance training at the Carousel School of Dance in Clinton, where she was also a member of the Gateway Contemporary Ballet Company. Athei has also attended summer dance workshops such as CNADM (Chicago National Association of Dance Masters) from 2016- 2019. This will be Athei’s first NIU faculty performance.

Millicent Collins is a freshman BFA dance major, and plans to earn a minor in non-profit/non-governmental studies. Before Attending NIU, Millicent trained with Turning Pointe Academy of Dance, in Maryville, Ill., and was a member of TourDance pre-professional dance company. She performed in the Student Elevate Project with The Big Muddy Dance Company in Saint Louis, Mo., 2018-2021. Millicent participated in summer intensives with The Big Muddy Dance Company, COCA Saint Louis, Nashville Ballet, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. In 2018 and 2019, she performed in Dance For Food, an outreach performance to benefit the St. Louis Area Food Bank. Post-graduation from NIU, Millicent hopes to combine her love of social justice, community outreach, and the performing arts, to help others and inspire them through dance.

George Curtis is a senior dance major at NIU.  He had little to no experience in technical training starting his freshman year in college but now is proud to call himself a technically trained dancer. From performing “Opus Jazz” by Joel Hall to performing live on stage at Lyrical Lemonade he has gained versatility and the ability to flow easily in and out of dance styles, which is one of his most notable qualities.

Rachel Day, a Victoria Young Scholarship recipient, has spent her career training in ballet and modern techniques. While at NIU, she has worked with DanceLoop Chicago, featured in a dance film titled “Maybe We Don’t Know Love”, and The Pas de Cheval Dancers in Lake City, Fla. “Best of Broadway” is Rachel’s debut performance on the O’Connell Theatre stage.

Kate Drury is a junior BFA acting candidate and dance minor. Originally from Nashville, Tenn., this is her third dance concert at NIU. She was also previously seen in the plays “Bird in the Hand” and “Edward II.” As a musical theatre kid through and through, this semester›s show is very dear to her, and she hopes you enjoy!

Darya Ellickson is a sophomore dance BFA major making her first main stage debut in this Broadway themed dance concert. While this may be her first stage concert, she did participate in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 online dance concerts. Darya is from DeForest, Wis., danced at Ultimate Leap Dance Center for nine years, and has also performed with DeFortes, a show choir, for four years. This past summer, Darya attended the Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre Summer Intensive program in Chicago. Darya holds the role of Northern Dance Theatre Secretary. Darya plans to graduate in Fall of 2024 and hopes to work on Broadway or dance with Disney.

Renae Frank is a senior double major (BFA dance, BS psychology) from DePere, Wisc. Prior to attending NIU, she was a competition dancer for ten years at All That Dance, Inc. Renae also trained at Skorzewski School of Ballet in Green Bay, Wisc., from 2014 until 2017. Renae has previously attended summer dance intensives at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts during the summers of 2018 and 2019. This is Renae’s eighth faculty concert here at NIU. Beyond dance, Renae also directed the student-run concerts for Fall of 2019, Spring of 2019, and Fall of 2020. Renae also held the role of Northern Dance Theatre Vice President from 2018 until 2020. She plans to graduate this coming December and aspires to join a dance company until eventually returning to school to get a masters in movement therapy.

Victoria Herrera from Chicago, started taking dance classes at Curie Metropolitan High School. Herrera is a senior at NIU graduating in December 2021 with a bachelor’s in fine arts. She has performed at Dance Chicago, Harris Theatre, and Livorno in Danza in Italy. As well as performing with Northern Dance Theatre in “ENUF” at the Kennedy Center for the American College Dance Association Festival. She is currently dancing with the company DanceLoop Chicago. She is currently a choreographer for Art for Life at Northern Illinois University. This is Victoria’s Third Season with DanceLoop Chicago.

Antonio Houston is a freshman BFA dance major currently attending Northern Illinois University. Antonio has been dancing since the age of five and his favorite style is tap. Before coming to NIU, Antonio’s youth was very busy as he was a competition dancer for multiple dance studios.  Antonio then danced for a ballet company called ballet Chicago and a professional tap company, Madd Rhythms. Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a stop to both, but he is very happy to be dancing on a stage with a live audience again! He is very grateful to be allowed to train at NIU and can’t wait to learn more about himself through dance!

Gwen Jones is a Junior BFA Dance major at NIU with a minor in special education. A Victoria Young Scholarship recipient, she has had the opportunity to appear in pieces such as “Shirtwaist Factory”, “Roxanne”, and “Spirit of the Horse” in Lake City, Fla. with the Pas de Cheval dancers. Alongside performing, Gwen is also assistant choreographer for Penguin Players, a musical theatre organization starring a cast of adults with disabilities. After graduation, and a professional performance career, she plans to teach classes for individuals with disabilities.

Abigail Kresno is a third-year dance major. She had repertoire choreographed on her from Joel Hall, a wildly acclaimed choreographer. Abigail studied under Richard Smith at the Inside summer intensive. She also had the opportunity to collaborate with Richard Grund on her solo for “Dancing Forward Together.”

Elizabeth Moore is a senior at NIU this year pursuing her pre-physical therapy major and dance performance minor. She has trained at her home studio in Bettendorf, Iowa, but has also studied at other locations including Oklahoma City University, Broadway Dance Center, and the American Rhythm Center. She would like to thank her family for being her biggest cheerleaders and her dance teacher, Paula, for always encouraging her. She is so excited to be a part of such a fun, high energy show and hopes that the audience will leave smiling!

Kai Poe is a senior dance major at NIU. Starting her technical training three years ago, she has since had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Joel Hall, Nicole Clarke-Spriger, and Kevin Iega Jeff. One of her most exciting performances being with the Deeply Rooted Dance Theater company. As Vice President of the Northern Dance Theater Board and student director she is not only dedicated to having a dance career but having a leadership role within the community.

Ansley Pierce is senior at NIU. This is her second year here, after studying at a conservatory in Kansas City for two years under the direction of Paula Weber. Training in Kansas City with notable names such as, Deeply Rooted founder Garry Abbott, renowned former dancer Ronald Tice, and former Ailey dancer DeeAnna Hiett, amongst others. After her first year at NIU she was awarded the Jerry Tulk Choreography Scholarship. This past year she has also modeled for and represented Russian Pointe, along with being a Ballet Rosa soloist.

Michael Rojas is a senior. He has been training for three years, has performed in three on stage and two virtual performances. Michael was voted president of Northern Dance Theatre. While Michael is pursuing his training career at Northern Illinois University, he is also a program assistant for Upward Bound.

Taryn Sarto is a senior BFA dance major with a minor in rehabilitation counseling. She is a recipient of both the Talented Student Tuition Waiver and the René LeBeau Memorial Endowed Scholarship from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance. She trained at Beth Fowler School of Dance prior to attending NIU and has been training for sixteen years in various styles, with a special interest in ballet and contemporary. Taryn is the current choreographer for Penguin Players – a musical theater organization comprised of a creative team of NIU students and starring a cast of adults with disabilities. She is also student directing, choreographing, and performing for NDT’s upcoming Art for Life production.

Tianna Stubbs was born and raised in Chicago. She is now a sophomore dance major and will minor in sports management in the upcoming semester. Tianna started dancing when she was four years old, her dance career began at Mayfair Dance Academy. She made her transition when she attended Walter H. Dyett High School for the Arts for four years. She was trained under one of the best, Stephaine Kawesch, all while being a majorette captain for three years. Because of this training and experience, Tianna was more than prepared for her college career. Although this is Tianna’s second year, this is her very first live performance (because of Covid, it was virtual solos) and she is extremely excited to showcase her talent!

Ariana Williams began dancing when she was four years old. Since then, she has participated in many genres of dance such as ballet, hip hop, liturgical dancing, and poms. Ariana is currently a sophomore here at Northern Illinois University studying dance performance. After college
she plans on residing in Texas to further her career as a professional dance choreographer with plans on owning her own dance studio. Ariana would like to give thanks to her mother, grandmother, teachers, family and friends and most importantly God for supporting her through her journey.

Production Team

Eric Brockmeier is a first-year MFA scenic design graduate student. His previous works include charge artist for “Twelfth Night” (NIU 2021), scenic designer for the University of Northern Colorado’s production of “The Heiress” (2020), assistant scenic designer for “The Cherry Orchard” (2019 UNCO), and assistant charge artist for “The Imaginary Invalid” (2018 UNCO). He would like to thank his friends, family, and professors for the support to get to this point. Enjoy the show! Joshua 1:9

Jordan Clifton is an alumna from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance. She is currently a full time EMT, which was definitely not something she thought she’d be doing, but now cannot imagine doing anything else. She does still stage manage whenever she has the opportunity, and will always come back for the dance programs, they hold a special place in her heart. Some of her past show credits at NIU include stage manager for “Wonderfully Alice” (’19), the “Spring 2018 Dance Concert”, “The Glass Menagerie” (’18), “The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek” (’17), “Spring 2016 Dance Concert”, “Out of the Blue” (’16), and “The Balcony Scene” (’16). She was also the lighting designer for “Art for Life” (’15), “Student Choreographic Showcase” (’16), “Art for Life” (’16), and the “Fall 2017 Dance Concert” She is currently also the stage manager for the Elise Flagg Academy of Dance. She’s thankful for all the support she has received being back in the SoTD, and hopes you enjoy the show!

Alexa Wiljanen (Lighting Designer) is a second year MFA lighting design student. Alexa holds a BFA in theatre: design and technology from Western Michigan University. Previous design credits include: “Kernel of Sanity” (NIU), “Twelfth Night” (NIU), Collide: Deos Contemporary Ballet (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Amadeus (WMU), and Mostly Medieval Theatre Festival (Kalamazoo, Mich.)


Judith Chitwood is a professor and coordinator of dance at Northern Illinois University. Ms. Chitwood began her training at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, Ill., and continued to study in Chicago at the Ruth Page Center and Evanston School of Ballet. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music. She continued her training in classical ballet and became a member of the Cincinnati Ballet Company. She also performed with MOMEMTA Dance Company in reconstructions of modern dance pioneer, Doris Humphrey. Ms. Chitwood is also a certified Pilates instructor since 2003 in Romana’s Pilates of New York and continues to study the highly specialized work of Joseph Pilates with Master Teacher Trainer, Juanita Lopez.

Rich Grund’s performing career includes principal and soloist roles in over forty ballets in the Dayton Ballet repertoire, and tours throughout the U.S. and Canada. Other international credits include dancing by invitation with the Finnish National Ballet, and performing a residency in Cuba commissioned through the Harkness Foundation. His credits include director and répétiteur for Hong Kong Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre’s productions of “Romeo and Juliet”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Peter Pan”, and “Carmen” ballets, for the Colorado Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet companies. Rich’s research in learner centered ballet teaching practices awarded him the MA degree in education from the Royal Academy of Dance, and the University of Bath, and he is an ABT® Certified Teacher in pre-primary through level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. He is an associate professor of dance at Northern Illinois University, and is on faculty at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Chicago.

Paula Frasz “has the talent and vision made infinitely clear in the sharpest and best-designed work” announced Sid Smith in the Chicago Tribune. Tribune critic Lucia Mauro calls her, “…a standout”. Her many achievements include: Mordine & Company featured dancer and featured dancer at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has been named resident choreographer of the Bosphorus Dance Company in Istanbul, Turkey and at the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, Mass.. Her choreography has been commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra. She is one of the founding choreographers of Chicago’s Next Dance Festival, whose work has been called “powerfully modern” by Lynne Voedisch of the Chicago Sun Times. She received the 1999 Ruth Page Award for Artistic Achievement in Choreography from the Chicago Dance Coalition, and the 2002 Artists Fellowship Award in Choreography from the Illinois Arts Council. From 2002 to 2015, Frasz was the artistic director of DanszLoop Chicago, a professional dance company which the Chicago Tribune calls “…a driving force on the Chicago dance scene.”

Ms. Frasz was a faculty member at the Dance Center of Columbia College for eight years. She is currently professor of dance at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and has also been in residence at many colleges and universities, including St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, Southern Illinois University, Winona State University and St. Mary’s College in Minnesota, Harper College and College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill. In 2002, she started DanszLoop Chicago (nfp), a theatrical modern dance company performing in Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area. They performed at nearly 50 venues in their first year. The company made its New York debut in September of 2012, where critics said “Frasz’s powerful choreography brought an intriguing twist to this, and left me wanting more.”

In 2013 Frasz made her acting debut in “The Chorus Girl Plays” at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival. Frasz also received the 2002 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for Excellence in Choreography. After a broken leg sidelined her in 2015, she taught dance for three months on a scooter, recorded her learning experiences as a handicapped dancer and then presented the findings at the International Fine Arts Conference in Athens, Greece. Her article “How Injury Changed the Way I Teach” appeared in the March 2017 edition of Dance Teacher Magazine.

In 2018 Frasz brought her dance ENUF to the American College Dance Regional Festival. It was selected as best in the Midwest and will be performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC at the National American College Dance Festival. The adjudicators described the work in the following way:

ENUF reflects on the present and imagines a future rooted in the long Civil Rights movement, from the abolishment of slavery to Black Lives Matter. Through urgent athleticism, it creates collective and individual bodies of protest and power.

For her work with the BIPOC community, Frasz was awarded the 2021 Deacon Davis Diversity Award at Northern Illinois University, and was named a Presidential Engagement Partnership Professor.

Ms. Frasz holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Butler University. She graduated from the University of Illinois with an M.F.A. She is also a member of Actor’s Equity Association and has served several terms on the Illinois Arts Council Dance Panel. Ms. Frasz is an active and vital member of Chicago’s dance community. She has performed, choreographed and taught internationally in Brisbane, Australia, Istanbul, Turkey, Cannes, France, several locations in Austria, and other destinations. “A tongue-in-cheek choreographer with a spunky stage presence” as Lucia Mauro of the Sun Times insists, Paula Frasz continues to produce her work around the United States and abroad. As one critic wrote: “This review is full of superlatives, but she deserves them. Thank you, Paula Frasz!”

Marc Macaranas is a dance artist and movement media maker. In 2008 he joined DanceWorks Chicago as a founding dancer under the direction of Julie Nakagawa. Since then, he has performed widely across North America and Europe with companies that include Lucky Plush Productions, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Luna Negra Dance Theater, RUBBERBANDANCEGroup, and others.

As a movement media maker and choreographer, his creative practice collides dancing bodies and digital interfaces. He makes choreography for proscenium stages, non-traditional spaces, and cell phone screens. He constructs media installations and creates interactive projection design for dance and theatre. His dance and media work has been performed in Chicago, St. Louis, Iowa City, and at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. His most recent installation was made in collaboration with The Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis and Animal Feelings of Brooklyn, NY.

Marc has conducted workshops, master classes, and teaching residencies for dance studios, circus schools, university dance programs and professional dance companies across the country. He holds a BA in dance from UC Irvine, an MFA in dance from the University of Iowa. He is an ensemble member of Lucky Plush Productions and is an assistant professor at Northern Illinois University.

Production Staff

Scenic Coordinator: Sahin Sahinoglu
Technical Director: Elizabeth Ahles
Scene Shop Supervisor: Kallen Eckert
Scenery Shop Graduate Assistants: Eric Brockheimer, Adam Rager, Rachel Seabaugh
Assistant Technical Director Scenic Charge: Adam Rager
Scenic Construction: THEA 395 Students
Run Crew: Gagbby Gozdecki, Alex Kozak, Reanna Tremethick, Carrie Szostak, Garin Wilks, Heba Haklif
Costume Director: Lori Hartenhoff
Costume Shop Supervisor: Clare Richey Kaplan
Graduate Assistants: Elias Dennis, Aryn Carr
Drapers/First Hands/Stichers: Katheryn Medic, Elias Dennis, Aryn Carr, Ali Westendorf, Alix Burkhardt, Erin Grace, Jordan Boyd, Rebecca Formeller, Rayan Gilchrist, Maya Paletta, Riley Scifo, Kristen Serbia
Properties Director: Dave Doherty
Properties Shop Assistants: Savannah-Lee Mumford, Rachel Seabaugh, Brennan Olson, Rylan Johnson
Properties Shop Employees: Sarah Blickem, Lauren Krelle, Jack Gordon, Alfonso Tucker, Rylan Johnson
Sound Board Operator: Jordan Clifton
Technical Director Advisor: Ethan Rosing
Production Manager:
Ethan Rosing
House Managers:
Samantha Bliss, Oliva Echeverria, Colton Loeb, Naava Ofri-Akman, Hailey Stark
House Management Coordinator:
Tomás Adriano Dakan
Wade Duerkes, Brandon Wardell
Cover and Poster Art Design: Vincent J. Augustine

New adaptation of “Three Sisters” opens in School of Theatre and Dance

New adaptation of “Three Sisters” opens in School of Theatre and Dance

A new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic “Three Sisters” opens Friday, November 5 in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance. This world-premiere of a new adaptation translated and directed by Alexander Gelman, the school’s Distinguished Engagement Professor and Head of MFA acting, and breathes new life into Chekhov’s taut story of a family in the provinces hoping for a better life–always almost “going to Moscow.”

Tickets are available in the school’s online box office and are $7. NIU students are free with a pre-reserved ticket. Performances will be held Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, November 7 at 2 p.m., and again, Thursday, November 11 and Friday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 13 at 2 p.m. All in the Sally Stevens Players Theatre in the Stevens Building on the NIU main campus.


NickNicholas Bishop (Rode) is a junior actor at NIU. You may have seen him in past shows such as “Everybody”, “Love and Information”, and “Macbeth.” Hobbies include; guitar, basketball, and skateboarding. He is super EXCITED to be a part of this show.


Noah BunchNoah Bunch (Solyony) is a fourth year BFA in acting candidate from Louisville, Kentucky. His credits at NIU include Narcissus in “Polaroid Stories”, Flake in “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”, Blick in “Time of Your Life”, and Jay in “Something, Like Happiness.” Outside of NIU, Noah’s credits include Angelo in “Measure for Measure” (Commonwealth Theatre Center), Lysander in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Commonwealth Theatre Center), Herr Swetts in “A Bright Room Called Day” (Commonwealth Theatre Center), Conner in “Good Kids” (Commonwealth Theatre Center), and Benjamin Saar in “The Yellow Boat” (Alley Theatre).


KaitlynKaitlyn Cheng (Irina) is a third year MFA acting candidate who hails from California. Previous NIU credits include: “The Wolves” (#8), “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” (Clark), “Bike America” (Penny). It has been a joy to share this experience with a room full of generous people. It feels good to be back.


TomasTomás Dakan (Andrei) was born and raised in Pasadena, Calif. and received a B.A. in Theatre from Occidental College. He is thrilled to be back in a physical space to work on “Three Sisters” as his final project role, especially after the room has been so eager and hungry to find the beautiful moments in this play. His previous credits at NIU include Todd in “Bike America”, Felix in “Bird in the Hand”, and Edmund in “Summertime.” He wishes to thank all the NIU faculty and staff that have helped him up to this point and hopes you enjoy the show as much as he has enjoyed working on it.


Hannah HammelHannah Hammel (Olga) is a third year MFA in Acting candidate. She is the co-founder and marketing and PR mirector of Spicy Witch Productions, a feminist theater company based in New York City. Outside of NIU, she has performed with the Walnut Street Theatre, Newnan Shakespeare in the Park, Aftershock Entertainment, Truth Be Told Productions, Ritz Theatre Company, ReVamp Collective, Ignoble Shakespeare, Family Stages, Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, and many others. At NIU, she’s been seen in “Angels in America: Millennium Approache”s (Hannah Pitt, Rabbi, Ethel Rosenberg), “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” (Old Dogsborough), and “A Bright New Boise” (Pauline). BA English – Haverford College. Hannahacts.com | SpicyWitchProductions.com.

ZacZac Harness (Fedotik) is a third year BFA actor who is incredibly happy to have his first in-person appearance on a NIU stage. Previous NIU credits include “The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui“ as Gaffles/Fish/Bodyguard and “Town Hall” as B. He is so excited to be in a front of a live audience again and hopes that you enjoy the show!


James HendleyJames Hendley (Kulygin) is a third year MFA Acting student originally from Newnan, Ga. Previous shows at NIU include “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches”, “Love and Information”, and “Summertime.” Regional credits include the Nurse in “Romeo and Juliet” (Great River Shakespeare Festival), Haemon in “Antigone” (Barter Players), and Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet” (North Carolina Stage Company). James is also the proud co-founder and artistic director of Newnan Shakespeare in the Park, which produces free performances of the works of William Shakespeare every summer in Newnan, Ga. Much love to RJA always. Enjoy the show!


KazKaz Qutab (Chebutykin) is a third-year Acting MFA candidate from central Massachusetts. “Three Sisters” is his first live production at NIU. He offers his deepest gratitude to the people who made this production, the people who came from many miles away to see it, and his person. Previous credits: Nick in “The Time of Your Life”, Givola in “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”, and Death in “Everybody.”


James Arthel ReillyJames Arthel Reilly (Vershinin) is a third year MFA Acting candidate from the great state of Pennsylvania. He has previously appeared at NIU in “Summertime”, “Love and Information” and “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches.” James is a writer, actor, teacher and filmmaker. He is enormously grateful to be back to work and cannot dream of a better group of people with which to take this journey.


AndreaAndrea Shapiro (Natasha) hails from Ann Arbor, Mich. She is a fourth year BFA Acting candidate, professional singer, and working on feeling solid enough to put “dancer” in her bio. NIU credits: #14 in ”The Wolves” and Arthur/Momus in Franz Kafka’s “The Castle.” Other credits include: Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” (Stage Coach Players), cast member in “Stockwell” (Intermission: A Virtual Theatre Festival), as well as multiple productions at Chicago’s Second City.


GavinGavin Struempler (Tuzenbach) is an Alaskan born and raised, fourth-year BFA acting candidate at Northern Illinois University. He was last seen on the live stage as K in “The Castle” and Lysander in Goodly Creatures “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He has performed with Convergence Theater Collective and is a founding member of NYC’s movement theater group Babel. He’s so incredibly thankful to have you here, and hopes you enjoy the show.


Rachel YoderRachael Yoder (Masha) is a third year MFA Acting candidate hereat NIU. Favorite credits include, NIU: “The Wolves”, “Girls and Dolls”, “Everybody.” 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” (The Stella Adler Studio of Acting) “Pretty Theft” (Jordan Bean & Co). Rachael also serves as managing mirector of The Outer Loop Theater Experience, overseeing partner projects in Tanzania with her husband Michael. She is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association. More at www.rachaelyoder.com. For more information on The Outer Loop, please visit www.outerlooptheater.org.

Production Team

Alexander Gelman (Director/Adapter) is a Russian-born and American-trained director, who received his training at Boston University. Mr. Gelman has worked as a director and translator of plays from Russian to English. His many productions include “Eugene Onegin”, “L’Incoronazione di Poppea”, “Turn of the Screw”, “L’Italiana in Algeri”, “Camelot”, “Twelfth Night”, “Side by Side by Sondheim”, “As You Like It”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Die Fledermaus”, “The Threepenny Opera”, “The Taming of the Shrew”, “Stage Struck”, “Barber of Seville”, “La Traviata”, “Carmen”, “School for Wives”, “Waiting for Godot”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Journey of the Fifth Horse”, “Tartuffe”, “Tango”, “The Lion in Winter”, and “The Burning Fiery Furnace.” He has worked at such theatres as American Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage Company, Canterbury Opera (Christchurch, New Zealand), Chicago Lyric Opera, Utah Opera, Ashlawn-Highland Music Festival, Chattanooga Opera Association, Hartford Stage Company, The Acting Company, New York Shakespeare Festival, Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company, Emmy Gifford Theatre, and The Juilliard School of Drama.

Professor Gelman served as Director of the School (2001-2021). Prior to joining NIU, he taught at University of Utah and University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he headed MFA directing programs. Mr. Gelman has also assisted such notable East European directors as Andrei Serban, Yuri Lyubimov, Lucian Pintilie, and Yuri Yeremin.

Shannon Austin-Goodin (Stage Manager) is a third year BFA actor here at NIU and is from Louisville, Kentucky. This is her first time stage-managing at NIU and she is so thankful to have been a part of this show process, and hopes you enjoy the show!

Aidan Murphy (Lighting Designer) Originally from Colorado, Aidan Murphy is an MFA candidate in Lighting Design. Recent designs include The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at the CS Fine Art Center.

Adam Rager (Technical Director) is a first year Grad Student with a BS in Theatrical Arts from The University of Southern Indiana 08’. Over his 13 year leap between undergrad and Graduate School he works for Regional Theatres across America. He has also worked for National tours of Damn Yankees, Elf The Musical, Paw Patrol Live and Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Adam is excited for his first Technical Director position with NIU SOTD.

Amanda Ranallo (Assistant Stage Manager) is a third year BFA in Acting candidate. She has appeared in Love and Information and Town hall online with NIU. This is her first show stage managing and she hopes you enjoy.

Director – Alexander Gelman
Assistant Director – Hani Jung
Stage Manager – Shannon Austin-Goodin
Assistant Stage Manager – Amanda Ranallo
Lighting Designer – Aiden Murphy
Light Board Operator – Avery Flores
Props Director – David Doherty
Technical Director – Adam Rager
Properties Crew – Jack Gordon, Emma Mansfield
Running Crew – Caroline Byrne, Sonya Dunn, Qwayland McGowan


Theatre and Dance presents Twelfth Night Oct. 29-31 and Nov. 4-6

Theatre and Dance presents Twelfth Night Oct. 29-31 and Nov. 4-6

The NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the Stevens Building’s Black Box Theatre, October 29-31 and November 4-6.

Did you ever have the urge to run away to the circus? The upside-down world of Illyria is a little like a circus. Expect mistaken identity, disguised lovers, comic chases, and fights!

The production is directed by Bethany Mangum-Oles, an actor, director and educator who is a full-time performance area faculty member at NIU.

Tickets can be purchased through the School of Theatre and Dance online box office. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, $9 for non-NIU students and NIU students can attend for free by reserving a ticket in advance.

Performances are Friday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 30 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, October 31 at 2 p.m., Thursday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 6 at 2 p.m.


Jonathan AllsopJonathan Samuel Allsop (Sir Toby) is a third year MFA Acting candidate at Northern Illinois University. Jonathan received his BA in Music from the University of Pennsylvania before moving to Chicago. Some of his credits include: Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival), Desmond in Concrete Jungle (Goodly Frame Theatre), and Leroy in A Bright New Boise (Northern Illinois University). Jonathan has also released his debut album, Lavender Therapy, which is available on all streaming platforms. To learn more about Jonathan and his work visit Jonathanallsop.com

Sophia ArnoldSophia Arnold (Orsino) is a fourth-year BFA Acting student at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. She has worked with Kane Repertory Theatre (Romeo and Juliet), understudied with Indianapolis Shakespeare Company (Hamlet), and interned with Oak Park Festival Theatre. Favorite roles at NIU include Beauty (Everybody), O’Casey (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui), Kitty (The Time of Your Life), and Helen (Troilus and Cressida).

Sylvie BaldwinSylvie Mae Baldwin (Feste) is an actress, musician, and third year MFA acting candidate. Sylvie has worked regionally at South Coast Rep, Antaeus Theatre Company, Seattle Public Theater, Book It Rep, Lexington Children’s Theatre, and many others. On screen, Sylvie has had the pleasure of working with Adam Arkin, James Choi, and Mikhail Saburov. From 2014-2016 Sylvie toured skinny crazy small – an autobiographical play about her recovery from anorexia nervosa. Sylvie is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and represented by 10 Talent Agency in Chicago. This one’s for dad!

Alfonso Tucker JrAlfonso Tucker Jr. (Fabian) is a fourth year BFA actor, and he is very proud to be back on stage, playing the role of Fabian. Alfonso has learned so much in the past three years, doing theatre during a pandemic has made him a stronger actor. He is and always will be pushing to be the best actor he can be.


Ashley-Marie ChávezAshley-Marie Chávez (Maria) is a fourth year BFA Acting candidate, this is her final show at NIU. It has been such a beautiful and thrilling time growing as an artist with this production. Some of her credits include, Frieda in The Castle, DockDaisy in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, and A in Town Hall. As always para Maria y Walter gracias por todo.


Clark CheathamClark Cheatham (Malvolio) is a senior BFA Acting Candidate from St. Charles, Ill. His credits at NIU include, Nick in The Walk Across America for Mother Earth directed by Frankie DiCiaccio, Dudley R. Bostwick in The Time of Your Life directed by Matt O’Brien, Jim Crocket in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui directed by Alex Gelman, and Cousin in Everybody directed by Edwin Lee Gibson. Other favorite credits include Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest, Marius in Les Miserables, and Adam Beltran in a Chicago based web series The Eventide Effect. Clark is appreciative of the hard work the cast/crew has done and is looking forward to sharing his first Shakespeare show with everyone.

Jack GoingsJack Goings (Sebastian) is a senior BFA acting candidate and this is his fifth and final show at NIU. He has appeared in previous productions such as Martin in Angels in America, Rainbow Carl in Walk Across America for Mother Earth, and Alex in A Bright New Boise. He has also appeared in shows at the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild in Wisconsin as Macbeth in Macbeth, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Richard III in Richard III. He is excited to be back in person for this performance to share the hard work of everyone involved with an in-person audience again.

Lulu GreyLulu Grey (Valentine/Servant/Officer 2/Priest) is a senior Theatre Studies major. This is her fifth show at NIU. Previous credits include Bakkhai in Bakkhai, Jenny/Violet/March Hare in Wonderfully Alice, Nick’s Mom/Daisy in The Time of Your Life, and Mona (Then) in Stage Coach Players’ production of Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. She is thrilled to be participating in this production, and welcomes you to Illyria!

Wesley HutchinsonWesley Hutchinson (Curio/Officer 1/Feste Understudy) is a third year BFA in acting candidate from Michigan and a student at NIU. This is his third role at NIU, he has been in Love and Information and Everybody.


Matthew JuddMatthew Judd (Antonio / Sea Captain) is a junior BFA Acting candidate in his second show at Northern Illinois University. He has acted at Moraine Valley Community College, Oak Lawn Park District, Alsip Park District and Alan B. Shepard High School. Judd was seen in NIU’s production of Love and Information directed by Frankie DiCiaccio. He is super excited to be part of this amazing show and excited to say he has been in a show by Shakespeare. Judd is really thankful for the experience and is happy to be part of this process of art with everyone to create such a fun and crazy world together.

Logan RasmussenLogan Rasmussen (Olivia) is a fourth year BFA candidate, and this will be her final show at NIU. Some of her previous credits include Mariain Twelfth Night (Hawai’i Shakespeare Festival), Annabel in (NIU) Bike America, and Cast in Love and Information (NIU). Logan is grateful for the opportunity and can’t wait to share Illyria with you!


Ua SmithUa Smith (Sir Andrew) is a senior BFA Acting Candidate in their fourth show at Northern Illinois University. You may have seen Ua in NIU’s production of The Walk Across America for Mother Earth as King Arthur, as Gunter in NIU’s production of Summertime, as Sheet/Ensemble in NIU’s production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, or as Belize in NIU’s production of Angels in America. They are thrilled to share this piece of fun, live theatre specifically in these times. Enjoy.

Makenzie WeatherfordMakenzie Weatherford (Viola) is a third-year MFA acting candidate. At NIU, she recently performed as Love in Everybody, Susan in A Bird in the Hand, and Maria in a reading of Summertime. With two B.A.’s in English and theatre, her favorite performances include Antigone as Antigone, Beatrice in The Servant of Two Masters, Mrs. Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer, and–her favorite–Ten Days in a Madhouse as Nellie Bly.


Production Team

Bethany Mangum-Oles (Director) is an actor, director, educator, and mama of two born and raised in southern California. Marking her eighth directed production with NIU, she is thrilled to be returning to the mainstage this season with her direction of Twelfth Night…or What You Will. Bethany holds a BFA in acting from California State University, Fullerton, and an MFA in acting from NIU where her studies have taken her to the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, Russia and the Adana International Theatre Festival in Adana, Turkey. Since gaining her MFA, she has found her artistic home here at NIU as full-time Performance Area Faculty. She also serves as Rotating Voice and Movement Faculty at the Gately-Poole Studio.

Stanton Davis (Fight Choreographer / Text and Vocal Coach) received his MFA in acting from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program. Stanton has worked professionally as an actor (stage, film, voice-over, and tv commercials), fight choreographer, stagehand, director, stunt man, voice coach, dialect coach and education director at theatres throughout the country. Stanton is a member of the Independent Fight Director’s Guild and is a certified associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voice Work. He is currently in his 14th year of teaching at NIU. His professional credits include: The Shakespeare Theatre (Washington, DC) People’s Light and Theatre, The Wilma, The Lantern, and Intrepid Theatres (Pennsylvania), Delaware Theatre Company, City Theatre of Wilmington and First State Children’s Theatre (Delaware), The Berkshire Theatre Festival, Actors Lab Arizona, Court Yard Players Touring Company, Arizona Jewish Theatre, AKA Theatre, Tucson Actors Studio, Candlelight Theatre Company (New York), New Paltz Summer Rep, York Little Theatre, Artist’s Ensemble, And the Arizona, Tucson, South West, Baltimore, Oak Park, Wisconsin, Park City, Notre Dame, First Folio, and Utah Shakespeare Festivals.

Jessica Ferreira (Assistant Stage Manager) is a junior BFA design and technology student with an emphasis in Stage Management. Twelfth Night is Jessie’s second show at Northern Illinois University as assistant stage manager. Her previous role includes NIU’s Everybody. Jessie also worked on Time of Your Life which was sadly cancelled due to covid. This is Jessie’s first mainstage show and she is so excited to be a part of it.

Luke Harmon (Stage Manager) is ecstatic to be back in the booth at NIU. A recent graduate, he received his bachelor’s in Theatre Design and Technology in the spring of 2021. Stage management credits include Romeo and Juliet (Kane Repertory Theatre) Bike America, Dancing Forward Together, The Time of Your Life, Troilus and Cressida, Le Corsaire (NIU), Noises Off!, Little Women the Musical (Stage Coach Players). Luke has previously worked as an Assistant Stage Manager for the Elgin Visual and Performing Arts Center and as a Technical Coordinator for the Children’s Community Theater of DeKalb. When outside of the theater, Luke works in supply management for a large manufacturing company.

Rachel Seabaugh (Scenic Design) is a third year MFA candidate in Scenic Design here at NIU. She graduated in 2019 with her BA in Theatre from Truman State University. Previous designs here at NIU include Fall Dance Showcase in 2019, and Angels in America just last year. She is also the Assistant Props Manager at NIU, and plans on pursuing jobs in both props and scenic design after graduating in the spring. She is forever grateful to her friends and family for their love and support, and is dedicating this show to her mom, Loretta.

Sarah Slagle (Costume Designer) is thrilled to return to NIU as a guest designer. She has previously designed The Time of Your Life (cancelled due to COVID-19), Walk Across America for Mother Earth, and Boy at NIU. Other favorites include Macbeth (Shakespeare at the Castle) and Bent (MUSE Theatre Collective) and wardrobe supervising at the Utah Shakespeare Festival this summer. Sarah holds an MFA in Costume Design from NIU, a BA from the University of Mount Union and has studied at the Moscow Art Theatre in Moscow, Russia. Thank you for supporting the return of live theatre live theatre!

Emily Vitrano (Intimacy Choreographer) is an actor, educator, and writer making her creative home in Chicago. She holds a BFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an MFA in Acting from Northern Illinois University. She is a certified yoga instructor at the 200-hour level and is currently pursuing her MA in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies from Loyola University in Chicago, where she hopes to bring greater awareness, conversation, and scholarship to the untold stories of women to shape global conversation. As an intimacy choreographer, Emily utilizes foundational techniques as taught by Theatrical Intimacy Education. She is passionate about creating consent-based spaces and empowering artists to “establish boundaries to serve boundless creativity.” You can learn more about Emily’s career and writing at www.emilyvitrano.com and www.allthatileftunsaid.com.

Ben Werner (Sound Designer) is a senior BFA design and technology candidate, focusing on sound and lighting. Twelfth Night is Ben’s fourth show here at Northern Illinois University. His previous NIU credits include sound designer for Angels in America, assistant sound designer for Fall Dance 2019, and for The Time of Your Life. Ben has also worked with Northern Sky Theater in Door County, WI for the past three years where he has held the position of Audio Technician and was given the opportunity to design six shows.

Alexa Wiljanen (Lighting Designer) is a second year MFA lighting design student. This is her second design here at NIU, the first was Kernel of Sanity just one month ago. Alexa holds a BFA in Theatre: Design & Technology from Western Michigan University. Previous design credits include: Collide (Deos Contemporary Ballet, Mich.), Amadeus (WMU), Flamingo (Kalamazoo, Mich.), & Mostly Medieval Theatre Festival (Kalamazoo, Mich.).

The NIU School of Theatre and Dance follows the COVID-19 safety protocols of the university. The guidelines are updated as conditions change. At this time, face coverings are required in all indoor university spaces including our theatres. Updated information is available at: niu.edu/protecting-the-pack


“On the Spot!!!” improv comedy show coming to NIU’s Third Onion Oct. 28-30

“On the Spot!!!” improv comedy show coming to NIU’s Third Onion Oct. 28-30

Part improvisational theatre, part late-night comedy club, On the Spot invites audience members to shout out ideas for Xavier Smith’s improv troupe to develop on stage and “on the spot.” In between skits and games, three stand-up comedians will perform seven-minute sets of their best material. The last number of the evening will be a high-energy game the improv troupe calls “Madrigal.”

“On the Spot!!!” is a production of NIU’s Third Onion a long running project that allows students in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance to propose and produce their own work.

In addition to Smith, the performers are Logan Blake, Adriel Compean, Joey Filpi, Jack Gordon, A.J. Leidig and Qwayland McGowen. All are students at NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance.

“I have a deep love for everything comedic,” confides troupe leader Smith. “All summer I was in and out of comedy clubs all around Chicago. I saw Corey Holcomb perform. I saw DeRay Davis and Gary Owen and I thought, ‘why not bring club comedy back to NIU?’”

Smith promises that “laughter is the best medicine—even in times of pandemic.” While laughing out loud is permitted, performers and audience members will wear masks throughout the performance.

Performances will be in Corner Theater, located in NIU’s Stevens Building (behind the McDonald’s on West Lincoln Highway). Curtain time is 10:30 p.m. all three nights. General admission is $3.50 at the door, cash, Venmo and Cashapp accepted. Reservations aren’t needed.

“Edward II” opens Friday in School of Theatre and Dance

“Edward II” opens Friday in School of Theatre and Dance

The NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents Edward II a new adaptation of the play originally written in 1592 by Christopher Marlowe, opening Friday, October 15. Frankie DiCiaccio authored this adaptation and serves as both director and choreographer. In recent years, DiCiaccio has directed NIU productions of Love and Information and Walk Across America for Mother Earth.

Edward II traces an imperfect monarch’s rise and fall. The court becomes obsessed with the King’s relationship with a male companion, inflaming political tribalism and hampering any chance at progress. Set in the not-too-distant future, against a backdrop of climate catastrophe and geopolitical turmoil, this new adaptation explores how a deluge of ego, greed, and the violence of gender prescription may pull us all under. The waters are rising, but all eyes are on Edward’s bed.

Performances are held in the Sally Stevens Players Theatre in the Stevens Building on the NIU main campus Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, October 17 at 2 p.m., Thursday, October 21 and Friday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 23 at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $7, and NIU students can attend free of charge by reserving a ticket in advance. Tickets can be obtained through the NIU School of Theatre and Dance Annette Johns Box Office.


Samantha BlissSam Bliss (Spenser, Matrevis) is a junior BFA in acting candidate. Her past NIU credits include Angels in America, A Bird in the Hand, and Rogues’ Gallery (Third Onion Series). Some of her favorite past credits include Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, and Aaron Kriefls and others in The Laramie Project, all at Commonwealth Theatre Center in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. She is very excited to share this play with all of you!


Caroline ByrneCaroline Byrne (Kent) is a fourth year BFA Actor at Northern Illinois University. You may know her previously as 46 in Sarah Delappe’s The Wolves, and Marsha in Taylor Mac’s The Walk Across America for Mother Earth. She is delighted to be wrapping up her training with such a rich cast of brilliant artists and people. She hopes you enjoy the show!


Kate DruryKate Drury (Pembroke, Leicester) is a junior BFA Acting Candidate and Dance Minor. Originally from Nashville, Tenn., this is her second show here at NIU. She was previously seen in Fall 2020’s Bird in the Hand. Catch her in the Fall Dance Concert: Best of Broadway later this semester!


Seamus FleischmannSeamus Fleischman (Archbishop of Canterbury, Lightborn) a BFA Acting 3, is relieved to finally be back in person and a part of Edward II’s marvelous cast (although he is still getting used to not wearing sweatpants every day). He has been seen in two other NIU productions: last year’s Love and Information, and Town Hall. Both of which were performed with wildly different haircuts and in different U.S states. What a year.


Chlo JanischChlo Janisch (Lancaster/Fight Captain) is an actor combatant and fourth year BFA acting candidate from Twin Cities, Minn. Previous NIU credits of theirs include: Them Crabs, Troilus and Cressida, The Wolves, and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Chlo is thrilled to be making their return to live theatre in this topical production and hopes to continue sharing radical stories of the human experience.


Lauren KrelleLauren Krelle (Baldock, Gurney) is a second year BA theatre studies candidate. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in her first production with the NIU School of Theatre and Dance. She has enjoyed the training she has received through high school and while attending NIU.


Jolan Lacy-JonesJoLan Lacy-Jones (Warwick) is a senior BFA acting candidate here at NIU and this is her fifth show. JoLan is very excited and grateful to be part of a show with an amazing, talented cast. She is also happy that this is in her final year at NIU and she still continues to follow her dreams and strong passion for acting. JoLan’s future plans after she graduates are to continue to act and hopefully perform on a big stage, also in hopes to see herself on the big screen someday performing alongside some of her favorite actors that inspired her to start acting. JoLan’s favorite past roles: The Castle (The Innkeeper’s Wife & Olga), Summertime (Mimi) and Bike America (Rorie).

Morgan MalloryMorgan Mallory (Margaret, Bishop of Coventry) is a third year BA Theatre Studies student and she is very excited to be a part of this production of Edward ll. Some other things she has been a part of are Northern Illinois University’s production of Everybody 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 Mumford (Edward) is a third-year graduate student here at NIU. Off-Broadway: Stranger Sings!: The Parody Musical (Barb Holland (Original Cast)). Regional Credits: Into the Woods (Stepmother / Witch U/s) at Charlottesville Opera, Rock of Ages (Sherrie Christain) at ACT – Broadway World Nomination. NIU credits: Everybody (God), The Wolves (#7). Education: BFA Drama UNCSA. You can catch Savannah-Lee on the upcoming Original Cast Album of Stranger Sings!: The Parody Musical and on “This Podcast Won’t Run A Week,” a bi-weekly musical theatre podcast co-hosted by Savannah-Lee and childhood best friend, Kat. Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and more. —savannahleemumford.com

Noah ReillyNoah Reilly (Mortimer) is a SAG-E, Meisner-based actor. He recently lived and worked in Los Angeles as an actor on television series such as Animal Kingdom, Black-ish, and Saved by the Bell. Previous theatre credits include Patroclus in Troilus and Cressida, Wesley in Time of Your Life, and Mulberry in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. This show has been such a fun experience for Noah and he can’t wait to share all his work.

Shraga WassermanShraga D. Wasserman (Isabella) is a year three MFA in Acting candidate. A native of Iowa City, Shraga graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Interdisciplinary Performing Arts with emphases in music, art, and theatre. They spent the following four years based in Minneapolis before relocating to pursue further training at NIU. Their favorite roles past include Moritz in Spring Awakening (Theatre Cedar Rapids), Marius in Les Misérables (TCR), Jamie in The Great God Pan (UNI), Peter in Peter and Alice (Candid Theater Co.), and Paul in Quilt: A Musical Celebration (MJP Theatrical / Candid NYC). Thank you for sharing in this experience.

Ryan WyrobekRyan Wyrobek (Prince Edward) is absolutely ecstatic to be playing Prince Edward in his first, in-person show here at the School of Theatre and Dance at NIU. He is a junior who is pursuing a B.A is Secondary English Education as well as a B.A in Theatre Studies. His previous roles have included being one of the many characters in the creative zoom performance project, Love and Information, directed by this show’s same director, Frankie DiCiaccio.

Lilly Rose Zepeda
(Gaveston) is a fourth year BFA Acting candidate at NIU. She has been seen previously as Ivonne in La Ruta, Angel in Angels in America, Anna in A Bright New Boise, and Greeter in The Walk Across America for Mother Earth. She’s very excited to share this story and doing live theatre once again!


Production Team 

Frankie DiCiaccio (Director/Adapter/Choreographer) is an actor, theatre-maker, and arts educator who splits their time between New York City and Illinois. Previous NIU directing credits include The Walk Across America for Mother Earth by Taylor Mac and a virtual production of Love and Information by Caryl Churchill. This Spring, Frankie will direct Pink Milk by Ariel Zetina for The Theatre School at DePaul University. Frankie’s directing and choreography credits also include projects at Club Oberon (Boston); the Steppenwolf Garage Theatre and Rabid Bat Theatricals (Chicago); and The Dare Tactic and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (New York). Frankie and frequent collaborator Molly Shanahan (Artistic Director of the Chicago-based dance company Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak) are currently working on a multimedia book project exploring embodied artistry, lived experience and trauma, and rhizomatic, non-hierarchical forms of knowledge production. Frankie is a core faculty member in the theatre division of the National High School Institute (“the Cherubs”) at Northwestern University and has taught at schools and universities across New York City and Illinois. Frankie received their BA in Theatre, Musical Theatre, and Spanish from Northwestern and MFA in Acting from the American Repertory Theater/Harvard University. More at www.FrankieDiCiaccio.com.

Evan Forbes (Stage Manager) is an alumnus of Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre and Dance, returning to assist in producing Edward II after stage managing Town Hall last spring. After graduation in 2017, he worked with the Utah Shakespeare Festival in a variety of technical positions related to sound and lighting. Upon closing their season, Evan worked with the Arizona Theatre Company as their production management intern. Having recently worked as Technical Director at the Holmes Student Center, he is currently working as Technical Director at the historic Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb.

Aidan Murphy (Lighting Designer) Originally from Colorado, Aidan Murphy is an MFA candidate in Lighting Design. Recent designs include The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at the CS Fine Art Center. Adam Rager (Technical Director) is a first year Grad Student with a BS in Theatrical Arts from The University of Southern Indiana ‘08. Over his 13 year leap between undergrad and Graduate School he works for Regional Theatres across America. He has also worked for National tours of Damn Yankees, Elf The Musical, Paw Patrol Live and Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Adam is excited for his first Technical Director position with NIU SOTD.

Danielle Reinhardt (Costume Designer) is a second-year MFA in costume design candidate from Sycamore, IL. She previously designed Stage Coach Players’ performance of The Little Mermaid (Egyptian Theatre) as well as the independent film The White Horse is Dead. Danielle has also earned her MBA at Elmhurst University and is a Senior Brand Manager for Ultra PRO Entertainment. Her motto is to never stop learning and never stop dreaming.

Finn Stumpf (Assistant Director)



Theatre and Dance presents: “Kernel of Sanity” opening this weekend

Theatre and Dance presents: “Kernel of Sanity” opening this weekend

The 2021-2022 performance season the NIU School of Theatre and Dance opens Friday, October 1 with Kermit Frazier’s, Kernel of Sanity in the Sally Stevens Players Theatre, in the Stevens Building on the NIU main campus.

The production is directed by School of Theatre and Dance alum Alys Dickerson and features a cast of third-year MFA actors.

On his way out to Los Angeles, Roger, a young black actor, stops in a Midwest town to visit Frank, an older white actor that once starred in a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest where Roger played a bit part. What transpires during this unlikely meeting is a mystery dealing with identity, sanity, and white privilege. Frazier’s play about marginalization was itself marginalized. The 1978 play languished without a professional production for years, only recently claiming its rightful place in the twentieth-century American canon. Its prescience against the backdrop of our ongoing racial reckoning is startling.

Friday, October 1, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 2, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 3, 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 7, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, October 8, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 9, 2:00 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased onlineKernel of Sanity is part of the Sally Series of productions, and tickets are $7 for those performances. NIU students can attend for free by reserving their ticket in advance.

Cast Profiles

Chris AnthonyChris Anthony (Frank Tracy)
Chris is and 3rd year MFA Actor from Indiana, Penn., where he received his BA in Theatre from Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania. NIU Credits: Bright New Boise, Arturo Ui, Bike America. Regional Philadelphia credits: The Lantern Theatre Co, Ego Po Classics, DieCast, PhillyShakes, Commonwealth Classics, New City Stages, “Bye Bye Liver; The Philly Drinking Play”, High Draama Sketch Comedy. Chris was featured at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival with DieCast Theatre (The Hairy Ape, Pericles. Menagerie of Angles).

Paige LarkowskiPaige Larkowski (Rita Templeton)
Paige is a third year MFA in acting candidate from Arlington Heights, Ill. She recently performed in Polaroid Stories (NIU) as Eurydice. Paige holds a BFA in acting from Western Michigan University and is a proud member of Teamsters Local 727. She is honored to be part of such a lovely cast and crew.


Jamaque NewberryJamaque Newberry (Roger Peterson)
Jamaque Newberry hails from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 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 he 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 a candidate for an MFA in Acting. At NIU he has had the pleasure of starring in plays such as Time of Your Life and Everybody.


Production Profiles

Alys Dickerson (Director)
This is Alys Dickerson’s directing debut with SOTD, and she is very grateful to have been invited back to direct at her alma mater having graduated in the MFA class of 2016. Alys is currently working in education design at American Players Theatre and in their current production of Cymbeline at the Up Hill Theatre. Previous storytelling and directing credits; Sender by Ike Holter at the Women’s Theatre Alliance in Chicago and The Odd Couple by Neil Simon at University of Kentucky studio season. Grateful for the risk we take by consistently telling stories.

Jon McLawhorn (Assistant Director)
Jon is very excited to assistant direct his second SOTD production, after last spring’s
“Polaroid Stories” by Naomi Iizuka (NIU). Jon is a Theatre Studies major with an emphasis in directing/writing and co-founded, produced, and directed shows in the 24 Hour Festival here at NIU. He may also be recognized from his role as Dockworker/Policeman in Time of Your Life (NIU). He’s also a proud member of the light shop, #LightsOut! Jon is so thankful to all his family and friends who support him, and to Alys and the cast for bringing theatre to life again.

Haley Welch (Stage Manager)
Haley Welch is a Stage Manager from the Chicago Area. She graduated with her BFA from NIU in 2018 and is happy to be back working with the School of Theatre and Dance to make theatre again. Previous credits include stage managing for NIU’s Angels in America, By the Bog of Cats, and Blue Stockings.

Maddie Danhouser (Costume Designer)
Maddie Danhouser (Costume Designer) is a fourth year BFA design and technology candidate at Northern Illinois University. This is their first role in a show as a member of the design team, and they are so excited to see the show come to life on stage. Their previous work at NIU includes Troilus and Cressida, The Time of Your Life, and Hamlet, amongst other shows. They are glad to be able to work with such an amazing production team during their last semester at NIU.

Production List

Alys Dickerson / Director
Jon McLawhorn / Assistant Director
Haley Welch / Stage Manager
Maddie Danhouser / Costume Designer
Alexa Wiljanen / Lighting Designer
Kallen Eckert / Technical Director
Dave Doherty / Properties Coordinator
Rachel Seabaugh / Properties
Ethan Rosing / Production Manager

This production contains language and behaviors that do not reflect the current views of the actors, the production team, or the School of Theatre and Dance as a whole. This vernacular and behavior is a product of dramatization and a reflection of when this play was written. We felt that to censor or change it would be to ignore these biases and behaviors that existed in the world then and the world now.

The NIU School of Theatre and Dance follows the COVID-19 safety protocols of the university. The guidelines are updated as conditions change. At this time, face coverings are required in all indoor university spaces including our theatres. Updated information is available at: niu.edu/protecting-the-pack