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Theatre Arts Faculty Bios

George Keating – Director of the Theatre Arts Division

 (he/him) is a longtime member of Actors’ Equity Association, currently elected to governance on AEA’s Central Regional Board.. He holds a B.F.A. in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, where he is an Adjunct Professor of Performance and serves as the Studio Artistic Director and on the Dean’s Executive Committee. At TTS, he most recently directed Journey’s End and The Boys in the Band.  George is co-founder of Theatrebam Chicago and co-creator of the award-winning hit show Schoolhouse Rock Live! He appeared in SRL! over many years in Chicago, on tour and off-Broadway at The Atlantic. George was honored to train in kabuki with Shozo Sato, Royal Treasure of Japan, culminating in a performance in the world premiere of Kabuki Lady Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. George received the inaugural Angela Lansbury Award for Best Supporting Actor at the International Mystery Writers’ Festival. He appears on Chicago’s many stages such as Paramount, Goodman, Northlight and Court. Notable roles: Baptista Minola, The Taming of the Shrew; Felix Ungar, The Odd Couple; George Banks, Mary Poppins; Thenardier, Les Miserables; The Baron, Grand Hotel and Gould in Grey Gardens. At NHSI, he has served as Core Faculty since the year 2000 and has directed numerous productions: The Serpent, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Other Shore, Strider, Find Hakamadare!, The Scarecrow, The Handmaid’s Tale, A Dream Play, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings and Animal Farm.

Emily Ritger – Associate Director

 (she/her) is a director, playwright, and arts administrator based in Chicago. As a teacher and director developing new work, she has worked for American Theatre Company, Redmoon, Cleveland Public Theatre, Northlight Theatre, ChiArts, The National High School Institute, and Carthage College. Ritger’s training includes ensemble based work, Viola Spolin Theatre Games, Viewpoints, Puppetry, Contact Improv, experimental writing, and various forms of music. She is the founder of The Midwives, an artistic development company serving makers of different disciplines across the country. Her current projects include: Behaymas, a collaboration with playwright Aliza Bartfield–three humans and one animal blur the lines of domesticity and societal constructions of family; The Women Like a River Falling From the Sky, a collaboration with Claribel Gross and Mekala Sridhar inspired by Isabel Allende’s The Stories of Eva Luna–the piece is an irrational response to Allende and her characters; and The WI Collection, a work of poetry celebrating rural America, its voice, land, dialect, and sense of community. Emily received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, a BS in Theatre and Philosophy from the University of Evansville, and has trained at La MaMa Umbria in Italy and Paul Sills’ Wisconsin Theatre Game Center.

Julianne Lang – Residence Hall Director & Directing Faculty

(she/her) is a Los Angeles-based actor, comedian, and director. After graduating with a theatre degree from Northwestern University, she spent two years in Chicago where she completed the Second City Conservatory Program and went on to perform in and direct several sketch revues in the Second City Cabaret spaces. She made the move to Los Angeles where she performs monthly sketch comedy at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade with house team LASERS. Her short film TWEEZERS screened at the Imagine This Women’s Film Festival. She is passionate about bringing up the voices of other women and queer individuals and hosts a monthly comedy show featuring only femme performers. This is Julianne’s sixth summer working with Cherubs, and she is truly over the moon to be back. This place rocks. If you can’t find her in a creative room, she is probably hiking or camping or backpacking or swimming or biking or really anywhere outside.

Rachel Laufer – Assistant Residence Hall Director

(she/her) is an actor and teaching artist currently based in New Orleans. She earned a BA in Theatre and a minor in Communications from Florida State University. Recent credits include working as the assistant director for Le Petit Theatre’s The Importance of Being Earnest and as choreographer for The Willow School’s Six the Musical: Teen Edition. She also appeared in FSU’s productions of Eugène Ionesco’s The Lesson (Student) and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Ophelia). Rachel recently got back from London working for FSU International Programs as a Program Assistant. She is thrilled to be returning for her third summer working with Cherubs and is looking forward to meeting the next class of theatre makers. 

Oskar Westbridge – Assistant to the Division Directors

(they/them) is a director and teaching artist working in Chicago. They earned their BFA in Theatre Arts, with a double major in Psychology, from DePaul University. Recent directing credits include Knights of the Group Project for Improv Playhouse, Frankenstein for Triton College, and a staged reading of Dirt Girls for Pocket Theater VR’s new play festival. This is Oskar’s third summer with the Cherubs program, and they are always delighted to return. When not working in theater, they are either trying to survive life as a substitute teacher, or propagating life in their community garden. 

Jen Smith – Production Manager & Stage Management Faculty

(she/her) is happy to continue her working relationship with the Cherub program after teaching Stage Management last summer. Jen was very familiar with the program after working side by side with the Cherubs while she was the Production Manager for Northwestern’s Wirtz Center a number of years ago.  Since Northwestern, Jen has worked with DePaul’s Theatre School where she graduated as a Stage Manager/Production Manager.  Jen has long working relationships at many Chicago theatres including Lookingglass (Production Manager), Chicago Shakespeare (Director of Production) and The Goodman Theatre (Asst. Prod. Mgr.). Jen warmed up for a bit and worked with Arizona Theatre Company, producing in both Tucson and Phoenix but returned to the Midwest to work with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre as General Manager. Jen is currently back in the freelance world and most recently was the interim Production Manager for University of Illinois Chicago.  She is also the Production Manager for Haymarket Opera Company. When not a thespian, Jen works with glass. You can follow her at jensmithglass on Instragram.

Mia Maccarella – Assistant Production Manager

(she/her) is so grateful to get to spend another summer being a part of the Cherubs family. She is a freelance Stage and Production Manager and has worked with numerous theaters throughout Chicagoland including Drury Lane Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Theater Wit, and Young People’s Theatre of Chicago. Endless love to Sean and family for the unconditional support.

Judy Kagel – Design Faculty & Lighting Designer

(she/they) is a New York City based Lighting Designer and Theater Educator. Their designs have been seen at The WP Theater, The Wild Project, Dixon Place, The Tank, Access Theater, Arts on Site, LPAC Rough Draft Festival, and NY Fringe Festival, among others. She frequently designs with the Stella Adler Acting Studio. Judy has also assisted New York designers such as Jen Schriever, Jason Lyons and Matt Frey on new works Off-Broadway and regionally. When not designing, Judy works extensively as a theater educator. She is the lighting professor for the dance department at Sarah Lawrence College, and a guest lecturer at Manhattan School of Music. She started a pilot, in-class, theater design program at Mount Vernon’s Denzel Washington School for the Arts and is a guest artist in a number of high school theater departments including Emerson Jr/Sr High School, Ramsay High School, and Hongwanji Mission School. They are thrilled to be back in Chicago with their Cherubs family. If you can’t find her behind a tech table, she’s probably eating burritos from her local bodega, tending to her houseplant collection, or workshopping next year’s holiday cookies. For more of Judy’s work visit 

Dinah Berkeley – Core Instructor

(they/them) is over the moon to be working with the Cherubs program for the first time this summer. Their work has been witnessed and engaged with globally from San Francisco CA to Edinburgh Scotland, NYC to Louisville, in their friend’s living room and even on ZOOM! As a seasoned storyteller and educator, their work is primarily rooted in devising, clown, mime and physical theatre practices. As a budding playwright, poet, director and musician, they spend lots of time at home with their laptop, guitar and garden. 

Dinah holds a BFA from Ohio University, an MFA from The American Conservatory Theatre, completed The Professional Training Program at The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, is an active company member of Broken Box Mime Theatre and frequently works with Dutch Kills and Recent Cutbacks (all in NYC) and is a participant of A Red Orchid’s studio space for professional theatre artists. 

Dinah dreams of theatre that empowers all artists, practices reciprocity in relationships, holds itself accountable to the communities in which it represents, makes audiences feel alive and sparks conversation through emotional engagement. 

Tim Giles – Core Instructor

 (he/him) is an actor, director, and (his most favorite) educator. He is thrilled to be spending his first summer with the Cherubs. He is deeply invested in constructing educational environments that encourage students’ creativity and which invite them to investigate what is possible in theater. Most recently he has taught at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. He will return to Pomona in the fall to co-direct The Play That Goes Wrong. As a director he has primarily worked with Shakespeare’s texts, creating stripped-down and imaginative productions with a company he co-founded and helped lead for 5 years, Scrappy Shakespeare. Past favorite roles as an actor include Mozart in Amadeus, Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident…, Melchior in Spring Awakening, and Ken in Red. He also works in arts administration, most recently with The Actors’ Gang.

Monté Howell – Core Instructor

(he/him) is a New York City based actor who just earned his MFA at the University of Iowa (Acting), where he also served as a graduate teaching assistant. In addition to his studies, Mr. Howell currently serves as an adjudicator and educator for Des Moines Performing Arts’, Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards. Mr. Howell also serves as a teaching artist for Riverside Theatre’s: Will Power and the Coralville Center of Performing Arts! Recent Credits: The Mountaintop (Riverside Theatre). Selected Credits: Les Misérables (Broadway National Tour), The Golden Apple (New York City Center: Encores!), The Countess of Storyville (NYC Lab), Les Misérables (The MUNY), Shrek (Alliance Theatre), Sister Act (Arkansas Rep), The Music Man (Flat Rock Playhouse), Porgy and Bess (Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh), and Little Shop of Horrors (Stages St. Louis). Proud member of Actors Equity Association.

Steve O’Connell – Core Instructor

(he/him) is very excited to join Cherubs this year. He has spent the last two decades working as a professional actor, director and educator. Most recently, Steve had the great fortune of playing Ron Weasley in the San Francisco Company of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. His work on Chicago stages include performances with Marriott, Drury Lane, Paramount, Chicago Shakespeare, Victory Gardens, First Folio, Timeline, Boho, The Hypocrites and many others. His work on Chicago stages have earned him three Jeff Award nominations. On screen Steve most recently starred in the feature film The Killing Of Kenneth Chamberlain, executive produced by Morgan Freeman and currently streaming on MAX. Other on-screen credits include Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Low Winter Sun, The Mob Doctor, Betrayal and a recurring role on FOX’s Empire. In his free time Steve loves to spend time with his wife and three boys. He also likes to play guitar and basketball, but rarely at the same time… You can visit him on the web at

Michael Osinski – Core Instructor

 (he/him) is back for his ninth summer at Cherubs, where he has directed thrice and taught acting, performance theory, and electives. He is a director, deviser, and educator from Syracuse, NY, with ties to Chicago and Philadelphia. He currently teaches at St. Lawrence University, where he has taught acting, theatre appreciation, and queer theatre and film, and where he will be directing The Laramie Project this fall. He has also taught at various universities in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area – Arcadia, Rowan, Rider, and Temple. His favorite directing credits include Red Lodge, Montana, a tribute to the work of David Lynch set in an abandoned school locker room (Philadelphia Fringe Festival); The Celebrity Guide to Mental Health and Wellness, an interactive shape-shifting self-help seminar (Philadelphia SoLow Fest); Moth by Declan Greene, a story about the aftermath of a school bullying incident (Azuka Theatre); and The Dollhouse Project, a devised 1950s-infused take on Ibsen’s classic play (Arcadia University). He is currently working on an interactive solo show about the state of higher ed in America. He is a graduate of the MFA Directing program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. You can learn more at

Iris Sowlat – Core Instructor

(she/her)  is a director whose work focuses on socially relevant themes (such as queerness, feminism, and disability) told through an unexpected lens, to create moments of revelation for the characters and the audience. She spent six years in Chicago (2015-2021), where she directed and produced in the city’s vibrant non-Equity theater community. Favorite directing credits included Romeo and Juliet (Accidental Shakespeare Co., digital), Joan of Arc and Underworld Anthem (Prop Theatre’s Rhino Fest), and Narratives of Achromatopsia (Chicago Fringe Festival). She has also directed 20+ staged readings, workshops, and short plays for festivals, and produced nine theater festivals, which gave a platform to other directors and playwrights. She spent the last three years earning her MFA in Directing at University of Massachusetts Amherst (to graduate in May 2024), where she directed Lauren Gunderson’s Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight and Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando. She has taught Fundamentals of Acting for three years at University of Massachusetts and has also taught at Interlochen Fine Arts Camp and the Skokie park District.

Brennan Roach – Core Instructor

 (he/him) is a theatre artist and educator currently based in Chicago, IL. He has collaborated with numerous theatre institutions as well as high school and university programs across the United States and Europe as an actor, director, teacher, and movement designer. He has trained with many global artists and theatre companies including SITI Company, The Syndicate, and will be training this summer with the Suzuki Company of Toga in Japan. Brennan is the Director of the theatre program at Jones College Prep in the heart of downtown Chicago. He is passionate about helping young people find and give voice to their stories through the creation and performance of original work. He received his BFA from The Boston Conservatory, his MA from Northeastern Illinois University and his MAT from Rockford University, IL 

Alex Rodriguez – Core Instructor

 (he/him) is ecstatic to be returning to Cherubs! Alex is a Chicago based actor, teaching artist and theatre maker. Recent projects include Short Shakespeare! Romeo & Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and The Lifespan of a Fact (TimeLine Theatre Company).  At the heart of Alex’s artistic ethos lie curiosity and collaboration. He believes in the power of personal inquiry and communal exploration to nurture artists’ growth and well-being. In the classroom, Alex encourages creative impulse and ensemble-driven composition building as students strengthen their relationship with their instruments. Passionate about cultivating a vibrant and inclusive artistic community, Alex is dedicated to offering tools to young actors as they forge their artistic identities.

Zack Fine – Directing Faculty

(he/him) is an actor, director, playwright, and teacher originally from Chicago. He helmed the world premiere production of the first ever Spanish translation of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good (El Bien Del Pais) which ran for two years in Mexico City at the Teatro Helenico and Foro Shakespeare and was nominated for numerous Premios (awards) in Best Production and Best Direction. His work as a director and writer has been developed by Long Wharf Theatre, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, The Public, MCC, Playmakers Rep, The Acting Company, Wheelhouse, Bedlam, Fiasco, Spymonkey, The Guthrie, and Space On Ryder Farm. As an actor, he has worked on and off Broadway and in many regional theatres nationwide. He teaches at NYU and is a founding member of the Fiasco Conservatory.

Sarah Mayhew – Directing Faculty

(she/her) is excited for her first summer with Cherubs! She is an actor, director, and educator based in Birmingham, AL. Mayhew earned her MFA in Performance & Pedagogy from Texas Tech University and her BA in Musical Theatre from Birmingham-Southern College—Forward, ever! Currently, Mayhew works at Birmingham Children’s Theatre, where she teaches Theatre and Voice for elementary and middle school students. She also teaches voice lessons to singers of all ages through the Birmingham-Southern College Conservatory of Music. Recent performance credits include Junie B. Jones the Musical (Mother/Mrs. Gutzman/Chenille) at Birmingham Children’s Theatre, The Disappearance of Ezra Clybourne…? (Devon) at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Ensemble) at The Wallace Theatre. Recent directing credits include Tracks by John Patrick Bray at The Wallace Theatre, and The Secretaries by the Five Lesbian Brothers at Texas Tech University. Mayhew can’t wait to spend the summer making amazing theatre!

Manna-Symone Middlebrooks – Directing Faculty

(she/her) is a Chicago-based theatre director and producer. She is so excited to be back directing at Cherubs this summer! Before moving to Chicago, she lived in Washington, DC, working as a Casting Associate for The Folger Theatre. Recent Northwestern directing credits include – The Tempest, sandblasted, Precious Little, The Revenger’s Tragedy, and The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World. She also served as an Associate/Assistant Director at Manhattan Theatre Club, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare, The Folger, Arena Stage, Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, and Shakespeare Theatre Company. Manna-Symone is an alum of American University (BA in Theatre and Literature) and The British American Drama Academy.

Jeremy Ohringer – Directing Faculty

(he/him) is a Chicago-based theatre-maker and educator. He is an Adjunct Professor of Theatre Studies at DePaul University as well as at North Central College. Directing credits include Raymondo (The Cartographers), Ride the Cyclone, Tristan and Iseult, Constellations, The Importance of Being Earnest, and A Devil Comes to Town (North Central College), Stupid F#@%ing Bird, Monica (DePaul University), Angels in America: Perestroika, Mother Courage and Her Children (Boston University), Who Walked All Night (Rhino Fest), Sad Songs For Bad People (Rough House Theater), Who Rowed Across Oceans (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and Spring Awakening (Fearless Theatre). At Steppenwolf Theater Company, he is the Lead Facilitator of Professional Development as well as a Teaching Artist. He is also currently writing a play for the Cunningham Commission of Youth Theatre at DePaul University and is also a SPARK Artist in Residence at Filament Theatre. He is a graduate of Skidmore College and holds an MFA in directing from Boston University. This is his third summer as a directing faculty member at Cherubs!

Al Oltmanns – Directing Faculty

(they/them) is a director, playwright, and educator. They possess an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago, completed graduate studies in Theatre through NYU and the Broadway Teachers Workshop, and will graduate with an MFA in Directing from Illinois State University in 2025. Al’s theatre experiences range from directing their original play (Transgression) Off-Broadway to Assistant Directing Jane Lynch for Jane’s directorial debut. With an extensive background in music and music education, you can most often find Al directing musicals as well as championing new works.

Al is a storyteller who uses the medium of theatre to create community and provoke personal and societal growth. They see theatre as an agent for change, and they prioritize works that examine mental health, highlight LGBTQ perspectives, and uplift new voices. They have over a decade of experience in higher education, having served and taught at such institutions as the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Columbia College Chicago, Malcolm X College, Muscatine Community College (where they served as Theatre Director/Assistant Professor of Theatre and English), and Illinois State University (where they currently teach Directing and the Playwriting sequence).

Kerstin Vaughn – Directing Faculty

(she/her) is thrilled to be returning to Cherubs for the second time this summer. Currently, she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio where she teaches courses in acting, directing, and history and advises student-led productions. In addition to teaching, she works as a stage director and teacher, she is committed to creating safe and joyful spaces for theatrical collaboration.

Scott Westerman – Directing Faculty

(he/him) is the founding Artistic Director of Go To Productions, a 501©3 nonprofit which develops projects that explore the nexus between live theatre and film. He created and directed the web series Hamlet & Ophelia which won Best Picture at the New York Film Awards, Best Web Series at the LA Film Awards, and Best Mobile Series at the 2022 New Media Film Festival. Scott has directed stage productions for The Artistic Home, Citadel Theatre, ChiArts, City Lit Theatre, Chimera Theatre Company, Beyond This Point, Barter Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, The Smithsonian Institution, American Theatre Company, and Reverie Theatre Company. Scott is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, an ensemble member with The Artistic Home, represented by Gray Talent Group, and a teaching artist with Lookingglass Theatre, Writers Theatre, and Filament Theatre. He has an MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre Academy. As an actor, Scott has worked with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Lookingglass, Northlight, The Shakespeare Theatre Company and Ford’s Theatre in DC, Everyman Theatre in Baltimore, the Warehouse Theatre in South Carolina, and the Barter Theatre in Virginia to name a few. On Camera credits include Chicago Fire, Machine Gun Preacher, Heist 88, and Prison Break.

Theatre Arts Division  –  Application Information and Deadlines  –  Tuition and Fees  –  Scholarships and Financial Aid