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Theatre Arts Faculty Bios

George Keating – Director of the Theatre Arts Program

George Keating is a theatre actor, director and educator. George is a longtime member of Actors’ Equity Association and appears on Chicago’s many stages such as: Paramount, Goodman, Northlight, Chicago Shakespeare, Marriott, Drury Lane, First Folio and Court. George is co-founder of Theatrebam Chicago and co-creator of the award-winning hit show Schoolhouse Rock Live! and its sequel Schoolhouse Rock Live, Too!. He appeared in the original cast of Schoolhouse Rock Live! in Chicago, and subsequently for many years on tour and off-Broadway. George was honored to train in kabuki with Shozo Sato, Royal Treasure of Japan, culminating in a production of the world premiere 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 holds a BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, and he is an Adjunct Professor of Movement to BFA and MFA Acting majors at TTS DePaul.

George has served as NHSI/Cherubs Core Faculty since the year 2000, and has directed numerous Cherubs’ productions. He performed the role of Associate Artistic Director in recent years and is now honored to lead the NHSI Theatre Division. The Cherubs history is long and the cherubs community is vast. George is dedicated to continuing the good work accomplished by his friend and predecessor, Ann Douglas, adapting traditions from decades past and working with the current generation to keep the Theatre Cherubs program going strong into the new decade. A true teaching artist for the last thirty years, he maintains an active presence throughout the theatrical profession and in numerous training institutions.

Emily Ritger – Associate Director

Emily Ritger 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.

Heather Basarab – Design Instructor

Heather Basarab is a theater educator and the production manager for Northwestern’s Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. Her 25-year career as a San Francisco-based lighting designer has spanned work with companies including the Joe Goode Performance Group, La Mama (NY), Aurora Theater, Magic Theatre, Marin Theater Company, Cutting Ball Theater, Shotgun Players, Chris Black Dance, Fogbeast Dance, AXIS Dance Company, The New Pickle Circus, Cirque Mechanic (LV), Imagery Dance, the Dorsch Gallery (Miami), LACMA (Los Angeles), and the STOMP Company (NY). Ms. Basarab has taught design, stagecraft and stage management at Sonoma State University, where she also mentored designers for Powerlines, a new play development project; she also mentored production and stage management students through a residency at UC Berkeley. She was the co-director of Tamalpais High School’s nationally recognized Conservatory Theater Ensemble, where she created and supervised the student-run production and design department.
Ms. Basarab holds a BA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and a MS in Arts Education from Dominican University of California.

Reilly O’Shaughnessy- Dorm Director

Reilly O’Shaughnessy is a Colorado-bred Actor, Coach, and Teaching Artist. She is passionate about creating a truer and more beautiful world through connection, ownership, and bravery. Reilly loves to make work about motherhood, girlhood, queerness, and intersectional climate justice. And in everything, they are committed to uplifting othered communities with love, reverence, and joy. She holds a BFA in Drama and a BA in Religious Studies from NYU Tisch, an MA in International Theater Practice and Performance from Rose Bruford College in London, and is currently pursuing her MFA in Acting at Depaul University here in Chicago. 

Bryan Back – Production Manager

BRYAN BACK (PRODUCTION MANAGER) (he/him) is happy as a clam to return for his fourteenth year at Cherubs, after two years without an in-person program. Spending his first three years perfecting the art of Assistant Master Electricianry, he spent the next nine perfecting the art of normal Master Electricianry, and the previous year figuring out this Production Manager thing. Bryan is also the Lighting Shop Supervisor at The Theatre School at DePaul University helping to support the students in the lighting program. He also does some work for various production companies and theatres around town, electricianing at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Marriott Theatre, Writers Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, where he once worked on a show with twenty tons of sand and a live horse.

Claribel Gross – Core/Electives/Director

Claribel Gross is a nomadic theater maker, director and teaching artist.  She has training and experience in Social Justice Theater, Devised Theater, Theater of the Oppressed,  Theater for Young Audiences, Experimental writing and Solo performance.  She has a passion for new work, works in development and devising work with communities.  As a performer, teaching artist and arts administrator Claribel has worked with Penumbra theatre, Teatro del Pueblo, English speaking Theater of Rome, Bedlam Theater,  Pillsbury House Theater and Hamline University. In her own work Claribel explores her multilingual, multi ethnic upbringing. Claribel holds a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Erika Haaland – Core/Electives

Erika Haaland is a Chicago-based theatre artist and educator. She has worked with theatre companies and universities nation-wide as an actor, teacher, choreographer, and composer. She founded Created Wellness, a movement-based wellness company, was the National Co-Director & Developer of Statera Mentorship and has spent the last 5 years working as a Social Emotional Learning Specialist. As an avid collaborator, she is passionate about devising and developing new work. She received her BA from the University of Evansville, IN and her MFA from UC Irvine. 

Lauren Pizzi Montgomery – Director

Lauren Pizzi Montgomery (she/her) is an actor and teacher originally from San Francisco, now based in Chicago. She is an assistant professor of Speech and Theater at Truman College. Work with Chicago theater companies includes, First Floor Theater, The House Theatre of Chicago, Griffin Theater Company, IO Theater and Steppenwolf. Before the arrival of Covid, Lauren could regularly be seen performing with the Real Housewives of Improv. Lauren in a graduate of the MFA program at The Theater School at DePaul University. This is her fourth summer as part of the NHSI faculty.

Michael Osinski – Core/Electives/Director

MICHAEL OSINSKI is returning for his 8th summer at Cherubs. He is a Philadelphia-based director, deviser, producer, and educator. Most recently he directed Polaroid Stories for Rider University (NJ) and A Twist of Water for Passage Theatre Company (NJ). Right before the pandemic he co-created and directed 2 new works with his self-producing collective The Antidote: Red Lodge, Montana (2019 Philadelphia Fringe Festival) and The Celebrity Guide to Mental Health and Wellness (2019 Philadelphia SoLow Fest, 2020 Philadelphia Fringe Festival). He has assistant directed for Tony Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin at The Old Globe (Drama League Directing Fellowship), and he has directed or assisted at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Wilma Theater, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Azuka Theatre. He was a co-founder, resident director, and Producing Artistic Director of Flashpoint Theatre Company in Philadelphia. He graduated from Drew University and received his MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University. He currently teaches at Rowan and Temple Universities, and he also co-hosts and produces his own music podcast on Spotify – This One Goes to 11 – with his friend and collaborator Tyler Esselman. www.Michael-Osinski.comm

Kelsey Ervi – Director/Electives

Kelsey Leigh Ervi is a queer, non-binary director, actor, and artistic leader. Prior to grad school, Kelsey spent eight years in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX where from 2016-2019 they served as Associate Artistic Director for WaterTower Theatre. This fall, Kelsey will be entering their final year in the MFA Directing program at Northwestern, where in the spring they’ll be directing Paula Vogel’s Indecent. Other NU productions include Late, A Cowboy Song by Sarah Ruhl and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Their interests as a theatre artist include devising, queer stories, ensemble-driven work, and classic stories reimagined. They are a member of Actors’ Equity Association.  

Manna-Symone Middlebrooks – Director/Electives

Manna-Symone Middlebrooks (she/her) is a Chicago-based theatre director and producer. She believes that theatre-making is excavation— the ways we dig through our histories, (re)discover artifacts of personal or cultural pasts, and use them in the stories we tell about ourselves and each other. Her work is engaged in epic storytelling that unearths humanity’s complexity, rawness, and joys to celebrate difference and embrace community. Before grad school, she lived in Washington, DC, working as a Casting Associate for The Folger Theatre. She also served as an Associate/Assistant Director for The Folger, Arena Stage, Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, and Shakespeare Theatre Company. Recent Northwestern directing credits include –  Precious Little, The Revenger’s Tragedy, and The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World. Manna-Symone is an alum of American Unversity (BA in Theatre and Literature) and The British American Drama Academy. 

JiWon Jeon – Director/Electives

Ji Won Jeon (she/her) is a Chicago-based theatre director from South Korea working internationally. She believes that the stories we tell about ourselves are formative of who we become as individual, community and society. Her work is therefore centered around the idea of bringing individual and collective cultural history that makes us who we are today and allows us to move forward. She holds BA degree in Theatre and Visual and Performing Arts Studies from the University of Southern California and is currently in her final year of MFA in Directing program at Northwestern University. Most recently at Northwestern, she directed Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes, and her other favorite directing credit includes Peerless, Buried Child, Polaroid Stories, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Armstrong’s Moon, Ubu Roi Project, The History Boys, No Exit, and  

Julianne Lang – Director/Electives

JULIANNE LANG (DIRECTOR/ELECTIVES) (she/her) Julianne is an actor, comedian, and director based in Los Angeles. After graduating with a theatre degree from Northwestern University, she spent a few 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. While in Chicago, she toured with Greatworks Theatre Company and directed the webseries, “Powderpuff.” After getting tired of wearing a coat for 8 months out of the year, she made the move to Los Angeles where she has continued her work as an actor with IAMA theatre company and performs stand up comedy around the city. She is passionate about bringing up the voices of women in artistic spaces and hosts a monthly show featuring only femme performers. This is Julianne’s third 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 swimming or biking or really anywhere outside.

Jeremy Ohringer – Director/Electives

Jeremy Ohringer is an assistant professor at North Central College as well as an adjunct at DePaul University. Favorite directing credits include RAYMONDO (The Cartographers), TRISTAN AND ISEULT (NCC), STUPID F***ING BIRD (DePaul), ANGELS IN AMERICA: PERESTROIKA (Boston University), WHO WALKED ALL NIGHT… (Rhino Fest), SALVE REGINA (Center on Halsted), SAD SONGS FOR BAD PEOPLE (Rough House Theater), WHO ROWED ACROSS OCEANS (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and an original adaptation of SPRING AWAKENING (Fearless Theatre). He is a graduate of Skidmore College and holds an MFA in directing from Boston University. Jeremy was a cherub as well as a faculty associate.

Alex Rodriguez – Voice and Movement/Electives

Alex Rodriguez (he/him) is a Chicago based actor, mover, and maker with a focus in physical storytelling and devised theater practices. Within the classroom, Alex relies on structures that support creative impulse, compassionate listening, personal inquiry, and ensemble-driven composition building. He utilizes performance techniques and methodologies that assists actors as they find specificity and authenticity in their work while also developing a full, intimate connection between body, text, and partner. He holds his BFA from The University of Illinois at Chicago and his MFA from The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. This will be Alex’s first summer with NHSI and he is thrilled to be part of the community!

Brennan Roach – Voice and Movement/electives

Brennan Roach 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 and The Syndicate. Most recently he took over the theatre program at Jones College Prep in the heart of downtown Chicago. Brennan 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.

Tony Sims – Acting/Electives

Tony Sims is a director, educator, scholar, and multi-disciplinary artist. Recently, they directed Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre and were a visiting director at Governors State University. Currently, they are devising a new work with the site-specific theatre company, Nothing Without a Company. Additionally, their work has been seen at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, Bay Street Theatre, First Stage Theatre, The Chicago Physical Theatre Festival, Illinois Humanities Council, and several other locations. 

They have a BFA in Musical Theatre from Western Carolina University, studied at The Theatre School at DePaul University within the MFA in Acting program, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago within the MFA Performance Art program. Currently, they are a Ph.D. in Performance Studies candidate at Northwestern University. 

They look forward to meeting everyone this summer and goofing around. 

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