ARTISTIC ASSOCIATES

AARON CHRISTENSEN

Artistic Associate

Aaron has appeared at Oak Park Festival Theatre in The Fair Maid of the WestHenry IV, Henry V, Inherit the Wind, and To Kill a Mockingbird, and became an Artistic Associate in 2017. Chicago stage credits include Remy Bumppo, Goodman, Next, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, First Folio, Bailiwick, and Timeline. Regional: Nebraska Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Greenbrier Valley Theatre, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. In his darker hours, Aaron (aka “Dr. AC”) is a Rondo Award-winning film journalist, editor of the genre guidebooks HORROR 101 and HIDDEN HORROR, and can be seen onscreen in Shout! Factory’s reality series Horror Hunters and the critically acclaimed survival flick, Dead Weight. Love to Shel.

Barbara Zahora

Artistic Associate

Barbara Zahora joined the OPFT Artistic Associates in 2017, after directing their critically acclaimed Macbeth.  As an actor she has appeared as Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa and several benefit performances of Belinda Bremner’s Mrs. Coney and Midwinter’s Tales.  Additional acting credits include All My Sons and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (American Players Theatre); Hamlet, Heartbreak House, A Little Night Music, and Misalliance (Writers’ Theatre); The Country Girl (Illinois Theatre Center); Marionette Macbeth, The Moliere Comedies, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Richard II, The School for Scandal, and All’s Well That Ends Well (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Lady Windermere’s Fan (Northlight Theatre); A Christmas Carol, Wit (Goodman Theatre); Hard Times (Lookingglass Theatre); The Devil’s Disciple, Major Barbara, Coward in Two Keys, and What Every Woman Knows (ShawChicago); and many appearances with the Shakespeare Project of Chicago, where she is the current Associate Artistic Director.

Directing credits include Shrewish (Artemisia Theatre); Misalliance, Private Lives (ShawChicago); and Something Shaw and Spoon River: Coming Home for the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.  TV and film credits include Chicago Fire and Operator.

Barbara is a visiting assistant professor at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College for the Performing Arts, and she previously taught at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and North Central College.  She is represented by Paonessa Talent and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.  Love to George, always.

Belinda Bremner

Belinda Bremner

Artistic Associate

Belinda Bremner has worked with OPFT since 2007 when the theatre first presented her play Mrs. Coney as a fundraiser. OPFT Directing credits: Dancing At Lughnasa, Of Mice and Men (Jeff Nomination for Best Set), Richard III (Jeff Recommended), Faith Healer (Jeff Recommended), Someone To Watch Over Me (Jeff Nominations for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor) as well as all the six Midwinter’s Tales (which she wrote), Mrs. Coney,three of the five WVOP  radio benefits (all of which she adapted), as well as several benefits.  She did the props for Dancing At Lughnasa with Michael Lasswell, the set as well. She  did the set, costumes, and props for Faith Healer and costumes and props for Someone to Watch Over Me. And she propped Of Mice and Men and Cyrano, and worked props for Macbeth and Fair Maid of the West.

Acting roles for OPFT include: The Chorus, Amanda Winfield, Lady Bracknell, Mrs. Pierce, Maudie Atkinson. A veteran of The Goodman, Northlight, Court, St. Nicholas, Briar Street, Irish Theatre Chicago, she was a founding member of the Body Politic Ensemble and the co-founder of ShawChicago. Most recently she appeared in First Folio Theatre’s As You Like It and their Silent Sky which is Jeff Nominated for Best Production.

BRYAN WAKEFIELD

ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE

An actor and director in Chicago, Bryan teaches at Elmhurst College and is the Development Director for the Organic Theater Company. Bryan became an Artistic Associate with OPFT in 2017. Recent credits include The Fair Maid of the West, Macbeth, Love’s Labours Lost, Twelfth Night, Cyrano de Bergerac (Oak Park Festival Theater), Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Bartleby the Scrivener, Macbeth, and Theophilus North (Organic Theater Company), Mine and Yours (Chicago Dramatists), You Can’t Take it With You (Village Players), The Devil’s Arithmetic – TYA (Apple Tree Theatre); Character Sheet (Chicago ScriptWorks). Bryan is an actor/combatant with the Society of the American Fight Directors and an exotic bird handler from the California-based Carvalho’s Friends of a Feather. He holds an MFA in Acting from Northern Illinois University and a Certificate of Acting from the Moscow Art Theater School.​​

ERICA BITTNER

ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE

Erica Bittner became an artistic associate in 2017.  She has appeared in Pygmalion and Love’s Labours Lost at OPFT, and she will soon be seen in the upcoming production of A Dickens Carol this holiday season.  Her favorite Chicago credits include: Bad Jews (Theatre Wit); The Madness of Edgar Allen Poe (First Folio Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane); Richard III: No Beast So Fierce (Oracle Theatre); and credits with Piven Theatre, Music Theatre Works, Redmoon, One Year Chekhov, GreatWorks Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Victory Gardens, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  Regional and international credits: King Charles III (Cardinal Stage Company), The Two Noble Kinsmen (RADA), and Momentary Opera (Redmoon – Japan).  Television: Chicago Fire, American Greed.  Erica holds a BFA from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she earned an Acting Shakespeare certificate.  She is represented by Gray Talent Group.

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John Crosthwaite

Artistic Associate

John has appeared in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Petrucio), HAMLET ( Bernardo/Gravedigger), TWELFTH NIGHT (Sir Andrew) and the IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (Jack) with Oak Park Festival. John received his MFA in Acting from the Theater School at DePaul University. John has appeared in several independent films (the Dark Hunger, Citizen in the Temple, the Orders, Goldie), television shows (Double Cross, I Almost Got Away With it) and theater productions (Lyric Opera of Chicago, Collaboration, American Blues Theater) since graduating.  John is an Improvisor and has performed locally with his long form troupe The Regulars and in Northern California where he was a company member of ComedySportz Sacramento.

Kevin Theis

Artistic Associate

Kevin’s association with Festival Theatre goes back to 1990, where he first appeared as Prince John in Tom Mula’s production of “Falstaff.”  Since then, he has appeared in numerous productions as a performer- both indoors and out-  and has staged six show for OPFT as a director.  Favorite roles include Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing,” George in “Of Mice and Men,” Edward in “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me,” (Jeff nomination), Frank Hardy in “Faith Healer,” the title role in “Richard III” and Salieri in “Amadeus.”  As a director, he has worked on “Picnic,” “Robin Hood,” “Henry V,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “Cyrano de Bergerac,” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”  A former President of the Festival Theatre’s board of directors, Kevin is a current board member and Artistic Associate of the theatre.  In addition to his work at OPFT, Kevin has worked as a performer at the Goodman Theatre, Next, Theater Wit, Peninsula Players, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble and the Irish Theatre of Chicago (formerly Seanachai Theatre).  He was in the Jeff Award winning ensemble of 2014’s “The Seaferer.”  He has directed at Seanachai, CT20 Ensemble, Lifeline Theatre, City Lit and greasy joan & co. and has been nominated for three Jeff Awards for his directing work.  He has two published plays, adaptations of Thomas Heywood’s “The Fair Maid of the West” and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sign of the Four” (the latter in conjunction with Shanghai Low Theatricals) and a novel, “Confessions of a Transylvanian” with co-author Ron Fox.  He has been seen on NBC’s “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” and ABC’s “Betrayal.”

Leigh Anne Barrett

Artistic Associate

Leigh Anne Barrett has been a producer, designer and stage manager in Chicago since landing here in 1989, most recently directing The Invisible Scarlet O’Neil for her artistic home, Babes With Blades Theatre Company. Leigh became an Artistic Associate with the OPFT in 2017 where has Stage Managed the productions A Dickens Carol, Macbeth, Inherit the Wind, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, and Hamlet. Other Chicago credits include work with Shattered Globe, Next Theatre, Bailiwick Repertory, Strawdog, City Lit, Stage Left Theatre (where she’s a member emeritus), Artemisia, and Plasticene.

LUKE DAIGLE

ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE

Luke Daigle became an Artistic Associate with Oak Park Festival Theatre in 2017 after having appeared in Twelfth Night, Hamlet, a brief appearance in Taming of the Shrew, and numerous staged readings. He has toured twice with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Idaho Repertory Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA. His Chicago credits include Northlight Theatre, Eclipse, Remy Bumppo, Lifeline, BoHo, First Folio, Raven, Shattered Globe, Stage Left, and others. Some of his favorite shows include Big Love at Strawdog Theatre, Joe Calarco’s adaptation Shakespeare’s R & J at Mill Mountain, and When the Rain Stops Falling at Circle Theatre which won the Jeff Award for Best Production in 2010. His camera work includes numerous credits for short films, commercials, and television. Luke graduated from the University of Idaho with a BFA in Acting and is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.

MARK LANCASTER

ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE

Mark became an Artistic Associate at Oak Park Festival Theatre in 2017 where he has been seen in Macbeth and The Fair Maid of the West. Mark moved to Chicago in 2007 from Dallas, TX. He completed an MFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University in 2012, and has since been working as an actor, burlesque emcee/performer, creature effects model, and is currently pursuing a path up the ranks of the Society of American Fight Directors. Favorite credits include performing in Commedia Beauregard’s A Klingon Christmas Carol in 2012 (and returning as performer and fight director for the 2013 production), and as hapless Sam Lowell in Bo Thomas and the Case of the Sky Pirates with Babes with Blades.

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Mary Michell

Artistic Associate

Mary Michell has worked with OPTF since 2008, when she appeared as Kate in our acclaimed production of Dancing at Lughnasa, directed by Belinda Bremner,  Since then, OPTF audiences have seen her in 2011’s Faith Healer, also directed by Ms Bremner and last season’s Seascape by Edward Albee. Mary has been performing with ShawChicago since 1999, when she played Mrs. Erlynne in Lady Windemere’s Fan.  Since then, she’s appeared in many of Shaw’s plays, including Major Barbara, the Doctor’s Dilemma, Pygmalion, The Millionairess and Man and Superman. For the Shakespeare Project of Chicago, she has played Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and the Duckess of Gloucester in Richard II. .Other local credits include work with Chicago Dramatists, Illinois Theatre Center, Drury Lane, The Harper Theatre, The Ivanhoe Theatre, and the Academy Playhouse. Regional theatre credits include What the Butler Saw at Arena Stage in Washington D.C.; A Man for All Seasons and Bedtime Story at Mummers Theatre in Oklahoma City; The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at Actors Theatre of Louisville; and Butterflies are Free at Cherry County Playhouse.  At Ravinia, Mary performed the narration to Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to a Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Chicago Symphony.

Matthew Gall

Artistic Associate

Matthew Gall has appeared in Macbeth, Hamlet and Taming of the Shrew with Oak Park Festival Theatre. Recent credits include Ah, Wilderness! (A Noise Within, Los Angeles). In Chicago, past productions include New Country (Den Theatre.), Design for Living (Pride Films & Plays), Major Barbara, Pygmalion, Saint Joan (ShawChicago), Dial “M” for Murder (Metropolis), Enchanted April (Citadel), Wrong Mountain (Rare Terra), The Pillowman (Spartan), The Blue Room (Stage 773), and the 2014 national tour of Griffin Theatre’s Letters Home, as well as ads for Motorola, Midas, Ford, and Four Loko. Matthew is a New Hampshire native and a graduate of Ithaca College.

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Mark Richard

Artistic Associate

Mark Richard is happy to join OPFT as an artistic associate. Past productions with OPFT include Richard IIIBeyond the Fringe, and Betrayal, in which he appeared, and last summer’s production of Amadeus, which he directed.

In Chicago he was seen most recently in Shaw’s St. Joan with Shaw Chicago, where he has also appeared in Widowers’ Houses and Androcles and the Lion. Elsewhere in Chicago he has worked with Timeline Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Remy Bumppo, Steppenwolf, Writers’ Theatre, Theatre Mir, About Face, Live Bait, Lifeline, City Lit, and Commons Theatre.

He served as City Lit Theater’s artistic director for seven years, where he adapted and/or directed works by Toni Cade Bambara, Donald Barthelme, Martha Bergland, Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, Laurie Colwin, John Clellon Holmes, Kafka, Garrison Keillor, W.P. Kinsella, W. Somerset Maugham, Frank O’Connor, Damon Runyon, Saki, James Stephens, John Updike, W.D. Wetherell, Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, and others. He is currently an artistic associate at TimeLine Theatre. He studied at Northwestern University and in London. He is the recipient of one “Jeff” Citation for performance and two for new work/adaptation.

MATTY ROBINSON

ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE

Matty Robinson became an Artistic Associate in 2017. As an actor he appeared in in OPTF’s production of The Taming of the Shrew as Grumio, and worked on The Fair Maid of the West and To Kill A Mockingbird. Matty was OPFT’s Internship Coordinator in 2017. Matty is a proud Illinois State University alumni holding a Bachelor of Science degree in theatre. You can find him Friday nights during Pimprov as Prince Midas, doing shows around Chicago with The Moonsharks, or performing stand-up around the city.

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Tony Dobrowolski

ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE

An Oak Park resident since 1992, Tony’s relationship with OPFT began with the 1996 production of HAMLET in which he played both Polonius and The First Grave Digger. In 1997 he played Leonato in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. 2001 saw Tony as Baptista in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. Most recently, Tony was Lord Stanley in the 2012 production of RICHARD III. In addition to his Austin Gardens appearances, Tony has also performed in the annual OPFT and PREVAIL (and its previous incarnation) 9 holiday benefits of MRS. CONEY and  MIDWINTER’S TALES. He performed as a part of OPFT “Radio Acting Company” in its inaugural performance of HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and assayed the role of Oscar Wilde (as narrator) in THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY. Last Fall, Tony appeared in Edgar Allan Poe’s TALES OF TERROR. A former costume designer and long-time jewelry designer, Tony’s creations have graced numerous OPFT fundraisers. Tony appears regularly with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago.  Chicago acting credits include productions with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago, First Folio Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Illinois Theatre Center, Marriot Lincolnshire, Northlight, National Jewish Theatre and more than thirty productions with Shaw Chicago. Regional credits include Madison Rep (WI); Boars Head Theatre, Jewish Ensemble Theatre and Meadow Brook Theatre (MI). Tony has been a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association since 1989.

 

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