Lindsey Branson : Children's Theatre Director

Lindsey Branson

Children's Theatre Director

Bio to come.
Thad Hallstein : Technical Director

Thad Hallstein

Technical Director

Thad has been on the staff at TWS since 2006. He supervises tech theatre operations, advises designers, and teaches tech classes to CTWS students. In Chicago, Thad has worked as a scenic painter for several companies, including Lookingglass and Chicago Shakespeare, as well as painting for television, museum and display clients at Chicago Scenic Studios Inc. He has also designed sets for Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Profiles Theatre, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, Brookhaven College in Dallas, TX, and the Laboratory Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin. Thad has also worked in various positions for The Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Opera Illinois, Heartland Theatre, Bloomington and Homewood-Flossmoor High Schools, Utah Shakespearean Festival and the Illinois High School Theatre Festival. Thad has degrees in Scenic Design and Graphic Arts from Illinois State University.
Tricia Madison Boren :

Tricia Madison Boren

Tricia grew up right here in Western Springs and has been an active member at TWS since 1998. She owns "Madison Entertainment" and has been clowning around as Polka-Dotti and many other characters for the past 21 years. Tricia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Therapy and does a lot of entertaining with special needs children and adults. This will be Tricia's eleventh year teaching the Art of Clowning here at CTWS. She looks forward to working with your children and creating miles of smiles!

Tripp Burton :

Tripp Burton

Tripp Burton is returning for his 13th season at CTWS and his 6th as High School Rep Co-Advisor. At CTWS and TWS, his directing credits include The Man Who Came to DinnerAl Capone Does My ShirtsSideways Stories from Wayside School, The Giver,There's A Boy in the Girl's BathroomMuch Ado About NothingThe Borrowers, and The Sparrow, as well as all nine High School Rep Summer Stock productions, including Urinetown13, RENT, Spamalot and Godspell. He has also chaired sound for various shows, directed the Trouping productions for four years and appeared on-stage in Scrooge the Musical. Tripp has also worked throughout Chicagoland as a director, playwright and actor, and was previously the Artistic Director of Young Actors Ensemble in Naperville. He has a degree in Theatre Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University and a degree in Teaching & Learning from DePaul University. This season, he will be directing Alice in Wonderland.

Laura Dieli :

Laura Dieli

Laura is thrilled to be back at CTWS for another exiting year as a member of the fantastic faculty and the co-advisor to the High School Rep company. She has been a member of the CTWS faculty since 2004 and has been proud to direct and design (scenic and lighting) for close to 30 shows in that time. You might have most recently seen her design work on Starry Messenger and Treasure Island. She's glad you're here!

Carolyn Dobrinich :

Carolyn Dobrinich

Carolyn Dobrinich joined the CTWS staff in 2012, and has served as music director for the Summer Drama Workshops and accompanied Musical Theatre classes. Her credits include: Dear Edwina; The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley; The Aristocats; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; and Dr. Dolittle. By day, Carolyn is a middle school music teacher in Lockport, where her responsibilities include 6th grade music classes, a guitar elective for 7th/8th grade students, and three grade level choirs (6th/7th/8th). She also directs two extra-curricular choirs after school, one for boys and one for girls. Her ladies' ensemble was named a 2014 State Honor Choir, one of only seven in the entire state. Carolyn holds a Bachelor of Music Education with a specialization in the choral area, as well as a minor in Spanish, from Bowling Green State University (in Ohio), and a Master’s of Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Both as a soprano and pianist, she continues to perform, teach private lessons, and adjudicate solo/ensemble events.

Kyle Greer :

Kyle Greer

Kyle Greer is a Louisiana native with classical training and is now using his talents above the Mason/Dixon line. He has an extensive background in both music and theatre. In Chicago, he has performed with theatres such as the Jeff Award-winning Theo Ubique and The National Pastime Theatre. He’s also performed as a solo singer/songwriter and with his bands, Fatally Cool (hand selected to audition for America’s Got Talent!), and Spears & Gears at venues such at Martyr’s, The Burlington, Park West, and The Abbey Pub. He also serves as an instructor and director at the Chicago School of Rock. As a music director, he’s worked throughout the Houston area. Here in the Chicago area,  he’s worked with the St. Tarcissus Players and just made his debut with the recent CTWS production of Godspell as well with the TWS Active Showcase. He is excited to continue his relationship with CTWS and TWS family.


Karen Holbert :

Karen Holbert

Karen is delighted to return for her tenth year of teaching on the faculty of the Children’s Theatre of Western Springs! Karen holds a theatre degree from Wesleyan University (CT) and is a graduate of the Second City Training Center 's Conservatory. Karen is an Active Member of TWS and has enjoyed working both on and back stage in several TWS and CTWS productions. Last year, Karen directed the CTWS production of Nancy Drew: Girl Detective. In addition to her work at TWS, Karen also has been seen in several professional improv and theatrical productions in the Chicagoland area.

David Knezz :

David Knezz

David Knezz has been a teacher at the Children’s Theatre of Western Springs since 1992. He has appeared in many shows at TWS including Willy Wonka, (Holiday Special 2010), Scrooge (Holiday Special 2008), Seussical the Musical (Holiday Special 2005), Spinning into Butter (2005), and Around the World in 80 Days (2003) for which he was also the Puppet Consultant. His directing credits include A Christmas Story (2014), A Dinner Party (2014), Unnecessary Farce (2014), Fiction (2008), The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Holiday Specials 1999 and 2004), Those Little Rascals (CTWS 1997), and this season’s A Christmas Story. David won a Legacy Award in 1997 for excellence in teaching. He is an avid sculptor and mask-maker having created the masks for the CTWS production of James and the Giant Peach. He teaches mask-making and mask-acting around the world and you can view his work at David was named 2009 Creative Drama Teacher of the Year by the Illinois Theatre Association.

Deanna Markos :

Deanna Markos

Deanna Markos is an alumnus if CTWS from the 1990's. Dee went to Miami of Ohio to pursue theatre and ended up with an Teaching degree! She is most proud of designing and painting the set for Madeline's Christmas and her recent work as Assistant Director on Nancy Drew. Deanna is an Illinois State Certified teacher K-12 with endorsements in English, Drama, and Speech. This is Deanna's 13th year teaching at CTWS and she loves working with the Intro to Tech class and backstage. Dee has a wonderful little family- her handsome husband Pete, spunky son Spiro (7) and delightful daughter Ellie Rose (4). Dee is thrilled as always to be back in the shop again!

Emily Monteagudo :

Emily Monteagudo

Emily returns to CTWS after a few years spent earning her Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology at Illinois State University. Also a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, Emily received her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Theatre Arts. Her favorite credits include: The Skin of Our Teeth, The Bourgeois Avant Garde, Polaroid Stories, and Quickies. Professional stage-management credits include A Prayer for my Daughter (Mary Aarchie), Closer (MOB Productions) and an internship on King Lear with Goodman Theatre. Emily directed the CTWS production of Harriet the Spy (Spring 2008), and Bunnicula (Fall 2009, HSRC), as well as three years of trouping shows: Winnie the Pooh, Miss Nelson is Missing and Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. Recently, Emily directed The Shepherd’s Daughter at The Paradeigma Collective in Chicago.

R & D Choreography :

R & D Choreography

R & D Choreography returns to CTWS to teach students safe, fun, and effective stage combat practices. In addition to teaching stage combat in and around Chicago, R&D Choreography frequently work as the violence designers for professional, community, and educational theatres including The Theatre of Western Springs, Lifeline Theatre, Renegade Theatre Company, and Loyola University. You might have seen some of their work in the CTWS productions of Treasure Island or Nancy Drew: Girl Detective and in the TWS production of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Paulette Sarussi :

Paulette Sarussi

Paulette, a TWS life member, has taught here at CTWS from 1988 to 1994 and returned to our faculty in 2001. Over the years, she has shared acting tips and techniques with hundreds of students from 2nd grade through high school. Prior to working at CTWS, she taught Creative Dramatics at Triton College and College of DuPage. Paulette has also appeared in over 55 professional (Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, Stage Right Dinner Theatre, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, and Saber Room Playhouse) and community productions and toured with Paradise Productions performing for young audiences. After chairing Paint Crew for the spring production 12 consecutive years, Paulette accepted the challenge of preparing the Study Guide for our student audience members and really enjoyed it!  Paulette is looking forward to another great year working with our fabulous CTWS students.

Joe Savino :

Joe Savino

Joe has served on Faculty since 2002. CTWS Choreography:  Dr. Doolittle, The Aristocats, The Adventures of Flat Stanley, How to Eat Like A Child, Honk, Dear Edwina, Seussical: The Musical, School House Rock, The Granny Awards, and The Cricket on The Hearth. CTWS Direction: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  TWS Choreography:  The Taffetas, Anna Karenina, Around the World In Eighty Days. CTWS Make-Up Chair: A Christmas Story, Madeline’s Christmas, Peter Pan & Wendy, Scrooge, Sideway Stories From Wayside School. TWS/CTWS Performances:  Is He Dead?; I Love. You're Perfect. Now Change.; The Quick Change Room; Scrooge: The Musical.  Films: The Most Dangerous Game, Eagle Eye, Chicago Overcoat, The Root Of All Evil. Television: The Beast, Leverage, Matadors.  Joe taught theatre in the Chicago Park District for 12 years where he also directed and choreographed at Theatre on the Lake for 10 seasons. In 1998, he received the City of Chicago’s highest honor for Superior Public Service, a Kathy Ostermann Award for “Outstanding Educational Employee” of the year. He has appeared on many Chicago stages including Timeline Theatre, Drury Lane Water Tower Place, The Royal George, The Theatre Building, Circle Theatre, and Light Opera Works. Since 2001, Joe has served as the Pre-Show Emcee for the popular film Sing-A-Longs at The Music Box Theatre.


Cyndy Soumar :

Cyndy Soumar

Cyndy Soumar joined the faculty of CTWS in 2006, and enjoys teaching a variety of Musical Theater and acting classes to all grades, Kindergarten through high school.  Outside the theater classroom, CTWS credits include Mainstage shows CinderellaWillie Wonka, The Snow Queen (choreographer); Scrooge: The Musical (director and choreographer); HSR Summer Stock productions of UrinetownSweet Charity13; Smile; Lucky Stiff;  RENT;   Spamalot;  Godspell (musical staging).  In addition to teaching theater classes and working on over 60 musicals,  Cyndy has taught all dance disciplines at local studios, directs Middle School musical productions and teaches musical performers privately for auditions, sung theater performance skills, and dance.  Prior to CTWS, she served for over 20 years as Teaching Artist/Choreographer at a large area high school.  By day, she can be found working in a local Special Education classroom. Cyndy is passionate about arts education!

Charmaine Spencer :

Charmaine Spencer

Charmaine has been involved with CTWS for many years and recently rejoined the faculty to teach our Playwriting Class. A teacher and puppeteer, Charmaine has been writing for family audiences for almost 30 years. Most recently Fireflies, a play about the young artists of Terezin Concentration Camp, premiered in San Diego and Be My Love, an Evening with Mario Lanza, was produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Two new family musicals, The Gift of Mrs. Magi (music by Karena Mendoza) and Circus Boys (a story of the young Ringlings, music by Russell J. Coutinho) have received staged readings and are in development.