Valerie Meachum (Prospera) is excited to make her Centre debut and a return to Shakespeare, whose work she last explored as Lady M in "that Scottish play" at GreenMan Theatre. Recent years have seen her singing with Soiree Lyrique (now Fox Valley Lyrical Productions) and in all three Backwards Broadway revues at Side Street Studio Arts, as well as starring in the zombie sitcom webseries The Deadersons. Other favorites include Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice), Pride and Prejudice (Charlotte), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Titania), and Little Women (Marmee). When not on stage or on camera, she can often be found making children smile as Jedi, superheroes, and princesses with several volunteer costuming groups.
Chris Contreras (Caliban/Boatswain) is a local layabout commonly found at the Riverfront Playhouse in Aurora. Most recent projects include performing in A Christmas Carol (Nephew), set design and construction for Rope, playing harmonica and percussion in the pit band for Fat Bill’s Road Side Cafe, and directing Marjorie Prime. He is a fresh and untested part of Shakespeare at the Centre so we’ll see how this goes.
(Antonia) is a Chicagoland actor who is thrilled to be joining Shakespeare at the Centre for the fourth summer. Her passion for Shakespeare started at the age of 10 when she received a condensed children’s folio from her uncle. This September, her love for Shakespeare will be taking her across the pond to study Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford Upon Avon. Past performances with the Centre include Love’s Labour’s Lost (Rosaline), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia), and Much Ado About Nothing (Hero). Other notable roles are in Eleemosynary (Dorothea), The Importance of Being Earnest (Cecily), and Curse of the Starving Class (Ella Tate). She is also Ensemble Member with the Elgin Shakespeare Project.
Devon Ortiz (Spirit/Iris) is excited to be making his debut at Shakespeare at the Centre. Devon comes directly from another Shakespeare production, Hamlet (Lord/Player) at Albright Community Theatre. Other past roles include Our Town (Wally Webb) with Fox Country Players and A Christmas Carol (Fred) with Albright Community Theatre. With Albright, he was also a stage manager for Next Fall. During his spare time, Devon loves to kickbox, workout, and volunteer at his church as part of the media team.
Jess Smith (Miranda/Stephano) is thrilled to be making her debut with Shakespeare at the Centre. She has been acting for 24 years, and her recent credits include Over the River and Through the Woods (Elgin Theatre Company), Brownstone (Gallery Theatre), Miss Expanding Universe (staged reading, Williams Street Repertory), Calendar Girls (Playhouse 38), A Technicolor Life (staged reading, Williams Street Repertory), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Townsquare Players). Jess has also performed improv comedy for 10 years and currently performs with Greenroom Improv. She teaches Theatre and English at South Elgin High School and directs their theatrical productions. Enjoy the show!
Jonathan Wessel (Ferdinand/Trinculo) debuts with Shakespeare at the Centre this summer. Previous theater performances include The Diary of Anne Frank (Peter van Daan), A Tale of Two Cities: The Musical (John Barsad), It's A Wonderful Life (Sam Wainwright), The Match Girl (Henry Windsor) and A Christmas Carol (Young Scrooge) at Overshadowed Theatrical Productions; Plaza Suite (Borden Eisler) at The Gallery Theater; The Mousetrap (Christopher Wren) at LightWorks Theater; Cheaper by the Dozen (Joe Scales), A Little Princess (Captain Crewe), Nicholas Nickleby (Frank Cheeryble), and The Woman in White (Walter Hartright) at the Classic Players. Film credits include the short films Happy Together (2016), Wink at Me (2017), There (2018), Duel, The Red Herring, and Night Guard (2019). Feature films include The Over-Mountain Men: The Price of Freedom (2017) and Counter Column (2020). Jonathan will also be starring in the new independent series Knight's End, set in Anglo-Saxon England in A.D. 1017. Jonathan studied the Sanford Meisner Technique at Green Shirt Studio in Chicago, on-camera and audition technique at Acting Studio Chicago, and studied with several private coaches. In addition, Jonathan has been teaching acting and directing theater for 7 years, directing more than a dozen shows in that time. Jonathan has a passion for reaching people through acting, focusing on playing roles that will move the audience in a very profound way and change their lives. Jonathan's desire to act was influenced by Michael Landon in his roles on both Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven, both which spoke to real-life issues and touch on human vulnerability. On the flip side, Jonathan enjoys making people laugh and you will often find him using his skills in mime and slapstick comedy to brighten someone's day. Jonathan's style of comedy is inspired by Buster Keaton, Harpo Marx, Jerry Lewis and Dick Van Dyke. In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys taking walks, rock climbing, exploring, and making people laugh.
Olivia Cuff (Bastiana) is excited to be making her debut at the Centre! Some credits include Harvey (Nurse Kelly) at the Gallery Theatre and As You Like It (Jacques) at Millikin University. She received her BFA in Acting from Millikin University and had the opportunity to do an 8-week intensive course at Shakespeare's The Globe Theatre. When not on stage, Olivia can be seen recording audiobooks from her home studio or baking at home.
Zachary Falvo (Spirit/Juno) is excited to be making his Shakespeare at the Centre debut. He joins the cast coming directly off of Hamlet (Fortinbras/Player Queen) at Albright Community Theatre. With Albright, he was also seen in A Christmas Carol (Young Scrooge) and The Great Gatsby (Butler), for which he also served on stage crew. This Class of 2023 Batavia High School student is a fan of Marvel and plays the ukulele in his spare time.
Abigail Mackey (Ariel/Ceres) “Abby” is a dancer, actress, and singer based in the Chicagoland area, and she is excited to make her debut at Shakespeare at the Centre! Recent performance highlights include The Great Gatsby (Jordan Baker) Noises Off (Brooke/Vicki) with Albright Community Theatre, and she is a Principal Dancer of The Kate Jablonski Statement in their latest original work, Dream State. Outside of performing, Abby enjoys writing, Crossfit, and traveling.
Matt Heine (Alonso) Fans and locals may recognize Matt from previous performances with Shakespeare at the Centre. He has been involved with Shakespeare on Clark since 2010's Twelfth Night, and is pleased to be returning for his seventh consecutive (minus our hiatus) year! Matt would like to thank his family and friends for their support.
Bruce Worthel (Gonzalo) is happy to be back with Shakespeare at the Centre. His last performance at the Centre was in Much Ado About Nothing. Some of his performances include Scatter the Pigeons (Jenner Johnson) at Steel Beam, As You Like It (Adam/Martex) at Bard in the Burbs, Marvin’s Room (Bob/Marvin/Others) at VTG, Albright Community Theater’s Christmas Carol (Marley), Shakespeare on Clark’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Egeus/fight choreographer), Vero Voce’s Shakespeare in Hollywood (Jack Warner), Wheaton Drama’s Amadeus (von Strack/fight choreographer/blood work), and understudying and performing the part of Jimmy in Making God Laugh at the former Fox Valley Rep (Pheasant Run). Favorite roles include Bleacher Bums (Marvin), Other People’s Money (Jorgenson), and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Multiple Roles) (Vex Theatre).
Katherine Hart (Foley Artist) is thrilled once more to be a part of Shakespeare at the Centre, this time as one of the Foley Artists! She is very excited to be able to work with Toria Hollyn and this fabulous cast and crew. Past roles with the Centre include Love’s Labour’s Lost (Antonia Dull), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mustardseed), Much Ado About Nothing (Ursula), and A Comedy of Errors (First Merchant/Servant). Other onstage credits include WMC Productions, Inc.’s Much Ado About Nothing (Ursula u/s) and Summer Place Theatre’s Cyrano de Bergerac (Sister Martha). When not acting, Katherine has held many crew positions for Shakespeare at the Centre, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, Batavia Arts Council, and Fox Valley Repertory Theatre. Graduate of St. Norbert College (double B.A.) and Tribeca Academy (A.A.S.).
Therese Harrold (Foley Design) studied Speech and Drama at DePaul University Theatre School, Improvisation with Second City, and has taken acting classes at the Actors Studio in Chicago. A produced playwright, Therese has written stage and screenplays as a student at large at Columbia College in Chicago, Chicago Dramatists,College of DuPage, and through on-line through Screenwriting U ProSeries and Master In Screenwriting Certificate programs. She has been a Communication Arts teacher and director at secondary high school level, community theatre, and in conjunction Fox Valley's Prisco Center. An active member of The Theatre of Western Springs, The Village Theatre Guild in Glen Ellyn and Gallery Studio, her favorite acting roles thus far have been Into The Woods (Jack's Mother) with Natural Talent Productions, A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple) at the Theatre of Western Springs and, most recently, Harvey (Veta Louise Simmons) at Gallery Theater in West Chicago. Understudying at Northlight Theater in Skokie was particularly an exciting time in her acting pursuits. Therese has been involved with community theatre for years, on-stage as an actor and backstage from set construction to hospitality. Therese’s interest in not only Shakespearean plays, but in exploring all aspects of stage and screen, from script composition, direction and production, i.e. set design, costuming, make-up and sound, all attracted her to the role as a Foley in The Tempest involving her in the creation of sound effects to support enhance characterization and action.
Toria Hollyn (DIRECTOR) is honored to be returning to Shakespeare at the Centre, this time as a director. Her first Shakespeare performance was as a semi-finalist in The English-Speaking Union Chicago Branch's Shakespeare Competition, and she subsequently appeared in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Julia), Much Ado About Nothing (Dame Jeanne), and Love's Labour's Lost (Katherine). Favorite directing credits include Wheaton Drama's production of Quartet and the world premiere staging of Allie Costa's Nebulous Fix. To honor this production, Toria Hollyn has made a donation to the Indigenous Language Institute. She dedicates this production in memory of Elaine Johnson and Steve Schroeder.