Faculty

Rob Chambers
Theatre Department Head

Rob Chambers has more than thirty years of professional theater experience as a director, actor, educator and administrator. At ChiArts, he has directed productions of “Sweet Charity,” “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992,” “Working,” “The Sparrow,” “Company,” and “Marvin’s Room.” He was the founding Artistic Director of Theatre Mir from 2007-10 and directed the company’s productions of “Beautiful City,” “The Arab-Israeli Cookbook,” and “The Prisoner’s Dilemma.” Prior to ChiArts, he taught acting, directing, playwrighting, and theatre history and literature courses at The Theatre School at DePaul University where he also guest directed productions of “The Arab-Israeli Cookbook,” “Experiment with an Air Pump,” and Aristophanes’ “Birds.” From 1999-2007, Mr. Chambers worked in the Education and Training Center division at The Second City, first as Director of the Chicago Training Center and then as President of Training and Education, International overseeing all of the company’s Training Centers in the United States and Canada. He grew these programs into what was arguably the largest actor training program in the world. At Second City, he also served as Producer of The Second City Detroit, Producer of “The Laugh Track” television program on A & E, instructor of Acting and Improvisation, director of numerous shows at Donny’s Skybox and with The Second City Educational Touring Company (EdCo), and a Board member of The Second City Foundation. He also worked on the design and implementation of the Comedy Studies Program, a joint program of Second City and Columbia College Chicago. Mr. Chambers has held staff positions at Hartford Stage Company, Goodman Theatre, League of Chicago Theatres, Melanie Stewart Dance and South Jersey Regional Theatre, and has served as a consultant, board member, and/or volunteer for numerous arts and service organizations such as the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Arts and Business Council of Chicago, Canadian Consulate General of Chicago, and Philadelphia Dance Alliance. As a director of non-musicals and musicals with an emphasis on new productions, he also worked with Common Ground Stage & Film in New York; Silk Road, Circle, Live Bait, City Lit, Bailiwick, Public Trust, Chicago Dramatists, Women’s Theatre Alliance, and Barat College in Chicago; New Britain Repertory and Mark Twain Masquers in Connecticut; and Society Hill Playhouse and PlayWorks Company in Philadelphia. Mr. Chambers began his theatre career as an actor and appeared in many productions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He earned a B.A. in Radio-TV-Film from Temple University and an M.F.A. in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Chambers is also an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Arts Administration Program at Rowan University.

Scott Westerman
Department Admin. Assistant, Acting, Voice & Speech + Senior Project

Scott Westerman is a Chicago-based actor, director, and teacher. As an actor, he has worked with numerous theatre companies in the Chicago area, including Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight, Apple Tree, Chicago Dramatists, Strawdog, Lifeline, Stage Left, A Crew of Patches, Mary Arrchie, Festival Theatre of Oak Park, Pegasis Players, Incognito, Borealis, Reverie Theatre Company, and The Artistic Home, with whom he is an ensemble member and managing director. Nationally, he has worked with the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.; with Everyman Theatre in Baltimore; with the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, South Carolina; and with the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. Scott has done several commercials, has appeared in the television show Prison Break on FOX, as well as a pilot for HBO’s The Washingtonienne, and was seen on the big screen getting beat up by Gerard Butler in the film Machine Gun Preacher. Scott’s directing career has run the gamut from professional productions to students’ devised works. Up next, he is directing a new play called Interrogation for The Artsitic Home. Scott received his MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at the George Washington University.

David Blixt
Stage Combat
Natalie Chami
Vocal Chair + Treble Choir + Vocal Technique & Repertoire 1 + Music Technology

Natalie Chami is a composer, performer, and music educator. She holds a Bachelor’s in Music with an emphasis in Music Education from Northwestern University and concentrations in classical voice, opera performance, and choral conducting. She has studied with renowned professors Robert A. Harris, soprano Pamela Hinchman, and music educators/researchers Bennett Reimer and Maud Hickey. She has also acted as director of volunteer music outreach groups including the Music Learning Community (MLC) and UpBeat!, which organized free music lessons in the Evanston and Chicago area. In addition to her degree, Ms. Chami is also Illinois Teacher Certified for grades K-12 (Music). She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and was a finalist for the National Artist Teacher Fellowship in 2014.

Ms. Chami is an active member of Chicago’s experimental music scene. She records and performs solo music under the name TALsounds, in the trio Good Willsmith, and as half of the duo l’éternèbre, in addition to being the co-founder of the experimental digital collective Screaming Claws. Each of these projects presents a variation or complication of an overarching performative process: her vocal loops and analog synth tones drift and accumulate across long sessions of improvised music – generating an atmosphere of her own, or colluding with the processed electronics and textural sound collages of her collaborators. Ms. Chami has released solo music on labels including Chicago-based imprints Hausu Mountain and Notes and Bolts, in addition to contributing an album to cassette podcast Tabs Out’s tape subscription series in 2015. Forthcoming solo albums will appear on Hausu Mountain, and on Mexico City-based label Umor Rex. In addition to her regular local performances, Ms. Chami has performed across the US on four national tours with Good Willsmith to date, and was chosen with the trio as an artist in residence at Chicago’s High Concept Laboratories for the Fall/Winter 2012-13 season. Good Willsmith’s debut 2014 LP The Honeymoon Workbook on Umor Rex earned positive reviews from publications including Pitchfork, Tiny Mix Tapes, and AdHoc.fm, while TALsounds’s 2015 solo album All The Way saw praise from The Fader, The Quietus, and FACT Magazine. Good Willsmith’s second LP is due for release in February 2016 on Umor Rex.

Julian Chin
Vocal Technique & Repertoire IV + Music Theory Fundamentals + Keyboard Skills

Julian Chin joined the ChiArts faculty in 2012. He has served as an instructor and accompanist for many organizations in the Chicago area, including After School Matters, Merit School of Music, and the Pro Musica Youth Chorus. He has worked as a a music director and pit musician for Light Opera Works, Porchlight Theater, and the Journeyman, among others, and is proud to have been the music director for all of ChiArts’ main stage musical productions. In addition to his work in theater and education, Julian can be seen performing around the city with bands in a wide variety of genres, from jazz to rock to hip hop and everything in between. In 2011, he toured the US and Europe with the avant-garde rock group Capillary Action, including performances at Willisau Jazz Festival and the Rumor Festival in Utrecht. Currently, he can be seen performing with rock/soul singer Elle Casazza, and as a guest artist with a wide variety of local acts. Julian is a native Chicagoan, and graduated in 2008 from Oberlin Conservatory with a B.M. in Piano Performance, with a focus in Jazz Studies.

Brandon DiCriscio
Contemporary/Modern C, Musical Theatre Dance Fundamentals + Dance I & III

Mr. DiCriscio, of Wilmington, DE, received his initial training from Anne Marie and Sonny Leo. He then went on to pursue a B.A. in Dance at Point Park University. While in school, he apprenticed with River North Dance Chicago and then became a company member in 2007, dancing with the company for four seasons. Brandon has worked with choreographers including Robert Battle, Sidra Bell, Frank Chaves, Ron De Jesus, Shannon Gillen, Gustavo Ramierz Zanzano, Lauri Stallings, Doug Varone, Edgar Zendejas, and Sherry Zunker. While at Springboard Danse Montreal, he worked with BJM Danse Montreal under the direction of Louis Robitaille. Brandon also has apprenticed with Luna Negra Dance Theater. His true passion is for dance-making. In 2011, he won the Dance Chance Redux competition sponsored by DanceWorks Chicago and the Ruth Page Center for hte Arts. In 2012, he created two works on the Big Muddy Dance Company of St. Louis. Currently Brandon trains aspiring dance professional at ChiArts, as well as the North Shore School of Dance. Additional Chicago Concert dance commissions include Nomi Dance Company, DanceWorks Chicago, Inside Chicago Dance, and LEVELdance. Brandon is currently Rehearsal Director, Choreographer, and collaborating artist at LEVELdance.

Cecilie Keenan
Senior Project

Cecilie D. Keenan is a freelance director and producer active in the Chicago Theater Community for over 20 years. Cecilie has often worked with Teatro Vista where she was the Producing Director. Her most recent work with that company was El Nogalar at The Goodman Theatre. Other credits include: Beauty of the Father for Urban Theater Company, Another Part of the House and Dreamlandia for Teatro Vista and The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow for Collaboraction. Keenan has directed at many Chicago Theaters including: American Blues/ATC where she directed Tobacco Road, Living Out (co-pro with Teatro Vista), Toys in the Attic and Bus Stop; Bailiwick Repertory’s Our Town (a deaf/hearing/movement version), Nagasaki Dust, Shanghai Gesture, Dark of the Moon, Stones and Prometheus Bound/UnBound; and Apple Tree Theater where she directed Anna Christie, The Birthday Party and Private Eyes. This past summer Cecilie collaborated with Latinos Progresando to developing a play with 15 youth in Oaxaca Mexico on a MacArthur International Connections Grant. Recent work includes producing a community happening for the Rock Arts Series at Rockefeller Chapel and directing a full South-side community concert of In The Heights at Benito Juarez High School in collaboration with Chicago Shakespeare and Latinos Progresando. Currently Cecilie is workshopping and directing Learn to be a Latina by Enrique Urueta for Pride Plays.

Josie McCanse
Theatre History & Literature

Josie is a local teacher and improviser. After receiving her B.A. in Theatre from the University of Iowa, she moved to Chicago to pursue her love of acting. She is a graduate of IO and the Second City Conservatory program and an original member of the improv group HHDM, which can be seen performing in venues around Chicago. In 2007 she went back to school at Loyola University where she earned her Master’s of Education in Secondary Education with endorsements in English and Theatre. Ms. McCanse has taught English in public and private schools and is thrilled to be combining her love of theatre and literature at ChiArts.

Amber Page
Movement

Amber is a local actress and teacher. She has acted on camera and on stages in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison, from where she received a BA as Theatre Drama Major-Acting Specialist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After college, she moved to Los Angeles where she continued to hone her craft at The Actors Studio with Artistic Directors Martin Landau and Mark Rydell, and studied with Joanne Linville. Alongside being an actress, Amber is also a Certified Yoga Teacher and has held a Group Fitness Instructor National Certification. She also teaches privately at studios and fitness facilities. Amber enjoys challenging herself and growing as an artist and teacher by continuing to study. She had the great opportunity to travel to Italy and study The Body of Mask with Paola Coletto and is thrilled to study the smallest mask, the Red Nose, here in Chicago.

Rebecca Prescott

Chicago-based actress Rebecca Prescott was born and raised a rancher’s daughter in South Central Idaho. At a very young age she discovered she was a much better actress than a cowgirl, and saved up all her steer money to put herself through undergrad at Boise State University. At BSU she was torn between the acting and singing degrees, so she decided to just do both. Upon completion of her two degrees, she followed her brother out to Chicago, where he was dancing with the Joffrey Ballet. Shortly upon her Chicago arrival, she was accepted to the Chicago Conservatory of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where she earned a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and studied with International Opera Bass-Baritone star, Richard Stilwell. While at Roosevelt she met her husband, composer and saxophone player Amos Gillespie. Rebecca is a company member of Eclipse Theatre and VOX3, and an Artistic Associate with Chicago Opera Vanguard. Her regional credits include Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Theatre for Youth, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Eclipse Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Drury Lane, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. For two holiday seasons she performed as Grandma Who in the National Broadway Tour of the musical How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Rebecca was in the cast of the I Love Lucy Show, a Broadway in Chicago production, where she performed Ethel, Dinah Beach, Gertie, and Fern, and understudied the role of Lucy. Winter of 2014 Rebecca will be performing Trixie Who/understudy Mama Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to be performed at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago and Madison Square Garden in New York City. Rebecca is a member of National Association of Teachers of Singing and Actors Equity Association.

Kathy Scambiatterra
Acting + Directing

Kathy Scambiatterra is Artistic Director and co-founder of The Artistic Home. Chicago acting credits include: Beaten, The American Plan, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Skin of Our Teeth, Look Homeward Angel, Juno and the Paycock, Natural Affection, Orpheus Descending (The Artistic Home); The Glass Menagerie, Nelson Algren Live, The Diary of Anne Frank (Steppenwolf); Broadway Bound (Drury Lane Oakbrook); A Flea in her Ear (Chicago Shakespeare); Romeo and Juliet (Goodman Theatre), among others. Regional credits: The Quick Change Room (Pacific Resident Theatre). TV/Film credits: Chicago PD, The Appointment, Draggage, Sin Collector, Into the Wake. She has received 4 leading role Jeff nominations for work in Sweet Bird of Youth, Natural Affection, Abundance, The School for Wives. As a director, she has helmed acclaimed, Jeff nominated and After Dark Award winning productions for The Artistic Home including: Waiting for Lefty, In the Boom Boom Room, Angel City, After the Fall, Street Scene, Peer Gynt, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Petrified Forest, Modigliani, Days to Come, The Touch of the Poet, The Night of the Iguana. Other directing credits: The Copperhead (City Lit) Angel City, Welcome to the Moon and Other Plays (LA Dramalogue Award), A Christmas Carol (Pacific Resident Theater (LA). Ms. Scambiatterra is the director of the actor training program at The Artistic Home Studio. In addition, she has taught at The Steppenwolf School, Columbia College, Center Theater’s The Training Center, Chicago, IL; Carolyn Berry Studio, The Pacific Resident Theatre LA, CA; Director’s Symposium, US Army, Heidelberg, Germany; Screen Training Ireland, Dublin, Ireland; and currently at The Chicago High School for the Arts.

Rachel Slavick
Acting I for Musical Theatre Majors + Professional Development for Acting Majors + Senior Project for Musical Theatre Majors

Rachel Slavick is a founding teacher in the theatre program at Chiarts. She is in her 19th year of teaching acting at The Theatre School of DePaul University. She has most recently been in The Time of Your Life at the Artistic Home and in Crumble: Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake at Jackalope Theatre where she is also a board member. She has an MFA in Acting from The Theatre School of DePaul University.

Jason Sperling
Acting

Jason Sperling works as an actor, singer, teacher, and director around Chicago. He is an original company member of Barrel of Monkeys, a children’s writing and theater program, and has worked with them for over eighteen years. Mr. Sperling created and taught the drama program at St. Juliana School, and directed there there for seven years; he has taught and directed with the CAST program in Oak Park for seven years; he was a poet/educator with the Chicago Park District/Chicago Humanities Festival’s Words@Play program; he has also taught or music directed for Beverly Arts Center, Raven Theatre, and Prolougue Theatre. Additionally, Mr. Sperling has taught, directed, and music directed with Elmhurst Chilcren’s Theatre, and directed the student-authored sketch comedy show at Chicago Improv Festival’s Summer Theatre Camp in 2009. He has worked as a performer at theatres including Marriott, Drury Lane, Apple Tree, Northlight, Theatre at the Center, Noble Fool, and Ravinia, and can often be seen in BOM’s hit show That’s Weird, Grandma, now in its fourteenth year at the Neo-Futurist Theatre.

Lindsey Thornton

Lindsey Barlag Thornton is a Chicago-based theatre director and performance artist whose recent work has been seen at Archer Ballroom, Copernicus Center, Defibrillator Gallery, Links Hall, Hyde Park Art Center, Mana Contemporary, Sullivan Galleries, Tritriangle Gallery, and Whitebox Studio Gallery. She has performed original work in abandoned storefronts in Chicago and the Divaldo Disk Theatre in Prague. She has taught for American Theatre Company, Auditorium Theatre, The School of The Art Institute, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Writers’ Theatre. She is currently a Teaching Artist for The Museum of Contemporary Art, directs the Education Program for The Gift Theatre, and is a member of Genesis Ensemble. Lindsey received her MFA in Performance from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.