Meet the Townies!
Actors: Oliver Berger, Jean Bonavita, Sean Buckley, Colleen Burgess, Kate Carson-Groner, Brittny Congleton, Katie Cutler, Warren Dailey, Seth Davis, Mary DeMan, Mari DeOleo, Alex Di Virgilio, Gavin Donnellan, Jordan Ehrlich, Brianne Fitzpatrick, Mike Gospel, Rachel Grandi, Maura Hogan, Rob Holmes, Bethany Hubbard, Sean Kunz, Holly Lambert, Lou Leonardo, Amber Linde, Zachary Madison, Andrea Minchella, Caroline Nash, Todd Page, Julie Poteet, Andy Rich, Alex Richmond, David Schwartzbaum, Susan Thomas, Molly Todd, Frankie Weschler, and Kevin Williams
Producer / Founder: Jill Olson
Courtney Fontaine is a Columbia, Maryland native. Courtney studied Theater and Voice at Frostburg State University, and Early Childhood Education from HCC. Courtney performed at the Maryland Renaissance Festival as Dani O’Danny with the comedy trio ‘The O Danny Girls’ and as an Ensemble member of ComedySportz in Washington DC. In Chicago, Courtney is a graduate of Second City’s Music Conservatory, and iO’s training center. Aside from creating Art masterpieces with the wonderful people of Storytown, you can see Courtney perform with WhoProv (Improvised Doctor Who Episodes), RECESS, and The Andes Mints (MInt Program).
Angela “Anjee-O” Oliver is a hybrid performing artist of many talents and lover of all things art and Storytown related. She is a 2005 Columbia College Chicago graduate, with a B.A. in Theatre/Acting. She has also received post-graduate training and several certifications in the field of Early Childhood Education. She is a current Chicago Slam Works teaching artist and ensemble member. Angela was recently seen as a featured cast member in Second City Outreach & Diversity’s REACH variety showcase at UP Comedy Club and less recently seen as “Gayle King” and “Skinny Oprah” in the long-running “Oprah’s Last Show: A Musical Comedy” at The Annoyance Theatre. She is also a current ensemble member of One Group Mind Theatre’s improv ensemble, Hobo Jobo. She spends most of her free time googling craft ideas and looking at her Google calendar to see how she can evenly disperse her talents across Chicago’s performance poetry, improv/sketch, and musical comedy communities. She loves all things art and Storytown related ‘cause she truly believes art and storytelling really do help to make the world a better place. Yaaay, art and storytelling! www.anjee-o.com
Robbie Ellis is a composer, music director, and other. Originally from New Zealand, he works all across Chicago’s improv and comedy scene (Second City Training Center, Annoyance, ComedySportz, MCL and of course StoryTown!). He’s also a music director & repetiteur for non-comedic musical theatre and opera; composes & arranges dots-on-paper music for orchestras, choirs and chamber ensembles; writes & performs comedy songs; and produces & presents programmes for public radio. He enjoys the gym, the beach, cycling, and cycling from the gym to the beach. He has no pets, no kids, no wife, no mortgage, and dozens of musical instruments. He’s written musicals you’ve never heard of. This is his website: http://www.robbieellis.net/
Gail Gallagher is a music director, composer, and actor. In addition to Storytown, she has played for MINt at MCL, Genesis League at Comedy Sportz, and pHamily at pH theatre. She recently composed music for The Forgiving and the Forgetting, a musical about Altzheimer’s, in collaboration with Healing Moments Ministry. She was the Assistant Music Director/ Pianist for RENT with Munroe Park Theatre Guild. As an actress she has worked with Still Point Theatre Collective and has performed in Strong Women – a play based on poetry by women at Cook County Jail. In her spare time she enjoys knitting, biking around the city, and generally going on adventures.
Matt Herzau graduated from Illinois State University in 2008 with a B.S. in Physics Teacher Education. He taught physics and physical science for a year at his alma mater, Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, IL, where he coached improv to the same troupe on which he started improvising. He spent three years as a writer, director, performer, sound designer, and musician with Chicago improv collective Octavarius. Here he wrote dozens of songs for weekly shows, including a one-act musical adaptation of Star Wars: A New Hope. Matt is (mostly) self-taught on piano and guitar and is also an extremely amateur DJ. He is a graduate of iO’s improv program and a current student in Second City’s writing program. During the day he manages the physics lab at Oakton Community College In Des Plaines, IL. He treats his cats like his children and that’s completely OK.
John Sturk is a native of Plymouth, MI, and a graduate of Michigan State University. In addition to his work with Storytown, he has also worked as a musical director with musical director for Second City’s Donny’s Skybox, iO Chicago’s Deltones, Stir Friday Night, Baby Wants Candy, and Comedysportz Chicago. Aside from his work in improv, he’s also an award-winning magician! John also enjoys pinball games, pizza, and a day at the ballpark. His website is http://johnsturk.com.
Oliver Berger has studied musical theater at the Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts, Carnegie Mellon, CAP-21 Tish and Columbia College Chicago as well as being a graduate of the Comedy Studies Program through The Second City Chicago. He went on to be part of the ComedySportz Chicago House team “Caliber”, Tour the country with Mission IMPROVable and play on the MINT teams “Mint Jelly” and “X-MINT!”. He will also be playing CHANDLER BING in the upcoming musical of “FRIENDS: THE ONE WHERE THEY SING. Currently represented by Stewart Talent & Lori Lynns Talent, Oliver can be seen hosting the weekly show he created at ComedySportz Chicago called Get On Up: The Improv Jam as well as various other stages.
Jean Bonavita is a native of NY and is so excited to be a part of Storytown. Jean is an improvisor, actor and director involved in many projects throughout the city of Chicago. In his free time he enjoys playing sports, board games and doing cartwheels. If you see him staring into the distance, odds are the Cantina song from Star Wars is playing in his head.
Sean Buckley is thrilled to be a part of Storytown! She is from Lincolnwood, Illinois and graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Theatre. Since graduating, Sean has performed with 3 MINT teams at MCL (“Oh MINT Lanta”, “BadMINTon”, and “Altoids”) and is currently enrolled in the Second City Music Improv Conservatory. She loves performing for kids, board games, and discussing her favorite TV shows for absurd lengths of time.
Colleen Burgess is over the moon to be a part of Storytown! Before joining Storytown, Colleen received her bachelors at Millikin University and completed the MI Music Conservatory program at The Second City. When Colleen isn’t making up fairytales, you can see her performing in Tapped: A Treasonous Musical Comedy at Theater Wit and performing with her Indie improv team Yay Radley all over Chicago. Thank you to my family for their love and support and the Storytown family for making me feel so welcomed!!
Kate Carson-Groner is a Jane-of-all-arts based out of Chicago, IL. When she’s not improvising with Storytown, she can be seen at iO with June Boy, and as an understudy for Baby Wants Candy. As an actor, Kate is a company member at The New Colony, has performed all over Chicago with various other companies, and is excited to be playing with the Hypocrites this spring in “The Pirates of Penzance” as it travels to Boston. She is currently learning the accordion and concertina, and plays in a folk duo called Lilac & Crow. She also paints animal portraits for her Etsy store. In her spare time (what’s that again?) Kate likes to cook and spend time with her husband Michael and dog Duke Ellington.
Brittny Congleton studied at Second City Training Center in clowning and musical improv and currently works with Chicago Kids Company, Clown Car to Sicily and Storytown Musical Improv! She also works at Bubbles Academy in early childhood/after school education as well as inspiring future princesses, dragons and superheroes! Put something silly in the world yall!
Katie Cutler is a Chicagoland native who studied the Performing Arts and English at Cornell College. In her first year out of school Katie worked at Walt DisneyWorld Resorts® where she performed in a show with Mushu the Dragon up to twenty times a day. Upon her return to Chicago she had the privilege of working with students of all ages as a Teaching Artist at Emerald City Theatre. Katie is a graduate of iO Chicago’s training program and these days you can find her playing with Buzzed Broadway, and with Dunder Mintflin on Wednesdays at MCL Chicago. Katie loves getting theatrical with kids, because every child is a creative genius in one way or another! She also has serious penchants for the Muppets, all crafting, and looking silly whenever possible. Serious thanks go to her whole family (especially mom and dad) for saying “Yes, And!” to her whenever possible. Katie is delighted to be a member of Storytown!
Warren C. Dailey is thrilled to be a part of the Storytown family. A graduate of North Central College, Warren has also studied improv at iO and the Second City conservatory. When not performing with Storytown, he can also be seen doing improv with Thirsty, and his MINT team, Altoids. By day, Warren is an accountant, and that’s just about all he has to say about that.
Seth Davis is a staple of Chicago’s stand-up, acting, and improv scenes. Seth has appeared on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, performed off-Broadway in The Awesome 80s Prom, and has appeared regularly on The Nude Hippo Show (nbc5.com). Seth was in the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival and the first ever Pop-Con LA Comedy Festival. Seth also performs regularly at The Laugh Factory, Zanies, and is a writer, cast member, and segment producer for Talk Hard- a brand new innovative comedy talk show! He loves kids, The Muppets, and peanut butter!
Mary DeMan….. is THRILLED to join the Story Town family! She is going on her second year improving around Chicago and will/has graduate(d) Second City’s Music Improv program in May 2016. Before that, she’s been jumping around in funny costumes trying, way to hard, to make kids laugh since 2010 with American Family Theater Touring Company (based in Philadelphia, PA) performing such roles as: Cinderella (Stepmother), Babes In Toyland (Widow Piper), and The Wizard of Oz (Wicked Witch, Aunt Em, Glinda, Wizard). Thanks to Jill and our whole crazy bunch o townies! Lets get silly!
Mari DeOleo (actress/clown, artist, teaching artist and producer/production manager) is trained in classical voice, commedia dell’arte, clowning, acting, improv and the visual arts. She is thrilled to join Storytown!!! Mari is an Artistic Associate with Nothing Without A Company, the resident clown with Dramageddon and the Atmosphere Project Manager for the Chicago Fringe Festival. She is part of Educational Outreach Improv team and the Production Manager for Chicago Improv Productions. Mari teaches improv, cultural studies, creative exploration and visual arts to children throughout Chicago. She also is a member of Kidworks Touring Theatre and the founder of PlayLab Productions.
Alex Di Virgilio is a Chicago improviser and is incredibly excited to be a member of Storytown! Born and raised in North Tonawanda, New York, Home of the Carousel, Alex became a member of ComedySportz Buffalo, performing with their cast for 5 years. Since moving to Chicago, Alex is a graduate of iO’s training program and can be seen with Zephyr (ComedySportz Chicago), MINT (MCL), and Funny Bones. Alex is a preschool teacher and would like to thank his family, friends, and the children in his class for always making him laugh.
Gavin Donnellan is so excited to be a part of Storytown! A graduate of iO as well as the Second City conservatory, music conservaroy and writing programs. Gavin is also humbled and honored to perform with Jill and some of the other Storytown players at children’s hospitals with Funny Bones. He can be seen performing improv for grown ups too as one part of the improv duo “Chairs”, which has appeared in the Milwaukee Comedy Fest, Chicago Comedy Fest, Vancouver International Improv Festival, Big Little Comedy Fest, and more. AND you can see him online in the web series “The Studio” (www.thestudiowebseries.com)
Jordan Ehrlich was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and could not be more thrilled to be a part of Storytown! Jordan has performed at various venues around Chicago, including the iO Theater, MCL Chicago, The Public House Theatre, and Donny’s Skybox Theatre at Second City. He has also completed the improvisation programs at the iO Theater and the Annoyance Theatre, as well as the Second City Writing Program. In his spare time, Jordan enjoys music, going to the movies, and wishing that he had a talking dog to solve mysteries with.
Bri Fitzpatrick is an actor, improviser, singer, and twenty-something-year-old-kid who lives in Chicago, IL. Originally from Seattle, WA, Brianne lived in Dublin, Ireland for six and a half years, first earning her BA in Drama at Trinity College, then acting and teaching throughout Ireland. Since relocating to Chicago, Bri has graduated from The Second City’s Conservatory and Musical Conservatory programs and has been seen on stages at theaters including The Second City, ComedySportz, The Apollo Studio, and Studio Be. She could not be more thrilled to be telling stories, singing songs, and making magic with Storytown! When Bri grows up, she would like to own a pug farm.
Mike Gospel is a Chicago improviser who is super excited to be a part of the Storytown family. In addition to Storytown, Mike performs around town with Anarchy: An Improvised Rock Opera, and on the independent team J.D. Dinkleman and the NBA All-Stars. You might also see him playing with Star Wars toys and sidewalk chalk sometimes. Mike hails from Indianapolis where he performed with ComedySportz for four years. He is a graduate of the iO and Annoyance training programs. In addition, he has taught improv to children as a Professor of Merriment with The Laughing Academy. He likes all things fun, positive, and uplifting–Including smiles, waffle fries, friendship, and superheroes.
Rachel Grandi hails from Maryland by way of New York City, but is happy to call Chicago home. When not playing bossy younger sisters and dancing jelly fish with Storytown, she can be seen in Improvised Jane Austen and occasionally making a guest appearance with Nantucket Improv (Sunday nights at the Methodist Church). Rachel has received funny make-em-ups training at iO Chicago, The Annoyance, ComedySportz, Upright Citizen’s Brigade and Maryland Ensemble Theater. Her internet ramblings can be found at regloriousme.blogspot.com.
Maura Hogan is a new Chicago transplant, originally from Baltimore, MD. She graduated from Catholic University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and a concentration in Musical Theatre. Before moving to Chicago, Maura performed internationally as a singer for AIDA cruise lines. She also performed at several regional theaters, including Tony-award winning Signature Theatre and the historic stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Some of her favorite credits include A Christmas Carol at Quest Theater (Emily), Man of La Mancha at Washington Shakespeare Theatre, and Mary Poppins at Toby’s Dinner Theater (Mary Poppins) Last year she was nominated for a WAATCH award for her performance as Katie in Dominion Stage’s production of “Bachelorette”. Chicago credits include: They is Here: a Garbage Human Parade (stage773), Different but Better (Second City), blackfish: the musical (MCL), and Except the Unexpected (Second City). Currently, she is studying improv in the Conservatory and Music Improv at the Second City!
Rob Holmes is originally from Virginia, where he graduated with a BA in Theater from Virginia Tech in 2005. In 2007, he moved to Chicago to pursue acting, but found improv instead. He is a graduate of the Second City Training Center’s Conservatory & Music Conservatory Programs. During his time at Second City he decided to look for a job there, and is now the Technical Manager of the Second City Training Center. Rob is also an accomplished voiceover artist, who can be heard in various commercials like GrubHub, Timberland Tires, and TD Ameritrade. Rob is extremely excited to be joining the cast of Storytown, as he has been working with them in the tech booth, and now gets to play with them on stage. He would like to thank his family & friends for all of their support and never giving up on him.
Bethany Hubbard has been a member of Storytown since August of 2009, and has loved every minute of it! She first came to the Midwest in 2002 to study Theatre and English (Writing in Poetry) at Northwestern University. After graduating with her B.S. in Communications in 2006, she spent four years performing on various Chicago stages including the Goodman Theatre, The American Theater Company, Donny’s Skybox at The Second City, iO Chicago and, of course, Stage 773. Bethany also completed The Second City Conservatory and iO Improv Program.
Holly Lambert is a jack-of-all-trades in the Chicago comedy scene, dabbling in improvisation, directing, writing, and producing. Holly has graduated from Second City Training Center’s Writing, Improv, and Musical Improv Conservatory programs and iO Chicago’s Improv program. She produces/performs in Buzzed Broadway: The Improvised Musical and Drinking Game, is an ensemble member at ComedySportz Chicago, produces/performs with After Party, is an ensemble member of the Under the Gun Theater, and is a proud iO Harold team alumni.
Lou Leonardo is a Chicago based actor and improviser who was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. Lou fell in love with acting at the age of 6 after being casted as Santa Claus in his elementary school play. Since then he continued to study the preforming arts and obtained a BFA in acting from Syracuse University. Besides Santa Claus, Lou has also had the opportunity to play many other legendary characters on stage from Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof to Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. Lou is a graduate of the improv training programs at iO, ComedySportz, & Second City and you’ll find him preforming regularly around Chicago with several different sketch & improv troupes. Lou is excited to be a “Townie” and would like to thank the entire Storytown family for this amazing opportunity. He’d also like to thank his family and friends for their continual support and encouragement.
Amber Linde is originally from the Twin Cities and moved to Chicago to pursue the arts. She has played with such teams as Baby Wants Candy, One Group Mind’s Kent Spent the Rent, Happy Karaoke Fun Time and M.I.N.T.’s very own The Spearmints. She is a graduate of Second City’s Music Conservatory and a Happy Song Co. Alum. She also helps run “Improv After Hours” at Stage 773. She has performed at many festivals including NYC music improv fest and San Francisco Improv Festival. When not on stage she works as a DJ and performer on Navy Pier. She is thankful to Jill, the cast and for all the parents that bring their kids to Storytown- “there is nothing more powerful to give a child than the magic of imagination, free thinking and play” Shel Silverstein
Zachary Madison is a very excited to be joining the cast of Storytown! He is a long time fan and a full time silly dancer. When Zachary is not busy chasing squirrels in the park he performs with his duo sketch group, SAME! Zachary is also a member of the Comedy Dance Collective and performs with various other improv and sketch groups throughout Chicago. Zachary is a graduate of iO and and Second City Conservatory Alumni. Never stop dreaming, one of them just might come true.
Caroline Nash is thrilled to be joining Storytown. She can also be seen around the city performing with the After Party, Buzzed Broadway, Dead Broads Yapping, Eastwood, and Funny Bones Improv. She can also be seen currently in Fleetwood Macbeth at the Public House Theatre and is a current member of the Public House Theatre Ensemble. She was recently seen in The Thanksgiving Circumcision and Caroline and Laura’s Holiday Spectacular at MCL Chicago. She is a graduate of both the Conservatory and Music Conservatory programs at Second City. She is a graduate of UNC Greensboro and is a biscuit connoisseur.
Julie Poteet was born and raised in south Louisiana and has a perpetual craving for seafood gumbo. Since moving to Chicago 7 years ago, she has taken improv and music improv classes and performed at Second City, iO, and ComedySportz. She now spends the majority of her time in a consulting job but is super duper thankful to have a home in Storytown where she can take off the suit and instead wear a variety of capes, wigs, and silly faces. Her favorite Storytown shows have happened in the shadow realm and a hole.
Andy Rich originally started improvisational theater to augment his career as a healthcare consultant. He found improv classes to be much like Lays Potato Chips, where “you can’t just have one”. One class turned into five & he quickly found himself performing as feature player in the Comedy Shrine’s Family Time, Whose Line & Naughty Shows; Graffiti on the 4th Wall & now with great excitement, a member of the Storytown cast. From there he has found fun & success in quite a few independent movies, playing roles ranging from vampires, nurses, bad cops & Boy Scout leaders.
Alex Richmond is a performer/writer/director from Maryland. She has trained and performed at SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando, iO Chicago, and Second City. You’ll regularly catch her performing, coaching, and doing other miscellaneous tasks around MCL Chicago. She used to save tourists from mechanical sharks at Universal Studios for a living, but now she saves tourists in the future from celestial bodies at the Adler Planetarium. She hopes you’re having an excellent day.
Susan Thomas is an improviser, actor and voice over performer. In addition to commercial work, she’s performed with Steep, MPAACT, MCL and Underscore theatres, Burning Brigid Media and gotten real silly at the New York, Chicago and Women’s Funny Improv festivals. She’s thrilled to be a part of Storytown!
David Schwartzbaum has been teaching and performing comedy since he was a teenager, founding a comedic theater company at 19 years old. David teaches and performs sketch comedy at festivals all over the country working with audiences ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. In Chicago, David has taught with Dream Big Performing Arts Expo and the Jewish Community Center of Chicago. He is a graduate of the improv training programs at iO,Second City, and Philly Improv Theater. You’ll find him performing regularly around Chicago with several different sketch & improv troupes including “Switch Committee” and “Lethal Action Force”. David travels every year to Wrestlemania in the hopes that someone will notice him and he can live out his dream of being a professional wrestler.
Kevin Williams is originally from Nashville, Tennessee but moved to Chicago to attend North Central College where he earned a B.A. in Musical Theatre and Psychology. When he is not involved in a theater production, he has most likely been surrounded by kids working as a Cabin Counselor and Theater Teacher at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, performing with Red Bike Performance Company, or in his current role as an Education Apprentice at American Theater Company. Some of Kevin’s greatest experiences in life have involved working with kids so he is thrilled to be joining the Storytown family and excited for all the stories to come! Live. Love. Laugh!
Andrew is excited to be hanging out in Storytown! . Andrew’s work has been seen at Red Tape Theatre, Urban Theatre Company, Gorilla Tango, Runaway Labs, Mode Ensemble, Stone Soup Theatre Project, and Loyola University. Andrew spent a year at Milwaukee Rep Theatre as an Emerging Profession Resident for the 2014-2015 season along with spending 5 months at Flatrock Playhouse, which is the state theatre of North Carolina. Andrew is a proud graduate of Loyola University of Chicago. andrewmlehmkuhl.com
Jill Olson is the founder of Storytown. Through Storytown , she works to cultivate creativity and arts appreciation while introducing audiences to story structure and problem solving. Jill is also the current Chicago Director of Funny Bones Improv. Through them, she is able to bring the magic of improv and laughter to children and their caregivers in Chicago hospitals. She is Improv Professor of Merriment with The Laughing Academy and Theater Teacher for Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop. She has served as Program Coordinator for This Is ME and Child Whisperer for The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival. Jill Olson is originally from Towson University where she graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Theater Arts. She moved to Chicago and studied improvisation and is a graduate of the Second City and iO Training Programs.