Teaching Artist Community

The Chicago Children’s Theatre Teaching Artist Community is comprised of professional, Chicago-based artists, actors, filmmakers, storytellers, dancers, singers, painters, sculptors, designers, and costumers devoted to theatre making, creative education, and courageous play. Register for Classes.



Time Brickey300x300
Time Brickey is a tap dancer, singer, and entertainer from Chicago. He is a graduate of Millikin University’s School of Music and an Apprentice Member of M.A.D.D. Rhythms. Time received his initial tap and theatrical training from Studio BE, under the direction of Tamara Drew. From there he received training from Reggio McLaughlin, and then Tristan Bruns of M.A.D.D. Rhythms, where Time is now finishing his professional training. Additionally, Time has performed with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project in Dance for Life Chicago, and as a soloist at the Billy Strayhorn centennial, where he was described by the Chicago Tribune as a “Literal Loose Cannon.” As well as performing, Time has composed, arranged, and choreographed for his own various projects and productions.


Liz Chidester is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter and actor from Virginia. Liz teaches at the Old Town School of Folk Music as a summer camp songwriting teacher for 7-11yrs and teens, and as an adult ukulele teacher. She worked with the Youth Guidance program at Ravenswood Elementary, and continues to work with Ravenswood Elementary as a ukulele teacher to K-2nd through the Columbia College Community Arts Partnerships Program. She also teaches private ukulele, piano, and a 4-5yr old “Uku-lala” class at Sherwood Music School. She is so excited to sing Campfire Songs with CCT!


Thom Cox has been teaching theatre and storytelling to students ranging in age from tots to teachers for over thirty years. He also acts with theatre companies like Lookingglass, Court, Northlight, Gift, House, and others. He is an ensemble member and the Master Teacher at Lookingglass Theatre.


Nick Davio is a Chicago-based music director, multi-instrumentalist, teaching artist and songwriter who holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Millikin University, with an emphasis in Vocal Performance.  He currently holds teaching artist positions at The Old Town School of Folk Music. Nicholas also served as the rehearsal guitarist for the Chicago production of Million Dollar Quartet for 5 years, and has been nominated twice in the “Musical Direction” category by the Jeff Awards committee.


Leon J. Evans is an up and coming Choreographer/Actor from the Sunshine State, settling in just fine here in Chicago. He’s grateful enough to have shared the stage with amazing artist in productions such as, Magic Treehouse Showtime with Shakespeare (Emerald City Theatre), Peter Pan and Gypsy (Music Theater Works), The Toilet (Haven Theatre) and many more! If you asked what keeps him going he’ll simply reply, “DANCE!”


Allison Grischow300x300
Allison Grischow is a Chicago based actor, improviser, musician, and teaching artist. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Music from Valparaiso University, and she continued her training with the Moscow Art Theatre School studying acting, movement, and Russian History. In addition to teaching musical improvisation, Allison has taught and led students to create fully devised musicals at Valparaiso University. She is also a teaching artist with Emerald City Theatre and House Call Music where she teaches piano and voice lessons privately.


Tanji Harper is a Chicago native who has been dancing with the youth in the city for the last 16 years. Currently serving as the Artistic Director of The Happiness Club and the director for the After School Matters HiDef Dance Ensemble, Tanji has served as a dance educator to hundreds of Chicago’s teens that are now professionals in the field. Ms. Harper has worked nationally and internationally as a dancer and choreographer for major label recording artists, theater houses, conventions, corporate events, and non-profits centered on Chicago’s youth.


Arti Ishak is a professional actor and teaching artist in Chicago. She’s worked with American Theatre Company, Writers Theatre, Greenhouse Theater, Circle Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Chicago Dramatists, and American Blues Theatre. She’s recently performance in Second City’s ETC revue Fantastic Super Great Nation, and Circle Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of Venus in Fur. You can catch her next as the title character in the world premiere Johnny 10Beers Daughter at Chicago Dramatists. She currently has a national commercial running with Subway and can be heard in several radio spots for Etsy. Arti is also a teaching artist through American Theater Company’s Mosaic program.


Yuri Lane is a world renown human beatbox and harmonica player living in Chicago since 2003.  He’s been a professional actor, musician and teaching artist for over 20 years and is excited to bring Hip-Hop for Tots to Chicago Children’s Theater in 2017.


Originally from the east coast, Nicole Laurenzi is happy to find herself in Chicago, where she has been performing, writing, and teaching for the past three years. Nicole holds a BFA from NYU’s TISCH School of the Arts, where she studied at both the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting and the musical theater program CAP21. After graduating Nicole went on the Broadway National Tour of Mamma Mia! on which she had the pleasure of playing the role of Lisa in theatre’s all across the country.

Since arriving in Chicago she has had the pleasure working with Griffin Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Goodman Theatre, The Marriott Theatre, and Cabinet of Curiosity Events. You may have seen her on your tv in an episode of Chicago PD or walking the isles of Lowes during a commercial break. She has also appeared online for The Onion as the recurring culture commentator Shaun Ditko. In addition to being an actor and singer, Nicole also plays guitar and composes original music.


Beth Reinstein is a singer living the dream in Chicago.  Hailing originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Beth came to Chicago to pursue her bachelor’s in vocal jazz and contemporary music at the Chicago College of Performing Arts. While in school, Beth discovered her love for songwriting and ended up creating her solo project Elle Casazza. As Elle she has performed all over Chicagoland, toured nationally and was named “8 Young Chicago Artists Making a Dent in Music” in Paste Magazine.


Kelsey Shipley is delighted to be working with Chicago Children’s Theatre! Originally from Chattanooga TN, Kelsey is the daughter of a visual artist, and at a young age she would create comics, paintings, and sketches, all with the hope of telling a unique story. At the heart of it all, she has always been a performer, but throughout her high school training at an arts magnet school and while receiving a BFA in Fine Arts from Birmingham Southern College, Kelsey has strived to connect the visual with the theatrical. Kelsey has served as a shop crew head, instructing new students on the ways to build production sets, she has served as a props designer for various Chicago storefronts, she has served as a master electrician, and she has created a plethora of commissioned paintings and murals, all in order to support the storytelling that occurs onstage. Kelsey currently serves as the Executive Director of The Forks and Hope Ensemble, a troupe that devises classic stories for the stage using only household items, she serves as the Grants Manager for Red Tape Theatre, and she is an associate company member of Trap Door Theatre.


Nikkia Tyler is originally from Orlando, Florida and has been spent the last 6 and half years acting, directing, and working in Arts Education in Chicago. Nikkia is graduate of Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts where she received her BFA in Acting and minor in African American studies. Nikkia has spent the last three years working in arts administration as a teaching artist, Assistant Camp Director and Education Manager at Lakeshore Sport and Fitness and Emerald City Theatre. Her recent acting credits include The Condition of Femme (Circle Theatre), Wedding Band (The Artistic Home), Lion (Random Acts), Steel Magnolias (Arc Theatre). Nikkia is excited to be working with Chicago Children’s theatre and helping to encourage youth to explore the arts!


Ellie Terrell 300x300
Ellie Terrell is a Chicago-based teaching artist, prop and object builder, and painter. Her work has been seen in productions with Albany Park Theater Project, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, The House Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, and Redmoon. In addition to her work with theater companies around Chicago, Ellie taught at Gallery 37’s After School Matters program and ran the After School Art and Tutoring programs at San Miguel Gary Comer School and St. Angela School with St. Joseph Services. Ellie holds a BA in Literary and Cultural Studies from the College of William and Mary.