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.


Jamie Abelson has worked as an arts educator for Chicago Children’s Theatre, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Silk Road Rising, the Stella Adler Studio (NYC), and Facets Multimedia. He has written and directed shows for children on the autism spectrum for Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite Program and has directed numerous Shakespeare productions with high school students in New York City. Jamie also served for three years as the School Coordinator for the professional actor training program at Steppenwolf. Currently, Jamie works for the Chicago Children’s Theatre as the Casting Director and Performance Manager. Jamie is also an actor and recently played the role of Ishmael in Lookingglass Theatres’ production of Moby Dick. He holds a BFA in Drama from the Tisch School at NYU.


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!


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.

Michael Driscoll is a teaching artist, director, and arts administrator in Chicago. Michael has taught with The Stage School, StageCoach Theatre Arts School, Skyline Studio, Northlight Theatre, American Theater Company, Bailiwick Chicago, and the Center for Community Arts Partnership. He is also a freelance director and has worked with Strawdog Theatre, Bailiwick Chicago, Pride Films and Plays, Step Up Productions, The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, About Face Theatre, Writers Theatre, American Theater Company, and Porchlight Music Theatre. At Columbia College Chicago, Michael managed Project AIM, a nationally renowned arts integration program. Before joining Project AIM, Michael served as the Manager of After-School and Community Outreach Programs at Changing Worlds. He also served as the Director of Education at Bailiwick Chicago, founding the company’s education department. Michael spent five years as the Education Associate at American Theater Company. Michael curates MAP Reading, a monthly play reading series that examines the power and effectiveness of a playwright’s words through non-traditional casting and cold reading. Michael is a graduate of Illinois State University and an alumnus of The Lincoln Center’s Teaching Artist Development Lab and the Teaching Artist Development Studio at Columbia College Chicago.


Micah Figuroa is Chicago based teaching artist, actor, director, and choreographer. As an actor, Micah was most recently in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Moby Dick at Lookingglass Theatre. Micah is a frequent collaborator with Walkabout Theatre, having most recently performed in Tall Girl and the Lightning Parade, and has worked with Writer’s Theatre, Erasing the Distance Theatre Company, First Floor Theatre, 20% Theatre Company, and Redmoon Theatre in Chicago. Regionally he’s has worked with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Shakespeare Dallas, Theatre Three, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Stolen Shakespeare Guild, and the Dallas Theatre Center. As a teaching artist, Micah has been fortunate to work with students ranging from kindergarten through college investigating and expanding their physical limits for nearly eight years. Micah has been fascinated by nonverbal communication from a very young age. He was inspired by his Grandfather “Pops” who spoke very little English, and who instead used gesture and sound to tell intricate stories to him and his cousins. Specializing in physical theatre, Micah has strived to, like his Grandfather, not only to bridge the language divide but also to inspire students to communicate with their entire bodies and to safely eliminate “I can’t” from their vocabularies.

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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.

Mateo Hernandez (he/him) is a Latinx actor/director and theatre maker based in Chicago, IL. Mateo has worked with companies such as About Face Theatre, Prop Thtr, Vision Latino Theatre Co. (Chicago, IL), and Teatro Vivo (Austin, TX). Currently, a company member with For Youth Inquiry (FYI), Mateo works as an actor and facilitator.


Hannah Jablonski is a Philadelphia native who graduated with a BFA in fine arts with an emphasis in art education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her interest in technical theater can be traced back to a third grade production of Peter Pan when she had more interest in hanging around the costume shop with the designers than with her classmates on stage. Over the past three years, Hannah has been working towards providing unique and engaging creative experiences to other children by leading summer arts programs on the East coast, assistant-teaching in after-school art classes at the Lab School and student-teaching in art classes in Chicago Public Schools. Hannah’s personal artistic practice ranges from painting to sewing to puppet design and beyond, and she is continually excited help young people learn to express their unique voices through all sorts of creative outlets as well.

Kay Kron is a theatre artist, writer, arts educator, and puppeteer. This year, for a fourth consecutive season, she will reprise her role in CCT’s annual production, The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party, classic stories told through a series of handmade mechanical suitcase sculptures. Ms. Kron also serves as a CCT teaching artist and staff member. As an actor, she has performed with Lookingglass, The House, Haven, Rough House, First Floor, Caffeine, and Redmoon. The Chicago Reader and American Theatre Magazine featured the findings of her graduate thesis detailing gender parity across theatre professions in Chicago released in conjunction with Gender Breakdown at Collaboration Theatre. Her upcoming original play, The Stranger and The Shadow, produced by Rough House and Adventure Stage, will premiere in January 2019 as part of the Chicago International Puppet Theatre Festival. She holds a BFA in Acting and a Masters in Nonprofit Management from DePaul University. She is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.

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 theatres 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.

Tina Muñoz Pandya is an actor, musician, and teaching artist based out of Chicago. You may have seen her onstage at CCT, Jackalope Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, where she is an Artistic Associate, and The Hypocrites, where she is a company member. She has also toured with The Hypocrites’ long-running Gilbert and Sullivan repertory to the Olney Theatre Center, NYU Skirball Center, and Pasadena Playhouse, where she rocked out on accordion, ukulele, musical saw, spoons, and any other instrument she could get her hands on. Additionally, Tina spent a year touring with the National Players, an educational Shakespeare-focused company out of Washington, DC, where she was lucky enough to get to perform three shows in repertory all over the country and teach workshops to students of all ages and interests. It was there that she developed a love for teaching, which she has continued to explore as a teaching artist with The Viola Project, and she couldn’t be more excited to join the CCT teaching team! Tina is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf and the University of Michigan, where she received a BA in Drama and Women’s Studies.

Born and raised in Allentown, PA, Evan Richter is a trained Actor, Director, and Clown. Evan recently graduated from Muhlenberg College where he majored in theatre. He now lives in Chicago where he works for Metro Chicago Hillel and does theatre work for The Conspirators and Cabinet of Curiosity.



Matthew Shimmel is a filmmaker and editor based in Chicago, IL. He studied Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Documentary Production. Since then, he’s been fortunate to work as a freelance videographer and editor for a variety of projects. But above all, Shimmel loves telling stories through still pictures and moving images, always finding it gratifying to share those passions with others.


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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.

Steph Vondell is a bilingual actress and teaching artist from Mexico City. She got her BFA in Performance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Steph is a teaching artist at the Chicago Children’s Theatre, Silk Road Rising, and Barrel of Monkeys. Her acting credits include Neverland at the Prop Theatre, Firefly Love with Something Marvelous, The Nance at Pride Films and Plays. Grossman and Jack Talent represent her. Steph is so excited for Bubble Jams! I can’t wait for you all to POP on by!