About

BrightSide Theatre is committed to Enlighten, Educate, and Entertain through comedies and inspirational stories from across the globe.  A unique blend of award-winners, premieres, modern works and timeless classics meant to reflect upon and inform our community will inhabit BrightSide’s stage.

Jeffrey_Cass_Headshot

Jeffrey Cass

Artistic Director

Jeffery Cass holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theater Performance from Roosevelt University where he also studied lighting design and stage management. He previously served as the Producing Director for Circle Theatre of Forest Park/Oak Park, IL where he was a company member for 4 years. Directing Credits include: The Who’s Tommy (6 Joseph Jefferson Nominations including Best Musical and Best Director) Bash and The Distance From Here (Midwest Premier) by Neil LaBute, Burning Blue (Midwest Premier), Crazy for You, Beauty and the Beast, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Urinetown, Peter Pan and New Plays Festival 2 and 3 at Circle Theatre. Chicago acting credits include: Mystery of Edwin Drood (Jeff Nominated – Circle), Jekyll & Hyde, Is There Life After High School, Evita as well as Joseph (Jedlicka Performing Arts Center) Joseph… (Oak Park Village Players) Man Of La Mancha, The Cradle Will Rock, Lady In The Dark, As You Like It, Measure For Measure, Al Pachino!, Bring Them Home and Rhinoceros (Roosevelt University). He has toured with American Eagle Productions in 1776, Joseph and Tom Sawyer, and with Green Light Performing Company in numerous original educational musicals.


Julie Ann Kornak

Founding Member/Executive Director

Julie Ann Kornak is a Co-Founder and Executive Director of BrightSide Theatre. As a native of Chicago’s suburbs, Julie has been surrounded by theater and music her whole life. From an early age, she began studying voice and was classically trained for 15 years. As an actress, some of her favorite musical roles include: Christine in “Phantom” (Kopit & Yeston) at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center (JPAC) and playing both Penny & Judy in the original musical farce “Danger Will Robinson” , based on the TV show “Lost in Space”, also at the JPAC. Favorite roles in non-musicals include: Jean Perkins in “Funny Money” at the JPAC, Jacqueline in “Don’t Dress for Dinner” and Diana in “Lend Me A Tenor” with Summer Place Theatre, Elvira in “Blithe Spirit” and both Marlo & Patsy in the original interactive comedy “Patsy’s Bridal Shower” with Theatre Eclectic.

Julie is a professional singer throughout Chicagoland and most often can be heard singing at Sts. Peter & Paul and St. Margaret Mary Catholic Churches in Naperville. With her BA in Psychology & Sociology and a minor in Theatre from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Julie brings not only her love for the theatre but a background in Human Resources to the BrightSide Theatre. Julie is happily married to her husband, Adam, and is a proud mom to her oldest son, Ryan, and to her twins, Aidan & Amanda.


2014 Watson Headshot - Closeup (2)Philip Watson

President of the Board

Philip John Watson is one of Chicagoland’s most successful, influential and, respected Wealth Advisors. He is the President of Watson & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services. Phil is passionate about providing knowledge, strategies and resources to help others be financially independent and reach their goals. Fueled by this passion, he has served individuals, families and Fortune 500 companies for over 22 years. His success has earned him the honor of being named a member of the Ameriprise Chairman’s Advisory Council (2012-present) and the National Franchise Advisory Council (2002-2004). He has received numerous industry awards and is quoted often. Philip and his beautiful wife Anne have been married 19 years. He is the proud parent of four amazing ladies, Coray (24), Madison (16), Samantha (14), and Gabrielle (13). Philip has tremendous passion for both local andworld missions, serving on the board of several prominent charitable organizations. Phil is an active member of Habitat for Humanity and has served on the board of its Northern Fox Valley Affiliate since 2009. He is also the Director of Global Missions for the Willow Creek Community Church, DuPage Campus. He uses these platforms to impact lives all over the world. Learn more about him at Philip J.Watson on Facebook, LinkedIn or philipjwatson.com.


 Joseph R. Ender, C.P.A.

Board Treasurer

Joseph Ender is a principal of Corcoran, Ender And Associates, LLC. Mr. Ender has over 28 years of experience in the areas of accounting, tax preparation, audits and forecasting. His past experience includes 12 years as a tax professional in the banking industry as well as over 15 years in a corporate accounting environment. Joe’s expertise includes extensive work with start up companies and also non-profit organizations.

Joe is actively involved in his community as a Treasurer for the Knights of Columbus, a member of the St. Frances of Rome Parish Finance Committee and a Board member of the Cicero Berwyn Council on Aging. Additionally, Joe is a past President of the Chicago Metro Chapter of the Illinois CPA Society.

Mr. Ender holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Northwestern University and a Masters Degree in Accounting from Roosevelt University. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant, a licensed Illinois Real Estate Broker and a member of the Illinois CPA Society, the Chicago Tax Club and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


1798788_10204687333404146_5239679939621068399_nMelanie Greenberg

Board Member

Melanie Greenberg, a native of Aurora, has been living in Naperville for 16 years. Melanie volunteers extensively in the community, for her children’s schools, and as a board member at Congregation Beth Shalom of Naperville. She and her husband Mark, are both supporters of the arts in all forms: the Chicago Lyric Opera, Lifeline Theatre and for many years on the Patron Circle of the Sundance Film Institute. Melanie was introduced to Brightside Theatre by her youngest of three sons, Ben, who has acted in all of the Brightside Children’s productions and had his professional debut as “The Kid” in Bleacher Bums.


Joe Messina

Joe Messina

Founding Member/Board Member

Joe is a Co-Founder of BrightSide Theatre. For over the past decade, Joe was the Managing Director/ Resident Producer at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center (JPAC Theatre). During this time Joe produced several plays and musicals, including “Nefertiti -The Musical” (World Premiere), “We Will Rock You!” (Regional Premiere), and the Premiere Chicago Productions of “Jekyll & Hyde – The Musical”, “The Who’s Tommy”, “Blood Brothers” and “Aspects of Love”. In addition, Joe had directed and produced the Regional Premieres of numerous plays by Neil Simon, Ray Cooney and Rupert Holmes.

JPAC’s ability to secure high-profile premieres with top-end production values garnered the attention of the Chicago Tribune, which called the JPAC “…The most aggressive, producing theatre in the suburbs.” and WGN Radio to deemed it “..a cultural treasure”. Joe has also been featured in articles on Playbill.com.

From 1998-2002, Joe was the co-founder and artistic director of the Cenacle Theatre Company, which was located in Chicago’s booming Pilsen Art District. During it’s brief, but acclaimed run the Chicago Reader called the Cenacle Theatre “…the perfect acting ensemble.”

He is also the co-author of the original musical parody and cult hit, “Danger, Will Robinson!” Joe is happily married to his wife, Kathy, and is a proud parent of 2 sons.


Tin Penavic

Founding Member/Board Member

Tin Penavic is a Co-Founder of the BrightSide Theatre and is on the Board of Directors. He developed an interest in theatre while attending the University of Illinois at Chicago as an Economics major. After being cast in a series of successive shows he was awarded a talent tuition waiver from the Department of Theatre and switched his major. Soon he was accepted in Northern Illinois University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program and continued his studies in the Meisner acting and the Williams movement technique. Upon graduation Tin, along with the summerNITE ensemble performed “Scenes From American Life” by A.R. Gurney in Harlow, England.

Tin studied improv at I.O.(formerly Improv Olympic) in Chicago and sketch comedy at the Next Stage Theatre in Los Angeles. While in Los Angeles, Tin continued working in film, television and theatre and became a member of the Screen Actors Guild. His recent credits include Robert Dubedat in “Don’t Dress for Dinner” at the Summer Place Theatre, C.K Dexter Haven in the “Philadelphia Story” and Ben Hecht in “Moonlight and Magnolias” both at the Albright Theatre and Nikola Telsa in “Electrocution” at Stage Left Theatre. He also completed the short film “Mattress World” for Blue Damen Pictures in 2009.

He currently resides with his wife Leslie and sons Ivo and Adrean in Downers Grove.