This is a Stephen Sondheim Musical
MEET THE CAST
(Uncle Jacko/Weber/Cigar and Standby Herbie/Pop/Goldstone)
(Agnes/Ensemble Standby Louise)
(Marjorie May/Ensemble Standby Dainty June)
(Balloon Girl/Standby Baby June and Baby Louise)
(Ensemble/Standby Baby June and Baby Louise)
(Tap Dancing Child/Ensemble)
MEET THE PRODUCTION TEAM
MEET THE WRITERS
(Ensemble, u/s Ilona)
Emma Widlowski (Louise)
Emma Widlowski is delighted to be onstage with BrightSide Theatre once again! Previous BrightSide shows include Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Descendants, Mamma Mia!, and She Loves Me.
Amy Arbizzani (Rose)
Amy Arbizzani returns to BrightSide after appearing in She Loves Me last fall. Prior to performing Off-Broadway, she toured nationally with The Light in the Piazza (1st Broadway National Tour) and internationally with Twice Charmed (Fairy Godmother) – but is perhaps best remembered by Chicago audiences as “Lucille Frank” in Parade (Jeff Award, Best Actress), or “Alma Stossel” in The Christmas Schooner. She holds a Masters in Education, serving as an academic and performing arts educator since 2002. Curtain up!
Tom Jesse (Herbie)
Tom Jesse is happy to be working with BrightSide in one of his favorite shows. Past roles include Forever Plaid (Sparky/Smudge), The Most Happy Fella (Joey), Guys and Dolls (Nicely), and Singin’ in the Rain (Don). Tom teaches music, choir, speech and drama at Liberty JH in New Lenox, and in his off hours sings professionally with FAMEntertainment. He lives in Westmont.
Noelle Jay (Dainty June/Thelma/Ensemble)
Noelle Jay is thrilled to be back at BrightSide Theatre where she made her professional debut playing Sophie Sheridan in Mamma Mia! last year. Noelle graduated from Carthage College in 2019 with a B.A. in music theatre and a minor in dance. Since graduating, Noelle teaches dance by day and dances by night as a company member with Hail Marys Dance. She is eternally grateful for the endless support of her family and friends, especially Harry Styles.
Trent Ramert (Tulsa/Georgie/Phil/Ensemble)
Trent Ramert is thrilled to be a part of the company of Gypsy. Trent is originally from Minnesota and is currently pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance and a Minor in Dance at Columbia College Chicago. Previous Chicago credit includes The Wild Party (Jackie) with Blank Theatre Company. Columbia College Chicago credits include Bat Boy the Musical (Ensemble) and Edges (Swing). Thanks to all the support from his family and friends.
Michelle Bolliger (Electra/Miss Chratchitt/Ensemble)
Michelle Bolliger is beyond thrilled to be back on the BST stage! She was last seen as the plucky “Ilona” in She Loves Me. Other BST credits include: A Christmas Carol (Ghost of Christmas Past), The Descendants (Fairy Godmother), Hairspray! (Amber), and Guys and Dolls (Ensemble). Michelle can also be seen working with Chicago Kids Company. When not onstage, she is busy chasing around her 3-year-old toddler, Sophie Sue, and rescue pup, Margo Merlot. Michelle would like to thank her amazing husband, parents, family, and friends for all their support throughout the years.
Marianne Embree (Tessi Tura/Ensemble)
Marianne Embree is making her debut with BrightSide Theater in a role she was born to play. Most recently she appeared in Seussical, the Musical (Sour Kangaroo), Spamalot (Lady of the Lake) and Steel Magnolias (M’Lynn). In addition to professional work in Nashville, TN, she has traveled the nation performing in shows such as Guys and Dolls (Sarah), The Secret Garden (Rose), City of Angels (Alaura) and Will Rogers Follies (Betty Blake).
Kelley Dale (Mazeppa/Ensemble)
Kelley Dale is elated to be back for her third production at BrightSide, Kelley has also been seen in A Christmas Carol the Musical (Ensemble) and Mamma Mia! (Donna.) Other favorite roles include performances in Hair (Crissy), The Sound of Music (Maria), and Cabaret (Lulu.) A private voice and piano instructor by day, Kelley wants to dedicate her performance to her village; her family who helps her shine in her favorite role ever, “Mom of Three Awesome Kids.”
Paul Mullen (Uncle Jacko/Weber/Cigar and Standby Herbie/Pop/Goldstone)
BrightSide: Kodaly in She Loves Me, Harry in Mamma Mia! Favorites: Harold Hill in four productions of The Music Man (NCC, Music On Stage, White Pines Dinner Theatre, and Forte Productions at Pheasant Run Resort), Leo in The Producers (MOS), and Lord Farquaad in Shrek (Magical Starlight, MOS). Paul is a clinical psychologist and co-founder of True North Clinical Associates, and a professor of Psychology at North Central College. “For my favorite Jocko, Frank: hoedown, honey!”
Lanah Vurnakes (Baby June)
Lanah Vurnakes is thrilled to make her debut performance at BrightSide Theatre! Some of Lanah’s favorite roles have included playing Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (Metropolis Performing Arts), “Marta von Trapp” in The Sound of Music (Big Noise Theatre), Annie in Annie and Mal in The Descendants (Wilmette Park District), Flounder in The Little Mermaid (Community House Theater), and Chip in Beauty & The Beast (BAM Theatre). Lanah thanks her family and friends for their support!
Willa Zatzenbloom (Baby Louise)
Willa Zatzenbloom hopes to make you smile! Last seen at BrightSide as Grace/Fan in A Christmas Carol the Musical. Favorite past roles: “Lord Farquaad” (Shrek), “Junie B. Jones” and “Sister Mary Patrick” (Sister Act Jr.) She loves playing guitar and cello, drawing, improv, and her dogs. Willa dedicates this performance to the memory of her vocal teacher, Dr. Jennifer Barnickel-Fitch, who helped Willa prepare for her Gypsy audition.
John Zimmerman (Pop/Mr. Goldstone)
John Zimmerman has retired from two careers – special education teacher and newspaper writer. Last seen on the BrightSide Theatre stage as “Vinnie” in The Odd Couple. He now spends his free time writing plays, some of which have been produced by theaters across the country, including Chicago. John, who lives in Carol Stream, has also acted in several plays in Chicago and the suburbs.
Meghan Kessel (Agnes/Ensemble Standby Louise)
Meghan Kessel is happy to be back at BrightSide! Past BST credits include City of Angels, She Loves Me, and Promises, Promises. Other favorites include Winnie the Pooh (Owl), Metropolis’ Christmas Carol (Christmas Past), and 9 to 5 (Judy Bernly). When not on stage Meghan teaches at Old Town School of Folk Music and works as a Music Director. She would like to thank her family and friends for their constant support and love!
Sarah Beth Lipsman (Marjorie May/Ensemble Standby Dainty June)
Sarah Beth Lipsman is thrilled to be making her BrightSide debut! Chicago credits include: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Metropolis Performing Arts), and The Polar Express Christmas Show (Warner Brothers Productions). She holds a BFA in Musical Theater from the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Sarah Beth would like to thank the BrightSide team, her family, and partner for all their endless support!
Trillium Falotico (Dolores/Renee/Ensemble)
Trillium Falotico is very excited to be making her BrightSide Theatre debut! Her past work includes Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish (Sprinkle), The Little Mermaid (Allana), Zorro the Musical, Miracle on 34th Street (Olivia Glatt), and Shrek: The Musical (Princess Fiona). Trillium studied at Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts. She enjoys yoga and can usually be found belting Falsettos while she cooks.
Erol Ibrahimović (Angie/Bougeron-Cochon/Ensemble)
Erol Ibrahimović is beyond thrilled to be making his debut at BrightSide Theatre! Erol most recently made his professional debut in Ride the Cyclone (4 Chairs Theatre). Other credits include: Something Rotten, RENT, Les Misérables, Matilda the Musical, Little Women, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Songs for a New World, and She Loves Me. BFA CCC 2025. Erol would like to thank his family, friends, and Infinity Arts Academy for their endless love and support.
Cole Phillips (L.A./Professor/Pastey)
Cole Phillips is thrilled to be cast in Gypsy! Cole is studying at College of DuPage where he is studying marketing and theater. His previous credits include Ren in Footloose at Naperville North and Fred in A Christmas Carol at COD. You can catch him in his upcoming performance of Once Upon a Mattress in mid-July at COD. He thanks all his friends and family for always supporting him!
Christopher Charles (Yonkers)
Christopher Charles is excited to be joining BrightSide outside of the youth theater. He has been acting in shows since he started in Tarzan at age 7. Last seen as “Officer Eddie” in BrightSide Youth Theater’s Sister Act Jr. He’d like to thank his family for always supporting his interests.
Layla Joan (Balloon Girl/Standby Baby June and Baby Louise)
Layla Joan age 11, is thrilled to be in her second professional production. She was previously on stage at Paramount Theatre’s The Sound of Music as “Brigitta” and “Marta”. Her favorite previous roles have been “Donkey” in Shrek at Children’s Theatre of Western Springs, and “Annie” in Annie Kids with Roadshow, Naperville. Layla thanks the BrightSide team and her family for supporting her.
Grace Williams (Ensemble/Standby Baby June and Baby Louise)
A Naperville native, this is Grace’s first year on the performing stage. At BrightSide Theatre she has played roles as a Henchman in Curtis’s crew and a Singing Nun in Sister Act Jr. and as Young Simba in the Lion King. She has explored improv at comedy camp with Second City, and in addition to performing Grace enjoys skateboarding, soccer, ballet and making her own short videos.
Ronan Sarlati (Boy Scout/ Ensemble)
Ari Lawrence is excited to make his professional debut on this stage. He is 10 years old and has enjoyed performing since age six, when he began training at Ovation Academy. His favorite roles include Frog in Frog and Toad Jr. and Michael Banks in Mary Poppins Kids. Ronan had also performed in two choirs and plays violin with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. He loves to climb trees and practice foreign languages, sometimes simultaneously.
Ari Lawrence (Tap Dancing Child/Ensembl
Ari Lawrence is thrilled to be making his BrightSide Theatre debut in Gypsy! He has previously performed with Children’s Theatre of Western Springs in Matilda the Musical, Honk, Jr., and most notably as the sassy puppet who wishes he were a real boy, Pinocchio, in Shrek the Musical. In addition to theatre, Ari enjoys playing baseball, drawing, and spending time with friends and family.
Spencer Schillinger (Vladimir/Rich Boy/Ensemble)
Spencer Schillinger is excited to perform here at BrightSide Theatre in Gypsy! He has previously played Chip in Beauty and the Beast (Overshadowed) and Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (Wheaton Drama). He loves to tap and be on the stage! He’d like to thank his parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who have supported him as he explores his love for the stage.
Sean Rhead (Announcer)
Sean Rhead is thrilled to be back with BST. Some past credits with BST include Jafar (Descendants), the Announcer (Miracle on 34th Street), and Jacob Marley (A Christmas Carol the Muscial-Lou Award Nomination). Other favorites include Elijah in Moby Dick (Underscore), Frollo in Hunchback of Notre Dame (Jedlicka), and Orin in Little Shop of Horrors (Munroe Park Theatre). When Sean is not on stage, he is either producing an audiobook or providing musical instruction to today’s youth. All his love to his fiancé Caitlin and their dog Ollie!
Arthur Laurents (Playwright)
Arthur Laurents (1917-2011) (Book) was the author of musical plays such as West Side Story, Gypsy, Anyone Can Whistle, Do I Hear A Waltz?, Hallelujah Baby! (1967 Tony Award For Best Musical) and Nick & Nora; and the screenplays The Snake Pit, Rope, Caught, Anastasia, Bonjour Tristesse, The Way We Were, and The Turning Point (Golden Globe Award, Screenwriters Guild Award, Writers Guild of America Award, National Board of Review Best Picture Award). The last two screenplays were novels as well. His plays include Claudia Lazlo, Home Of The Brave, The Time Of The Cuckoo, A Clearing In The Woods, Invitation To The March, The Enclave, Scream, Two Lives, The Radical Mystique, My Good Name, and Jolson Sings Again.
Laurents also directed plays and musicals for the theatre, among them is I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Invitation To A March, Anyone Can Whistle, The Enclave, The Madwoman Of Central Park West, Birds Of Paradise, three revivals of Gypsy (with Angela Lansbury in 1974, with Tyne Daly in 1989, with Patti LuPone in 2007), La Cage aux Folles (1984 Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical, 1985 Sydney Drama Critics Award for Directing) and the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story.
Jule Styne (Composer)
Jule Styne (1905-1994) (Music) made Broadway sing for 50 years with shows including High Button Shoes; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; Hazel Flagg; Gypsy; Peter Pan; Bells Are Ringing; Do Re Mi; Subways Are For Sleeping; Funny Girl; Fade Out-Fade In; Hallelujah, Baby!; The Red Shoes; and Darling of the Day. His film work includes Anchors Aweigh and the Oscar-winning title song for Three Coins in the Fountain. His songbook includes “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” “Just in Time,” “People,” “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” “Make Someone Happy,” “Small World” and “Time After Time.” Mr. Styne was a 1990 Kennedy Center Honoree and was the recipient of an Oscar, a Tony, two Grammys, an Emmy, a Donaldson Award and a Drama Critics Award. The following lyricists collaborated with Mr. Styne: Frank Loesser, Sammy Cahn, Leo Robin, E.Y. Harburg, Stephen Sondheim, Susan Birkenhead, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and Bob Merrill. Mr. Styne served on the Dramatists Guild Council and was a member of ASCAP for more than 50 years.
Stephen Sondheim (Lyricist)
Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021) wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night (1954), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), The Frogs (1974), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Into the Woods (1987), Assassins (1991), Passion (1994) and Road Show (2008) as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959) and Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965) and additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Anthologies of his work include Side by Side by Sondheim (1976), Marry Me A Little (1981), You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983), Putting It Together (1993/99) and Sondheim on Sondheim (2010). He composed the scores of the films Stavisky (1974) and Reds (1981) and songs for Dick Tracy (1990) and the television production Evening Primrose (1966). His collected lyrics with attendant essays have been published in two volumes: Finishing the Hat (2010) and Look, I Made A Hat (2011). In 2010 the Broadway theater formerly known as Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed in his honor.
Jeffrey Cass (Artistic Director/Director)
JEFFREY CASS (Artistic Director/Director), a Joseph Jefferson Award Nominee, who has successfully directed over 20 Productions for BrightSide Theatre, most recently the smash hit Mamma Mia!, Disney’s the Descendants, and Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play last season. Most recently he played Edna in BST’s production of Hairspray. He holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theater Performance from Roosevelt University. He previously served as the Producing Director for Circle Theatre where he directed 8 Productions including The Who’s Tommy (6 Joseph Jefferson Nominations including Best Musical and Best Director).
Sara Cate Langham (Music Director/Vocal Director/Keys 1)
Sara Cate Langham is thrilled to be a part of this wonderful team in a celebratory 10th season! Her Chicagoland credits include My Fair Lady and The Fantasticks as Musical Director and onstage in A Piece of My Heart (Maryjo), as well as numerous productions as keyboardist with BrightSide, Wheaton Drama, and other local companies. Hawaii credits include The Importance of Being Earnest (Gwendolen Fairfax) and her Po’okela-winning performance in A Doll’s House (Fru Kristine Linde).
Jeni Donahue (Choreographer)
Jen Donahue learned her BFA in Dance/Vocal Performance from Columbia College. She has been choreographing professionally for over 30 years, working with all age levels/abilities. She is on staff with high schools, universities and theatre companies all over the U.S. Jeni choreographed the Illinois All State productions of Ragtime and Urinetown & Into the Woods and has directed productions of Rocky Horror and American Idiot. She is the proud mom of Benjamin and Noah, who have followed in her footsteps of pursuing a career in the Arts.
Eric Luchen (Scenic Designer)
Eric Luchen is thrilled to return to Brightside where he last designed Mamma Mia. He has designed all over the Chicagoland area and regionally, and in 2018 he received the Joseph Jefferson award for Best Scenic Design for Foxfinder, produced by Interrobang Theatre. Upcoming productions include: It Runs In the Family, Airness (Citadel Theatre), The Odd Couple, and Gypsy (Brightside). You can see more of his work at www.ericluchen.com.
Sam Stephen (Lighting Designer)
Sam Stephen is the lighting designer for BrightSide’s Season 10 – Again! They have a B.A. degree in Live Entertainment Design and Technology from North Central College. They have recently designed Cabaret at Metropolis, Little Shop of Horrors at Citadel, Dracula at Glass Apple Theater and Matilda at Des Moines Playhouse. They are thrilled to be back at BrightSide after designing Don’t Dress for Dinner and Descendants in BrightSide’s last season. More about their work can be found at www.DesignsBySamuelStephen.com
Shana Hall (Costumer Designer)
Shana Hall is delighted to return to BrightSide! A Lou Award Best Costume Design winner for A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Shana is thrilled to continue working with the wonderful BrightSide family, which she has been a part of since season one! When not designing for the stage, Shana keeps her creative hands busy making doll clothes for her Etsy shop, SewShana. She would like to thank her friends and family for all their love and support!
Leslie Heath (Assistant Costume Designer)
Leslie Heath (Assistant Costume Designer) holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Theatre with a double minor in Film Production and Cinema Studies from Central Michigan University. After previously working on Mamma Mia, Leslie is excited to join BrightSide again as a part of the costume team for this season!
Peggy Jensen (Props Designer)
Peggy Jensen is happy to be back with BrightSide Theatre doing props for the mainstage. She is also very proud to have worked on almost all BrightSide Theatre Young Project productions including Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin Jr., Legally Blonde Jr., High School Musical Jr., Frozen Jr. and Sister Act, Jr. She would like to thank her husband, Jeff, for his love and support and newest member of the family, her tiny dog, Maximus.
Tim Elliott (Sound Mixer)
Tim Elliott is an AV and IT tech at Downers Grove South High School, where he’s been running sound for school assemblies and special events for over 20 years. Tim has been with BrightSide Theatre since our 9th season and has also run sound for musicals with Community Players of Naperville since 2005.
De Haddad (Stage Manager/Assistant Director)
De Haddad is happy to be continuing with BrightSide for another great season! De holds a BFA in Musical Theater with a dance minor from Millikin University. She has been a director in the Naperville area for 15 years. Favorite Directing credits: Spamalot, Addams Family, She Kills Monsters, The Hobbit. Favorite acting roles: Gabriella – High School Musical, Mother Superior – Sound of Music, and Marty – Grease.
JJ O’Connell (Assistant Stage Manager)
JJ O’Connell is thrilled to be part of the team bringing Gypsy to life! This is her first production with BrightSide Theatre, but she has been doing theater since middle school. She has previously directed and choreographed many shows for children at Kidz Kabaret including The Lion King, Seussical, Bare, Zombie Prom, and The Sound of Music.
Jeff Sand (Technical Director)
Jeff Sand (Technical Director) works in IT at Villa Park Public Library and as a technician at COD’s McAninch Arts Center. Treasurer, producer, and designer at Summer Place Theatre. Favorite SPT credits include The Secret Garden (sound), Don’t Dress For Dinner (TD), Joseph…Dreamcoat (co-TD, sound design), and Mamma Mia! (producer/sound design). BrightSide: Spamalot, Beauty and the Beast (TD). Natural Talent Productions: Disney’s Hunchback… (sound design – regional premiere). Riverfront Playhouse: Between Riverside and Crazy (lighting design).
Staci Hauk (Administrative Assistant)
Staci Hauk recently relocated to her hometown of Naperville from Arizona with her husband, kids and pups. There, she was a Magazine and Newspaper writer and editor. She is also a published children’s author. Staci plays the roles of theater mom to her daughter and band mom to her son, and loves a good thrift find. She enjoys involvement in the community by freelancing for local publications and is thrilled to be working at BrightSide!
Julie Ann Kornak (Executive Director/Co Founder)
Julie Ann Kornak most recently portrayed Amalia in She Loves Me and Tanya in Mamma Mia! Other favorites are Claudia in BST’s inaugural production of the Concert Series NINE, Francesca in Bridges of Madison County and Maleficent in the Descendants alongside her daughter. She is Associate Music Director at St. Peter & Paul and sings in other area churches. Julie not only brings her love for the theatre but a background in Human Resources to BST.