Who We Are
Since our founding in 2011, BrightSide Theatre has been committed to Enlighten, Educate, and Entertain through comedies and inspirational stories from across the globe. Presenting a unique blend of award-winners, premieres, modern works and timeless classics, our productions are meant to inform our community, and provide opportunities for reflection.
Diversity & Inclusion
We are committed to support equality, inclusion, and diversity among our artists, teachers, students, and staff. We acknowledge the work we need to do to make an impact in our organization and our community with acceptance and empathy.
BrightSide Theatre stands with the theatre community on the side of justice and believes in Black Lives Matter.
We join all who share in the outrage and grief over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the countless other Black, Indigenous, People of Color and LGBTQ members of our society who have been victims of systemic violence, hate and injustice.
We are listening. We are committed to support equality, inclusion, and diversity among our artists, teachers, students, and staff. We acknowledge the work we need to do to make an impact in our organization and our community with acceptance and empathy.
Jeffrey 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
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 theatre 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 and Amanda.
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 Theatre’s Youth Project productions and had his professional debut as “The Kid” in Bleacher Bums.
Ms. Meg Birch is a financial advisor with The Navigation Group at Morgan Stanley. Meg earned her undergraduate degree in Finance from University of Illinois. Additionally, she holds both a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University and a Master of Science in Finance from Boston College. Meg lives in Downers Grove, Illinois with her husband, Matt, her two kids Marley and Maclean, and two cats. She encourages her kids’ creative pursuits through BrightSide Theater and also enjoys watching the kids play volleyball and swim. The family also spends time together golfing, riding bikes and sometimes binge watching cringe-worthy movies and television shows. When she and Matt find time between all the kids’ activities, they enjoy an occasional date night.
Bob retired in 2016 from Arthur J. Gallagher & Company as a Senior Vice President after working in the insurance industry, primarily in the Chicagoland area, for 44 years. Bob is a 1972 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio where he met his late wife Linda. Bob and Linda resided in the Naperville Historic District up until May 2021 and Bob is now a resident of Winfield, IL where he is a Board Member of the Timber Creek Attached Homes Owners Association.
Bob spends his retirement time volunteering at Edward Hospital in Naperville and NW/CDH Hospital in Winfield as well as Northern Illinois Food Bank and Feed My Starving Children. Bob enjoys the arts in all forms, traveling, his Irish Red & White Setter, Flynn, and sports of all kinds. In addition to playing golf in the summertime, Bob is an avid fan of college football (University of Miami Hurricanes) and professional football (Green Bay Packers). Bob and Linda were initially introduced to BrightSide Theatre as patrons and Bob is thrilled to be on the Board of BrightSide as BrightSide continues to grow.
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 Tesla 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.
Paul Santucci has a BS in Communications and a Minor in Theater from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he also has a MS in Recreation Administration from Aurora University and an Executive MBA from the University of Notre Dame. Beginning his theater performance at the famed Oak Park & River Forest HS in 1980 as a dancer, chorus member and actor, Paul continued his love for theatre after college, being a part of too many shows to list, as a Producer, Director, Actor, Dancer, Stage Manager, Art Director, Set Designer (Nominated for a “Boonie Award” for Set Design for Man Of La Mancha), Set Builder, Lighting Director and Sound Director. Paul as an adult has performed on many stages in the Chicagoland area for dinner theater, professional theater, community theater and university theater. His favorite role in a musical was Tommy Djilas, from The Music Man, his favorite acting role was Dr. William Chumley in Harvey, and his favorite overall show he performed in was as a Scottish Sword Dancer in Brigadoon!
Paul is a supporter and defender of the arts in his professional and volunteer efforts in the Naperville area. He believes in giving back to the community and has sat, and sits, on many boards currently, as an elected Township Trustee in Naperville, on the board of advisors with a non-for-profit adult education resource center, and with the West Suburban Irish group in Naperville. Paul is also a member of three school PTA’s as well as a life long soccer player, coach and referee.
Paul is currently the owner of a communications and IT consulting company, Santucci Communications, and is a licensed Commercial Real Estate Broker as an investment and development broker for Dolan & Murphy in Aurora. Paul lives in the Naperville area with his wife Jenny and is very proud that his three children Gabi, Nikki and Dylan are all in the arts, including music, fine and performing arts, continuing in their father’s footsteps.
Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA
Ruth Anne is a department chair and full professor in the Applied Behavior Analysis graduate program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago campus. Ruth Anne has an M. S. and Ph.D. in psychology, and is a board-certified and licensed behavior analyst. She has held a number of roles in her professional discipline, including as President of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. Ruth Anne is a long-time lover of and advocate for both the theater and classical music. She has played viola in a number of semi-professional and volunteer community orchestras since she was a teenager, and is a member of the DuPage Symphony. Ruth Anne is an avid fan of the theater, having had attended numerous theatrical performances with her family beginning at a very young age, or playing in pit orchestras for musical theater productions. One of Ruth Anne’s specialized interests within the field of psychology is on the role of the arts in promoting healthy, engaged, and equitable communities. She lives in Naperville with her husband and two college-bound daughters. Ruth Anne is thrilled to serve on the board of BrightSide Theater!