Metropolis Performing Arts Centre

DRAMA - FACULTY BIOS

   Nathan W. Brown is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Nathan returned to the Chicagoland area a fews years ago after living just outside of Nashville, TN, where he served as the Associate Director of Theatre/Resident Music Director for The Renaissance Center. During his eight years there, Nathan worked on more than 55 productions, including Hello, Dolly!, Anything Goes, A Chorus Line, Cats, Oklahoma!, Annie, The Music Man and Once Upon a Mattress. Favorite Directing credits include Into the Woods,

Seussical, Jr., Church Basement Ladies, A Year with Frog and Toad, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol: The Musical and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr.

Nathan has also worked with many regional theatres around the country. Favorite Music Directing credits include All Shook Up, Seussical, The Will Rogers Follies, Married Alive!, Forever Plaid and Jekyll & Hyde, at theatres including Bigfork Summer Playhouse (Montana), The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres (IN), Stage Door Theatre (FL), Bearcreek Farms Resort (IN), Cornwell's Dinner Theatre (MI), Houston County Arts Council (TN) and Illinois Wesleyan University (IL).

As an actor, Nathan has performed in shows such as You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Charlie Brown), Anything Goes (Billy Crocker), Dames at Sea (Dick), Seussical (Horton, the Elephant), Forever Plaid (Jinx), Grease (Doody), Hello, Dolly! (Cornelius Hackl), Cats (Mungojerrie), A Chorus Line (Al), and Fiddler on the Roof (Motel, the Tailor). Nathan also spent time performing as a lead singer with theme parks and cruise lines, including Dollywood, Hersheypark, and Costa Cruises.

For SOPA, Nathan has worked on many Fall Musicals, classes, and camps, including Into the Woods, JR., G2K The Sound of Music, G2K Cinderella, G2K Once Upon a Mattress, James & The Giant Peach, JR., and Disney’s The Lion King, JR. Nathan also directs SOPA Cabaret with fellow faculty member Tiffany Gates.

Nathan is very passionate about teaching singers of all ages, and has given private voice lessons to more than 100 students, ages 6-86. Several of his vocal students have received talent-based scholarships to colleges such as Wright State University (OH), Millikin University (IL), and Trevecca Nazarene University (TN).

CURRENTLY INSTRUCTING: Broadway Ensemble 

 

Lauren Romano Erickson has been teaching and directing at Metropolis since 2010 and loves being a part of the SOPA theatre family! She holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University and her teaching license from National Louis University. As a teaching artist, she has worked with BAM Theatre, Bright Lights Theatre, Dream Big, Naperville School of Performing Arts, and Missoula Children’s Theatre. One of her favorite experiences was working with Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite Project, which provides interactive theatre experiences for children with Autism. You may have seen her onstage at Metropolis as well in The Diary of Anne Frank, A Christmas Carol, and The Buddy Holly Story. Lauren enjoys helping children build confidence onstage and off and loves sharing her passion for theatre with her students!

CURRENTLY INSTRUCTING: Broadway PLAYers, Broadway Stars 

 

Robin M. Hughes is a director, actor, casting director, teacher, and private coach with a 30 year career that began in Minneapolis, MN. After graduating with honors from Concordia University-St. Paul (B.A.-Theatre, English; Music minor), Robin started her professional acting career at The Guthrie Theater under the direction of Garland Wright (Christmas Carol) and acted in Joanne Akalaitis’ world premiere of The Rover, working also on The Screens with Akalaitis and Pravda with the Goodman’s Robert Falls. An Illinois State University (MFA-Acting) and Steppenwolf School graduate, Robin was awarded the coveted Steppenwolf Acting Fellowship and came to Chicago, acting in the world premiere of The Ballad of Little Joe at Steppenwolf Theatre Company directed by Tina Landau. She also worked with Anna Shapiro (Side Man), David Cromer (Orson’s Shadow), Jessica Thebus (Whispering City), John Malkovich (Hysteria), and Terry Kinney (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), which went on to Broadway and the Barbican. Other regional and local acting credits are with Theatre in the Round, Phipps Center, New Tradition, Victory Gardens, Paramount-Copley, Bailiwick, Circle, Griffin, Light Opera Works, Dominican, Mary-Arrchie, New Millennium, and Metropolis. She is an Actor’s Equity Candidate and also a full union member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. At Metropolis since 2002, Robin has operated as an education manager, company manager, production manager, artistic director, and producer for the company. She has acted in and directed over 50 Metropolis productions and is currently the casting director and lead artistic associate for Metropolis. As a teacher and private coach, Robin’s teaching credits span from Minnesota to New York for students ages 2-93. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at Dominican University, and a core faculty member with the Metropolis’ School of Performing Arts. She has taught everything from Improv to Mask and Dialect Study to On-Camera, and she enjoys them all.

CURRENTLY INSTRUCTING: Acting FUNdamentals, Acting Stars, Acting Ensemble

 

Steve Leaver is the Executive Director of Imagination Theater, a theater company that uses original, participatory theatrical programming as means to address various social issues with audiences nation-wide. Mr. Leaver oversees all aspects of the company and has been in charge of designing, writing, directing, and facilitating countless programs for schools and corporations. In addition to his work at Imagination Theater Mr. Leaver has been teaching at the Metropolis School of Performing Arts since 2002. He has taught acting classes for all ages and directed “The Diary of Anne Frank” and student productions of “The Laramie Project” and “The Dining Room”. He also teaches with the Actor’s Training Center in Wilmette. Mr. Leaver served on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Theatre Association where he was representing Theater for Young Audiences. Through his work at the ITA, Mr. Leaver helped to coordinate the Theater In Our Schools conferences every March held in partnership with the American Alliance for

Theatre in Education. Mr. Leaver was one of seven theater teachers and professionals who worked with Arts Alliance Illinois to adapt and adopt the National Core Arts Standards for the State of Illinois. Those new learning standards went into effect in Illinois in 2018. Mr. Leaver graduated Cum Laude from Illinois State University where he holds a Bachelors of Science degree in theater.

CURRENTLY INSTRUCTING: Theatre Studio

 

Allyssa O’Donnell is a Chicago based Choreographer, Actor, Singer, Dancer and Teaching Artist. She choreographs for the Metropolis Performing Arts Center Mainstage and School of the Performing Arts, BAM theatre, Elmhurst Children’;s Theatre, and Stacey De and Company. She has performed at Theatre at the Center, Music Theatre Works, Chicago Kids Company and Metropolis. She holds her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theater from Ball State University. She appears as the Queen at Medieval Times Chicago, and Velma at Tommy Guns Garage.

CURRENTLY INSTRUCTING: Broadway PLAYers, Broadway Stars, Broadway Ensemble

 

Dan O'Hara is a teacher, actor, musician, and tech crew at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. His journey there began when he was ten years old, acting in his first ever staged production of Stuart Littlefor the Curtains Up! summer camp program. Since then, he has gone on to work as a counselor, assistant stage manager, stage manager, assistant director, co camp director, and education production & camp coordinator for the school. In 2013, he won Maine Township West's Departmental Award for Speech & Drama. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, acting in productions, managing the box office, studying at iO, and working on sound design. After graduation, he found his love for teaching, assisting in acting and musical theater classes, teaching a comedy club at Riley Middle School, and getting his own Improv class. When he isn't teaching, acting, or on the tech crew, he writes and records his original music.

CURRENTLY INSTRUCTING: Improv

 

Jeremy Schaefer is an improviser, playwright, storyteller, and theater administrator dedicated creating and promoting programming that entertains, inspires, and strengthens communities.  He is very proud to have built Metropolis’s intermediate/advanced improv program and to coach the adult ensemble. As an improviser he has worked with companies like Laugh Out Loud, Chicago Improv Productions, pH Productions and International Stinger to perform and lead workshops all across Chicagoland and abroad.  As a storyteller and playwright, his solo shows have appeared at storytelling and fringe festivals throughout the Midwest and his original plays have premiered at theaters throughout the region. He is the 2018 recipient of the Illinois Theatre Association’s Award for Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences. 

CURRENTLY INSTRUCTING: Adult Beginning Improvisation

 

Megan Willhite has been teaching and directing for Metropolis School of the Performing Arts since 2003 and has been a teaching artist for Metropolis's Community Engagement Department since its inception.  She is the lead instructor for the Community Engagement program Flourish in the Footlights, which gives teenagers and adults with special needs a chance to create and perform a full scale production on the Metropolis stage.  Megan also helped develop the MetropolTots curriculum as SOPA's Early Childhood Department head from 2006-2010. In addition to teaching and directing, Megan has previously served in several other capacities at Metropolis including Assistant Camp Director for both Lights Up! and Curtains Up!, Education Office Manager, Internship Coordinator, and Child Coach for several productions of A Christmas Carol.  She has also developed and taught theatre programs for the Special Education District of Lake County, Theatrically Inclined, and currently works as a substitute teacher at her children's elementary school.  Megan has a BA in Theatre and Communications from Monmouth College and has performed professionally with AlphaBet Soup Productions, Shantz Theatre Company, Morton College Theatre for Youth, and at Six Flags Great America.  

CURRENTLY INSTRUCTING: Imagination Exploration