Metropolis Performing Arts Centre






Broadway PLAYers, Broadway Stars, & 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!


Acting FUNdamentals, Acting Stars, & Acting Ensemble

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.


Theatre Studio

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.


Broadway Stars & Broadway Ensemble

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.


Improv Gr. 3-5 & Improv Gr. 6-12

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 Little for 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.


Imagination Exploration

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.




Paul Henry has received much acclaim for his performances across the United States and Europe. He received high praise from Guitar International Magazine following his first Carnegie Recital Hall performance. He was recently featured in Guitar One Magazine as one of the top 10 guitarists in the United States. His numerous compact disc recordings have received outstanding reviews. His performance scores and his new method book for classical guitar are published internationally by the Hal Leonard Corporation. Paul is currently on the faculty at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University and Concordia University in River Forest. He conducts master classes at many colleges and universities throughout the United States. 


Matt Hart earned his bachelor’s in music business from Illinois State University and subsequently earned a teaching license from North Park University.  Matt began teaching at Metropolis in 2007, and he is an active performer in the Chicago area, having performed in pit orchestras through the years with LZP Productions, Music on Stage, Backstage Theatre Company, and Quest Theatre Ensemble.  Since 2013, Matt has been a percussionist with The Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest where he has had opportunities to work under the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s own Maestro Riccardo Muti and to perform at Symphony Center. He also has performed in and with several rock bands, and he has helped out with the Rock Band class at Metropolis on occasion as well. 



Janna Gainulin began her musical training at the age of seven in Russia where she attended a full-time community music school for eight years. She received her degrees in Music Education, Pedagogy and Performance and Speech-Language Therapy from the State University in St Petersburg. Janna has worked as the music teacher and SLT in Preschool, Elementary and Middle schools in Russia.

Here in the USA, Janna has taught and teaching piano privately and in private music schools. Her students’ ages range from 3 to 60 years old. She also introduces singing to children and accompany to students of other teachers at vocal and instrumental rehearsals and recitals.

She is the member of MTNA, and the last year became the Nationally Certified Music Teacher in Piano.

As a teacher, Janna sees each of her students as a unique individual. Getting to know their family background and interests helps her to develop the musical and instrumental curriculum for each of them. Educational plans are based on the child’s development, knowledge of Music education, pedagogy, performance and different teaching approaches such as multi-sensory methodology among others. Janna is very excited to be working with the Metropolis School of Performing Arts.


Tina Qi began her piano studies at the age of five with her mother. During the childhood years of her piano studies, she received many honors, won numerous competitions, and performed both solo as well as with orchestras. She began entering piano competitions around the age of seven and has participated in such competitions as the Chicago Symphony Young Performers Competition and the Fox Valley Young Performers Competition. She received the Youngest Player Award multiple times in the Elgin Symphony Young Virtuosi Competition and also received a full scholarship to the Interlochen Arts Camp from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Youth Auditions. Tina competed in numerous competitions all the way until her undergraduate studies. 

In 2007, Tina earned her Bachelor degree in piano under scholarship from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. From 2007 to 2009, she attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and earned her Master of Music degree in piano. Recently, she was chosen to perform at the Chicago College of Performing Art’s first annual Inaugural Piano Showcase Recital in the spring of 2009. Participants were chosen based on the top seven scores received in their piano juries from the previous semester. Continuing her education, Tina again attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts under scholarship from 2010 to 2012 and earned her Performance Diploma degree in piano. Currently, when she is not fulfilling her passion for teaching, Tina enjoys collaborating with local musicians in chamber and other settings and is always looking for a way to share music with anyone that is willing to listen.



Violin & Viola

Vasile Ardeleanu began his musical training at the age of six in Romania where he attended a full-time specialized music school for 12 years. Vasilereceived his Masters degree in Orchestral Performance and his Bachelors degree in Violin Performance, graduating with honors from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. While there, he studied with concert violinist Cyrus Forough, former principal second violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Joseph Golan and former principal second violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra Stefan Hersh. He has played with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago while in college, as well as with The Roosevelt University Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra in addition to various amateur orchestras throughout the city. 

Vasile teaches violin at the Metropolis School of the Performing Arts in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where he has been on faculty since 2005. He provides one-on-one instruction to students at a variety of levels. In his spare time, Vasile also plays in a Romanian folk orchestra.



Tiffany Gates has performed consistently since age seven, and her career highlights include a starring role in a staged reading of a rock musical called Another Tomorrow at Lincoln Center and solo vocal performances as well ensemble and dance work at The Triad, also in New York City. Regionally, Tiffany has been seen at Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Beck Center, Lakeland Theatre, Cain Park, Carousel Dinner Theatre, Bailiwick, Light Opera Works, and Chicago Folks Operetta to name a few.

As a passionate instructor of the performing arts, Tiffany has taught dance classes for all ages since 1995 and private voice lessons since the year 2000. She specializes in the Musical Theater style, with a concentration on mixed- voice, head-voice, and belting techniques, but feels equally at home in all styles of vocal music. Her teaching has led her private students to major in the performing arts in college at The University of San Diego, Wagner College in New York City, Millikin University, Kent State University, and Tulane University. Several of her students have had agent representation through Stewart Talent Agency, Aria Talent, and Paonessa Talent Agency here in Chicago.

Tiffany is also the Owner of Harmonious Horizons, a Music Together® center on the North Shore. Music Together is an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through age 5. This program encompasses everything that she is passionate about - music, movement, creativity, education, and young children. Harmonious Horizons opened in the Fall of 2009. 

Tiffany has a Certificate in Classical Vocal Performance which was awarded to her during her senior year of high school from The Cleveland Music School Settlement in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Ohio Northern University where she performed in four dance showcases and fifteen musicals/operas, with nine lead roles. She was also a member and Assistant Conductor of The University Singers national touring chorus. Tiffany was a frequent soloist with the group, singing Aaron Copland’s In the Beginning, Handel’s Messiah, and Mozart’s Missa Brevis in F, to name a few. As the Assistant Conductor, she was seen leading the choir on national television during The Hour of Power with Dr. Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles. Tiffany was the founder/director of the Ohio Northern University Women’s Chorus, as well as a performer and choreographer for The Northernaires, a touring vocal jazz quartet. Tiffany was also chosen for The Circle in the Square Theatre School’s Summer Intensive Workshop in Manhattan, where classes where held in The Circle in the Square Theatre, the only accredited acting school on Broadway.

Brad Jenks has been working in or around the vocal music field for over twenty-five years. An eager teacher and perpetual student of the vocal arts, he studied voice privately under Master Teacher William Miller, Professor Emeritus of the University of Illinois, until Mr. Miller’s passing in 1998. He spent time working as administrative staff at the Festival Lyrique de Belle-Ile-en-Mer in Le Palais, France, Glimmerglass Opera, in Cooperstown, NY and Florida Grand Opera, in Miami, FL, where he also began teaching privately.

Focusing his efforts on instruction and pedagogy for the last 15 years, his teaching has taken him from Miami to Chicago and as far as Los Angeles. In addition to his teaching, he is an avid writer on the subject of singing, study, and pedagogy. He maintains his blog/podcast/web series, A Journey In Song, and has been twice published in Classical Singer Magazine.

Mr. Jenks has done Vocal Advising and Direction on musical productions including Ragtime and Little Shop of Horrors for Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company, and more recently was French Diction advisor for /kor/ Productions' Carmen, and Transgressive Theatre Opera’s Le Comte Ory, both in Chicago.

Mr. Jenks has sung for most of his life, both in choral works and as a soloist. Recent years have had him as an ensemble member in Beauty and the Beast, Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun, and Reuben in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Champaign-Urbana Theater Company, Silvio in I Pagliacci with Greater Chicago Opera Guild, King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors with North Shore Opera Hour, Ensemble in Puccini's La Boheme, Pistola in Falstaff, Marcello in La Boheme excerpts with /kor/ Productions, and Ludwig in Transgressive Theatre-Opera's Gilbert & Sullivan concert, Best of the Worst, in Chicago. He joined friends and students for a concert dedicated to Disney & Mozart, has been the Baritone Soloist in Fauré's Requiem, and Britten's Five Mystical Songs, and selections from Bach's Weinachtsoratorium, all with Chicago State University, as well as singing the part of Jesus in the Hillert Passion According to St. John with First St. Paul's Lutheran in Chicago. He is also a regular participant in his wife’s monthly concert series Immanuel UCC Presents.

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 WoodsSeussical, 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).