Ensemble

Since Raven Theatre was founded in 1983, it has always been defined by its ensemble, a collective of theatre artists dedicated to working closely together with the common goal of creating the best shows possible. These artists are vital to the success of each production, and the theatre as a whole.

What differentiates Raven’s ensemble from many others is the shear diversity of talent, ranging in age, gender, and skill type. When people think of a theatre ensemble, they usually define it as a group of actors. Raven’s ensemble is made up of artists with a multitude of artistic skills. Our artists not only act in plays, but also write, direct, design, compose and create. Please read more about our dedicated ensemble below.

Current Ensemble

Cathy Darrow

Cathy is pleased to be a Raven Theatre ensemble member. Previous Raven credits include THE CHERRY ORCHARD (Stage Manager), ODD COUPLE (Stage Manager), and DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Stage Manager). Other Chicago-area credits include IN YOUR FACEBOOK (Stage Manager, Tellin’ Tales Theatre), ROUGH CROSSING (Lighting Design, Piccolo Theatre), and LUST, LIES, & MARRIAGE (Lighting Design, Piccolo Theatre). When she’s not wearing her stage-managing hat, Cathy can be found in the lighting department at Freeman Audio Visual. Cathy earned her BA in Theatre from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI.

Christine Ferriter

Christine Ferriter became an official ensemble member in 2008. She has created some beautiful lighting designs for us including THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, DANCING AT LUGHNASA, JESUS HOPPED THE ‘A’ TRAIN and HEDDA GABLER.

Chuck Spencer

Chuck Spencer is a Jeff Award winning actor and a Raven Ensemble member since 1990. The roles have been numerous over the years but most recently he was seen as Victor Franz in The Price and Willy Loman in the Jeff nominated and critically acclaimed production of Death of a Salesman. Other recent shows include, The Seagull, The Exonerated, A Few Good Men, Marvin’s Room and Dancing at Lughnasa. Chuck has also worked with other Chicago Theaters including Red Twist Theater where he played Ken in Man from Nebraska the role in which he won his Jeff Citation for Best Actor in a Principle Role. Chuck has understudied at Steppenwolf and has performed with Eclipse The Gift Theater. He has co-authored two of Raven’s children’s plays and directed on The West Stage. A lover of history, he was the dramaturg for Marvin’s Room, Golden Boy and A Streetcar Named Desire. Chuck is also a teacher at The International Academy of Design and Technology and Kennedy King College.

Cody Estle

Cody's directing credits include DATING WALTER DANTE with Raven Theatre, THE TOOTH OF CRIME with City Wind Theatre Company and THE TEACHER with The Neapolitans Theatre Company. For Raven's 2012-13 Season he will direct BOY GETS GIRL and BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS. Cody has assisted directors like Gary Griffin, BJ Jones, Charles Newell, Joanie Schultz, Kimberly Senior and Gabriel Barre at Writers' Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Court Theatre, Next Theatre, Strawdog Theatre and Goodspeed Musicals. He is an ensemble member at Raven Theatre and a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. http://www.codyestle.com

Esther McCormick (In Memoriam)

Esther McCormick, began working with Raven Theatre way back in 1986, at the youthful age of 55, and was a core member of the ensemble until her death in August of 2009. Over the years she has been in a multitude of shows, including her Jeff-nominated performance in THE ROAD TO MECCA. She also played the role of Linda Loman in Raven’s first production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN in 1995. Esther’s last trip on to the stage at Raven was in the 2008 benefit performance where she dazzled the crowd with her portrayal of Sister Mary Ignatius.

Greg Caldwell

Greg Caldwell - Greg began working with Raven in 1998 in the After Dark Best Production SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION at the old theater space. Since that time Greg has been in nearly twenty shows at Raven. Some of his favorite productions are A HATFUL OF RAIN, A FEW GOOD MEN, BOOK OF DAYS, THE SEA GULL, LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, THE ODD COUPLE and the Joseph Jefferson award winning productions of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Outside of Raven, Greg is a graduate of the Second City Training Center and was in Factory Theater's BLACK AND BLUE.

Jason Huysman

Jason Huysman first began working with Raven Theatre in DEATH OF A SALESMAN and most recently appeared in THE CHERRY ORCHARD and CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Chicago theatre credits include: BackStage, Greasy Joan and Trap Door.

Jen Short

JEN SHORT stage managed THE PRICE, RADIO GOLF, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and TWELVE ANGRY MEN and also appeared in BUS STOP and BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY. She had her Chicago debut with Janus Theatre’s all-female production of ROMEO & JULIET as Romeo. Previous management credits include LUNCH AT THE PICADILLY, THE LOVER, AN EVENING OF MAGICAL SONG, SHE LOVES ME. Previous performance credits include Brooke in NOISES OFF, Queenie in THE WILD PARTY (Kiedrowski), Orlando in AS YOU LIKE IT, and Hermia in A MIDSUMMER... Jen holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Catawba College.

JoAnn Montemurro

JOANN MONTEMURRO is a co-founding member and Co-Artistic Director of Raven Theatre where she has appeared as an actress in many roles. Some of her favorite roles include: Elizabeth Proctor in THE CRUCIBLE, Beatrice in A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, Bessie in MARVIN’S ROOM, Kate in DANCING AT LUGHNASA and Arkadina in THE SEA GULL. JoAnn earned a Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding Performance for the title role in LUANN HAMPTON LAVERTY OBERLANDER. Along with Co-Artistic Director Michael Menendian, JoAnn received a special Jeff Award for Outstanding Contribution to Chicago Theatre in 2008. She has done costumes for several productions including GOLDEN BOY, A FEW GOOD MEN, THE MAN WHO HAD ALL THE LUCK, HEDDA GABLER,THE ODD COUPLE and, most recently, THE BIG KNIFE. JoAnn is a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama.

John Weagly

JOHN WEAGLY has toured the US as a writer/performer with “Authorized Personnel: A Comedy and Improv Team” and has had over 50 plays produced by theaters around the world. As a fiction writer, he’s been nominated for a Derringer Award 4 times, winning one in 2008, and been nominated for a Spinetingler Award. His latest short story collection, A BUCKET OF BOOBS, is available on Kindle. His website is www.johnweagly.com

Kelli Strickland

Kelli Strickland serves as Raven's Executive Director. She assumed her position in June 2013, shortly after completing the Devos Fellowship in Executive Arts Leadership at the Kennedy Center. The highly prestigious Devos Fellowship accepts ten arts leaders each year to take part in an immersive program in arts management strategy designed to prepare mid-career arts managers for executive positions in today’s complex arts environment.

Kelli also is an actress, educator, writer and a member of Raven Theatre's ensemble. Most recently, she performed her one-woman show We've Got A Badge For That as the inaugural event of Raven's EVERMORE! series, which she went on to perform nationally. In addition to her work as an actress, Kelli is very proud of the five years she served as the Director of Education and Outreach for Raven Theatre's Take Flight program, committed to providing theatre arts training to the underserved and at risk youth of Chicago's far north side.

Her artistic credits include work with the Guthrie Theater, Missouri Repertory, Bailiwick Repertory, 20% Theatre, Mary Arrchie Theatre, Lifeline, Rivendell, Zebra Crossing and others. Film work includes Hannah Free appearing in over 50 film festivals internationally. She has been a Lecturer in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Loyola University Chicago for over a decade, where she is also an alumni. Windy City Media named Ms. Strickland a rising star in their ”30 Under 30,” she has presented multiple times before the Mid-America Theater Conference and her writing has appeared in American Theatre Magazine and the The David Mamet Review.

King Antoine Pierre Whitfield

Antoine Pierre Whitfield recently appeared in Raven Theatre's World Premiere of DATING WALTER DANTE, as well as RADIO GOLF, BUS STOP and BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY. Other roles include Lanre in Congo Square Theatre's World Premier of THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, Herbert II in ETA Performance Art Theatre's HERBERT III as well Rufus in ETA's WHY BLACK MEN PLAY BASKETBALL. Other Chicago theaters he has worked with include Strawdog Theater's: Joe Jane's ONE MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL, Victory Garden's CHICAGO ONE MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL and Black Ensemble Theatre's SUMMER SERIES. Antoine has done tours Off-Broadway New York with The Negro Ensemble Theater Company.

Kristen Williams

Kristen is a graduate from the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, with an MFA in Theatre and is currently a theatre professor at Kennedy King College. Since moving from Maine twelve years ago she has both directed and acted with several companies in and around the Chicagoland area, including; Lookingglass, Chicago Opera Theatre, Trap Door Theatre, and Appletree Theatre to name a few. At Raven Kristen has played Katie in Bang the Drum Slowly, Grace in Bus Stop and was Hannah Jelkes in Night of the Iguana and has been the company “stand in” actor for Raven since 2007, performing as The Woman in Death of a Salesman, Mrs. Elvsted in Hedda Gabler, Carol in Laughter on the 23rd Floor, and as Mae from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She looks forward to performing in Boy Gets Girl this season.

Leif Olsen

Leif Olsen started his work with the Raven ensemble in 1997, in the award-winning classic comedy, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, a play in which he mastered Aram Katchaturian’s signature piece Sabre Dance on a toy xylophone. Soon after, he was invited into the Raven family as an ensemble member. Over the past dozen years Leif has flexed his creative muscles: building and co-designing several award-winning sets, and composing beautiful musical scores for such shows as A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, DANCING AT LUGHNASA, HEDDA GABLER, and DEATH OF A SALESMAN.

Liz Fletcher

Liz Fletcher first appeared in Raven’s 1991 production of VAMPIRES IN CHICAGO. After several more productions at Raven she became a core member of the ensemble. As an actress she has garnered much praise for her many roles, including the award-winning performances of Lorna Moon in GOLDEN BOY and Blanche Dubois in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Other favorite Raven roles include: Lee in MARVIN’S ROOM, Trudy in SOCIAL SECURITY, Lorna Moon in GOLDEN BOY (Jeff Citation Supporting Actress), Agnes in DANCING AT LUGHNASA, Blanche DuBois in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (Jeff Citation Lead Actress), Maggie in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, and G. Pigeon in THE ODD COUPLE. An MFA graduate from NIU, she has long been a part of the Chicago theatre scene performing in several critically acclaimed productions from yesteryear including, Strawdog’s RACE, and THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET with Chameleon Productions. Liz is also a specialist with hair, makeup and costumes.

Mark Yates

Mark Yates became a member of Raven's Ensemble in 2004 when he co-wrote the children’s show HERE COMES THE SUN. Mark has been extremely influential to Raven, working closely with Producing Artistic Director, Michael Menendian and the rest of the ensemble in shaping the different seasons of plays that the company produces, attending rehearsals and providing much-needed feedback to the artists.

Michael Boone

Michael Boone most recently appeared in Raven Theatre's World Premiere of World Premiere of Dating Walter Dante. Other Raven credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Clean Well-Lighted Place, The Room, Talk to Me Like the Rain and You Can't Take it With You. Mike is a graduate of the Steven Ivcich Conservatory and has studied at the Royal National in London.

Michael Menendian

Michael Menendian is a founding member and the Producing Artistic Director of Raven Theatre, where he has directed and designed sets for many productions, earning numerous Joseph Jefferson and After Dark awards. Along with JoAnn Montemurro, Menendian received a 2007/2008 Jeff Award for Outstanding Contribution to Chicago Theatre and he recently received a 2010 Jeff nomination for his direction of Raven's Death of a Salesman. Other productions include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hedda Gabler, Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, The Night of the Iguana, Dancing at Lughnasa, Golden Boy, Marvin’s Room, A Streetcar Named Desire, A View from the Bridge, and Glengarry Glen Ross.

Sophia Menendian

Sophia Menendian has been seen on the Raven stage in Bus Stop and The Cherry Orchard. Her voice-over work has been heard in The Long Goodbye, Here Comes the Sun, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof all at Raven.

Teri McCaskill

Teri McCaskill has worked with Raven since 1995 when she appeared in Raven’s first production of Death of a Salesman. Other Raven performances include Glass Menagerie, You Can't Take it With You, Six Degrees of Separation, and Lord Byron's Love Letter. Also at Raven, McCaskill has directed A Pair of Pinters, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, The Interview and Talk to Me Like the Rain. She currently serves as Raven’s Managing Director.