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 delighted to have been an ensemble member since 2010.  Favorite Raven shows include The Odd Couple, Death of a Salesman, and more recently, The Playboy of the Western World. 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.  

Chuck Spencer

Chuck Spencer is a Jeff Award winning actor and has been a Raven Ensemble member since 1990. The roles have been numerous over the years but most recently he was seen as Herman in The Bird Feeder Doesn't Know and Joe Keller in All My Sons. He has also played 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 Redtwist Theater, where he played Ken in Man from Nebraska -  the role for which he won his Jeff Citation for Best Actor in a Principal Role. Chuck has understudied at Steppenwolf and has performed with Eclipse and 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 Dividing the Estate, Vieux Carré, Good Boys and True, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Boy Gets Girl and the world premiere of Dating Walter Dante at Raven Theatre; Watch on the Rhine at The Artistic Home; Uncle Bob at Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company and Hospitality Suite at Citadel Theatre Company. He’s had the pleasure of assistant directing at Northlight Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, Court Theatre, Writers Theatre, Next Theatre and Strawdog Theatre. Estle serves on the faculty of Cherubs at Northwestern University and is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

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, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, All My Sons and the Joseph Jefferson award winning productions of A View from the Bridge and A Streetcar Named Desire. Greg is a graduate of the Second City Training Center and is also and ensemble member of Factory Theater.

Jen Short

Jen has been seen in many key roles at Raven, including Ann in All My Sons, Pegeen Mike in The Playboy of the Western World, and Cherie in Bus Stop. She stage managed The Price, Radio Golf, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Twelve Angry Men and also performed in Bang The Drum Slowly. She made 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, Orlando in As You Like It, and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Jen holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Catawba College.

JoAnn Montemurro

JoAnn is a co-founding member and Co-Artistic Director of Raven Theatre where she has directed Bus Stop, Grace & Glorie, Lord Byron's Love Letter, The Long Goodbye and The Trip to Bountiful. She has appeared in many roles, including Mary Jo in Dividing the Estate, Kate in All My Sons, Beatrice in A View from the Bridge,  Bessie in Marvin's Room, Kate in Dancing at Lughnasa and Arkadina in The Seagull. JoAnn earned a Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding Performance for the title role in LuAnn Hampton Laverty Oberlander. JoAnn is a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama..

Joshua J. Volkers

Joshua J. Volkers is a member of the Raven Theatre ensemble and has been seen in their productions of The Bird Feeder Doesn’t Know, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose, and Bang the Drum Slowly. Additionally, his theatre credits include Watch on the Rhine at The Artistic Home, Rites and Sacrifices at Idle Muse Theatre, Changes of Heart at Remy Bumppo Theatre, Black Diamond at Lookingglass Theatre, Julius Caesar at Muse of Fire and Mortar Theatre’s Corazon de Manzana at DCASE Storefront Theatre. Volkers is a former Dog and Pony Theatre Company member and was seen in Dead Letter Office, As Told by the Vivian Girls (2008 After Dark Award for Best Ensemble) and The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler.  He has done multiple voiceover projects and is featured in two national television public service announcements. Volkers produced an Honor audio podcast serial and co-wrote the play Birthright.  He also produced, directed and hosted a theatre podcast, Chicago Theatre Off Book featured on CHIRP, Chicago Independent Radio Project. He studied acting at Atlantic Acting School in New York and has continued his scene studies in Chicago with Mary Ann Thebus, Timothy Douglas and Darrell Cox.  Volkers is a certified personal trainer and married to choreographer Allison Kurtz Volkers.

 

 

Kate Masiak

Kate has stage managed Boy Gets Girl, Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Trip to Bountiful, and Vieux Carré at Raven Theatre. She has also worked with Mortar Theatre Company, Pegasus Players and Studio BE in Chicago. Kate is a graduate of Florida State University. Much love to her friends and family for their constant love and support.

Kelli Strickland

Kelli is an actress, educator, writer and arts manager. Her most Raven appearance was in Good Boys and True and her one-woman show We've Got A Badge For That was 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 her tenure as both the theatre’s Executive Director and Director of Education.  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 was a Lecturer in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Loyola University Chicago for over a decade, where she is also an alumnus. 

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 Apple Tree Theatre. At Raven, Kristen has played Sue Bayliss in All My Sons, Detetctive Beck in Boy Gets Girl, Katie in Bang the Drum Slowly, Grace in Bus Stop and Hannah Jelkes in Night of the Iguana. She 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 Mae from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Leif Olsen

Leif has contributed to the artistic product at Raven Theatre since 1997, when he played Ed in the company’s production of You Can’t Take It With You. He also made his first musical contribution to a Raven show in that production, playing Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance” on a toy xylophone.  As an actor he later performed at Raven in Glengarry Glen Ross, The Long Goodbye, Talking Baseball, and Six Degrees of Separation. With his knowledge of construction, architecture and theater it was a natural transition into set building and design. Leif began building  sets at Raven in the late 90’s, co-designing and builing award winning sets for plays such as Night of the Iguana, A Streetcar Named Desire and Dancing at Lughnasa.

Leif began writing music for Raven in the 1999 production of A View from the Bridge for which he received a Jeff nomination for best original music.  He also received an After Dark award for the music in Dancing at Lughnasa.  Leif scored 13 additional plays for the Raven, including Beast on the Moon, The Playboy of the Western World, Death of a Salesman, Golden Boy and Marvin’s Room.  Leif has also written music for indie movies, one of which, Design, received acclaim at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.

 

 

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 her Jeff Award-winning performances as 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, Agnes in Dancing at Lughnasa, Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Gwendolyn 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.

Michael Boone

Michael Boone has appeared in Raven's The Trip to Bountiful, the world premiere of Dating Walter Dante. and 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 Beast on the Moon, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose, Good Boys and True, 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. She is currently a student at the University of illinois - Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ensemble in Memoriam

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.