Raquel Adorno (Resident Costume Designer)
is a company member of Step Up Productions having designed costumes for Darlin’(World Premiere), HoliDAZE, and The BenchMark. Raquel’s credits also include Cock, Gidion’s Knot, the seasonal favorite Hellcab, Wrecks, In God’s Hat, In the Company of Men, and The Dream of the Burning Boy at Profiles Theatre where Raquel is an Artistic Associate; Gambit for Artemisia, A Chicago Theatre; Songs from an Unmade Bed and The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret for Pride Films and Plays; Cowboy Mouth for Black Ribbon Theater, Patria Libre for Prologue Theatre Company, and Starting Here, Starting Now for Theo Ubique Cabaret Theater. Raquel is a designer, stylist, and milliner living in Chicago.
Catherine Allen (Resident Production Manager) is honored to be named an Artistic Associate and Resident Production Manager of Step Up Productions. Past production management credits with Step Up include HoliDaze, Darlin’, and Dead Accounts. Other production management work includes Pins and Withers (A Red Orchid Theater), A Girl With Sun In Her Eyes and The Jammer (Pine Box Theater Company). As an ensemble member with Pine Box Theater Company, she also co-produced the short play festival ElectionFest 2012 and company managed the world premiere play, 25 Saints. Catherine is the associate producer at The Mission Theater, founded by Chicago improv talents TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi. Catherine is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she received a BFA in Acting.
Sarah-Jayne Ashenhurst (Artistic Associate) Sarah-Jayne Ashenhurst is proud to be an Artistic Associate at Step Up Productions. Most recently, she was seen on the Step Up stage as Lenny in Crimes of the Heart. Sarah-Jayne is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied and performed with the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. In Chicago, she has had the privilege of working with such wonderful companies as Step Up Productions, The Gift Theatre, American Theatre Company, LiveWire, and many others. Sarah-Jayne is the Director of Admissions at Black Box Acting, where she is also a student.
Bridgette graduated in 2008 from Saint Mary’s University of Winona, Minnesota. While there she studied Studio Art and Graphic Design. She was fortunate enough to be part of the Saint Mary’s group of students that studied in Florence, Italy for a semester. She had a wonderful experience studying under a professional artist and will always be grateful for all she learned and experienced. She has always loved art, especially painting and drawing, and has become more talented and developed in the Graphic Design aspect of the arts throughout college and the following years. In addition to doing commissioned artwork, She enjoys doing part time work for her family’s graphic business as well as freelance jobs and hopes to continue to learn new things and expand her horizons. She has worked with Step Up Productions since the start and has loved being part of such a wonderfully talented team and couldn’t be happier that they support such meaningful and important organizations.
Elizabeth Birnkrant (Artistic Associate)
is honored to be a Step Up Productions Artistic Associate. Elizabeth is originally from New York City, where she studied at The William Esper Studio before moving to Chicago in 1996. She is a graduate of The University of Chicago and also studied at The School at Steppenwolf and Black Box Acting. Chicago and regional credits include The Berlin Circle, The Water Engine (Steppenwolf), The Gacy Play (Sideshow Theatre), Sis3ters (Roadworks), and productions with Theater on the Lake, City Lit Theater, Wildclaw Theatre, and First Floor Theater. Television: Chicago Fire. Elizabeth is also a certified Bikram Yoga instructor, and the Company Director and an instructor at Black Box Acting, where she is fortunate to work with some of the bravest actors in the city.
Tara Branham (Artistic Associate/Casting Director)
is a freelance director in Chicago. Previous credits include: RAW with Deluge Theatre Collective, one week in spring at Halcyon Theatre and Prop Theatre, And the Snow Came Down and The BenchMark with Step Up Productions, the world premiere of Patria Libre by Zoe Miller-Lee with Prologue Theatre Company, the midwest premiere of The All-American Genderfuck Cabaret by Mariah MacCarthy with Pride Films and Plays, and the world premiere of The Last Daughter of Oedipus by Jennifer Mickelson with Babes With Blades. Tara has also had the good fortune to assistant direct for Tina Landau, Amy Morton, Kimberly Senior, Sean Graney, Lisa Portes, and Meghan Beals-McCarthy at various theatres including Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Chicago Dramatists. Tara is also a founding member of The Deluge Theatre Collective and Director of Casting for Step Up Productions. An active student of theatre, Tara has trained in Meisner at Black Box Acting Studio and is a graduate of Ball State University.
Jake Carr (Artistic Associate)
Jake Carr has performed with Step Up Productions in Holidaze and Darlin’, and is deeply honored to be an Artistic Associate of the company. In Chicago, he has worked with Drury Lane, First Floor Theatre, Redmoon, The Mammals, and Cock and Bull Theatre among others. He is also an Artistic Associate with GayCo Productions (sketch and improv where “gay” is the given, not the punchline) and Genesis Ensemble (devising new works). Jake is a proud graduate of The Academy at Black Box Acting, where he is currently an instructor. He is the screenwriter and co-producer of the short film Cheap Plastic Mask which goes into production in November of 2014.
Emily Grayson (Artistic Associate) has been a Step Up Productions devotee since appearing in their first show, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball. She is currently appearing in Heat Wave at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in their Garage Rep series with Cold Basement Dramatics and you can next catch her in Piven Theatre Workshop’s Midwest premier of Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical. Recent Chicago credits include The Humans (u/s American Theater Company); Titanic-The Musical (Griffin Theatre Company); The Baker’s Wife (The Music Theatre Company); Sweet Bird of Youth (u/s The Artistic Home).
Todd Michael Kiech (Artistic Associate)
is glad to be part of the Step Up family, having performed in the world premier production of Joshua Rollins’ “Darlin'” as well as their first show, “The Sweetest Swing in Baseball”. He has also been seen in Red Tape Theater’s “The Life and Death of Madam Barker”, “Elephants Graveyard”, and “Brand”, Vitalist Theater Company’s “Pool(no water)”, Griffin Theater’s “Spring Awakening” (Understudy), and Chicago Fusion Theater’s “Big Love”. In addition to acting Todd produces events and choreographs, creating “The Tease” for Chicago House and “Chicago Takes Off” for Test Positive Aware Network. And as burlesque performer “Hot Toddy” is the Burlesque Hall of Fame’s 2009 “King of Burlesque”.
Maggie Rogers (Literary Manager) proudly hails from Louisville, Kentucky. She is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago where she was class Valedictorian and received her degree in Directing. She has worked with many Chicago theatres, assistant directing and dramaturging ,including Steep Theatre (Motortown, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, Brilliant Adventures, The Few), Victory Gardens (Rest), Strawdog Theatre(Conversations on a Homecoming), and Eclipse Theatre (Mud, River, Stone). She has interned with Steep Theatre, Storycatchers Theatre, and Jackalope Theatre and most recently with Seattle Repertory Theatre as the Literary Intern. At SRT she will be assistant dramaturging Luna Gale, Buyer & Cellar and assistant directing brownsville song (b-side for tray) and Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem. Most recently she directed in the Hollywood Fringe Festival. With Step Up Productions, she assistant directed and dramaturged Crimes of the Heart.
Joshua Rollins (Resident Playwright)
Joshua Rollins’s Concealed Carry was selected for the 2013 Seven Devils’ Playwrighting Conference with ID Theatre and was a semi-finalist for the 2013 Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference. His play A GIRL WITH SUN IN HER EYES debuted in Chicago in 2011 with Pine Box Theater Company to great acclaim and a sold-out run. It is in development for production in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and New York. Other works include AMERICAN REX which premiered with Chicago Street Theatre and was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference; DARLIN’ which premiered early 2014 in Chicago with StepUp Productions and 25 SAINTS, which completed a run at Victory Garden’s Greenhouse Theatre in Chicago in 2013 and will have its West Coast premiere at ACT in Seattle later this year. His one-acts have been produced by Pine Box, American Theatre Company, the Artistic Home, and many others.
Joshua is also an actor and has appeared with many acclaimed companies including The Blue Man Group, Steppenwolf Theatre, The Gift Theatre, About Face, Commonwealth Shakespeare, and the Huntington Theatre. Film credits include Batman: The Dark Knight, Contagion, Living Hell, Killshot, Awake, The Lake House, among others. He is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf.
Steven Simoncic (Resident Playwright)
Steven Simoncic’s plays have received productions, readings and workshops at The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Pegasus Players, The Soho Theatre in London and Stageplays Theatre in New York City. His play, Once Upon a Time in Detroit was recently selected as a semi-finalist for the 2013 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, and Toxic Donut, recently won the NAAA Playwriting Festival in London and received a staged reading at the Wright Theatre at The London Central School for Dramatics. Steven was recently nominated for the 2013 Arts & Letters Susan Atefat Prize, has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and has recently won an Emmy. His play, Broken Fences, received critically acclaimed productions in New York with Ballybeg Productions, and in Chicago at 16th Street Theatre, and will be produced at The Road in Los Angeles in 2015. Steven is currently a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists Theatre, and holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College and an MLA from the University of Chicago.
Dorthea Walstrom (Resident Make Up Designer)
is excited that she gets to opportunity to continue to work with Step Up Productions as the production company’s Resident Makeup Designer, having designed makeup for Sweetest Swing In Baseball, The BenchMark, and Darlin’ (World Premiere). In 2007 she moved to Los Angeles to attend makeup school at MakeUp Designory, learning from some of the leading makeup artists and photographers in the industry. After returning to Chicago she has been freelancing, working with brides, local filmmakers, and Photographers. Dori has also reached, MAC, Smashbox Cosmetics, and TEMPTU Professional Status. She is a published Makeup Artist in, “Passion International Hair Magazine – Hair+ Volume2”.