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Watership Down: Cast & Crew
April 29 – June 19, 2011

Scott T. Barsotti (Fiver)
Scott is a playwright and actor originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and is thrilled to make his Lifeline Theatre debut. Scott was recently seen in The Dream Journal of Doctor Jekyll with The Chicago Mammals and WildClaw Theatreís Carmilla at the DCA Storefront Theater. Other Chicago credits include: Curious Theatre Branch, Victory Gardens, WNEP Theater, Collaboraction, and Pavement Group. Scott's plays include The Revenants, Jet Black Chevrolet, McMeekin Finds Out, Brewed, and The Body Snatcher, and have been seen in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. Scott is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists and a company member of WildClaw Theatre and Curious Theatre Branch.
Chris Daley (Blackberry)
Chris was most recently the male understudy for Rachel Rockwellís production of Itís a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play with Noble Fool Theatricals (now Fox Valley Rep). Additional Chicago credits: A Perfect Wedding directed by Joanie Schultz (Circle Theatre), My Fair Lady and Fast Forward Tour (About Face Theatre), Momentary Opera Spectacle and Last of My Species II (Redmoon Theatre), and Talk Radio (The State Theatre), among others. Regional: Youíre A Good Man, Charlie Brown; Theyíre Playing Our Song; Getting Sara Married; Books; Art of Murder; and Mind Over Matt (Red Barn Summer Theatre of Indiana). Training: BFA: Acting, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Bryson Engelen (Silver, Vervain)
Lifeline credits include Mel Coleman in Crossing California, George Emerson in A Room With A View, and Rab in Johnny Tremain. He was part of the Jeff Award-winning ensemble of 12 Angry Men at Raven, and has worked with Shattered Globe as Cal in The Little Foxes and Jimmy in A Taste of Honey. Other roles include Paul in Signal Ensemble's Six Degrees of Separation, Kitchin in the side project's Faster, and Damon in Theater Wit's Men of Steel. Other Chicago theaters he has worked with include Chicago Dramatists, Stage Left, About Face, Eclipse, Oracle, Collaboraction, Strawdog, Piven, and the Free Associates. Bryson is a graduate of the University of Chicago.
Matt Engle (Captain Holly, Bartsia)
Matt is ecstatic to be working with Lifeline again. Recently at Lifeline, he choreographed the violence in Wuthering Heights and acted in Treasure Island (Black Dog/Abe Gray). Around Chicago he has worked with Steep Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, Chicago Dance Crash, Theatre Wit and WildClaw Theatre. Mostly, Matt can be seen over at the Factory Theater, where he is a proud company member. Some of his recent Factory shows include Jenny & Jenni (Dubin), Ren Faire! A Fistful of Ducats (Hero), Dirty Diamonds (Vic), Janice Dutts Goes To Life Camp (Brad) and Toast of the Town (Cy Curnin).
Eduardo Garcia (Strawberry, Groundsel)
Eduardo is excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre again. He has been on Lifeline's stage in Treasure Island and The Mark of Zorro. He has also appeared in the Educational Theater Inc. national tour of Rumpelstiltskin.
Paul S. Holmquist (Hazel/Movement Designer)
Paul has been a Lifeline Ensemble member since 2006. He last acted in The Picture of Dorian Gray (Non-Equity Jeff nomination for Supporting Actor-Play), The Talisman Ring (2005), and Strong Poison. He directed The Island of Dr. Moreau, Busman's Honeymoon, Neverwhere, and The Moonstone for Lifeline's Mainstage, and will direct The Count of Monte Cristo for our 29th Season. For the KidSeries, Paul directed Rikki Tikki Tavi, Flight of the Dodo, and next year's Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Paul has acted or directed for Caffeine, Timeline, Shattered Globe and Griffin, among others, is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University, and holds a Graduate Laban CMA from Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches and works
Matt Kahler (Threarah, Captain Campion)
Matt is very excited to make his debut on the Lifeline stage, after having understudied for Neverwhere. He has performed with several companies in Chicago including The Hypocrites (Pirates of Penzance, Frankenstein), The Factory Theater (The League of Awesome, Ren-Faire: A Fistful of Ducats!), The Mammals (Seven Snakes), and Adventure Stage Chicago (The Ghosts of Treasure Island). Matt will be seen this summer in Lakeside Shakespeare's productions of Macbeth (Banquo) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Oberon).
Jesse Manson (Dandelion, Kehaar)
Jesse is pleased to be making his debut at Lifeline Theatre. Jesse earned his Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare from Mary Baldwin College in association with the American Shakespeare Center. His latest performances include Crachit in A Klingon Christmas Carol and Owen in That Pretty, Pretty... or, The Rape Play. You might have also seen Jesse on his bike or on the lake path training for the Chicago marathon.
Chelsea Paice (Vinca, Clover, Lucy)
Chelsea is thrilled to be appearing in her first show at Lifeline Theatre. Other Chicago credits include Red Noses with Strawdog Theatre (Tricycle Clown), Cabaret with The Hypocrites (Heidi), Reefer Madness with The Brown Paper Box Co. (Mae), and Ren Faire: A Fistful of Ducats with The Factory Theater (Tatyana).
Dave Skvarla (Cowslip, General Woundwort)
Dave just appeared here as Sgt. Cuff in The Moonstone, and has performed previously with Lifeline as Winston Niles Rumfoord in The Sirens of Titan, James Vane (Elder) in The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Superintendent Kirk in Busman's Honeymoon. Other recent credits include The New Adventures of Popeye (Bluto) and Dirty Diamonds at The Factory Theater, Of Mice and Men (Lenny Smalls) at Oak Park Festival Theatre, Under Milk Wood (Capt. Cat) with Caffeine Theatre, City Litís Macbeth, and Backstage Theatreís Bloody Bess.
Christopher M. Walsh (Bigwig)
Christopher has been an ensemble member at Lifeline since 2010, where he most recently appeared in Neverwhere. Other Lifeline credits include Treasure Island, Busmanís Honeymoon, and The Mark of Zorro. Other recent credits include Louis Slotin Sonata (A Red Orchid Theatre), Bloody Bess: A Tale of Piracy and Revenge (BackStage Theatre), Journey's End (Griffin Theatre), and The Hound of the Baskervilles (City Lit). Christopher studied theatre at Columbia College, and is a current student at Black Box Acting Studio. He will make his debut as an adaptor with Lifelineís fall 2011 production of The Count of Monte Cristo.
Mandy Walsh (Birdsong, Hyzenthlay)
Mandy is thrilled to be performing in her first production with Lifeline Theatre. Most recently, she appeared in WildClaw Theatre's original adaptation of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla. Other recent credits include The Ring Cycle (The Building Stage) and The Last Daughter of Oedipus (Babes with Blades). Mandy received her BA from Columbia College and is a student with Black Box Acting Studio. She also is a Graphic Designer with The Second City
Brian Amidei (Understudy)
Brian is very pleased to be back working with the wonderful folks at Lifeline. Previously at Lifeline, Brian has been seen in The Two Towers, The Return of the King, and The Killer Angels. He is a proud founding company member of WildClaw Theatre, where he is Managing Director. Other Chicago credits include Strawdog, Hypocrites, National Pastimes, Crew of Patches, Lakeside Shakespeare, and a few others that only exist in memory.
Elizabeth MacDougald (Understudy)
Elizabeth is excited to be working for the first time with Lifeline Theatre. A graduate of Loyola University Chicago, she most recently appeared in Idle Museís Dracula. Other favorite Chicago credits include Suzanne in Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Sheil Park), Kate in The Taming of the Shrew (Theatre-Hikes), and Irene Adler in Sherlock Holmes: The Last Adventure (Idle Muse). She is also a proud member both Babes With Blades and Idle Muse Theatre Companies.
Greg Poljacik (Understudy)
Greg is excited to be working with Lifeline for the first time. Currently you can see Greg's fight choreography in Shattered Globe's Romeo and Juliet. His next projects involve fight choreography for The Hobbit with Theater Hikes and for LeapFest with Stage Left. Greg has worked with numerous companies in Chicago in the past six years as an actor, stuntman and choreographer and just won his first Orgie for Fight Choreography.
John Hildreth (Adaptor)
John has been an artistic ensemble member at Lifeline since 1999. His previous adaptations have been Catís Cradle, Around the World in 80 Days (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), The Shadow, The Sirens of Titan, Johnny Tremain (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), and Treasure Island. He also directed Scary Home Companion, The Shadow, and Crossing California for the MainStage, and Rumpelstiltskin Revisited and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (2009) for the KidSeries, and performed in the KidSeries productions of Bunnicula (2004) and Snowflake Timís Big Holiday Adventure (2004).
Katie McLean Hainsworth (Director)
Katie has been an ensemble member with Lifeline for almost five years and is thrilled to return to directing after her last collaboration with adaptor John Hildreth on Johnny Tremain in 2006. As an actor, she has appeared in many productions, including Neverwhere, Mariette in Ecstasy, Crossing California, Gaudy Night, Trust Me On This, Far From the Madding Crowd, and Cooking with Lard. Her adaptation of The Mark of Zorro won a Non-Equity Jeff Award for New Adapation in 2009. Katie is proud to have performed in Chicago with Black Sheep Productions, Blindfaith, the Hypocrites, GreasyJoan, and Bailiwick Repertory, among others, and looks forward to appearing in Lifelineís world premiere adaptation of Hunger next season.
Erica Foster (Stage Manager)
Erica has stage managed numerous productions at Lifeline, including Neverwhere; Treasure Island; The Mark of Zorro; Catís Cradle; The Killer Angels; Around the World in 80 Days; Johnny Tremain; The Talisman Ring (2005); and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type. Erica has also been Lifeline's Operations Manager for the past five seasons.
Rachel Alulis (Assistant Lighting Designer)
Rachel is excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre. She recently completed a fellowship at the Hedgerow Theatre and is delighted to be back in Chicago. Her previous lighting assistant experiences include An American Tragedy and A Dickenís Christmas Carol at Hedgerow. Her favorite lighting designs include The Magical Land of Oz and Godspell at Hedgerow, and The Cherry Orchard at the College of the Holy Cross.
Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Designer)
Aly is thrilled to be designing costumes for Watership Down with this amazing crew of people. As an ensemble member at Strawdog, Aly has designed costumes for Red Noses, Uncle Vanya, Cherry Orchard, Detective Story, and makeup for The Master and Margarita. As a company member at Wildclaw Theatre, she designed costumes and makeup for Dreams in the Witchhouse, The Great God Pan, and Legion. She also did the adaptation as well as the costumes and makeup for Carmilla, which premiered at the DCA this January. Aly has also designed for Seanachaí, House Theatre, Vitalist, and Lakeside Shakespeare. She works as the Costume and Makeup Coordinator for the College of Dupage and knits, reads & draws comics, gardens, and makes podcasts in her copious spare time.
Mikhail Fiksel (Original Music & Sound Designer)
Mikhail is delighted to be back with Lifeline, having recently worked on Neverwhere and The Last of The Dragons. Heís an Ensemble member with Strawdog Theatre and 2ndStory, an Artistic Associate with Collaboraction, Teatro Vista and Redmoon, and teaches Sound Design at Loyola University. Recent credits include Woyzeck, Pirates of Penzance, Frankenstein, Oedipus (The Hypocrites); Pony, Stupid Kids (About Face) Tree, Living Green (Victory Gardens); In the Next Room (St. Louis Rep); Mauritius (Milwaukee Chamber); The Master and Margarita, Uncle Vanya, (Strawdog); Travels with My Aunt (Writers Theatre); Winter Pageant, Last of My Species, (Redmoon Theater); Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Teatro Vista); 1001, Jon (Collaboraction); War with the Newts (Next); Awake & Sing (Northlight); and Massacre (Goodman Theatre). He has received 4 Jeff Awards, an After Dark Award and an Orgie Award for Original Music, was recently nominated for the Henry Hewes Award and The Lucille Lortel Award for his sound design of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (2ndStage, NYC) and the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. When he is not busy fighting crime, he is performing or recording with his band Seeking Wonderland or as part of a dynamic dj duo The Ordeal.
Cortney Hurley (Production Manager)
Cortney is happy to be returning for her fifth season with Lifeline after working on such productions as The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The Mark of Zorro. Previous production management positions include the last four seasons at Strawdog Theatre, Ellen Under Glass with the House Theatre of Chicago, and One False Note with Plasticene. She currently serves as the Production Manager and General Manager at Strawdog Theatre, as well as the Assistant Production Manager at Theater on the Lake (since 2004).
Joanna Iwanicka (Puppet, Mask & Video Designer)
Joanna is glad to be working again at Lifeline, where she first exhibited her passion for puppets in The True Story of 3 Little Pigs!. Since then, she received her graduate degree from The Academy of Fine Arts in Poland and she continues to freelance as a puppet and scenic designer in Chicago and the suburbs. She has designed puppets for all of Lifeline's 2009-2010 KidSeries shows, as well as scenography for The Bialystok Puppet Theatre, State Theatre's Academy Department of Puppetry Arts, and Teatr K3 in Bialystok, Poland. Joanna designed sets for Congo Square Company, Chopin Theatre, The Library Theatre, Vintage Theatre Collective, and Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. She also worked for Santa Fe Opera, Denver Center Theatre Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Des Moines Metro Opera. This year she became a member of the Sea Beast Puppet Company, creating unforgettable theatrical experiences for the audiences of all ages
Wenhai Ma (Scenic, Properties & Projection Designer)
Wenhai Ma received his BFA in Scene Design from the Central Academy of Drama (Beijing) and MFA in Scene & Costume Design from Carnegie Mellon University. His scenic and costume designs include Moonlight and Valentino (Pre-Broadway); Macbeth (Duke Stage Company); The Magic Flute (Triangle Music Theatre, NC); The Nightingale (Chapel Hill Ballet, NC); Desire Under the Elms (Shenyang Drama Rep, China); Turandot (Opera Hong Kong); Falling in Love with Her (Spring-Time Stage, HK); A Mid-summer Nightís Dream (Chung Ying Theater Company & Hong Kong Syphonetia, HK); The Peach Blossom Valley (Changde Han Opera Rep, China); and Crazy Snow (Shanghai Drama Center). He has been a guest lecturer at institutions such as the Central Academy of Drama (Beijing), the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Singapore), Fudan University School of Visual and Performing Arts (Shanghai), and Guangdong Industrial University School of Visual Art. He has also illustrated picture books for publishers such as Morrow Junior, Viking, Pan Asian Publications (USA) and Candlewick.
Sean Mallary (Lighting Designer)
This is Sean's first time working on a Lifeline MainStage show; his first KidSeries show was Bongo Larry and Two Bad Bears in 2004, so he is very excited to be finally be returning for this world premiere. By day, Sean is the assistant lighting supervisor at the Goodman. By night, he designs for theatre and dance as his time allows, since he finds sleep overrated. Sean is a proud ensemble member at Strawdog Theatre Company, where he's is also a resident designer. His most recent credits include The Master and Margarita at Strawdog, The Iliad at A Red Orchid Theatre, and Madagascar at Next.
R&D Choreography: Richard Gilbert and David Gregory (Violence Design)
R&D Choreography is having a great time working with another incredibly talented team at Lifeline! R&D is a non-profit company founded by David Gregory and Richard Gilbert for the purpose of improving the power and effectiveness of Chicago area theatre through the art of violence design. Since 1997, R&D has choreographed fight scenes in over one hundred eighty productions, taught stage combat at universities, colleges, and workshops, and performed in professional theatre, live stunt shows, and film. They have designed violence for dozens of Chicago area theatres, including About Face, Apple Tree, ATC, Bailiwick, Blindfaith, Circle, First Folio, Griffin, National Pastimes, New American Theatre, Piven, Profiles, Shakespeareís Motley Crew, Theo Ubique, Trapdoor, and Vitalist.
Jessica Wright (Assistant Director & Assistant Stage Manager)
Jessica is thrilled to be a part of the directing team, having been the resident assistant stage manager at Lifeline since 2008. Her writings have been performed by Tooth and Nail Ensemble (Under Ground), the Whiskey Rebellion (Sign of Rain), and members of Lifeline Theatre (as part of their 2010 Benefit). Locally, she has directed (Owl Theatreís A New Nation: The American Civil War in Letters, Speeches, and Song), designed props (Lifeline Theatreís Treasure Island), and worked as a dramaturg (Lookingglass Theatre's Our Future Metropolis).
Ian Zywica (Technical Director)
Ian works throughout Chicago as a freelance Scenic Designer and Technical Director. His design work includes The Blue Shadow (Lifeline KidSeries); Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lilly (Barter Theatre); One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (Gift Theatre); Over the Tavern (Noble Fool Theatre); The Robber Bridegroom (Griffin Theatre); Into The Woods (Porchlight Music Theatre); and Under Milk Wood (Caffeine Theatre). Upcoming designs include Meet John Doe (Porchlight Music Theatre) and Jackie and Me (Chicago Children's Theatre).

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