LEADERSHIP

Susan Zielke, President

Susan Zielke is the Managing Attorney of the Eastern Regional Office of Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, located in Champaign. She and her staff provide free civil legal assistance to low income individuals in 14 counties. She is on the Board of Directors for PILI (the Public Interest Law Initiative); is a member of the ISBA (Illinois State Bar Association) and serves on their Delivery of Legal Services and Military Affairs Committees; and is a member of the East Central Illinois Women Attorneys Association, and the Champaign County, Vermilion County, and DeWitt County Bar Associations. She earned her B.S. in English and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Illinois. Her husband, Tom, is a secondary history teacher at Judah Christian School, her daughter, Ruth, is at Millikin University pursuing a degree in acting with minors in vocal and oboe performance, and her son, Josiah, is at Central High School.

Laura Robinson, Treasurer

Laura’s love for music and all things theatrical arrived at around age 5, when she was the perfect height to use the handle of the upright vacuum cleaner as her pretend microphone.  She participated in productions at Jamaica schools, and earned her BA in Theatre from the University of IL with an emphasis in lighting design.  During summers Laura gained experience working as the master electrician for the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY and as a technician for Frost Lighting in Chicago.  Following college, Laura and her husband Andy moved to CT, where Laura supported regional productions at the Goodspeed Opera House, the Long Wharf Theatre, and the Ivoryton Playhouse.  In 2008, Laura and Andy moved back to Champaign to raise their two children, Maya and Calvin.  Somewhere in there Laura switched gears to go back to school to pursue a career in accounting, earning her CPA designation.  Laura is currently the Director of Finance at HP Ventures Group, a Chicago-based real estate investment and property management group.  When she’s not busy working and spending time with her family, Laura enjoys playing the trumpet and guitar in local bands, reading nonfiction, mountain biking, and dreaming about her next big life adventure. 

 

Michael Miller, Secretary

Michael received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Montana and his Master of Music degree from The Ohio State University. He has performed throughout the midwest with regional theatre companies in a wide variety of shows. He has designed sound for productions of Oklahoma, Annie, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat and The Wizard of Oz for the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company among others. Michael has recorded local bands and is currently working with Spectrum on their upcoming album. Michael lives in Champaign IL and works for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois.

Whitney Havice

Whitney Havice is a director, choreographer, and performer from Champaign, IL and has been involved in approximately seventy productions locally and in the Chicago area for various companies including the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Co., Parkland College Theatre, the Station Theatre, Armory Free Theatre, Twin City Theatre Co., and the Brown Paper Box Co., among others. Her first theatrical experience was with the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Co.'s production of The King and I in 1994, and she's been involved with the company ever since.  Graduating magna cum laude with a BA in English and minor in journalism from Bradley University, Whitney currently works in arts administration and serves as the Assistant Director of Ticketing Services at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, also helping to cultivate engagement work there, including the Dance for People with Parkinsons project. She has served as the Dance Rehearsal Director for Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, as Musical Theatre Dance instructor at the Little Theatre on the Square, and as dance instructor in a number of other styles for various studios and venues in the area, including the Champaign Park District.  Whitney is trained in the Vaganova ballet method.

Aaron Kaplan

Aaron Kaplan, conductor and cellist, began taking cello lessons at the age of five and has become an active conductor, performer, teacher, arranger, and arts administrator.  Aaron earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the tutelage of Donald Schleicher. He also earned a bachelor’s degree with high honors from the University of Illinois with a double degree in cello performance and music education. In 2013, Aaron was appointed the co-director of orchestras at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South High School in Northbrook and Glenview, IL.  Prior to that, Aaron was music director and conductor for the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony and Community Orchestra in Springfield, Illinois where he conducted three youth orchestras, a community orchestra and oversaw the beginning strings program. An avid promoter of musical theatre, he has been the music director/conductor for over 25 musicals including Chess, West Side Story, RENT, Guys & Dolls, and The Producers.

Tim Flanagin

Cedric Jones

Jan Weber 

Jan Weber received a degree in zoology from Iowa State University and taught at St. Matthews before retiring. Her involvement with CUTC came about because her husband, Bob, was very involved in the organization and it was something they could do together. She has been involved in painting sets, helping with lighting, setting up scene shops and working backstage and front of house since 2001. She also has done singing valentines,the Dickensian Singers and has been in a few murder mysteries. She was also in our first production of Oliver. Her favorite hobby is singing barbershop harmony with the Toast of Champaign Sweet Adelines, something she has enjoyed for 50 years. 

Laura Vavrin

Laura recollects her first stitch at ten years old— a simple pattern— but a moment that grew into a love and passion for costuming. Her passion followed her throughout life as she graduated from Murray State University with a B.S. in Consumer and Family Science to perfect this the art of sewing and creative arts. Laura got involved with CUTC. In 2015 a friend asked if she would do costumes for a production of Pirates of Penzance. She was excited, nervous, and ready for a new challenge as big as CUTC.  After the show was over, she got the costuming bug and hasn’t stopped . One of her favorite shows so far has been the Wizard of Oz. It challenged her creative spirit to craft and create unique costumes. Particularly, the Tin Man costume sticks out. It was a doozy. Try combining vinyl, wiring, and sliver spray paint— not your convention sewing project! She has lived in CU for 20+ years and has shared her passion for sewing and costuming with others. Laura is lucky to have support from her husband, John, and two

adult children, Sarah and Will, who support her passion.

Phil Strang

Born and raised in NYC, Phil came to Urbana-Champaign in 1967 to attend the University and graduated in 1972. He helped create Record Service and was co-owner for 33 years. At the same time Phil was acting, singing, dancing and directing in 0ver 50 productions at the Station Theatre, Armory Free Theatre, Virginia Theatre, Parkland Theatre, Sunshine Dinner Theatre and Krannert Center. He also managed to raise two kids as a single parent between 1991 and now. From 2004 until 2016 when he retired, he worked for the University of Illinois, as Facility Manager for Foellinger Auditorium, Lincoln Hall Theatre and Greg Hall Theatre. Now Phil spends most of his time painting and writing and traveling with Mary.

Kelly Nowlin, Executive Director

Kelly has been executive director of CUTC since October 2015. She discovered her passion for community theatre in 2012 while serving as president for the Monticello Theatre Association. She enjoys acting and has been in several shows most recently Hallelujah Girls, and 12 Angry Women. She was recognized at the 2017 AACT Regional Festival with an award for outstanding performance in a featured role for her monologue in Love, Loss and What I Wore. 

Kelly loves how theatre enriches the lives of those involved and believes there should be a place for everyone in community theater. She is most proud of helping to bring The Penguin Project to our area in 2016. Kelly is married to husband Ted and they have twin sons who are currently juniors at Illinois State University. The entire family is active in community theatre! 

Cheryl Forest-Morganson, Artistic Director

Cheryl  is a music director, pianist, and vocal coach who is currently based in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. She was previously based in Boston, MA, Heidelberg, Germany, and San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. She is a specialist in lyric theatre repertory.
In Fall 2015, she began her doctoral studies in Vocal Coaching and Accompanying studying at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Her dissertation will explore Chopin's Songs. Her doctoral cognate is in "the Science of the Singing Voice" through the Speech and Hearing Sciences department at UIUC. She earned her MM in Collaborative Piano studying at the Longy School of Music (Cambridge, MA), and her BA in Music at Valley City State University (Valley City, ND) while in residence in Heidelberg, Germany.