Scroll down to view our Ensemble, Director, Musical Directors and Alumni.
Kate Cohen is thrilled to be performing with the incredibly talented team of the Improvised Sondheim Project. She plays regularly with ComedySportz Chicago and Laugh Out Loud Theater and recently appeared Off-Broadway in the improvised musical One Night Only. Kate has also performed improv and sketch comedy throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean with The Second City aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines. She is a faculty member at The Second City Training Center and earned her B.A. in Theatre from the University of Arizona. She is very thankful to Mr. Sondheim for the chance to sing the wrong notes and still have it sound right.
Aaron Graham is a Jeff Award-winning actor with over fourteen years experience as an actor, singer, improvisor, teacher, and director. He has worked with many Chicago theatres including Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Porchlight Music Theatre, Northlight, and TimeLine, and is a proud member of the Story Pirates, a nationally-recognized arts education and performance organization. In 2007, Aaron was honored to receive the Joseph Jefferson Award (Equity Wing) for his performance as Tateh in Porchlight Music Theatre's acclaimed production of Ragtime. He also spent time working in Los Angeles where he performed at iO West, ComedySportz LA, and The Second City Hollywood. Aaron is an associate artist with The Fine Print Theatre Company and a faculty member at The Second City Training Center in Chicago. Originally from Deerfield, Illinois, he trained at The Second City Conservatory, iO Chicago, Annoyance, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre LA, and BADA, and earned his B.A. from Cornell University. www.AaronGraham.net
Rebecca Hanson is giddy with sheer delight to perform with the Improvised Sondheim Project. This Iowegian is a proud alum of The Second City National Touring Company (Red Co.!) and performer for The Second City on the beautiful NCL Norwegian Jade. She has had the pleasure of performing for and teaching all ages throughout Chicago and these great United States as well as Europe and the Mediterranean via The Second City. She has participated in various improv festivals around the country. In her years of being a Chicagoan, Rebecca has performed with The Second City, ComedySportz Chicago, iO, The Playground, The Neutrino Project, BEST MUSICAL! and with her beloved KoKo. Rebecca totally loves her dreamboat husband, Tim Ryder, and their silly hund, Trond.
Sarah Hoffman is thrilled to play with Improvised Sondheim! She has performed off-Broadway, at Tokyo Disneyland, and at the NY and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals - all in heavy spandex. You’ve seen her in Porchlight’s Best Musical!, Rapture at Comedysportz, and with Second City Theatricals aboard the Norwegian Pearl and Star. She improvises with Baby Wants Candy and performs regularly at iO, the Annoyance, CIC, and the Den. You can find her playing local shows with her band the Cherry Trio and her rap squad the Beefcakes, or find her online at sarah-hoffman.com.
Lori McClain (SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity) was born in Toledo, Ohio, and immediately fell in love with theatre and music. She received her BFA in Acting from Wright State University, and after college, went on the road with a Top 40 Cover-Band. After moving to Chicago, she toured with The Second City National Touring Company and in 2004, performed for U.S. Troops in Iraq as part of a Second City USO Tour. Improv credits include: Sirens, ComedySportz, and Whose Chorus Line Is It Anyway? Among favorite scripted roles: Xena, Warrior Princess in Xena Live! and as Patti Blagojevich in Rod Blagojevich Superstar. Lori sings jazz with the Lori McClain Trio. Television commercials include KFC, Meijer’s, Aldi, Walmart and Lyrica. Since 2005, Lori has been an artist-in-residence with the University of Chicago Lab School Summer on Stage Program. Lori is a proud member of Actors' Equity and SAG-AFTRA. www.lorimcclain.com
Amanda Murphy has studied and worked in comedy and musical theater throughout Toronto, Chicago, and New York. She is a composer and lyricist for several groups, including the award winning musical “four play”, which she also co-wrote. She music directs at iO Chicago, ComedySportz, The Second City Training Center, and the Annoyance, and freelances for several groups around the city. She is also a performer, having played in house ensembles of Infinite Sundaes and SongCo at The Second City Training Center, and in BattleProv at ComedySportz. She has many musical theater credits, and has sung professionally with both choirs and big bands.
Tiffani Swalley is super excited to be performing with the Improvised Sondheim Project. Tiffani can be seen improvising around Chicagoland with Portion Control, MINt Prov and One Group Mind. She is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory, The Second City Music Program, and iO Chicago, and is an alum of The Second City House Team, Song Co. She currently studies writing at iO Chicago and The Second City Training Center and studies improv at The Annoyance. She is a writer for Cheeky Chicago and a graduate of Northwestern University. www.TiffaniSwalley.com
Jason Stockdale has been improvising for over twelve years, first in Philadelphia and now in Chicago. He currently performs with Hitch*Cocktails, the improvised thriller/drinking game; and with the improvised musical Baby Wants Candy. He plays ComedySportz for CSz Chicago, and before that was a player, coach and teacher for the Philadelphia team. While in Philadelphia, Jason also performed with Philly Improv Theatre on the house team Activity Book, and with the group Ladies And Gentlemen he helped create and direct the improvised musical Rodgers And Hammerstein Are Dead. Jason is a graduate of the iO Training Center and holds a BA in Theatre from Rowan University. Gratitude and love to ISP and all the friends and family.
Jeff Bouthiette has music directed for improv and sketch comedy extensively in the city of Chicago, including with The Second City National Tour and at sea, Comedysportz, The Comedy Shrine, Chicago Comedy Company, Gayco, and others. As an improviser, he was a longtime member of the musical improv troupe Jazz Hands Across America, and has performed with Infinite Sundaes, Blender, This is Okay 'Cause We're Singing About It, and many others. As an actor, Jeff has performed with Pegasus Players, Hell in a Handbag, Theatre Hikes, Brown Couch, Stage Two, Arts Lanes, One Theatre, and Chicago Kids Company. He played Montel/Jesus in Bailiwick Repertory's award-winning production of Jerry Springer: The Opera. As a songwriter, Jeff recently premiered Miami Nice: A Golden Girls Musical, and has participated in the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project as one of the nation's top young songwriters.
Matthew Van Colton
Matthew Van Colton is a Chicago and New York-based performer, writer and teacher. He is a founding member of the INNY-nominated Mansical. He has performed with the Musical Improv House Ensemble at Second City, Musical! the Musical, Best Musical, One Night Only, Chicago Dramatists, Northlight, Porchlight, Second City’s UP Comedy Club, Victory Gardens, iO, Second City Theatricals, Royal George and TUTA theaters among others. He is a faculty member at The Second City Training Center, where he teaches and directs in the Music Conservatory, Teen & Youth, and Improv programs and the Annoyance New York. He has also taught or coached for North Coast, Vern, Happy Karaoke Fun Time, Family Haircut (all NYC), Evanston Township High School, Acting Studio Chicago, Clown Car to Sicily and others. Most recently he appeared in Blank The Musical, at New World Stages in New York . Matt is a member of Actor’s Equity. More at www.matthewvancolton.com
Nicole C. Hastings
Nicole C. Hastings is a member of The Second City National Touring Company, performing sketch comedy and improvisation at theaters great and small around the U.S. and Europe. She is a proud ensemble member of One Night Only, as well as all-female team Eleanor and two-person improv disaster Free Trophies with Tim McKendrick. She has performed with The Second City Training Center's Twisty/SketchCo and Infinite Sundaes, Laugh Out Loud Theater (Schaumburg, IL) and ImprovAcadia (Bar Harbor, ME). Nicole trained at iO and The Second City Conservatory and Music Improv programs. She is a native of Northern California and graduate of Columbia University.
Kristin Hopkins arrived in Chicago from Columbus GA in July 2011, with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Auburn University. She has studied at The Second City Conservatory, Improv Olympic (iO), and just completed the Second City Music Improv Conservatory. She has her own independent musical sketch team Hey Ladies, which she performs with regularly around the city including at Chicago Sketchfest (2013, 2014), Chicago Women’s Funny Festival (2013, 2014), and Laughing Stock (2013, 2014).
Kerri is thrilled to be performing with the Improvised Sondheim Project. When not performing with ISP you can see her perform with Hogwash: An Improvised Tall Tale, Best of MCL or with her award-winning sketch group Cake-n-Hatred. She is an alumna of The Second City House Team Infinite Sundaes and has coached and performed with MINT Music Improv Night. She also teaches in the youth and teen program at The Second City Training Center. Kerri graduated from Point Park University with a BFA in acting and is a proud native New Jerseyan.
Liz Joynt Sandberg
Liz Joynt Sandberg is so excited to join the talented cast and crew of the Improvised Sondheim Project! She performs improv and sketch regularly with Infinite Sundaes - An Official House Ensemble of The Second City Training Center, Best of MCL, Storytown, Lola at iO Chicago, and all over town with her wonderful friends. Her dance and performance art works have recently been presented at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Dance Chicago's Fringe Carnival, Defibrillator Gallery, and The Chicago Improv Festival. Her writing can be found online at The Huffington Post, The Second City Network, and she is a columnist for Rebellious Magazine's PLUCK Parenting. Her essay "Hummingbird" appears in the anthology Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We're Saying Now (Putnam, 2014). Originally from Michigan, she trained with The Second City Music Improv Program, iO Chicago, and extensively in Chicago's improvisational dance community (most recently with Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape). Prior to moving to Chicago, she taught dance, choreography, and movement for actors as an adjunct professor at Alma College (Alma, MI) and Central Michigan University (Mt. Pleasant, MI). She has a degree in Philosophy and Music from Central Michigan University. Thanks to Nathan, Ida, and Merce, as well as the Joynt Sandberg family's rotating cast of incredible babysitters for making Liz's dream come true possible.
Ed Selvey IV
Ed Selvey IV started his career on the St. Louis improv scene, training under Second City alumnus Bill Chott. After teaching improv to youth and adults with The Improv Trick - St. Louis for two years, he relocated to Chicago to continue studying comedy and sketchwriting. He has since recorded multiple commercials and voice-overs for clients ranging from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Center for Disease control, in addition to graduating The Second City's Improv and Music Conservatories and performing in Second City house ensembles Twisty, Moxie, Next, and Infinite Sundaes.
Brad currently works in Chicago as a composer and producer by day and music director and teacher by night. He has composed original music for numerous shows including 'Tapped', ‘The Room: The Musical’, ‘Yes, Andersonville’ and many more as well as producing music for Handsome Naked, a hiphop/rap group. He teaches at The Second City and can be seen playing shows every week with Baby Wants Candy, Comedy Sportz, The Improvised Sondheim Project, Anarchy: A Rock Musical and more. www.bradkempmusic.com
Paul W. Thompson
Paul W. Thompson has been a musical director and accompanist throughout his 40-year career in the performing arts, including at the Bucks County (PA) Playhouse, the Naples (FL) Dinner Theatre, Dominican University in River Forest (IL), and for Amanda Murphy and Jamie Campbell’s fourplay at Chicago’s Studio BE, now MCL Chicago. He studied piano and voice with his mother in his native Nashville (TN), and holds BFA and MM degrees in music theatre from Baylor University (TX) and the University of Miami (FL), plus an MBA with Distinction from Chicago’s DePaul University. He has appeared onstage or in the orchestra pit in choral concerts, musicals, operettas and operas in 30 states, including two decades as a member of the Grammy Award-winning Chicago Symphony Chorus, 20 productions with Evanston’s Light Opera Works, and performances at the Ravinia Festival, Chicago Theatre, Auditorium Theatre, Arie Crown Theater, Pritzker Pavilion, Medinah Temple, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Paul has been a member of the choir at St. James (Episcopal) Cathedral since 1991, and is the treasurer for this historic congregation. In 2014 he became Director of Finance for the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. He teaches the great songs of Broadway to the next generation of performers at Paul W. Thompson Music, his studio in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building, composes music for churches and theaters, and is the Regional Editor of BroadwayWorld Chicago, the local page of the world’s largest theater website. A member of Actors’ Equity Association, the American Guild of Musical Artists and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, his proudest achievement is that he has seen the original Broadway production of every Tony Award-winning Best Musical since Cats!
Joey Bland has performed in Chicago for the last 11 years. He recently played the title role in The Second City’s long-running hit musical, Rod Blagojevich, Superstar, a role cited by the Chicago Tribune as one of Chicago’s Best Theatrical Performances of 2009. Before that, he spent two years in The Second City National Touring Company. In Chicago, he regularly performs with the musical improvisational troupe, Baby Wants Candy, and with the Improvised Shakespeare Company. In 2005, Joey was a two-time champion on Jeopardy!
Katie Dufresne is so excited to perform with the wonderful cast of the Improvised Sondheim Project! Katie studied and performed improv in DC before moving to Chicago in 2010 where she studied at both The Second City and iO Chicago. She has performed with The Second City’s Musical House Ensemble SongCo, and with the improvised musical One Night Only Off-Broadway in NYC. Katie is also one-half of Brouhaha: The Improvised Puppet Musical. Katie would like to thank all of her friends and family and, of course, the one and only Stephen Sondheim (and assuming he's attending one of these shows, says "Hello! Big fan.").
Michael Girts has performed for The Second City in Rod Blagojevich Superstar, Rush Limbaugh! The Musical and Fair and Unbalanced. Michael created and performed in One Night Only, a completely improvised musical selected by the Araca Group (Wicked, Urinetown) to appear Off-Broadway. He is also a proud member of Mansical, an all-man musical. Other credits include the Chicago Improv Festival, Chicago Sketchfest, Laugh Out Loud Theater (Schaumburg, IL) and ImprovAcadia (Bar Harbor, ME). Michael earned his BFA in acting from Syracuse University and his MBA from the University of Notre Dame. He is a faculty member at The Second City Training Center, and he teaches improvisation and runs workshops for various universities and professional organizations.
Stephanie McCullough Vlcek
Stephanie McCullough Vlcek, Psy.D. is a full-time faculty member at The Second City Training Center and Head Music Director of ComedySportz Chicago. She began her piano improv career in 1999 and over the past decade she's toured the country with The Second City, written twelve musicals, performed with Wayne Brady, completed her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology, written hundreds of songs and played with some three dozen improv troupes. Hooking up with the Improvised Sondheim Project ranks in her top two favorite improv shows she's been a part of!
Tyler Dean Kempf (Director)
Tyler Dean Kempf was born and raised in Northern California. After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he moved to Chicago to study at The Second City. He is an adjunct faculty member of the Television and Comedy Writing & Performance Departments at Columbia College Chicago as well as an improv & writing teacher and director at The Second City Training Center. Tyler directed the web series Modern Women currently showing on The Second City Network. He also directed and produced the pilot episodes of Stupid Bitch Syndrome, a finalist in the NYTVF Comedy Central Pilot Competition, the tim&micah project: PILOT and co-wrote and directed the web series Door to Door, a finalist in the Chicago Comedy Pilot Competition. As a playwright, his plays have received productions and stage readings all over the country, including Run-of-the-Mill, which premiered in Chicago and Save the Date, which was a finalist in Pride Films and Plays Great Gay Play contest. As always, thanks to Mike for his love and support.
Aaron Benham (Music Director)
Aaron Benham is a Chicago music director, conductor, and pianist. Chicago credits: The Cole Porter Songbook and Time After Time: The Songs of Jule Styne (Theo-Ubique Cabaret Theatre), Sweet Charity (Writer's Theatre), Parade (Harper College), Avenue Q (NightBlue Theatricals), The Rise of the Numberless (Bailiwick Chicago with The New Colony), The Ritz and The Baker's Wife (Circle Theatre), Putting it Together (Porchlight Music Theatre), The Rose of Stambul (Chicago Folks Operetta), The Fantasticks (Promethean Theatre Ensemble). He recently traveled abroad with The Second City at Sea, performing on the Norwegian Epic cruise ship for three months. His original songs/arrangements have been presented around town with Theo-Ubique, Bailiwick Chicago, FunEmployed, Hey Ladies! and The Fine Print Theatre. He runs a private studio for piano and vocal instruction and earned his B.F.A. from Emerson College.