Staff Leadership

Marilyn Halperin (Director of Education and Communications, Ray and Judy McCaskey Chair) is a nationally regarded leader in the field of arts education. Under her guidance, Chicago Shakespeare Theater's youth-engagement initiatives have evolved into one of the most respected curriculum-integrated arts-in-education programs in the country. In 2014, her twenty-two year tenure as the chief architect and head administrator of CST's transformational programs was honored by The White House with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Over the years, Ms. Halperin has created a national model, altering the way that Shakespeare is being taught in American classrooms. In 2011 and 2013, her work through the CPS Shakespeare! ensemble and Sheldon and Bobbi Zabel Bard Core professional development program for teachers was showcased at the National Conference for Teachers of English. Reaching across continents, Ms. Halperin serves as a partner-in-education to the University of Birmingham's Shakespeare Institute in the UK. Ms. Halperin has also developed enrichment programs for CST’s adult audiences, including academic lectures, extensive supplementary materials and dramaturgical essays and accessibility programs serving people with disabilities. Ms. Halperin holds a master's degree in clinical social work from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

E. Brooke Flanagan (Managing Director for Development and External Affairs) leads Chicago Shakespeare Theater's fundraising programs and serves as a vital strategic partner to the Board of Directors, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson. Prior to joining CST, Brooke spent seven seasons at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, most recently serving as the Director of Major Gifts. She was the Associate Director of Development for Ravinia Festival from 2000–2004, and also held key positions at the League of Chicago Theatres and Santa Fe Opera. She is a board member of the Arts Alliance of Illinois and a former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Chicago Chapter. She frequently serves as a featured panelist at national conferences and workshops, co-chaired the AFP Chicago Conference (2006, 2007) and co-chaired the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Spring Conference (2013). She holds her BFA in Theatre from the College of Santa Fe.

Bob Mason (Artistic Associate/Casting Director) has been casting director at Chicago Shakespeare Theater since 2000, where his classical credits cover more than two-thirds of Shakespeare’s canon, including numerous productions with Artistic Director Barbara Gaines. Other CST productions of note include a quartet of Stephen Sondheim musicals (Pacific Overtures, Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music and Passion) directed by Gary Griffin, as well as Rose Rage: Henry VI Parts 1, 2 & 3 (director Edward Hall) and The Molière Comedies (director Brian Bedford). Additional Chicago casting credits include: the Sondheim/Hal Prince premiere of Bounce (Goodman Theatre and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) and productions for Northlight Theatre, Northwestern University’s American Music Theatre Project and the Chicago mounting of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Prior to casting, Bob enjoyed a 15-year career as a Jeff Award-winning Chicago actor and singer, and has been a visiting educator for the School at Steppenwolf and Northwestern University.

Linda Orellana (Director of Finance) joined Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s staff in 2000. As Director of Finance, she oversees the Theater’s compliance to all related IRS regulations as well as State and City taxing authorities. In leading a four-person finance department, Ms. Orellana is responsible for maintaining strong internal controls over the Theater’s assets; access to risk exposure and insurance coverage; and preparing daily, monthly, and yearly financial records. A registered CPA with 20 years of nonprofit accounting experience, Ms. Orellana previously held a lead finance position at the Dr. William M. Scholl College.

Chris Plevin (Director of Production) has been with Chicago Shakespeare Theater since 2003. As head of the production department, he oversees all CST and international productions and directs the long term planning of the scenery, lighting, costumes, wigs, sound, properties, and special effects departments. Previously, he spent three seasons as the Production Manager for another Chicago theater company, Uma Productions, and worked on the Stephen Sondheim musical Bounce at the Goodman Theatre. Mr. Plevin has spent two seasons as the production manager of the National High School Institute at Northwestern University where he was also an instructor and mentor in the stage management program. He has worked as a stage manager for Collaboraction and as a Project/Event Manager for both Fusion 5 Productions and Current Events International. He has been a speaker for various production and design process classes at Northwestern University and Columbia College. Mr. Plevin is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Alida Szabo (Director of Audience Development) has headed up Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s marketing, advertising, media relations, and promotions activities since 1998. Prior to joining the Theater, Ms. Szabo was a consultant in program development, marketing, and media services for such clients as the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago Park District, Columbia College, and Walt Disney’s Theatrical Division. She spent seven seasons as Director of Audience Development for The Goodman Theatre and served two Chicago mayors in the Office of Special Events. Ms. Szabo was associated with several of Chicago’s prominent off-loop theater groups, including MoMing Dance and Arts Center and St. Nicholas Theater Company. She has been a speaker at several area universities and an adjunct lecturer for Roosevelt University’s masters program in Public Administration. In addition, Ms. Szabo has been a panelist and advisor to the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, Chicago Cultural Center Foundation, and the Chicago Dance Coalition among other arts groups. She also currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Morrison-Shearer Foundation, a position she has held since 1987. Ms. Szabo holds a master's degree in urban affairs from Roosevelt University.

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