Theatre and Dance Alumni
The School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University has played an important role in developing many of today's most prominent and successful artists.
Illinois State alumni have distinguished themselves as performers, designers, writers, technicians, and educators. They work regionally and nationally in film, on stage, and in television. Here are a few of our School of Theatre alumni:
Janet Allen '77
Artistic Director of Indiana Repertory Theatre, Janet is a former dramaturg and a published scholar with certification in Anglo-Irish drama from Exeter College, Oxford, England. Under her leadership the IRT has become one of the top ten endowed theaters in the U.S.
Randall Arney, M.F.A. '80
Former Artistic Director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company and currently Artistic Director of the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. At the Geffen Randall has directed such plays as David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow and most recently Arthur Miller's All My Sons, which co-starred ISU alum Laurie Metcalf.
Carlos Bernard ’91
(Also known as Carlos Bernard Papierski during his years at ISU.) Carlos may currently be seen on the Fox television show 24 and was a recurring character on The Young and the Restless.
Gary Cole ’78
Born in Park Ridge, IL, Gary got his start in theatre playing Snoopy in his high school production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He began his professional career in Chicago, founding the Remains Theatre Ensemble and later joining the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble. He has appeared in numerous award-winning productions in Chicago as well as performing Off-Broadway shows in New York. Gary starred in the 1984 mini-series, Fatal Vision and later played lead roles in Midnight Caller and American Gothic. Gary can be seen in The Pineapple Express, Talladega Nights, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!, The Brady Bunch Movie, Office Space, and In the Line of Fire . He played Vice President Bob Russell on The West Wing.
A native of Chicago, Suzanne attended Illinios State University from 1975 to 1978. She has been successful on stage, in television and in film. She appeared on Broadway in the award-winning Three Penny Opera (opposite Sting), in The Tap Dance Kid (with Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr.), and in Sophisticated Ladies. Her Off-Broadway credits include Little Shop of Horrors and A-My Name is Alice. On television, she has appeared in I'll Fly Away, NYPD Blues, and The Cosby Show, and was a regular on the WB series sitcom, The Parent 'Hood. Suzzanne may be seen in the films Tap, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and The School of Rock. Suzzanne received a NAACP Image Award for her performance in the film Tap.
Gary Griffin, M.F.A. '86
Artistic/Managing Director with the Chicago Shakespeare Company. Gary directed the hit Broadway musical production of The Color Purple, and recently directed Chicago productions of Passion by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine and The Goodbye Girl by Neil Simon.
Moira Harris ’76
Actress from such films as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Chicago Cab and Tall Tale.
Reggie Hayes ’91
Star of the UPN series Girlfriends, Reggie may also be seen in the films Charlie’s Angels and Being John Malkovich. He was named to People Magazine's 2007 list of the 100 Sexiest Men.
Emmy award-winning actor currently starring as Jack McFarland on the hit NBC series Will & Grace. Sean received critical acclaim for his role in the independent film Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss and for his portrayal of Jerry Lewis in CBS TV movie Martin and Lewis. Sean may most recently be seen on the big screen in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, The Cat in the Hat, and Rob Reiner's The Bucket List.
Tom Irwin ’79
After graduating from Illinois State University in 1979, Tom moved to Chicago where he helped to found the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble. He has been involved in over 50 Steppenwolf productions as actor or director. Acclaimed productions include The Grapes of Wrath (a production that later traveled to the Royal National Theatre), Balm in Gilead (which also played Off-Broadway), and My Thing of Love (which played on Broadway). In 2002, Tom co-starred with Madonna in Up for Grabs at the Wyndam's Theatre in London. Tom starred as Graham Chase on the acclaimed television series My So-Called Life. He may most recently be seen in the critically acclaimed independent film, 21 Grams, and the TV series Saving Grace.
Judith Ivey ’73
Judith was born in El Paso, Texas and graduated from Illinois State University in 1973. She began her stage career in Chicago, debuting in the Goodman Theatre production of The Sea. After finding success in Chicago, she moved to New York City and made her Broadway debut in Bedroom Farce. In 1989, Judith won her first Tony Award for Steaming. Two years later, she won a second Tony for her role in Hurlyburly. Judith starred in the TV sitcom Down Home and joined the cast of Designing Women for its 1992-1993 season. She has appeared in numerous films, including A Life Less Ordinary, Mystery Alaska, and The Devil’s Advocate. In 2003, Judith earned rave reviews for her role in the independent film, What Alice Found. Recent stage work includes Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Women of Lockerbie.
Terry Kinney ’76
Acclaimed theatrical director and co-founder of the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, Terry can also be seen in such films as The Firm, Last of the Mohicans, and Save the Last Dance. He played prison reformer Tim McManus on the HBO series Oz.
John LeMay ’84
An actor who has done a wide variety of national commercials, John held the starring role in the syndicated television show Friday the 13th: The Series.
Jeff Lewis ’92
A make-up artist who has received four Emmy nominations. Currently working on the Star Trek series, Enterprise. Jeff has also worked on the films The Grinch, The Flintstones, and Viva Los Vegas as well as the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Brad Look ’83
Brad is a successful Hollywood make-up artist, nominated for multiple Emmy Awards and won an Emmy as part of Michael Westmore’s make-up team for Star Trek: Voyager. He co-authored Star Trek: Aliens and Artifacts. He is currently part of the make-up team for Star Trek: Enterprise.
Jane Lynch ’82
Actress who may be seen in the films Best of Show, A Mighty Wind, Talladega Nights, and The Fugitive. Jane played Mrs. Witter (Pacey’s mom) on Dawson's Creek and has recurring parts on Boston Legal and Two and a Half Men. She also starred on the short-lived series MD's.
John Malkovich ’76
John was raised in Christopher, IL and attended Eastern Illinois before transferring to Illinois State University. He helped co-found the Steppenwolf Theatre in 1976, and in 1983, won a Obie Award when Steppenwolf's production of Sam Shepard's True West moved to New York City. John performed with Dustin Hoffman in the 1984 revivial of Death of a Salesman and won an Emmy for his role in the television version. John's film debut in Places in the Heart won him his first Oscar nomination. He starred in The Killing Fields in the same year. John earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of a political assassin in In the Line of Fire. Some of his other notable films include Con Air, Dangerous Liaisons, Rounders, as well as Being John Malkovich. John returns to Chicago periodically to appear in productions with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Laurie Metcalf ’76
One of the original members of the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble, Laurie won three Emmy Awards for her role as Jackie on the hit television comedy Roseanne. After winning critical acclaim for the New York production of Balm in Gilead, Laurie made her film debut as Rosanna Arquette's sister-in-law in the sleeper hit Desperately Seeking Susan. She has also appeared in the films Uncle Buck, JFK, Scream 2, Bulworth, and Runaway Bride. She played the meddling neighbor Carolyn Bigsby on Desperate Housewives.
Octavarius is a young improv comedy group in Chicago, which the Chicago Reader called the 2nd Best Improv Group in Chicago (2010). Members include: Lauren Aimone '07, Chris Bogue '09, Matt Castellvi '08, Scott Danielson '05, Keith Habersberger '08, Matt Herzau '08, Scott Hogan '06, Nick Mikula '07, Marc Muszynski '07, Mike Norris '09, Lisa Ridarelli '09, Brian Wohl '07
William O’Leary ’80
Actor who appeared in a recurring role as Marty, Tim’s brother on the television series Home Improvement. William has also appeared in feature films Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Bull Durham, and Hot Shots.
Tony Orrico ’01
Tony majored in Dance at ISU and went on to get his M.F.A. as a fellowship recipient at the University of Iowa. He has studied Chinese opera-based movement and was an original company member of Shen Wei Dance Arts. In 2006, he joined the Trisha Brown Dance Company, based in Manhattan.
Jeff Perry ’78
A co-founder of Steppenwolf Theatre, Jeff starred as Harvey Leek on the CBS series Nash Bridges. He is also known for his memorable performance as Mr. Katimsky on the TV series My So-Called Life and has had recurring roles on Prison Break and Grey's Anatomy. Currently Jeff can be seen on Broadway in the Steppenwolf production of August: Osage County.
Rondi Reed ’77
Rondi, a 2004 winner of the Joseph Jefferson Award for Excellence in Chicago Theatre (for Fall to Earth), is a longtime member of the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble. She currently is appearing in Steppenwolf's Broadway production of August: Osage County. She also starred as Madame Morrible in the 2005 Chicago production of Wicked.
Ed Rice ’04
After receiving his undergraduate degree in Dance at I.S.U. and his M.F.A. at the University of Iowa, Ed joined the Brian Brooks Moving Company, based in New York City.
Dan Roan ’76
Sports anchor for WGN Television, Chicago.
Richard Roeper ’82
A columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and co-host of Ebert & Roeper At the Movies. Richard is the co-author of He Rents, She Rents and he authored Urban Legends. He was selected by People magazine in 2001 as one of the "50 most eligible bachelors."
Ray Roderick ’80
Actor/dancer who has held roles on Broadway in Cats and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Actor who starred as the Vulcan Lieutenant Tuvok on the syndicated series Star Trek: Voyager. He directed a three-part "Internet mini-series," Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, featuring many original cast members.
Randy Salerno ’85
Reporter for WGN-TV Weekend News, Chicago.
Cecilia Suarez ’95
Cecilia was born in Tampico, Mexico and graduated from Illinois State University in 1995. She began her professional career at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, where she appeared in Henry IV, Part 2. In 1977, she returned to Mexico and acted in the short films Nic Habana and Table Dance. Cecilia's first feature film was Sexo, Pudor Y Lagrimas where she played opposite Susana Zabaleta. Cecilia has also starred on the Lifetime TV series For the People and played opposite Adam Sandler in Spanglish and Tommy Lee Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
James Spinner ’81, M.S. ’84
James is a special effects movie make-up artist with his own special effects company, Figurative Dimensions, Inc. His work has been featured in the films, Men In Black II, The Grinch, Planet of the Apes , Thelma & Louise, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Yvonne Suhor ’85
Actress who played Lou on the television series The Young Riders. Yvonne has since received her M.F.A. from the University of Southern California and is now teaching theatre in Florida.
Bruce A. Young ’79
Actor who may be seen in the films Enough, Phenomenon, Risky Business, and Jurassic Park 3.