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An Artist and the Ember:

A Self-Love Story

Book, Music and Lyrics by Evan Cullinan

Synopsis: Creating a story is hard work, especially when you're staring at a brand new page. Eve, a composer new to Chicago, attempts to tell a brand new story through song while dealing with the fiery embodiment of her unconscious thoughts: Ember, always burning over her shoulder. An Artist and The Ember: A Self-Love Story, examines the relationship between an artist and the personal anxiety in the act of creation and the effect that has on the creator and the creation for the world.

Dates and Times:

The Edge Theatre


5451 N Broadway

February 7 at 8 pm

February 9 at 7:30 pm

February 17 at 3 pm

February 19 at 8 pm

February 22 at 7 pm 

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Creative Team

& Cast

Evan Cullinan (Writer)

Emily Kipp (Director) is thrilled to be bringing this new musical to life! She is the artistic director of Wayward Sisters Theatre Ensemble and recently directed their first show 123: a play about abandonment and ballroom dancing. Her other previous directing credits include Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy and Speech and Debate. She earned her BS in Directing from Ball State University before moving to Chicago in 2017. Emily was also a national finalist at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2017. She would like to thank her family for their never ending support, and Zach for being the brightest spot of light in this crazy world. 

Kara Schoenhofer (Choreographer) is thrilled to be a part of the Artist and the Ember team! Kara is an active performer and choreographer in Chicago. She hails from Lima, Ohio and graduated from Ball State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Kara has worked with companies in the Chicago area including Music Theatre Works, Big Noise, Metropolis Performing Arts, Williams Street Rep, and NightBlue (Jeff Nomination - Co-Choreographer Bullets Over Broadway), as well as choreographing for Infinity Arts Academy. Enjoy the show!

Evan Swanson (Music Director) 

Jacob David Lang (Assistant Director)  is thrilled to be a part of An Artist and The Ember! He recently graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Directing, then went on the Assistant Direct Drury Lane’s Beauty and the Beast. Directing credits include: Constellations and A Woman’s Conscience. Other Assistant Directing credits include: Shrek the Musical, Hairspray, Grease, and The Great God Pan. He would love to thank his family and Ball State family for their continued support!

Madeline Kraft (Stage Manager) is an experienced event planner and musician and recently decided to dip her toes into the theatre world and is thrilled to be a part of the production team as Stage Manager for The Artist and The Ember. Madeline currently plans events for Wind Point Partners, a private equity firm in the Loop, and the Private Events office of the Chicago Cultural Center. In her spare time Madeline performs with the Lakeview Orchestra. Madeline earned her BA in Business Management and Violin Performance from Wittenberg University.


Sophia Foldvari (Ensemble) is very excited to participate in the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival! Some recent Chicago credits include: We Found a Hat (Lifeline Theater), Boeing Boeing (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), and Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding (Chicago Theater Works). Proud Ball State BFA Acting Alum! Special shout out to Mom, Dad, and Dawid!


Quinn Rattan (Daniel) Quinn is a Chicago based actor originally hailing from Menomonee Falls Wisconsin. Favorite credits include: The Miracle Worker (Round Barn Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof (Round Barn Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), Execute (Otherworld Theatre), Forum (Citadel Theatre), Frankenstein (Northwestern University) and Arabian Nights (Northwestern University). He is a proud graduate of the theatre program at Northwestern University with additional training from Actors Studio of Chicago and the British American Dramatic Academy. Thanks to Mom, Dad, Seth, Lola, Christian Yelich, Jack, Gail, and Melanie.


Taylor Snooks (Sam) Taylor is excited to create new work alongside this talented cast and crew in An Artist and the Ember! Some of her favorite credits include originating the role of Monica Jone's in Underscore Theatre's Jeff nominated production of Carrie 2: The Rage, Vivienne in iO's Break a Leg Series, Nadine in Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party, and more!

Maddie Sachs (Eve) is thrilled to make her Underscore debut as Eve! She recently returned from her regional debut as Hermia & Moth (Midsummer) and Lady Percy & Sir Walter Blunt (I King Henry IV)  with Hoosier Shakes. Television credits include Season 5 of Chicago Fire. Other Chicago credits include Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), The Bottle Tree (Stage Left Theatre), Scrooge And The Ghostly Spirits(Citadel Theatre) and Sweet Sixteen Extravaganza! (Blue Goose Theatre Ens.) Maddie graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Columbia College Chicago and is represented by Gray Talent Group. @maddiesacts


Cody Dericks (Ensemble) is a New Jersey transplant enjoying his time in the thriving Chicago theatre scene. A graduate of Hofstra University, Chicago credits include Holding the Man, Jerker (Pride Films and Plays); Oliver!, Hairspray (Windy City Performs); Ayn Rand in Love (MCL Chicago), and Daphne's Sunset (Chicago Musical Theatre Festival). Follow him on Twitter @codymonster91 for updates and links to his various podcasts.


Kayla Kennedy (Ensemble) is thrilled to be presenting this new musical with old friends! She was last seen in the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival as Goldie in The Gefilte Fish Chronicles. Other Chicago credits include: Memphis (Porchlight Music Theatre), Mamma Mia (Marriott Theatre), Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Mamma Mia (Paramount Theatre), A Wonderful Life The Musical, The Tin Woman, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Spamalot, All Shook Up, Big Fish, Women on the Verge (Theatre at the Center), El Stories XIV (Waltzing Mechanics). Regional credits: June in Smoke on the Mountain and America in Radio Gals (Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre). Kayla earned a BFA in Musical Theatre from Ball State University and is represented by Gray Talent!


Kati Kostyk (Ensemble)  is ecstatic to be making her Chicago debut! She is a recent graduate from Ball State University and a Chicago transplant from Cincinnati, Ohio. Her previous roles include Inez (No Exit), Betty (The Gulf), Sister (Damn Yankees), and Simone (Bully) at Ball State. You can find her in the summer teaching young ones at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. To keep up with her work, follow her on instagram or facebook @katikostykactor. She would like to thank her family, friends, and cool cat partner.

Garrett Sayers (Ensemble) is ecstatic to be working with this creative team on a new work! He is a graduate from Ouachita Baptist University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Recent credits include: Fender in Hairspray and Ensemble in Shrek the Musical at Windy City Performs. Thanks and love to family, friends, cast, and the creative team! @garrettmsayers


Ryan Smetana (Ensemble) This is Ryan’s first production with the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. His Chicago and regional credits include Boy Gets Girl, Pirates of Penzance, 4.48 Psychosis, In the Soundless Awe (Saltbox Theatre), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Citadel Theatre), Disney’s Tarzan (NightBlue), The Young Playwrights Festival (Pegasus Theatre), A Fabulous 50’s Christmas (Towle Theatre), Pericles, The Tempest (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival), and A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane).


Kelsey Skomer (Shay)  is a newly graduated Chicago-based actor who is thrilled to join the cast of An Artist and The Ember. She recently closed her first Chicago production as Starbuck in Moby Dick!: The Musical. Other favorite credits include Boeing, Boeing (Gloria) and John and Jen (Jen). She hopes this show inspires you as much as it has inspired her. Enjoy!


Zach Tabor (Ember)  Zach is extremely proud to be a part of the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival for his first time, especially as a part of such a unique and creative show. He has loved being a part of this great cast and production team and is excited to share this new story. Zach is a graduate of the BFA Acting program at Ball State University and has worked with The Cuckoo’s Theatre Project, Commission Theatre, The Waltzing Mechanics and other Chicago based companies since joining this great community. Some of his previous credits include Orcus (She Kills Monsters), Horton (Seussical), and Rev. Hale (The Crucible). He would like to thank his family for always supporting him, his good friend Evan for writing such an interesting character, and his girlfriend Emily for being a consistent rock in his life. “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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