Cathy Hirschmann Cathy has been working in theatre since she was a girl, starting when she was with the Tom Thumb Players in Chicago at the age of 14. She attended Drake University where she graduated with a BFA in Theatre. After college, Cathy got her equity card doing dinner theatre at Drury Lane. She also acted in commercials, modeled, worked trade shows and acted in industrial films. Cathy was even a Honey Bear for the Chicago Bears! Later, Cathy became an agent for David and Lee and started their acting and live modeling division. After getting married and having children Cathy was asked to help with the "Main Show" for the Winnetka Children's Fair, which she did for many years. Next, she became involved with CTW – first with choreographing, then directing. Cathy has been with CTW for 20 years and has loved and enjoyed every minute! "It's so exciting to see the children that I have worked with going on to Broadway and Hollywood."
Toby Nicholson Toby attended Northwestern University, where he received a BS in Theatre, and a MS in Dance Education. Additional activities include: Cecchetti Ballet, Commercial acting, Film acting, New Trier High School Dance and drama instructor director/choreographer for 30 years, acting in commercial films and Chicago theatre and directing roles in recent years at grade and high schools, Menz Dance at New Trier. Children's Theatre of Winnetka Director and choreographer since 2000. See more about Toby here
Holly Francis With dreams of becoming a professional ballerina, Holly began studying ballet when she was eight. About the same time she made her musical theater debut in a local production of Alice in Wonderland where she appeared in a two-sided cardboard costume as the Ace of Hearts. Although unable to sit down, she loved every minute of the experience and has been singing, dancing and acting ever since. She attended New Trier East High School and performed in multiple productions including Lagniappe, as a dancer in Kismet and Kiss Me Kate, Tuptim in The King and I, and Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker. After graduating from New Trier, Holly attended The University of Illinois where she majored in theater with a minor in dance. She went on to receive a Master of Science degree in Communications from Northwestern University and has spent more than 20 years using her performance skills as a professional communicator, and media and communications skills coach. She is delighted to have the opportunity to combine her professional and theatrical experience working with the children of CTW, and to honor the talented professionals and teachers who made a difference in her life by using her gifts to “pay it forward” and help children acquire the confidence, perseverance and team building skills that come from working in the theater.
Stephen Schellhardt Stephen has been acting, directing, choreographing, producing, casting and teaching professionally around the country for over a decade. He has acted in equity productions in Chicagoland theatres and regional theatres elsewhere, receiving three equity Jeff Award nominations and a Barrymore Award for acting, as well as a non-equity Jeff Award nomination for his directorial work on Urinetown and his choreographic work on Dogfight the Musical (Bohemian Theatre Ensemble). In Chicago, Stephen has worked at the Marriott Theatre, Writers Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Mercury Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Chicago’s Lyric Opera, Chamber Opera Chicago, Goodman Theatre, and the Ravinia Festival. He has taught acting and musical theatre at the Actors Training Center in Wilmette as well as at the Summer Theatre of New Canaan in Connecticut. He is an Artistic Associate and company member at BoHo Theatre in Chicago, where he recently directed its production of Urinetown, nominated for eight Joseph Jefferson awards for non-equity productions, including Best Director and Best Production. He has been a faculty member at Northwestern University's National High School Drama Institute (Cherub Program) for over ten summers. He is a founding member and managing director of the Chicago Artists Chorale, and most recently served as the Casting Director and Associate Producer at Writers Theatre in Glencoe. This Fall, he is excited to be a full-time lecturer of musical theatre at Northwestern University. Stephen is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama and a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.
our music directors
Betsy Balkin Betsy is currently the 5th and 6th grade music teacher and chorus director at The Skokie School right here in Winnetka. Prior to teaching in Illinois, Betsy attended Oberlin Conservatory in Oberlin, OH where she majored in Music Education/Vocal Performance and then taught high school choir for several years outside of Columbus, OH. In 2012 she attended Northwestern University and received her Master of Music Education degree. Betsy has been involved in musicals and plays since she was a young girl – performing, directing, and producing. She loves that she gets to be part of these experiences with the youngsters in CTW!
Annamarie Baskin (spring) Annamarie brings to our kids 40 years of vocal education expertise and performance experience in concert halls and opera stages around the world. She holds a bachelor's degree in music, a master's in vocal pedagogy, and did post-graduate work on development of adolescent voices. Annamarie has been musical director for amateur and equity plays for many years including the production of Fiddler on the Roof at the University of Illinois which involved a statewide selection of talented high school kids for the cast and played to a 3000 member audience. Annamarie also taught three generations of singers at New Trier, and received the coveted Distinguished Teacher Service Award when she left to focus on individual student development and her work with Children's Theatre of Winnetka. Learn more about Annamarie by reading her book, Whad'ya Say Your Name Was, Sweetie?