AL KATZ-MARIANI is an Evanston based teacher, director, and performer. He hold a degree in theatre and language arts education from the University of Iowa, and his greatest passion is helping young people grow by exposing them to theater and performance. Al has been working in children's theater for years; he grew up in youth theater programs, spent years as a theater camp counselor, and started teaching and directing after graduating. When he is not working on shows with middle schoolers, Al works in special education at the Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth (with more middle schoolers, of course). Al teaches Jr. High Improv and assistant directs for Deerfield Performers Troupe. 

meet our staff

STEFANIE GUGGENHEIM is thrilled to be directing for the Sarah Hall Theatre Company. She loves directing youth productions and teaching children about the wonderful world of theatre. While growing up performing in various Deerfield theatre programs, she began assistant directing and choreographing for kids when she was only 14-years-old. She grew to fully direct and choreograph children’s productions through Starland Kids in Deerfield. Stefanie holds a degree in elementary education and a minor in theatre from Illinois State University. When she is not directing children’s musicals, she is a middle school teacher in the north shore. She is very thankful to work with the incredible SHTC staff and the most creative, fun, and passionate kids. Stefanie directs: Deerfield Performers Troupe & Broadway Bound.

JESSICA HARDY is an actress and the Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. She has studied at The Second City Chicago conservatory, Acting Studio Chicago, and Lesly Kahn studios in Los Angeles. She has performed improv and sketch comedy in Chicago and Los Angeles over the past 10 years including Chicago Sketchfest and children's touring companies. She is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA has appeared in commercials, television, and independent films. Her teaching experience includes working for Second City's youth programs, Models of Pride in Los Angeles, Chiaravalle Montessori School of Evanston, Chicago Public Schools, After School Matters, and Spark Program of Chicago. Jessica has been teaching independent improv workshops and classes since 2012. She is thrilled to be working for Sarah Hall Theatre Company! Jessica teaches: Jr High Improv, Adult Improv, Little Footlighters and The Play's the Thing!

YVETTE STREICHER has been teaching Little Footlighters for over four years. She has also taught Jr. High Improv in Glencoe for the past year and a half. Theater has played a big part in her life ranging from acting in summer theater programs through High School sponsored productions. She has a major in communications and graphic design. Yvette feels lucky to both live and teach in the Glencoe community.

LANA WHITTINGTON is a Chicago based actor, fight director and intimacy designer. She graduated with a BFA acting degree from Oklahoma City University in 2014 and has been teaching kids theatre and dance since she was 16 years old. She is a certified Advanced Actor Combatant with Fight Directors of Canada and is working towards her teaching certification. Lana regularly works with Cuckoo's Theatre Project, Unrehearsed Shakespeare, Hell in a Handbag and Fight Director of Canada as well as teaching with SHTC. She is very excited to be inspiring young artists and helping them stretch their creative muscles again!


SARAH JEAN TILFORD is a Chicago based actor with a degree in Theatre Performance. She works steadily as a performer, director, costumer, and playwright. Sarah is a member of The Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company and EDGE Theatre and is so thankful to spend her days teaching and directing youth programs and passing on her love of the performing arts to little ones!
Sarah is the General Manager and teaches and directs: Tiny Footlighters, Mini-Footlighters, Kinderlighters, Little Footlighters, & Spotlighters. Sarah also costumes many of our productions!


SAMANTHA GATWOOD, or Samm as her friends call her, is a freelance actor, director and choreographer. She graduated with her degree in Musical Theatre and Directing from Drake University where she developed a passion for teaching young artists. She spends the vast majority time as a teaching artist, but also loves to spend time on and around stage. She also works as the Donor Relations Manager at Brown Paper Box Co. in Lincoln Park. She absolutely adores working with her Little Footlighters helping them fall in love with theatre the way she did growing up. Samm teaches Little Footlighters in Deerfield and Play Reading for Seniors.