Meet our All-Star Cast, Director for: The Institute, Coming of Age during the Vietnam War


The 2nd Act Players is pleased to announce both a cast of highly talented Chicago theater veterans and a dynamic, new director for its fall production of the original two-act drama, The Institute, Coming of Age during the Vietnam War.The first play in our new home will be the drama, The Institute.

“Each year since our beginning in 2013, we have sought to broaden our talent pool and so deliver ever-more compelling shows to our audiences. The level of talent we have assembled this year is truly exceptional, our audiences have a lot to look forward to,” says 2nd Act Co-founder and Artistic Director John N. Frank.

Chicago-based Ryan Bruce will be directing. Bruce is a director, acting coach, writer, and producer with a primary focus on new work development. “That made him a perfect fit for 2nd Act Players because our mission is to develop new talent and feature new works,” says Frank.

Among Bruce’s recent directing credits are Blank Santa at Three Brothers Theater, Punk at the Arc Theater and The Best Food on Earth at the Dandelion Theater.

The cast includes:

  • Kirsty P. Collins whose Chicago theater credits include Dandelion Theatre’s The Hot Dog Stand and Buzz 22’s Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Recent film credits include Other People’s Heads, Out of Sync, and Unorthodox.
  • Chris Johnson who recently made his directorial debut with Remembrance, a Sebastian Studio Project in Chicago. He has appeared in each of the 2nd Act Players’ previous productions: Boys in the Basement, Talking With My Dad and New Year’s Eve at Grandma’s House. He also appeared in Murder on Lafayette Square and My Father’s Country Not My Own, both Perfectly Legal Productions in association with St. Sebastian Players.
  • Matthew J. Lloyd, a 25-year stage veteran, who has appeared with such groups as the Signal Ensemble Theatre, MadKap Productions,
    The Underground Railroad, ETA Creative Arts and Gorilla Tango Theater.
  • Julie Mitre who has worked with Akvavit Theatre, Indie Boots Theatre Company, City Lit’s Art of Adaptation, Oil Lamp Theatre, Theatre-Hikes, The American Theatre Company, and The James Downing Theatre. Memorable roles include Ana in The Clean House, Seika in Kokola and several seasons as Grandma with The Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.
  • Scott Stockwell, who has appeared in Jerry and Tom at Profiles Alley, Caligula with the Organic Theater, and Sandlewood with Tympanic Theater. Some of his favorite roles include Falstaff in Merry Wives of Windsor and Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. He has worked with the American Blues Theater, the Annoyance Theatre, Pegasus Players, Project 891, Spartan Theater Company and the Chicago Actors Ensemble.
  • Jean Waller who has played Nettie in The Subject Was Roses, Sister Aloysius in Doubt, Bernarda in The House of Bernarda Alba, and Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Other Chicago companies she has worked with include Idle Muse, TimeLine, Fury Theatre, Dandelion Theatre, Remy Bumppo, and The Artistic Home.


“I’m thrilled to be working with so many outstanding actors and with an amazing director as well,” says Frank who is also a member of the cast.

The Institute follows the lives of four young men attending a very unique military school during the height of the Vietnam War. Watch them grow from children into adulthood as they and the world around them wrestle with the moral dilemmas of Vietnam. See their friendships tested by the strain of the war and the military draft that awaits them upon graduation. And see the roles the women in their lives played along that journey.

“The issues they face about war and country, family obligations versus the need to be one’s own person, are still very much with us today,” says Frank. “While the bulk of our story takes place more than 40 years ago, it holds great relevance for thinking, caring, involved individuals in today’s world.”

The Institute opens Friday evening, Oct. 21 and runs through Sunday Nov. 13 at the 2nd Act Players’ new theatrical home at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2515 Central Park Avenue, Evanston. Shows will take place every Friday and Saturday evening and at matinees on Sunday afternoon. Tickets are available on

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