Evanston’s 2nd Act Players evolved out of a class taken at the Actors’ Training Center in Wilmette, Ill., in 2012.
Creative bonds formed in that class led some of us to take subsequent classes together. Others have joined us along the way to form a unique creative family that spans multiple generations and is united by our love of theater and performing. We seek to tell everyday stories and simple truths in unique and entertaining ways.
Our Cast and Crew
Carolyn Calzavara (Carmela) began her acting career at a young age as a high school Thespian, playing the judge in The Devil & Daniel Webster but put her acting career on hold to earn her undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and her M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg business school.
She’s gone on to have a highly successful career in technology marketing but never lost her love for the stage. Inspired by the Calzavara family mantra, “all the actors aren’t in Hollywood,” she began taking acting lessons in 2012 at the Actors Training Center (ATC), Wilmette, Il.
In addition to acting in this production, Carolyn serves as producer of the show and a co-founder of the Evanston 2nd Act Players. She has appeared in the short film Clouds in a non-speaking role as a thrift store shopper.
April Cowgur (Momma) can be described as an actor with a comedic edge. She has acted in several shorts, industrial films, a music video, and even hosted webisodes of a talk show promoting film festivals. Her experience extends behind the scenes as well, including story-boarding. April grew up in Springfield, Il., before earning her B.A. in communication and art at Western Illinois University.
After moving to Chicago she has become a dedicated student and volunteer at the Second City Training Center; studying Improv, Comedy Writing, and having finished the Acting program. She has also taken classes at iO and Piven Theatre.
If you can’t get enough April, you’re in for a treat! She is currently filming a feature-length Docu-drama, performing around the city with her Improv Comedy group, and can occasionally be found cracking jokes at various open mics!
John N. Frank (Pasquale) is a native New Yorker who has spent his adult life in Chicago. Growing up with a love of the theater fostered by his parents, Frank was too shy to try acting in high school and so turned to writing, joining the student newspaper staff, which led to a 35-year career in journalism.
In recent days, he has devoted himself to acting, taking classes at ATC and at the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston, Il. So it was inevitable he and his wife, Carolyn Calzavara, would start a theater troupe of their own to stage New Year’s Eve at Grandma’s House, Frank’s original one-act play.
In addition to New Years Eve at Grandma’s House, Frank has three other plays under development, Talking with Dad, The Boys in the Basement and The Institute. He has appeared in a non-speaking role in the short film Clouds and co-starred in the recent student film, I Steal.
In 2012, Frank published his first book, Always Be Job Hunting, an autobiographical account of how to stay employed in today’s job market. Copies are available for sale in the lobby following the show.
Natalie Jacobson (Julianna) is a junior at Evanston Township High School (ETHS). She has been involved with theatre since 8th grade, when she played Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In high school, she has taken various theatre classes and has acted in many shows including “Twelve Night,” “The Best Daddy,”-a short play by Shel Silverstein, “Born Yesterday,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “YAMO”- a student written/directed comedy sketch show, “The Romeo and Juliet Project”- a collaboration between ETHS and Northwestern University, and a theatre for social change program.
She greatly enjoys participating in theatre, as well as many other school activities including environmental club, community service club, and tutoring. Natalie would like to thank her family for their support. She is thrilled to be acting in “New Years Eve at Grandma’s House!”
Chris Johnson (Sonny) writes: “I’m proud to be a part of this group of actors and to bring John’s
vision to life in New Year’s Eve at Grandma’s House. Previously, I’ve appeared in Murder on Lafayette Square and My Father’s Country Not My Own with Perfectly Legal Productions and Marching To Zion and As Long As You Both Shall Live with the Saint Sebastian Players. I couldn’t do anything without the love I get from Nancy and Michael.”
Colleen McDermott (Faye) has enjoyed performing arts throughout her life.
She first met the Evanston 2nd Act Players at the Actors Training Center thanks to a Groupon! She is currently studying at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy in Chicago to become a filmmaker.
She has focused solely on improvisation and comedic genres of acting, having trained with Comedysportz and is excited to expand her range with this play.
Melissa Mok (Stella) is excited to be a part of this original play and reunited with her ATC classmates. She just wrapped up her role as Rosie in ASTW’s production of Really Rosie and is enjoying the chance to play a character “a bit closer” to her age. =) While Melissa plays the non-Italian “out-law” she secretly believes she’s 50% Italian…by way of her Godmother. That’s right….she has an Italian Godmother!
Melissa is no stranger to the stage. She had started dancing when she was 5 years old and always managed to find her way back to the stage outside of ballet recitals. With singing and dancing under her belt, she went to the University of Illinois at Chicago to gain her Bachelors in Theatre. After retiring her dance shoes and settling into life, Melissa recently decided to return to the stage but with theatre as her focus. It must have been fate to have chosen the ATC class she did because she met this lovely group of people that continues to support one another in their talent and is thankful. =D
Loren Seidner (Sal) returns home for this exclusive engagement, having grown up in Evanston. After graduating from Evanston Township High School, he earned a bachelors degree from the University of Iowa, and a juris doctor at IIT’s Chicago Kent-College of Law. He has been a trial lawyer for over 20 years, primarily in the area of criminal law.
Loren made his television debut in the early 1970s, when he appeared with his brothers in a public service announcement along with the legendary Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob Smith. To the best of his recollection, the PSA was aired at “least a few times” on UHF channels (for those of you who remember life before cable and satellite) in the Chicagoland area.
In high school, he went on to participate in two of the Evanston YMCA’s Brillianteen productions, before taking a (very long) leave of absence from the acting scene. Loren starting taking acting classes a year ago where he first met some of his fellow cast members and new friends, and is enjoying learning that acting is an extremely difficult craft.
Rinat Urman (Del) was born and raised in Israel; she moved to Chicago when she was nine years old. Rinat has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and has always been very passionate about movies and the acting industry.
Very shy as a child, she decided to finally pursue her interest in acting in 2011. Rinat began taking acting classes at the Actors Training Center, Wilmette, Il., in 2012. There she met many of the fabulous actors with whom she is working in this play.
She plans to pursue her interest in acting by taking on any roles, both big and small, in order to gain experience, and continue building on her newfound passion.
Rinat acting credits include as a supporting player in a recent short film, Clouds, and a non-speaking role in the TV show underemployed.
Claire Shavzin (Stage Manager) is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University, where she majored in theatre and French.
Stage management credits in Chicago include When Angels Wept with New Lincoln Theatre, The Cricket on the Hearth at City Lit Theatre, And a Moon Said Nothing & Thicker Than Water with Forget Me Not Theatre, and Tusk Tusk (ASM) at Piven Theatre Workshop.
Thanks to John, Carolyn, Ryan, and the entire cast for your hard work and dedication!