The Advisory Company is responsible for artistic oversight of Forward Theater Company.
William has long been active in Madison theater. Forward Theater audiences may have seen him in The Farnsworth Invention and the Soul Food monologue festival, and heard him calling bingo numbers in Good People. He has acted with many area theater companies, including APT, Madison Rep, Madison Theatre Guild, Strollers, and Mercury Theatre. He recently earned his MFA in Acting from The University of WI, and frequently appears in online comedy videos from Madison's own Blame Society Productions.
Jim has acted in, or directed more than 110 plays in Off-Broadway, regional, summer stock, dinner, and community theater. With Forward Theater, he has appeared in All About Eve, Moonlight & Magnolias, and (briefly!) The Farnsworth Invention, as well as the staged readings of Kiritsis, Uncivil Disobedience, Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, and Oatesland. Jim was also an original member of the Madison Repertory Theatre’s acting company and appeared in 11 productions there, including Marshall in the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher’s What Corbin Knew. Other favorites include Ken Talley in The 5th of July, Joseph Surface in School for Scandal, Elwood in Harvey, George in Moon Over Buffalo, Rev. David Lee in The Foreigner, and Sergius in Arms and the Man. He also directed Beyond Therapy for The Rep. Jim lives in Sun Prairie with his wife Stephanie and their son, David. He sends special love to Eily and Sara.
Jo is a Milwaukee native and has lived and worked in the Madison area since 2010. She holds a minor in Theatre Arts from UW-Milwaukee and has worked on- and off-stage on over 55 productions with local community and professional companies, UW-Madison, and the Overture Center. Forward Theater credits include being on the stage management teams for The Farnsworth Invention, A Thousand Words, Babylon (New Play Festival), Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, and I and You, as well as making brief on-stage cameos as “the wardrobe assistant” in Love Stories and “the sign girl” in Mr. Burns. Jo has also been the stage manager for Forward’s monologue performance series at Madison area libraries since 2014. When not working with Forward, Jo performs at the Bristol Renaissance Faire and works with the non-profit Feast of Crispian to bring theatre arts to military veterans. She is honored to be a member of the Advisory Company and sends her love to family, friends, colleagues, and her partner Mike.
Sarah is a Madison native and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She began her professional acting career at Wilson Street East Dinner Playhouse while a student at the university, 30 years ago. She performed with both Madison Civic Repertory and Madison Repertory Theatre. Other Wisconsin theater credits include: The Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act Theatre and First Stage Children's Theater. She has been a guest artist at the University of Wisconsin Madison and Milwaukee campuses, and taught at UW-Richland. She has been a member of the acting company at American Players Theatre in Spring Green since 1986 and is a member of Actors' Equity Association. With Forward Sarah has appeared in All About Eve; Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them; A Thousand Words; Collected Stories, and the staged reading of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.
Dennis Dorn has lived in the Madison area for nearly 40 years, 33 as a member of the UW-Madison Department of Theatre faculty, serving as the unit's technical director, director of theatre (10 years) and production manager for many of those years. He is the co-author of a text book, Drafting for the Theatre, a Fellow of USITT (the United States Institute for Theatre Technology) and served as a Director, Vice-President. He remains an active member of many committees and commissions for that group. He lives in Middleton with his spouse, Kathy, and is the father of two daughters and grandfather of four. Hobbies include golf, bicycling, playing catch, and participating in pillow fights with his youngest grandsons. Becoming a member of the Forward Advisory Committee represents a return to his theatre roots after retiring from the university in 2009.
Mike is a Milwaukee-based dramaturg. From 2003-2018, he saw over 200 plays each year on behalf of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, covering theater productions throughout Wisconsin as well as northern Illinois while also writing book reviews that appeared in newspapers throughout the United States. In his post-critic’s life, Mike has also served as a dramaturg or written educational materials on behalf of Wisconsin theater productions at Forward as well as the Constructivists, First Stage, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks and Theatre RED. Mike received his undergraduate degree from Yale and his MA from the University of Michigan, both in English Literature. He lives in Whitefish Bay with his wife, Elaine.
Clare is a Wisconsin native, and received her MFA in Acting with an emphasis in Voice for the Actor from UW-Madison. She has since worked as a professional actor, voice and speech coach, and teaching artist for theaters throughout the Midwest, including Theatre LILA, American Players Theatre, Overture Center for the Arts, Wisconsin Story Project, Children's Theatre of Madison, First Stage, Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and Madison Opera. She recently appeared as Henrietta Leavitt in FTC's production of Silent Sky, as well as Theatre LILA’s The Suitcase Dreams. Clare is currently working with UW-Madison to create and develop curriculum for a new Communicative Sciences program. She is a proud member of AEA, VASTA, and TESOL. She resides in Sun Prairie with her dear son Ben, her crazy dog Wilson, and her ever-supportive and rockstar of a husband, Scott.
Shannon wears many hats in the theater community and is extremely honored to add the Advisory Company feather to one of her favorite caps! Having recently completed her studies in technical theater at University of Wisconsin - Madison, she now works at Forward as wardrobe supervisor as well as a sometimes scenic painter and dramaturg. Shannon has directed shows and designed (and constructed) sets and costumes throughout southern Wisconsin, as well as working in wardrobe at American Players Theatre. Love and gratitude to this amazing community, family and friends, and her partner, Ben.
Michael came to Madison in 1986 and was cast in The Foreigner, the first of more than 16 plays with the Madison Rep. For Forward, Michael has appeared in All About Eve, Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them; The Farnsworth Invention; Sons of the Prophet; the staged reading of Oatesland, and both monologue festivals. Elsewhere, Michael has performed in more than a dozen productions at the Milwaukee Rep, as well as acting with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act, and Milwaukee Shakespeare. He appeared in Laughter on the 23rd Floor at the Briar Street Theater in Chicago, and has been featured in productions with New American Theater and Artists’ Ensemble in Rockford, and New Court Theatre in Beloit. Michael has also toured nationally and regionally, and has performed at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis and the Horton Grand Theatre in San Diego, as well as several Shakespeare festivals around the country. In addition to being featured in regional and national television commercials, Michael also appeared in the recent film Baraboo. Originally from Ohio, he holds an MFA from the University of Akron. Michael lives in Sun Prairie with his wife Tracy and their children, Olivia and Gabriel. Michael is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.
Maureen celebrates more than 30 years of making dances for theatre, opera, and concert dance. She has contributed choreography and coached movement throughout the Midwest, and as a part of many Madison area productions, including Why Torture is Wrong, and the people who love them, The Farnsworth Invention, and 44 Plays for 44 Presidents with Forward Theater Company. She has choreographed frequently for American Players Theatre, Kanopy Dance Company, Madison Opera, CTM, Madison Repertory Theatre, the UW-Dance Department and the UW Department of Theatre and Drama. Maureen is a recent recipient of the Choreography/Performance award from the Wisconsin Dance Council (For details, visit maureenjanson.com). Maureen is also a freelance writer and the editor/publisher of Scoliosis Quarterly magazine. She is pleased to join the Advisory Company of Forward Theater!
Karen is a native New Yorker who has recently made Madison her home. She is most widely recognized for her role as lawyer "Cassie Reynolds" on NBC's Harry's Law opposite Academy Award winner Kathy Bates and her stint on The Good Wife as "Giada Cabrini." Olivo starred as Anita in the acclaimed Broadway revival of West Side Story, directed by Arthur Laurents, a role which garnered her the 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. Olivo earned a Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for her portrayal of that iconic character. In addition, Olivo received her second straight Astaire Award nomination for Best Female Dancer on Broadway, an award she previously won in 2008. Most recently Olivo began teaching Musical Theater Styles at UW-Madison as well as working as a teaching artist and writer for Theatre LILA. She is also a writing mentor for UW-Madison's First Wave program and teaches students in her private studio.
Jake is a Madison area actor, director and musician, and frequent performer/collaborator at Forward Theater Company. Recent credits include Sons of the Prophet, From Up Here, The Farnsworth Invention, Out of the Fire: The Banned Books Monologues, and Oatesland. Other Madison area credits include The Seagull, Romeo and Juliet, and Much Ado About Nothing (American Players Theatre); A Christmas Carol and Bunnicula (CTM). Jake trained at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and American Players Theatre, and lives in Madison's beautiful downtown. Unending love to David, Patty, and HRD.
Rána Roman is a Milwaukee native and proud graduate of Milwaukee H.S. of the Arts. After ten years away, studying in Los Angeles and performing in New York, she returned to Wisconsin to explore the possibility of having both an artistic career and rich family life. Since arriving in Milwaukee, Rána has performed with Forward Theater Co., Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, First Stage, Milwaukee Opera Theater and The Milwaukee Repertory Theater. In addition to performing, over the years she has had the opportunity to act as a musical director, assistant director, teaching artist and director. Rána has always thrived on being a part of new play development, participating in reading workshops with First Stage, RTW, MCT, MOT, Northern Sky Theater and Uprooted Theatre Co., many of which eventually led to full productions of wonderful new pieces.
Susan Sweeney is an actor, singer, voice/text/dialects coach and UW Theatre professor emerita. She has performed with the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Skylight Opera Theatre and Next Act Theatre, American Players Theatre, Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theatre, Utah Shakespearean Festival, and on international tours for U.S.O. and the International Classical Theatre Company. For Forward Theater, she has played Dottie in Good People (2012) and Vera in 4000 Miles (2016). Susan taught for 22 years in the Professional Theatre Training Program, which began at UW-Milwaukee and moved in 1989 to the University of Delaware. In 2003, she relocated to Madison to join the faculty of the UW Theatre department. Over the past 35 years, she has coached voice, text and dialects for professional theaters throughout the U.S., including 12 seasons with American Players Theatre. She is a regular reader on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Chapter a Day”.
Same has been crafting theater as an actor, director, and playwright for more than 40 years. He studied theater at Edgewood College and "cut his teeth" during three summers at the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival in Platteville, WI. His local credits include work with the Madison Repertory Theatre, Children's Theater of Madison, the Madison Ballet, the University Theater and TAPIT/new works. With Forward Theater, he's appeared in All About Eve, the Soul Food Monologue Festival, and From Up Here. He’s performed in Milwaukee with In Tandem and Milwaukee Chamber theaters, as well as with the former Theater Tesseract. He's also worked at nearly every community theater group in Madison, including Madison Theatre Guild, Strollers and Mercury theaters. In addition to more than 200 stage productions, Sam has appeared in numerous commercials, short movies, films and industrials. He appeared as George in the original Hulu.com web series Battleground, shot on location in Madison. As a playwright, his plays Oatesland and Coyote Moon won the 2011 and 2013 Wisconsin Wrights New Play awards. Oatesland received staged reading as part of Forward's New Play Development Series in 2012, and Madison’s Brick Theatre produced it in April 2014. His monologues Beer and Bad Librarian were featured in Forward's last two monologue festivals. He has served as the artistic director of Madison Theatre Guild, and is a long-time member and former president of Madison’s Playwright’s Ink. He is one Forward Theater's founders and serves on its Advisory Company. He owns the dining room table around which Forward was created." Most recently, Sam received the Silver Medal in the “Local Actor” category of Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison 2015.