ADVISORY COMPANY

The Advisory Company is responsible for artistic oversight of Forward Theater Company.


Casem AbuLughod
Casem AbuLughod is a Madison based performer and human. A graduate of University of Wisconsin - Madison, he also holds a Master of Arts in Applied Theatre from the City University of New York. He is an improv performer and instructor with the Monkey Business Institute, an actor and teaching artist with Whoopensocker, and has performed with several Madison area theaters, including CTM, Are We Delicious?, and Strollers. Forward audiences may know him from his time as a droid in crisis during the Within These Walls monologue festival. He is currently working on his newest role, father. He almost has the lines down.


William Bolz
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 Buske
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 Chalhoub
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 and a teaching artist for Forward's partnership with LaFollette High School since 2019. When not working with Forward, Jo is a full time social worker and an independent stage manager, actor, and fight choreographer.

Sarah Day
Sarah Day is a Madison native, and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been a member of the acting company of American Players Theatre in Spring Green since 1986. She is incredibly proud of the fact that she is one of the founding members of Forward Theater, and has been a part of the Advisory Company since its inception. Some favorite FTC plays of which she has been a part include: Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Exit Strategy, and Life Sucks. She has performed with many theaters in Wisconsin, including Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act Theatre, First Stage, Four Seasons Theatre and Madison Opera. She has also performed at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and the Cleveland Playhouse. In 2018 she was named a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.

Jono De Leon
Jono de Leon is a freelance designer and photographer who recently moved back to Madison after working in California, New York, and Texas. A Texas native, Jono graduated from UW Madison with his Master's Degree in 2012. After graduating he worked for the UW Madison Theater Department as the Lighting and Sound Supervisor before moving to California to become the Master Electrician for the University of California, Davis. While in California he helped update the standards, safety procedures, and training for the department while mentoring students to take professional internships and careers across the US. Jono also worked as the Lighting Supervisor for a local theater in Austin, Texas as well as for New York Stage and Film's 2018 season in Poughkeepsie, New York. Throughout all of this Jono has continued to pursue photography as a hobby and his most recent project included documenting the amazing artwork that came out of the downtown protests here in Madison.

Mike Fischer
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 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 is also a Joseph Jefferson Committee judge in Chicago and a longtime judge for the Steinberg New Play Award competition. 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 Haden
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.

Michael Herold
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, Oliver and Gabriel. Michael is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.

Maureen Janson
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!

Josh Krause
Josh grew up in Milwaukee and now makes his home in Menomonee Falls, WI with his wife, Rachel, and their cats. He went to Cardinal Stritch University in Glendale, WI where he received his BA in Theater before going to Indiana University to get his Masters in Acting. He returned to Wisconsin because his mentor, C. Michael Wright, former artistic director of Milwaukee Chamber, offered him his first professional job, Great Expectations (Pip), and Josh is forever grateful. His love of theater making has led him to perform with many theaters around the area including Milwaukee Chamber Theater, Children’s Theater of Madison, Next Act, American Players Theatre, and Forward Theater. In addition to acting, Josh is a teaching artist for the Milwaukee Rep and American Players Theatre, and works as a private coach. When not making theater he can be found playing D&D, reading Stephen King, or watching Great British Bake Off.

Jake Penner
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
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.

Nadja Simmonds
Nadja is a Milwaukee based actor and teaching artist. She moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to attend Marquette University and received degrees in both theater arts and digital media. Since then she has acted in regional theaters around Wisconsin, including First Stage Children's Theater, The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Northern Sky Theater, Summit Players Theater, and the Children's Theater of Madison. She found her way to Forward Theater in 2019 where she performed as Amelia/Kat in Mary Jane. She immediately fell in love with the Forward family and is ecstatic to be a member of the Advisory Company. Lots of love goes to her family back home and to the incredibly supportive theater community in Wisconsin.

Noele Stollmack
Noele Stollmack is a Milwaukee based lighting and scenery designer. Forward Theater productions include the lighting for Life Sucks, I and You, Every Brilliant Thing, Mary Jane and The Lifespan of a Fact. Her work has appeared onstage at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, The Library of Congress Theatre, as well as the opera companies residing in Ontario, Houston, Portland, Vancouver, New Orleans, Nashville, Madison and Milwaukee. Regional design for the theatre includes Jeff Daniels Purple Rose Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Houston’s Alley Theatre, Wisconsin’s Chamber Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Skylight Music Theatre, American Players Theatre, Children’s Theatre of Madison and First Stage Children’s Theatre. Some notable examples of Noele’s scenic realization and set design includes Meredith Monk’s international tours of mercy & impermanence, Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Albert Herring, Dido and Aeneas, Venus and Adonis, Rio de Sangre, Macbeth, Tristan und Isolde and Magic Flute for the Florentine Opera; Rape of Lucretia at Toledo Opera; Pagliacci with Columbus Opera; and Mirandolina for the Milwaukee Rep. As Lighting Director for Houston Grand Opera, she supervised the lighting and special effects for over 50 productions along with designing the lighting for such productions as Andrei Serban’s Elektra, Dr. Jonathan Miller’s Der Rosenkavalier and the world premieres of Harvey Milk, Desert of Roses and Dracula Diary. Noele’s AIA award winning architectural and public space lighting is installed throughout the Midwest.

Sam D. White
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.