Who Are These People?

The Recession of Wisdom is Sue Cortolillo‘s first venture into the world of comedy and acting. An eleven-year Chicago resident, she grew up in Western Pennsylvania and moved to Chicago to earn a masters in Biblical Studies at MBI. Now working in human resources full time, she took an improv class in February of 2011 for professional development and has loved the ride. Sue would like to thank her friends and family for their encouragement to try new things, Antoine McKay for this amazing opportunity, and Jesus for being her security in all things.

Paul Gallagher grew up in Northfield Illinois and is fulfilling a lifelong dream of being an actor. He is thrilled to be a member of The Recession of Wisdom. Paul has a knack for creating memorable characters and loves to make people laugh. In high school, he participated in the school productions as often as possible, and studied drama in college. Upon graduating from college, Paul studied at The Second City Conservatory. He has also studied at Comedy Sportz, Piven Theater Workshop, and the McKay Arts School. Over the last three years, Paul has appeared over thirty times with Antoine McKay, as part of the duo Paul and Antoine. He is also a founding member of the improv troupe, “About 72 Ounces.” Paul would like to thank his wife for all her love and support.

Rachel Morgan is a Texas native who is finding her new home in Chicago theatre. Though most of her roles have been in straight or musical theatre, including such roles as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Suzanne in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Percy in The Spitfire Grill, and Tina in her original one-woman show, The Most Beautiful High, Rachel is blessed to be finding a new artistic voice with the McKay Arts Management Main Stage Cast. Many thanks to the ensemble for all of their talent and time, thanks to everyone at Pressure Billiards, to her husband for his constant encouragement, and to Antoine McKay for saying, “Yes, and…”

Alif Muhammad is a Chicago-born musician, composer, and educator, joining McKay Arts Management as its main cast’s musical director in June 2011. Giving professional performances since the age of 15, he has performed clarinet, piano, drums, and mallet percussion music in youth ensembles for Chicago’s Symphony Center and Ravinia Park. After his tenure as the resident pianist of the legendary Prudential Plaza Club, Mr. Muhammad has composed over 75 original compositions while teaching music and general education to hundreds of public school students for seven years. Until joining McKay Arts Management, he studied symphonic wind and string instruments, as well as East Asian folk music, performing traditional instruments at several festivals. Mr. Muhammad’s synthesizer works can be heard underlying various portions of The Recession of Wisdom, and he also created three characters for the production, including the eccentric harmonica legend “Dusty Harp.”

While Fard Muhammad’s primary educational and vocational focus has been on computer graphics, he has kept the notion of performing comedy and improv in the back of his mind for years. In 2010, he started to regularly attend the Under Pressure Comedy Show—first as an enthusiastic audience member and later as a fledgling stand-up comedian. During one of the shows, the MC, Brian Connor, mentioned that Antoine McKay was going to teach improv classes. While attending an open house for McKay Arts Management the following January, Fard paid the tuition for the improv classes on the spot and never looked back. He later signed on to be a part of the main cast for McKay Arts and helped create some of the sketches seen in The Recession of Wisdom.

Iva Washington, a recent graduate of Western Michigan University, is excited to be a new resident of Chicago. Her more recent credits include Let the Brotha Talk, Mother Courage and Her Children, and Returning From Madness. Iva is hoping God opens the door for more and more acting opportunities in the near future. She is thankful for McKay Arts Management and her Rogers Park Community Church family and the awesome cast of The Recession of Wisdom.

Born on a military base in Germany, raised in the dry plains for Texas, and recently transplanted to Chicago, Jordy Williams never expected himself to be in an improv inspired comedy sketch show with such an excellent group of people. Holding a bachelors degree in English and trained in straight theatre, Jordy has enjoyed a variety of roles, including Robert Falcon Scott in Terra Nova, Detective Trotter in Mousetrap, Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man, and Pablo Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Jordy has also been lucky enough to work with Chicago’s Stage Left Theatre in both directing and acting roles. His thanks belong to Antoine McKay, who saw a young man performing spoken word and thought he had potential, to his parents, who taught him that the best drumbeat to follow was his own, and his wife, who walks a path parallel, holding hands and enjoying the sights.