Meet Our Teachers
Amanda Banden - Principal
Amanda Banden earned a B.S. in Theater from Indiana State University, appearing in numerous acting roles and earning a nomination for the American College Theater Festival's Irene Ryan Award. After college, Amanda traveled the U.S. as a Tour Actor/Director for Missoula Children's Theatre. During her year with MCT, Amanda directed and performed in Sleeping Beauty with over 3,000 children across 16 states. Amanda is honored to have worked with the Tony Award winning San Francisco Mime Troupe, as an Assistant Director. In June 2005, Amanda completed a Masters Degree in Performing Arts Management at Columbia College.
Amanda is a co-founder and Board Member of Chicago’s Quest Theatre Ensemble and served as the company’s Executive Director from 2002 -2009. Over the years, Amanda has appeared in more than fifteen original Quest productions and received a Joseph Jefferson Nomination for Artistic Specialization for her work with Quest.
Amanda and her husband Richard have been offering performing arts training in the Park Ridge community since 2010.
Richard Banden – Principal
Richard is truly honored and grateful to give students the opportunity to grow in their confidence, self-expression, creativity, and love of the performing arts at The Stage School. He and his wife Amanda have been providing top quality training in the performing arts to students across Chicagoland since 2008. Prior to starting The Stage School, Richard performed and taught with numerous companies including Missoula Children's Theatre, Nevada Theatre Company, Victory Gardens, Piven Theatre, Quest Theatre Ensemble, Bailiwick Repertory, Talisman Theatre, plus numerous others. Film and television credits include The Weatherman, The Lake House, and ER. These days Richard is giving his focus on being a husband, father, and Principal at The Stage School. He hopes you will join the Stage School family, and we can give your child the tools to succeed, both on and off the stage.
erica zintek petro - drama (the company)
Erica Zintek Petro was born and raised in Chicago and received her B.F.A in acting from Wright State University in Ohio. Erica spent four years as a Tour Actor/Director with Missoula Children's Theatre having the unique opportunity to work in schools, theaters, military bases, and communities across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Over her four years with Missoula Children's Theatre, she has performed and directed children five through eighteen years-old in such shows as "Cinderella", "The Princess and the Pea", "Rumpelstiltskin", "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", and "Beauty Lou and the Country Beast". Erica is thrilled to be a part of The Stage School staff and work with such wonderful students.
JUSTIN CALLIS - SINGING (the company)
Justin Callis is a composer and teaching artist in and around Chicago. As founder and Artistic Director of Artists Giving Back, he helmed their inaugural production of "Rent" in honor of World AIDS Day 2015, and oversees their continuing cabaret series, "AGB Sings!". With Storycatchers Theatre, he worked for many years with incarcerated youth creating original musicals. He has performed with Chicago Opera Playhouse, and toured the country with Child's Play Touring Theatre. He is the Music Director at Community Christian Church in Lincolnshire, and a frequent soloist at Temple Chai in Long Grove and K.A.M. Isaiah Israel in Hyde Park. Justin is so excited to work with such a vivacious, charismatic group of students at The Stage School!
Carly Vadnais – Dance (THE COMPANY)
Carly Vadnais is a graduate of Bradley University and holds a degree in Public Relations and Theatre. Carly is an active performer and choreographer in the Chicagoland area. She has more than 20 years of training in various styles of dance and has choreographed for show choirs, dance teams, theater departments, and studios across the state. Carly is thrilled to teach with The Stage School and looks forward to helping each student reach their full potential.
KAT FOSTER - THE PREMIER PROGRAM
Kat has her undergraduate degree in musical theatre from Western Illinois University and her graduate degree in education with a specialization in early childhood from Ashford University. She has worked as an actor, teacher, choreographer, and director for such companies as Lexington Children's Theatre, Missoula Children's Theatre, the Beverly Arts Center, Riversong Dance Studio, TheatreWorks Florida, and the Mundelein Park District. Some favorite roles include Bridgey Sullivan in "Oz" and Mrs. Beaver in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". When she is not on stage or in the classroom, Kat enjoys watching football and snuggling with her dog, Nugget.
KATELYN STOSS - Rising Stars/Creative Discovery
Katelyn is thrilled to be working with The Stage School! A native of Hutchinson, Kansas, Katelyn earned her BFA in Musical Theatre from Wichita State University in 2014. She spent the past year touring with Missoula Children's Theatre as a Tour Actor/Director. Katelyn has had the privilege of working with community theaters, high school drama programs, dance studios, and hundreds of kids in communities across the United States and Canada. She had a wonderful time teaching at The Stage School's Premier Program Summer Camp and is excited to be instructing the Theater Tuesdays and Rising Stars class.
Chris McGriff - theater MONDAYS
Chris is thrilled to join the teaching staff at The Stage School. He has worked on the Broadway productions of "Wicked", "The Color Purple" (Assistant Director, original Broadway Premier), "La Cage Aux Folles", and "Man of La Mancha". National tour credits include "Rent", Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", and "Les Miserables". Favorite theatre directing credits include ""Ragtime", "Fiddler on the Roof", "Footloose", "Sweeney Todd", "Dreamgirls" and "Children of Eden". He has performed in concerts at venues such as Radio City Music Hall and The White House. He is the author of over two dozen plays and musicals and served as Artistic Director for New Horizons Theater.
Carley Walker - After School Programs
Carley is a native of Texas and one of Chicago's newest residents moving here from the great city of Charlotte, NC. Carley is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama. She is currently a working actor, teacher, and designer in Chicago. As a theatre teacher, she loves getting to help a child learn something new. Encouraging a child to learn more and fall deeper in love with something they're passionate about is the best part of her job. She has taught with a variety of companies in Charlotte including Children's Theatre Charlotte and Davidson Community Players. She is so excited to have the opportunithy to teach in her new home of Chicago and she can't wait to meet all her new students!