• Stephen Leaver, Executive Director

    Mr. Leaver has been with Imagination Theater since 1998 when he first joined as an ensemble member. He served as the Associate Artistic Director from 2001-2003, Artistic Director from 2003-2009, and Executive Artistic Director from 2009-2016. During his tenure with Imagination Theater, Mr. Leaver has designed countless customized programs for schools, colleges, and corporations. He has overseen all aspects of the company since 2009. In addition to his work at Imagination Theater Mr. Leaver has been teaching at the Metropolis School of Performing Arts since 2002. He has taught acting classes for all ages and directed student productions of The Laramie Project and The Dining Room. He also directed the Metropolis production of The Diary of Anne Frank. From 2008-2012, Mr. Leaver served on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Theatre Association where he was representing Theater for Young Audiences. Through his work at the ITA, Mr. Leaver helped to coordinate the Theater In Our Schools conferences every March held in partnership with the American Alliance for Theatre in Education. Mr. Leaver served on the advisory committee through Arts Alliance Illinois where we worked on revising the Illinois Arts Learning Standards that were recently approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Mr. Leaver graduated Cum Laude from Illinois State University where he holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Theater.

  • Samie Jo Johnson, Artistic Director
    Samie Jo Johnson (she/they) is a multidisciplinary theatre and teaching artist based in Chicago. She has trained internationally and domestically in various theatre making and teaching styles and has experience working with students of all age groups. In addition to her ongoing work with Imagination Theatre, Samie Jo serves as a dance and drama teacher year-round with the Stage School designing programs to teach students (ages 4 to 16) a full musical—sometimes in as little as the course of a week! They’ve built a custom “Global Theatre Workshop” for elementary school students, drawing from her various studies and cultural exchanges to fill a curriculum spot that covered both the Performing Arts and Global Perspectives requirements for a Summer Camp with The Y in Northern Colorado. She has also designed and taught Introduction to Shakespeare workshops for middle school students. In college, she was a teaching assistant for both Theatre History and Directing I courses. Most recently, she designed and taught a Sketch Comedy and Improv after school course for Queen of All Saints Academy, and choreographed the end of year concert for the entire student body at Plato Academy. Samie Jo grew up in her mom’s dance studio and has consistently served as a teacher’s assistant, choreographer, and teacher since she was a teenager. 


  • Cee Scallen, Coordinator of the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program
    Cee Scallen (they/them) is a theatre artist, arts educator, and dedicated cat parent. They have a decade of performance experience and theatrical training from the Guthrie Theater, Carleton College, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, the National Theatre Institute, and Moscow Art Theatre. They have performed with The Silent Theatre, Erasing the Distance Theatre, BYOT Productions, Big Noise Theatre, and Impostors Theater. As a passionate arts educator, Cee teaches with Imagination Theater, Buddha Belly Kids Yoga, and Stages Chicago. They also have a strong volunteer training and background in sexual assault and domestic violence/abuse survivor support with training and work with Alexandra House and Hope Center in Minnesota. They yearn to make inclusive, innovative, and intentional theatre that strives to make a social impact. | |


  • Cliff Ruemmler, Bookkeeper
    Cliff joined Imagination Theater in February 2010. Mr. Ruemmler is Certified Public Accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (“AICPA”) and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants. Mr. Ruemmler has 15+ years of experience working with public and privately held companies as an auditor, information technology specialist and program director with such companies as Ernst & Young LLP (senior manager); and Equity Office Properties Trust (Director of Program Management). Mr. Ruemmler is currently a stay-at-home dad and donates a significant amount of his time to various PTO’s and community organizations on the north shore of Chicago. Mr. Ruemmler received his Bachelors of Accountancy and Bachelors of Business Administration in Management Information Systems from the University of Oklahoma in 1988.