Local talent set to wow LA casting execs at showcases

Chicago’s got talent! — and the third annual SCOUT Chicago Festival this weekend will spotlight a myriad of comedic actors ready and waiting to be discovered at showcases being held for network and cable television casting executives looking for the next big star.

SCOUT Festival co-founder Marisa Ross says 30 top-tier LA casting executives accepted their invitation to spend the weekend in Chicago scouting the city’s abundance of comedy talent.

Coming from CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox; cable’s USA and Showtime, Comedy Central and MTV, along with talent agencies UTA and ICM, 3Arts Entertainment management and Dreamworks studio, the guests will attend the SCOUT Chicago talent showcase, participate in panel discussions aimed at helping young performers get a foothold in the business, enjoy the Second City Breakout Festival and attend established shows and showcases around town.

Noted Chicago casting directors also will be part of the weekend’s SCOUT and theatre events. 

And the festival is free and open to all.

SCOUT Chicago kicks off Friday, June 5 with the Stand-Up Showcase of 15 of Chicago’s funniest comics: Matty Ryan, Jeff Scheen, Mike Lebovitz, the Puterbaugh Sisters, Josh Johnson, Azhar Usman, Katie McVay, David Drake, Tracey Ashley, Sean lannery, Joey Villagomez, T Murph, Sonia Denis and Danny Kallas.

The venue is the iO Theatre, 1501 N. Kingsbury, starting at 5 p.m.  While all four SCOUT events are free, you need a ticket. Call the box office, 312/929-2401 to reserve your ticket.

SCOUT Annoyance Theatre Solo Showcase on Saturday, June 6, will present 15 of its best performers: Tyler Davis, Katie Kershaw, Danny Catlow, Ryan Asher, Tim Lamphier, Vernon Mina, Jon Matteson, Scott Nelson, Kevin Sciretta, Lindsey Finn, Sarah Shook, Derrick Aguis, Thomas Kelly, Greg Ott, Blair Beeken, Tim Heurlin and Micah Sterenberg. 

SCOUT Chicago founders Marisa Ross and Brooke ShoemakerAt the Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, starting at 4:30 p.m. Click here to reserve your ticket.

Two SCOUT Chicago panels with LA and local casting execs, moderated by Ross, take place at the iO Theatre. Marisa Ross will moderate both panels.

Panelists for the 11 a.m. “Navigating Presentations and Developing your Own Material,” are LA-based Fred Hashagan, agent, UTA and Olivia Gerke, Manager/TV production company 3Arts Entertainment; Chicago’s George Zwierzynski, VP/production, The Onion; Zach Gray, agent Gray Talent Group; Donna Simon Dunn, agent, Grossman & Jack and Brooke Shoemaker, manager, Principato-Young Entertainment.

Panelists for the noon topic of “Inside the World of Casting for Television:” LA’s Brad Delima, VP/casting, NBC USA; Teri Dean, VP/casting NBC;  Matt Skrobalak, VP/casting, CBS Studios; Seth Yanklewitz, VP/casting Fox Network; Gilain O’Neill, independent casting director and Chicago casting stars Claire Simon and Jennifer Rudnicke.

SCOUT Chicago Marisa Ross is a former LA network casting director and currently the head of casting for The Onion’s locally produced shows. Cofounder Brooke Shoemaker is talent manager of LA-headquartered Principato-Young Entertainment’s local branch.

They formed SCOUT Chicago in 2013 with the cooperation of iO Theatre and Mick Napier and Jennifer Estlin’s Annoyance Theatre in an effort to call attention to Chicago’s treasure trove of comedy talent.

All efforts attendant to making the weekend a success are voluntary.  The LA guests are supported by their companies and the Langham Hotel where they stay in Chicago offers special rates.

“It’s a lot of work,” says a harried Ross as the weekend approaches, “but well worth it.”