AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Eureka Springs, Arkansas
LIVES IN: Ravenswood

After college, instead of taking refuge in graduate school, Chaon Cross went on the road: For two years, the young actress toured the country with a troupe called Shenandoah Shakespeare (based in Staunton, Virginia, it has since changed its name to the American Shakespeare Center). For ten-month stretches, the nonequity company would travel and perform a repertory of three plays, sometimes staging their bare-bones productions outdoors, lit by the sun; over the summer, the actors would lead classes and sew costumes for the coming season. In 2001, Cross moved to Chicago and, five days after arriving, met her future husband, Brendan Kerlin. (They married three years later and now have a 23-month-old son, Cavan.) She also quickly found a place in the local theatre scene, landing three roles—one each in Scapin, Phèdre, and The Romance Cycle—in a single season at the Court Theatre. “It was so totally a dream come true,” says Cross, who adds that she and Brendan saw a play at the Court—Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night—on their first date. Cross is currently playing Celia in As You Like It, which runs through March 6th at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. Her favorite role? Lady Macbeth. “She’s vast and dynamic and violent and vulnerable and sexy,” Cross says. “I love that play.”



Photograph: Maria Ponce