Brenda Didier (Director/Co-Choreographer) is honored and humbled to tell this beautiful stoy. Ms. Didier is a multiple Jeff Award recipient in both direction and choreography. Her previous Porchlight Music Theatre credits include the recent Dreamgirls- for which she is nominated for a Jeff Award for Best Direction of a Musical- and Porchlight Revisits Chess. She is the owner and artistic director of the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance now in its 19th season. She is most proud of the academy's scholarship program which helps struggling families, select charities and LAD's outreach program for inner city schools and dance studios. These scholarships are in memory of many people most notably Matthew Gunnels and Harlan Haimes. Much gratitude to this gifted cast, creative team, band, Chris, Adrian, Diana L., Jessica, Diana M., Isabel, Elena, Travis, Jeannie, Michael, Porchlight and my Mike and mom! Keep loving one another. Paciencia y Fe!
Chris Carter (Co-Choreographer) is excited to be back working with Porchlight Music Theatre after choreographing the smash hit Dreamgirls, assistant-choreographing Porchlight Revisits Chess and directing New Faces Sing Broadway 1949. He is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a liberal arts degree in dance. A former scholarship student of The Debbie Allen Dance Academy in 2009. Chris has traveled all over performing, directing and choreographing. Some of his credits include: Godspell, The Secret Garden, Pirates of Penzance (GVSU); Show Boat and Oklahoma (Lyric Opera Chicago); Show Boat (San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera); Hairspray (Drury Lane Oakbrook); Joseph...(Paramount Theater); Duke Ellington's Queenie Pie (Chicago Opera Theater); Oliver, Carousel and Brigadoon (Light Opera Works); The Wiz, 42nd Street and Guys and Dolls (Theater at the Center); Smokey Joe's Cafe (Circle Theater); Wild Party (Actor's Theater) and choreographer for the Grand Rapids Civic's SRT the past four years. Other credits include: national tours, commercial, industrial and concert work.
Diana Lawrence (Music Director) is thrilled to be returning to Porchlight Musci Theatre, where she served as music director for tick, tick...BOOM! in 2012. Diana has worked as a music director, performer and teaching artist with organizations such as The Music Theatre Company, BoHo Theatre, Albany Park Theater Project, The Second City, Barrel of Monkeys, The Chicago Children's Choir and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. As a composer and lyricist, Diana had written for The Second City, Steppenwolf Theatre Comapny (Tracy Lett's Mary Page Marlowe) and Storycatchers Theatre, a company that creates musical pieces with incarcerated youth. This summer, her band, Diana & the Dishes, begins work on their new recording project with producer Rob Kleiner (Sia, Cee Lo, Andra Day).
Greg Pinsoneault (Scenic Designer) is a Chicago-based designer who recently received a BFA in Scenic Design for The Theatre School at DePaul University. Select Chicago credits include The Nutcracker, The Velveteen Rabbit (Marriott Theatre); True West (Shattered Globe); Dreamgirls - co design (Porchlight Music Theatre); Bat Boy - co design, The Birds (Griffin Theatre); Diary of a...Fly (Emerlad City) Still, The North Pool, Recent Tragic Events, Katrina (Interroband); Truth in Context, At the Center (The Agency); Voyage(Cock and Bull); and the upcoming production of My Way at Theatre at the Center. He has assisted on productions at The Cort Theatre (NYC), The Broadhurst Theatre, Glimmeglass Opera, The Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Old Globe, The Paramount Theatre, and Drury Lane Oakbrook. Greg was the recipient of the 2014 Theatre School Michael Merritt Award and the 2015 USITT W Oren Parker Undergraduate Scene Design Award. Examples of his work can be sound at GPScenic.com
Kate Setzer Kamphausen (Costume Designer) is tickled to design for Porchlight Music Theatre for the first time! She is a Jeff Award-winning costume designer and company member of Hell in a Handbag. Her recent designs include Beautiful Autistic with Chicago Dramatists; Trash at New American Folk Theater; and Kinfolkwith The New Colony. Upcoming productions include a Halloween show Skooby Don't with Hell in a Handbag;The Heidi Chronicles with the Cuckoos Theater Project; and Seussical with the Beverly Performing Arts Guild. Kate has pink dreadlocks and four sewing machines and loves gin (even in winter).
Denise Karczewski (Lighting Designer) is thrilled to return to Porchlight Music Theatre with this production of In The Heights after designing Dreamgirls last season. Denise is the resident lighting designer at Black Emsemble Theatre where she received BTAA awards for her designs of Indigo Blues and One Name Only as well as an African American Arts Alliance Award for her set and lighting design of Ella: the First Lady of Song.Upcoming shows include Helldivers of Daytona! at The Royal George Theatre and I Am Who I Am: The Story of Teddy Pendergrass at BET. Denise is one of the technical directors and designers at New Trier Township High School. She would like to thank Michael and Brenda for the opportunity and Daryl for all of his love and support. Maya, mommy loves you!
Robert Hornbostel (Sound Designer) is excited to be back again for his sixth production with Porchlight Music Theatre and this amazing team! Recent Porchlight credits include Dreamgirls, Porchlight RevisitsChess, Far From Heaven, Ain't Misbehavin', Side Show, Porchlight Revisits Babes in Arms, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Robert is a freelance composer, designer and engineer in Chicago. He has worked with New Millenium Theater, Raven Theater, Eclectic Theater, First Floor Theater, Roosevelt University, and many others. Robert is returning from his second summer with Music Theatre of Wichita where he was the Audio Systems Spervisor for Oklahoma! Robert would like to thank his fellow designers, friends, and family for their continued support. Selections of his previous work can be found at www.TechmagicDesigns.com
Mealah Heidenreich (Properties Designer) is excited to be returning to Porchlight Music Theatre to prop her fifth show with these powerful talents. Some of her previous designs include: A Funny Thing Happened...Forum and Dreamgirls with Porchlight Music Theatre; Caged Dames and Miracle! with Hell in a Handbag Productions; The House That Will Not Stand with Victory Gardens Theater; Really, Really and Recent Tragic Events with Interrobang Theatre Project; Chalk and Mai Dang Lao with Sideshow Theater Company. Mealah is an ensemble member with Hell in a Handbag Productions and owes most of her success to her bestie, Isaac and wife, Debbie.
Adrian Abel Azevedo (Assistant Director/Dramaturg) is a California native turned honorary Chicagoan making his Porchlight Music Theatre debut on the creative team of In The Heights. He has previously assisted on various Chicago productions including: POSH with Steep Theatre (dir. Jonathan Berry) Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike with Goodman Theatre (dir. Steve Scott), My Mañana Comes with Teatro Vista (dir. Sandra Marquez). This past summer Adrian collaborated with funny lady Caitlyn Looney and directed her solo piece F*CKBOYS for the Chicago Women's Funny Festival at Stage 773. Later this year, he will be the Associate Director with Underscore Theatre for Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera. Adrian is on staff for the Education and Engagement Department at the Goodman Theatre. He also tweets and instagrams (Twitter: @CafeConLin Instagram: adrian_abels_album). To Lin, thank you for changing my life and to you, welcome to In The Heights.
José Clair (Dramaturg) is a playwright, dramaturg, actor and stage manager. He is delighted to be making his Chicago dramaturgical debut with Porchlight Music Theatre. Past dramaturgical credits include El Grito del Bronx, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), Next to Normal, and The Bluest Eye, all at Brown University. Other theatre credits include assistant directing and stage managing Crescendo at Stage 773, stage managing The Body which is the Town for the Writing is Live festival at Trinity Rep., writing and performing his one-man show En El Nombre del Padre, and playing "Aman/Ghost/Policeman" in Water by the Spoonful at Brown University. He is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Chicago and has trained with the Brown/Trinity Rep Theatre Apprenticeship and The Second City. He currently works in purchasing at McMaster-Carr Supply Company.
Diana Martinez (Artistic Advisor) is the Director of the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage where she re-opened the performing arts center wit ha record-breaking sell-out season. She can also be see nas the host of Short and Sweet and online audience review show featured on The Daily Herald. Previously, Martinez was the President of The Second City where she led the planning of a three-day 50th anniversary reunion for the luminaries of comdey, created a project sponsored by PUMA to award 20 students a year-long scholarship to develop ethnic and diverse talent, and developed a strategic plan to develop UP Comedy Club. Prior to that she was the Executive Director of The Paramount Theatre in Aurora for eight years, where she led a $6.5 million addition and renovation to the historic landmark theatre and re-branded the organization. Martinez has over 25 years of experience as an entertainment executive and director including directing for Kenny Rogers for 10 years and seven original productions. She began her professional career directing and producing musical theatre at Pheasant Run Dinner Theatre where she was at the helm for 13 years. Combined she has been involved as a prodcuer/presenter or director in over 400 live theatre productions and concerts. Martinez was the original director and co-creator of Stand Up Change Teen Statistic a prevention theatre program that toured to inner city high schools in the Midwest from 2009-2013. She currently serves on the boards for: DuPage Arts Council and the League of Chicago Theatres and was appointed to the Cultural Council for the City of Chicago for two terms.
Jessica Forella (Stage Manager) is delighted to return for another season at Porchlight Music Theatre where she has previously stage managed Ain't Misbehavin', Side Show, and Sondheim on Sondheim. Additional recent credits include: A Small Oak Tree Runs Red (Congo Square Theatre), New Country (Fair Trade Productions), Melancholy Play: a chamber musical, Tusk Tusk, The Language Archive (Piven Theatre Workshop); Under a Rainbow Flag, At the Flash (Pride Films and Plays); Our City, Ourselves (A Red Orchid Theatre); Loving Repeating, Sweet Smell of Success (Kokany Productions).
Ashlee Ruth Wiseman (Assistant Stage Manager) comes to Chicago by way of Alabama, Texas, Las Vegas, and Arkansas. This is her first production at Porchlight. Favorite credits include stage manager for Dead Man Walking at Piven Theatre Workshop, All the World's a Stage at Quest Theatre Ensemble, assistant stage manager for The Lion King in Las Vegas, and venue supervisor for SeaWorld, San Antonio. Ashlee is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.
Aaron Shapiro (Production Manager) is the resident Production Manager at Victory Gardens Theater. He has worked throughout Chicago as a freelance production manager. His recent credits include Disenchanted and Unspeakable at the Broadway Playhouse, commercial productions of Splintered Soul and Twisted Knots with the Chicago Commercial Collective, Jeff-nominated productions of Heathers and Tomorrow Morning with Kokandy Productions, The Rainmaker with American Blues Theatre, Stupid Fucking Bird and Caugfht with Sideshow Theatre, Dreamgirls, Far From Heaven, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing...Forum, Side Show, and Jeff Award-winning productions of Ain't Misbehavin' and Sondheim on Sondheim with Porchlight Music Theatre wehre he is an artistic associate. Aaron was the founding Artistic Director for Oracle where he served for four years. He is also the co-founder of Studio BE/MCL Chicago in Lakeview where served as Executive Director for five years. Aaron has worked for over 100 different theatre and production companies, and educational institutions as an electrician, carpenter, sound engineer, designer, tech director, director, production manager, and producer.
Michael Weber (Artistic Director) most recently directed Side Show for Porchlight as well as the Porchlight Revisits productions of Chess, Mack & Mabel, Bells Are Ringing and Fade Out - Fade In. His productions ofSlide Show, Sweeney Todd, Pal Joey and Assassins at Porchlight Music Theatre, Grand Hotel at Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place and She Loves Me at Theatre at the Center were each nominated for the Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production-Musical. Other directing credits include Living the History-125 Years of the Auditorium Theatre starring Patti Lupone, John Mahoney and stars of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and more, Fifth of July and Talley's Folly at the Oak Park Festival Theatre, The Petrified Forest at Theatre at the Center, Beauty and the Beast at Marriott Theatre, Over the River and Through the Woods at The Mercury Theater and Cirque du Symphony at Seats Center Arena. The recipient of two Joseph Jefferson Awards, he has written and directed the past nine Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremonies. Weber's regional acting credits include The Merry Widow and The Sound of Music at Lyric Opera, 42nd Street at Paramount, Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy (both starring Patty LuPone) at Ravinia, Disney's My Son Pinocchio at First Stage Milwaukee, Around the World in 80 Days at Cleveland Playhouse, The Winter's Tale and Henry V at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Angel Street at First Folio Shakespeare, and The Gifts of the Magi at Indiana Repertory. Having served previously as artistic director of Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place (now The Broadway Playhouse) and Theatre at the Center, Michael is proud to serve as a pledge host on WTTW, Channel 11, and is author of the play, WAR of the WELLeS.
Jeannie Lukow (Executive Director) is a founding member of Porchlight Music Theatre's board of directors and served for six years as its president. She was thrilled to join the staff in September 2014 as the company's first Executive Director. Prior to taking the helm at Porchlight, Jeannie ran Bespoke Cuisine, one of Chicago's leading cooking party venues, which she co-founded/owned for 12 years. Before the hospitality/food business, Jeannie built a 15-year career in marketing communications, much of it spent in association management. Her most recent position was as Managing Director of Marketing Communications for the National Association of Realtors, one of the nation's largest trade associations. She is a native Michigander and graduate of Michigan State University.