Porchlight Music Theatre is pleased to announce the appointment of Alex Rhyan as the company’s first full-time production and operations director. Porchlight is grateful to the Bayless Family Foundation for awarding the company one of the three inaugural Stepping Stone grants. Rick Bayless, celebrated chef behind Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, cookbook author and PBS host, explains that these grants are to help take recipients to the next level over three years. He says, “In many cases, the grants are going to help them reach a broader audience, and to be able to really showcase their craft in a way that we feel like they deserve.” The Bayless Family Foundation grant has empowered the company to establish this position and hire Rhyan. He will provide production management for all of Porchlight’s artistic programming at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts and throughout Chicagoland including the Mainstage, Porchlight Revisits and New Faces Sing Broadway productions, major fundraising, additional company events as well as oversee all production-related matters and equipment. Rhyan will also manage maintenance for and rental of Porchlight’s three rehearsal studios/classrooms, a 2,000 square foot scenic construction shop, and a large costume and prop collection at 4200 W. Diversey Ave.

The new director will take over duties previously undertaken by Porchlight’s artistic and executive directors; thereby enabling them to devote more time to visioning, long range and strategic planning, community involvement, civic engagement, and building capacity for the company’s next twenty-five years. Rhyan notes, “I am thrilled to be joining Porchlight Music Theatre as the first full-time production and operations director and am excited to build on the growth and success Porchlight has had in its first 25 years.”


Originally from Arlington Heights, in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs, Alex Rhyan describes himself as an outgoing, adventurous person who has a deep passion to create entertaining and motivating theatre through collaboration. Rhyan received a BA in Theater with a concentration in Stage Management from Columbia College Chicago. After graduating, he freelanced as a technical director and production manager for more than a dozen productions at such Chicago theaters as American Theater Company, About Face Theater, Steep Theater and Porchlight Music Theatre where he served as production manager for Merrily We Roll Along, End of the Rainbow, The Scottsboro Boys and Marry Me a Little. Rhyan considers his greatest accomplishment to date working alongside the leadership team at Windy City Playhouse as the production manager and helping bring eleven productions to life including the Playhouse’s immersive and most acclaimed production Southern Gothic, which is still running and celebrating more than 500 performances.


Established in 2018 by Rick and Deann Bayless, longtime patrons of the arts, is led by their son-in-law Kevin Sullivan. The Bayless Family Foundation distributed its initial round of grants totaling $170,000 to 17 Chicago-area theatre companies in 2018 and the Stepping Stone Grants to three organizations in 2019. The foundation is also supporting a series of performances throughout Millennium Park this year as part of the city’s “Year of Chicago Theatre.” Establishing the Bayless Family Foundation is another pillar in the Bayless’ philanthropic efforts. In 2007, they launched the Frontera Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship that sends a Mexican-American Chicago public school student to Kendall College to study culinary arts. Their nonprofit Frontera Farmer Foundation, which began as an informal no-interest loan program to local farms, has grown into a formidable farm business accelerator, with more than $2 million in capital development grants awarded since it formed officially in 2003. Most recently, the Bayless Family Foundation has helped launch the Impact Culinary Training Program, a restaurant-job readiness program for young adults on the city’s West Side.