Staff & Leadership
Michael Weber | Artistic Director
Michael previously served as artistic director for the inaugural season of Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place (now The Broadway Playhouse) and at Theatre at the Center (1998-2004). His productions of Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pal Joey, Assassins and Side Show 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 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production-Musical. Directing credits include Living the History-125 Years of The Auditorium Theatre starring Patti LuPone and John Mahoney, 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, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Pheasant Run Theatre, and Cirque du Symphony at Sears 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 Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy (both starring Patti 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, It Had To Be You (starring Cindy Williams and Eddie Mekka) at Little Theatre on the Square, Angel Street at First Folio Shakespeare, and The Gifts of the Magi at Indiana Repertory. Weber 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
Jeannie is a founding member of Porchlight’s board of directors and was an integral member of the company since its inception, serving as marketing director, grant writer and managing director in the early all-volunteer-staff years. She helped lead the company from a unique combination of both the staff and board sides of the company for 19 years, and as its board president from 2008 to 2015. In September 2015, Jeannie was thrilled to be named the Porchlight’s first Executive Director, continuing to drive the growth and development of this amazing company. Prior to joining the staff Porchlight, Jeannie co-founded Bespoke Cuisine, one of Chicago’s leading cooking party venues, which she co-owned for 12 years before selling the business in 2015. Prior to Bespoke, Jeannie built a 15-year career in marketing communications, much of it spent in association management. Her most recent position in that field was as Managing Director of Marketing Communications for the National Association of Realtors, with over 1 million members. She is a native Michigander and graduate of Michigan State University, as well as an extensive world traveler, avid foodie and dog lover – mostly her own pooch, Simon, who joins her regularly at the Porchlight office
Christopher Pazdernik | Company Manager / Casting Associate
A director/choreographer with “a near encyclopedic knowledge of musicals” (NewCity Stage), Christopher is best known for his critically acclaimed production of High Fidelity (Jeff Awards, Best Director & Best Production of a Musical) with Refuge Theatre Project, where he serves as Artistic Director. Recent credits also include Merrily We Roll Along (Porchlight Music Theatre); Carrie (Ohio Northern University); The Rink, Anyone Can Whistle, City of Angels & Applause (Porchlight Revisits), Wicked City (Chicago Theatre Workshop); & Story of A Story (The Untold Story) (Underscore Theater Co.). Also at Porchlight, he has directed Miracle on 34th Street; assistant directed Candide, A Catered Affair, Dreamgirls & End of the Rainbow, as well as directing numerous New Faces Sing Broadway cabarets. His management credits include Associate Producer on The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier (World Permiere) and The Rosencranz Mysteries as well as Company Manager on First Date (Chicago Premiere) and A Splintered Soul. An openly HIV+ artist, Christopher was also a 2016 Windy City Times 30-Under-30 honoree for his contributions to Chicago’s LGBTQ community and currently serves on the Ambassador Committee for the AIDS Run/Walk Chicago and as Chairperson on the Community Advisory Board for Howard Brown Health, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ organizations. Proud Artistic Associate of Porchlight Music Theatre since 2010!
August Compton | Audiences Services Manager
August recently moved to Chicago from Atlanta, Georgia. While there, she completed a Playwriting Apprenticeship with Horizon Theatre Company, joined their Front of House team, and immersed herself in a community full of up-and-coming theatre artists. She holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing with a Minor in Creative Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she graduated in 2015. While she’s always been a storyteller, it wasn’t until her first year of college that she really dove into the world of theatre, though she’s never looked back since. August is a cat lover, avid reader, frequent movie-goer, and thrilled to be part of the Porchlight team as it continues to grow in new and exciting ways.
Lisa Torgerson | Director of Development
Lisa comes to Porchlight with 25 years of fundraising experience and a lifelong love of the arts. She began her development career at the Art Institute of Chicago and was a founding member helping to launch the Loyola University Museum of Art, leading the LUMA development efforts. She managed the successful $12 million endowment campaign for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, and was also Director of Development at the Joffrey Ballet. Lisa also serves on the Advisory Board of the Chicago Youth Centers Fellowship House and Madonna Mission, a nonprofit serving refugee families in Rogers Park. Lisa is a rabid Cubs fan and lives in Evanston, where she can often be found parking cars at Northwestern football games to raise money for Kingsley School.
Don Sprague | Director of Institutional Advancement
From July 2006 to October 2009, Don served as Operations Manager. In this capacity, he coordinated Porchlight’s office and subscriber relations operations as well as development, grants, communications, community outreach programs, and marketing efforts. Don previously served as administrator for the 2004–2005 season, since which time he has been coordinating grants. After many years as a high school teacher and administrator with experience in budgeting, communications, public relations, and development activities, he was a professor at Kennedy-King College for eleven years. He serves as an editor for Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. Don served as president of the Chicago Classical Club for four years and as treasurer of the lllinois Classical Conference for fourteen.
Rosie Schultz | Development Associate
Rosie recently graduated with a degree in arts management from Columbia College Chicago. Originally from Durango, Colorado, Rosie moved to Chicago to immerse herself in this arts and cultural hub. Since moving here she has interned at Redmoon, Stage773, Porchlight Music Theatre, and Shedd Aquarium, and worked in the box office at Stage773. For several years she served as the finance director for Columbia College’s independently run TEDx events.
Facilities & Finance
Johnnie Schleyer | Facilities Manager
Johnnie is a new resident of Chicago from San Antonio, Texas. He holds a BFA in both acting and directing from Abilene Christian University. Since graduation he has traveled to different areas of the country working in all aspects on stage and behind the scenes with most of his credits being musicals and Shakespeare.
Johnnie is grateful for the opportunities that Porchlight Music Theatre has provided for him to continue to hone his many skills.
Merril Prager | Finance Manager
Fifteen years ago Merril founded a consulting practice to help organizations improve financial performance. Projects have included serving as interim CFO for organizations such as the Donors Forum, the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Solomon Schechter Day School, as well as scenario-building for strategic planning, improving accuracy and efficiency in procedures and internal controls, capacity building and training for non-financial professionals. Merril currently serves on the advisory board at Northlight Theatre, the board at Acts of Kindness Cabaret and the Joseph Jefferson Committee (where she must excuse herself from all Porchlight voting!).
SHOUT! Marketing & Media Relations
Our marketing and PR representative specializes in individualized client campaigns for theatre, restaurant and other leisure activities. The partners, Jill Evans La Penna and James Juliano, excel in partnering with each client to identify their specific needs to make each project a success. SHOUT! works hard to use the most up-to-date communications approaches including social, online and grassroots campaigns as well as unique strategic advertising plans to drive results.
Austin Packard | Marketing Manager
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Austin holds a BAC in Theatre Technology and Design from Bowling Green State University, and comes to Porchlight Music Theatre after finishing three years in Live Entertainment at Cedar Point. In addition to Porchlight, Austin is a freelance graphic designer and theatrical technician, with a longstanding passion for music, theatre, Stephen King, and his one-toothed cat Margot. Austin is proud to be a part of the Porchlight team and the Chicago theatre community.
Maya Manilow | Marketing Associate
Maya recently graduated from Brown University where she received a BA in English. She is originally from Chicago, IL and returned home for the city’s uniquely intimate and content-driven theatre. Most recently, she interned in the marketing department at Providence Performing Arts Center. Prior internship experiences were mostly focused in journalism and law, focusing on social injustice, where she admired the work but missed the subtleties and creativity of artistic mediums, particularly theatre, that offer the same societal investigation with the beauty and eloquence of an artists’ pen. Maya loves musical theatre, tv, novels, and movies, has a dog that looks like a wolf, and is thrilled to be a part of the Porchlight team.
Front of House
Dalton is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a degree in Theatre Performance. He has worked in the front of house for several theatres, including Porthouse Theatre and the School of Theatre and Dance at KSU. In addition to working in Arts Administration, Dalton is a playwright and an actor. He is thrilled to be a part of the Porchlight Music Theatre team!
Marissa recently moved to the big city to study Communications and Digital Media at DePaul University. Beginning her time at Porchlight as an intern in the fall of 2017, she is thrilled to be continuing on as a member of the front of house staff. Marissa likes to fancy herself a storyteller above all else and can be seen telling stories across many mediums, most frequently stage and screen. She is excited to be working with a company like Porchlight, that shares her passion for diverse and inclusive theatre. When not working or studying, Marissa can be found stress-baking (a term she coined) and checking Twitter.
John Belom / Frankfort, IL
John grew up in Manhattan, IL. He graduated from DePaul University in 1978 and The John Marshall Law School in 1982. He has concentrated his practice in the area of commodities law since 1986, acting as company counsel for numerous Chicago brokerage firms before becoming a sole practitioner in 2000. He was a resident of the South Loop since 1992 before recently moving to the southwest suburbs. John has been an avid fan of the Chicago theater community since his high school days. Finally deciding what he wanted to be when he grew up, John joined the Porchlight Board in 2014. John is actively involved as a mentor in Mercy Home’s Friends First program and is also a member of the Streeterville Society supporting Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Jacqueline Shim Bryant / Chicago, IL
Jackie, a Chicagoland native who graduated from Northwestern University in 1985 with a BS in Communication Studies, joined the board of Porchlight Music Theatre in the fall of 2013. After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 1989, Jackie practiced real estate law for 24 years before retiring in late 2013. Jackie has co-authored the IICLE volume of Condominium Law and is a member of the Asian-American Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association. At Northwestern, she serves as the President of the Women’s Education Aid Association of Northwestern University, board member on the Northwestern School of Communications National Advisory Council, and a member and admissions interviewer of the Northwestern Alumni Admissions Council. She has previously served on Northwestern’s Board of Trustees, as a director of the John Evans Club, as director of the Northwestern Alumni Association and as a founding member of Northwestern’s Council of 100. She has worked on development for Northwestern University, Junior League of Chicago, Latin School and Menomonee Club. In the community, Jackie has been involved on the boards of the St. Chrysostom’s Day School, The Latin School of Chicago and the Menomonee Club for Boys and Girls. She volunteers as an admission tour guide for the Latin School of Chicago and sings with The Wacquettes. Jackie lives in Chicago with her husband, Tim, and their three children.
Michelle Freeman Cucchiaro / Chicago, IL
For as long as she can remember, Michelle has had a passion for musicals. At a young age, listening to – and singing along with (albeit not well!) – Broadway cast albums. And in Chicago, the very best place for musicals is Porchlight. In addition to musical theatre, film plays a major role in Michelle’s life. She serves on the Gene Siskel Film Center’s advisory board, and has been a member of the Chicago International Film Festival/Cinema Chicago for many years. During the late 1970s, when Chicago/Off Loop theatre was in its infancy, Michelle (along with her husband Steven) served on the audience development board at Victory Gardens Theatre, and later on the board of directors at VG. A lifelong Chicagoan, she takes great pride in the current theatre scene, subscribing to and supporting many of the local theatres. She is also a member at the Arts Club of Chicago, and proud to be an advocate for Porchlight Music Theatre.
Brenda Didier / Libertyville, IL
Award-Winning Director-Choreographer / Owner, Lincolnshire Academy of Dance
Ms. Didier is a freelance choreographer/director based in Chicago and owns and directs the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance, which she founded nearly 20 years ago. She received the Equity Jeff Award for Best Director of a Revue for Porchlight’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2014), and she has received Non-Equity Jeff Awards for both direction and choreography, After Dark Awards for choreography, the National Youth Theatre Award for choreography and the 2010 Broadway World Chicago fan favorite award for choreography/non-equity. Ms. Didier has collaborated with Porchlight on more than a dozen productions including, most recently, In The Heights, Dreamgirls, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and the smash-hit Ain’t Misbehavin’. She has served as a guest instructor/choreographer for Northwestern University, Columbia College, the University of Illinois- Champaign/Urbana, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Carthage College. Ms. Didier has choreographed musicals, industrials, special events as well as productions for Second City’s mainstage and five installments of Cirque Shanghai at Navy Pier’s Skyline Stage. These productions toured and played in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Cirque Shanghai Extreme Off-Broadway. Up next for Brenda at Porchlight: directing and choreographing next springs A Chorus Line!
Jayne Drew / Barrington, IL
Director of Development and Communications, Meals on Wheels Chicago
Jayne is a seasoned, solutions-oriented and committed professional. Innovative and entrepreneurial with over 25 years of professional experience spanning a broad range of industries, including financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and nonprofit sectors. Jayne has led multi-million dollar programs in the financial services sector in New York, London, and Tokyo. Jayne is now taking her professional skills to build capacity to the non-profit world. Jayne is currently the Chief Development Officer for Meals on Wheels Chicago. Previously, Jayne served as the National Director of Community Development for NephCure Kidney International in Philadelphia and the National Director of Development and Marketing at GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers. Jayne earned her MBA from Durham University in England and a BS in Business (Finance, Economics) from Northern Illinois University. She is active on a number of boards and activist organizations. She has 2 young adult sons and lives in Barrington.
Rhona Frazin / Chicago, IL
Rhona recently retired after a non-profit leadership career spanning more than five decades. Boxes of well-worn 33 1/3 rpm Broadway original cast recordings from the 60s, and 70s attest to her long love for musical theater and the great American song book. Her earliest work experience focused on public relations and marketing for Goodman Theatre and Goodman School of Drama, Wisdom Bridge Theater, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana, and Drury Lane Theater McCormick Place. Executive Leadership roles followed with The Nature Conservancy and The John Marshall Law School. For 18 years she led all institutional advancement efforts, including two highly successful capital campaigns, for Metropolitan Family Services (formerly United Charities of Chicago), the region’s oldest largest non-sectarian human service organization. In 1994, she was named President and CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Throughout her career, she actively gave back to the non-profit sector as a speaker for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Publicity Club of Chicago, Family Service America, Women in Philanthropy and the Urban and American Library Associations. She has served on a number of non-profit boards, including Girls in the Game, Wisdom Bridge Theater, Acorn Center for the Performing Arts in Three Oaks Michigan, and as a member of the Joseph Jefferson Committee. A BMI lyricist, she and her husband, retired Judge Julian Frazin have written scores of parodies and song lyrics together, including “The Voice Above the Crowd” a tribute to the great radio voices of baseball,which was performed at the 1993 Major League All-Star Game by STYX lead singer Dennis DeYoung.
Tony Gibson (Vice Chair) / Chicago, IL
Choreographer-Director and Secondary Education Specialist
Tony is a nationally-recognized choreographer/director who’s been working with young people for over 25 years. He has choreographed over 35 musicals and numerous award winning choral ensembles for high schools across the country. He was a guest educator for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Europe, and was invited to participate in the Kennedy Center’s Artist as Educators Workshop in Washington, D.C. Tony served as Education Director for Northlight Theatre in Skokie, managing Northlight’s education and outreach programs as well as developing and directing Northlight’s musical theatre summer camp. Tony is excited to be part of the Porchlight family and to take part in supporting and shaping the future growth of this wonderful theatre.
William Gilmer / Chicago, IL
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Bill is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Currently a part-time academician and research consultant, he maintains a clinical practice in Chicago specializing in mood disorders. Bill also serves as an executive board member and scientific advisory board member of the National Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), an advocacy and educational organization with a national network of peer support groups and online services for people living with mood disorders and their families. A lifelong enthusiast of theater in Chicago, New York and elsewhere, he was drawn to Porchlight’s commitment to meaningful, dramatic narrative in music theater. As an admirer of Stephen Sondheim and Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bill subscribes to the words of Sondheim’s Franklin Shephard, “Musicals are popular. They’re a great way to state important ideas. Ideas that could make a difference.” Bill is delighted to be a supporter and board member of Porchlight Music Theatre, a company whose artistry embodies those words.
James Jensen / Chicago, IL
Concert Producer & Manager of Special Projects, Drury Lane Theatre
James has been working professionally in the theatre as a producer and general manager for over 30 years. During that time he has been responsible for the production and management of over 100 productions and concert attractions. Recently he was co-producer and general-manager of the Drury Lane Water Tower, and currently produces concerts and oversees all talent hiring for Drury Lane Oakbrook. Prior to that he was general manager of the Royal George Theatre, where he co-produced the long-running Forever Plaid. He also general managed Angels in America and many other Chicago productions, co-produced the first Chicago production of Forbidden Broadway, and was company manager for the first national tours of Aspects of Love and Evita. He was a founding member, former board member and past vice-president of the League of Chicago Theatres. He is on the advisory board of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and is a member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers. A Northwestern graduate, he also teaches in the Theatre Management Program at the Theatre School at DePaul University.
Charles Laff / Chicago, IL
Partner, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Charles (Chuck) Laff is an attorney specializing in intellectual property and served many years as an Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Loyola University of Chicago Law School.Chuck earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Purdue University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. During his career, he has had the opportunity to work with the owners of valuable intellectual property, including merchandising rights and copyrights for popular film characters and musical works. Chuck also serves on the Board of Managers of a fast-growing highly-innovative material science company. Growing up in Chicago, Chuck had the opportunity to watch live entertainment in intimate theaters and night clubs and learned to appreciate the wonderful experience of watching live performances up close. As lovers of theater, Chuck and his wife, Diane, regularly attend and are particularly fond of musical theater. Chuck and Diane are firm believers that the theater is an essential part of our culture, serving as a wonderful vehicle for educating audiences and encouraging people to open their minds and hearts.With his background and beliefs, it was natural for Chuck to join the Porchlight family and participate in the exciting growth of Porchlight and musical theater in Chicago.
Keith Olenik (Chair) / Chicago, IL
Owner, The Olenik Consulting Group LLC
As owner of The Olenik Consulting Group, LLC, Keith works with healthcare delivery systems to streamline business operations, evaluate and implement information technology solutions, and enhance productivity through process improvement. He grew up and attended school in the suburbs of Chicago where he was an active participant in music theatre, band and orchestra. Keith has served on several nonprofit boards in a variety of positions and, having served on the Porchlight board for several years has assumed the role of chair starting with the 2016/2017 season.
George K Sargent III / Chicago, IL
Kim Sargent is a big fan of Broadway musicals, having been brought up in New York City. Following active duty in the Navy, which included being skipper of a river patrol Swiftboat (PCF) on the Mekong River in Vietnam, Kim spent 13 years in management/sales for the industrial coatings division of Benjamin Moore & Company. After working for 23 years as financial advisor for what is now Wells-Fargo Advisors here in Chicago, Kim retired as First V.P.–Investments in 2005. He is also a retired Captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He currently serves as a volunteer docent for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at the Rookery building in downtown Chicago. Greatly enjoying Porchlight’s top quality focus on Broadway musicals, Kim is thrilled to be a part of this dynamic company.
Sara Siegall / Palatine, IL
Partner, Chapman & Spingola LLP
Sara hails from Miami, Florida, having moved to Chicago in 2005 to begin her legal career. Her passion for musical theatre began with the downward plunge of a chandelier, when she was taken to a production of Phantom of the Opera at age 13. Since then she has developed a special affection for the works of Stephen Sondheim, and will travel unreasonable distances to see the latest production of her favorite Sondheim show. Sara is a commercial litigator at the Chicago-based law firm Chapman Spingola, LLP, where she concentrates her practice in the areas of business and intellectual property disputes, securities, professional liability, and appeals. She loves the law (almost) as much as the theatre, and is excited to come to work each morning to help her clients solve their problems, defeat their adversaries, and advance their business interests. Prior to law school, Sara was a high school English teacher (and drama club sponsor) at Chelsea High School in New York, New York. She lives in Palatine with her husband and two young daughters.
Tamara Sims (Secretary) / Chicago, IL
Owner/Director Sales & Marketing, Something 2 Dance 2 DJ Entertainment
Tamara is beyond elated to be part of the Porchlight family. An avid Sondheim lover, Tamara’s first Porchlight production was Merrily We Roll Along and she has been a devoted fan ever since. Tamara and her husband own the award-winning companies Something 2 Dance 2 DJ Entertainment and Elegant Event Lighting in Schaumburg. Tamara will always greet you with a warm smile and she can also let you know where to find the best desserts! Her passion for theater is only exceeded by the passion she has for her business and life partner, Jay. Tamara is a graduate of Loyola University.
Brian Troy / Chicago, IL
Owner, Leopard Adventures
Bio Coming Soon
Ron Zoromski (Treasurer) / Park Ridge, IL
Ron, a CPA, joined Porchlight through the Chicago Arts & Business Council’s “On Board” program which prepares people for not-for-profit board roles. Ron considers his position with Porchlight a great opportunity to give back to the community and experience a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation that goes into bringing a musical from the page to the stage. Ron has 30 years of Finance and Business experience. Ron was recently a CFO at Kaplan University, and prior to that worked for Siemens, Motorola and PriceWaterhouse. He holds an MBA in Finance and Information Systems from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and an accounting degree from the University of Notre Dame. Ron also serves on the board of the Chicago Chapter of Finance Executives International and heads up their Career Management Group.
Jeannie Lukow / Chicago, IL
Michael Weber / Chicago, IL
Mary Kay Conley / Orland Park, IL
Rhoda Reeling / Chicago, IL
Wm. Eric Bramlett / Naperville, IL
Creative Arts Director, Community Christian Church
Former Porchlight Artistic Director
John Bucchino / New York, NY
Award-Winning Broadway & Film Composer/Lyricist
Faye Butler / Chicago, IL
Cheri Coons / Chicago, IL
Kevin Depinet / Chicago, IL
Multi-Award-Winning Set Designer
William Finn / New York, NY
Tony Award-Winning Composer/Lyricist
Linda Kline / New York, NY
Tony Award-Nominated Author
Jesse Klug / Chicago, IL
Multi Award-Winning Lighting Designer
Sean Allan Krill / New York, NY
Chicago Theatre & Broadway Actor
Dominic Missimi / Northfield, IL
Multi Award-Winning Artistic Director, Director & Teacher
Jill Moore / Phoenix, AZ
Porchlight’s Founding Artistic Director
Lonny Price / New York, NY
Multi Emmy Award-Winning Actor, Director & Author
Hollis Resnik / Chicago, IL
Multi Award-Winning Actress
Bill Russell / New York, NY
Tony Award-Nominated Author & Lyricist
Chuck Smith / Chicago, IL
Resident Director, The Goodman Theatre
Walter Stearns / Chicago, IL
Executive Director, The Mercury Theater
Former Porchlight Artistic Director
Bob Walton / New York, NY
Author, Composer/Lyricist & Triple-Threat Broadway Actor
Jim Walton / New York, NY
Author, Composer/Lyricist & Triple-Threat Broadway Actor
Maury Yeston / New York, NY
Tony Award-Winning Composer/Lyricist
Nick Belley‘s previous Porchlight Music Theatre design credits include: Ain’t Misbehavin’, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grille and Pal Joey. Selected Chicago design credits include: RENT (Paramount Theater); Avenue Q and The Color Purple (Mercury Theater); Hank Williams: Lost Highway (American Blues Theater); Good Boys and True and Brighton Beach Memoirs (Raven Theater); Pleasant Dreams, The Altruists (Two Lights); Or, The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion (Caffeine Theatre). Nick has worked as an assistant/associate at many theaters including Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Goodman, Paramount Theater, The Court, Writers Theatre, Fireside Dinner Theatre, First Stage, Northlight, and Drury Lane Oakbrook.
Christin Boulette is a Chicago transplant hailing from Wyoming. She is very happy to be a part of the Porchlight Music Theatre Family and is glad to give back through the artistic associate program. Christin’s Chicago stage debut was in the 2007 Porchlight production of A Wonderful Life (Dorothy) under the direction of fellow artistic associate Rob Lindley. Other Porchlight credits include Nine (Francesca/Claudia u/s) and Candide (Sheep and others, Cunegonde u/s) as well as projects with Off the Porch. Other Chicago credits include shows with Theatre at the Center, Quest Theatre, Theo Ubique, Route 66 Theatre Company, Light Opera Works, Chamber Opera Chicago, City Lit Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Mercury Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and The Goodman Theatre.
Austin Cook is thrilled to be an Artistic Associate with Porchlight Music Theatre, where he was recently seen in Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me a Little and Ain’t Misbehavin’! Favorite acting credits: 1st National Tour Million Dollar Quartet (Jerry Lee Lewis, tour music director), Hank Williams: Lost Highway (Hoss), Porchlight’s Putting It Together (music director, man 4) Jeff Award Nomination-Music Direction, Some Enchanted Evening (music director/pianist) Jeff Award-Music Direction. Favorite Music Director credits: 1st National Tour Million Dollar Quartet, Rooms: A Rock Romance.
Matt Crowle earned the 2015 Jeff Award for his performance as Hysterium in Porchlight’s production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. He also made his directorial debut with Double Trouble at Porchlight Music Theatre in 2013. Chicago and other regional credits include Northlight Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Chicago Shakes, Saint Michael’s Playhouse, Gateway Playhouse, the MUNY, and the Arkansas Rep. Matt performed in the Broadway company of Monty Python’s Spamalot and in the Off-Broadway production of Take Me Along. He also had the honor of tap dancing along side Tommy Tune in the national tour of Doctor Dolittle. Matt is an established tap instructor and, in addition to instructing privately, teaches Advanced/Professional Theatre Tap at The School At Porchlight. www.mattcrowle.com
Brandon Dahlquist is a Chicago based actor and photographer who is thrilled to be a Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate. Acting credits at Porchlight include “Leon Czolgocz” in Assassins, “Georges” in Sunday in the Park with George, “Warren Harding” in The Teapot Scandals and the improvised musical Best Musical!. Additional theatre credits include; “Count Carl Magnus” in A Little Night Music (Writers Theatre-Jeff nomination Supporting Actor), 12 Angry Men (Maltz Jupiter Theatre-Carbondell Award Ensemble), Knute Rockne: All American (TATC-Jeff nomination Supporting Actor), “Paul Hornung” in Lombardi at Peninsula Players and “Thomas Jefferson” in 1776 at The Asolo Repertory. He has also worked at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Drury Lane Watertower, Theatre at the Center, Noble Fool Theatricals, Congo Square, BoHo and Next Theatre. As a photographer Dahlquist has shot promotional and archival material for Porchlight’s A Catered Affair, tick, tick… Boom!, A Class Act, Pal Joey and the Chicago Sings concert series. Other photographer credits include Peninsula Players, Next Theatre, Route 66 and Bohemian Theatre in addition to a thriving headshot business.
Dina DiCostanzo is an actress, singer and dancer who performs regularly in and around Chicagoland. Her stage accomplishments include work at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire, Drury Lanes Oakbrook and Water Tower, Victory Gardens, Paramount, The Mercury, Theatre at the Center, Northlight Theatre, and CenterStage Baltimore. Dina choreographs for many projects and theatres (Broadway World nomination, The Drowsy Chaperone-Fremont Street Theatre). Dina choreographed Golden Boy, co-directed Fade Out/Fade In, and was associate choreographer under Brenda Didier on Pal Joey and How To Succeed… all with Porchlight Music Theatre. She loves swing dancing and learning Italian in her downtime. Honored to be an artistic associate for Porchlight! www.dinadico.com
Brenda Didier is a freelance choreographer/director based in Chicago and owns and directs the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance, which she founded nearly 20 years ago. She received the Equity Jeff Award for Best Director of a Revue for Porchlight’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2014), and she has received Non-Equity Jeff Awards for both direction and choreography, After Dark Awards for choreography, the National Youth Theatre Award for choreography and the 2010 Broadway World Chicago fan favorite award for choreography/non-equity. Ms. Didier has collaborated with Porchlight on more than a dozen productions including, most recently, In The Heights, Dreamgirls, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and the smash-hit Ain’t Misbehavin’. She has served as a guest instructor/choreographer for Northwestern University, Columbia College, the University of Illinois- Champaign/Urbana, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Carthage College. Ms. Didier has choreographed musicals, industrials, special events as well as productions for Second City’s mainstage and five installments of Cirque Shanghai at Navy Pier’s Skyline Stage. These productions toured and played in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Cirque Shanghai Extreme Off-Broadway. Up next for Brenda at Porchlight: directing and choreographing this fall’s Billy Elliot!
Patrick Fries has worked with Porchlight on productions, tick, tick…Boom, A Class Act, Gifts of the Magi, and Pal Joey. Pat is the associate producer and an ensemble member with Rivendell Theatre where he has recently worked on Eat Your Heart Out and Rasheeda Speaking. Other credits include All Our Tragic, Coriolanus (The Hypocrites), These Shining Lives, The Walls, Mary’s Wedding, and 26 Miles (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), The UN Inspector, Dying City, Boom, End Days, War With The Newts, The Piano Teacher, and Madagascar (Next Theatre), Generic Latina 2010 and Lunatic(a)s (Teatro Luna), and Welcome Yule! 2009 and 2010 (Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Pat is also the Programming Manager and a Company Member with 2nd Story.
David Girolmo is a multiple Jeff Award winner and nominee. He has performed in 46 of the contiguous United States and Canada. Broadway: Candide, directed by Hal Prince. Chicago: Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye) Paramount, 21 Drury Lane productions, including: Sweeney Todd, The Sound of Music, Kiss Me Kate (Jeff nomination as Fred Graham), Annie (Oliver Watbucks), Follies (Ben Stone), and world premiers of The Hunchback of Norte Dame (Quasimodo), and Phantom of the Opera, Tally’s Folly (Jeff nomination as Matt Friedman) Oak Park Festival, Phantom (Jeff Award as Gerard Carriere) Drury Lane Evergreen Park, Gypsy (Herbie) and 42nd St. (Julian Marsh) TATC, Much Ado About Nothing (Antonio) Chicago Shakespeare, The House of Martin Guerre (Sanxi Guerre) Goodman, “Crisis” (Congressman Langston Wirth) NBC series and Porchlight’s Candide. Mr. Girolmo is a proud member and councilor of Actors’ Equity Association, and is married to Chicago actor Heidi Kettenring, who hung the moon and stars.
Sarah Hayes has been lucky to be a part of Porchlight Music Theatre and an artistic associate for a number of years, appearing in Sweeney Todd (Ensemble/extension Beggar Woman), The Teapot Scandals (Madame Marcia), Candide (Paquette), Sunday in the Park with George (Nurse/Mrs./Harriet), and the Jeff Award-winning Ragtime (Emma Goldman). Some other companies she’s worked with include Chicago Shakespeare, ATC, Noble Fool, Theo Ubique, City Lit, Bailiwick, Griffin, Strawdog, Circle Theatre, Urinetown with BlueDog Productions at the Mercury Theater, and Sweeney Todd with George Hearn and Patti LuPone at the Ravinia Festival. Also, with Theo Ubique Sarah was part of the Jeff nominated Best Ensemble of Evita and received a Jeff nomination and Broadway World nomination for Actress in a Leading Role – Musical for playing “Aldonza” in Man of La Mancha. She is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University with a BFA in Music Theatre.
Greg Hofmann, Lighting Designer, has worked with Porchlight on Pal Joey and tick, tick, BOOM. Other selected designs include: Les Miserables, Oliver, Drury Lane Oakbrook; 42nd Street, Annie, Paramount Theatre Aurora; Road Show, Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; Vieux Carre and Brighton Beach Memoirs, Raven Theatre; Passing Strange, Bailiwick Chicago; Sons of the Prophet and 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, Forward Theatre. Greg has also designed over 30 productions for Cedar Fair Amusement Parks across the country including Cedar Point’s Luminosity. He holds an MFA in lighting design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.www.hofmannlightingdesign.com
Bil Ingraham couldn’t be happier to call Porchlight Music Theatre his artistic home, having been involved creatively with more than 17 shows over the last 14 years, both on and off the stage. Currently, behind the scenes, he serves on the Board of Directors and as an Artistic Associate. Most recently he was the Assistant Director for Porchlight’s productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’, A Class Act, and Putting it Together. Select Porchlight stage credits include “Jules” in Sunday in the Park With George, “Father” in Ragtime, “Salieri” in Amadeus, and roles in Sweeney Todd, A New Brain, Passion, Macabaret, and Wonderful Life. He has also performed with Mercury Theatre, Northlight, Apple Tree, and American Theatre Company, among others. Currently residing in Philadelphia, Bil is on ‘hiatus’ from the stage but relishes the ability to stay active behind the scenes with Porchlight, his most cherished artistic endeavor.
Jeff Kmiec, Scenic Designer, has worked with Porchlight on Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Double Trouble, Ain’t Misbehavin’, How to Succeed and Sweeney Todd. Chicago Credits: Spelling Bee (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Tom Jones, Commons of Pensacola (Northlight), Les Miserables (Paramount-Aurora), Good Boys and True (Raven Theatre). Regional: Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Heritage Theatre Festival, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Awards: Southeastern Theatre Conference 2012 “Ready to Work” Award, 2011 KCACTF O’Neill Festival Fellowship.
Rob Lindley, Casting Associate, host and director of Porchlight Music Theatre’s annual Chicago Sings concert, has been seen on stage in Candide (Goodman Theatre); Bach at Liepzig, Oh Coward! (Writers’ Theatre); Caroline or Change, The Wild Duck, Carousel (Court Theatre); Urinetown (Mercury Theatre); Wings (Apple Tree Theatre); The Most Happy Fella – starring George Hearn (Ravinia Festival); and Children of Eden, A New Brain, Sweeney Todd, Closer Than Ever (Porchlight). Rob was also nominated for a Jeff Award for his performance of Mr. Snow in Carousel and won the Jeff Award for Best Actor in a Revue for his work in Oh Coward! Rob performs cabaret often with his vocal trio Foiled Again (After Dark Award winners in 2003) and recorded Foiled Again: Live (available on iTunes and CDbaby.com). Rob is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.
Linda Madonia is thrilled to be a new Artistic Associate at Porchlight Music Theatre. As a Music Director in the Chicago area for the past 25 years, credits include Double Trouble for Porchlight, Leo on Ice for Leo Burnett at the Chicago Theater, Cabaret and Man of LaMancha for Light Opera Works, and Forbidden Broadway:SVU at the Royal George Theater. Other credits include Grand Hotel and Nunsensations at Drury Lane Water Tower Place, and A Chorus Line, She Loves Me and Me and My Girl at Theater at the Center. For the past seven years, Linda has been the musical director for Chicago’s equity, and non-equity Joseph Jefferson Awards. During the day, Linda owns American Eagle Productions, a touring theater company that takes shows directly into schools. American Eagle has been doing shows for twenty-two years and presents 300 shows a year to Chicago area schools.
Bill Morey is proud to be an Artistic Associate at Porchlight Music Theatre, his artistic home for the last ten years. He has designed the costumes for A Class Act, A Catered Affair, The King and I (Jeff Award, BroadwayWorld Chicago Award), Into the Woods (Jeff nomination), Candide (Jeff nomination), Nine (Jeff Award), Macabaret, Ragtime (Jeff Award—Best Musical), Gypsy (After Dark Award), Elegies, Company and A New Brain (After Dark Award) and recently, End of the Rainbow, Dreamgirls, Far From Heaven, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Side Show and Pal Joey. Bill made his Off-Broadway debut doing costumes for Tomorrow Morning at the York Theater. Other Chicago credits include work with Theo Ubique (including the non-Equity Jeff Award-winning Best Musical A Light in the Piazza), Griffin, Timeline, Boho, Piven, Lifeline, Hell in a Handbag, Bailiwick and The Scooty and JoJo Show. www.billmorey.com
Christopher Pazdernik is producer, director and choreographer with “a near encyclopedic knowledge of musicals” (NewCity Stage). In his first year as artistic director at the Refuge Theatre Project, he earned a Non-Equity Jeff Award for best director musical for the “Jeff best musical” High Fidelity: The Musical. Christopher’s Chicago credits include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Bombs Away! (Bailiwick); Spamalot, A Streetcar Named Desire and Evita (Jedlicka); Miracle on 34th Street, Anyone Can Whistle and City of Angels (Porchlight); Time After Time: The Songs of Jule Styne (Theo Ubique); The Full Monty (Village Players), a series of musical theater revues at Davenport’s, and a Jeff Award nomination for co-choreographing Spamalot with Nightblue. He has also worked with new musicals in development Perpetual Possibility (Kokandy Productions) and Bewildered (Hell in a Handbag). He is also the creator and co-host of Option Up!, a live monthly musical theater talk-show at Stage 773. Previous teaching credits including musical theater workshops at Elmhurst College.
Doug Peck is one of Chicago’s leading music directors, having won six Joseph Jefferson Awards (The Jungle Book, Porgy and Bess, Caroline, or Change, Carousel, Fiorello!, and Man of La Mancha) and two After Dark Awards (Guys and Dolls, Hello, Again), as well as the Sarah Siddons Award and the Guy Adkins Award, for his music direction and orchestrations in Chicago and across the country. Other favorite projects include Dreamgirls, Animal Crackers, Shenandoah, Candide, Fiddler on the Roof, Hair, Cabaret, Oh, Coward!, James Joyce’s The Dead, A Catered Affair, Grey Gardens, and Raisin. Peck’s work has been heard in Chicago at Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Writers Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Porchlight Music Theatre, and the Ravinia Festival. Regional credits include work at the Huntington Theatre Company, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, and Peninsula Players Theatre, among others. Mr. Peck can be heard on the recordings Bright Young People: The Songs of Noël Coward, Foiled Again Live, and Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein. For the Chicago Humanities Festival, he and his husband Rob Lindley have presented Assassins and Follies in concert, as well as the original concert evenings Birds Do It, Bees Do It and A Night At The Oscars, a chronological survey of every single song that has won the Academy Award. Mr. Peck is a graduate of Northwestern University and also trained at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He is a creative partner with the Goodman, an artistic associate with Porchlight Music Theatre, and a faculty member of the National High School Institute of the Arts. Additional projects include Juno at Timeline Theatre, the world premiere musical Days Like Today at Writers Theatre, and Carousel at the Glimmerglass Opera.
Gerald Richardson has been a proud Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate for many years. Most recently Gerald was seen in Porchlight Revisits Fade Out-Fade In and Anyone Can Whistle and Filament Theatre’s production of Hank Wiliiams Lost Highway at the Antenaeum Theater. Porchlight credits include Once On This Island, Ragtime, Phantom, Candide, The Gifts of the Magi and A Wonderful Life. Gerald won the Black Theatre Alliance Award for best featured actor in a musical for his role as the tin man in The Wiz in 2007. Other Chicago credits include, Grand Hotel, Parade, The Wild Party, Though Shalt Not, Kiss Of The Spiderwoman, Africa And Plumbridge, Kismet, The Student Prince and Countess Maritza. Gerald was nominated for a Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his role as Tee-Tot in Hank Williams: Lost Highway with Filament Theater Ensemble.
Jon Runnfeldt has been working professionally in the Chicago music theatre scene since the age of 9. He made his Porchlight Music Theatre debut with Merrily We Roll Along. Other Porchlight shows include Into The Woods (Rapunzel’s Prince/Steward), A Little Night Music (Henrik), Falsettos (Whizzer), and Macabaret. He was last seen on stage in Urinetown as “Tiny Tom” at the Mercury Theatre. Prior to that he played “Claude” in Hair at The Attic Playhouse, “Rolf” in The Sound of Music at Theatre At The Center, and in productions with Emerald City, Apple Tree Theatre, New Tuners, Centerlight Theatre, Theatre BAM, and Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre. Jon has created promotional art for Porchlight Music Theatre for several seasons beginning in 2010. He has worked in the videographer and photography world for over 12 years, and recently in the corporate advertising world as new business director for Wunderman in Chicago. Jon is the lead creative at Books of Life, a full service design boutique. He is also the chief design officer of Oto Float, a floatation therapy company, Family, friends and art make his world go ’round.
Aaron Shapiro was the founding Artistic Director for Oracle Productions, and the founding Executive Director for Studio BE, which recently became MCL Chicago. He has worked with over 50 Chicago theatre organizations in various capacities since he graduated from Barat College of DePaul University in 2004, and serves as production manager at Victory Gardens Theater. Aaron also freelances as a director, production manager, sound designer, technical director, educator, and producer for such companies as Sideshow Theatre, Haven Theatre, Niles West High School, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Lake Forest High School, and Chicago Commercial Collective.
Heather Townsend is delighted to serve as a Porchlight Music Theatre Artistic Associate, where she has performed in Porchlight’s productions of The Gifts of the Magi, Nine, Sunday in the Park with George and Macabaret. She performed in the Mercury Theatre’s critically-acclaimed production of A Grand Night for Singing, with music direction by fellow Artistic Associate, Eugene Dizon. Other Chicago credits include work with Northlight, Remy Bumppo, Shattered Globe, Dog & Pony, Fox Valley Rep, Chicago Opera Vanguard, Caffeine, Circle, Apple Tree, Next, Theatre Wit, City Lit, Stage Left, Pegasus, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble and readings with the Goodman and Steppenwolf. She is a graduate of Columbia University and The University of Chicago Law School.
Thom Van Ermen served as Director of Operations for Theatre Building Chicago until 2010 and as facilities manager at Porchlight for several years. During that time he also served as Technical Director, Building Manager and Business Manager. Thom has also spent time as a freelance Technical Director for other performing arts groups throughout Chicago. He has also acted with Chicago Shakespeare, Bailiwick Theatre, Shakespeares Motley Crew, Goose Island Theatre, Zebra Crossing Theatre, Wayside Theatre (Winchester, VA), Free Shakespeare, Theatre Classics. He especially enjoyed performing in Mercury Theatre’s Avenue Q. He also serves as on the Advisory Board for Premiere Theatre and Performance.