AVENUE Q

CREATIVE TEAM

 

JEFF WHITTY (Book) won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Avenue Q, which ran on Broadway for six years and then moved Off-Broadway where its run continues. Plays include The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, The Hiding Place, The Plank Project, Suicide Weather, and Balls. Musicals include Tales of the City: The Musical with music by Jake Shears and John Garden of the pop group Scissor Sisters, Bring It On: The Musical with music by Tom Kitt, Amanda Green, and Lin-Manuel Miranda and his latest work Head Over Heels with adaptations by James Magruder and the music of the rock band The Go-Go’s which debuts on Broadway in June 2018. As an actor, Jeff has appeared Off-Broadway, regionally, and in films and TV.

ROBERT LOPEZ (Music and Lyrics, Original Concept) is the co-creator/songwriter of Broadway musicals including Avenue Q (three Tony Awards including Best Original Score and Best Musical), The Book of Mormon (nine Tony Awards including Best book, Best Original Score and Best Musical) and Frozen (Tony nomination for Best Score). Regional credits include Frozen (Denver Center), Up Here (La Jolla Playhouse), 1001 Nights (Atlantic Theater). Film credits include Pixar’s Coco (Oscar Best Original Song win for “Remember Me”), Frozen (Oscar Best Original Song win for “Let It Go”), TV credits include songs for the 87th Academy Awards, The Simpsons, South Park, Scrubs, and The Wonder Pets. Upcoming projects include Disney’s Frozen 2. One of 12 artists to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards (EGOT). Yale University graduate, 1997 (B.A. in English!).

JEFF MARX (Music and Lyrics, Original Concept) met Robert Lopez at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. It was there that Avenue Q was born. Originally from Hollywood, FL, Jeff attended the workshop as a as a young lawyer, looking for clients, and ended up leaving law and becoming a songwriter. Forever grateful to the BMI Workshop, he has also written music for NBC’s Scrubs, Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the WorldBear in the Big Blue House, and The Book of Pooh.

RUSS WALKO (Puppet Design and Creation) has built and performed puppets on the television shows “Community” and “The Simpsons.” His puppets were featured in the Broadway production of The Pee-Wee Herman Show Live, and is no stranger to Chicago theater, having created puppets for multiple StarKids Productions.

RICK LYON (Puppetry Coach) is best known for having created the puppets for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Avenue Q. Rick was also in that show's original cast, having created the roles of Nicky, Trekkie Monster, the blue Bad Idea Bear, and others. Rick's company, The Lyon Puppets, built all the Avenue Q puppets for Broadway, the West End, Las Vegas, the First American National Tour, and international productions, including Brazil, Australia, Germany, France, and China. His favorite projects as a puppeteer: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Sesame Street (fifteen seasons), Bear in the Big Blue House, Between the Lions, Men in Black, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, Muppetvision 3D, and Nickelodeon's Stick Stickly. He has been designing and building puppets professionally for over 25 years, including characters for CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, Chinese national television, commercials, home videos, industrials. www.facebook.com/ricklyonpuppets

L. WALTER STEARNS (Director) As Executive Director of Mercury Theater Chicago, Walter is a champion for Chicago artists and productions and has overseen the physical and cultural revival of a beautiful theatre. He has directed over 40 musicals including his Jeff Award-winning productions of The Addams Family and Ragtime as well as the Jeff Award nominated productions of Mary Poppins, The Producers, The Addams Family, Avenue Q, The Color Purple, Barnum-The Circus Musical, The Christmas Schooner, Nine the Musical, Ragtime, Gypsy, The Secret Garden, Sweeney Todd, Company, A New Brain, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along and Falsettos. He was pleased to produce The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, which was awarded the Jeff Award for New Work. Most recently, he opened the new Venus Cabaret Theater with Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Walter has received the Jeff Award, BroadwayWorld Award (for Avenue Q), After Dark Awards, the Larry Sloan Advocate Award (for his support of Season of Concern), the first Guy Adkins award for his contributions to the art of musical theatre and the Franny Award as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

EUGENE DIZON (Musical Director) is proud to musical direct Avenue Q again after an incredible run in 2014 (BroadwayWorld Award). Eugene has been musical directing for over two decades garnering 6 Jeff Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, Amadeus, Company, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along), Jeff nominations for A Grand Night for Singing, Candide, Nine the Musical, Closer Than Ever, A Little Night Music, Passion, Colette Collage, Falsettos; 4 After Dark Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, A New Brain, Merrily We Roll Along), and BroadwayWorld nominations for Hair, Mary Poppins and The Color Purple. Additionally, he has musical directed Company, The Producers and Barnum at the Mercury. He is honored to have been inducted into the Chicago Filipino Hall of Fame. Eugene has co-produced 5 “Season of Carols” CD’s (with Cory Goodrich) which features some of the brightest talent in Chicago theater today, for which Season of Concern awarded him the 2013 Larry Sloan Advocate Award and the Season of Concern 2018 Larry Sloan Legacy Award for consistently and passionately being a trailblazer on behalf of Season of Concern. Thanks to the cast and crew. Special thanks to Walter for taking me on this journey. For Matt.

KEVIN BELLIE (Choreographer) is happy to return to Avenue Q after choreographing the 2014 production at Mercury Theater Chicago. Past Mercury credits include I Left My Heart and Grand Night for Singing (Jeff nomination, Direction and Revue). Additional direction and choreography credits include: Bullets Over Broadway (NightBlue, Jeff nomination, Choreography); Damn Yankees and The Music Man (Light Opera Works); The Baker’s Wife, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Jeff nomination), Urinetown (Jeff Award, Choreography),  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Jeff nomination), Can-Can (Jeff nomination), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Jeff nomination), Mack & Mabel (Jeff nomination), Sweet Smell of Success (Jeff nomination), Drood (Jeff nomination), Nine (Jeff Award), Grand Hotel (Jeff Award), The Life (Jeff Award) all at Circle Theater; Anyone Can Whistle (Pegasus Players); directed/choreographed A Chorus Line (McLeod Summer Playhouse); Let's Fall in Love, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Tafettas, Roasting Chestnuts and Drood (Fox Valley Rep); Closer Than Ever, A New Brain (Jeff nomination), Gypsy (Porchlight, After Dark Award).

ALAN DONAHUE, U.S.A. (Scenic Design) is happy to be invited back for the 2018 version of Avenue Q. He also recently provided special scenic window clings for the video screens for Company in the Venus Cabaret. Alan is an ensemble member at Lifeline Theatre where his design for Neverwhere is currently on stage and his gameboard set for Sylvester played last fall. For Lifeline he has also adapted Giggle, Giggle, Quack and The One and Only Ivan for touring. Recent designs elsewhere include Ghosts of War/Letters Home for Griffin Theatre, The Next Big Thing for Factory Theater, and a new sleek revised set for the revamped concert show My People My Music in the Dreamsong Theatre in Dollywood. Next summer he opens a new musical romp, The Quest, for Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. 

RACHEL BOYLAN (Costume Design) is very grateful to be returning home to Mercury Theater Chicago and Avenue Q. Previous design credits at Mercury include Mary Poppins, I Left My Heart, and Avenue Q. Regional Design credits include: Ariodante (CCM); Leavings (Polarity Theater Ensemble); The Dancing Plague, Who Too (The Right Brian Project); All Girl Dracula (The Mammals); Hello & Goodbye (Bluebird Arts); Der Kaiser Von Atlantis (New Millennium Orchestra); Beautiful Broken (Broken Nose Theater). Rachel is currently pursuing her MFA degree at University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Love always to her husband Brian!

DUSTIN L. DERRY (Lighting Design) is excited to return for his third project with Mercury Theater Chicago after recently working on Company and The Christmas Schooner. A proud Chicago native, Dustin has been bringing his unique blend design style, love for new technology, and passion for his artistry to the dance and theatre world of Chicago and beyond for the past 15 years. He is the co-founder and CEO of Stonewolf Studios, production design and management company serving the Chicago Dance
communities as well several national touring companies. Most recently, Dustin's theatrical work includes working with NightBlue on Bullets Over Broadway. In the dance world, 'D', has been active with companies like Ensemble Español, Inaside Chicago Dance, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, the Moscow Ballet, and others. Dustin's work blends conventional lighting with LEDs, Lasers, and Projection to create richly colorful and dynamic worlds around performers on stage. Dustin would like to ask you to please, 'Be the Change You Wish to See In the World'. 

CARL WAHLSTROM (Sound Design) is ecstatic to be working on Avenue Q as his 15th show at Mercury Theater Chicago.   A Maine native, Carl got his start working at Penobscot Theatre Company. He also worked at Production Services of Maine, setting up for large touring acts on the Bangor Waterfront. Carl graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Audio and Acoustics from Columbia College Chicago in 2015. He is happy to be the resident sound engineer at Mercury Theater Chicago and enjoys occasional gigs at Schubas Tavern, Lincoln Hall, and the Riviera Theatre. 

KRISTI J. MARTENS* (Production Stage Manager) is happy to be returning to Mercury Theater Chicago with Avenue Q. She also had the privilege of being the PSM for Bunny Bunny, Hair, Mary Poppins, I Left My Heart, The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, The Producers, The Addams Family, Avenue Q, The Color Purple. Other regional theaters include: Drury Lane Theater (Oakbrook Terrace), Northlight Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre, The Royal George Theater, Drury Lane Evergreen Park, Drury Lane Water Tower, Fox Valley Repertory, Oak Park Festival Theater, Fulton Opera House (Lancaster, PA), Maine State Music Theater (Brunswick, ME), Theater at the Center (Munster, IN), Carousel Dinner Playhouse (Akron, OH), Dallas Theater Center (Dallas, TX). A proud Actors’ Equity member for over 28 years, Kristi started stage managing with children’s theater. Enjoy!

KAITLIN MOSER* (Assistant Stage Manager) is very excited to make her Mercury Theater Chicago debut! She was recently the ASM for Seussical The Musical (Drury Lane Oakbrook). Her PSM credits include Beauty and the Beast and Crazy for You (Fremont Street Theatre), Pajama Game (Highland Park Players) and Hairspray (Redhorse Theatre Company). Her run crew credits include: 42nd Street, Joseph, and Chicago (Drury Lane Oakbrook). Kaitlin would like to thank the Mercury for welcoming her into the family! She would also like to thank her boyfriend for giving her the courage to pursue her dream going on this crazy adventure with her. Kaitlin is also a proud member of Actors Equity