Meet the Creative Team
Little Shop of Horrors
HOWARD ASHMAN (Book and Lyrics) Best known as a pivotal creative mind behind the renaissance of Disney animation and his work on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and The Beast (which is dedicated to, "Our friend, Howard Ashman, who gave a Mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul...") Ashman's first love was theater. Ashman was a founder of off-off-Broadway's renowned WPA Theater, where he conceived, wrote and directed God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, as well as the classic musical, Little Shop of Horrors (both music by Alan Menken). In 1986, he wrote and directed the Broadway musical Smile (music by Marvin Hamlisch). Lamented as a lost treasure of the 1980's theater scene, Smile remains popular on High School and College campuses throughout the country. Howard Ashman died in 1991 from complications of AIDS. For more information, please visit howardashman.com.
ALAN MENKEN (Music) has created some of the most beloved songs and musical scores of our time. His unique voice, as a composer, a lyricist and a musical theater dramatist has captured the imaginations of audiences for over 35 years. Alan's stage musicals include God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Patch Patch Patch, Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy, Real Life Funnies, Little Shop of Horrors, The Dream on Royal Street, Kicks, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Weird Romance, King David, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Leap of Faith, and Newsies. His film musicals include Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Enchanted, and Tangled. He currently has more Academy Awards than any other living individual, including four for Best Score (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas) and 4 for Best Song ("Under the Sea", "Beauty and the Beast", "A Whole New World" and "Colors of the Wind"). He has earned 11 Grammy Awards, 7 Golden Globes, London's Evening Standard Award, Olivier Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2001 he received the distinction of being named a Disney Legend. He has also been awarded two doctorates in Fine Arts from New York University and the North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2010 he received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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 and Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin. Walter has received the Jeff Award, BroadwayWorld Award, 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 thrilled to be collaborating with this talented cast and crew of Little Shop of Horrors. 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 Company, Hair, Mary Poppins, The Color Purple. Additionally, he has musical directed Pippin, 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 6 “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.
CHRISTOPHER CHASE CARTER (Choreographer) is thrilled to return to Mercury Theater Chicago with Little Shop of Horrors. Selected credits include: Hair (Mercury Theater Chicago); Memphis. Dreamgirls, In the Heights and the Porchlight Revisits productions of They’re Playing Our Song and Chess (Porchlight Music Theatre); Five Guys Named Moe (Court Theater); The Legend of Georgia McBride (Northlight Theater); and Sweeney Todd, Godspell, The Secret Garden, Pirates of Penzance (Grand Valley State University); Show Boat, Oklahoma (Lyric Opera Chicago); Show Boat (San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera); Hairspray (Drury Lane Oakbrook); Duke Ellington’s Queenie Pie (Chicago Opera Theater); Oliver, Carousel, Brigadoon (Music Theatre Works); The Wiz, 42nd Street, Guys and Dolls (Theatre at the Center); Smokey Joe’s Café (Circle Theatre); The Wild Party (Actor's Theater). Chris has been the choreographer for the Grand Rapids Civic's SRT for the past five years. He was a Debbie Allen Dance Academy Scholarship student and has additional credits including national tours, commercial, industrial and concert work.
ALAN DONAHUE, U.S.A. (Scenic Design) is pleased to return to the Mercury having designed the set of Avenue Q. He is a veteran Chicago designer working primarily in scenic design and has earned 5 Jeff Awards for his design work. Most recently, he designed lighting for The One and Only Ivan, which is currently on national tour for Lifeline Theatre. His next upcoming work will be presented with Reuben’s Swashbuckling Adventure for Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.
SERENA SANDOVAL (Costume Design) is ecstatic to make her designing debut at Mercury Theater Chicago. Chicago design credits include: Birdland (Steep Theatre); The Magnificent Wonder, Cursed Costumes, Another Castle, and Secrets, Lies, and Super Spies (Actors Gymnasium); Lolita De Lares, Julia De Burgos: Child Of Water (Urban Theater); and Dogfight, Seussical The Musical Jr., Xanadu Jr. (Bravo! Performing Arts Academy). Serena is the resident wardrobe supervisor at the Mercury and Venus theaters. Her Mercury and Venus credits include: Avenue Q, Pippin, Company, Bunny Bunny, The Christmas Schooner, Dracula, and Hair. Serena wardrobed at Firebrand Theatre (Caroline, Or Change, Lizzie), and stitched on multiple shows through Uber Costume at Lookingglass Theatre, Writers Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Boho Theatre, and Court Theatre.
KRISTOF JANEZIC (Lighting Design) is a lighting and scenic designer working in and around the Chicago area, and is ecstatic to return to Mercury Theater Chicago for Little Shop of Horrors after designing last season’s Bunny Bunny. Recent design credits include: Men on Boats (The Catamounts, Boulder, CO); The Grelley Duvall Show (Grelley Duvall); Peter and The Starcatcher at Walter Payton School; Heathers at Jones College Prep (Chicago Public Schools). In May, he will be returning to Creede, CO at Creede Repertory Theater as their resident lighting designer and lighting supervisor for their 2019 season.
CARL WAHLSTROM (Sound Design) is ecstatic to be working on Little Shop of Horrors, his 17th show at Mercury Theater Chicago. Carl’s recent design credits include the Venus Cabaret Theater productions of Company and Pippin, and the Mercury Theater Chicago productions Of I Left My Heart, Hair and Avenue Q. Wahlstrom is the resident sound engineer at Mercury Theater Chicago.
KRISTI J. MARTENS* (Production Stage Manager) is happy to be returning to Mercury Theater Chicago with Little Shop of Horrors. 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 (2014 and 2018), and The Color Purple. Some other theaters that she has worked at: 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 Equity member for over 29 years, Kristi started stage managing with children’s theater.
SCOTT FLORES-DETER* (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to be working with Mercury Theater Chicago again! He has been a stage manager in the Chicagoland area for many, many years. Some of his favorite credits include: Pinkalicious: The Musical (Emerald City Theatre Company), The Nutcracker (Peoria Ballet), Late Nite Catechism (Nuns4Fun Entertainment), and just about everything he’s done at The Second City. When he’s not on the road touring with a show or sitting a dark room pushing buttons, he enjoys spending time with his wife and sons.