Meet the Creative Team

Monty Python’s SPAMALOT

JOHN DU PREZ (Music) A Trevelyan Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, and Associate of the Royal College of Music, he entered the film industry in 1978 composing additional music for Monty Python’s Life of Brian. This began a long association with Eric Idle, leading eventually to their current writing partnership. He has scored more than 20 feature films including The Meaning of Life, A Private Function, A Fish Called Wanda, Once Bitten, UHF and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I, II, and III. Other Python projects include the Contractual Obligation Album, Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl and The Fairly Incomplete & Rather Badly Illustrated Monty Python Song Book. He was musical director for Eric Idle’s two North American stage tours, Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python (2000) and The Greedy Bastard Tour (2003).

ERIC IDLE (Book, Lyrics, and Music) has multi-hyphenated his way through life, from being a writer and actor in the legendary "Monty Python" TV series and movies, to the creator and director of "The Rutles”. He has appeared on stage singing rude songs with John Du Prez at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl as well as performing in two highly successful tours, Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python (2000) and The Greedy Bastard Tour (2003), for which they journeyed 15,000 miles across North America in a bus. His Greedy Bastard Diary of that tour is available from Harper Collins. Their latest work, a comic oratorio called Not the Messiah, will be performed shortly in Toronto. His play Pass the Butler ran for five months in London’s West End; he has written two novels, Hello Sailor and The Road to Mars, a children’s book, The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and The Pussycat, and a bedside companion, The Rutland Dirty Weekend Book. Spamalot has already won him a Tony, a Grammy and the respect of his wife and children.

MONTY PYTHON Is he God or Godot, an agent of the devil or an agent of the William Morris Agency, or is he, as some have argued, a fictitious character invented in 1969 by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin in a desperate attempt to find a title for their rather silly TV show? Whatever the truth, he is the eponymous impresario who fronts “The Flying Circus,” The Holy Grail, The Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life, And Now for Something Completely Different and who appeared Live at Drury Lane, City Center and the Hollywood Bowl. He has fronted numerous books including The Big Red Book and the Papperbok as well as many CDs, DVDs and matching ties and handkerchiefs. He is currently in retirement in an old jokes home near Dover, anxiously awaiting Knighthood and a Knightnurse. Further details: www.PythOnline.com

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 tickled to be collaborating with this talented cast and crew of Spamalot. 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 Little Shop of Horrors, Pippin, Company, The Producers, Barnum and seven seasons of The Christmas Schooner. He is honored to have been inducted into the Chicago Filipino Hall of Fame. Eugene currently sits on the board of directors for Valiant Theatre, Chicago’s only professional theatre dedicated to biopic and historical theatre. 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.”

SHANNA VANDERWERKER (Choreographer) is thrilled to return to Mercury Theater Chicago after working on Pippin in the Venus Cabaret Theater. Chicago credits include: Lysistrata Jones (Refuge Theater Project, Jeff nomination), Porchlight Revisits Can-Can (Porchlight Music Theatre), Legally Blonde (BAM) and “Leap of Faith” (Inaside Dance Company). Other Choreography credits include: Annie, My Fair Lady, Newsies, 42nd St, South Pacific, Beauty and the Beast and Singin’ In The Rain all at The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, WI. Shanna has worked as Associate Choreographer to Christopher Gattelli on the Original Broadway companies of Amazing Grace and High Fidelity. Shanna was an inaugural honoree of the Rachel Rockwell Foundation’s Fierce Women Behind the Table by Porchlight Theater Company. Shanna also works as an adjunct faculty member at CCPA of Roosevelt University and Columbia College Chicago. shannavdance.com

JUSTIN BRILL (Assistant Choreographer) Justin’s grail overflowith with joy to assist his favorite choreographer in all the kingdoms. Recently he served as Assistant Director for Porchlight Revisits Minnie's Boys. Past Directing credits include Refuge Theatre Project's Lysistrata Jones and a re-imagined concert version of R+H's Allegro for Columbia College Chicago where he currently serves on the full-time faculty of the Theatre Department. As an actor Justin has appeared on Broadway, National Tours, The Metropolitan Opera as well as Drury Lane, Marriott Theatre, Milwaukee Rep and Theatre at the Center. Visit www.justinbrill.com for more information

ANGIE WEBER MILLER, USA (Scenic Design) is happy to be designing for the Mercury Theater Chicago stage! Angie is an Artistic Associate at First Folio Theatre where she has earned seven Jeff nominations for Mary’s Wedding, Captain Blood, The Gravedigger, Salvage, Rough Crossing, Jeeves in Bloom, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. Other shows she has designed at First Folio include Shrew, Women in Jeopardy, The Man-Beast, As You Like It, Silent Sky, Dr. Seward’s Dracula, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fooling Buddha, Jeeves at Sea, Multiple Visits with Edgar Allen Poe, The Winter’s Tale, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Rainmaker, Cymbeline, Jeeves Takes a Bow, The Merchant of Venice, Tea at Five, Romeo and Juliet, The Woman in Black, Blithe Spirit, Twelfth Night, The Castle of Otranto, and Macbeth. She recently designed A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at Porchlight Music Theatre and Over the Tavern at Theater at the Center, where she had designed many other productions including Spamalot, On Golden Pond, A Christmas Memory, Over the River and Through the Woods, and Gigi. Angie is a proud member of United Scenic Artists. www.angiewebermiller.com

MATTHEW ZALINSKI (Properties Designer) is thrilled to be joining the creative team for Mercury Theater Chicago’s production of Spamalot. Matthew is Currently a BFA 3 Theatre Technology major at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Selected credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Bridges of Madison County, and The Full Monty (Theo Ubique); Ragtime, Chicago, Cabaret, and Xanadu (Big Noise Theatre); On The Town, Madagascar: A Musical Adventure, and Mamma Mia (Highland Park Players); Into the Woods, The Cat in the Hat, Water by the Spoonful, and Oresteia (DePaul University). Enjoy the Show!

TIM HATLEY (Costume Design) Tim Hatley is a British set and costume designer for theater and film. He is the winner of the Tony Award for Best Set Design and Best Costume Design, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design, and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Set Design. Hatley was educated at Bearwood College, Berkshire and trained in Theatre Design at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London from 1986 to 1989. He has designed for Theatre de Complicite, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, the West End, and Broadway. He has designed the costumes and/or scenic design for seven Broadway productions, both musicals and drama.

DENISE KARCZEWSKI (Lighting Design) is excited to make her debut at Mercury Theater Chicago with Spamalot. Selected credits include A Chorus Line, Gypsy, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Billy Elliot (Jeff Award nomination), Dreamgirls (Porchlight Music Theatre); You Can’t Fake the Funk, Style & Grace (Black Theater Alliance nominee Best Lighting Design), Men of Soul, Ella the First Lady of Song (African American Arts Alliance winner Technical Support), The Jackie Wilson Story (Black Ensemble Theatre); Million Dollar Quartet, My Way, Spamalot, Singing In the Rain (Theater at the Center); Golda’s Balcony (Jeff nomination for Lighting Design, Pegasus Players). Denise was recently honored as a Fierce Woman Behind the Table in Chicago Theatre by Porchlight Music Theatre at the inaugural launch of the Rachel Rockwell Fund. Upcoming shows include: Sophisticated Ladies at Porchlight, The Other Cinderella at Black Ensemble Theatre and White Christmas at Theater at the Center. She would like to thank Walter for the opportunity, and Daryl for all of his love and support. Maya, Mommy loves you!

CARL WAHLSTROM (Sound Design) is ecstatic to be working on Spamalot, his 18th show at Mercury Theater Chicago. Carl grew up in Bangor, Maine, and got his start working in theater at Penobscot Theatre Company, one of the few remaining wooden-grid, hemp houses in the U.S. He works full time as the resident sound designer and audio engineer at Mercury Theater Chicago and works as a freelance designer around Chicago. Some of Carl’s Chicago design credits include I Left My Heart, Hair, Little Shop of Horrors (Mercury Theater Chicago), Company, Pippin (Venus Cabaret Theater), Below the Belt, Pounding Nails In the Floor with My Forehead (Hundo4U Productions), Queen of the Mist (Firebrand Theatre).

KRISTI J. MARTENS* (Production Stage Manager) is happy to be returning to Mercury Theater Chicago with Spamalot. She also had the privilege of being the PSM for Little Shop of Horrors, 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 28 years, Kristi started stage managing with children’s theater.

CASIE MORELL* (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to return to Mercury Theater Chicago for Spamalot! Most recently she has worked at Victory Gardens and Rivendell Theater Ensemble. A proud Nashville native, Casie has also worked at the Chicago Children’s Theatre, First Folio, the Drury Lane, 16th Street Theater, Theatre at the Center, Marriott Theatre, Porchlight Music Theater, Music Theatre Works, and the Northwestern Opera. She has also worked regionally at the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, TN, The Weidner Center in Green Bay WI, and Peninsula Players Theater. Thanks to Walter and Eugene for this opportunity!