Meet the Artists

Avenue Q Cast

(click image to see artist bio)

Avenue Q Creative Team


JEFF WHITTY(Book) won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Avenue Q. 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 and Bring It On: The Musical with music by Tom Kitt, Amanda Green, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Theaters presenting his work include the Atlantic Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. As an actor, Jeff has appeared Off-Broadway, regionally, and in films and TV. www.Whitless.com

ROBERT LOPEZ (Music and Lyrics, Original Concept) is a songwriter of musicals, best known for co-creating The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, and for penning the songs featured in the Disney film Frozen. He is one of only twelve people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, and the only person to win all four within a decade. In 2004 Mr. Lopez won the Tony Award for Best Score for Avenue Q, which has been produced in New York, Vegas, London, Stockholm and Helsinki and on tour! His musical version of Finding Nemo, co-written with wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, is currently playing in Walt Disney World. In 2007, he co-wrote songs for a musical episode of NBC’s “Scrubs.” He and his brother Billy Lopez have written music for Nick Jr’s “The Wonder Pets!” and Disney’s “Johnny and the Sprites.” Yale graduate, 1997 (B.A. in English!).

JEFF MARX (Music and Lyrics, Original Concept) wants to thank the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, which completely changed his life. He joined the free class as a young lawyer, looking for clients, and ended up leaving law and becoming a songwriter. He met Bobby there, and they brought almost every song they ever wrote together into the workshop for feedback and critique. He’s forever in debt to the BMI teachers and classmates and everyone involved with Avenue Q who has helped turn this fun, dirty little musical romp into such an amazing group achievement. Thank you!

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 30 musicals including his Jeff-Award nominated productions of 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.  Walter has received the Jeff 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.  Avenue Q is a special project for Walter who was a puppeteer with the National Marionette Company.

EUGENE DIZON (Musical Director) has been musical directing for over two decades earning 6 Jeff Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, Amadeus, Company, Into the Woods and Merrily We Roll Along), 14 Jeff nominations (most recently for the Mercury Theater Chicago’s production of A Grand Night For Singing) and 4 After Dark Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, A New Brain, and Merrily We Roll Along). Other favorite theatrical experiences include The Christmas Schooner, The Color Purple, Barnum-The Circus Musical (Mercury Theater Chicago); Falsettos, Candide, Pacific Overtures, Nine the Musical (Porchlight); Starting Here, Starting Now (Theo Ubique); and Songs for a New World (Columbia College). Eugene is honored to have been inducted into the Chicago Filipino Hall of Fame. Eugene has produced the annual “Season of Carols” CD which features some of the brightest talent in Chicago theater today, for which Season of Concern awarded him the Larry Sloan Advocate Award (2013).  Currently the Business Manager at the Mercury, he has worked for Navteq, HFR, Jenner and Block, and Hunter Douglas, among others.

KEVIN BELLIE (Choreographer) returns to Mercury Theater Chicago after directing/choreographing A Grand Night For Singing (Jeff nomination – Direction and Revue).  Additional direction and choreography credits include Urinetown (Jeff Award –Choreography), The Baker’s Wife, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Jeff nomination), 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), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Jeff nomination), Nine (Jeff Award), The Life (Jeff Award), Grand Hotel (Jeff Award). Kevin has 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), choreographed The Music Man (Light Opera Works), Anyone Can Whistle (Pegasus Players), A New Brain (Porchlight, Jeff nomination), Closer Than Ever, and Gypsy (Porchlight, After Dark Award).

ALAN DONAHUE, U.S.A.(Scenic Designer) is pleased to be designing for Mercury Theater Chicago for the first time.Previous to this show,he recently designed scenery for Cheaper by the Dozen at Fox Valley Rep and for KidSeries at Lifeline Theatre designed scenery forLyle Meets His Motherand lighting for a revival ofThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs.And in early DecemberRemy Bumppo Theatre mounted his scenic design forAn Inspector Callsat the Greenhouse Theatre Center. Alan is an ensemble member of Lifeline where his designs for The Little Sister, Jane Eyre (2001), Around the World in 80 Days, Mariette in Ecstasy, and Neverwhere have received Jeff Citations. For Lifeline, he has also adapted DonaldE. Westlake’s Trust Me on This and Adam Langer’s Crossing California for the Main Stage and Daniel Pinkwater’s Bongo Larry and Two Bad Bears and Eileen Spinelli’s SophieMasterpiece: A Spider’s Tale for the KidSeries. And on the horizon Alan will be designing a yet to be named Wild West show for Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.

NICK BELLEY (Co-Lighting Designer) Previously at the Mercury Nick designed The Color Purple. SelectedChicago design credits include: Rent(Paramount Theater); Ain't Misbehavin',Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and GrillandPal Joey(Porchlight Music Theatre); Hank Williams: Lost Highway(American Blues Theater);Good Boys and True andBrighton BeachMemoirs(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.www.nickbelley.com

JESS GOINGS (Co-Lighting Designer) is excited to work on her first show with Mercury Theater Chicago. A recent resident to Chicago, she hails from Nashville, TN where she assisted Lighting Designers for companies such as Clarence Brown Theatre, Knoxville Opera, Nashville Ballet and Nashville Children’s Theatre. Jess previously co-designed Passion for Theo Ubique. Other recent credits include design for Will Power! for The Clarence Brown Theatre, assistant design for Road Show at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and 9 to 5 and School House Rock Live! at Marriott Theatre.

RACHEL BOYLAN (Costume Designer) is thrilled to be designing her first show at Mercury Theater Chicago. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Theater Design, and Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Rachel’s previous credits include The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing (Fury Theater), Der Kaiser Von Atlantis (New Millennium Orchestra), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (St. James Theater), Mendoza (Cacididae Productions LLC), Antigone, Henry Moore is Melting (Cold Basement Dramatics), Beautiful Broken (Broken Nose Theater). While designing, Rachel also works as Wardrobe Supervisor at Mercury Theater Chicago, and as a costume stitcher around town. Rachel would like to thank Walter and Eugene for this incredible opportunity, her parents for sending her off to art school without blinking an eye, and her loving boyfriend Brian. Thank you all for believing in me!

MIKE ROSS (Sound Designer) works as an audio consultant, designer, engineer, and system technician for a variety of clients and venues around Chicago. Previoussound designs for Mercury Theater Chicago include The Color Purple, Barnum, A Grand Night For Singing and The Christmas Schooner (2011 thru 2013). Otherrecent Chicago productions include designs for Let’s Misbehave (Fox Valley Rep), Smokey Joe’s Café (Royal George Theatre), 50 Shades! The Musical (Chicago & National Tour), Operetta’s Greatest Hits (Light Opera Works), and Route 66 (Paramount Theatre), as well as engineering several productions at Marriott Theatre. Mike also serves as the audio head forMillion Dollar Quartetatthe Apollo Theatre and for a variety of corporate events for the MillerCoors Company around the country. Mike holds a BFA in Sound Design from DePaul University. For more information visit mikerossonline.net.

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.

KEVIN NOONCHESTER (Puppet Coach) recently played the role of Marlin in Disney’s Finding Nemo: The Musical and prior to that in the Las Vegas company of Avenue Q where her performed the roles of Princeton/Rod & Nicky/Trekkie.  Kevin is also a member of the Henson Company’s “Puppet Up” puppet improv troupe. 

KRISTI J. MARTENS (Production Stage Manager) is happy to be back at Mercury Theater Chicago with Avenue Q after having the honor of being the PSM for The Color Purple.  Other theaters that she has worked at include Drury Lane Oakbrook, Northlight Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre, Drury Lane Evergreen Park, Drury Lane Water Tower, Fox Valley Repertory, Oak Park Festival Theater, Fulton Opera House (Lancaster, PA), Theater at the Center (Munster, IN), Carousel Dinner Playhouse (Akron, OH).  A proud Equity member for over 24 years, Kristi started stage managing with children’s theater. Enjoy!

DANIEL J. HANSEN (Assistant Stage Manager) is happy to return to Mercury Theater Chicago where he previously worked on The Color Purple. Other Chicago stage management credits include Pippin,The Pajama Game (The Music Theatre Company),It's A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play(American Theater Company). A few favorite stage management credits include A Year with Frog and Toad,The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins(Children's Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN);To Kill a Mockingbird,Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, A Midsummer Night's Dream(Park Square Theatre, St. Paul, MN);Queens of Burlesque(The History Theatre, St. Paul, MN); andMenopause the Musical(The Lab Theatre, Minneapolis, MN). Dan received his MFA in stage management from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.