Hair Creative Team
GALT MacDERMOT (Music) was born in Montreal, Quebec and educated at Upper Canada College and Bishop's University (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada). He received a Bachelor of Music from Cape Town University, South Africa and made a study of African music his specialty. Galt MacDermot won his first Grammy Award for the Cannonball Adderley recording of his song "African Waltz" (the title track of the album of the same name) in 1960. He moved to New York City in 1964 where he wrote the music for the hit musical Hair, which he later adapted for the 1979 film. Its Broadway cast album won a Grammy Award in 1969. Galt MacDermot had another hit with the musical Two Gentlemen of Verona, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical and received a Tony nomination for Best Music and a Drama Desk for Outstanding Music. Later Broadway musicals included Dude, Via Galactica and The Human Comedy. MacDermot's film soundtracks include Cotton Comes to Harlem, Rhinoceros and Mistress. MacDermot formed the New Pulse Jazz Band, which performs and records his original music including the Broadway revival of Hair. MacDermot's work also includes ballet scores, chamber music, the Anglican liturgy, orchestral music, poetry, incidental music for plays, band repertory and opera. In 2009 Galt MacDermot was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. In 2010 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from SOCAN.
GEROME RAGNI (Book and Lyrics) From early childhood Ragni displayed artistic tendencies. He studied at Georgetown University and Catholic University of America and made his stage debut in 1954. This was in Washington, DC, and by the early 60’s he was in New York where he was in a production of War (1963). The following year he was on Broadway in a tiny role in Hamlet, which starred Richard Burton. Ragni also appeared off-Broadway in Hang Down Your Head And Die, which is where he met James Rado, with whom he formed an enduring professional relationship. He was next in Viet Rock (1966) in New York and soon after this he and Rado began work on what eventually became Hair. The show became a huge international hit after it opened on Broadway in April 1968. Rado and Ragni both played leading roles and Gerome also appeared in productions of Hair in LA and on tour throughout the country. He also collaborated with Galt MacDermot on Dude and with James Rado on Jack Sound and His Dog Star Blowing His Final Trumpet on the Day of Doom.
JAMES RADO (Book and Lyrics) is an American actor, playwright, director, writer and composer, best know as the co-author of 1967’s groundbreaking American tribal love-rock musical Hair. He and Gerome Ragni were nominated for the 1969 Tony Award for Best Musical, and the cast album won a Grammy Award in 1969. Other musical include Rainbow, Sun, and Jack Sound and His Dog Star Blowing His Final Trumpet on the Day of Doom.
BRENDA DIDIER (Director) is grateful to be making her Mercury Theater Chicago directing debut with this iconic show. Thank you to Walter, Eugene, Kristi, Chris and this incredible cast, band and creative team! Previous Mercury credits include choreography for The Christmas Schooner, Barnum, The Color Purple, The Addams Family and Mary Poppins. Brenda is a freelance director and choreographer and owner/Artistic Director for the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance, celebrating its 20th season this fall! Choreography and/or directing credits include Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Goodman Theatre, T-Mobile's national commercial "Home for the Holidays", Porchlight Music Theatre, Cirque Shanghai, Second City mainstage and etc., live, special events and industrials, BoHo, Theo Ubique, Six Flags Great America, Busch Gardens, Virginia, Northwestern University, The Universities of Illinois and Wisconsin, Carthage College and many high school theatre programs. Ms. Didier is a multiple Jeff Award recipient in both direction and choreography, and the recipient of Chicago Broadway World awards, After Dark Awards and the National Youth Theatre Award in Choreography. Love to Mike and Mom always. In loving memory of Matthew Gunnels, Sam Roberson, Jr., Jim Sherman, Albert Didier and Darryl Didier. Let the Sun Shine.
EUGENE DIZON (Music Director/Conductor/Business Manager) is thrilled to be working on one of Broadway’s seminal musicals, Hair! At the Mercury, he has music directed the Jeff award winning production of The Addams Family, Mary Poppins, The Producers, Avenue Q (BroadwayWorld Award), The Color Purple (BroadwayWorld nomination), Barnum, and A Grand Night For Singing (Jeff nomination). 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), as well as Jeff nominations for A Grand Night for Singing, Candide, Nine the Musical, Closer Than Ever, A Little Night Music, Passion, Colette Collage, Falsettos and 4 After Dark Awards (Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, A New Brain, Merrily We Roll Along). Eugene is honored to have been inducted into the Chicago Filipino Hall of Fame. Eugene has co-produced 4 “Season of Carols” CD’s (with the amazing Cory Goodrich) which features some of the brightest talent in Chicago theater today, for which Season of Concern awarded him the Larry Sloan Advocate Award (2013). This summer, he will be working on the 5th edition of “Season of Carols” for SoC. A big thanks to Brenda, who is always an inspiration to him in art and life. He is honored to work with such an amazing production team, cast and musicians. Next for Eugene will be the 7th sailing of The Christmas Schooner.
CHRIS CARTER (Choreographer) is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a liberal arts degree in dance. Chris has traveled all over performing/directing and choreographing. Some of his credit include Dreamgirls, and In The Heights at Porchlight; Sweeney Todd, Godspell, Secret Garden, Pirates Of Penzance (GVSU); Show Boat and Oklahoma at Lyric Opera Chicago; Show Boat at San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera; Hairspray, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Joseph… Paramount Theater; Duke Ellington’s Queenie Pie at Chicago Opera Theater; Oliver, Carousel and Brigadoon at Light Opera Works; The Wiz, 42nd Street and Guys and Dolls at Theatre at the Center; Smokey Joe’s Café at Circle Theatre; The Wild Party at Actor’s Theater. Chris has been the choreographer for the Grand Rapids Civic’s SRT the past four Years. Other credits include national tours, commercial, industrial and concert work. As a former scholarship student of The Debbie Allen Dance Academy in California, he moved to Chicago in 2009 to expand his mind and resume. A fan of challenges and hard work Chris is always looking forward to new experiences.
JEFFREY D. KMIEC, U.S.A. (Scenic Designer) is a Chicago based scenic designer. Local credits include: The Producers at Mercury Theater Chicago; Bakersfield Mist at Timeline Theatre; Crazy For You, Deathtrap (Jeff Award) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Drury Lane Oakbrook; The Bridges of Madison County, She Loves Me, Man of La Mancha at Marriott Theatre; Once, Elf, The Little Mermaid, A Christmas Story and Les Misérables (Jeff Award) at Paramount Theatre; Butler, Funnyman, and Tom Jones at Northlight Theatre; Marry Me A Little, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Sondheim on Sondheim at Porchlight Music Theatre; Dividing the Estate (Jeff nomination), A Loss of Roses (Jeff nomination) and The Assembled Parties (Jeff nomination) at Raven Theatre; and Watch on the Rhine (Jeff nomination) and The Seagull at The Artistic Home. Jeffrey received his MFA from the University of Virginia.
NICK BELLEY, U.S.A. (Lighting Designer) Mercury Theater Chicago: Mary Poppins, The Producers, The Addams Family, Avenue Q and The Color Purple. Regional credits include: RENT, Sweeney Todd (Paramount Theater); Sirens of Song (Milwaukee Rep); Jabari Dreams of Freedom (Chicago Children's Theater); Cinderella: After the Ball and The Velveteen Rabbit (Marriott Theatre); Seussical (Children’s Theater of Madison); Qgents (Tour); Goosebumps: The Musical, Lovabye Dragon, The Snow, Holes, Stargirl, Spookley The Square Pumpkin (First Stage); The Mojo and the Sayso (Theatre LILA); Sondheim on Sondheim, Ain't Misbehavin', Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill and Pal Joey (Porchlight Music Theatre); Hank Williams: Lost Highway (American Blues Theater). Nick is the designer for Illumination Sensation for the State Fair of Texas as well as having designed over two dozen shows for the Cedar Fair amusement parks across the country. www.nickbelley.com
ROBERT KUHN (Costume Designer) is a Chicago based freelance costume designer and is pleased to be returning to Mercury Theater Chicago where he previously designed The Bardy Bunch and The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes. Recent design credits include: Dance for Beginners (Piven Theater Workshop), I Am My Own Wife (About Face Theater), Mame (Light Opera Works), Heathers (Kokandy Productions), and White Christmas (Drury Lane Oakbrook). Select Chicago credits include works with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Marriott Theatre, Northwestern University, Lookingglass Theatre Company, and Emerald City Theatre. Regional design credits include Smokey Joe’s Café (Pennsylvania Centre Stage); Dracula and Othello (Arkansas Shakespeare Theater). Coming up he will be designing Bonnie and Clyde with Kokandy Productions. Robert is an artistic associate with About Face Theater. (www.robertskuhn.com)
CARL WAHLSTROM (Sound Designer) is happy to be designing and mixing Hair as his 10th consecutive show at Mercury Theater Chicago, where he last sound designed I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett. A Maine native, Carl got his start working at Penobscot Theatre Company. He also worked at Production Services of Maine, assisting large touring acts on the Bangor and Portland Waterfronts. Carl graduated cum laude with a BA in Audio and Acoustics from Columbia College. He's proud to be the resident sound engineer at Mercury Theater Chicago and enjoys occasional gigs at Schubas Tavern and the Riviera Theatre.
PETE GUITHER (Video Designer) is the artistic director of The Living Canvas, telling compelling stories with performers’ bodies clothed with the textures of projected images. He recently retired as assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University, where he taught arts management, theatre photography, computer graphic design, and entrepreneurship. He has a MFA in performing arts management from Brooklyn College and a BA in theatre from Cornell College. The Living Canvas celebrates the beauty and expressive power of the human form through performance art and photography, nurturing a sense of body acceptance for performer and audience. It is spectacle and storytelling, utilizing creative lighting, sound, and multi-media imagery that interact with the human canvas. The Living Canvas was founded in 2001 and has emerged as a unique and powerful technique for telling compelling stories in a wide variety of settings. TheLivingCanvas.com
MEAHLAH HEIDENREICH (Properties Designer) is excited to be making her propping debut with Mercury Theater Chicago. Some of her Chicago designs include The House That Will Not Stand, A Wonder In My Soul, Native Gardens (Victory Gardens); Caged Dames, Miracle! (Hell in a Handbag Productions); A Funny Thing…Forum, In the Heights, Dreamgirls (Porchlight Music Theatre); Really Really, Recent Tragic Events (Interrobang Theatre Project); Chalk, Mai Dang Lao (Sideshow Theater Company); City of Conversation, Faceless (Northlight Theatre). Mealah is a loudly queer ensemble member with Hell in a Handbag Productions.
KEVIN BARTHEL (Wig/Hair Design) celebrated his 20 year anniversary as a Chicago based actor/designer. He has been the resident wig designer at Theatre at the Center since 1999. He started his wig career in college working in the costume shop and the wig responsibilities fell into his lap. As a self-taught wig man his work has appeared at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Drury Lane Evergreen Park, Drury Lane Water Tower, Marriott Theatre, Porchlight Music Theater, Six Flags Great America, The Fireside Playhouse, The Palace Theatre, as well as numerous special events, films, high school and college productions around the country. He is honored to be returning to Mercury Theater Chicago again, where he started with The Christmas Schooner. He is also the producer/creator of a DIY Web series, At Home with Kevin Barthel.
JESS GOINGS (Associate Lighting Designer) This is Jess’s second show at Mercury Theater Chicago, her first being Avenue Q. Regional credits include designs for Genesis Theatrical Productions, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, The Clarence Brown Theatre, Opera New Jersey and Porchlight Music Theatre. She has also served as Assistant Lighting Designer for productions at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Nashville Children’s Theatre and Nashville Opera. Jess is an Architectural Lighting Designer for Schuler Shook. She thanks her love and the best actor in the world, Jake Baker, for all his support.
KRISTI J. MARTENS* (Production Stage Manager) is happy to be at Mercury Theater Chicago after being the Production Stage Manager for Mary Poppins. Kristi was also the PSM at the Mercury for I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett, The Producers, The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, The Addams Family (Jeff Award Winner - Best Musical Mid-Sized Theater), Avenue Q and The Color Purple. Some other theaters that she has worked at: Drury Lane Theater Oakbrook Terrace, Northlight Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, 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), Theatre at the Center (Munster, IN), WYO Theater (Sheridan, WY), Carousel Dinner Playhouse (Akron, OH), Dallas Theater Center (Dallas, TX). A proud Equity member for over 27 years, Kristi started stage managing with children’s theater. Enjoy!
HANNAH WICHMANN* (Assistant Stage Manager) is happy to be making her Mercury Theater Chicago debut with Hair. Recently Hannah stage managed Jesus Christ Superstar at Paramount Theatre. Other credits include assistant stage managing Spamalot at Theatre at the Center and The Little Mermaid at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. She has also worked at The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and PCPA Theatrefest. She received her MFA in stage management from University of California San Diego. Thanks to Mom, Dad, Maggie, Tareena, Laura and Lila for all your love and support. Proud Actors’ Equity Association Member.
L. WALTER STEARNS (Executive 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 winning productions of The Addams Family and Ragtime as well as the Jeff Award nominated productions of 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 last season was awarded the Jeff Award for New Work. 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. Next for Walter is directing the 7th season of The Christmas Schooner.