ELIZABETH SWANSON (DIRECTOR)
Elizabeth is a Chicago-based theater director. Recent credits include I Know My Own Heart (Pride Films & Plays), Hildegard: A New Musical (With a Machete Productions), Where All the White Sneakers At? (Second City) and Lungs (Granary Theatre, Cork, Ireland). Assistant directing credits include Fun Home (Victory Gardens Theater), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Vardo for the Dublin Theatre Festival (Anu Productions). Elizabeth has also directed for Stage 773’s Artists Lab, as well as festival shows and readings with About Face Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Theater Marathon, The New Colony and Waltzing Mechanics, among others. Elizabeth holds an MFA from the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Arts at the University of Dublin. elizabethswansondirector.com
DEREK VAN BARHAM (DIRECTOR)
Derek is the Producing Artistic Director of Kokandy Productions, and a member of the Red Tape Theatre ensemble. He previously served as Associate Artistic Director of Pride Films & Plays. For PFP, he directed Perfect Arrangement, Angry Fags(Steppenwolf Garage), Songs from an Unmade Bed (Jeff nomination), and (co-directing) PRISCILLA, Queen of the Desert. Choreography credits include The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier and BITE (PFP), all Black Button Eyes productions, and Salonathon. Other directing credits include The View Upstairs (Circle Theatre), Three Days of Rain (Boho) and Miracle! by Dan Savage and Skooby Don’t! (Hell in a Handbag). He was named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community.
KYRA LEIGH (MUSIC DIRECTOR)
Kyra is active as both a musician and actor. She’s composed and performed for the prestigious Stewart Ostrow Musical Theatre Lab, Prop Thtr, and released a full length album, “Transfigure.” She’s acted with the Jeff Award-winning Theo Ubique, The National Pastime Theatre, and is making her debut with Pride Films & Plays. She’s performed as a solo artist at venues such at Mary’s Attic, Park West, The Abbey Pub and Davenport’s. She also directs shows at the Chicago School of Rock and is an active church musician with North Shore Baptist. She is a passionate advocate for trans visibility in the worlds of pop music, classical music and theatre. She is currently represented by DDO Artists.
BREON ARZELL (CHOREOGRAPHER)
Most commonly known as an actor, Arzell’s breakout, and award-winning, premiere as a Chicago choreographer came with Oracle Productions’ The Hairy Ape. The Detroit native received his first training while at Miami University. In Chicago, he has worked as a dancer, choreographer and instructor at Joel Hall Dancers & Center, Porchlight Music Theatre, Vagabond School and The Goodman Theatre (for their Musical Theater Program). Developing his own style of dance (hip-hop, jazz, modern, lyrical, contemporary and body percussion) and storytelling, movement credits include: We Are Proud to Present(Steppenwolf Theatre), Poseidon! (Hell in a Handbag), The Total Bent (Haven Theatre/About Face), Rightlynd, The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens Theater), Night Runner, Wig Out (DePaul University); Julius Caesar (Writers Theatre), Marie Christine (BoHo Theatre), The Wiz (Kokandy), Scottsboro Boys (Porchlight Music Theatre), and more. His talents have allowed him to work all across the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Singapore and Malaysia.
ADAM BORCHERS (PROPS DESIGNER)
EMILY BOYD (SCENIC PAINTER)
is thrilled to be back at Kokandy for yet another amazing production with Head Over Heels! Ms. Boyd originally hails from San Antonio, TX but came to the second city for college and never left! Ms. Boyd attended The Theatre School at DePaul University, where she received her BFA in Scene Design, and studied abroad at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She began working in the Chicago Theatre scene full time in 2014 and has been here ever since, with a handful of regional work sprinkled in. Emily has work with such companies as Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Broadway in Chicago, Porchlight, Metropolis Theatre, Trollwood Performing Arts School, (re)Discover Theatre, Underscore Theatre Company, The Chicago Children’s Theatre, BoHo Theatre, Otherworld Theatre, and The Circle Theatre, and Haven Theatre where she is currently the resident props master. Though Ms. Boyd’s degree is in Scenic Design, she has worked in a variety of departments in theatre’s technical field, from props to scenic painting, scene design, practical special effects, and carpentry, Emily has done it all. Favorite productions of Ms. Boyd’s work are: most recently, Total Bent ( Haven Theatre, props) The Displaced (Haven Theatre, props and FX) and Down the Rocky Road and All the Way to Bedlam (Otherworld Theatre, Scenic Designer) and, of course, The Wiz (Kokandy Productions, Scenic Charge). Emily is also the founder and head artist at Sass Flash and Graphics.
RACHEL CAFFEY (ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER)
is thrilled to be joining Kokandy for Head Over Heels! Last May, she had the privilege of being in the ensemble of Minnie’s Boys with Porchlight Theatre’s revisit series. She is currently pursuing her BFA at the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Rachel would like to thank Scot, Derek, Elizabeth, Hannah, crew, and the cast of this incredible production for making this such a lovely and fulfilling experience.
HANNAH CREMIN (STAGE MANAGER)
is originally from Holland MI and just recently moved to the city after graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in Stage Management. Some of her favorite credits include: Hershel & the Hanukkah Goblins (Stage Manager), Masque Macabre (Asst. Stage Manager), Fast Food Chain (Asst. Stage Manager), Sister Act (Stage Manager), Million Dollar Quartet(Asst. Stage Manager), and the most onstage fun was during The Crucible (“Mary Warren”). Thank you to my family for supporting all of me. Much love!
THE GO-GO'S (MUSIC & LYRICS)
are band members Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane Wiedlin and they will forever have the beat! These female pioneers formed The Go-Go’s in 1978 and were an integral part of the LA punk scene. The Go-Go’s made history as the first, and to date only, all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to ever top the Billboard charts. Their 1981 debut album, Beauty and the Beat, was #1 on the charts for six consecutive weeks and it remains one of the most successful debut albums of all time. Other albums include Vacation (1982), Talk Show (1984) and God Bless The Go-Go’s (2001). With a 1982 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a place in history that no other band can claim, it is assured that the Go-Go’s will keep going with a classic catalog of songs that transcends time, trends and genres.
URIEL GOMEZ (COSTUME DESIGN)
Design credits include the Chicago premieres of The Madres, The Wolf At The End Of The Block, Parachute Men (Teatro Vista); Small World, Punk! (The New Colony); Wolves, Dark Matters (Exit 63 Theatre); De Troya, The River Bride (Halcyon Theatre); Mike Pence Sex Dream, Refrigerator, Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea (First Floor Theatre) and many more. He would like to thank his friends, and family for all their support. For more information & designs, please visit ugomez.com
ABBY LETSCHER (MASTER ELECTRICIAN)
is a theatre artist from Minnesota who is current studying theatre at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. As a part of Northwestern’s student theatre community, Abby has been a member of the production team—as a master electrician, assistant lighting designer, and co-lighting designer—for nearly 7 projects this past year.
JAMES MAGRUDER (ADAPTATION)
made his Broadway debut with the book for Triumph of Love. His adaptations of Marivaux, Moliére, Lesage, Labiche, Gozzi, Hofmannsthal, Dickens and Giraudoux have been staged across the country in Germany and Japan, and his dissertation, Three French Comedies, was named an “Outstanding Literary Translation of the Year” in 1997. Also a fiction writer, he has published Sugarless, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist; Let Me See It, a story collection; and Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall. He teaches dramaturgy at Swarthmore College and French drama at the Yale School of Drama.
G. "MAX" MAXIN IV (LIGHTING DESIGN)
is excited to be working with Kokandy for the first time! Max is a full-time Instructor at Northeastern Illinois University, a two-time Jeff Nominated Freelance Production Designer in Chicago, and is one of the co-founders of Another Door Theatre Project. He holds an MFA in Theatrical Production Design from Michigan State University and a BA from Ashland University in the same. Favorite Chicago Area credits include: Bright Star, 110 in the Shade, Cyrano (Jeff Nomination), A Little Night Music, Urinetown (Jeff Nomination), Three Days of Rain, Next to Normal (BoHo); Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (American Blues); Pippin, Avenue Q (Mercury) ; Miracle on 34th Street, Forever Plaid (Theatre at the Center); For the Record, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Northwestern); The View Upstairs (Circle Theatre); Homos or Everyone in America, Angry Fags (Pride Films & Plays); Chorus Line, Little Women, Cabaret, Bare (Another Door) www.ivMaxin.com
PATRICK JOHN O'BRIEN (SOUND ENGINEER)
is a theatrical wonk, pundit, and dogsbody returning to Kokandy, having previously engineered Grand Hotel, Bonnie & Clyde. Heathers. Loving Repeating. and Full Monty. Other design/engineering work: Steel Magnolias, Year with Frog and Toad, Kiss Me, Kate (Big Noise Theatre); Good Fight (Babes with Blades); Beowulf, R + J: The Vineyard (Red Theater Chicago); Story of a Story (Underscore Theatre). Millikin University ’14. He also writes pithy things for chicagolandmusicaltheatre.com. His sound portfolio: pobsound.com.
MICHAEL J. PATRICK (SOUND DESIGN)
NICHOLAS REINHART (PRODUCTION MANAGER)
is thrilled to be joining this incredible team in Arcadia! Nicholas currently holds the title of Artistic Director at Circle Theatre Chicago, where he produced the Chicago premiere of The View UpStairs, the world premiere of The Condition of Femme, as well as Venus in Fur, Triassic Parq, and 35MM. As a freelance producer, he recently produced the one-night-only remount of Boystown hit, Snow White and the Seven Drag Queens, and is working on the upcoming world premiere of The Island of Misfits with CPA Theatricals, Inc. During the day, you can find him on Lincoln Avenue operating as the General Manager of the Greenhouse Theater Center. Thank you to Derek, Elizabeth, Scot, and the rest of the team for this joyous opportunity.
CHRISTOPHER RHOTON (SCENIC DESIGNER)
is delighted to be making his Kokandy design debut with Head Over Heels! Recent design credits include: Poseidon: An Upside Down Musical Adventure at The Edge Theatre produced by Hell in a Handbag Productions, Nina Simone: Four Women at Northlight Theatre, Into the Woods at Music Theatre Works, and The Wizard of Oz at Paramount Theatre. Upcoming productions include: How to Succeed in Business… for Music Theatre Works and the world premiere of Beau: A New Musical at Adirondack Theatre Festival. Christopher was nominated for Jeff Award for his design of End of the Rainbow at Porchlight Music Theatre. He earned his M.F.A. in Scenic Design from Indiana University, and is currently based in Chicago. He is on the design team for the USA’s Emerging Artist’s Exhibit at the 2019 Prague Quadrennial. For more information, visit www.Christopher-Rhoton.com.
SARAH SCANLON (INTIMACY DIRECTOR)
is a Chicago-based multi-disciplinary actor and IDI certified intimacy director. She’s collaborated in various capacities with The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Lifeline Theatre, Steep, Redtwist, Pride Films and Plays, The Conspirators, Factory Theater, Akvavit Theatre Company, New York Fringe Festival, Promethean, and the American Repertory Theatre, among others. To see some of her choreography on screen check out the new web series Damaged Goods by VAM Studios. Sarah holds an MFA in Acting with a movement concentration from the Moscow Art Theatre School (A.R.T. and Harvard affiliated). For upcoming projects, more info, or to just say hi, find her at sarahscanlon.com
JOHNNIE SCHLEYER (TECHNICAL DIRECTOR)
JEFF WHITTY (CREATOR, ORIGINAL BOOK)
Musicals: Avenue Q (15th Anniversary, Broadway and Off-, West End, International, Tonys Best Book and Musical), Bring It On (Tony Nom. Best Musical), Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City (Bay Area Critics Circle Award, Book), his original Head Over Heels (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, music supervisor Carmel Dean). Plays: The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, The Plank Project, Balls, The Hiding Place, Suicide Weather, The Reducers, Beware Your Representatives, Broadway Buh-Bye. Upcoming film: co-screenplay for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, starring Melissa McCarthy. Mr. Whitty performs on occasion (MFA NYU Grad Acting).