Theatre Under the Stars

may 16 – 28

Story of RENT

Original Broadway cast in performance, 1996
(Joan Marcus/Matt Ross Public Relations)

RENT“a titan of musical theatre” a 90’s cultural impact that has left our hearts filled with compassion as this musical showcases the crisis of the AIDS epidemic. Raw and unfiltered, this musical is guaranteed to pull at your heart strings! 

Jonathan Larson’s main objective and challenge in his theatre shows was to connect people in an intellectual and emotional way. Allowing not only the audience to connect, but the actors to connect with the audience in a way that provoked emotion. and RENT changed what the look and sound of musical theatre and continues to inspire audiences and spark conversations every time it’s performed.



Jonathan Larson was born on February 4, 1960 to parents Al and Nan and an older sister, Julie. The family — Jewish, middle-class, and liberal — lived in White Plains, a suburb roughly 35 miles north of New York City.

Al and Nan raised their children with music and the arts at the forefront. From a young age Jonathan demonstrated a combined talent for music and theatricality with his “piano man” flair. That skill and charisma won him a four-year acting scholarship to Adelphi University, a private liberal arts school on Long Island, where he went under the tutelage of Jacques Burdick.

Larson (right) and classmates in a production of Moonchildren, 1981. (Photographer unknown)


Actors at Adelphi were supposed to take concepts from class and develop their own approach to the craft through practice. During Larson’s time, a school year included four mainstage shows, twenty to twenty-five studio shows, and four cabarets. The cabarets were key to Larson’s development as a writer and composer. They were hastily-written, often inspired by the week’s newspapers, and contained political commentary, raunchy humor, and contemporary music — another antithesis to commercial theatre.

Through cabarets, Larson developed his professional skills and personal attitudes toward his work and the world around him. Additionally, they were a way for Larson to practice marrying contemporary music styles with show tunes. It allowed him the opportunity to fully understand how theatre should connect people to each other and themselves both intellectually and emotionally, performers and audience members alike.


In 1982, Larson moved into a run-down apartment off of Greenwich Street and his professional plans at the time were immediate and ambitious. On a sheet of paper titled “Ideal Situation” Larson outlined his plans for a musical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. Unfortunately, an upcoming film adaptation meant that an upstart like Larson couldn’t get the rights to the material from the Orwell estate. So, Larson made it his own.

Larson re-conceptualized 1984 into Superbia. The show’s setting became a dystopia called where peoples’ lives are plastic and emotions are almost non-existent. In step with the themes of his previous cabarets, Larson railed against the emptiness of hyper-saturated consumer culture that to his eyes was increasingly taking the place of interpersonal relationships.

However, Superbia was having a difficult time gaining momentum. Its subject matter and Larson’s yet unrefined skills put it at odds with the polish of Broadway. A presentation of the first hour to a Dramatist Guild panel in April 1986 got a mixed reception, though Sondheim praised certain parts for its promise. With the money he won in 1987 from the Richard Rogers Development Grant, Larson was able to fund a reading of the new version at Playwrights Horizons in December 1988. It was a disaster. Larson had a penchant for writing with specific people, staging, and design elements in mind, and he was frustrated that he couldn’t cast his non-union friends, create staging, or use a full band. Instead, he got a cast that sang his 80’s synth pop-influenced music too stylistically “Broadway” to the accompaniment of a single piano. Sondheim left after Act I.

At this point, he was seven years past Adelphi and his friends were getting stable jobs, as artists or otherwise. He took more industrial gigs and honed his skills, but mostly focused on developing a new one-man show that vented his frustration and doubts over his future. The new show was originally titled 30/90, as Larson would turn 30 in 1990, and it was his way of comprehending his life and world more personally than Superbia.

Jonathan was a person who preferred writing his feelings instead of talking about them. 30/90 expressed the opposition he felt between his own values and the direction of his generation and American society. Should he be true to himself or sell out? Is selling out that bad of a thing in the first place? He focused on his fears of failure: failure to meet his potential, to contribute meaning to a world unwilling to invest in new ideas, to make ends meet, to be a good friend and partner, or to make his parents proud. As more of Larson’s friends began getting diagnosed with HIV he put the validity of his fears against the cold reality of the AIDS. Over four years of development and two re-titlings to Boho Days and finally tick, tick…BOOM! the emotional core and storytelling structure remained mostly the same. In November 1991, Leacock produced two shows of tick, tick…BOOM! at the Village Gate, but like Superbia it failed to gain traction. By the end of 1992, he had shifted most of his focus to Rent.



In the summer of 1989, a young playwright named Billy Aronson started an adaptation of Puccini’s opera La Bohème and reached out to Ira Weitzman at Playwrights Horizons looking for a composer. Weitzman recommended he speak to Jonathan Larson, and in September 1989 the two began working through Aronson’s first draft. In 1990, at Larson’s urging, Boheme was re-named RENT. Larson liked the name for its dual-meaning– owing money but also (as the past-tense of “rend”) being torn apart.

Larson had become more politically active as the AIDS epidemic progressed and several of his closest friends fell ill. When his childhood friend Matthew O’Grady was diagnosed in 1987, Larson accompanied him to group meetings at Friends in Deed and began volunteering at another counseling group called the Manhattan Center for Living. Larson also saw RENT as an opportunity to portray HIV+ people in their full humanity as opposed to the mainstream tendency to reduce them to statistics, debate material, or objects to pity.


Larson wanted to connect to audiences in a way that would pull them away from their alienated views of the epidemic and would instead make them feel like the show’s characters were their friends. Throughout the majority of his work, Larson incorporated aspects of his friends in his characters, and RENT was no different. He wanted people to see his friends as he saw them.

A draft of RENT’s first act was complete by July 1992 and got its first look somewhat by happenstance. One day he rode his bike past New York Theatre Workshop, which was undergoing renovations, he dropped off the first act and a demo track and contacted a friend who worked with the theatre. Fortunately for Larson, NYTW was in a lull due to the renovations and their summer off-season and had the time to take an earnest look at the material.

Despite support from within the theatre, RENT presented a major logistical challenge. It was much bigger in scale and budget than anything NYTW had previously done. NYTW had never done a musical, the 15-person cast was significantly larger than usual for the company, and producing the show would require a full band and sophisticated sound mixing. On top of that, there was the artistic challenge of addressing the script’s many weaknesses. Without any solid guarantees from NYTW, Larson took the show to other theaters, but due to the same challenges as well as Larson’s reticence to collaborate, Rent looked like it might follow Superbia’s trajectory.

The project regained momentum in the spring of 1994 when Larson won $45,000 from another Richard Rogers Development Grant. With those funds, NYTW agreed to produce a workshop performance slated for that autumn. To help focus all of RENT’s disparate aspects and balance both Larson’s emotion-first writing and his perspective as a straight man, they brought on director Michael Greif, acclaimed for his recent production of Machinal at the New York Shakespeare Festival. That May, the three spent a week in Larson’s apartment going song-by- song and focusing on storytelling. They also refined the characters and cleaned up the problematic aspects of those characters’ gender and sexuality.

That September, casting began and the team took an unusual approach. Instead of using more traditional networks to bring actors to audition, Ettinger and others from NYTW recruited from downtown. RENT’s characters needed a raw authenticity that was hard to get from polished musical theatre actors, so they found performers whose artistry reflected those of each of the characters.

The new draft got a read-through in September but the characters’ dimensions still needed direction. From then to final dress, Larson worked on new songs and made revisions which conveyed emotion more than clever wordplay.


Like for the workshop performance, NYTW was looking for people, not necessarily actors, with a raw-er sound than typical theatre music. For example, Idina Menzel (Maureen) was at the time not a professional actor but a rock-band singer. The cast also became increasingly diverse, in contrast to the nearly all-white workshop performance. Greif and Weil also made sure to give rehearsals an informal tone and let the actors feel comfortable expressing themselves. Larson spent rehearsal quietly observing and relating to the cast, saving notes and conflicts for production meetings.

As rehearsals progressed, Larson was still rewriting and refining. The community atmosphere empowered actors and creatives to help form the production. Movement was a little more naturalistic rather than polished, the set found a stripped-down aesthetic that reflected both the architecture of East Village and the vulnerability at RENT’s core, and much of the clothing was sourced from thrift stores and the actors’ own wardrobes.


Larson and Greif at final dress.
(Sara Krulwich)

On January 21 at the first tech rehearsal, Larson felt a sharp pain in his chest walking to the back of the house. He was taken to Cabrini Medical Center where he was diagnosed with food poisoning. On January 23, he missed rehearsal and went to St. Vincent’s Hospital where he was told he had the flu and again sent home. The production team was worried, but they put it down to the stress of tech week. The next day, January 24, was final dress. There was a lot of trepidation as the show hadn’t yet had a full tech run, but at curtain call the packed house gave them a standing ovation.

After final dress, Larson did an hour-long interview after which he, Greif, and Nicola made plans to go through notes over breakfast the next morning. At around 3:30 AM, Larson’s body was discovered by his roommate in their apartment’s kitchen. The autopsy report that came a few days later found that he had died from an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm, a congenital condition with an 80-90% recovery rate if found in time.

The January 25 preview was canceled and instead the cast performed a sing-through for Larson’s family and close friends who had flown in immediately after hearing the news. It’s an understatement to say emotions were high, as the cast and team had bonded significantly over the past weeks. On the eve of Larson’s 36th birthday, February 3, 500 people attended Larson’s memorial service at the Minetta Lane Theater.

However, there was little time to fully grieve. Previews resumed on January 26 and there were still final adjustments that had to be made before opening– now without the input of the man who wrote the book, lyrics, and music. Nicola, Greif, Weil, and Thomson, along with Chuck McCollum who was enlisted as the Larson family’s point-person, worked to fix the remaining storytelling issues and make final touches with their best guess of what Larson would have wanted. The changes amounted to around 10 minutes of cuts and certain stage directions and descriptions being turned into new lines for Mark.


Broadway set
(Paul Clay)

Opening night was packed with press, and the company gave them a spectacle of a showing. The rave reviews, particularly Ben Brantley’s review for The New York Times, made RENT a sensation. The first month of performances sold out the day after that and the production was extended for another month. The tickets for the extended run sold out within a week. The producers now had a new conundrum– would taking the show to Broadway undermine the show’s bohemian character?

Moving to a bigger off-Broadway theater was financially unviable, so the only option for a move up would be Broadway. Larson himself hadn’t expected the show to have more success than an extended off-Broadway run. Some members of the cast thought Broadway audiences would find it too unconventional and others argued it was time for Broadway to be unconventional.

In the middle of rehearsals, on April 9 Rent won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the cast suddenly was in the midst of a media sensation. Despite the dazzle, the actors maintained their solidarity and collectively negotiated contracts which guaranteed no favoritism. Their togetherness carried them through the pressure to opening night on April 29. According to those who attended, it was like a Hollywood red carpet. Streets were blocked off, a gaggle of A-list celebrities got tickets, and at points some 50 photographers and 30 TV crews were hovering around. When the show started, the cast made their informal entrance and Adam Pascal said “we dedicate this and every performance to the memory of Jonathan Larson.”

Tickets sold out months in advance, but the theater reserved the first two rows for $20 rush tickets that went on sale two hours before each show to bring in those who didn’t usually watch theatre. The line for those tickets always went around the block and people dubbed “Rent heads” literally camped in that line up to 24 hours in advance.

RENT was a phenomenon. It won six Drama Desk Awards, three Obies, and “Best Musical” from the New York Drama Critics Circle, among others. It also got ten Tony nominations. Wilson Jermaine Heredia won “Best Featured Actor in a Musical.” and Rent“Best Musical,” “Best Score,” and “Best Book.” Wilson Jermaine Heredia won “Best Featured Actor in a Musical.”

Cast in costume
(Joan Marcus)



SIMONE GUNDY (Joanne Jefferson) is beyond happy to be back home with (TUTS) doing such an iconic show. Simone has had the pleasure of performing with (TUTS) in several productions, most notably Sister Act the Musical as (Deloris Van Cartier), (Addaperle) in The Wiz, (Felicia Ferrel) in Memphis and, (Deb) in Elf. She has loved claiming Houston as her new home performing in the city’s Thanksgiving Parade and with the amazing Drywater Band since 2017. As always, she wants to thank her family for being her biggest supporters and TUTS for continuing to give her the amazing opportunity to share her gift with the world.

JAMALL HOUSTON (Benjamin Coffin III) an award-winning singer, actor and songwriter from Dallas, TX, last seen as (Eddie) in (TUTS) production of Sister Act. Jamall’s voice can be heard on the GRAMMY Award winning album Kingdom Book One w/ Kirk Franklin and Maverick City Music. Regional Credits: Sister Act (TUTS), Godspell (WTT), The First Noel (Jubilee Theatre), and The Birds (Theatre Three). Single “Underwater” available on all streaming platforms. Thank you, God, Firestarter Entertainment, and my family. IG: justjamall.

ADRIAN LOPEZ (Roger Davis)is thrilled to make a homecoming appearance for his TUTS debut! Upon graduating with a BFA in Musical Theatre from SHSU, Adrian went on to lead the 1st National Tour of Spamilton: An American Parody starring as (Lin Manuel Miranda). Since then, he has taken the stage in New York regional productions such as Once and Ring of Fire, both at (Geva Theatre Company). Adrian is elated to be back in the city where his dreams of being a performer all started! “RENT is one of those musicals that truly breathes life into me.” Like for most people, it’s what first got me interested in musicals! I can’t wait to share my version of Roger with y’all. Special thanks to God, my agents at Clear Talent Group, my brother Andrew, and our North American House Hippo- Dio Brando. (he’s a Pitbull, not an actual hippo)” IG: adrian_lopezz

WILL MANN (Tom Collins) “Dedicates his performance to the over 120,000 New York City residents who have lost their lives due to AIDS related causes. (1981-present) Lead with Love. @UUILLMANN”

TOMÁS MATOS (Angel Dumott Schnuard)(they/them) is a New York actor, rapper, writer, and model. Tomás made their feature debut in this summer’s hottest romcom, Fire Island(Searchlight for Hulu) – directed by Andrew Ahn and starring Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho and Joel Kim Booster. Tomás was just cast in the upcoming romcom for (Amazon), Space Cadet, starring Emma Roberts and directed by Liz Garcia. They are graduates of the renowned LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts – (yes, the FAME school!). Tomás was an original cast member of Diana the Musicalon (Broadway) and the (Netflix) adaptation. They also made history as the first trans-femme non-binary performer to play the role of a (Fate) in Hadestownon (Broadway). Tomás was the face of Savage Fenty’s 2022 Pride Campaign, Tiffany & CO, and featured in Madonna’s skincare line, MDNA skin. You can catch Tomás on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter strutting sickening looks. Stream Tomás’ new music neow! @tomatos_

ISABELLA DE SOUZA MOORE (Mimi Marquez) is thrilled to be making her TUTS debut! Regional credits include: (Honey) in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), 9 to 5 (Musical Theatre West), Young Frankenstein (La Mirada Theatre), World Premiere of Mystic Pizza (Ogunquit Playhouse), Annie (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), and Mary Poppins (Syracuse Stage). TV Credits: (Hulu’s) The Path. Thanks to About Artists Agency, Jane, and her incredible family and friends! @isabelladesouzamoore

SCOTT REDMOND (Mark Cohen) (he/him) is stoked to be making his (TUTS) debut in this dream role! A New York-based actor most recently seen (Off-Broadway) in Becomes a Woman and on the (national tour of Daniel Fish’s) Oklahoma!. Additional recent credits include Ride the Cyclone (Alliance Theatre, Original Cast Recording),Freedom Riders(NYMF, Original Cast Recording),Bayard (El Museo Del Barrio), Fat Kid Rules the World(Theatre Row), and After Forever (Amazon Prime). BFA Acting, UConn. Endless thanks to friends and family! @notscottredmond. For Leroy.

TERESA ZIMMERMANN (Maureen Johnson) is thrilled to be back at (TUTS) with this dream cast, in a dream show, and a dream role. Theatre Under the Stars: Rock of Ages (Regina). Jerome Robbins Broadway (Ma/Golde/Elektra). The Secret of My Success (Ensemble, U/S Lester). (Stages Theatre): ROE (Norma McCorvey), (Stages) Studio Session (Self). Great American Trailer Park Musical (Pickles). Veronica’s Room (Girl). (Alley Theatre): Amerikin (Michelle). A Christmas Carol (Belle, Ensemble, Swing). Survivors: an Alamo Play (Susanna Dickinson). Mr. Texas (as cast). (Fourth Wall Theatre Company): Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Honey). AD Players: (Godspell), Christmas Shoes (Maggie). Other credits include Violet (Violet). MacGyver the Musical (Cue Card Person). Sideshow (Violet). For Tonight (Molly). Consultation/Design/Writing Credits: Rec Room Arts: Hurricane Diane (Vocal Consultant/Lament Composer). (Stages Theatre): Stages Studio Session (playwright), MacGyver the Musical (Cue Card consultant). A singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Teresa performs solo and with Danny Ray and the Atlantic Street Band. She uses her 200 hr. Yoga teacher certification to support her work as a trauma-informed voice teacher. Much love to Will, Bennie & Kolache, and the framily.


KAHLIL CABBLE (Ensemble) is thrilled to be making his debut at (Theatre Under The Stars). He’s a recent graduate of Point Park University. He was previously seen in the (Pittsburgh CLO’s productions) of Peter Pan, Rock of Ages and A Chorus Line (Don). You can also see him as a dancer in the (Netflix) film, White Noise. Additionally, Kahlil is a realtor here in Houston and loves to help people find a home! @kahlilcabble

DWAYNE COOK (Ensemble) began dancing at the age of three at (The Houston Ballet Academy/J.C. Sanderson Elementary for the Performing Arts). He continued his training at (Lamar Fleming Middle School Fine Arts Academy) and was accepted into (HSPVA). He joined Exclamation Dance Co. in 2006. Dwayne has also trained at the Ailey School, the (School of American Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem), PNB, Complexions and NDT. Dwayne is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.  Dwayne has performed works by world renowned choreographers such as George Balanchine, ALVIN AILEY, Ben Stevenson, Matthew Rushing, Dwight Rhoden, William Forsyth, Judith Jamison, Christopher Wheeldon, Robert Battle, Thang Dao, Garrett Smith. He was a principal dancer Philadanco, MET dance. His commercial credits include dancing for Frank Gatson (Beyoncé), Chris Brown, Anthony Burrell, So You Think You Can Dance 8,9,10 (Top 30) and Jazmine Sullivan. His (Broadway) credits include The Wiz, Kinky Boots and Disney: The Little Mermaid.

JACK GERESKI (Swing) is excited to be back with TUTS! Regionally, Jack has been seen in The Secret of My Success (TUTS), King Lear (Houston Shakespeare Festival), The Lifespan of a Fact (4th Wall), Cymbeline (HSF), Lungs (Smart Mouth Theatre Co.), Ring Around the Moon, and An Ideal Husband (UH). Jack has also been seen in musicals Urinetown, Merrily We Roll Along, and Les Miserables. Jack is currently based in New York City. Find more at and @j_gereski3 on Instagram. MFA: University of Houston Professional Actor Training Program.  

STEPHANIE JONES (Ensemble) Walt Disney World: 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙇𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙆𝙞𝙣𝙜 (Zawadi). Country Playhouse: 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝘽𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙇𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙡𝙚 𝙒𝙝𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙏𝙚𝙭𝙖𝙨 (Jewel). Masquerade Theater: RENT (Featured Soloist). HFAC: Crowns (Velma). SFE Houston: 𝙎𝙞𝙭, 𝙒𝙞𝙘𝙠𝙚𝙙 (Featured Soloist). Stages Theatre: 𝙋𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙤, 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙇𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙡𝙚 𝙈𝙚𝙧𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙙 (Finn). Stages Theatre: 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝘼𝙧𝙚 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙄𝙣𝙫𝙞𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙎𝙞𝙩 𝙄𝙣 (Hannah). The Public Theater of San Antonio: Nina Simone: Four Women (Sephronia). Stephanie is thrilled to be working with TUTS for the first time. She thanks her family and friends for their love and support.  

JAYSON KOLBICZ (Ensemble) was previously seen at TUTS in Guys & Dolls and The Wiz in 2018 and Queensbury Theatre’s SideShow in 2019. Since then, he has been a part of 12 productions here, just behind the curtain, supervising the hair & makeup department. “After four years, I couldn’t be more excited or more grateful to be returning to the stage, doing my favorite musical, on THIS stage!” So much love to my family, friends, & my TUTS family for their never-ending support & love! IG: @jaykolbicz_ @paintedjukebox

TYLER RAY LEWIS (Ensemble) Directing: Titanic. Stage: Head Over Heels (Pythio), Newsies (Medda Larkin), The Wizard of Oz (Glinda), Tuck Everlasting (Man in the Yellow Suit) and The Rocky Horror Show (Dr. Frank-N-Furter). INSTAGRAM: @Luxxuray_ TWITTER: @tylerraylew. 

MILES MARMOLEJO (Ensemble) is excited to be returning to (TUTS)! Favorite roles include: An American in Paris (Jerry Mulligan) BAHBT; West Side Story (Baby John) A.D.Players; Footloose (Ren); Parade (Frankie Epps) (in concert). TUTS (ensemble) A Chorus Line; The Music Man; Elf (Souvlaki Cart Guy); Bonnie and Clyde (Archie); TUTS/Miller – All Shook Up (ensemble); Yankee Doodle Dandy (Young George). Film/Commercial: Looper (Young Joe), HEB/Astros, Verizon, Laura Star (voice of Paul). Love to my family.

DOMINIC PECIKONIS (Ensemble) (They/Them/Theirs) is ecstatic to be making their (TUTS) Debut in their dream show. They previously performed at TUTS in the national tour of Spamilton An American Parody, and recently played (Angel) in RENT at (The Umbrella Stage Company) in Concord, Massachusetts. Black Trans Lives Matter. Drag is not a crime. Gender Affirming Care saves lives. Instagram: @mythriftyaesthetic, @elizarocksofficial. TikTok: @domandeliza

GEMINI QUINTOS (Ensemble) was most recently on the (TUTS) stage as (Lester) in The Secret of My Success. (Broadway/NYC): (Annie), A Christmas Carol, The Wizard of Oz. (Manila), Philippines: Into the Woods (Baker’s Wife), The Full Monty (Estelle), (Disney’s) Aladdin (World Premiere), (Disney’s) Tarzan. Gemini is a native of Queens, New York, and a local of Houston. She owns and runs Sam & Davy in the Heights with her family. @samanddavy

SARAH SACHI(Ensemble) is delighted to be back at TUTS! She’s a native of Pearland, Texas and holds a BFA from Sam Houston State University in Acting/Directing. Some productions you may recognize her from include South Pacific (Nurse Dinah), You Are Cordially Invited to Sit-In (Mae Florence), The Secret of My Success (Ensemble), Mary Poppins (Ensemble), and ROE (Roxy). Sachi’s talents have also been recognized at KCACTF where she was an Irene Ryan finalist and won the best comedy award 2 years in a row. Now, Sachi is continuing her acting pursuit.

YASMYN SUMIYOSI (Swing) (she/her) is grateful to be a part of the story that sparked her love for theatre. RENT is her 10th production at TUTS! Yasmyn is a San Antonio native currently residing in New York City. Her recent credits include Mary Poppins, The Secret of My Success, The Little Mermaid, South Pacific, A Chorus Line, and Mamma Mia. Yasmyn can also be seen on the (Disney+ TV Show, Encore! (Godspell episode). She graduated from Sam Houston State University with her BFA in Musical Theatre. Yasmyn would like to thank God, her family, and her friends for their endless support! @yasmynwhodances

RAVEN JUSTINE TROUP (Ensemble) is thrilled to be back for another show with TUTS! Previous TUTS credits include Mary Poppins (Ensemble); The Little Mermaid (Ensemble); Sister Act (Mary Robert);Elf the Musical (Jovie); Spring Awakening (Ilse); Seussical the Musical (Gertrude McFuzz); Mamma Mia! (Lisa); and The Wiz(Ensemble). Other credits include Seascape (Alley Theatre);Amerikin (Alley Theatre); A Christmas Carol(Alley Theatre); SensitiveGuys (Stages); Little Shop of Horrors (Stages); For Colored Girls… (Obsidian); Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Art Factory); and Funny Girl (Art Factory). Upcoming:Sanctuary City (Fourth Wall).

creative team

JONATHAN LARSON (Book, Music, & Lyrics) received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for RENT. He also won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and the 1994 Richard Rodgers Award for RENT and twice received The Gilman & Gonzales-Falla Theatre Foundation’s Comendation Award. In 1989 he was granted the Stephen Sondheim Award from American Music Theatre Festival, where he contributed to the musical “Sitting on the Edge of the Future”. In 1988 he won the Richard Rodgers Development Grant for his rock musical Superbia, which was staged at Playwrights Horizon. He composed the score for the musical J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation, which was presented by En Garde Arts in 1995. Mr. Larson performed his rock monologue tick, tick… BOOM! at Second Stage Theatre, The Village Gate and New York Theatre Workshop. In addition to scoring and song writing for “Sesame Street”, he created music for a number fo children’s book-cassettes, including Steven Spielberg’s “An American Tail” and “Land Before Time”. Other film scores include work for Rolling Stones magazine publisher Jann Wenner. He conceived, directed and wrote four original songs for “Away We Go!”, a musical video for children. RENT, his rock opera based on “La Boheme”, had its world premiere on February 13, 1996 at New York Theatre Workshop. Mr. Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, ten days before his 36th birthday. His music (including songs cut from his shows) is archived in the Library of Congress.

TY DEFOE (Director) (Giizhig) is a citizen of the Oneida and Anishinaabe Nations. Ty is a director/writer, interdisciplinary artist, and Grammy Award winner. Ty aspires to an interweaving and glitterizing approach to artistic projects in service of joy, the land, and liberation. Ty’s global cultural arts highlights: the Millennium celebration in Cairo, Egypt; Ankara, Turkey, International Music Festival; and Festival of World Cultures in Dubai.  Awards: Jonathan Larson, Helen Merrill Playwriting, and Global Indigenous Heritage Festival awards, Kennedy Center Next 50!, Macdowell, Robert Rauschenberg, Sundance First Peoples Cultural Capital fellow, and finalists for The Cordillera International Film Festival, We Will Always Be Here and Barbara Whitman for Directing. Works created and authored: Trail and Tears (w/ Dawn Avery) River of Stone, Red Pine, The Way They Lived, Ajijaak on Turtle Island, Hear Me Say My Name, The Lesson (w/ Avi Amon and Nolan Doran), and Firebird Tattoo, among others. Current release of VR and digital media projects ANAKWAD (w/ Dov Heichemer and _alpha), CIRCLE, and Strong Like Flower (w/ Katherine Freer). Credits include Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), Animated series, Spirit Rangers, (Netflix), and Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, Dir. Anna Shapiro (Helen Hayes Theater, Broadway). Director: The Winter Bear (Perseverance Theater), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Arizona Shakespeare Company). Movement Direction: Mother Road, (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Manahatta, (OSF + Yale Rep), 1491s Between Two Knees, (National Tour), and Choreographer for Tracy Lett’s The Minutes (Studio 54, Broadway).  An Art Equity Facilitator, co-founder of Indigenous Direction (w/ Larissa FastHorse). Member of All My Relations Collective, GIZHIBAA GIIZHIG | Revolving Sky at Under the Radar’s Incoming (The Public Theater, New York City). Publications: Casting a Movement, Pitkin Review, Thorny Locust Magazine, Howl Round, and Routledge Press, The Methuen Drama Book of Trans Plays for the Stage. Degrees from CalArts, Goddard College, + NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is Professor of Practice in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program at ASU. Lives in NYC + loves the color clear. Proud Member of ASCAP, AEA, DG, and SDC. He|We,,

MONICA JOSETTE (Choreographer) graduated from The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and The University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Modern Dance Pedagogy. She is a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association and was most recently featured as “Charlaine” in Surflight Theater’s production of Aint Misbehavin! Monica was an original cast member of the Off-Broadway Show Celia Cruz and is proud to have toured with several recording artists including Santigold, Kelly Rowland, Coldplay, Kanye West, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a few. A true international artist Monica has performed in over 40 countries in her years as a professional. Monica has an impressive tv/film IMDB with credits as a Unit Production Manager, a Second Unit Director and an Assistant Director during her years in Los Angeles. Monica is a successful Director/Choreographer/Actress whose show highlights include Aida, Hot MikadoAin’t Misbehavin, Dreamgirls, Single Black Female, Runaways, and The Secret of My Success! She is so proud to be the Choreographer for this amazing cast and production of RENT

CHARLIE ALTERMAN (Music Director) TUTS: The Secret of My Success, Into the Woods. Broadway: Music Director for Pippin, Next to Normal, Godspell and Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me.  Other Broadway credits include Legally Blonde (Associate Conductor). National tours include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Grease. TV: Music Consultant/Vocal Coach for “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”. Regional work includes: The Muny, The Old Globe, A.R.T., The Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, St. Louis Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Concert appearances include shows with Lorna Luft, Brooke Shields, Frankie Avalon, Emily Skinner, Billy Porter and Ken Page.

RYAN MCGETTIGAN (Scenic Designer) is a scenic designer for theatre, opera, and dance. He is the resident designer at (Cape Rep Theatre) in Brewster, MA and has been a company artist with (Prague Shakespeare Company) and the (Classical Theatre Company). Houston: (TUTS, Stages Repertory, Catastrophic, Main Street Theater, AD Players, 4th Wall). Awards for Best Scenic Design from Houston Press in 2015, 2019, and 2020.  Regional: (Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Cape Rep, Abilene Shakespeare Festival, Prague Shakespeare. Opera and Dance: Glimmerglass Festival, New Orleans Opera, Opera San Antonio, Opera San Jose, HGOco, Rice’s Shepherd School and Moody Center for the Arts, Asia Society in collaboration with Houston Ballet, Open Dance Project).

BRIAN TOVAR (Lighting Designer) is a Drama Desk-nominated lighting designer who has created original work for major Off-Broadway and regional theaters. His body of work spans theater, dance, installations, live events, and music, including recent and upcoming projects with Sam Smith and Mariah Carey. Brian has developed and collaborated on multiple groundbreaking and award-winning live experiences, earning multiple Clio Awards. He is a frequent collaborator with the City of New York and has designed multiple art installations across the city. Follow him at @tovarbri or visit

ANDREW HARPER (Sound Designer) for (Theatre Under the Stars) 2022-2023 season. Harper has designed dozens of musicals with TUTS since 2013 including Mary Poppins, The Secret of My Success, Ain’t Misbehavin’, South Pacific, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Rock of Ages, Elf, A Chorus Line, Seussical, and Ragtime. He has designed sound for productions with (Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera/Kennedy Center, New York City Opera, Lyric Opera Kansas City, Atlanta Opera, and Houston Ballet), among others. In summer 2021, Harper designed the outdoor sound system and all productions on it for the (Glimmerglass) “On the Grass” Festival in New York. Special thanks to Boomer, Team Sound, Mary, Bart, and Lisa.

KATHERINE FREER (Projections Designer)is a multimedia artist, filmmaker, organizer, and educator whose artistic practice lives at the intersection of storytelling, technology, and civic engagement. Frequent collaborators include Ping Chong, Ty Defoe, Kamilah Forbes, Steve H. Broadnax III, Lux Haac, Porsche McGovern, Liza Jessie Peterson, Talvin Wilks, and Tamilla Woodard. She is a proud member of Wingspace Theatrical Design and United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829. Katherine is a core collaborator in All My Relations Collective and Director of the MFA in Integrated Media at University of Texas at Austin. @k8tefree

COLLEEN GRADY (Costume Designer) Previously,18 Seasons at Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Currently, Shop Manager/Designer at (TUTS). Select (TUTS) Designs: In the HeightsDreamgirls, Disney’s Beauty & The BeastGuys and DollsA Chorus LineElfRock of AgesSister Act, Secret of My Success, and Mary Poppins.  Love to husband Mark & their “fur kids”. For mom & dad always. Grateful to (TUTS) for giving her an artistic home. “Art washes away from the soul, the dirt of everyday life” – Pablo Picasso”.

KELLEY JORDAN (Hair & Makeup Designer) is a seasoned wig, hair and makeup designer with over 30 years of experience. Her designs were most recently seen in On Your Feet! & Smokey Joe’s Café at The Muny, A New Holiday on PBS, Elf, The Musical at (Theatre Under The Stars), and soon will be seen in the national tour of An Officer and A Gentleman. Kelley is a licensed cosmetologist, savvy businesswoman, and mentor as she spearheads K. Jordan Theatrical, a wig design and education studio, and is the first African American female wig designer to work at The Muny. Kelley credits her talents and her love of hair to her mother, Clara “Mickey” Wings, who taught her to believe that dreams do come true, and all things are possible through God.

STACY HAWKING (Assistant Director) (she/he/her) is very excited to be working at (TUTS) for the first time! She is a recent graduate from Texas State University where she received her MFA in Directing. Recent credits include: The Pajama Game (Associate Director, The Public Theatre), Into the Woods (Director, TXST), and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Director, TXST). She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas and holds a BFA in Musical Theatre. She is grateful for the constant support from her friends and family and thankful to Ty and the (TUTS) team for the opportunity!

HEATHER ANKLEY (Production Stage Manager) has worked professionally as a Stage Manager for over 25 years. Credits: TUTS: Ain’t Misbehavin’, Pittsburgh CLO: 6 seasons including: Double Threat Trio (World Premier), Peter Pan, Sister Act, Game On (World Premier), In The Heights, Titanic, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Kinky Boots, A Chorus Line, A Musical Christmas Carol, The REP: Scottsboro Boys, Wig Out!, Choir Boy, Souvenir,  PICT: Merchant of Venice, Pittsburgh Opera: Marriage of Figaro, Falstaff, Dead Man Walking, Grapes of Wrath. Proud member of AEA and IATSE #3.

EBONI BELL DARCY (EDIA/INTIMACY COACH) is a Stage Director, Choreographer and Theater Administrator from Houston, TX. She is the Inclusion, Engagement, and Training Director for Stages where she heads the advancement of equity, diversity, and inclusion through educational, artistic, and community programming. In 2020, Stages, with leadership from Eboni and in partnership with Art Equity, conducted a yearlong Anti Racism Facilitation training for the Houston Arts Community. Eboni is a member of the BIPOC Arts Network and Fund Steering Committee. BFA: Sam Houston State University. Member of the 2021 Houston Anti-Racism Facilitation Cohort trained by Art Equity. 2021 Art Equity BIPOC Leadership Circle Member. Credits include Human Race Theater Company: Barbecue(Director) Stages: Plumshuga (Co – Director, NewWork) Black Superhero Magic Mama(Director), You Are Cordially Invited to Sit-In (Producer), Panto Little Mermaid(Choreographer), Fatherland(Stage Director, New Work),
Panto Hansel & Gretel (Director, New Work). Houston Grand Opera: Katie: The Strongest of the Strong (Director and Choreographer, New Work), Marian’s Song(Assistant Director, New Work). (Icon Theatrix): Director/Choreography: Spring Awakening, Chicago, Rent, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Choreography: Heathers: The Musical, Carrie.

STEPHANIE BRITTON (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to be back at (TUTS.) Credits include (Theatre Under the Stars): (Assistant Stage Manager) Mary Poppins, The Secret of My Success, South Pacific, Little Mermaid, Rock of Ages, Spring Awakening, Seussical, Ragtime, Mamma Mia, (Humphrey School – Stage Manager): Addams Family, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, James and the Giant Peach. (HITS Theatre) (Stage Manager):Seussical JR & KIDS, Chicago (High School), Moana Jr., Showstoppers: A Scrapbook Musical, (A.D. Players) (Production Assistant) Apollo 8, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Miracle on 34th Street. Stages Repertory Theatre (Stage Manager): The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), The Revisionist, Panto Cinderella, Woody Sez, My Manana Comes, Panto Wonderful Wizard. (Rogue Productions) (Stage Manager): Love You Because, Touch(ed). BFA: University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance (’16). She would like to thank her loving friends and family for all of their support and love!

ETHAN MITCHELL (Assistant Stage Manager) Ethan has been a member of (TUTS) stage management for productions spanning 6 seasons. Some favorites include Pippin, The Secret Garden, Memphis, All Shook Up, Oklahoma, Sister Act, and The Secret of My Success. (TUTS/HSMT): American Idiot, The World According to Snoopy. Houston Ballet: Coppélia, The Merry Widow, Marie, and The Nutcracker (2019-2022). Alley Theatre: Cowboy Bob, High School Play. Ethan is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association.

CALLERI JENSEN DAVIS (James Calleri, Erica Jensen, Paul Davis) is a creative casting partnership of over 20 years located in NYC. Awarded 16 Artios Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Casting. Broadway credits include the current revivals of Topdog/ Underdog and The Piano Lesson. Also, For Colored Girls…, Thoughts of a Colored Man, Burn This, Fool for Love, Venus in Fur, Hedwig & The Angry Inch, The Elephant Man (also West End), Of Mice and Men, Hughie, The Visit, 33 Variations, A Raisin in the Sun, Living on Love, Chicago, James Joyce’s The Dead.  TV credits include Love Life (HBO Max) Queens (ABC) Dickinson (Hulu), The Path (Apple +), Lipstick Jungle, Army Wives, Monk, Hope & Faith, and Ed.