Bios + Pics
Spencer Whale, Director, Big Fish
Front Porch is excited to put BIG FISH in the hands of Pittsburgh native Spencer Whale, a vibrant young storyteller and graduate of Cornell University. Most recently, Spencer directed LUNGS for Off the WALL, for whom he also co-directed Linda Haston’s repertory one-woman show, Mother Lode. Before that, Spencer made his NYC directorial debut with the original comedy 100 Aker Wood, and he is currently a Directing Observer for the 2016-2017 Season at City Theatre, where he will assistant direct Artistic Director Tracy Brigden’s production of The Guard. He previously assisted Tracy on Hangar Theatre’s production of Next to Normal as a member of their 2012 Lab Company. Spencer’s favorite directing credits include Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus for Cornell’s 25th Anniversary Mainstage Season; subculture, an original evening of subversive short plays by Steve Yockey; and Melancholy Play, Sarah Ruhl’s farce about depression. This will be Spencer’s return to musical theatre in Pittsburgh after winning a Gene Kelly Award (Best Actor in a Supporting Role) while a student at North Hills High School. Other Pittsburgh credits include work with the Pittsburgh Public, City, Quantum, 12 Peers and Kinetic Theaters. As a teaching artist, Spencer is developing the new “Bard for Beginners” program at Pittsburgh Public Theater, where he also coaches and judges the annual Shakespeare Monologue and Scene Contest.
Mara Newbery Greer, Choreographer BIG FISH
Mara Newbery Greer (Choreographer) Choreography: Legally Blonde (Sacramento Music Circus), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Music Theatre of Wichita), The Toxic Avenger (Pittsburgh CLO), A Christmas Story: the Musical (Seattle 5th Ave, Paper Mill Playhouse), Guys and Dolls (University of Michigan), 9 to 5 (Sacramento Music Circus), Oliver (Plymouth State University), Shrek, the Musical (North Shore Music Theatre, Tuacahn ), The Drowsy Chaperone (University of Michigan), 2015 Lucille Lortel Awards. Performance: A Christmas Story: the Musical (Broadway, Madison Square Garden), On Your Toes (New York City Center Encores), Shrek, the Musical (1st Nat’l Tour), Honeymoon in Vegas (Paper Mill Playhouse), 42nd Street (Maine State Music Theatre), Les Misèrables (North Shore Music Theatre), Hello, Dolly! (The Cape Playhouse), Guys and Dolls (Pittsburgh Public) Grease, Oklahoma, The Full Monty, Spamalot, Cats, South Pacific (Pittsburgh CLO). Other: Member SDC, AEA. BFA in Musical Theatre, University of Michigan. Endless thanks to my remarkable husband, Michael, for his unwavering support and love.
Melissa Yanchak, Music Director and Conductor, Big Fish
MELISSA YANCHAK was most recently on tour as Keyboard 1/SFX on the Blue Unit of Ringling Bros Circus. Prior to this - her debut production at Front Porch Theatricals - Melissa music directed at Pittsburgh Musical Theater for productions of Disney's The Little Mermaid, CATS, and has played keyboards for many PMT productions. Melissa served as a music director at Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Ivins, UT for the 2013 & 2014 seasons: Disney's Mary Poppins and the Starlight Express regional premiere - Associate Music Director/Conductor/Keyboards, Thoroughly Modern Millie - Music Director/Conductor, The Wizard of Oz and The Little Mermaid - Associate Music Director/Conductor/Keyboards, Joseph & the Amazing...- Music Director/Conductor/Keyboards. She also played Keyboard 1 for the National Tour of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Previously, Melissa served on staff in the Voice and Musical Theatre departments of the Pittsburgh CLO Academy and the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University. She served Point Park on production staff and as a rehearsal accompanist at the Playhouse (Ragtime, Thou Shalt Not, Streets of America, Can-Can, Parade, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Time After Time, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and A Chorus Line amongst others), and music directed the Pittsburgh premiere of Wilde Tales for Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre. Melissa served on staff for the Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly awards, she has accompanied many of PCLO mainstage and Cabaret rehearsals and auditions, and was the vocal coach for children’s choruses of the PCLO productions of Joseph... in 2009 and Oliver! in 2010. She played in Pittsburgh for the 2009 Broadway tour of Legally Blonde and the 2013 tour of Anything Goes. Melissa music directed CATS and Godspell for WVPT, and has music directed many of Point Park’s spring semester shows, including the Pittsburgh premiere of Yo Vikings!. She played keyboards for the PCLO Cabaret production of Nunsense and served the PCLO Cabaret as Associate Music Director on The Marvelous Wonderettes, and can also be seen on the PBS special, "Broadway or Bust," as a member of the creative staff.
Andrew David Ostrowski, Lighting Design (BIG FISH)
Andrew David Ostrowski (Lighting Designer) National credits include The National High School Musical Theater Awards in NYC, The Asolo, Virginia Stage Company, North Shore Music Theatre, George Street Playhouse, TheatreWorks, Philadelphia Theatre Company, New York Theater Institute, Merrimack Repertory Company, The Arden Theatre Company, The Blumenthal Center in Charlotte NC, Spoleto Festival USA, Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera, Madison Opera, Pittsburgh CLO, Dallas Summer Musicals, Theater of the Stars at the fabulous Fox Theater as well as others. Andy was the lighting director for an International Tour of the Gershwin Opera Porgy and Bess from 1998-2003 that played in every western European country other than Portugal. Internationally his designs have appeared in France, Sweden, Scotland, and Ireland. In 2002, he was given a national merit award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Andy resides in Pittsburgh and is an adjunct instructor for Point Park University as well as a freelance Lighting Designer for hire. He has designed over 200 productions in Pittsburgh for many of the companies there. www.tfpld.blogspot.com
Angela Baughman, Sound Designer
Angela Baughman is delighted to be back with Front Porch Theatricals after designing last season’s The Last Five Years and The Light in the Piazza. Other recent credits include University of Pittsburgh’s Avenue Q, Prime Stage Theatre’s A Lesson Before Dying, and Samuel Hazo’s Tell it to the Marines, as well as JH: Mechanics of a Legend, a new work by Hiawatha Project whose initial reading in April led to the scheduling of a full production at the August Wilson Center for February 2017. Angela earned a degree in music production and engineering from Berklee College of Music. She is also the executive producer of The Union Edge, a nationally syndicated talk radio show. presskit.to/angelabaughman
Kim Brown, Spotlight Costumes, Season Costume Designer
Kim Brown (Costume Designer) holds MFA & BS degrees from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. Kim has designed locally and nationally for professional and amateur theater, theme parks, national tours (including replica costumes for the Gazelle Tour of Disney's The Lion King), opera, industrials, television and commercials. She is in her third season as Resident Designer for Front Porch Theatricals and Prime Stage. She is the Resident Costume Designer at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center with over 53 credits. She has designed 54 musicals and dramas for Middlesex School in Concord, MA over the past 27 years. Locally, Kim has designed shows for Pittsburgh Musical Theatre, Throughline Theatre Company, Mountain Playhouse and numerous high schools across the state and nation. President of Spotlight Costumes LLC (in its 29th year) located in a new home in Pittsburgh's Historic West End Village, Kim is a past president of The National Costumers Association and The South Side Chamber of Commerce. She is the recipient of numerous Gene Kelly Awards for Costume Design, a four time winner of The Grand International Award from the NCA and The American College Theater Festival Award. Kim is in her sixth year as a Resident Artist teaching classes in Costume Design and Theatrical Makeup to a new generation of artists at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School.
Logan Williams, Production Manager/Stage Manager
Logan Williams (Production Stage Manager) is a High Honors graduate of Robert Morris University with a Master’s of Science Degree in Human Resource Management. During the day, Logan is the Human Resources Analyst for the Allegheny County Airport Authority – Pittsburgh International Airport. At night, it’s all theatre all the time! Logan is excited to be the Production Stage Manager for Front Porch Theatricals third season, and is a professional actor/director/stage manager for various other production companies throughout the greater Pittsburgh. Enjoy the show! @LoganWilliamsRMU
Bruce E. G. Smith, Producer
BRUCE E. G. SMITH feels privileged to be a co-producer and partner in Front Porch Theatricals which he founded in 2008 with Leon Zionts. Their first production, Only Me, a creative and financial success, was performed at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in 2009. Mr. Smith teamed up with Mr. Zionts again along with the creative partners of Carrnivale Theatrics to produce Next to Normal in 2012 and In The Heights in 2013, and Parade, directed by Benjamin Shaw in 2014, all at the New Hazlett Theater. Once again, both productions received numerous accolades and were a financial success, thanks in part to generous donations and support from the foundation community. Mr. Smith has been involved in theater as a Board member of Pittsburgh Musical Theater since 1996, serving as president for two terms. He first became interested in theater through his children and later his son-in-law, all who have performed professionally for many years. Mr. Smith has a successful sales consulting practice and has been in sales and sales management in the Information Technology industry for companies including IBM, Westinghouse and British Telecom as well as numerous start-up and later stage companies. Special thanks to Martha, his wife, who not only supports the company with photography, graphic designs and excellent and continuous guidance in all matters of theater, but for her constant love and support.
Leon S. Zionts, Producer
Leon S. Zionts is honored to continue his friendship and sublime working relationship with Front Porch Theatricals’ co-founder and producing partner, Bruce E. G. Smith on this production. In the Heights, presented in association with the exceedingly gifted Justin Fortunato and hugely talented Robert Neumeyer of Carrnivale Theatricals, marks Front Porch Theatricals’ third producing endeavor, a successful first solo effort in 2009 with the locally written, composed and Pittsburgh themed original musical Only Me at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, followed in 2012 with the hit, critically acclaimed local professional premier of the Tony Award® winning musical Next to Normal, in association with Carrnivale Theatricals. Emboldened by years of experience as a commercial real estate and transactional attorney, and even more years working as an actor, Leon developed his interest in the business of theater (in addition to performing). Working as an actor with Messer’s, Fortunato, and Neumeyer in Carrnivale Theatricals’ Ragtime (Tateh) and Into the Woods (Narrator/Mysterious Man), Leon, with Bruce, saw the opportunity to work with, learn from, and mentor his younger production partners, a relationship which has deepened with In the Heights. Leon’s recent theater credits include his Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival debut in the contemporary chamber opera, The Dybbuk (Sender); his opera debut in the Undercroft Opera Company’s The Marriage of Figaro (Don Bartolo); H.M.S. Pinafore (Captain Corcoran), Pirates of Penzance (Major General Stanley) and Patience (Colonel Calverley) with the Pittsburgh Savoyards; Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye), Little Shop of Horrors (Mushnik), Sweeney Todd (Judge Turpin), Merrily We Roll Along (Joe Josephson), Titanic (Captain) and Urinetown (Cladwell) with STAGE 62; That’s Life with The Jewish Theater of Pittsburgh (all three iterations!); and I DO! I DO! (Michael) at the Grand Theater in Elizabeth, PA. Leon created and periodically performs his one man Broadway/Sinatra show, Old, New and Different. Leon is grateful to his wife, Nancy, and daughters Allison and Dani for their ongoing love and support of his theatrical passions, and to Guy Russo, his voice teacher.