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Big Fish Program

The Harper Ensemble Theatre Company, Liberal Arts Division, and Cultural Arts Committee Present

Big Fish

Big fish written in yellow flowers on a blue sky

Book by John August

Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa

Directed by Jesus Perez

Please Note

  • If we can help accommodate you during your visit, please speak with our House Manager.
  • Eating or drinking is not permitted in the theatre.
  • Please turn off all electronic devices.
  • The use of any recording device, either audio or video and the taking of photographs, either with or without flash, is strictly prohibited.

About the Artists

Jesus Perez (Director), Jesus is thrilled to have been given this opportunity to work with a theater that he respects tremendously. Beginning as an actor and being member of actor’s equity, he soon shifted his love for theatre in every other direction and has not looked back. 

When not at Harper working with this amazing cast and crew, he is the Artistic Director at Chicago Kids Company, theater for children. Producing professional, live theater for young audiences for now 31 seasons alongside Executive Director, Paige Coffman. Jesus has written, designed – set and costumes, and directed most all CKC productions. He is also an award-winning freelance costume designer. Having worked as the resident costume designer for Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake, Colorado for 18 seasons. He has received several nominations and been awarded the Colorado theatre guild, Henry Award. Winning for RMRT’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. And previously for the Denver post’s Ovation award for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  His costume work has also been seen in Chicago theaters such as Circle Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Porchlight Music Theatre. Light Opera Works (Music Theater Works), Elgin Community College and Beverly Arts Center to name a few. Alongside costume partner, Jane DeBondt, they have formed J2costumes. They have also been a part of St. Ignatius College Prep Theater Department for the last 10 years. He has been honored with several Jeff (non-equity) awards for his costume work in Chicago, for Mack and Mabel, Urinetown – Nominated for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Can-Can.

He wants to thank Laura Pulio and Kevin Long for their amazing help, support and trust during this process. So grateful for this incredible artistic and technical dream team. And the kindest, hardworking, talented cast a person could ask for. So blessed! Thank you to his ever-supportive family, that are always there and have his back. And to all here tonight enjoy this amazing story.


Carolyn Brady (Music Director), Carolyn is a voice coach whose current and former clients have performed with the Broadway Cast of Book of Mormon & Almost Famous, National Tours of The Prom, Mean Girls, School of Rock, NBC’s The Voice, Walt Disney World and numerous Chicago area theaters. Music Direction credits include: A Chorus Line (Jeff Nominated), Shrek, A Christmas Carol and upcoming Cinderella with Drury Lane, Elephant & Piggie with Marriott, Steppenwolf’s Lookout Series, Paramount School of the Arts, Bullets Over Broadway (Jeff Nominated) w/Night Blue, The Wedding Singer, Dear World, Meet Me in St. Louis and The Who’s Tommy (Jeff Nominated, Best of Chicago Theater, 2009 Chicago Sun Times). Her most treasured accomplishment is being mom to Cameron & Jack.


Paul Dombrowski (Scenic Design/Carpenter/Property Assistant) Paul is thrilled and excited to be working with Director Jesus Perez for the first time!  Paul has been the Scenic Designer and Carpenter for over thirty-five productions on Harper’s stages. Some of his favorites are Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors, Pippin, Hair, Laramie Project and Moon for the Misbegotten. Paul is also the Technical Director and Scenic Designer at Rolling Meadows High School and Maple School in Northbrook. Paul was the Property Designer for The Polar Express train ride with trains throughout the United States. Paul is a newly retired visual art teacher from Palatine School District 15. Paul is married to Joe Serio, and they are fierce advocates for LGBT rights. Paul Is often very tired and has lots of splinters.


Jane DeBont (Costume Designer), Jane has been a professional costume designer/seamstress since 1994. She has designed & built costumes for professional theaters and schools in and around the Chicago area as well as Colorado. Jane is extremely happy to be working with Jesus Perez. Jane and Jesus have worked together as design partners and have been the lead designers for the POLAR EXPRESS train rides in Chicago, New Orleans, Whippany and Florida. She is so happy to be designing BIG FISH with him as director. Her most recent productions have been, FENCES, PROOF, ADDAMS FAMILY, PUFFS, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and LETTIE. She is currently the resident costume designer at Harper College.


Ethan Newman (Light Designer), With an M.F.A. in lighting design from the University of Missouri - Kansas City, Ethan moved to New York City from the small town Midwest to pursue his dream of working in the art of professional theater. Recent lighting design credits include: Silhouettes (East Coast Contemporary Ballet), Jersey Boys (Rocky Mountain Rep), and Babes in Arms (Forestburgh Playhouse). More of Ethan's work can be found at eanewmandesigns.com.


Mickey Fergus (Projection Designer), Mickey is making his first ever appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. His recent portfolio includes Sunday in the Parkwith George (Columbia College Chicago), Neon Nights (Valleyfair Park), and video design with Disney Imagineering Live. He is a current student at Columbia College Chicago and would like to thank his family and friends for unconditionally supporting him and his career. He'd also like to thank his day job, Show Sage, for generous A/V equipment support.


Joe Serio (Property Master/Lead Carpenter), Joe has been working on shows at Harper for 25 years. Most of the time has been spent behind the scenes as Lead Carpenter, and occasionally as the Production Therapist. Joe is Chief Clinical Officer for Compass Health Centers and enjoys the opportunity to use a different part of his brain to make Paul’s stunning visions a reality. Joe’s favorite Harper productions include RENT, Pippin, Moon for the Misbegotten, A Raisin in the Sun and Cabaret. Joe appreciates the sense of community at Harper Theater and seeing it serve as a safe space for all types of students and community members to express themselves.


John Marshall, Jr. (Choreographer), John is so tickled to be returning to Big Fish after performing in it at Theatre at the Centre, IN in 2015. John has choreographed and directed shows like Footloose (BAM Theatre), Bright Star (Chicago College of Performing Arts), Forever Plaid (Two Pigs Productions, NM) and Newsies (Chicago Kids Company). Thank you, Jesus Perez, it's been a blast working beside you. And of course, love to my new husband, Patrick.


Emma Ferguson (Stage Manager), Emma Ferguson is ecstatic to work with Harper College! She has stage managed Full Monty, Parade and Something Rotten! (Theatre Nebula). She has also assisted stage managed and did props for Jack Off The Beanstalk (PrideArts Center). Emma would like to thank her family and her teachers for all the support over the years.


Nicole Dudek (ASM-Assistant Stage Manager), is excited to be a part of her second show with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. She made her debut as an ASM for Harper’s 2022 fall production of Proof. Furthermore, Nicole will be working alongside Kevin Long as assistant director in Harper’s 2024 spring production of Crimes of the Heart. We hope to see you there! Lastly, Nicole would like to thank the crew for a magical experience and for all of their hard work. Thank you!


About the Cast

headshot of Marcella Axelrad

Marcella Axelrad (Josephine) Marcella’s first show with Harper Ensemble Theatre Company and she is so grateful for this opportunity. She last appeared onstage for Green Room Theatre Company as Charlotte Purcell in These Shining Lives, Miriam Kirby in You Can’t Take It With You and as a Policeman in The Pirates of Penzance. When she’s not onstage, she enjoys being behind the curtain working on costumes. Marcella wishes to thank her family for encouraging her to continue doing what she loves.



Headshot of Henry Boynton

Henry Boynton (Young Will) is making his first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. Recent credits include Bruce Bogtrotter in Matilda and Zeke in High School Musical (That’s Entertainment Performing Arts). A 6th grader at Fremont Middle School, Henry is a percussionist in the Fremont Middle School Band and also sings with the choir.




Headshot of Marisa Boynton

Marisa Boynton (Sandra Bloom) was last seen with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Favorite credits include Amy in Company (Union Theatre London, Edinburgh Fringe), Miss Bates in Emma! (Williams Street Rep), Kitty in Charlie’s Aunt (Wagon Wheel), Sibella in Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Cutting Hall) and Shulie in Schoolhouse Rock Live! (Regional Tour). Marisa is a proud graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Huge thanks to her family for their ongoing support. Marisa is beyond thrilled to be sharing the stage with her son, Henry.


Headshot of Maddie Brunner

Maddie Brunner (The Witch) is thrilled to be on the Harper Stage for the first time! Chicago/Regional credits include: Beehive: A 60’s Musical (Metropolis), Bullets Over Broadway (NightBlue/Stage773), Songbook of 1964 (Moraine Valley), West Side Story (Summer Stock Stage), Promises, Promises (CCPA), VIVID (Auditorium Theatre/CCPA) and more. Maddie is a Musical Theatre-Dance emphasis graduate from the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA). A special thanks to my mentor and vocal coach of many years, Carolyn Brady Riley; and my friends and family for the support!


Headshot of Jenny Calzaretta

Jenny Calzaretta (Witch/Ensemble) is excited to make her first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. Her favorite credits include Judy Haynes in Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Music on Stage), Lola in Damn Yankees (Music on Stage) and Lucy in Dracula the Musical (Theatre Nebula). She is a proud Millikin University alumna and wishes to thank her husband, Tony, and her mom for supporting all her onstage endeavors.




Headshot of Nick Edstrom

Nick Edstrom (Ensemble) is making his very first appearance in a Harper performance with Harper's Ensemble Theatre Company. At age 18, she aspires to do much more with acting at Harper. He would like to thank his dad for being a great teacher for him and Professor Kevin Long for expanding her theatre knowledge. He would like to thank his family for always being there for him. Lastly, she'd like to thank all the people--whose names are numerous--who worked on the production. As well as all the people who helped her throughout his life.



Headshot of Haley Fink

Haley Fink (Ensemble) This is Haley’s first performance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. She is extremely excited to perform in this show alongside such a variety of talented people. She’d like to thank the friends and family who helped her and encouraged her throughout this process.





Headshot of Rebecca FusconeRebecca Fuscone (Ensemble) Rebecca is very excited to be performing again after several years. Rebecca has previously appeared in Harper College’s productions Follies (Young Phyllis) and Peter and the Starcatcher (Fighting Prawn). Other credits include Annie in Annie, Gerty Cummins in Oklahoma! and Gabriella in High School Musical (Hoffman Estates High School). She is beyond thankful for the continuous and consistent support and love from her friends and family during the last few months.



Headshot of Oli HoeyeOli Hoeye (Ensemble) is excited to be performing with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company for the very first time. She has appeared in Hoffman Estates High School’s production of Chicago - High School Edition as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton, along with other roles during her time in high school. She is a current student at Harper and plans to become an art teacher for elementary school. She wants to thank her family for their support, and hopes you enjoy the show!




Headshot of Mary HusseyMary Hussey (Witch/Ensemble) is making her first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. Previous credits include Jenny Hill in Big Fish (St. James Theatre) and Ursula Merkle in Bye Bye Birdie (St. James Theatre). When not singing and dancing, she can be found trying her hand at stand-up. She is proud to be sharing the stage with her father and wants to thank the cast and crew of Big Fish for telling this beautiful story.




Headshot of Tom HusseyTom Hussey (Dr. Bennett) Tom is happy to be returning to the Harper Stage; he was last seen here in the 2013 production of Parade. He enjoys taking on different roles most recently as Director of Big Fish at St. James Productions in Arlington Heights. Some of his past roles: Sam in Mamma Mia, Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, Sir Lawrence Wargrave in And Then There WereNone, Bill in Making God Laugh and Dean Burton Strauss in Spinning into Butter. Tom is excited to be onstage with his daughter, Mary, and would like to thank his wife and family for their unconditional love and support.


Headshot of Kerth JuddKerth Judd (Don Price) is making his first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. He is a recent graduate of Barrington High School and is now a first year student at Harper College studying Music Education. He is so grateful and excited to be a part of this production and to be able to tell the story for you all! Thank you and enjoy the show!





Headshot of Alex LissauAlex Lissau (Zacky Price) is making their first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. They are a Harper College student pursuing an Associate in Applied Science for Fashion Design. Other credits include the Ensemble in Les Misérables (Buffalo Grove High School) and The Little Mermaid (Schaumburg on Stage). Alex gives thanks to their friends and family for supporting their journey, as well as Dionysus for his spiritual guidance




Headshot of Hunter LittleHunter Little (Will Bloom) This is Hunter’s first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. It is his first show since high school and is thrilled to be a part of this amazing show with wonderful people. Hunter is a student here at Harper College and hopes to continue his study of theatre beyond Harper. He would like to thank his family and friends for the love and support they give him as he pursues his passion in acting. Enjoy the show!




Headshot of Fae LoganFae Logan (Witch/Ensemble) is excited to be making their debut with Harper Ensemble Theatre Company! Previous credits include Mrs. Rose, u/s Dolly Levi (Hello Dolly!) Old Man Jenkins, u/s Mr. Krabs (The Spongebob Musical), Corine (Triumph of Love) and Rosie (Mamma Mia). Outside of the show, Fae is a student at Harper College and enjoys making music and learning about Renaissance history (you might have seen her on cast at the Bristol Renaissance Faire)! She would like to thank her sister and family for all their support



Headshot of Vienna LoganVienna Logan (Ensemble) is excited about making her first appearance at Harper Ensemble Theatre Company alongside her sister. Previous productions include Hello Dolly (ensemble) and Fiddler on the Roof (ensemble), Spongebob the Musical (Gary/ensemble), Chicago High School Edition (Mona/Ensemble). She is currently a senior at Barrington High School and wishes to thank her friends and family for their endless love and support.




Headshot of Terry McCarthy Terry McCarthy (Amos) is a Chicago-based actor, director and choreographer and has been an ensemble member of HELL IN A HANDBAG PRODUCTIONS since 2003. As a founding member of HIAH Terry has been seen in the (Original cast) of "Poseidon an upside down musical", "Rudolph, the red-hosed Reindeer", "Sexy Baby", "The Rip Nelson Holiday Spectacular” ...and choreographer for "Miracle!" By Dan Savage, “Bette Live 2019” and the GOLDEN GIRLS lost episodes. Terry has worked as an extra/stand in for the Chicago TV/movie industries and is a retired music and drama teacher for Chicago public schools.


Headshot of Sebastian MuñozSebastian Muñoz (Ensemble) is a first-year student at Harper College. He’s working on a Music Major and is part of Harper Concert Choir and Spectra. Sebastian is thankful for the support of his family and appreciates the past memories that made him find his passion. He will cherish the memories he’s made in this cast.





Headshot of Stacy NelsonStacy Nelson (Ensemble) is thrilled to be making her return debut to theatre as a Hot Blooded Shotgun Totter and Ensemble Member in Harper College’s production of Big Fish. Although it's been a while since performing on stage, she continued her love of theatre backstage supporting her daughter Eily's love of-all-things theatre. Stacy has been performing most of her life and credits include theatre, film, commercials and numerous vocal performances. For the past two years, Stacy has performed and helped in the casting process of Saint Andrews Bethlehem Walk; where about 1,500 people come during the first weekend in December and literally take a journey through Bethlehem. She also takes tap with the STAR tappers, who perform several times a year and sings with her church choir. She is grateful to all her family and friends who have always supported her, but especially her daughter, Eily, for encouraging her to start auditioning again.


Headshot of Danielle OkkemaDanielle Okkema (Cheerleader/Ensemble) is grateful to be back on stage with Harper Ensemble Theatre Company where she last appeared as a cast member in American Idiot. Other credits include Mrs. Phelps in Matilda (Vero Voce), Operator 1 / Featured Dancer in Grand Hotel (NEIU), Maple Tree in Fairytale Adventures (Highland Park Players), and Biondello in the Taming of the Shrew (Vermont Shakespeare in the Park). Danielle wants to thank the cast and crew for being so welcoming, kind and hardworking, and to thank her family for your unwavering love and support!


Headshot of Madison Emery PalmerMadison Emery Palmer 

(Jenny Hill) is so thrilled to be making her first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company! She is a recent graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and has had a wonderful first year “out” learning through her work on commercial media, sets, auditions and classes. She would like to thank her lovely vocal coach and music director, Carolyn Brady, and her wonderful family for their endless love and support!



Headshot of Rachel RaineyRachel Rainey (Mermaid) is making her first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. She took a break from the theatre world for a few years, her last performance being The Sound of Music. She is a recent graduate of Rolling Meadows High School and is happy to be back in the world of theatre and would like to thank her family as well as her friends for supporting her.




Headshot of Rick RappRick Rapp (Edward Bloom) A former drama and English teacher, Rick is still quite active both on stage and off. He is the voice of Mr. Monopoly for online gaming, as well as having performed in hundreds of shows. Favorite roles include Max in "The Producers," Buddy in "Follies," Biggley in "How to Succeed," Sweeney Todd, Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and so many others (both professionally and in community theatre.) He is also very involved in charity builds, having worked on 15 builds internationally (recently returning from Croatia.) He is grateful for the opportunity to perform in this beautifully crafted show.


Headshot of Alex RodgersAlex Rodgers (Ensemble) is making his first appearance in a Harper show as an Ensemble member in Big Fish. He has played roles in many community theatre musicals, such as Maurice in Beauty and the Beast and Kurt’s Dad/Veronica‘s Dad/Principal Gowan in Heathers. He would like to thank the amazing cast and crew, as well as the many Uber and Lyft drivers that have driven him home from the evening rehearsals.




Headshot of Melissa SchroederMelissa Schroeder (Lamb/Dance Captain/Ensemble) Melissa is so excited to be back in another production with Harper College Ensemble Theatre! Other credits are Hair (Ensemble) and American Idiot (Ensemble/Dance captain) and also Silly girl/Ensemble (Wheaton Drama). She is a vet tech at a GP/emergency animal hospital and wants to thank her friends, coworkers and her lovely mom for all their support and love!




Headshot of Cynthia SuarezCynthia Suarez (Witch/Lamb/Ensemble) is excited to be making her debut performance with Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. This is Cynthia's first show back after taking a long hiatus from acting. In the past, she performed in roles such as Charity in Sweet Charity, Val in A Chorus Line, Constanze in Amadeus to name a few. Her favorite production was playing Maria Elena in the National Tour of the Buddy Holly Story where she ended up falling in love with and marrying her "Buddy". She wants to thank her husband, Chris, for all his love and support as well as Jessica and Quinton, her amazing kids who fill her heart and soul every day. 


Headshot of Jay TorrensJay Torrens (Karl) is making his first appearance with the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company. He has been involved with the arts from a young age and is excited to make his return to the stage. Jay's most recent credit is First Sailor in Dido and Aenaes (Millikin Opera Theatre). He is studying Vocal Music Education at Millikin University where he performed with the University Choir and One Voice ensembles. Jay currently works as a music director at Devonshire Cultural Center. He would like to thank his close ones for the love and support as well as the audience for supporting the arts. Enjoy!


Headshot of Angelica TrygarAngelica Trygar (Ensemble) This is Angelica’s first show with Harper. She is a recent CMT MA graduate of Northeastern Illinois University and Musical Theatre BA graduate of Columbia College Chicago. Angelica is active on the independent film scene in Chicago. Angelica also loves working events as a brand ambassador. Other credits include Penny in High Fidelity (Stage Center Theatre), Lucy in Sweeney Todd (ArtReach Chi) and The Wardrobe in Beauty and the Beast (Artreach Chi). She would like to thank everyone for their continued support. 



Headshot of Jenna VeverkaJenna Veverka (Cheerleader/Ensemble) This is Jenna’s first production at Harper College and she loves it! Her most recent roles were Maggie Holmes in Working and Doody in Grease. She grew up doing the productions at Metropolis Performing Arts and she is going to keep doing music as she gets older. Hope you all enjoy the show!!!