My career began in the 1980s when I had the chance to work as a composer for Equity Library Theatre in New York City. ELT, as it was known, was an off-Broadway theater where many as-yet-unkown theater artists first got to strut their stuff. I wrote music for two shows there: The Comedy of Errors, directed by Kent Thompson, and Deathtrap, directed by Robert Bridges. The pay was nonexsistent, but it was heady stuff for a twenty-one-year-old kid from the suburbs of Chicago whose family tree did not have a single drop of theater blood in it.
After finishing up degrees in English and music composition at Lawrence University and Conservatory, I headed off to LA for grad school in film scoring at USC. I ended up working for three-time Grammy-winning arranger and producer Jimmie Haskell. Recording at Lion Share Studios or Capitol Records was more heady stuff, but LA didn't really suit me so I headed back to Chicago to "do my own thing." That turned out to be a jingle career that started in 1988 and lasted until 2003. Chances are, if you watched TV during those years, you heard something I wrote for McDonald's, Kelloggs, Disney, or any number of other advertisers.
In 2003 I decided to leave the jingle business and focus more on my own writing. I was host of the Chicago Musical Writers' Group from 2005-2010, bringing together local writers and composers in a monthly forum for exploring new work and the craft behind it. In 2009, I was selected as a festival writer for the National Alliance for Musical Theater (NAMT) in NY, the nation's premier festival of new work. That was followed in 2010 by an invitation to participate in the first Dramatist Guild writer's intensive outside of NY, where I was able to work with Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Mark Hollmann and others.
My musical Ripper had its world premiere at the Broadway Rose Theatre in 2011 and went on to win 7 Portland Musical Theatre Awards in 2012, including outstanding original show and score. The show premiered in Chicago in 2013. I am currently working on a new musical comedy and a show about anti-intellectualism in America.
Most of my time these days, though, is taken up running Chicago Creative Group, a boutique creative services firm that serves both Fortune 100 and nonprofit clients around the country. Our staff is made up of creative people who write or design, or who animate films—all sorts of things I like to do. I get to run it with my brilliant wife, Catherine Hug, and occasionally even get to write some music for a client.
We make our home in downtown Chicago with our two amazing boys, Matthew and Colin.
The Dramatists Guild
National Alliance for Musical Theater
American Federation of Musicians
The Screen Actors Guild
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