Artistic Staff Bios
KAREN AZENBERG (Director) This marks Karen Azenberg’s fifth season as Artistic Director at PTC and she was thrilled to start off the year directing and choreographing the Regional Premiere of Sting’s The Last Ship. Previously, she has directed and/or choreographed 20 mainstage productions, 2 concerts and 2 readings, including Oliver!, The Rocky Horror Show, Alabama Story, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, A Few Good Men, Sweet Charity, A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Next to Normal (Regional Premiere) and Rent, and she created the musical staging for the record-breaking 2007 production of Les Misérables. Originally from New York, her work there includes Lyrics and Lyricists (92nd St. Y), Blocks (a collaboration with Jonathan Larson), Prom Queens Unchained and choreography for Richard Greenberg’s The Dazzle (Roundabout Theatre Co.). Among her other credits are National Tours of Carousel and Brigadoon, West Side Story (over 15 productions), and productions at Indiana Rep., Geva Theatre Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Goodspeed, and most recently Mary Poppins at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Karen is on the Board of the New York Musical Theatre Festival and a past president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). Her favorite productions are her son Alexander and her daughter Emelia.
PHIL RENO (Musical Director, Conductor) has been the music director/conductor for numerous Broadway shows: Something Rotten, Promises, Promises, Elf—The Musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Producers, Thou Shalt Not, Dame Edna: The Royal Tour, Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance and Cats. Off-Broadway: The Diva Is Dismissed (Public), A New Brain (Lincoln Center), Chess (Master Theatre). National Tours: Joseph… (with Donny Osmond), world premiere of Music of the Night, Starlight Express, and Bob Fosse’s Sweet Charity. Regional: Minsky’s (pre-Broadway premiere at Ahmanson), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (premiere at the Old Globe), Melissa Manchester’s I Sent a Letter to My Love (premiere at North Shore), Happy Days (premiere at Falcon Theatre).Television: Music Director/Conductor “Broadway Under the Stars,” CBS 2002-2006; CBS Tree Lighting in Bryant Park 2006-2013. Film: The Producers. Reno has conducted six original cast albums and has been nominated twice for a Grammy award for his work as a producer of Something Rotten and The Drowsy Chaperone cast albums.
LENNY DANIEL (Associate Director, Ensemble) has assisted Ms. Azenberg on too many shows to count and for over too many years to count. Productions he has choreographed include Mary Poppins, at The Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Spamalot at both the Geva Theatre Center and Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He also directed and choreographed Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical at TexARTS, assistant directed The Wizard of Oz National Tour starring Mickey Rooney and Eartha Kitt and assistant choreographed GiGi (Papermill Playhouse). Daniel assisted Ann Reinking and performed in Here Lies Jenny starring Bebe Neuwirth (NYC & SF). Performing credits include: Broadway: Cats – final original company, The Wizard of Oz. NYC: Sinatra (Radio City), Wonderful Town (NYC Opera). Tours: Spamalot, Chicago, South Pacific, Camelot, Jekyll & Hyde. Regional: Oliver!, The Last Ship, Sweet Charity, A Christmas Carol: The Musical (PTC), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Baltimore CenterStage), Mary Poppins, Peter Pan (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), GiGi and Evita (Papermill). Grammy-nominated cast album The Wizard of Oz.
MANDY MCDONELL (Assistant Director) is delighted to be working on this project! Past PTC credits: Oliver! (Charlotte/Ensemble), The Rocky Horror Show (Ensemble), and Fiddler on the Roof (Chava). Other regional credits include Mary Poppins and The Greenshow with the Utah Shakespeare Festival. She was last seen singing with the Utah Symphony in Jerry Herman: The Broadway Legacy Concert. She is a senior in the University of Utah’s Musical Theatre Program—upon graduating she plans to move to NYC.
BRENDA VAN DER WIEL (Costume Designer) is part of the design faculty for the University of Utah Theatre Department and serves as head of the Performing Arts Design Program. She designs regularly for that department as well as for Pioneer Theatre and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Recent works in Utah include Hello Dolly!, the masks for Animal Farm, Blue Stockings and the Avenue Q puppets for the Babcock Theatre. Some favorite designs for Pioneer Theatre Company include Outside Mullingar, Alabama Story, Rent, Emma, and A Christmas Story. Some favorite designs for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Comedy of Errors, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Her work was seen at Utah Shakespeare Festival this past summer in Mary Poppins, and she will be returning to USF next summer designing Treasure Island and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
DAVID NEVILLE (Lighting Designer) is very excited to be at Pioneer Theatre company. He has designed lighting for over 300 productions for various regional theatres, including Music Theatre Wichita, Ordway Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, Walnut Street Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Pioneer Theatre Company, North Carolina Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, Arkansas Rep., Theatre Under the Stars, Music Theatre West, and Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera. Other projects include designs for off-Broadway, National Tours and International Tours. This year includes designs at Music Theatre Wichita, Wichita Symphony, Arkansas Rep. and California Music Circus.
JOSHUA C. HIGHT (Resident Sound Designer) A graduate with distinction of London’s Alchemea College of Audio Engineering, Hight comes to PTC with many years of experience in professional audio systems repair and design and has established himself as an exceptional live sound engineer in both London and Salt Lake City. Hight is looking forward to a successful fourth season working in theater design with Pioneer Theatre Company. His other projects of note include working with Sommerset House for the 2012 Olympic Games, and PTC’s Much Ado About Nothing, Deathtrap, Sweet Charity, The Rocky Horror Show, One Man, Two Guvnors, Alabama Story, The Crucible, I Hate Hamlet, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, Outside Mullingar, It Happened One Christmas, Two Dollar Bill, An Inspector Calls, Cowgirls, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Last Ship, The Glass Menagerie, Oliver!, Fences and Women in Jeopardy!