Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

2015 Michael Merritt Awards Set for Loyola University Chicago, 5/4

The 22nd Annual Merritt Awards for Excellence in Design and Collaboration will take place on Monday, May 4th, at Loyola University Chicago.

Announcing a brand new annual award: The Emerging Technical Collaborator Award. This award celebrates a passionate and skillful early career professional who goes about their work in a particularly collaborative manner. We know that it is hard to launch a career in this profession so we are thrilled to announce that this award comes with a $2000 prize. Last year we unveiled the The Robert Christen Award for Excellence in Technical Collaboration, this award recognizes an outstanding technical professional whose career as a collaborator in the realization of theatrical design has been significant and sustained. We see the pair as a compliment to the Merritt and Maggio design awards. There are so many amazing Scenic Painters, Production Managers, Technical Directors, Costume Shop Managers, Master Electricians, Carpenters, Programmers, Drapers, Cutters, Riggers, Sound Supervisors, Properties Masters, Stage Managers... that are long overdue for public celebration. We are thrilled to be launching a new era in which we celebrate these key members of theatrical collaborative team. Both awards are made possible by the generosity of Founding Sponsor Chicago Flyhouse.

The Michael Merritt Awards And Endowment Fund Honor The Memory Of A Brilliant Designer And Inspirational Teacher. The Michael Merritt Award, A National Award Unique In Its Emphasis On Excellence In Both Design And Collaboration, Has Been Presented Annually Since 1994 To Outstanding Professional Theatrical Designers. The Endowment Fund Recognizes And Encourages The Work Of Young Professionals And Students Through A National Design Exposition And Prizes To Promising Theatrical Design Students.

Student - $ 5.00
General Admission - $ 20.00
Book tickets online at
General Public is welcome.
Food, wine and beer are included in the ticket price. Funds go to support the awards endowment fund.


5:00-7:00 p.m.
Showcasing the works of Chicago-area emerging theatrical designers and graduating design students from Chicago's best theatrical design programs and attended by many of Chicago's artistic directors, production managers, and industry professionals.

7:00-8:00 p.m.
A discussion moderated by Hedy Weiss featuring the award recipients exploring current issues of interest to professional and student designers.

8:15-8:45 p.m.
Presentation of The Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award, our four academic prize recipients, the Prizes for Best Exhibit and The Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration. Additionally, this year features a brand new annual award honoring a backstage technician.

Food, wine, beer and fellowship until 10:00 p.m.

The Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration

The Michael Merritt Award, a national award unique in its emphasis on excellence in both design and collaboration, is presented annually to professional theatrical designers. The award is given to a scenic, costume, lighting, sound, or other media designer.

22nd Annual Recipient: Lighting Designer, Robert Wierzel

Scenic Designer Todd Rosenthal will present him the award.

Robert Wierzel(Lighting Designer) Broadway credits include Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill; the musical FELA! and David Copperfield's Broadway debut Dreams and Nightmares. Off- Broadway includes productions with the Roundabout Theatre Company; NYSF/Public Theatre; The Signature Theatre and Playwrights Horizons, among others. Robert's extensive Regional Theatre work includes productions at the Goodman Theatre; Chicago Shakespeare Theater; A.C.T. San Francisco; Center Stage; Alliance Theatre Company (Atlanta); Arena Stage; Shakespeare Theatre DC; Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre; The Guthrie; Mark Taper Forum; and The Old Globe among many others. In 2010 Robert received TONY Award Nomination for his work on FELA!

The Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award

This annual award recognizes and supports the work of an outstanding emerging theatrical designer within the Chicago area. A $2000 honorarium is given annually to an emerging scenic, costume, lighting, sound, or other media designer in acknowledgment of excellence in artistry and collaboration.

Grant Sabin, Scenic Designer

Grant Sabin (Scenic Designer) A native of rural Illinois, Grant blends his rural roots with urban art. He's a graduate of Columbia College with a BFA in theatre design where he was awarded the 2005 Michael Merritt student scholarship for collaboration in theatre design. He is known throughout Chicago for his keen eye in capturing atmospheric detail and his ability to design "impressively executed sets" on a storefront-theater budget. His designs have been seen at Northlight, Victory Garden , Steppenwolf , Next, The Royal George, Overture Center WI., Theatre Witt, Gallagher Bluedorn IA., American Blues, ATC, Christina Isabelle Dance, The Seldoms Dance and A Red Orchid. He was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for his design of A Red Orchid's production of The Sea Horse and Dog & Pony's production of Mr. Marmalade. He was recently named one of the Top 50 Players in Chicago Theatre by New City Magazine. Grant is currently a part-time faculty member at Columbia College.

The Robert Christen Award for Excellence in Technical Collaboration

This award recognizes an outstanding technical professional whose career as a collaborator in the realization of theatrical design has been significant and sustained. Sponsored by Chicago Flyhouse.

Alice Maguire, Goodman Theatre's Properties Master

Alice Maguire (Props Master) is now in her 26th season as Props Supervisor at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. She has been working in professional theatre since graduating from the State University of New York, Oswego in 1976. She interned and later became Props Master at the Paf Playhouse on Long Island propping the pre-Broadway production of Albert Inuarrato's Gemini. For many years, Alice resided happily in New York's East Village splitting her year between freelance projects in New York and New Mexico's Santa Fe Opera. Her Broadway credits include Big River and Night of the Iguana with Jane Alexander, on Off Broadway, Tintypes and Roundabout's Mrs. Warren's Profession & Tintypes. At Santa Fe projects included the American Premiers of Alban Berg's Lulu Act III, Hans Werner Henze's We Come to the River and Richard Strauss' Die Liebe der Danae. She has also worked at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis. Beginning her association with the Goodman Theatre in 1988, Alice has had the good fortune to manage properties for over 200 productions. Some of her favorites are Death of a Salesman, Long Day's Journey in Night, Iceman Cometh, Marvin's Room, Night of the Iguana, Finishing the Picture, The Visit and Three Sisters. In her 38 years of being a Props Master, Alice has had the pleasure of collaborating and being inspired by some of the most creative designers in theatre such as Santo Loquasto, Tom Lynch, Todd Rosenthal, Walt Spangler, John Conklin, Ming Cho Lee, Michael Yeargen, Tom Lynch, David Potts & Rouben Ter-Arutunian. Her favorite film credit is as on set props for the original Friday the 13th movie.

The Emerging Technical Collaborator Award
This award celebrates a passionate and skillful early career professional who goes about their work in a particularly collaborative manner. We know that it is hard to launch a career in this profession so we are thrilled to announce that this award comes with a $2000 prize, supported by Chicago Flyhouse.

Justin Snyder, Victory Gardens' Technical Director

Justin Snyder (Technical Director) Justin Snyder has been involved in the theater industry for 9 years in Phoenix, Los Angeles and now Chicago. He works full time as the Technical Director at Victory Gardens Theater and has worked that role with other theaters including The Hypocrites, American Blues, Interrobang Theatre Project, Sideshow, Haven, Strawdog, The Factory, Livewire Productions, Polarity Ensemble, and is a company member with Oracle Productions. Building is a passion of his and theater is the medium that brings creativity, hard work and collaboration together to make something truly magical and worth working on.

Academic Prizes $2000

The John Murbach Columbia College Chicago Prize

Moriah Lee Turner is a senior BFA Theater Design (Costume Design) major from St. Louis, Missouri. She has costumed for many theatrical productions and dance shows at Columbia College Chicago. Her most recent work was seen in Columbia's main stage production of Heartbreak House, directed by Kathleen Perkins. She is also a freelance fashion designer and has co-founded a custom wedding dress business named 'Auriah'. After she graduates she is going to Los Angeles to attend Columbia's Costume Design for Film program. When she returns to Chicago after the program, Moriah hopes to continue her work as a designer and seamstress with the dance company Driven 2 Dance as well as becoming a freelance theatrical designer in the city. She is also looking forward to being a draper and seamstress as she continues to learn and grow as a designer.

The Theatre School at Depaul University Prize

Greg Pinsoneault is a third year BFA Scenic Design major at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Originally from Irvine, CA, Greg has sought both educational and professional opportunities in New York, Colorado Springs, and West Virginia. Theatre School design credits include 35 MM, Moth, Hansel and Gretel, and Tartuffe, as well as the upcoming productions of Vigils and Kafka's Metamorphosis. Other credits include Scenic Designer for Underscore Theatre Company's second annual production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show [Live!] at the Chopin Theatre and Assistant Scenic Artist to Chelsea Warren on Griffin Theatre's production of The Burnt Part Boys. This summer, Greg will be working as one of three design interns for Kevin Depinet and Todd Rosenthal.

The Loyola University Chicago Prize

Bridgid Danahy is thrilled to be honored among her fellow Chicago student designers. She is about to finish her final year at Loyola University, where she studies Theatre and Advertising/Public Relations. Bridgid has designed costumes for multiple shows at Loyola, including Epic Spectacles (2012), Frankenstein (2013) and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (2013). She has also had the pleasure of working with The House Theatre of Chicago, Next Theatre, Lifeline Theatre and The Hypocrites. You can find Bridgid next year at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre where she will be interning in the costume shop. She hails from Buffalo, NY and is the recipient of the 2013 Ebeling PR-ize.

The Northwestern University Prize

Carolyn Sullivan is a costume design MFA candidate finishing her third and final year of Northwestern University's program for Stage Design. Her recent work there includes The Pajama Game!, Night of the Iguana, Bunbury, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Hot Buttons! (Danceworks 2014). As part of the 2014 Found Site Festival in Evanston this spring, she is working on American Dead, and Thou Proud Dream (an adaptation of Henry V). In May she will open a new iteration of Moby Dick, adapted and directed by Looking Glass Theater's David Catlin. She was recently accepted for USITT's Young Designer's Forum, and is honored to receive the Michael Merritt Award this spring from her wonderful faculty. She is in love with her work, and thanks all of the mentors and friends who provided Love and advice along the way.

The Michael Philippi Prize for Best Exhibit: Professional Designer

This year the prize is 500.00 !

Emerging professional designers are encouraged to exhibit

Sponsorships that cover admission, food, drink and parking are available for emerging exhibitor and emerging director, producers and production managers

Prize for Best Exhibit: Student Designer

This year the prize is 500.00 !

Student designers are encouraged to apply to exhibit

Sponsorships that cover admission, food, drink and parking are available.

Related Articles View More Chicago Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You