Merry Christmas, Mulch Pile!

Mercy Street Theatre Company
is a not-for-profit nomadic ensemble of play-makers based in Chicago. 


  Heather Branham Green in rehearsal

Heather Branham Green in rehearsal


A moving and madcap adventure by poet and resident playwright Dakota Parobek returns to Mercy Street in this encore production, staged as a classic holiday radio play.


playwright Dakota Parobek*
director Jake Fruend*
production designer Alaina Moore*
lighting designer Slick Jorgensen*
set decorator Christopher Semel
foley coordinators Julia Rohed*
& Clint Worthington*
technical director Jordan Siragusa
casting director Kate Grudichak*
production manager Camille Smith
stage manager Amanda Gustafsson

Laura Alexia Jasmene
Santa Nicholas Caesar
Mom Annelise Dickinson
Dad Andrew Clancey
Mrs. Claus Heather Branham Green
Comet/Nurse Christopher Michael Sylvie
Tree Ian Michael James*
Tree Kelsey Wang
Elf/Mistletoe Sonja Lynn Mata*
Elf Samantha Michelle Nava
Snowman Clint Worthington*

* denotes Mercy Street Resident

Special Thanks

Project Fierce Chicago
Kaleidoscope Vintage
Raven Theatre
Columbia College Chicago
Tom Moore
Joe Griffin
Ele Matelan
Tasasha Henderson
The League of Chicago Theatres
The Christmas Spirit

  Kelsey Wang & Ian Michael James in rehearsa  l

Kelsey Wang & Ian Michael James in rehearsal

The show will run 1 hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.


A grassroots response to LGBTQ youth homelessness

Mercy Street is proud to be partnering with Project Fierce Chicago, a grassroots collective of radical social workers, youth advocates and other community members who are working together to establish community-driven, identity-affirming housing in Chicago. Project Fierce’s mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing transitional housing and support services to LGBTQ-identified young adults.

PFC is delighted to announce that they have purchased a home on Chicago’s Southwest side, and are beginning the work of readying the space to house young people. They will provide supportive, collaborative, transitional housing for 10-12 LGBTQ-identified young adults.

Learn more and donate to the cause right here. Because everyone deserves a home.

  Clint Worthington in rehearsal

Clint Worthington in rehearsal



By Dusty Wilson
Summer 2017

After learning of her family's murder by the local cartel leader, Luz Estrada volunteers for her town's long-vacant position of sheriff. With her new authority, she enlists the citizens of her town to fight a war against the drug lord that destroyed everything they held dear.

Mercy Street is proud to present the world premiere of resident playwright Dusty Wilson's  modern-day adaptation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, set in the cartel wars of Northern Mexico.


Reading & Workshop Series
Spring 2017

The Beacon Series is Mercy Street's direct line to the bold new work of our resident playwrights. Every year, we'll present a smorgasbord of fresh plays in intimate readings and workshop productions. Join us for our first round of Beacon plays - five stories that examine the balance of power between divided families, friends, lovers, and regimes.

Featuring plays by EJC Calvert, Dakota Parobek, Sonja Lynn Mata, Rachel DuBose, and Ian Michael James.


Thanks to the generosity of our audiences, in our first 12 MONTHS, our company produced 4 WORLD PREMIERE PRODUCTIONS, which supported the work of over 60 ARTISTS.

And this year, we're bringing SEVEN (yes, SEVEN) new plays into the world.
But we can't do that without your help!

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our humble non-profit theatre. Your contribution allows us to bolster the work of Chicago playwrights and continue our quest to cultivate unity and affect change through storytelling.


Cast & Crew BIOS

  Nicholas Caesar, Annelise Dickinson, and Andrew Clancey in rehearsal

Nicholas Caesar, Annelise Dickinson, and Andrew Clancey in rehearsal

ALEXIA JASMENE (Laura) is a trans actress/musician/comedian that is a recent transplant from mainland China after living there for 3 1/2 years. She was recently in Mary Shelley Sees The Future (Runaways Lab) and will be in American Theater Company's upcoming production of Picnic as Millie this Spring. She's also been seen in Kinfolk (The New Colony), Wanderers (Northwestern Playwright Festival), Cathedrals (The Living Canvas), Temperance vs Tolerance (Step Up Productions), and several film projects around the city. She can be seen playing music at open mics and cabarets around the city and looks forward to continue winning the hearts and minds of Chicago audiences.

NICHOLAS CAESAR (Santa) is thrilled to be returning to Mercy Street Theatre for this wonderful show! Nick is from Kansas City, and is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. Some previous credits include: Rotpeter (Mercy Street Theatre), the Jeff Award winning production of When the Rain Stops Falling (Circle Theatre), the London world premiere of Book of Disquiet (Blue Elephant Theatre), and Chicago Fire  (NBC Universal). Nick would like to thank his mother, father, and his lovely girlfriend for their love and support. Nick would also like to thank Jake Fruend for being a wonderful artistic partner through the years. Enjoy the show, and be sure to check out Nick's podcast, Hustlecast, at

ANNELISE DICKINSON (Mom) is delighted to return to Mercy Street. Recent roles include Queen Margaret in Queen Margaret (Muse of Fire Theatre Co.) Jacques in As You Like It (Citadel Theatre Company) and Mother in last year's Mulch Pile. Annelise has worked regionwide as an actor, director, and vocal coach with Forward Theater Company, Children's Theater of Madison, Interlochen Shakespeare Festival, Parallel 45, Wisconsin Studio Theater, and Theatre In All The Wrong Places. She holds an MFA in Acting from UW-Madison and is represented by ATG.

ANDREW CLANCEY (Dad) gratefully performs in this evolving piece, having been an inspired spectator in 2015. He is an actor, cellist, and teaching artist with Compass Creative Dramatics in Chicago and has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa. Recent performance credits include Jest a Second at Oil Lamp Theater and Now. Here. This. at Theatre Cedar Rapids. Andrew sends his love to Mom, Dad, his sister, Jen, and Adam and Crystal Walter.

HEATHER BRANHAM GREEN (Sonya Claus) would like to thank the team at Mercy Street for producing art that utilizes present day myths to challenge the status quo. This is why she got into theatre in the first place. Heather is a classically trained actor, director, playwright who dares to redefine what it means to be an Appalachian artist for over 25 years. She is currently writing an adaptation of HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and a drag show for the Chicago stage while Chihuahua stalking, rocking, rolling, advocating for social justice & animal rights, as well as being a committed dog-mom (Hi, Mitzi Susan!) and kick ass wife (Hi, Eddy!). Heather would like to thank her parents for not leaving her in the woods and her husband for giving her the world even though it “was already sold”.

CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL SYLVIE (Comet/Nurse) is extremely grateful to be playing Nurse and reprising his role as Comet in Mercy Street Theatre Company’s Merry Christmas, Mulch Pile!  A passionate lover of theatre and the arts, Sylvie graduated from Northwestern State University of Louisiana where he earned his B.S. in Theatre Performance/Directing before moving to Chicago. Some of his favorite credits since moving to the Windy City include King of Shadows (Nihar), Dog Night (Zachery Tate), The Diary of Anne Frank (Peter), The Church of Hip Hop (Brotha’ Spectre/Hip Hop Choir), and Illumination (Illuminati Dancers). Sylvie is a proud member of the Equity Member Candidate program.

IAN MICHAEL JAMES (Tree) is a Chicago-based actor, playwright, and dramaturg. Ian also serves as Associate Artistic Director and Resident dramaturg of No Stakes Theater Project. Favorite credits include The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (No Stakes, dramaturg), BURN (Mercy Street, playwright). Up next, Ian will adapt Max Frisch's Andorra for Mercy Street's Beacon series and dramaturg Cabaret for No Stakes' Actor Initiative. More at

KELSEY WANG (Tree) is a theatrical costumer and singer based in Chicago. She is a recent graduate from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI with degrees in theatre arts and vocal performance. Her most recent projects include a revival of the popular 1910 musical comedy Madame Sherry and the classic drama The Gin Game with Third Avenue Playhouse, and An Almanc for Farmers and Lovers in Mexico with The Jades.

SAMANTHA MICHELLE NAVA (Elf) is from El Paso, Texas and was the first ever to receive a BFA in Theatre Performance from the University Texas at El Paso.  She continued her education at East 15 Acting School in London, England, where she received her M.F.A. While part of East 15 she performed at Shakespeare’s Globe and completed a one month residence at The Russian University of Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow. Favorite credits include Sharon Bates in the UK premiere of Lanford Wilson’s Book of Days, MacDuff in a gender swapped Macbeth and Tamora and Emilia in Bloody Shakespeare.  After moving to Chicago she had the honor of performing with Collaboraction as part of their Peacebook Festival. Thank you to family and friends for their endless love and support.

SONJA LYNN MATA (Elf/Mistletoe) graduated with a BFA in Theatre Performance from Ohio University in Athens. She also completed the Professional Training Program at Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California. She has also studied and performed with the National Theater and Dance Company of Ghana in their nations capital, Accra. Some of her favorite credits include: an ensemble devised clown play titled: Drunk Donkey (Prop Thtr), The Bird Girl(Mercy Street Theatre Company), Point and Shoot (Cold Basement Dramatics), The Boxer(Pursuit Productions), and Waspi Odyssey!: an ensemble devised three-hour river float down the Wapsipinicon River. Sonja continues to devise original works throughout the midwest and the city of Chicago and is a resident of Mercy Street Theatre.

CLINT WORTHINGTON (Felix J. Snowman/Foley Coordinator) is a Mercy Street Resident with a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre from Truman State University. He has worked as an actor, writer, and director with a number of companies, including The Right Brain Project, Redmoon Theatre, and The Phebe Project, among others. On stage, Clint was most recently seen playing the Doctor in The Right Brain Project’s The Timey-Wimey Fantastic Brilliant Extravaganza (Geronimo!), and his most recent directorial efforts include the world premiere of Ephebophilia by Dusty Wilson. Clint is also the co-host/editor of the film website and podcast Alcohollywood.

  Slick Jorgensen, Amanda Gustafsson, Jake Fruend, and Camille Smith in rehearsal

Slick Jorgensen, Amanda Gustafsson, Jake Fruend, and Camille Smith in rehearsal

DAKOTA PAROBEK (Playwright) is a Resident of Mercy Street and a graduate Columbia College Chicago. Originally from Louisville, KY, they have had work produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Walden Theatre Alumni Company. They are also an active poet and musician, performing in Chicago and throughout the Midwest.

JAKE FRUEND (Director) is the associate artistic director of Mercy Street Theatre. His directing credits include Dakota Parobek's Merry Christmas, Mulch Pile! (2015), Franz Kafka's Rotpeter (Mercy Street), Point & Shoot, co-written with Liz Ellison, John Patrick Bray’s Green Sound (Cold Basement Dramatics). Up next, he'll be directing Sarah Gubbins' The Kid Thing for Nothing Without a Company and Ian Michael James' adaptation of Max Frisch's Andorra for MSTC's Beacon Series. He is also a graphic designer, a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, a native of St. Louis, and a Pillsbury Cook-Off winner.

ALAINA MOORE (Production Designer) is a Mercy Street Resident who works as a freelance stylist, costumer, and production designer for both screen and stage, as well as owning and operating Kaleidoscope Vintage with her long time partner and collaborator, Christopher Semel. She has designed costumes for numerous Chicago area theater companies, most frequently for the Raven Theatre, where she garnered a Jeff nomination for her work on The Playboy of the Western World. She graduated summa cum laude from Columbia College Chicago, where she studied theater and film design.

SLICK JORGENSEN (Lighting Designer) graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Lighting Design. They have served as lighting designer with Definition Theatre Company, Mercy Street Theatre Company (where they are a resident), and Tibbits Opera House. Primarily dance based they have worked at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Gallim Dance, and Thodos Dance Chicago.

JULIA ROHED (Foley Coordinator) is the artistic director of Mercy Street Theatre. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, she is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre-Directing. Selected directing credits include; The Rubenstein Kiss by James Phillips, Animal Farm: a workshop production (Coriolis Theatre Company), Rusalka by Ashlee Marie Mundy (Snapshots Festival - 20% Theatre Company), The Essentials by Dusty Wilson (First Laugh One Act Fest- Piccolo Theatre) and The Bird Girl by EJC Calvert (Mercy Street).




Artistic Director Julia Rohed
Producing Director Danielle Stack
Associate Artistic Director Jake Fruend
Casting Director Kate Grudichak

Graphic & Web Design by Jake Fruend

Board of Directors

Danielle Stack
Julia Rohed
Karrie Dowling
Lydia Gordon
Andrew Saenz


Jerico Bleu
E.J.C. Calvert

Rachel DuBose
Michael Evans
Jake Fruend
Kate Grudichak
Nellsyn Hill
Ian Michael James

Slick Jorgensen
Francisco Lopez
Sonja Lynn Mata
Alaina Moore
Dakota Parobek
Julia Rohed
Danielle Stack
Dusty Wilson
Clint Worthington