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Dan Thake

Executive Director

I was five years old, standing in my voice teacher/children choir director’s living room, singing a song I had spent two months learning. Familiar and strange faces alike, staring at me with bright wide eyes, glistening smiles and edge-of-your-chair posture, a captivated audience. The musical sounds from the piano begin to set the stage for what is about to become the world premiere of the next Mario Lanza or Luciano Pavarotti. I open my mouth. I fill my lungs with air and at the appropriate moment I begin to sing; “There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow….the corn is as high….Oh, what a beautiful mornin’” My performing debut. Those who listened were kind and applauded with enthusiasm. I even remember hearing someone say, “Isn’t he so darling?” What I most remember... I got to eat an ice cream cone on my way back home in the back seat of my dad’s “56” orange and white Buick. Kids

Over the past sixty plus years I have had countless opportunities to sing; in church, at weddings, at funerals, anniversary celebrations, in and assortment of community choirs. Singing has taken me to so many places: the open air of a national park amphitheater, to Carnegie Hall in New York, to Orchestra Hall in Chicago, to magnificent cathedrals in Europe, to the Parker Playhouse in Barrington and to all those places in-between.  Through all these experiences I have learned three important lessons. First, you must constantly develop, train, and perfect your gift. Rarely does it just happen. Second, it takes a lot of people to help you; from voice teachers, to parents, to other choir members, to spouses, to other singers. It is always a collaborative effort. Third, it is never about you. It is always about the sound, the product, the effect it has on others, the experience that you have been blessed to help create. 

These three lessons guide our approach in how we do theater: to diligently work at our craft in all of its facets, to combine our collective gifts and talents in all creative enterprises, so that you might be engaged emotionally and intellectually in any production that we humbly place before you.

On behalf of the Artistic Team, the Board of Directors and me, we are The Parker Players. Welcome to your theater.

Jennifer McHugh

Artistic Director

Jennifer McHugh loves to share stories. An avid reader and 'pretender' Jennifer gravitated naturally  to performing arts. Whether acting, singing, dancing or directing, Jennifer is most comfortable in the theater. Recently, she performed in Nunsense (Sister Mary Amnesia) with Up & Coming Theater Co., and Suite Surrender (Athena Sinclair) with Elgin Theater Co. Jennifer also directed The Gift of the Magi and Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora Ephron for Parker Players.

Jennifer brings a unique perspective to the artistic team because she also has a background in business. She worked in the production department at Steppenwolf Theater, went on to earn her MBA from The University of Chicago and then spent a few years working in advertising at Leo Burnett. Jennifer believes that her combination of strategic thinking and creative vision is ideal in directing a theater company.

Jennifer is married to Dan and has three daughters who are all involved in the performing and fine arts in Barrington and the Chicagoland area. Jennifer is thrilled to work with the rest of the Parker Players team to establish the company as a permanent part of Barrington's arts culture.

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Ray Harris

Techincal Director

Ray began learning all stage crafts while a student at Barrington High School. He gained further expertise working at a Lighting House in L.A., providing equipment to theaters and concert venues. In 2002, while taking an improv class at Second City in Chicago, Ray heard his teacher mention that Second City needed a 'light guy' for a show. Ray volunteered and spent the next decade designing and running light boards for improv shows throughout Chicagoland. Ray is also a founding member of Parker Playhouse and helped design the entire technical program for the theater. Ray now looks forward to designing for Parker Players.

Sharon Schmidt

Costume Director

Sharon Schmidt combines experience in music, business and art. She spent high school boarding at Interlochen Arts Academy studying music, then majored in Retailing, Clothing and Textiles at Michigan State University and finally went on to earn an MBA at Indiana University. 

Sharon is a true artist with an artist's eye for detail. She works in chalk pastels on her own paintings and teaches classes in pottery and fibers at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Sharon is a skilled seamstress and carries an almost encyclopedic knowledge of costume design in her head. She's worked with BHS productions as well as community and professional productions to sew, build and borrow whatever was necessary to complete each wardrobe. Sharon was instrumental in the founding of Parker Playhouse and is looking forward to its next chapter as Parker Players.