Rachel Rockwell

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Rachel Rockwell
Born 1969 (age 47–48)
Columbia, Missouri, U.S.
Occupation Theatre Director, Choreographer, Dancer
Years active 1991–present
Spouse(s) Garth Helm

Rachel Rockwell is an American theater director, choreographer and performer. She graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts (Cincinnati) and has a BFA in Theater Performance from the University of Evansville (IN). She moved to Chicago in 1991 and began performing and choreographing. She has appeared on Broadway in Mamma Mia! and the national tours of Mamma Mia! (Equity Dance Captain); and Harold Prince's Showboat. In 2010, she was named "Best Director" by Chicago Magazine.[1] and Chicagoan of the Year: Theater 2012 by the Chicago Tribune.[2] In July 2014, Goodman Theatre, in association with Liza Lerner and Kevin McCollum, produced the first major revival of Brigadoon in two decades—directed and choreographed by Rockwell, who, with Brian Hill (author), updated the book, with permission from the Lerner and Loewe estates.[3] In his New York Times review, Charles Isherwood called her production "a first-class revival that boasts an infectious buoyancy of spirit and a welcome absence of postmodern flourishes."[4] Her productions of "Ride The Cyclone" and "Billy Eliot" were named two of the Top Ten productions in Chicago for 2015.[5] Her U.S. premiere Chicago Shakespeare Theatre production of "Ride The Cyclone" was then produced Off-Broadway at MCC Theater, and named Best of 2016 by the New York Times.[6] She directed the World Premiere of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" at Minneapolis Children's Theatre in April, 2016.[7]


Rockwell was born Natalie Rachel Heyde, in Columbia, Missouri (1969). She is the daughter of songwriter/teacher Gary Heyde (aka novelist Austin Gary) and actress/teacher Glory (Kissel) Heyde. Her brother is Jeremy Spencer (Heyde), drummer for the heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch. She is married to Broadway sound designer Garth Helm.[8] They have a son, Jake.

Career & Awards[edit]

Rockwell grew up in Oakland City (IN) and Boonville, Indiana. Beginning at seven, she studied dance with Ricki Smith Newman, Sylvia Watters and Evansville Dance Theater. At thirteen, she won a scholarship to study ballet at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, IL.[9] In 1993, she directed her first musical, Tintypes, at the New Harmony Theater (IN). After college, she moved to Chicago. A triple-threat performer, Rockwell was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actress in a review (And The World Goes 'Round) (2001);[10] and Best Supporting Actress in a musical for The Pajama Game (2004).[11]

Most recently (2017), Rockwell's production of "Ride The Cyclone" at MCC Theatre received five Lucille Lortel Award nominations and a Drama League nomination. [12] As a choreographer, she was nominated for Joseph Jefferson Awards for The King & I (2007)[13] and A Chorus Line (2011).[14] As a director, she received Jeff Award nominations for Miss Saigon (2009);[15] The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee—Best Musical (2009[16]); Ragtime (2010)[17] and 42nd Street (2011).[18] For her acclaimed Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre production of Ragtime (11 Jeff nominations and seven awards), she received the Joseph Jefferson Award as Best Director of a musical.[19] As Director, Jeff Award nominations (2012) for Best Director and Best Musical: The Sound of Music and Sweeney Todd at Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre; and Best Play: Enron at Timeline Theatre Company.[20] In 2013, her production of "Oliver!" received a Jeff nomination for Best Musical. In 2014, she received Jeff Award nominations (Director, Choreography and Best Musical) for the revival of Brigadoon at The Goodman Theatre and Les Miserables at Drury Lane Oakbrook.[21] Her production of Brigadoon was named Best Musical and she was named Best Choreographer for that production.[3] She won the Jeff Award for Best Choreography for her production of "Billy Eliot" in 2015.[22] In 2016, she won the Jeff Award as Best Director for her production of "Ride The Cyclone" at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.[23]

She has directed notable Children's Theatre productions at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST)—including the premieres of The Emperor's New Clothes (2010); The Adventures of Pinocchio (2011);[24] (Director & Adapter) Short Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew (2012)[25]—and Disney's Beauty & The Beast (2012) and "Shrek" (2013). At CST, she also choreographed productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet, and Measure For Measure. At Timeline Theatre Company, she directed the regional premier of Enron (2012).[26] Since the mid-nineties, Rockwell has directed and choreographed dozens of productions for such theaters as: Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook, Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire, Paramount Theatre, Noble Fool Theatricals, Fox Valley Repertory, Apple Tree, The Little Theatre on the Square, SIU Summer Theatre and McCleod Summer Playhouse.


  1. ^ Chicago Magazine Best Director. Chicagomag.com. Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/August-2010/Best-of-Chicago-2010-Theatre/
  2. ^ Chicagoans of the Year: Theater. Chicagotribune.com. Retrieved Dec. 2012 http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-12-27/entertainment/ct-ae-1230-coty-theater-20121227_1_rachel-rockwell-child-actors-stage-director/
  3. ^ a b Brigadoon to Appear in 2014! Goodmantheatre.org. Retrieved Mar. 2013 http://www.goodmantheatre.org/goodman-blog/dates/2013/1/brigadoon-announced-as-part-of-the-201314-season Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Brigadoon" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ It's Almost Like Being In Love With A Fantasy. Retrieved Oct 2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/15/theater/brigadoon-a-musical-revival-at-the-goodman-theater.html
  5. ^ Theater Top Ten for 2015: Chicago Stages. Chicagotribune.com. Retrieved July 2016. http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/ct-best-theater-2015-ae-1213-20151210-column.html
  6. ^ MCC Theater to Present the Musical ‘Ride the Cyclone’ and a Matthew Perry Play. NYTimes.com. Retrieved July 2016//http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/11/theater/mcc-theater-to-present-the-musical-ride-the-cyclone-and-a-matthew-perry-play.html?_r=0/ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Ride" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  7. ^ CTC's Wimpy Kid brings musical approach to middle-school angst. mprnews.org. Retrieved July 2016 http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/04/14/wimpy-kid-childrens-theatre-company
  8. ^ Broadway Sound Designer. Whitenoisemusical.com. Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.whitenoisemusical.com/creative-team/
  9. ^ National Academy of Arts. Gratisbooks.com Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.gratisbooks.com/pchapdet.php?chapter_id=32872
  10. ^ World Goes Round 2001 nomination. playbill.com Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.playbill.com/news/article/62139-2000-2001-Jeff-Nominees-Include-big-Hedwig-Hard-Times-Lear-and-More
  11. ^ The Pajama Game 2004 nomination. jeffawards.org Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.jeffawards.org/_pdf/Bios2004EquityNominations.pdf
  12. ^ Lucille Lortel Award Nominations. Retrieved June 19, 2017 http://www.lortelaward.com/2017nominees.htm/
  13. ^ The King & I 2007 nomination. playbill.com Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.playbill.com/news/article/110830-Ragtime-August-Osage-County-Marriott-Galati-Argonautika-Snag-2007-Jeff-Nominations
  14. ^ The Chorus Line 2011 nomination. chicagonow.com Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.chicagonow.com/show-me-chicago/2011/11/theater-in-chicago-2011-the-results-are-in-for-the-43-annual-jeff-equity-awards/
  15. ^ Miss Saigon 2009 nomination. jeffawards.org Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.jeffawards.org/News/detail.cfm?id=27083711
  16. ^ The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2009 nomination. jeffawards.org Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.jeffawards.org/News/detail.cfm?id=27083711
  17. ^ Ragtime Jeff Award Best Director 2010. jeffawards.org Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.jeffawards.org/News/detail.cfm?id=01042220
  18. ^ 42nd Street Jeff Award nomination 2011. jeffawards.org Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.jeffawards.org/Nominees/nominees.cfm
  19. ^ 11 Jeff Nominations/7 Awards. Leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/the_theater_loop/2010/03/drury-lane-ragtime-four-star-triumph-quentin-earl-darrington.html
  20. ^ Jeff Nominations (2012). JeffAwards.org. Aug. 2012. http://www.jeffawards.org/userfiles/file/2012%20Equity%20Nominees%20pdf.pdf
  21. ^ Jeff Nominations (2014). Chicagotribune.com Retrieved Sept. 2014 http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/news/chi-2014-jeff-award-nominees-equity-column.html#page=1
  22. ^ Jeff Awards (2015). JeffAwards.org. July 2016. http://www.jeffawards.org/userfiles/file/Complete%202015%20Equity%20Jeff%20Award%20Recipients.pdf/
  23. ^ Cite error: The named reference RTC was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  24. ^ The Emperorr's New Clothes 2010/Adventures of Pinocchio 2011. Chicagotheatrebeat.com Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://chicagotheaterbeat.com/2011/07/22/review-adventures-of-pinocchio-chicago-shakespeare/
  25. ^ Short Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew 2012. Chicagoshakes.com Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.chicagoshakes.com/main.taf?p=2,62,8,1,13
  26. ^ Timeline Theatre Company Enron 2012. Suntimes.com Retrieved Aug. 2012 http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/weiss/10330413-452/invest-your-time-in-timelines-scorching-production-of-enron.html