If you’ve used AV Chicago’s services for a recent event, it’s a good bet that Mel had a hand in it. As the operations manager, she pulls the strings from behind the scenes, coordinating labor, vehicles, and equipment to support dozens of events a week. Although she would probably prefer to wield her power from the shadows, this biography is here to blow away Mel’s aura of mystery and put the spotlight on this crucial member of AV Chicago’s team.
Before joining AV Chicago, Mel had a storied career as a lighting designer, master electrician, and rigger, touring the country and globe with various theatrical productions. After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater, one of Mel’s early gigs was at a murder mystery dinner theater. She designed lighting, mixed audio, and played a corpse. She also got to wear a squib, which is pretty cool. Conditions on this production were… perilous, to say the least, and Mel has lots of harrowing tales of people falling off ladders, getting electrocuted, and smoking near explosives. That theater is now closed, unsurprisingly, but Mel’s scary experiences there filled her with a serious passion for safety which she continues to demonstrate at AV Chicago.
Working as a master electrician, Mel traveled around the U.S., U.K., and Asia. But, according to her, the coolest place she visited was Toronto. Although she appreciated Toronto’s French-influenced culture, the city was her favorite mostly because the people “really like safety”. She went on to explain, “The crews I worked with there were very professional and took safety seriously.” If you had any doubts about Mel’s devotion to safety, that should dispel them. She also has fond memories of working at the theater in Colorado’s mountainous Garden of the Gods park. Before each performance, she had to chase bobcats from under the stage by banging sticks together.
Outside of safety, Mel’s interests include photography and cooking (but mostly eating). Before her recent move to Chicago, she developed a program with Goodwill to help adults with special needs find work in the theater industry. She also has two cats (Sushi and Lou) and a dog (Chewie) who was just voted “Pet of the Month” in Mel’s apartment complex.