Rachel Rockwell Dies

Rachel Rockwell Dies

Photo: Rachel Rockwell in rehearsal for “Brigadoon” at Goodman Theatre.

Chicago-based director, choreographer and performer Rachel Rockwell died today at age 49 after a battle with ovarian cancer.

Rockwell’s extensive career included the recent acclaimed U.S. premiere of “Ride The Cyclone,” (which opened at Chicago Shakespeare and was subsequently produced Off-Broadway) and the revival of Brigadoon at the Goodman, the first major production in two decades. She directed and choreographed productions for some of the Chicago area’s biggest theaters, including Steppenwolf, Drury Lane, Marriott Lincolnshire, Paramount Theatre, Timeline, and extensively with Chicago Shakespeare for their summer Children’s Theater productions. Also an accomplished actor, Rockwell performed on Broadway and on tour in “Mamma Mia!, as well as the national tour of Harold Prince’s “Showboat.” She received 18 Jeff Award nominations since moving to Chicago in 1991, eleven for Direction of a Musical and five for Choreography, along with two acting nods. She won four, two for directing (“Ride The Cyclone” at Chicago Shakespeare and “Ragtime” at Drury Lane), and two for choreography (“Billy Elliot” at Drury Lane and “Brigadoon” at Goodman).

Rockwell was born Natalie Rachel Heyde in Columbia, Missouri. She graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts (Cincinnati) and earned a BFA in Theater Performance from the University of Evansville. She is survived by her father Gary Heyde (known professionally as novelist Austin Gary); her mother, actor and teacher Glory Kissel Heyde; her brother Jeremy Spencer (drummer for the band Five Finger Death Punch); her husband, sound designer Garth Helm, and their son Jake.


About author

Jason Epperson

Jason is a producer, manager, and designer with 17 years of experience in Chicago, New York, and in the touring market. In 2015, he founded Lotus Theatricals - the publisher of Performink, and an independent commercial producing company - with Abigail Trabue.