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.
(Photo: Tim Edward Rhoze, courtesy Goodman Theatre)
For our first in a series of profiles we’ll be doing on Chicago theater and entertainment industry professionals, we caught up with Tim Rhoze, one of the stars of the Goodman’s CARLYLE, and 25 year veteran of Chicago theater.
Tim Edward Rhoze began his theatrical career in Michigan. “My dad was involved in theater in Detroit, and he would take me to rehearsals with him. He would have me help him memorize his character’s lines – we bonded in that way – that was really cool. However, it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I really became interested. I kicked around with a couple of theaters, did several plays, met some amazing people and then realized…Hey, I like this theater thing, I really do! It took a couple of years, but I eventually quit the day job, and poured myself into a life in the theater.” Tim was busy, even at that time, working for Detroit Repertory, Plowshares and Attic Theatres, Harmonie Park Playhouse, Wayne State University’s Hilberry & the University of Detroit’s Theatre Company before setting his sights on Chicago. “For several months, I would drive the 4 1/2 hours to Chicago from Detroit to audition. I eventually scored a role in the Cheryl West play Puddin’ and Pete at the Goodman. I packed up my belongings, loaded the car and moved to Chicago.” Since then, Tim has performed in numerous productions at the Goodman, Victory Gardens, and Steppenwolf (where he went to Broadway with Airline Highway), while securing regional and national voice-over work with McDonalds, Budweiser, Ray-O-Vac, American Family Insurance, Lowes, and Gatorade.
Tim began to explore television work which took him out west to Los Angeles where he made numerous guest starring & recurring appearances on The Practice, Becker, Friends and Grey’s Anatomy among many others, but he returned to Chicago, where he says “Theater is relevant locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. The explosion that began over a century ago continues to expand today. Young theater artists in Chicago are pushing the creative envelope in the way old school theater artists did in their day. The artists in Chicago and those who support the Chicago theater community are second to none.”
“Young theater artists in Chicago are pushing the creative envelope in the way old school theater artists did in their day. The artists in Chicago and those who support the Chicago theater community are second to none.”
In addition to acting, Tim is a prolific director. He has been the Producing Artistic Director of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre for the past six seasons. FJT is a professional theater company located in and supported by the City of Evanston. During his six-year tenure he has produced and directed: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, From the Mississippi Delta, Heat, Home, Truth Be Told, Woza Albert, Big Butt Girls and Other Fantasies, Going to St. Ives, Having Our Say, and Gee’s Bend. Tim wrote and directed the world premieres of Why Not Me? A Sammy Davis Jr. Story, and Maya’s Last Poem. Founded in 1979, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre focuses on African American and African Diaspora-centered storytelling. “We are dedicated to providing a nurturing and creative environment for directors, designers, and for both experienced and novice performers. In this positive environment they are encouraged to develop their skills and fully express their talents,” Tim says. “I was not looking to land at FJT as the artistic director; I was pitching an intergenerational program to the City of Evanston’s Parks and Recreation division when they approached me about taking the position of AD. Not one for being settled down in one place too long as an artist, I balked at first, but I accepted the position on an interim basis. As time moved along, it became apparent to me that I had something to offer Evanston and its residents.” Tim says Evanston is a special place on many levels. “The residents are committed to making the city vibrantly alive with many different art genres; they support the arts and the artists. Evanston is aesthetically beautiful, the lake front, the downtown area, the neighborhoods, the grade schools and university are so incredible. Just walking down any one of the many tree-lined streets gives you a sense of community pride.”
“My experience as an artist working here can only be described as theatre heaven. I consider the Goodman and the people who make it shake as my theater family.”
Tim currently stars in CARLYLE at the Goodman, back where he started in Chicago. “The Goodman was a crucial part in advancing my career; I was able to working with incredible directors like the late Michael Maggio, Mary Zimmerman, Walter Dallas and Chuck Smith, I was able to learn more about the craft of acting, and the business of theater. The experience of being around such enormous talent on and off the stage gave me the tools to navigate through the theater world and develop the skills that have served me well as an actor and as an artistic director. From the administrators, producers, and business personnel; to the front of house staff and maintenance workers; to the artistic staff and last but not least the patrons, my experience as an artist working here can only be described as theatre heaven. I consider the Goodman and the people who make it shake as my theater family.”
When asked about the future of Chicago theater, he said “I don’t know where we are or where we are going, because Chicago theater is always on the move. It’s a gyroscope fortified with so much passion, and inventiveness that to say with absolute certainty that its here or there would be futile. What is certain is that the journey getting there, wherever there is, will be exciting and thoroughly amazing!”