"Chicago Street Theatre. This is Mike. How can I help you?" is a familiar phrase to anyone who has ever called the theatre or have visited our lobby. This is because Box Office Manager, Mike Hite is one of our most valuable players in the day-to-day scheme of things at CST.
Mike has been a member of the theatre for twenty years and got involved with the group after being introduced to it by his family members, Jim and Dona Henry. His intense love of music, initially led him into designing sound for shows his aunt and uncle were working on. "When Jim was directing Death and The Maiden he talked with me about how movies had a soundtrack and that this was what he wanted for his show. He wanted me to 'score it'," said Mike. At the time there was less than a handful of people at the theatre really "designing sound" for shows other than "doorbells and telephones ringing."
Mike found a niche for himself that led him to designing scores in addition to other soundeffects needed for plays that were being done at The Opera House, CTG's Alley Studio and other places the theatre was doing shows. He has worked on our group's productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, Snow White ('95), Macbeth, and more.of the Space Pandas, Dancing at Lughnasa, Marvin's Room,Orphans, The Dining Room, As You Like It, Balm in Gilead,
During the 1995 Popcorn production of Snow White, Mike got his first shot at acting when an actor who was playing the Wicked Queen's butler couldn't make it to the show. Following his stint as the butler, Hite decided to audition for other roles. Next, Mike landed a lead in our unique production as Wally in Wally's Cafe. What made the project interesting was that it was actually performed in Valparaiso's own Jimmy's Cafe. "That was really fun because the working restaurant was the set," Mike said,"The audience sat in the booths and at the tables that weren't being used in the play!"
In 1998 when the group settled into The Chicago Street Theatre, Mike appeared inBeyond Therapy and as George's brother Harry in Our first production of It's A Wonderful Life. He continued to create innovative sound. He added,"Just like the set or the lights, Sound and underscoring can be like another character in the play. It's so important for setting the tone of the piece."
One of the last roles Mike appeared in was as a veteran in 2003's production ofBalm in Gilead. This was the first show he had done where it was necessary for him to use a cane to walk because of the progression of his multiple sclerosis. Mike was diagnosed with the disease in 1989 and it wasn't a problem for him in earlier productions he had worked on. As things became more physically difficult for him he left his previous job but wanted to continue to stay active.
Seven years ago CST's Board and Patty Bird who was the theatre's Managing Director decided that it was time to employ a part-time person to manage the Box Office. "Our patrons are especially happy that we hired Mike," said Marketing Director, Eric Brant, " and Mike really loves our patrons. He knows everyone of them by name and reinforces how essential they are for what we do." Mike admits that he "loves" his job and the customers that come to Chicago Street.