WHO’S WHO IN THE CAST
RICHARD COTOVSKY (Ray) is excited to be back at American Blues Theater where he originated the character of The F*^king Guy for Monsters 1 and 2. He is the artistic director of Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. where he last appeared in Uncle Bob. Other plays at Mary-Arrchie include Superior Donuts, Buried Child, Killers, Curse of The Starving Class, The Homecoming, The Caretaker, The Birthday Party, Fool For Love, The Gut Girls, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Gas Mask 101, Cowboys #2, Wild Dogs, and The Pawnbroker to name a few. He was last seen in Hellcab at Profiles Theater. He has worked with other theaters including A Red Orchid Theatre, Steppenwolf, Remains, Strawdog, Latino Chicago, igloo, Americana, Blind Parrot, Collaboraction, The Hypocrites, National Pasttime, and Famous Door. He was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for his portrayal of “Dodge” in Buried Child. He has won a Joseph Jefferson Award for his direction of Freedom of the City. He was also awarded by the Joseph Jefferson Committee a special award for 4 decades in Chicago theater. He has appeared in Chicago Code, Chicago Fire, Shameless, Crisis, Mind Games, Early Edition, Turks, and The Playboy Club.
IAN PAUL CUSTER (Adam) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater, previously appearing in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! for the past 3 seasons. Chicago theatrical credits: Strangers, Babies (Steep Theatre), To Master the Art (Broadway Playhouse/TimeLine Theatre), Annie Bosh is Missing (Steppenwolf First Look), 33 Variations (TimeLine Theatre, Jeff Award– Best Production, Midsize), High Holidays (Goodman Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof (Paramount Theatre). Regional theatrical credits: Hero: The Musical (Asolo Rep Theatre), Cymbeline (Notre Dame Shakespeare),Romeo and Juliet (Cardinal Stage), Peter Pan (360 Entertainment – London, England). Film/Television: Chicago PD andThe Tuff Brothers Are Dead. Special thanks to Wendy, Joanie, Gray Talent, my family, and my bug.
DARCI NALEPA (Janet) is thrilled to make her debut with American Blues Theater. Chicago credits include: Othello, Thinner Than Water (The Gift Theatre); Northanger Abbey (Remy Bumppo); The Drunken City (Steppenwolf Theatre); Flare Path, Company (Griffin Theatre); Love and Money (Steep Theatre); Snapshots (u/s Northlight Theatre); Reasons to Be Pretty (Profiles Theatre, Jeff Award nomination); and The Ring Cycle (The Building Stage). Darci has appeared as an Entertainment Anchor for The Onion and can be seen in Stephen Cone’s upcoming film, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party. She is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf and proudly works as an Instructor at Black Box Acting. Love to M, P & B.
STEVE KEY (Palmer) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater, and he’s thrilled to work on this fervent material with this incredible team. Earlier this season he performed in Feather’s and Teeth (Goodman Theatre) andRest (Victory Gardens Theater). In Chicago, Steve has also worked with: Steppenwolf, A Red Orchid, Remy Bumppo, Northlight, Famous Door, and Shattered Globe Theatre (where he’s a former Artistic Director). Beyond Chicago, Steve’s performed in the Broadway tour of August: Osage County and has worked at The Town Hall (Galway IRL), The Public (NY), The Ahmanson (L.A.), and The Kennedy Center (D.C). Steve has received 6 Jeff Awards and 4 additional nominations for Principal and Supporting Actor and Ensemble (equity and non-equity). Film: 1,000 Acres, At Any Price, Blackmail, Public Enemies, Salvaging, Three Days. TV: Chicago Fire, Law & Order – SVU, Family Practice, Chicago Code, Boss, and Mob Doctor.
STEVEN DIETZ (Playwright) is one of America’s most widely-produced and published contemporary playwrights. Since 1983, his thirty-plus plays have been seen at over one hundred regional theatres in the United States, as well as Off-Broadway. International productions have been seen in England, Japan, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Austria, Russia, Italy, Slovenia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Greece, Singapore, Thailand and South Africa. His work has been translated into ten languages. Mr. Dietz is a two-time winner of the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, for Fiction (produced by Roundabout Theatre Company, Off-Broadway), and Still Life with Iris; as well as a two-time finalist for the Steinberg New Play Award, for Last of the Boys (produced by Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago), and Becky’s New Car. He received the PEN USA West Award in Drama for Lonely Planet; the 2007 Edgar Award for Drama for his widely-produced Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure; and the Yomuiri Shimbun Award (the Japanese “Tony”) for his adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His acclaimed conspiracy thriller, Yankee Tavern, was a National New Play Network featured play. He has received new play commissions from the Guthrie Theater, Steppenwolf Theater, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, McCarter Theatre (Princeton), ACT Theatre (Seattle), Arizona Theatre Company, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, and San Jose Repertory Theatre, among many others.
JOANIE SCHULTZ (Director) is a Chicago-based freelance director who most recently directed The Hundred Flowers Project by Christopher Chen (Silk Road Rising) and Rest by Samuel D. Hunter (Victory Gardens), where she previously directed The Whale. In 2013/14 she also directed Venus in Fur (Goodman Theatre), Northanger Abbey (Remy Bumppo Theatre), and A Small Fire at Steep Theatre. Upcoming she is directing the US premiere of Martyr (Steep Theatre). Other recent work includes fml: How Carson McCullers Saved My Life (Steppenwolf for Young Adults), The Girl in the Yellow Dress (Next Theatre), The Kid Thing (About Face Theatre & Chicago ramatists), Neighborhood 3 (Strawdog Theatre), and Luther (Steep Theatre). She has also directed operas including Bluebeard’s Castle, Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Acis and Galatea, and Carmen. Joanie holds an MFA in directing from Northwestern University; was a Drama League Fellow; The Goodman Theatre’s Michael Maggio Directing Fellow; the SDCF Denham Fellow; a Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab participant; and was 2013 Co-Artistic Curator for Theater on the Lake. Her work has garnered 14 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations, including six wins. She is an artistic associate at Steep Theatre and Victory Gardens Theater and is on the theater faculty of Columbia College and University of Chicago. Joanie also currently serves as Associate Artistic Producer at Victory Gardens Theater, as part of the Leadership U One-on-One Fellowship funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by TCG.
GRANT SABIN (Scenic Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He’s a native of rural Illinois, Grant blends his rural roots with urban art. He’s a graduate of Columbia College with a BFA in theatre design where he was awarded the 2005 Michael Merritt scholarship for collaboration in theatre design. He is known throughout Chicago for his keen eye in capturing atmospheric detail and his ability to design “impressively executed sets” on a storefront-theater budget. He’s designs have been seen at Northlight, Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf, Next Theater, The Royal George, Overture Center WI., Remy Bumppo, Witt, Gallagher Bluedorn IA., ATC, and A Red Orchid. He was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for his design of A Red Orchid’s production of The Sea Horse and Dog & Pony’s production of Mr. Marmalade. He was recently named one of the Top 50 Players in Chicago Theatre by New City Magazine.
IZUMI INABA (Costume Design) is very excited to be working with American Blues Theater for the first time and once again with Joanie after collaborating on The Hundred Flowers Project (Silk Road Rising) and The Kid Thing (Chicago Dramatists and About Face Theatre). Izumi’s recent design credits include Lions In Illyria (Lifeline Theatre), Young Playwrights Festival (Pegasus Players), The Mousetrap (Northlight), Animal Farm (Steppenwolf for Young Adults), and Season on the Line (The House). She has also designed productions for CPS Chicago Shakespeare, Griffin, Steep, Gift, Buzz 22, Raven, A Red Orchid, 16th Street, Porchlight, and many others. She is a company member at Red Tape and a resident designer at Albany Park Theatre Project. Izumi has received 2 Non-equity Jeff Awards, and 2014 Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award, and M.F.A. in Stage Design, Northwestern University.
BRANDON WARDELL (Lighting Design) is a freelance Lighting and Scenic Designer based out of Chicago. He is Professor of Lighting Design at Northern Illinois University, an Ensemble Member of Adventure Stage Chicago and an Artistic Associate with Steep Theatre Company. Recent lighting designs include Titanic, Men Should Weep, and Flare Path (Griffin); Assassins (Kokandy); the world premiere of The Chorus Girl Plays (Provincetown T. Williams Festival); Juliet (Edinburgh Fringe); If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, Harper Regan, and A Brief History of Helen of Troy (Steep); Six Stories Tall, And A Child Shall Lead, and Spark (ASC), The City and the City and The Count of Monte Cristo (Lifeline); and Three Days of Rain (Backstage). Scenic Designs include Strangers, Babies and In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Steep); Baal, The Fulton Street Sessions, and Maria’s Field (TUTA), and The Chicago Landmark Project (Theatre 7). Dance credits include The Chorus Girl Plays, Sticks and Stones, and a great deal of work at NIU. Brandon holds an MFA from Northwestern University. www.brandonwardelldesign.com
RICK SIMS (Sound Design) returns to American Blues Theater where he last designed for Hank Williams: Lost Highway. He has designed sound for numerous Chicago area theatres such as Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Congo Square, Writers Theatre, Lifeline, Griffin, Chicago Childrens Theatre, The Hypocrites, The House, Court, ATC, Victory Gardens, The Raven, Steep, Northlight, and About Face. Out of town credits include Icarus at the Getty in L.A. with Lookingglass, Gary at Boston Playwrights, and Cat In the Hat at Arden Theatre Philadelphia. Rick has won a Jeff Award for lyrics inHepheastus and a BTAA award for Congo Squares’ Brothers In the Dust and Bulrusher, and has received several nominations for both awards. Rick is an artistic associate of Lookingglass Theatre Company and an associate designer with Aria Music Designs (Ray Nardelli and Josh Horvath). Rick also wrote the book, music and lyrics for Lookingglass’ Hillbilly Antigone.
CHRISTOPHER NEVILLE (Properties Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues. Previous Blues productions have been Hank Williams: Lost Highway and It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!. Christopher has worked with costumes at Victory Gardens Theater, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Chicago Opera Theater, Theatre at the Center, and Signal Ensemble. He has also designed properties for Congo Square Theater, Griffin Theatre, Northlight Theatre and worked as a artisan at Lookingglass Theatre Company and Paramount Theater. Christopher trained at Peninsula Players Theatre as a production intern and received his BFA in Theatre Design & Technology from Oakland University in Rochester, MI.www.cjnevilledesigns.com
THERESA KELLY (Assistant Lighting Design) most recent lighting designs have been for A Skull in Connemara and A Lie of the Mind at Northern Illinois University. Her past lighting design credits include Tempest with Relevance Productions in Kansas City, Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat with the Four Eyes Theatre Company in Chester, England, and Metamorphoses at Benedictine College. Theresa recently graduated from Benedictine College with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and in English. She is now working towards her MFA in Lighting Design at Northern Illinois University.
KATHRYN LOCHERT (Stage Manager) is ecstatic to return to her home at American Blues Theater for Yankee Tavern. Kathryn’s previous American Blues stage management credits include It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, Hank Williams: Lost Highway (remount and original production), and American Myth. Other Chicago credits include The Happiest Song Plays Last, Teddy Ferrara, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre); and Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks: The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Kathryn received her B.F.A. in Stage Management from the University of Southern California and is a proud member of AEA. Fight on, y’all!
ANNA MICALE (Assistant Stage Manager) is very excited to be back working with American Blues Theater on Yankee Tavern. Her most recent credits include assisting on The Burnt Part Boys and Flare Path (Griffin Theatre Company) and It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!(American Blues Theater). She is a junior at Columbia College Chicago where she is majoring in stage management and recently stage managed the mainstage Into the Woods. She would like to thank the lovely women at American Blues for bringing her back, and her family and friends for all their support.
ARIANNA SOLOWAY (Dramaturg) is a proud Artistic Affiliate and Community Services Coordinator at American Blues Theater where she designed props for American Myth, Grounded, Hank Williams: Lost Highway, and It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! (2013 & 2014). She assisted with props at Lookingglass Theater (Big Lake Big City, In the Garden) and American Blues (Collected Stories and Illegal Use of Hands). Elsewhere in Chicago, she’s designed props for The Glass Menagerie at Mary-Arrchie and productions for A Red Orchid Theatre, Sideshow Theater, Pine Box, and The Ruckus. She has a BFA in directing from Columbia College and is thrilled to be working again with Joanie whom she previously assisted on A Small Fire at Steep Theatre.
SARAH BURNHAM (Production Manager) is a proud Ensemble member and co-Production Manager at American Blues Theater. She is honored to work with such a great group of collaborators. Recent projects include: Production Manager for It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!; Production Manager for the 2014 Summer Season at Peninsula Players; Props Design for Lookingglass Alice and In the Garden for Lookingglass Theater. She has also worked on American Blues productions – American Myth, Collected Stories, Waiting for Lefty, and Tobacco Road. She is married to Ensemble member Brian Claggett.
MICHAEL TRUDEAU (Technical Director) is thrilled to join the American Blues Theater family. Previous Chicago productions include lighting design for Commedia Beauregard and serving as Technical Director with American Theatre Company for two shows and Livewire Theatre Company. He has also designed lights at Kaukauna High School, Musical Masquers of West Bend, Wisconsin, as well as many other productions at his alma mater the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. During the summer he is the Master Electrician for Peninsula Players Theatre in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. He would like to thank his family and friends for their continued support. www.mtrudeaudesigns.com
GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE (Producing Artistic Director) is a proud Ensemble member at American Blues Theater and has served as Producing Artistic Director since 2010. Under her leadership, American Blues has nearly doubled the size of its Ensemble, added 23 Artistic Affiliates, and diversified its base of artists. She created the annual Blue Ink Playwriting Award, Blueprint Development for new work, implemented community service into the company’s mission, and adapted the arts education program The Lincoln Project for Chicago Public Schools serving over 1,000 students annually. She fiscally led American Blues through its 2009 rebirth and built the operational budget from zero to $650,000 in five (5) years. Whiteside served numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and sat on the national Board of Directors for Network of Ensemble Theaters. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University (cum laude), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA), and a Kellogg Executive Scholar in Nonprofit management (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University). She was nominated for “Chicagoan of the Year” in Chicago Magazine and twice named in Newcity’s annual Players list. In four years, three (3) American Blues’ productions were nominated for best production-midsize by the Joseph Jefferson Award committee. She’s received 10 Joseph Jefferson Awards, Citations, and nominations. She’s the recipient of two (2) After Dark Awards, and numerous Broadway World Chicago Awards and nominations.
JACLYN HOLSEY (General Manager) is a proud Ensemble member and General Manager at American Blues Theater. She’s an Equity stage manager and worked with Chicago theaters such as TimeLine, Victory Gardens Theater, Teatro Vista, Rivendell Theatre Company, Collaboraction, and here at American Blues Theater since 2001. American Blues Theater credits: Hank Williams: Lost Highway, Grounded, Collected Stories, Illegal Use of Hands, Tobacco Road, Half of Plenty, St. Scarlet, and five years of It’s a Wonderful Life. She’s worked with American Blues since 2005 as a stage manager, then an Artistic Affiliate, Ensemble member, Business Manager, and now General Manager. Before coming to American Blues, she worked as the Regional Operations and Programs Coordinator for First Nonprofit Insurance. Jaclyn also served as the Executive Assistant at Victory Gardens Theater under the leadership of Marcie McVay from 2003-2008. She graduated from Otterbein College with a BA in Theater and received her Certificate in Nonprofit Management through the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her spare time, she is the mother of a rambunctious little boy (with another on the way) and wife to the best husband in the world.