WHO’S WHO IN THE CAST
KATE BUDDEKE (Terry) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater, where her credits include Tobacco Road, Rantoul & Die, and Keely & Du. Most recently she was seen in Airline Highway at Steppenwolf, where also she performed in Superior Donuts and its subsequent run on Broadway. Also, on Broadway she appeared in Gypsy with Bernadette Peters, Death of a Salesman with Brian Dennehy, A Streetcar Named Desire with Natasha Richardson, andCarousel. She has appeared in many Chicago productions, some of her favorites include: Bug, The New Electric Ballroom, and Eric LaRue at A Red Orchid; The North Plan at Theater Wit. She has four (4) Joseph Jefferson Awards and has sung the National Anthem, twice, solo, at Wrigley Field.
MICHAEL EHLERS (Gene) is thrilled to be making his American Blues Theater debut. He has performed on Broadway in Cats, Off-Broadway in Photographic Memories and in the National Tours of Scrooge with Richard Chamberlain,Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Donny Osmond, Cats, Chess, and Evita. He was recently seen as Pete in Pete ‘n’ Keely (Actor’s Theatre of Indiana) and as Alex in I Love a Piano (Farmer’s Alley Theatre, Michigan). Chicago credits include Al Jolson in Jolson and Company, The Emcee in Cabaret, Samovar (Groucho Marx) in A Day in Hollywood a Night in the Ukraine, and Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain, as well as several shows at Theatre at the Center, Marriott Lincolnshire and Drury Lane, Oakbrook. Films include Just Like a Woman starring Sienna Miller, Bento Box, and the soon to be released, Nefas: the Wicked. Special thanks to Gray Talent Group.
JOE FOUST (Jonesy) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. Chicago acting credits include Measure for Measure, A Christmas Carol (The Goodman), What the Butler Saw, Endgame (Court Theatre), Mother Courage and Her Children ( Steppenwolf), The Merry Wives of Windsor, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Unnecessary Farce, Making God Laugh, The Woman in Black (First Folio) Kabuki Medea (Wisdom Bridge), The Seagull, Major Barbara (Remy Bumppo),Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Next), Spin, Santaland Diaries (Theatre Wit), fourteen productions with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, where favorites include The Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, Timon of Athens, Twelfth Night, and Henry IVparts 1 and 2, and three seasons with Oak Park Festival Theatre. Regional credits include playing Hamlet at Nevermore Theatre, The 39 Steps, Around the World in 80 Days (Cleveland Playhouse), five productions with Milwaukee Shakespeare, Kabuki Achilles (People’s Light and Theatre Co), The Winter’s Tale (Missouri Rep), Romeo and Juliet(River Styx, London) and fifteen seasons acting, writing and directing with Peninsula Players. Joe is a founding member of Defiant Theatre, where credits include directing and co-writing Action Movie: the Play and Ubu Raw. He dedicates his performance to the memory of his beloved wife, Molly Glynn.
JOHN GAWLIK (Al) Favorite acting credits include: Broadsword with The Gift Theatre, Bill Sykes in Oliver at Drury Lane, Blizzard ‘67 with Chicago Dramatist, The Lonesome West and Beauty Queen of Lennane with the Gift Theatre, and A Skull in Connemara at Northlight. Recent directing projects include the The Royal Society of Antarctica for The Gift Theatre and the Chicago Premiere of When the Rain Stops Falling at Circle Theater (Jeff Award for Director and Production). Love to M and A!
ED KROSS (Ziggy) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. Credits include Animal Crackers and The Jungle Book (The Goodman), I Love Lucy Live Onstage (Broadway Playhouse), The Devil in Damn Yankees (Carousel Dinner Theatre), Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (Peninsula Players), and 3 ½ years in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Royal George). He spent a couple years working for The Second City, first cruising the world performing sketch comedy and improvisation aboard the Norwegian Epic, then in Sex, Love, and the Second City which he performed in sit-down productions at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, and Second City’s UP Comedy Club in Chicago. On camera he’s appeared in over 70 commercials, had recent guest appearances on Boss and Sirens, and shares one-on-one scenes with Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition and George Clooney in Ocean’s 12.
MICHAEL MAHLER (Clifford) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and jazzed to be back with Blues after appearing in Hank Williams: Lost Highway and It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Other Chicagoland credits include: The March (Steppenwolf); Working (Broadway Playhouse); They’re Playing Our Song (Fox Valley Repertory); The Illusion (Court); and The Fox on the Fairway, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Jeff nom.) and The Producers (Theatre at the Center). Michael is a Jeff award-winning composer/lyricist whose musical Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure is currently playing at Chicago Children’s Theatre. Next, Michael will appear in City of Angels at the Marriott Theatre. Look for his new musical October Sky at the Marriott Theatre later this fall. Thanks to Jonathan and Wendy for this great gig. Visit MichaelMahler.com
GAIL RASTORFER (Patsy) is honored to be working with American Blues Theater. She has worked with local theatres such as Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, First Folio Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Drury Lane E.P., Griffin Theatre, The Chicago Theatre and The Goodman. She’s been most happy helping bring new plays to life such asHickorydickory (Chicago Dramatists) and The Gamester (Northlight). She works with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago doing their two person show 50 Minute Hamlet in and around Chicagoland. Regional credits include: The Heidi Chronicles and The Game’s Afoot (Asolo Rep), Ten Chimneys and In the Next Room: or the vibrator play (Cleveland Playhouse), As You Like It (Indiana Rep), Mauritius (Madison Rep). Television credits include Chicago Fire, Crisis, Boss, Chicago Code and a wide range of national commercials selling everything from cars to vacuums to insurance. She serves on the Chicago board of SAG-AFTRA and is a proud member of AEA. www.gailonline.net
WARREN LEIGHT (Playwright) Leight’s Side Man won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Play. His other plays include No Foreigners Beyond This Point (Baltimore Center Stage premiere); James and Annie (Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati premiere); Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine (ATCA nomination); Mayor, the Musical (Drama Desk nomination); Fame Takes a Holiday (co-written); Stray Cats; and The Loop. Recent publications: Dark No Sugar, a collection of one-acts; Leading Women: Plays for Actresses II; DPS’s Outstanding Men’s Monologues 2001-2002; Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Marathon 2000 collection, and Dramatics magazine. Screenplays include The Night We Never Met (starring Matthew Broderick and Annabella Sciorra), which he also directed. He was formerly showrunner on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and is currently showrunner on HBO’s In Treatment; and a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.
JONATHAN BERRY (Director) is a director and teacher in Chicago. Productions include: At Griffin, where he is a company member: Balm in Gilead, Golden Boy, The Burnt Part Boys, Spring Awakening, Punk Rock, Port, On the Shore of the Wide World, Company, Picnic, Time and the Conways, Dead End, The Hostage and Journey’s End. He is proud Company Member at Steep Theatre where productions include: The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet, The Knowledge, Festen, Moment, The Hollow Lands and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Roundabout Theater, Suicide, Incorporated. He was the Assistant Director for Anna D Shapiro’s Broadway productions of Of Mice and Men and This is Our Youth. Steppenwolf productions include: A Separate Peace, and the world premiere of Gary. Gift Theatre: The world premieres of both Dirty and Suicide, Incorporated by Andrew Hinderaker, as well asOthello. Goodman Theatre: The Solid Sand Below and The World of Extreme Happiness for their New Stages Festival. He’s also worked with Chicago Dramatists, Remy Bumppo, Redtwist, Jackalope, Strawdog, Theater Mir, and Lifeline. He pursued his MFA in directing from Northwestern University. He has taught at University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Act One Studios, Columbia College and The School at Steppenwolf.
SARAH E. ROSS (Scenic Design) is a proud Ensemble member at American Blues Theater. Past scenic designs with American Blues Theater include Collected Stories (Jeff Award nom), Grounded, and Rantoul and Die. She is a freelance scenic and costume designer in Chicago and also serves as the Properties Director for the Paramount Theater in Aurora. She has also worked with The Second City, Shattered Globe, 16th Street Theater, Writers’ Theatre, Theater Wit, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. During the summers she designs scenery and props for Peninsula Players Theater in Door County, WI. She received a Joseph Jefferson Award for costume design for Tobacco Road (Blues). She is a member of the Society of Properties Artisans and Managers.
EMILY MCCONNELL (Costume Design) is very excited to be working with American Blues for the first time. In addition to being the Resident Costume Designer for Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts, she also freelances for such companies as Lifeline (3 Little Pigs, Monstrous Regiment), Steep Theatre (Eric Argyle, Luther, Lakeboat, Hollow Lands, In Arabia…), Northlight (Commons of Pensacola, Black Pearl Sings), Oak Park Festival Theatre (Amadeus, Twelfth Night, Inherit the Wind, Richard III), Redtwist (Reverb), Artistic Home (American Plan), Dog & Pony (Roadkill Confidential), Gift Theatre (Suicide Incorporated), American Theatre Company, Remy Bumppo, Griffin Theatre and About Face. She is a proud Artistic Associate of Steep Theatre, and has her MFA in Costume and Set Design from Northwestern University.
HEATHER GILBERT (Lighting Design) is an award-winning lighting designer, based in Chicago. Recent work includes End Days at Windy City Playhouse and the London production of Our Town at the Almeida Theatre. Heather’s designs for Sean Graney’s productions of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas HMS Pinafore, Mikado, and Pirates of Penzance were recently seen running in rep at the Den Theatre in Chicago. Regionally, Heather’s designs have been seen at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Huntington Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Kansas City Rep, Alley Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Lookinglass Theatre, Writers Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, and many more. Other international credits include Pedro Paramo with Teatro Buendia in Montreal and A Perfect Ganesh at Singapore Repertory Theatre. In 2012, Heather received the 3Arts Award in Chicago. She was a recipient of the prestigious NEA/TCG Career Development Grant for Designers from TCG. Heather received her BA from Trinity University in San Antonio and her MFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago. Since 2006, she has served as the head of the lighting program at Columbia College Chicago, and also frequently creates architectural lighting design around Chicago.
RICK SIMS (Sound Design) has designed sound for numerous Chicago area theatres such as Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, American Blues Theater, 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 in Hepheastus 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 Theater. Previous Blues productions have been Hank Williams: Lost Highway, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Yankee Tavern. 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 assisted designed 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
JONATHAN NOOK (Stage Manager) is delighted to return to American Blues Theater Company, where his credits include: Collected Stories andWaiting for Lefty. Local stage management credits include: This is Modern Art (based on true events), The Night Alive, Okay, Bye., Leveling Up, Buena Vista, The Drunken City, South of Settling, Want, Closer Than I Appear & No Sugar Tonight (both featuring Jeff Garlin), Animals Out of Paper, The North Plan, and Sex with Strangers (Steppenwolf Theatre Company) The Upstairs Concierge (Goodman Theatre) To Master the Art (Chicago Commercial Collective); Invisible Man, Orlando, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, The Year of Magical Thinking, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and The Piano Lesson (Court Theatre) Radio Macbeth (SITI Company/Court Theatre); Hair (American Theater Company); The North Plan (Theater Wit); Freshly Fallen Snow (Chicago Dramatists). Jonathan also serves as Production Manager with Remy Bumppo Theatre Company.
IVY REID (Assistant Stage Manager) is a freelance lighting designer, electrician, and stage manager in Chicago. Recent projects include Assistant Master Electrician for The Good Book at Court Theatre, Master Electrician for The Hammer Trinity with The House Theatre, Assistant Lighting Designer for Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep 2015, and Assistant Stage Manager for Steppenwolf’s First Look 2014. She’s been excited and invigorated by her first experience with American Blues, and wants to thank the cast and crew for their work and laughter throughout the process. She hopes that you enjoy the show as much as she does from the ninja-like shadows of backstage.
JERICO BLEU (Dramaturg) This is Jerico’s first production with American Blues Theater. Some of his previous dramaturgy credits include The Other Place (Profiles) and The Rubenstein Kiss (Coriolis Theatre). He has also assisted on the productions of Stella and Lou and Stones in His Pockets at Northlight Theatre. Jerico is also an actor; he’s worked with various companies including The Dead Writer’s Theatre Collective, Hell in a Handbag Productions, The Waltzing Mechanics, and Chicago Dramatists. He would like to thank Wendy and Jonathan for this opportunity and Mikey for his love and support.
AUSTIN COOK (Music Consultant) is a proud Ensemble member at American Blues Theater. Recent credits: 1st National Tour Million Dollar Quartet (Jerry Lee Lewis, tour Music Director), Sondheim on Sondheim (Music Director/Pianist), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Pianist)* Jeff Award winner, Hank Williams: Lost Highway (Hoss), Putting It Together (MD/Pianist) Jeff Award Nominee, Some Enchanted Evening (music director/pianist)*Jeff Award Music Direction. Chicago Theater credits include: Writers Theater, Porchlight Theatre, American Blues Theater, Theo Ubique, Second City. Music Producer credits: Billy Woodward, John Michael Presney, Billy Woodward & The Senders, Yuleberrys & Friends, Cody Slaughter. Austin’s work has been heard across the country as a performer, producer, composer, musician and music director. Austin’s most recently produced album won the Independent Music Award for Best Roots EP and is featured on PBS nationally in Sun Studio Sessions. Austin is an Artistic Affiliate of Porchlight Music Theatre. “A very special thanks to Adrienne for inspiring and supporting me every day.”
ELISE KAUZLARIC (Dialect Coach) is happy to be working with American Blues Theatre for the first time. She is a member of the artistic ensemble of Lifeline Theatre where she has coached numerous productions including The Killer Angels, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Mark of Zorro, and The Piano Tuner. She has also coached for Timeline, The Irish Theatre of Chicago, Griffin Theatre, Signal Ensemble, the hypocrites, Michigan Shakespeare Festival and others. Twice nominated by the Non-Equity Jeff Committee for her dialect work (Busman’s Honeymoon at Lifeline and Punk Rock at Griffin), she also directs and acts around town, receiving a Non-Equity Jeff nomination for her direction of Mariette in Ecstasy (Lifeline) and Supporting Actress nomination for her work in On the Shore of the Wide World (Griffin). Elise teaches at The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
ELLEN WILLETT (Production Manager) began working with American Blues in 2012 as Asst. Production Manager on Illegal Use of Hands. Since then, she has been Production Manager on Hank Williams: Lost Highway (2013 & 2014) and Grounded (2014). She stage manages and production manages with many Chicago theatres including Lifeline Theatre, The Inconvenience, Buzz22 Chicago, and Steep Theatre Company. She also serves on the board of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), a unique and vibrant music ensemble dedicated to advancing the music of our time.
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. http://mtrudeaudesigns.com
CLAIRE CHRZAN (Master Electrician) is excited to be working with American Blues for the first time! Recent master electrician credits include Antigonick (Sideshow); Carrie (Bailiwick); Assassins (Kokandy Productions); Flare Path (Griffin Theatre); and Home/Land (Albany Park Theatre Project). Claire also frequently works as a lighting designer with companies including Emerald City, InFusion, Definition Theatre Company, Interrobang Theatre Project, Eclipse, The Raven, Mary Arrchie, and Profiles Theatre Company.
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 24 Artistic Affiliates, and diversified its base of artists. She created the nationally-recognized 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 of 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. She’s happily raising her 4-year old son and brand new baby daughter with her incredible husband.