BIOGRAPHIES

IAN PAUL CUSTER (Halberstam) is a proud Ensemble member at American Blues Theater.  Recent American Blues credits: It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, Little Shop of Horrors (“Orin Skrivello”, Jeff Nom.—Best Production of a Musical, Midsize), and Yankee Tavern.  Recent Chicago theatrical credits: Bad Jews (Theatre Wit, North Shore Center, Royal George); 33 Variations (TimeLine Theatre, Jeff Award– Best Production, Midsize); Annie Bosh is Missing (Steppenwolf Theatre); High Holidays (Goodman Theatre); To Master the Art (Broadway Playhouse / TimeLine Theatre); Strangers, Babies (Steep Theatre); and Fiddler on the Roof (Paramount Theatre).  Regional theatrical credits: Hero: The Musical (Asolo Rep Theatre), Cymbeline (Notre Dame Shakespeare), Romeo and Juliet (Cardinal Stage), and Peter Pan (360 Entertainment – London, England). Television credits: APB, Empire, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD.  Love to Shannon, my friends, and my family for all the support.

COBURN GOSS (Stewart Alsop) is happy to make his American Blues Theater debut. Recent Chicago credits: The Burials (Steppenwolf Theatre for Young Audiences), Chimerica (Timeline Theatre), and The Diary of Anne Frank (Writer’s Theatre). Also with Steppenwolf: FakeDead Man’s Cell PhoneWhen the Messenger Is Hot (also Off-Broadway at 59E59), The Royal Family, and Absolution. With the Goodman Theatre: The Crowd You’re In With and Vigils; as well as Luce and Dying City with Next Theatre, Shining City with Irish Theatre of Chicago and Freud’s Last Session with CRC Productions at the Mercury Theatre. TV credits: Empire, Chicago Fire, Mind Games, The Mob Doctor, Boss, Reconstruction, The Chicago Code, E/R, The Beast, and Prison Break. Film: The Lucky Ones, What Women Want, Man of Steel, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

PHILIP EARL JOHNSON (Joseph Alsop) This is Phil’s first production with American Blues. Past Chicago productions include: A Christmas Story (Paramount); The Royale, The Big Meal (ATC), Danny Casolaro Died For You (Timeline); Dance of Death, Old Glory (Writers); Tartuffe, Skylight, The Dead, The Passion Play (Court); Talking Pictures, The Actor, Brutality of Fact (Goodman); Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Steppenwolf); Conquest of the South Pole (Famous Door). National Tour: Angels in America (originating at Royal George). Recent television: Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Empire, Mind Games, and Underemployed. When not working in Chicago, Phil tours the country with his one man vaudevillian clown act MooNiE the Magnif’Cent: Juggler, Ropewalker, Foolish Mortal! Gesundheit!

KYMBERLY MELLEN (Susan Mary Alsop) The Columnist marks Kymberly’s American Blues Theater debut. She has recently been seen as “Ester Franz” in The Price at Timeline Theatre, where she is also an Associate Artist. She is currently a Visiting Professor at DePaul University after returning to Chicago as Casting Director and Producing Associate at Writers Theatre. In addition to numerous films, commercials, industrials, voice-overs, and narrated books, Kymberly has been seen regionally at The Utah Shakespeare Festival, Court, Northlight, Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Marriott Lincolnshire, Ravinia, Peninsula Players, and Pioneer Theatre Company. Kymberly has an MFA degree in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, an MA in Arts Administration from Southern Utah University, and a BFA degree from Brigham Young University in Music Dance Theatre. A Jeff Award-winner, she was named the Chicago Tribune’s 2003 “Chicagoan of the Year” for Theater. AEA, SAG- AFTRA. kymberlymellen.com

TYLER MEREDITH (Abigail) is thrilled to be making her American Blues Theater debut. Other Chicago credits include: The TempestA Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Spinning (Irish Theatre of Chicago); Goldfish (Route 66 Theatre Company); Mai Dang Lao (Sideshow Theatre Company); Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista); Celebration (A Red Orchid Theatre); Letters Home (Griffin Theatre Company); It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play (American Theatre Company); Twelfth NightTop Girls, As You Like It (The Arc Theatre); Two Gentlemen of Verona (Muse of Fire Theatre Company); King John, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet (Backroom Shakespeare Project); and has worked regionally with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. She is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, The School at Steppenwolf, and holds a BFA from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Tyler is an Artistic Associate of Route 66 Theatre Company.

CHRISTOPHER SHEARD (Andrei/Philip) is thrilled to be working alongside this great team. Chicago credits include productions with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Windy City Playhouse, Arcadia at Writers Theatre, and Spill at TimeLine Theatre. He is a company member with Definition Theatre. Regionally, he’s appeared in four seasons at American Players Theatre, two at the Great River Shakespeare Festival, and a reading with Ensemble Studio Theatre. Most recently, Chris appeared in a film produced by Fox on a Hill Productions. He received his BA from Florida State University, his MFA from The University of Illinois PATP, and is represented by Grossman and Jack Talent.

DAVID AUBURN (Playwright) is an American playwright. He attended the University of Chicago, where he was a member of Off-Off Campus, and received a 1991 B.A. degree in English literature. Following a one-year fellowship with Amblin Entertainment, he moved to New York City in 1992.  Auburn spent two years in the Juilliard School’s playwriting program, studying under the noted dramatists Marsha Norman and Christopher Durang. Auburn’s first full-length play, Skyscraper, ran Off Broadway in 1997. His short play, What Do You Believe About the Future?, appeared in Harper’s Magazine and has since been adapted for the screen.  Auburn is best known for his 2000 play Proof, which won the 2001 Tony Award for Best Play, as well as the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He has adapted it into a film, which was released in 2005. His play The Columnist had its world premiere in a production by the Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway, running from April 3, 2012 through June 3, 2012 and starring John Lithgow with direction by Daniel Sullivan. Auburn has also been awarded the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Following Proof, he wrote the screenplay for the movie The Lake House, released by Warner Bros. in 2006.  In 2007, he made his directorial debut with The Girl in the Park, for which he also wrote the screenplay.

KEIRA FROMM (Director) is a Jeff Award-nominated director, a casting director, and a teacher based out of Chicago. Recent directing credits include: How the World Began (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), A Kid Like Jake (About Face Theatre), Luce (Next Theatre), Charles Ives Take Me Home (Strawdog), The How and the Why (TimeLine Theatre), Broadsword (Gift Theatre), and Fallow (Steep Theatre). Keira is an Artistic Associate with About Face Theatre. She received her MFA from DePaul University, her BFA from Boston University, and is a proud member of SDC. Keira is a frequent guest director at DePaul as well as Roosevelt University. Next up, she is directing the Chicago premiere of Bright Half Life with About Face Theatre in the spring, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Hospital of New York City with Route 66 Theatre Company in the summer.

JOE SCHERMOLY (Scenic Design) is excited to make his American Blues Theater debut. As a Griffin ensemble member his credits include Pocatello, Winterset, Titanic, Spelling Bee, Flare Path, Punk Rock, Port, Constant Wife, and more. Other credits include: Constellations (Steppenwolf); Hand to God, Samsara (Victory Gardens); The Watson Intelligence, Mr. Burns, Seven Homeless Mammoths, Completeness (Theatre Wit); Travesties, Henry IV (Remy Bumppo); American Idiot (The Hypocrites); Stupid Fucking Bird, Idomeneus, The Ugly One (Sideshow); The Seafarer, Lay Me Down Softly (Seanachai).  Joe studied set design at Northwestern University and has received two After Dark Awards and three Jeff Award Nominations. www.joeschermoly.com

JARED GOODING (Lighting Design) is excited to be working with American Blues for the first time.  A graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University with a BFA in Lighting Design and native of Houston Texas, design credits include the Associate Design of Lookingglass Alice (Lookingglass), serving as the Lighting Assistant for The Wiz: Live on NBC, designs for Timeline Theater, The Hypocrites, About Face Theatre, MPAACT, Windy City Playhouse, Pegasus Theatre, Next Theatre, Congo Square, Citadel Theatre, and Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre. He spends his free time as a DJ in area bars.

CHRISTOPHER J. NEVILLE (Costume Design) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. Previous Blues costume designs include Hank Williams: Lost Highway (asst), The Rainmaker, It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, Looking Over The President’s Shoulder, and Dutchman/TRANSit. Christopher stitched and assistant designed at Victory Gardens Theater, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Chicago Opera Theater, Theatre at the Center, and Signal Ensemble. Along with balancing design work, Christopher teaches yoga across the Chicagoland area. He 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

CHRISTOPHER KRIZ (Sound Design & Original Music) is a composer and sound designer based in Chicago. Recent Chicago credits include The Magic Play, Carlyle (Goodman); Constellations (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Hand To God, The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens Theater); The Life Of Galileo (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company); Gem of The Ocean (Court Theatre); The Grapes Of Wrath (Gift Theatre); Sunset Baby (TimeLine Theatre Company); and Mothers and Sons (Northlight Theatre). Recently, Lifeline Theatre produced his new musical, Soon I Will Be Invincible. Regional credits include Roz and Ray (Seattle Repertory Theatre) and Sticky Traps (Kansas City Repertory Theatre). Mr. Kriz has been honored with two Jeff Awards and 11 nominations.  He is a member of United Scenic Artists 829.  christopherkriz.com

ALEC LONG (Properties Design) is happy to return to American Blues Theater on this production, his second show with them.  His other credits include, Big Love (Triton College), Christmas at Christine’s (Silk Road Rising), Roz and Ray (Victory Gardens), Later that Same Evening (Northwestern University), Chagrin Falls (Agency Theatre), A Room (A Red Orchid), The Bardy Bunch (Mercury), Comedy of Errors (Commission Theatre), UltraAmerican and Mosque Alert (Silk Road Rising),  Dutchman and Transit (American Blues Theater), Thee Trinity (Polemic Theatre), The Grapes of Wrath (Gift Theatre), Susannah (Northwestern University), A Little Longer and Farther Away (New Colony), Dreams of the Penny Gods (Halcyon), and The Things We Keep (Arc Theatre).

EVA BRENEMAN (Dialect Coach) is a voice and dialect coach who works in the Chicago region. Most recent Chicago credits include Pygmalion (Remy Bumppo); King Charles III (Chicago Shakespeare);  A Disappearing Number (Timeline); One Man Two Guvnors (Court Theatre); Discord (Northlight); Arcadia (Writers Theatre); The Compass (Steppenwolf); The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Chicago Children’s Theater); The Little Foxes (Goodman Theatre); Posh (Steep Theatre); and Blood Wedding (Lookingglass Theatre Company).  Regional credits include Death of a Salesman; The African Company Presents Richard III; A Streetcar Named Desire and The Island (American Repertory Theatre); Love’s Labour’s Lost (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville); Around The World In 80 Days (Centerstage/Kansas City Repertory); and Mamma Mia! (National Tour/Las Vegas). Television credits include Betrayal and The Chicago Code. Eva is an associate artist at TimeLine Theatre Company.

SARAH ILLIATOVITCH-GOLDMAN (Dramaturg) is a playwright and dramaturge from Toronto who now lives and works in Chicago. Selected playwriting credits include: This Is Not a Cure For Cancer and Crime Scene ChicagoLet Hope Rise (Collaboraction Theatre Company), Hospital (Sketchbook Festival, Edmonton Fringe Festival), We Three (Cue6 Theatre), Pieces (RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwright Award finalist), and The War Photographer (Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference semi-finalist, American Blues Theater Blue Ink semi-finalist). Selected dramaturgy credits include: A Splintered Soul (ARLA Productions), To Be Alone With You (My Broadway World Nominee 2015 for best production and best actor), Desperate Dolls (Strawdog Theatre Company), and The Centre of Everything Civilized (Toronto Fringe Festival). Sarah is an adjunct professor of playwriting at the University of Illinois in Chicago and is a Script Supervisor for world premiere plays at The Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Love you Brian.

DANA M. NESTRICK (Stage Manager) Credits include: Little Shop of Horrors, Hank Williams: Lost Highway, I Do! I Do!, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (American Blues Theater); after all the terrible things I do and Kid Like Jake (About Face Theater); The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, Santaland Diaries (2009-2011 & 2015), Mr. Burns, and THIS (Theatre Wit); Port Authority, The Overcoat, and A Minister’s Wife (Writer’s Theatre); Teddy Ferrara, World of Extreme Happiness, Romance, and Binky Rudich or the Revenge of the Space Pandas (Goodman Theatre); Mamma’z Boyz and Our Lady of the Underpass (Teatro Vista); The Big Meal, Welcome to Arroyos’, and Speech & Debate (American Theater Company); Sleuth (Buffalo Theatre Ensemble); The Mystery of Irma Vep (The Provincetown Repertory); Topdog/Underdog, A Christmas Carol (2002-2005)Metamorphoses, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Tennessee William’s Eight by Tenn, Trip to Bountiful, Much Ado About Nothing, Constant Star, and the world premiere of Tea at Five starring Kate Mulgrew (Hartford Stage); Steel Magnolias and A Flea in Her Ear (Arizona Repertory Theatre); Side by Side by Sondheim (Music Theatre Arizona).  Dana is also a costume craft artisan, currently working at Steppenwolf Theatre.

SARAH E. ROSS (Production Manager) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and serves as Production Manager since last season’s Little Shop of Horrors. She is a freelance scenic, costumes, and properties designer based in Chicago and has worked with Paramount Theatre, The Second City, The Joffrey Ballet, Shattered Globe, 16th Street Theater, Writers’ Theatre, Theater Wit, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Regionally, she has designed scenery for Peninsula Players Theater, TheaterSquared, Helen Hocker Theater, and Summer Studio Theater Company. She received Jeff Awards for costume design for Tobacco Road (American Blues Theater), scenic design for The Rainmaker (American Blues Theater), and several nominations for scenic and puppet designs. Sarah is a proud member of Local USA 829 and the Society of Properties Artisans Managers.

SPENCER RYAN DIEDRICK (Assistant Director) is working with Keira and American Blues for the first time, and couldn’t be prouder. Other assisting credits include productions at TimeLine, Strawdog, Raven, and Lifeline. His work has also been seen at the side project, Greenhouse, Collaboraction, Otherworld, the Neo-Futurists, and the Back Room Shakespeare Project. He serves as a proud company member of (re)discover theatre, and is the Co-Artistic Director of Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble.

ROB ONORATO (Assistant to Costume Design) is a writer and theatre worker. He grew up in New England, and currently calls Chicago home. He has worked as a freelance assistant stage manager with companies such as American Blues Theater, About Face, and Pavement Group; he also works with Writer’s Theater. Outside Chicago, he has worked with Nantucket Theater Workshop, Goodspeed Musicals, and the New York International Fringe Festival.

SHANDEE VAUGHAN (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to join American Blues Theater once again after a successful holiday run of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Shandee is a freelance stage manager from Mesa, Arizona. She recently stage managed Wildclaw Theatre’s Deathscribe at Steppenwolf, as well as the Adrienne Archt Center in Miami. ​Last summer, she was the ASM for American Blues’ Jeff nominated production of Little Shop of Horrors. In tandem, Shandee also assistant directed and stage managed Fight Quest (Otherworld Theatre) which remains one of most unique shows she has helped bring to life.​ Other selected credits include: Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol (Festival 56), Klingon Christmas Carol (Commedia Beauregard), and TEXAS! (Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation)Shandee graduated with her BA in Theatre from West Texas A&M University and enjoys playing the ukulele in her free time. shandeevaughan.com​

MICHAEL TRUDEAU (Master Electrician) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He’s thrilled to be working with American Blues this season. Blues credits include: Little Shop of Horrors, Side Man, Yankee Tavern, and Looking Over the President’s Shoulder.  Other Chicago credits include master electrician for UIC, Shattered Globe, Emerald City Theater, and Theater at the Center. He has also worked as a follow spot operator for Mary Poppins and Miss Saigon with Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL and A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theater. During the summer months, he is the Master Electrician at Peninsula Players Theater in Fish Creek, WI. http://mrtrudeau23.wix.com/mtrudeaudesigns

GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE (Producing Artistic Director) is a proud Ensemble member of 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 28 Artistic Affiliates, and diversified its base of artists. She created the nationally-recognized annual Blue Ink Playwriting AwardBlueprint 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 which serves over 2,000 students annually. She led American Blues through its 2009 rebirth and built the operational budget from zero to $825,000 in six (6) 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 named in Newcity’s annual Players list numerous times. In six years, six American Blues’ productions won or were nominated for best production by the Joseph Jefferson Award committee. She’s received 11 Joseph Jefferson Awards, Citations, and nominations as an actress and Producing Artistic Director. Her favorite performances include Jeff Award for Solo Performance (Grounded), Jeff Award nomination for Solo Performance (the K of D), Mary’s Wedding (Top 5 performances in Indianapolis), Collected Stories (Best Actress Broadway World Chicago Award), and 6 years as “Mary Bailey” (It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!). 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: Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, 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: Live in Chicago! 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 is currently working towards a Masters of Nonprofit Administration from North Park University.  She sends her love to her husband, son, and daughter for the love and joy they bring her every day.

Share This