ABT-HWLH_200x300Chicago Equity Premiere

Written by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik
Directed by Damon Kiely
Music directed by Malcolm Ruhl
September 5, 2013 – October 6, 2013
at Greenhouse Theater Center

Featuring Ensemble members Matt Brumlow as Hank Williams, Laura Coover, James Leaming, Michael Mahler, Suzanne Petri, and guest artists John Foley, John Crowley, Greg Hirte, Matt Kahler, & Dana Black.

 “A profound emotional journey…forceful, clear-eyed, moving, impressive!”— Rolling Stone
 “The best example of a musician’s bio put on stage that I’ve seen!”—The New York Post

HANK WILLAMS: LOST HIGHWAY follows Williams’ rise from the beginnings to his triumphs on the Grand Ole Opry to his self-destruction at twenty-nine.  Audiences will be treated to an unforgettable tribute of more than 20 hits, including “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “Move It on Over”, “Hey, Good Lookin’”, and “Jambalaya”.


It's a Wonderful Life in Chicago12th Smash Year – the Chicago Original
Based on Frank Capra’s film from a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern
Directed by Ensemble member Marty Higginbotham
November 25, 2012 – December 29, 2013
at Greenhouse Theater Center
Featuring the entire cast of 2012’s sold-out hit: Ensemble members Dara Cameron, Kevin Kelly, Michael Mahler, John Mohrlein, Gwendolyn Whiteside, Artistic Affiliate James Joseph, and guest artists Shawn Goudie & Ian Paul Custer.

 Dean Richards recommended!  As seen on WGN, CBS Chicago, NBC, WXRT, WBEZ, Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, “Best of Chicago”-Newcity, Chicago Reader, and much more!

“How fortunate to have talented & spirited actors…[who] are willing to keep that bright light shining.” –Karolyn Grimes, Zuzu in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

Since 2002, the American Blues Theater Ensemble has treated Chicago to Clarence, George, and the delightful characters of Bedford Falls.  In its new 199-seat theater, American Blues Theater will once again take you back to a 1940s radio broadcast of Frank Capra’s holiday classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE in a full-scale production with Foley sound effects, an original score, and a stellar cast of seven.  After each performance, milk and cookies are served.


ABT-AM-Final-small-flat--150x150World Premiere
Written by 2012 Blue Ink Prize winner, Christina Gorman
Directed by Steve Scott
Developed at The Public Theater
February – March 2014
with City of Chicago’s Department of Culture and Special Events

Dr. Douglas Graham, best-selling author, beloved professor, and American history scholar, is accused by a former student of lying in the classroom about his participation in and around the Vietnam War.  AMERICAN MYTH explores the line between personal and professional ethics, the difference between truth and history, and the myth of what makes a great man.

Grounded-Rough-idea-copy-150x150Chicago Premiere
Written by 2012 Smith Prize winner, George Brant
Director TBA
June 2014
at Greenhouse Theater Center

Featuring Ensemble member Gwendolyn Whiteside

A hot-rod F16 fighter pilot’s unexpected pregnancy ends her career in the sky.  Repurposed to flying remote-controlled drones in Afghanistan from an air-conditioned trailer near Vegas, the Pilot struggles through surreal twelve-hour shifts far from the battlefield, hunting terrorists by day and being a wife and mother by night. A tour de force play for one actress, GROUNDED flies from the heights of lyricism to the shallows of workaday existence, targeting our assumptions about war, family, and the power of storytelling.


Additional programming

ABT-NS-flat-small-150x150World Premiere
Adapted by Ensemble member Nambi E. Kelley
With special permission from the Richard Wright Estate.
Workshops and public readings throughout 2013-2014;
Production in September 2014
Throughout the 2013 – 2014 season, American Blues Theater hosts workshops, live staged readings and other events culminating in the world premiere of a new adaptation of NATIVE SON by Ensemble Member Nambi E. Kelley.  Native Son tells the story of a young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. The story, still relevant almost 75 years after it was originally published, is an unflinching portrait of what it means to be black in America and the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the United States.  It will receive a production in the fall of 2014.


Education Outreach in Schools

The_Lincoln_Project_logo_smallTHE LINCOLN PROJECT

Adapted by Ensemble member Gwendolyn Whiteside from
Artistic Affiliate James Still’s Pulitzer nominated “The Heavens Are Hung in Black”
With special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing.
Directed by Ensemble member Heather Meyers

Featuring Ensemble members Manny Buckley, Steve Key, Warren Levon, Artistic Affiliate Zachary Kenney, and guest artist Kaelan Strouse.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, ABT provides a three-part education outreach program to 7th– 9th graders throughout Chicago.


title-treatment--150x150Annual Festival
Spring 2014
Written and Directed by various Chicago artists
Based on the 1930’s WPA era program that brought Orson Welles, Arthur Miller, Richard Wright, and Clifford Odets into public attention, our playwrights use inspiration ripped from today’s headlines.


Plays, dates, and artists subject to change


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