WHO’S WHO IN THE CAST
DARA CAMERON (Audrey) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. She’s very happy to be back with American Blues performing opposite her husband, Michael Mahler. She appeared in three productions of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! with American Blues and looks forward to returning to WABT studio this holiday season. Other recent credits include: Elf, Sister Act, October Sky, Hero (Jeff nomination), Fiddler on the Roof, City of Angels, Little Women, South Pacific, The Wizard of Oz, and Cinderella: After the Ball (Marriott Theatre); Sunset Boulevard, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and The Buddy Holly Story (Drury Lane Theatre); Hero (Asolo Rep); They’re Playing Our Song (Fox Valley Rep); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Hello, Dolly! (Theatre at the Center); The Addams Family (Mercury Theater); and Old Jews Telling Jokes (Royal George Theatre and Westside Theatre-NYC). Dara is a proud Northwestern University graduate and member of Actors’ Equity.
IAN PAUL CUSTER (Orin) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He was last seen at American Blues in Yankee Tavern and It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Recent Chicago theatrical credits include 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). Ian has also had the pleasure of working with A Red Orchid Theatre, MPAACT, Route 66 Theatre, The Inconvenience, and Fox Valley Repertory. 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: Empire, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD. Special thanks to Wendy, Jon, Shannon, and my family/friends for all their support.
JASONDRA JOHNSON (Ronnette) is thrilled to make her debut at American Blues Theater! Her previous theatre credits include Hairspray (Timberlake Playhouse), Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago), The Color Purple (Mercury Theater), Crowns (Goodman Theatre), and Will You Stand Up? (Erasing the Distance). “I’m living a dream and I’m so happy to do what I do. Many thanks to my mommy, daddy, and Fraz!” M.Ed. Community Counseling Loyola University Chicago; B.A. Psychology Saint Xavier University.
MARK DAVID KAPLAN (Mr. Mushnik) happily makes his American Blues Theater debut alongside this talented cast! Credits include – Les Miserables (Thenardier – Jeff Award), Ragtime (Tateh – Jeff Award), and Curtains (Drury Lane Oakbrook); Man of La Mancha (Sancho – Montana Shakes/Park); Fiddler on the Roof (Lazar Wolf – Pioneer Theatre); Animal Crackers, Into the Woods, and The Cocoanuts (Skylight); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (James Lapine-dir., Water Tower); The Emperor’s New Clothes, Willy Wonka, and the premiere of How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? (Chicago Shakespeare). Shorter titles include Amadeus (Indiana Rep), We Three Lizas (About Face Theatre), and A Year with Frog and Toad (Chicago Children’s Theatre). Long associated with the hit Forbidden Broadway, Mark has performed from NYC to Singapore, earning a Jeff Award for his work in Forbidden Broadway Dances with the Stars at the Royal George Theatre. He spent five years touring the US as “Zazu” in The Lion King.
YANDO LOPEZ (Street Derelict) is so excited to be making his American Blues Theater debut with Little Shop and this incredible cast. Yando was last seen in the title role of Barney the Elf with the Other Theatre Company and as “Jeff” in [title of show] with Brown Paper Box. Other Chicago credits include Jeff award-winning Sondheim on Sondheim at Porchlight Music Theatre and In the Heights at the Paramount Theatre. He has also worked with Court Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, and FWD Theatre. Next up Yando will be performing with The Hypocrites in their Gilbert and Sullivan rep shows at the Olney Theatre. Yando is a proud Northwestern graduate. All his thanks to Jon, Austin, and his crazy family.
MICHAEL MAHLER (Seymour) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He’s thrilled to return home, where he has appeared as “Clifford” in Side Man, “Jimmy” in Hank Williams: Lost Highway, and the “Announcer/Pianist” in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Chicagoland credits include City of Angels, The 25th Annual…Spelling Bee, and Shenandoah (Marriott); The March (Steppenwolf); Working (Broadway Playhouse); The Fox on the Fairway, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Jeff nomination), and The Producers (Theatre at the Center); They’re Playing Our Song and A Funny Thing Happened… (Fox Valley Rep); and The Illusion (Court). Michael is a Jeff award-winning composer/lyricist and husband to the delicious Dara Cameron. Visit www.michaelmahler.com
CAMILLE ROBINSON (Crystal) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. She’s happy to return after making her Blues debut in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! last winter. Recent theater credits include: For Her as a Piano (Pegasus Theatre Chicago), Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse), Murder Ballad (Bailiwick Chicago), and More Than A Miracle: A Nativity Story (Congo Square Theatre). The biggest hugs and kisses go to her beautiful family for their unwavering love and support.
LORENZO RUSH JR. (Voice of Audrey Two) is so excited to be making his American Blues Theater debut. Lorenzo is a Joseph Jefferson Award nominated actor with a degree from Western IL University in Musical Theater. Lorenzo has been honored to grace the stage of some of Chicago’s best theaters such as: Porchlight Music Theater (Ain’t Misbehavin’, Funny Thing…Forum), Marriott Theatre (City of Angels, Dreamgirls), and Boho Music Theater (Parade), as well as accredited regional theaters across the country. Lorenzo has been fortunate to sing alongside award winning artist such as Jeri Sager, Sutton Foster, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Lorenzo thanks American Blues for this opportunity and dedicates this performance to Sam and Phoebe. Lorenzo is a proud member of AEA.
DARIAN TENE (Street Derelict; Choreographer) is excited to make her American Blues Theater debut. Darian recently graduated from the University of Alabama where she appeared in Chicago and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Theater Tuscaloosa). Other recent credits include A Charlie Brown Christmas (Emerald City Theater).
EUNICE WOODS (Chiffon) is thrilled to be making her American Blues Theater debut! Other Chicago credits include The Project(s) (American Theater Company), Sparky! (Lifeline Theatre), The Revel (The House Theatre of Chicago), Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago), Hey! Dancin’! Hey! Musical (The Factory Theater), The True History…of Julia Pastrana (Tympanic Theatre Company), Raskol (Vintage Theater Collective), and The Rose Parade (Body Project Ensemble & VOTC). Eunice is a proud company member of Barrel of Monkeys where she performs and teaches in Chicago Public Schools. She holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University and is represented by Gray Talent Group.
AUSTIN COOK (Music Director; Keyboard) see Production Profiles.
MALCOLM RUHL (Bass) is excited to be working with American Blues Theater again, after serving as musical director for Hank Williams: Lost Highway, for which he received a Jeff Award. His other musical direction credits have garnered seven Jeff nominations, most recently for Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash at the Mercury Theater. His Chicago-area work as a performer, musical director and/or orchestrator has been seen and heard at the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, American Theater Company, Northlight Theatre, Apollo Theatre, the Broadway Playhouse, Writers Theatre, Theatre at the Center, and Apple Tree Theatre. In the 1980s, Malcolm appeared as “Jackson” in the Broadway production of Pump Boys and Dinettes and in that show’s record-breaking run at Chicago’s Apollo Theatre. He recently produced and performed on Christine Mild’s debut CD and Cory Goodrich’s latest CD.
MATTHEW SITZ (Auxiliary Percussion; Puppeteer) is extremely happy to join American Blues for Little Shop of Horrors. When he’s not playing in pits or acting, you can see him as the Director of Audience Services at Court Theatre at the University of Chicago.
MICHAEL WEATHERSPOON (Drums) has been a concert, session, and touring drummer for over 30 years performing with such artists as Ben Tankard, Steve Cole, Kirk Whalum, George Duke, Phil Tarver, Donald Lawrence, Daniel Weatherspoon, Kim Burrell, and Yolanda Adams, to name a few. With over 100 albums and DVDs to his credit, Michael has been able to provide artists with the musical interpretation needed to bring their vision to fruition. Michael has worked with Congo Square Theatre Company on their production of Twisted Melodies, about the life of Donnie Hathaway, and Goodman Theatre for 5 years on their Langston Hughes production of Nativity. He has also worked with Porchlight Music Theatre on Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill and Ain’t Misbehavin’, and with Open Door Theatre Company on their production of Eye of The Storm.
SHAUN WHITLEY (Guitar & Keyboard) is thrilled to work with American Blues Theater. He is a multi-instrumentalist, actor, composer, and Jeff-nominated music director. For the past six years he performed nearly 1800 times as “Carl Perkins” in the longest running Broadway musical in Chicago history, Million Dollar Quartet. Other Chicago credits include: Chicago Shakespeare, Drury Lane, Second City, Remy-Bumppo, Strawdog, TUTA, Redmoon, Blindfaith, and Provision. He studied Shakespeare at RADA in London. He also teaches at the Old Town School of Folk Music, as well as privately. Love to his family and, most of all, to his beautiful wife, Megan.
HOWARD ASHMAN (Book & Lyrics) is best known as a pivotal creative mind behind the renaissance of Disney animation and his work on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast (which is dedicated to, “Our friend, Howard Ashman, who gave a Mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul…”) Ashman’s first love was theater. Ashman was a founder of off-off Broadway’s renowned WPA Theater, where he conceived, wrote and directed God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, as well as the classic musical, Little Shop of Horrors (both music by Alan Menken). In 1986, he wrote and directed the Broadway musical Smile (music by Marvin Hamlisch). Lamented as a lost treasure of the 1980’s theater scene, Smile remains popular on high school and college campuses throughout the country. Howard Ashman died in 1991 from complications of AIDS. For more information, please visit howardashman.com.
ALAN MENKEN (Composer) Theater: God Bless You, Mr Rosewater, Little Shop of Horrors, Real Life Funnies, Atina: Evil Queen of The Galaxy, Kicks, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Weird Romance, King David, Der Gloeckner Von Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Leap of Faith, Aladdin, and Newsies. Film: Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Life With Mikey, Lincoln, Home On The Range, Noel, Enchanted, Shaggy Dog, Tangled, and Mirror Mirror. Songs: Rocky V, Home Alone 2, and Captain America. Awards: 8 Oscars (19 nominations), 11 Grammys (including Song of the Year), 7 Golden Globes, Tony Award (plus 4 nominations), Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics, Olivier, and London’s Evening Standard Award, Drama League. Honors: Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Doctorates from New York University and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
JONATHAN BERRY (Director) is a director and teacher in Chicago, the Artistic Producer at Steppenwolf, and a proud ensemble member of both Steep Theatre and Griffin Theatre. At Steep, productions include: Laura Wade’s Posh, Ross Dungan’s The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, Nick Payne’s If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet, John Donnelly’s The Knowledge, David Eldridge’s Festen, Deirdre Kinahan’s Moment, Howard Korder’s The Hollow Lands and Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Griffin productions include: Pocatello by Sam Hunter, Balm in Gilead by Lanford Wilson, Golden Boy by Odets, Miller/Tysen’s The Burnt Part Boys, Sheik/ Sater’s Spring Awakening, the North American premiers of Simon Stephen’s Punk Rock (Jeff Award Director, Lead Actor, and Ensemble), Port, and On the Shore of the Wide World, Stephen Sondheim’s Company, William Inge’s Picnic, JB Priestely’s Time and the Conways, Sidney Kingsley’s Dead End, Brendan Behan’s The Hostage and R.C. Sheriff’s Journey’s End. 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 the SYA production of A Separate Peace and the world premiere of Melinda Lopez’s Gary, as well as the staged reading of Suicide, Incorporate. Gift Theatre: The world premieres of both Dirty and Suicide, Incorporated by Andrew Hinderaker, and Shakespeare’s Othello. Goodman Theatre: The Solid Sand Below and The World of Extreme Happiness for their New Stages Festival. Other work includes: American Blues: Sideman; Redtwist: Look Back in Anger and Reverb, Chicago Dramatists: I Am Going to Change the World, Jackalope Theatre’s The Casuals, Strawdog’s Conversations on a Homecoming, Remy Bumppo: The Marriage of Figaro, Theatre Mir: Bond’s The Sea and Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, Lifeline Theater: The Piano Tuner (After Dark Award – Best Production) He pursued his MFA in directing from Northwestern University. He has taught acting, directing, and Viewpoints at University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Act One Studios, Columbia College, and The School at Steppenwolf.
AUSTIN COOK (Music Director; Keyboard) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He’s thrilled to return where he was last seen in Hank Williams: Lost Highway. Austin is an award-winning music director, musician, actor and producer currently residing in Chicago, IL. Recent credits: 1st/4th National Tour Million Dollar Quartet (Music Director/Music Supervisor); Sondheim on Sondheim (Music Director/Pianist)* Jeff Award Winner; Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Pianist)* Jeff Award Winner; Ring of Fire (Piano, Guitar, Dobro, Bass); Hank Williams: Lost Highway (“Hoss”); Putting It Together (MD/Pianist)*Jeff Award Nominee; Some Enchanted Evening (music director/pianist)*Jeff Award Winner. Chicago Theater credits include: American Blues Theater, Writers Theater, Mercury Theater, Theater at the Center, Porchlight Theatre, Second City. Music Producer credits: Billy Woodward, John Michael Presney, Yuleberry’s and Friends. Austin’s most recently produced album “The Beast in Me” won the Independent Music Award for Best Roots EP and is featured on PBS nationally in Sun Studio Sessions. Come see Austin’s next show War Paint at the Goodman Theatre! www.austinryancook.com
GRANT SABIN (Scenic Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. A native of rural Illinois, Grant blends his rural roots with urban art. He’s a recipient of the 2015 Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. He’s a graduate of Columbia College with a BFA in theatre design where he was awarded the 2005 Michael Merritt student 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. His designs have been seen at Northlight, Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf, Next, The Royal George, Overture Center WI, Theatre Wit, Gallagher Bluedorn IA, American Blues, ATC, Christina Isabelle Dance, The Seldoms Dance, and A Red Orchid. He was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for his design of American Blues’ production of Yankee Tavern, 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. Grant is currently a part-time faculty member at Columbia College.
HEATHER GILBERT (Lighting Design) is an award-winning lighting designer, based in Chicago. Heather’s designs for Sean Graney’s productions of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas HMS Pinafore, Mikado, and Pirates of Penzance were recently seen at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Actor Theatre of Louisville. Regionally, Heather’s designs have been seen at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, 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. International credits Almeida in London and Singapore Repertory Theatre. Heather was a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Grant and the 3Arts Award. She serves as the head of lighting design at Columbia College Chicago and received her M.F.A. at the Theatre School at DePaul.
IZUMI INABA (Costume Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. She’s happy to return after designing Yankee Tavern last year. Her recent design credits include Charm and You Can’t Take It With You (Northlight), No More Sad Things (Sideshow), Mutt (Stage Left and Red Tape), In a Word (Strawdog), The New Sincerity (Wit), Rent (Theo Ubique), and Adding Machine (Hypocrites). She is a company member at Red Tape and a resident designer at Albany Park Theatre Project. Izumi has received two non-Equity Jeff Awards, and 2014 Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. M.F.A. in Stage Design, Northwestern University.
RICK SIMS (Sound Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He has designed sound for numerous Chicago area theatres such as Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, American Blues Theater, Congo Square, Writers Theatre, Lifeline, Griffin, Chicago Children’s 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 J. NEVILLE (Properties Design) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He’s excited to work on this new production of Little Shop. Previous Blues’ properties design credits include Side Man and Yankee Tavern; previous Blues’ costume design credits include Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, and The Rainmaker. He has designed properties for Northlight Theater, Sideshow Theatre Company, Haven Theatre, Congo Square, and Griffin Theatre. His assistant design work includes The Who’s Tommy (Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL), Moby Dick (Lookingglass Theater), and he has served as an artisan at both theaters for the past several years. He also pursues costume design and is a freelance yoga instructor. 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
SARAH E. ROSS (Production Manager; Puppet Design) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. Sarah is a Chicago-based freelance scenic, properties, and costume designer. She has worked with American Blues Theater, The Second City, Paramount Theatre, 16th Street Theater, Writers’ Theatre, Theater Wit, Shattered Globe, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Regionally, she has designed scenery for Peninsula Players Theater, TheaterSquared, and Summer Studio Theater Company. She received a Jeff Award for costume design for Tobacco Road and has received several scenic design nominations. Sarah is the full-time properties director at Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL. She is a member of the Society of Properties Artisan Managers.
DANA M. NESTRICK (Stage Manager) Credits include: 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 (Writers 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.
ELYSE DOLAN (Assistant Director) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater and serves as Assistant Producer. At Blues she has directed short plays by Larissa FastHorse, M.E.H. Lewis, and Susan Soon He Stanton in past Ripped Festivals; assisted Kimberly Senior on the reading of Other Than Honorable; and assisted Ed Blatchford on The Rainmaker. Most recently, she directed the world premiere of Here After by Evan Sesek at The New Colony. Other Chicago credits include directing stage readings for Pride Films & Plays, Three Cat Productions, and the Greenhouse Theater Center, and serving as Assistant Director on productions at Raven Theatre, Oracle Theatre, 16th Street Theater, and Redtwist Theatre. Elyse holds a B.A. in Theater and English Literature from Denison University.
ANDY KLOUBEC (Assistant Lighting Designer) is a freelance Lighting Designer based in Chicago. Previous design credits include Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, directed by Max Colvill, Raised South of Privilege, but Forget Not. I am Woke., choreographed by Aaliyah Leonard, and Transit, written and directed by Dakota Parobek.
SARAH RAMOS (Assistant Sound Designer) has been the Resident Audio and Video Supervisor at Court Theater for six seasons. Locally, she has done sound for Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, About Face Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, Bailiwick Chicago, Teatro Luna, Prop Thtr, and Livewire Chicago. Nationally, she has worked with Indiana Repertory Theatre (IN), Renaissance Theatreworks (WI), And How Theater Company (NY), Gateway Playhouse (NY), and Piedmont Opera (NC). She is an alumna of the North Carolina School of the Arts.
MICHAEL TRUDEAU (Technical Director) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He is thrilled to return for another show. Recent Chicago credits include Technical Director for Emergent Theater, Sideshow Theater Company, Route 66 Theatre, American Theater Company, and Livewire Theater Company. He has also served as Master Electrician for Shattered Globe Theatre and Theater at the Center, as well as Spot Operator for Mary Poppins and Miss Saigon at Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL. During the summer months, he is the Master Electrician at Peninsula Players Theater in Fish Creek, WI. http://mrtrudeau23.wix.com/mtrudeaudesigns
MORGAN LAKE (Sound Engineer) is an alumna of DePaul University and she is excited to be working with American Blues again. Recent projects include sound design for Recent Tragic Events (Interrobang Theatre Project), The Terrible (The New Colony), and sound engineering for The Life of Galileo (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company). Upcoming projects include sound design for The North Pool (Interrobang Theatre Project). Morgan’s portfolio can be heard at her website, soundslikemorgan.com.
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 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 which serves over 1,500 students annually. She fiscally led American Blues through its 2009 rebirth and built the operational budget from zero to $700,000 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 listed in Newcity’s annual Players list. In five years, five 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), 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. She’s the director of Chicago’s holiday tradition It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!
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.