Welcome to American Blues Theater’s Season 34 “Then & Now”. We proudly celebrate the 18th anniversary of this holiday tradition. We’ve delighted nearly 60,000 patrons throughout the years and featured the work of 30+ Ensemble members and Artistic Affiliates.

This story is a staple of our mission: American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.  During 2002 and 2003, our Ensemble, and former Artistic Director Damon Kiely, presented staged-readings of It’s a Wonderful Life. In 2004, we expanded the event to a fully-staged production of Joe Landry’s adaptation, directed by Ensemble member Marty Higginbotham. In the years that followed, Higginbotham created a live-radio experience for audience members and adapted a new version with our Ensemble. Dramaturgical research and attention to detail were paramount to our adaptations. Higginbotham’s directorial elements included adding audio grams, lobby refreshments of cookies and milk, dramatized scenes from Capra’s film, a pre-show, and singing holiday carols.  In our present iteration, you can also enjoy “vintage” video, the “Soldier Spotlight” which has honored nearly 500 military personnel, expanded scenes, preshow music directed by Ensemble member Michael Mahler, and a quiz show for the live audience.

This story reminds us of the fragility of life.  Frank Capra’s lines – “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – resonates throughout the year.  During the holidays, it becomes a poignant reminder as we gather with our loved ones.

Your gracious spirits and open hearts are equally important to this Chicago tradition.  Your presence is a gift to the Blues family.  We welcome you—our home is yours.

-Gwendolyn Whiteside

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