DARA CAMERON (Violet) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and is so happy to be performing with WABT for her seventh holiday season. Favorite credits include The Spitfire Grill (Jeff nomination) and Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues Theater); Old Jews Telling Jokes (Royal George and Off-Broadway) Elf, Hero (Jeff nomination), South Pacific, October Sky, Sister Act, City of Angels, Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, Fiddler on the Roof (MarriottTheatre); Addams Family (Mercury Theater); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Theatre at the Center), and Sunset Boulevard, Seussical, and Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story (DruryLane Theatre)She is a graduate of Northwestern University and a proud member of Actors’ Equity.She is married to actor Michael Mahler, and when they aren’t singing Christmas carols together onstage, they are busy chasing after their stinker of a toddler, Ezra! 

IAN PAUL CUSTER (Harry) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater.  American Blues credits: The Spitfire GrillBuddy – The Buddy Holly Story (Jeff Award – Best Ensemble, Best Musical), Little Shop of Horrors, It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, and Yankee Tavern. Chicago credits: Bad Jews (Theater Wit, North Shore Center, Royal George Theatre); 33 Variations (Jeff Award – Best Production), To Master The Art (TimeLine Theatre/Broadway Playhouse); Annie Bosh is Missing (Steppenwolf Theatre); High Holidays (Goodman Theatre); The Watson’s Go To Birmingham: 1963 (Chicago Children’s Theatre); and Fiddler on the Roof (Paramount Theatre).  Regional credits: Hero (Asolo Rep), Cymbeline (Notre Dame Shakespeare), and Peter Pan (360 Entertainment – London, England). Television credits: APB, Empire, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD.  Ian is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University and is represented by Gray Talent Group.  Love to Shannon.  

BRANDON DAHLQUIST (George Bailey) is thrilled to be back in Bedford Falls this winter! Theatre credits include: Broadway: Bronx Bombers; Regional: Shakespeare in Love, Rhinoceros (Asolo Repertory), The Glass Menagerie (Milwaukee Repertory), 1776 (A.C.T, Asolo Repertory), A Little Night Music (A.C.T), Dogfight, City of Angels (SF Playhouse), Lombardi, Murder on the Nile (Peninsula Players), and 12 Angry Men (Maltz Jupiter); Chicago: A Little Night Music (Jeff nomination), Oh Coward, Arcadia (Writers Theatre), Cabaret, Sugar, Meet Me in St. Louis, Grand Hotel (Drury Lane), City of Angels, Sunday…George, Assassins, The Teapot Scandals & Best Musical (Porchlight Music Theatre) and Knute Rockne: All American (Jeff nomination, TATC). On camera: Guest stars on Difficult People (Hulu) and Chicago PD (NBC). Dahlquist is a graduate of The Second City Musical Conservatory and a popular headshot photographer.

SHAWN J. GOUDIE (Foley) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He is excited to be returning for his eleventh season of It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago. It is a joy for him to share the magic of old time radio with so many wonderful folks year after year. He would like to thank his amazing wife, their endlessly curious children, and his loving parents. 

JAMES JOSEPH (Uncle Billy) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He returns for his tenth season of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!  Also at American Blues he appeared in Tobacco Road, performed voiceovers for Hank Williams: Lost Highway and American Myth, and has written for the Ripped festival.  He has performed on Chicago stages for twenty years, including at Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, and TimeLine Theatre.  He is your audio guide for the permanent Chicago Authored exhibition at the Chicago History Museum, and was nominated for a Non-Equity Jeff Award (Supporting Actor) for his role in Faith Healer with UMA Productions. 

MICHAEL MAHLER (Announcer/Pianist, Music Director, Jingle Composer) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and is happy to return to Bedford Falls for the eighth time. He was previously seen at Blues in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, Little Shop of Horrors, Side Man, and Hank Williams: Lost Highway. Other recent acting credits include Into the Woods (Writers Theatre); Holiday Inn and Honeymoon in Vegas (Marriott Theatre). Michael’s original musical adaptation of Secret of My Success (Universal) premiers at the Paramount Theatre in February. Other works include Miracle, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, October Sky, Hero, Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure, Something in the Game, and How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? Michael recently contributed additional lyrics to Cameron Mackintosh’s Broadway revival of Miss Saigon. He is grateful to be spending the holidays with wife Dara Cameron and son Ezra.

JOHN MOHRLEIN (Clarence/Mr. Potter) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. 18 years as “Clarence/Mr. Potter”, and he loves getting to revisit and reinvent these characters year after year.  At American Blues, he’s appeared in Half of Plenty, It’s a Wonderful Life, A View from the Bridge, Strictly Dishonorable, American Dead, The Hairy Ape, A Lie of the Mind, Endgame, American Buffalo, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Threepenny Opera, A Stone Carver (Jeff nomination for Best Actor, After Dark Award for Outstanding Performance), and directed Catch-22. Other credits: The Glass House at the Art Institute of Chicago; nine productions at Goodman Theatre; and Cripple of Inishmaan, Heart of a Dog, and Murder of Cardinal Tosca at Northlight Theatre. His extensive television and film work includes Golden Boy, Good Night Sweet WifeDillingerKilling FloorEarly EditionCrime Story (recurring role), UntouchablesDevil’s DominoesStranger Than FictionNo Place to be SomebodyHellcabHero, and Cold Justice.  Now he’s developing Star Crossed Lovers, Pope Frank in Venice, and Glass House, while continuing to install his art works.

GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE (Mary Bailey, Artistic Director, Director) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and has served as Artistic Director since 2010. 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 serving nearly 4,000 students annually. Whiteside served numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and sat on the Board of Directors for Network of Ensemble Theaters and League of Chicago Theatres. 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’s received 15 Joseph Jefferson Awards, Citations, and nominations as an actress and Artistic Director, 2 After Dark Awards, and numerous Broadway World Chicago Awards and nominations. This is her 8th year as “Mary Bailey” (It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!).

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 Theatre,  Victory Gardens Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, Next Theatre, The Royal George, Overture Center WI,  Theatre Wit, Gallagher Bluedorn IA, American Blues Theater,  American Theater Company, 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.

CHRISTOPHER J. NEVILLE (Costume Design) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He is elated to be back this holiday. Previous Blues costume designs include Hank Williams: Lost Highway (assistant), 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 Theatre. 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.

KATY PETERSON VICCELLIO (Lighting Design)is delighted to return for her 15th year as Lighting Designer to It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago. Katy has designed lighting and scenery throughout the United States for nearly 20 years. Favorite Chicago shows include It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! with American Blues; Playing With FireI Am My Own Wife (Jeff nomination) with BoHo Theatre, and seven seasons of Lighting/Production Design for The Oprah Winfrey Show. She holds a B.A. from The University of Texas and M. Arch from The Ohio State University. Katy practices architecture in Columbus, Ohio, where she lives with her husband, son, and two rescue dogs. Her first building as a project director won a 2018 AIA Ohio Honor Award and was featured in Metropolis magazine.

ELYSE DOLAN (Set Dressing/Properties Design and Assistant Director) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater where she is also the Associate Producer. Outside of her enthusiasm for decorating Christmas trees, she’s primarily a Director. Here at Blues she has directed several short plays in past Ripped festivals, staged readings in the annual Blue Ink Festival, and has been Assistant Director on a handful shows including Six Corners (dir. Gary Griffin) and Little Shop of Horrors (dir. Jonathan Berry). Her directing work has been seen across Chicago at The New Colony (where she is also the Director of New Work), Blank Theatre Company, Broken Nose Theatre, Prop Thtr, Commission Theatre, Babes with Blades, 20% Theatre Company, and more. In the upcoming year, Elyse will be directing If/Then at Brown Paper Box Co., Nine at Blank Theatre Company, and Other Rockpools at The New Colony. Elyse holds a B.A. from Denison University.

KEEGAN BRADAC (Sound Design) returns to It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! for his fourth year. He is originally from Denver, CO and holds a BA in Audio Arts & Acoustics from Columbia College Chicago. Some of his favorite Chicago Theatre projects are Fun Home (Victory Gardens), Holiday Inn (Marriott Lincolnshire), Chicago Shakespeare’s Summer Parks Tour 2018, and Miracle the Musical (Royal George). Additionally, he has worked with Drury Lane, Porchlight, Kokandy, Griffin, and Apollo Chicago, among others. Both a designer and audio engineer, he most enjoys mixing musicals, averaging over 200 performances a year.

AUSTIN COOK (Score Composer) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater.  He is an award-winning music director, musician, actor and producer currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. Most recently he was part of the Los Angeles production of Hamilton as the Music Associate. Recent credits: Pre-Broadway World Premiere War Paint (Pianist), 1st/4th National Tour Million Dollar Quartet (Music Director/Music Supervisor), Sondheim on Sondheim (Music Director/Pianist – Jeff Award Music Direction), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Pianist – Jeff Award Artistic Specialization), Putting It Together (Music Director/Pianist – Jeff Award Nominee), Some Enchanted Evening (Music Director/Pianist – Jeff Award Music Direction). Ring of Fire (Piano, Guitar, Dobro, Bass), and Hank Williams: Lost Highway (Hoss), Little Shop of Horrors (Music Director – Jeff Award Nominee). Chicago Theater credits include: Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre, Mercury Theater, Theatre at the Center, Porchlight Music Theatre, American Blues Theater, American Theater Company, 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.

PAUL DEZIEL (Video Associate) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater; this is his seventh It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago. He freelances as a projection designer in Chicago and Washington D.C. Recent credits include: URL vs. IRL (Andy’s Summer Playhouse), Photograph 51 (Court Theatre), Tilikum (Sideshow Theatre Company), The Vagrant Trilogy (Mosaic Theatre Company), Sotto Voce (Theater J), Beauty’s Daughter (American Blues Theater), Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World (Flying V), and Merge (The New Colony). His animation work on the Triumph of Isabella exhibition was showcased as a part of the Performance Festival at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Paul received a Joseph Jefferson Award for his design of Tilikum and was nominated for his work on Beauty’s Daughter. He holds a B.A. in Technical Theatre from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA in Projection & Multimedia Design from the University of Maryland. Outside of theatre, Paul runs megagames with Chicago Megagames and the Megagame Coalition. For more info on his designs, visit

SHANDEE VAUGHAN (Stage Manager and Production Manager) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater and is excited to be back with her family for It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!Blues credits: Five PresidentsThe Spitfire Grill,The Absolute Brightness of Leonard PelkeyOn Clover RoadIt’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! (2016 & 2018), Flyin’ WestThe Buddy Holly StoryThe Columnist, and Little Shop of Horrors. Other recent Chicago credits include: Time Is On Our Side (About Face Theatre), Deathscribe X (WildClaw Theatre), Night in Alachua County (WildClaw Theatre), and The Woman in Black (WildClaw Theatre). Shandee is a freelance stage manager & production manager from Arizona.

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