SYNOPSIS: In 1971, Billy Joel debuted his first album. Fifty years later, award-winning Ensemble Member Ian Paul Custer will pay tribute to one of the most iconic American singer / songwriters of all time by playing hits from Cold Springs, Piano Man, Turnstiles, and The Stranger for one-night only, live on Zoom.

FRIDAY, MAY 21 @ 7:00 PM Central

The Garage’s music series features the musical talents of our Ensemble Members and Artistic Affiliates and will run monthly for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following every concert, stay in our virtual space to meet the artists.

You may reserve tickets HERE or call (773) 654-3103 until Friday, May 21 at 3:00 PM Central. Suggested donation is $25 or pay-what-you-can. Your Zoom link will be sent the day before the reading and again 1 hour before the reading starts. For any questions, if you didn’t receive your Zoom link, or to get on the waitlist in the event of sold out performance, contact us at

Additional Resources

Keys 4/4 Kids – a charitable organization that repurposes used, donated pianos in ways that promote a love of music in our community.

School of Rock Chicago – music programs that are designed to motivate and inspire students to work together and grow as musicians.

Creative Team’s Biographies

IAN PAUL CUSTER he/him (Performer) is a Chicago actor and musician and a proud Ensemble Member of American Blues Theater.  Chicago credits:  Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Jeff Award, Best Ensemble, Best Musical – Midsize), The Columnist, Little Shop of Horrors, and It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! (American Blues Theater), Bad Jews (Theatre Wit), 33 Variations (Jeff Award– Best Production, Midsize), and To Master the Art (TimeLine Theatre), Annie Bosh is Missing (Steppenwolf Theatre), High Holidays (Goodman Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof (Paramount Theatre).  Regional credits: Hero: The Musical (Asolo Rep Theatre), Cymbeline (Notre Dame Shakespeare), Romeo and Juliet (Cardinal Stage), Peter Pan  (360 Entertainment – London, England).  Television credits: APB, Empire, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD.   Ian received his BFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University, where he was a Sarah Siddons and Helen Kinsella Scholar during his time there.

As a musician, Ian is primarily a jazz and blues piano player.  Theatrically, he has played piano in the orchestra for Spitfire Grill and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story with American Blues Theater and has also composed and accompanied music for the Silent Theater Company’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone.  Ian played piano with the band Nina and the Specifics for a number of years.  He also plays guitar, accordion, harmonica, saxophone, and the spoons.  Special thanks to Wendy, Zach Stevenson, Chris Johnson Gordon & Scott Gordon, Josh Moshier, David Kellen and my wife, Shannon Pritchard, for listening to me practice Billy Joel for hours every day during our Chicago quarantine.    

I’d like to dedicate this concert to a fun-filled summer for all of us and to Michael McElvain and all the piano players from St. Charles, Illinois who pushed each other to be our best musicians.  Miss you all.

ZACHARY STEVENSON he/him (Music Director) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. He is an award-winning actor, musician and writer. Originally from Vancouver Island, Canada, Zachary has been coined a “dead ringer for dead singers” by the Victoria Times Colonist for his portrayals of Buddy Holly, Hank Williams, Phil Ochs and roles based on Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 2018, Zachary won the Jeff Award in Chicago for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Musical) for The Buddy Holly Story, a role he’s honed in more than a dozen productions across Canada and the United States. Other acting highlights include Million Dollar Quartet, Hair, Urinetown, Assassins, and Company.  Zachary has produced and recorded five independent albums and tours frequently as a musician. He is also active as a music director on productions such as Ring of Fire and Million Dollar Quartet, American Idiot (upcoming). He is currently writing an American Blues commissioned solo show based on the life of folksinger, Phil Ochs.

CARA PARRISH she/her (Stage Manager) is a proud Ensemble Member of American Blues Theater where she is also the Office & HR Manager. Chicago credits: Gem of the Ocean, Electra, Hard Problem, Photograph 51, Five Guys Named Moe, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Lady From the Sea (Court Theatre); WITCH, Port Authority, Yellow Moon, The Letters, The Caretaker, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf, & The Blond, The Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead (Writers Theatre); Too Heavy for Your Pocket & The Vibrator Play (TimeLine Theatre Company); James and the Giant Peach (Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook); Jabari Dreams of Freedom (Chicago Children’s Theatre); Romeo and Juliet & Emma (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Beauty’s Daughter & Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (American Blues Theater). Cara is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

We wish to express our gratitude to the Performers’ Unions (Actors’ Equity Association, American Guild of Musical Artists, American Guild of Variety Artists, SAG-AFTRA) through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on this program.

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