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LIZ CHIDESTER (she/her) is proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. She is a critically acclaimed and award winning singer/songwriter, actor, and teaching artist. Her releases under ‘Liz Chidester’ include People Pumping Pedals (2014), Otter Hill (2015), Progress Into Simplicity (2017) with her band ‘Liz and the Lovelies’, and otherside of the darkest timeline (2021), releasing a series of singles in 2018 and 2021. Her awards include NPR’s NewSong Songwriting Contest 2014 – Midwestern Finalist, Chicago Music Awards 2015 – Best Female Vocalist, NewSong Leaf Songwriter Competition 2016 – Finalist, Independent Music Awards 2018 – Best Roots EP. Her song “the great american chestnut tree” was featured on NPR’S All Songs Considered in 2020. She is a member of the Recording Academy and the Folk Alliance. Liz is a Jeff Award winning and critically acclaimed actor, called “one of the most truthful actors in this city” by the Chicago Tribune. She is a Company Member of the first feminist equity musical theatre company Firebrand Theatre. She has worked as an actor, collaborator, and composer with NYC’s PigPen Theatre Co, Chicago Children’s Theatre, and Cabinet of Curiosity. She teaches voice, ‘ukulele, piano, guitar, and songwriting at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Midori & Friends, and Little Chopins. She is a proud graduate of James Madison University’s School of Music. www.lizandthelovelies.com/teachingartist
ED KROSS (he/him) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He has been fortunate to make a living as an actor for the last 25 years. His over 75 commercial credits include everything from national campaigns for McDonalds, eSurance, and Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats, to small lottery spots. On the big screen he shares one-on-one scenes with Tom Hanks in Road To Perdition, and George Clooney in Ocean’s 12. His television credits include Early Edition, Cupid, Boss, Sirens, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Fargo, and recurring on Amazon Prime’s Patriot. In theater, he spent many years performing in Chicago’s rich storefront community before moving on to work at The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight, Lyric Opera, and many others. Ed is a member of SAG-AFTRA, AEA, & AGMA and has taught commercial audition technique for the SAG Conservatory, Gallery 37, and at numerous seminars.
MANNY BUCKLEY (he/him) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. He is a Chicago based actor, director, and writer. Directing credits include The Bad Seed (Jedlicka Performing Arts), Kingdom, an audio play (Broken Nose Theatre), Origin Story, Mother of Pearl and The Reapers On Woodbrook Avenue (Blue Ink Festival), multiple short plays in the Ripped: The Living Newspaper, #ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence, and The One Minute Play Festival. Acting credits include work with Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Court, Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists, Next Theater, House Theatre, Shattered Globe Theater, Cincinnati Children’s Theatre and Studio Theatre. Manny has numerous credits with American Blues Theater, where he is an Ensemble member and turned in his critically-acclaimed, award-winning solo performance in Looking Over the President’s Shoulder. Film credits: Proven Innocent, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, The US Navy, Northwestern University, and The Onion. He has received nominations for the Joseph Jefferson Award, the Helen Hayes Award and the 3Arts Award; he is the recipient of both a Black Theater Alliance Award and Black Excellence Award. Mr. Buckley was recently seen in American Blues Theater’s sold-out production of Fences and American Blues’ annual production of It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!
ELYSE DOLAN (she/her) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater where she is also the Associate Artistic Director. Here at Blues she has directed The Thanksgiving Play as part of The Room reading series; several short plays in past editions of The Ripped Festival; staged readings in the annual Blue Ink Festival; and has been Assistant Director on a handful shows including Six Corners and Little Shop of Horrors. Other recent directing credits include the Zoom reading of Other Rockpools at The New Coordinates, the Chicago premiere of If/Then at Brown Paper Box Co., and Blackbird at Blank Theatre Company. Her directing work has been seen across Chicago at The New Coordinates, Broken Nose Theatre, Prop Thtr, Commission Theatre, Babes with Blades, 20% Theatre Company, and more. Elyse holds a B.A. from Denison University.
SARAJANE JOHNSON (she/her) is the Director of Development at American Blues Theater. Before coming to Blues, she worked in development for social services and elementary education, and has experience in fundraising through foundations, corporations, and governmental agencies. She has a BFA in Textiles, and a Master’s in Nonprofit Administration.
CAROLYN MINOR (she/her) is a teaching artist at American Blues Theater. She’s been creating theater and performances in Chicago since 2001. She was a company member of the now defunct Knife & Fork Theatre Company that built artwork with a heavy emphasis on devised and movement-based pieces. She is a Production Manager at City Lit Theater. She has written pieces performed at You Only Live Once More for SoloCrowd Chicago, at AbbieFest for Knife & Fork, Brecht 3 High Fest for The Island Theater Company, and Ghostlight Ensemble’s Nightlight Series. Carolyn had her network television debut in 2022 on Chicago Fire and is currently editing her first short film to complete her remote film program at NYU. As an advocate for empathy and early childhood exposure to the arts, she is grateful to reach students in a new and exciting way.