What is an Ensemble theater?
An Ensemble theater is a group of individuals dedicated to collaborative creation and committed to consistently working together over years to develop a distinctive body of work and practices. Ensemble members, both artists and administrators, are empowered to help shape their theater’s artistic direction and organizational structure.
How did you get your name – American Blues Theater?

Legend has it: our 1985 Founders were drinking at a bar, discussing the difficulty of getting paid employment as artists. They created a theater company for the blue-collar worker.

Do you hire outside your Ensemble?
Yes! For over 30 years, we’ve used incredible talent outside our Ensemble and Artistic Affiliates. We hire both union and non-union artists.
Are you a professional theater?

Yes, we are a professional theater that hires union and non-union artists. We are Chicago’s second oldest AEA Ensemble theater and work with SDC and USA.

Weren’t you called “ATC” at some point?
Yes, for 11 years (1998-2009), our Ensemble went by the name, American Theater Company (ATC). In March 2009, we reclaimed our original name American Blues Theater.
Where can we find you?

Our administrative office is currently located at 4809 N. Ravenswood Ave., Suite 221, Chicago, IL 60640. Coming in late fall 2023, we will move into our permanent home at 5627 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60659.

Do you perform a holiday radio play annually?

Do bells jingle? You bet!

For over 20 years, we’ve produced Chicago’s holiday hit – It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! To date, over 65,000 patrons have earned their wings!

HISTORY: Our Ensemble and former Artistic Director Damon Kiely, presented staged-readings of It’s a Wonderful Life in 2002 & 2003. In 2004, the American Blues family 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 the audience, adding audio grams, lobby refreshments of cookies and milk, dramatized scenes from Capra’s film, and singing of holiday carols. In 2009, under Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside,  the Soldier Spotlight was added to honor military personnel. Since then, Healthcare Heroes and Teacher Tributes have been honored as well. In 2015, Gwendolyn Whiteside (director) and Michael Mahler (music director) expanded the heartfelt story into a musical celebration and modernized it for the next generations. Even the grinchiest of your relatives will walk away smiling.

Gwendolyn Whiteside (2015 to present)
Michael Mahler – music director (2015 to present)
Marty Higginbotham (2004-’07 & 2009-’14)
Damon Kiely (2002-’03 staged readings & 2008)

American Blues Theater (2023 to present)
Chopin Theatre (2022)
Victory Gardens Biograph Theater (2021)
Zoom (2020)
Stage 773 (2017-’19)
Greenhouse Theatre (2013-’16)
Victory Gardens Biograph Theater (2009-’12)
American Theater Company (2002-’08).

Waiting for Lefty
Sideman American Blues Theater
It's a Wonderful Life Chicago


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