The American Blues Team

OUR TEAM

Welcome to the American Blues family. Learn more about our Staff, Ensemble, Artistic Affiliates, and Board of Directors – extra credit for the mascot. We are the second oldest professional AEA Ensemble theater in Chicago. Our 32-member Ensemble has nearly 600 combined years of collaboration on stage.

GWENDOLYN (WENDY) WHITESIDE

GWENDOLYN (WENDY) WHITESIDE

Artistic Director

Wendy joined the Ensemble of American Blues Theater in 1998 and has served as Artistic Director since 2010. Under her leadership, American Blues has nearly doubled the size of its Ensemble, added Artistic Affiliates, and diversified its base of artists. She created the nationally-recognized annual Blue Ink Playwriting Award, Blueprint 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 3,000 students annually. She led American Blues through its 2009 rebirth and built the operational budget from zero to $1 million in seven years. 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 Theater. 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 been named in Newcity’s annual Players list numerous times. In 10 years, 10 American Blues Theater shows were nominated or won Joseph Jefferson Awards for production. She’s received 15 Joseph Jefferson Awards, Citations, and nominations as an actress and Artistic Director. She’s the recipient of two (2) After Dark Awards, and numerous Broadway World Chicago Awards and nominations. She directs the Chicago holiday tradition It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!

the Ensemble

Our 32 members have 600+ combined years of collaboration on stage.
DAWN BACH

DAWN BACH

Chicago, 1993

Currently she runs her award-winning interior decorating firm, Eye to Eye Interiors.

ED BLATCHFORD

ED BLATCHFORD

Los Angeles, 1985

Recently he directed The Rainmaker, here at American Blues Theater.

MATTHEW BRUMLOW

MATTHEW BRUMLOW

Los Angeles, 2001

Recently he won “Best Actor” at the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival.

MANNY BUCKLEY

MANNY BUCKLEY

Chicago, 2012

He will appear in The Brothers Size at Steppenwolf.

DARA CAMERON

DARA CAMERON

Chicago, 2013

She was nominated for a Jeff Award for her work in The Spitfire Grill, here at American Blues Theater.

CASEY CAMPBELL

CASEY CAMPBELL

Los Angeles, 2008

Currently he’s writing a feature film.

DARREN CANADY

DARREN CANADY

Lawrence, KS 2016

Recently he wrote for Ripped: The Living Newspaper Festival, here at American Blues Theater.

RICK CLEVELAND

RICK CLEVELAND

Los Angeles, 1985

Currently his play Five Presidents is running, here at American Blues Theater.

AUSTIN COOK

AUSTIN COOK

New York, 2013

Currently he is the conductor for Hamilton.

IAN PAUL CUSTER

IAN PAUL CUSTER

Chicago, 2016

Next he will appear in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.

ELYSE DOLAN

ELYSE DOLAN

Chicago, 2018

Currently she is the Associate Producer and will design properties and set dressing for It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.

JOE FOUST

JOE FOUST

Chicago, 2011

He was nominated for a Jeff Award for his solo performance The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, here at American Blues Theater.

JARED GOODING

JARED GOODING

Chicago, 2018

Currently, he’s designing lights for 2 shows at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

MARTY HIGGINBOTHAM

MARTY HIGGINBOTHAM

Birmingham, 1991

He directed Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.

PHILIP EARL JOHNSON

PHILIP EARL JOHNSON

Chicago, 2018

He’s starring in his one-man-show MooNiE the Magnif’Cent.

LINDSAY JONES

LINDSAY JONES

Los Angeles, 1998

His sound designs appear in productions at Utah Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center, Kansas City Repertory, and Slave Play on Broadway. 

KEVIN KELLY

KEVIN KELLY

Los Angeles, 1993

Currently, he’s a realtor in Los Angeles.

STEVE KEY

STEVE KEY

Chicago, 2011

Next he’ll appear in Bug at Steppenwolf.

ED KROSS

ED KROSS

Chicago, 1998

Recently he appeared on “Chicago Fire”, episodes of the Amazon series “Patriot”, and national commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats.

JAMES LEAMING

JAMES LEAMING

Chicago, 1985

Currently he appears as “Ronald Reagan” in Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.

WARREN LEVON

WARREN LEVON

Chicago, 2012

Currently he designed sound for Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.

MICHAEL MAHLER

MICHAEL MAHLER

Chicago, 2013

He was nominated for a Jeff Award for new work and will appear in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!

HEATHER MEYERS

HEATHER MEYERS

Chicago, 1996

Artistic Programming Support for American Blues Theater.  Recently she directed for Ripped Festival and Blue Ink Playwriting Festival, here at American Blues Theater.

JOHN MOHRLEIN

JOHN MOHRLEIN

Chicago, 1997

Currently he performs “Mr. Potter” & “Clarence” in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.

CHRISTOPHER J. NEVILLE

CHRISTOPHER J. NEVILLE

Chicago, 2016

Currently he designs costumes for It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.

SUZANNE PETRI

SUZANNE PETRI

Chicago, 1999

Audio Describer for American Blues Theater. She’s organizing and participating in 3 SAG-AFTRA radio shows.

CARMEN ROMAN

CARMEN ROMAN

Chicago, 1991

Currently she appears in Peninsula Players summer season.

EDITHA ROSARIO

EDITHA ROSARIO

Chicago, 2001

Currently she works as an appellate public defender in the Chicagoland area.

SARAH E. ROSS

SARAH E. ROSS

Chicago, 2011

She teaches scenic design and scenic art at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. She’ll scenic design Sense and Sensibility.

CHUCK SMITH

CHUCK SMITH

Chicago, 2018

Recently he directed Flyin’ West, here at American Blues Theater.

WANDACHRISTINE

WANDACHRISTINE

Chicago, 2018

Recently she won many awards for her solo performance Beauty’s Daughter, here at American Blues Theater.

GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE

GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE

Chicago, 1998

Artistic Director for American Blues Theater. Currently she’s directing It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.

EMERITUS MEMBERS

EMERITUS MEMBERS

Dennis Cockrum
Lauri Dahl
William Payne

Artistic Affiliates

Board of Directors

July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 term

If you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, please contact Gwendolyn Whiteside, Artistic Director at WendyW@AmericanBluesTheater.com or call (773) 654-3103.

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