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
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 EnsembleOur 32 members have 600+ combined years of collaboration on stage.
Currently she runs her award-winning interior decorating firm, Eye to Eye Interiors.
Los Angeles, 1985
He directed The Rainmaker, here at American Blues Theater.
Los Angeles, 2001
Recently he won “Best Actor” at the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival.
He will appear in The Brothers Size at Steppenwolf.
She was nominated for a Jeff Award for her work in The Spitfire Grill, here at American Blues Theater.
Los Angeles, 2008
Currently he’s writing a feature film.
Lawrence, KS 2016
Recently he wrote for Ripped: The Living Newspaper Festival, here at American Blues Theater.
Los Angeles, 1985
Recently his play Five Presidents is running, here at American Blues Theater.
New York, 2013
Currently he is the conductor for Hamilton.
IAN PAUL CUSTER
Next he will appear in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.
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.
He was nominated for a Jeff Award for his solo performance The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, here at American Blues Theater.
Currently, he’s designing lights for 2 shows at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
He directed Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.
PHILIP EARL JOHNSON
He’s starring in his one-man-show MooNiE the Magnif’Cent.
Los Angeles, 1998
His sound designs appear in productions at Utah Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center, Kansas City Repertory, and Slave Play on Broadway.
Los Angeles, 1993
Currently, he’s a realtor in Los Angeles.
Next he’ll appear in Bug at Steppenwolf.
Recently he appeared on “Chicago Fire”, episodes of the Amazon series “Patriot”, and national commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats.
Currently he appears as “Ronald Reagan” in Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.
Currently he designed sound for Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.
He was nominated for a Jeff Award for new work and will appear in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!
Artistic Programming Support for American Blues Theater. Recently she directed for Ripped Festival and Blue Ink Playwriting Festival, here at American Blues Theater.
Currently he performs “Mr. Potter” & “Clarence” in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.
CHRISTOPHER J. NEVILLE
Currently he designs costumes for It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.
Audio Describer for American Blues Theater. She’s organizing and participating in 3 SAG-AFTRA radio shows.
Currently she appears in Peninsula Players summer season.
Currently she works as an appellate public defender in the Chicagoland area.
SARAH E. ROSS
She teaches scenic design and scenic art at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. She’ll scenic design Sense and Sensibility.
Recently he directed Flyin’ West, here at American Blues Theater.
Recently she won many awards for her solo performance Beauty’s Daughter, here at American Blues Theater.
Artistic Director for American Blues Theater. Currently she’s directing It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.
Board of DirectorsJuly 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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