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.
Appeared in 2019 Ripped Festival, coaches speech, and runs Eye to Eye Interiors.
Los Angeles, 1985
He directed The Rainmaker, here at American Blues Theater.
Los Angeles, 2001
Recently shot two films – “Seven Short Films About Our Marriage” and Righteous Animals.
Recently, he starred in The Brothers Size at Steppenwolf Theatre and teaches for “The Lincoln Project”.
Currently she’s appearing in The Secret of My Success at Paramount Theater.
Los Angeles, 2008
Currently he’s the voice of NBA TV and NBA on TNT.
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 had its Chicago premiere, here at American Blues Theater.
New York, 2013
Currently he sub-conducts several shows on Broadway, including Hamilton.
IAN PAUL CUSTER
Currently he is appearing in The Princess and the Pea at Marriott Theatre.
Currently she is the Associate Producer at American Blues and directed If/Then at Brown Paper Box Co.
Recently he directed Jeeves Saves the Day at First Folio Theatre.
Currently, he’s designing lights Roan @ the Gates, here at American Blues Theater.
He directed Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.
PHILIP EARL JOHNSON
Currently he working on solo comedy shows (MooNiE the Magnif’Cent) around the country in 2020.
Los Angeles, 1998
His sound designs appear in productions at Milwaukee Rep, Arizona Theatre Company, and Merrimack Repertory.
Los Angeles, 1993
Currently, he’s a realtor in Los Angeles.
Currently he’s appearing in Bug at Steppenwolf Theatre.
Currently he appears in Shear Madness at Mercury Theater.
Recently he appeared as “Ronald Reagan” in Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.
Currently he’s designing sound at Collaboraction Theatre and Invictus Theatre.
Currently he’s writing music and lyrics for The Secret of My Success at Paramount Theater.
Artistic Programming Support for American Blues Theater. Recently she directed for Ripped Festival and Blue Ink Playwriting Festival, here at American Blues Theater.
Recently he performed “Mr. Potter” & “Clarence” in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.
CHRISTOPHER J. NEVILLE
Recently he designed costumes for It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.
Currently she audio describes theater, works at Perennial Theatre, and SuzBo Entertainment.
Currently she appears in The Children at Seattle Rep.
Currently she works as an appellate public defender in the Chicagoland area.
SARAH E. ROSS
Currently she scenic designed for Roan @ the Gates.
Recently he directed Flyin’ West, here at American Blues Theater.
Currently she adapting her novel “I Love You More…Than Shoes!” as a staged radio drama.
Artistic Director for American Blues Theater. Recently she directed It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, here at American Blues Theater.
Board of DirectorsJuly 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 term
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