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

Appeared in 2019 Ripped Festival, coaches speech, and runs Eye to Eye Interiors.

ED BLATCHFORD

ED BLATCHFORD

Los Angeles, 1985

He directed The Rainmaker, here at American Blues Theater.

MATTHEW BRUMLOW

MATTHEW BRUMLOW

Los Angeles, 2001

Recently shot two films – “Seven Short Films About Our Marriage” and Righteous Animals.

MANNY BUCKLEY

MANNY BUCKLEY

Chicago, 2012

Recently, he starred in The Brothers Size at Steppenwolf Theatre and teaches for “The Lincoln Project”.

DARA CAMERON

DARA CAMERON

Chicago, 2013

Currently she’s appearing in The Secret of My Success at Paramount Theater.

CASEY CAMPBELL

CASEY CAMPBELL

Los Angeles, 2008

Currently he’s the voice of NBA TV and NBA on TNT.

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

Recently his play Five Presidents had its Chicago premiere, here at American Blues Theater.

AUSTIN COOK

AUSTIN COOK

New York, 2013

Currently he sub-conducts several shows on Broadway, including Hamilton.

IAN PAUL CUSTER

IAN PAUL CUSTER

Chicago, 2016

Currently he is appearing in The Princess and the Pea at Marriott Theatre.

ELYSE DOLAN

ELYSE DOLAN

Chicago, 2018

Currently she is the Associate Producer at American Blues and directed If/Then at Brown Paper Box Co.

JOE FOUST

JOE FOUST

Chicago, 2011

Recently he directed Jeeves Saves the Day at First Folio Theatre.

JARED GOODING

JARED GOODING

Chicago, 2018

Currently, he’s designing lights Roan @ the Gates, here at American Blues Theater.

MARTY HIGGINBOTHAM

MARTY HIGGINBOTHAM

Birmingham, 1991

He directed Five Presidents, here at American Blues Theater.

PHILIP EARL JOHNSON

PHILIP EARL JOHNSON

Chicago, 2018

Currently he working on solo comedy shows (MooNiE the Magnif’Cent) around the country in 2020.

LINDSAY JONES

LINDSAY JONES

Los Angeles, 1998

His sound designs appear in productions at Milwaukee Rep, Arizona Theatre Company, and Merrimack Repertory.

KEVIN KELLY

KEVIN KELLY

Los Angeles, 1993

Currently, he’s a realtor in Los Angeles.

STEVE KEY

STEVE KEY

Chicago, 2011

Currently he’s appearing in Bug at Steppenwolf Theatre.

ED KROSS

ED KROSS

Chicago, 1998

Currently he appears in Shear Madness at Mercury Theater.

JAMES LEAMING

JAMES LEAMING

Chicago, 1985

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

WARREN LEVON

WARREN LEVON

Chicago, 2012

Currently he’s designing sound at Collaboraction Theatre and Invictus Theatre.

MICHAEL MAHLER

MICHAEL MAHLER

Chicago, 2013

Currently he’s writing music and lyrics for The Secret of My Success at Paramount Theater.

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

Recently he performed “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

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

SUZANNE PETRI

SUZANNE PETRI

Chicago, 1999

Currently she audio describes theater, works at Perennial Theatre, and SuzBo Entertainment.

CARMEN ROMAN

CARMEN ROMAN

Chicago, 1991

Currently she appears in The Children at Seattle Rep.

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

Currently she scenic designed for Roan @ the Gates.

CHUCK SMITH

CHUCK SMITH

Chicago, 2018

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

WANDACHRISTINE

WANDACHRISTINE

Chicago, 2018

Currently she adapting her novel “I Love You More…Than Shoes!” as a staged radio drama.

GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE

GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE

Chicago, 1998

Artistic Director for American Blues Theater. Recently she directed 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

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