download (1)Producing Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside and American Blues Theater, Chicago’s second oldest Equity ensemble, are proud to announce the casts for the 2015 productions of Steven Dietz’s Yankee Tavern, February 20 – March 22, 2015, directed by Joanie Schultz and Warren Leight’s Sideman, April 24 – May 24, 2015,directed by Jonathan Berry. All productions take place at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Subscriptions are available with American Blues Theater’s FlexPass Subscriptions, 3-play FlexPasses allow subscribers to redeemed their pass for tickets to the performances of their choice throughout the season, in any combination desired and begin as low as $27. Single tickets for Yankee Tavern and Sideman go on sale Monday, Nov. 3 at 10 a.m.

“American Blues Theater has launched its latest season with two bona fide hits, Hank Williams: Lost Highway and Native Son, our co-production with Court Theatre. As we go into rehearsals for the return of the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago, we could not be more excited to announce the casts and technical crews for our 2015 productions. The wonderful Joan Schultz directs the Yankee Tavern cast that includes four of Chicago’s best talents. And Broadway actors Jim Ortlieb and Kate Buddeke, join Michael Mahler, director Jonathan Berry and music director Austin Cook creating a Sideman that we know will be unforgettable both musically and dramatically,” said Whiteside.


The Chicago premiere of Steve Dietz’s dramatic thriller Yankee Tavern, directed by Joanie Schultz, runs February 20 – March 22, 2015 with opening night Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.The jukebox inside the Yankee Tavern stopped in the middle of “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie” as the first hijacked plane impacted the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11. Inside the walls of this crumbling New York tavern, a young couple (Ian Paul Custer* and Darci Nalepa) finds themselves caught up in conversations of what happened that day and who is telling the truth. The New York Times calls Yankee Tavern “Intriguing and absorbing!” and the Daily News says it is “One helluva show by a superb playwright who has slyly fashioned an edge-of-your-seat thriller.”

Addition cast includes Steve Key* (Palmer), and Richard Cotovsky (Ray). The production team is Grant Sabin(scenic design), Brandon Wardell (light design),Izumi Inaba (costume design), Rick Sims (sound design), Christopher Neville(property design), Sarah Burnham (production manager), Michael Trudeau (technical director), Brian Claggett (master electrician), Kathryn Lochert (stage manager) and Arianna Soloway* (dramaturg).


Spanning three decades, Warren Leight’s Side Man directed by Jonathan Berry, April 24 – May 24 with opening night Thursday, April 30 at 7 p.m. is the heartbreaking story of a splintered family as told through the eyes of Clifford (Michael Mahler), the only son of Gene (Jim Ortlieb), a jazz trumpet player, and Terry (Kate Buddeke*), an alcoholic mother. Alternating between their New York City apartment and a smoke-filled music club, Clifford narrates the story of his broken family and the decline of jazz as popular entertainment. “The joy and despair of the musicians is skillfully illustrated,” in Sideman according to Variety.

The Sideman cast also includes Joe Foust* (Jonesy), Ed Kross* (Ziggy), John Gawlik (Al) and Gail Rastorfer (Patsy) with the production team of Austin Cook (music direction), Sarah E. Ross (scenic design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Emily McConnell (costume design), Rick Sims (sound design), Christopher Neville(property design), Ellen Willett (production manager), Michael Trudeau (technical director), Brian Claggett (master electrician), Jonathan Nook (stage manager) and Jerico Bleu (dramaturg).

*denote American Blues Theater Ensemble and Artistic Affiliates


American Blues Theater is the premier American theater producing visceral theatrical works while engaging its audience in worthwhile missions of local service agencies. American Blues Theater illuminates the American ideas of freedom, equality, and opportunity in the plays produced and communities served.

The multi-generational and interdisciplined artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago. The 39-member Ensemble has 539 combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2014, they’ve individually received nearly 150 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and over 22 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.

The American Blues Theater Ensemble includes all four Founders Ed Blatchford, Rick Cleveland, James Leaming, and William Payne with Dawn Bach, Matthew Brumlow, Manny Buckley, Kate Buddeke, Sarah Burnham, Dara Cameron, Casey Campbell, Brian Claggett, Dennis Cockrum, Austin Cook, Laura Coover, Lauri Dahl, Kristin DeiTos, Joe Foust, Tom Geraty, Cheryl Graeff, Marty Higginbotham, Jaclyn Holsey, Lindsay Jones, Samantha Jones, Nambi E. Kelley, Kevin R. Kelly, Steve Key, Ed Kross, Warren Levon, Michael Mahler, Kelli Marino, Heather Meyers, John Mohrlein, Jim Ortlieb, Suzanne Petri, Carmen Roman, Editha Rosario, Sarah E. Ross and Gwendolyn Whiteside.

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American Blues Theater programs and activities are made possible, in part, by funding by The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Actors’ Equity Foundation, Eurex, Arts Work Fund, Illinois Arts Council, the Saints, and the Chip Pringle Fund. ComEd is the official lighting season sponsor.