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American Blues Theater Presents IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: LIVE IN CHICAGO! 11/21-12/28

Producing Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside and American Blues Theater, Chicago's second oldest Equity ensemble, are proud to announce the return of the critically acclaimed It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, directed by Marty Higginbotham on the mainstage of the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., November 23 - December 28.

"Pink Previews," where tickets sales benefit the Lynn Sage Foundation for breast cancer research, are Friday, Nov. 21 and Saturday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. The press/opening night performance is Sunday, Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m. The running time is approximately 90 minutes. Tickets are $19-$49 and are on sale now through the box office 773.404.7336 or online at AmericanBluesTheater.com. The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. with additional Sunday 5:30 p.m. performances November 30, December 14 and December 21. Please note: there is no performance Thursday, Nov. 27 or Thursday, Dec. 25. For more information visit www.americanbluestheater.com.

From the original director and Ensemble that brought this holiday tradition to Chicago since 2002, the American Blues family takes you back to a 1940s radio broadcast of Frank Capra's holiday classic-It's a Wonderful Life (based on the short story "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern) with live Foley sound effects, an original score and a critically-acclaimed cast of eight that bring the entire town of Bedford Falls to life. This production returns to the Greenhouse Theater Center. Critics called this production "perfect Christmas theater" and "first-class holiday fare."

From the moment you walk through the doors, you will be transported back to the "Golden Age of Radio" and experience the story of George Bailey like never before. In addition to the heart-warming story performed, the production includes 1940s-style commercials from actual local sponsors, holiday carols, telegrams from the audience read live on the stage, the "Soldier Spotlight," when American Blues Theater honors one serviceman or servicewoman per performance, and after the show, the entire audience is invited to join the cast and crew for milk and cookies.

Returning for this year's production are American Blues Theater Ensemble members Kevin R. Kelly (George Bailey), John Mohrlein (Mr. Potter/Clarence) Michael Mahler (pianist/announcer), Dara Cameron (Violet) and Gwendolyn Whiteside (Mary Bailey). Also returning this year are American Blues Theater Artistic Affiliates James Joseph (Uncle Billy) and Ian Paul Custer (Harry) with guest artist Shawn Goudie (foley artist).

The production crew includes American Blues Theatre Ensemble members Samantha Jones (costume design), Sarah Burnham (production manager), Austin Cook (underscore composer), Artistic Affiliates Grant Sabin (scenic design), Arianna Soloway (properties), and guests Katy Peterson (lighting design); Kathryn Lochert (stage manager) and Paul Deziel (video).

American Blues Theater proudly continues the Pink Previews with proceeds from preview performances donated to the Lynn Sage Foundation for breast cancer research. American Blues Theater proudly partners with Misericordia, USO and U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs.

Select performances also include special events: Saturday, Dec. 20 at 4:30 p.m., American Blues Theater and It's a Wonderful Life celebrates Hanukkah, with all children under 12 years old and younger in attendance receiving a commemorative keepsake. And Sunday, Dec. 21, following the 2 :30 p.m. performance, Santa Claus swings by to meet with guests and distribute keepsakes to all children 12 years old and younger.

Marty Higginbotham joined the Ensemble of American Blues Theater in 1991, appearing in Desire Under the Elms, Monsters, On the Waterfront, Tom and Jerry, The Homage that Follows, Stalag 17, Bus Stop, The Three Penny Opera, Working, The Trip to Bountiful, American Dead, and Oklahoma. His sound design / original score credits with ABT include Monsters, Monsters II, and Monsters III, Food from Trash, The Homage That Follows, The Million Bells of Ocean and A Lie of the Mind. Higginbotham has also worked on and off stage at The Old Globe, The Prince Music Theatre, The Goodman, Northlight, Oak Park Festival Theater, Circle Theatre and the Organic. He directed the original full production of It's a Wonderful: A Live Radio Play in 2004 and has continued to helm the production since 2009 with the American Blues Theater production at the Biograph and now the Greenhouse Theater Center. Higginbotham is also founder and president of The Stage Channel, a video production company serving the arts in Chicago and across the country since 2001. The Stage Channel, to date, has produced over 900 promotional videos for music, theater and dance.

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.

American Blues Theater's It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, directed by Marty Higginbotham on the mainstage of the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., November 23 - December 28. "Pink Previews," where tickets sales benefit the Lynn Sage Foundation for breast cancer research, are Friday, Nov. 21 and Saturday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. The press/opening night performance is Sunday, Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m.

The running time is approximately 90 minutes. Tickets are $19-$49 and are on sale now through the box office 773.404.7336 or online at AmericanBluesTheater.com. The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. with additional Sunday 5:30 p.m. performances November 30, December 14 and December 21. Please note: there is no performance Thursday, Nov. 27 or Thursday, Dec. 25. For more information visit www.americanbluestheater.com


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