Buffalo Theatre Ensemble Opens 2018 With Two New Ensemble Members

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble (BTE) the professional Equity theater in residence at the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) located on the campus of College of DuPage, marks the beginning of 2018 with two new ensemble members and as a recipient of a grant from the DuPage Foundation and additional support from the Norm Woodel Inspiration Fund.

Said BTE Artistic Director Connie Canaday Howard, "We're thrilled to welcome new ensemble members Christopher Kriz and Kelli Walker to the BTE family. This marks the first time in several years that we've added new members. Our audiences will have the opportunity to hear Chris's work in both "Time Stands Still" and "Outside Mullingar," and Kelli will be playing Rosemary in our final production of the season "Outside Mullingar."

Kriz is a composer and sound designer based in Chicago. Chicago credits include The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, American Blues Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Gift Theater and Northlight Theatre. Regional credits include Seattle Repertory Theatre and Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Kriz has been honored with two Jeff Awards and 11 nominations. He has composed and designed often in the past for BTE and, in addition to his work for "Times Stands Still," provided sound design for BTE's fall 2017 production of "The 39 Steps" and last season's "Good People." Kriz is a member of United Scenic Artists 829.

Walker has previously been seen in BTE's productions of "The Underpants," "Frozen" and "Lovesong," and the Jeff Recommended "Good People." Other Chicago theater credits include Red Theater Chicago, Steppenwolf Garage/Pride Films and Plays, BoHo Theatre, Piccolo Theatre and Circle Theatre. Other credits include multiple productions with Indianapolis' Phoenix Theatre and a performance of scenes from "Wit" as part of the Purdue University's symposium with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Margaret Edson. Kelli holds degrees in speech and theater from Butler University and Northern Illinois University.

The other members of the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble include: Aly Amidei, Robert Jordan Bailey, BTE Associate Artistic Director Amelia Barrett, Bryan Burke, BTE Artistic Director Connie Canaday Howard, Jon Gantt, Loretta Hauser, Michael W. Moon, Kurt Naebig, Galen G. Ramsey and William "Sandy" Smillie.

Continues Canaday Howard, "BTE thanks the Norm Woodel Inspiration Fund for its assistance in the rebirth and further development of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, and the DuPage Foundation for their generous support in the reinstatement and continued operation of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble in 2018." Said Barb Szczepaniak, DuPage Foundation vice president for programs, "I feel fortunate to work with our exceptional Grant Committee members who carefully review the many applications we receive each grant cycle in order to select programs for funding that address the most critical needs of DuPage County as well as those that make our community a vibrant place in which to live and work."

BTE was one of 24 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant at the DuPage Foundation's Holiday Open House held on Dec. 6 at the Foundation's office in Downers Grove. The DuPage Foundation awarded more than $240,000 in grants working in the areas of Arts & Culture, Education and the Environment as part of its Fall Community Needs Grant Cycle. The $20,000 grant received by BTE is for the reinstatement and continued operation of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble in its 31st season, and supports the upcoming productions of "Time Stands Still" by Donald Margulies (Feb. 1- March 4), "Outside Mullingar" by John Patrick Shanley (May 3-June 3); plus a fall 2018 production to be announced at a later date.

The mission of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble is to provide a forum in which artists, scholars, writers, students and community members explore new ideas and provocative issues through the production of high quality theater for the enjoyment of its audiences. Since 1986 BTE has staged more than 114 productions. BTE Company members and visiting artists are a vital part of both the College of DuPage's educational mission and the fabric of the community. Programming includes producing a three-show season beginning with the 2017-2018 season, creating master classes for students, presenting demonstrations of theater arts, hosting performance talk backs and subscriber nights, and participating in community outreach. For more information about BTE visit btechicago.com.

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