Gift Theatre Welcomes Nine New Ensemble Members

The Gift Theatre's artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton, co-founder William Nedved and associate artistic director Paul D'Addario are proud to announce nine artists have joined the company ensemble: playwrights Will Eno and Laura Marks; directors Marti Lyons and Erica Weiss; and actors Cyd Blakewell, Darci Nalepa, Keith Neagle, Mary Ann Thebus, and Kyle Zornes. Conceived in 1997 by Michael Patrick Thornton and William Nedved, The Gift's mission was to grow and nurture an ensemble while laying roots in an artistically underserved Chicago neighborhood. Today, The Gift Theatre thrives in Jefferson Park as Chicago's most intimate Equity theater and is home to a nationally respected acting ensemble.

"The Gift is just what its name says," says Pulitzer nominee Will Eno. "People throw the word 'love' around a lot-as they should, probably. I'm going to try not to throw it, here, but to set it down gently and calmly. I love the Gift Theatre and its fearless and fearful and fearless artistic director Michael Patrick Thornton. I am proud to be a part of it and will try to be as good a person as I can be."

Similarly thrilled, Thornton comments, "For years, we've collaborated with these artists with butterflies in our stomach, always stunned and sweaty-palmed that when the lights dimmed in the gym and the slow dance came on, they chose to be there swaying in perfect time with us. Every new ensemble member has challenged us to be better artists and better people. They have forced us to evolve by simply being themselves. They have delivered performances, directed, or written plays over the past years that have deeply defined The Gift's local and national reputation as an exceptional professional ensemble that produces daringly honest and emotional work. Quite simply, we're in love with them."

The ensemble is composed of actors, directors, writers and improvisers. For more than 18 years, The Gift has earned and deepened its reputation as an ensemble dedicated to acting of the highest caliber and a welcome home for new plays.

The now 31-member ensemble also includes: Danny Ahlfeld, Maggie Andersen, Brittany Burch, Hillary Clemens, John Kelly Connolly, Paul D'Addario, Jenny Connell Davis, Brendan Donaldson, James D. Farruggio, Ed Flynn, Gabriel Franken, John Gawlik, Andrew Hinderaker, Alexandra Main, Kenny Mihlfried, Benjamin Montague, William Nedved, Lynda Newton, Sheldon Patinkin, Maureen Payne-Hahner, Michael Patrick Thornton and Jay Worthington.

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