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HANK WILLIAMS: LOST HIGHWAY, GROUNDED and More Set for American Blues Theater's 2013-14 Season


Producing Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside of American Blues Theater, Chicago's second oldest Equity ensemble, announces the Ensemble's 28th season. The season begins with the Chicago professional premiere of Hank Williams: Lost Highway by award-winning playwrights Randal Myler and Mark Harelik, directed by Damon Kiely, today, September 5 - October 6; the 12th smash year of It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! , now at the 199-seat Greenhouse Theater Center, directed by Ensemble member Marty Higginbotham, November 22 - December 29; world premiere of 2012 Blue Ink Playwriting Award-winning script American Myth by Christina Gorman, directed by Steve Scott, February - March 2014; Chicago premiere of 2012 Smith Prize winner Grounded by George Brant, June 2014. American Blues also announces year-long development and public reading of Ensemble member's Nambi E. Kelley's adaptation of Richard Wright's Native Son which will receive a production in fall of 2014.


Chicago Professional Premiere
Hank Williams: LOST HIGHWAY
Written by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik
Directed by Damon Kiely
September 5 - October 6 at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

Hank Williams: Lost Highway follows Williams' rise from his humble beginnings to his triumphs on the Grand Ole Opry stage, to his self-destruction at the age of twenty-nine. This unforgettable tribute includes more than 20 Williams hits, such as "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Move It on Over," "Hey, Good Lookin'" and "Jambalaya." The production features Ensemble members Matt Brumlow as Hank Williams, Dara Cameron, Michael Mahler, Suzanne Petri, and guest artists Sean Blake and Dana Black.

Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside comments on American Blues Theater's 28th season, "The American Blues Theater's 2013-2014 season, 'Legend and Legacies,' is truly exciting and allows American Blues Theater to demonstrate how much we have grown in the past five years. With four productions on stage and an expanded education and community outreach, American Blues Theater continues to move ahead and establish itself as a leader in the Chicago theatre community."

Performance schedules, venues, and ticket information will be announced at a later date. Flex passes for the 28th Season are available now. For more information and season updates, visit

12th Smash Year - the Chicago Original
Based on Frank Capra's film from a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern
Directed by Ensemble member Marty Higginbotham
November 25 - December 29 at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

Since 2002, the American Blues Theater Ensemble has treated Chicago to Clarence, George and the delightful characters of Bedford Falls. Now in the 199-seat theater at the Greenhouse Theater Center, American Blues Theater once again takes you back to a 1940s radio broadcast of Frank Capra's holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! in a full-scale production with Foley sound effects, an original score and a stellar cast of seven. After each performance, milk and cookies are served. Featuring the entire cast of 2012's sold-out hit: Ensemble members Dara Cameron, Kevin Kelly, Michael Mahler, John Mohrlein, Gwendolyn Whiteside, Artistic Affiliate James Joseph, and guest artists Shawn Goudie and Ian Paul Custer.

World Premiere
Written by 2012 Blue Ink Prize winner, Christina Gorman
Directed by Steve Scott
Developed at The Public Theater, New York
February - March 2014 with City of Chicago's Department of Culture and Special Events

Dr. Douglas Graham, best-selling author, beloved professor and American history scholar, is accused by a former student of lying in the classroom about his participation in and around the Vietnam War. American Myth explores the line between personal and professional ethics, the difference between truth and history and the myth of what makes a great man.

Chicago Premiere
Written by 2012 Smith Prize winner, George Brant
Director TBA
June - July 2014 at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

A hot-rod F16 fighter pilot's unexpected pregnancy ends her career in the sky. Repurposed to flying remote-controlled drones in Afghanistan from an air-conditioned trailer near Las Vegas, the pilot struggles through surreal twelve-hour shifts far from the battlefield, hunting terrorists by day and being a wife and mother by night. A tour de force play for one actress, Grounded flies from the heights of lyricism to the shallows of workaday existence, targeting our assumptions about war, family, and the power of storytelling.


World Premiere
Adapted by Ensemble member Nambi E. Kelley
With special permission from the Richard Wright Estate.
Workshops and public readings throughout 2013-2014
Production September 2014

Throughout the 2013 - 2014 season, American Blues Theater hosts workshops, live staged readings and other events culminating in the world premiere of a new adaptation of Native Son by Ensemble Member Nambi E. Kelley. Native Son tells the story of a young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. The story, still relevant almost 75 years after it was originally published, is an unflinching portrait of what it means to be black in America and the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the United States. It will receive a production in the fall of 2014.

Education Outreach in Schools
Adapted by Ensemble member Gwendolyn Whiteside from
Artistic Affiliate James Still's Pulitzer nominated "The Heavens Are Hung in Black"
With special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing.
Directed by Ensemble member Heather Meyers

Featuring Ensemble members Manny Buckley, Steve Key, Warren Levon, Artistic Affiliate Zachary Kenney, and guest artist Kaelan Strouse.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, American Blues Theater provides a three-part education outreach program to 7th- 9th graders throughout Chicago.

Annual Festival
Spring 2014
Written and Directed by various Chicago artists
Plays, dates and artists subject to change

Based on the 1930's WPA era program that brought Orson Welles, Arthur Miller, Richard Wright, and Clifford Odets into public attention, our playwrights use inspiration ripped from today's headlines.

American Blues Theater's multi-generational and inter-disciplined artists comprise all aspects of theater, television, and film. American Blues Theater is the second-oldest Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago. The 38-member Ensemble has over 456 combined years of collaboration on stage.

As of 2013, the company individually received over 120 Joseph Jefferson Awards celebrating excellence in Chicago theater and 19 Black Theatre Alliance Awards and nominations. American Blues Theater has also received honors from The Pulitzer Prizes, 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, 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 Möhrlein, Jim Ortlieb, Suzanne Petri, Carmen Roman, Editha Rosario, Sarah E. Ross, and Gwendolyn Whiteside.

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