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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

American Blues Theater

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Theater

Mission: American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.

Community Stories

86 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The thing that strikes me most about ABT is their legitimate dedication to their mission statement. Many theater companies' mission statements are a hodgepodge of words, that when simplified mean "We do all types of theater". ABT on the other hand has a specific mission and they adhere to that mission. Their dedication to serving the community is truly remarkable and being a part of it is humbling to say the least.

ABT has an atmosphere that makes you feel as if you are all one big family. The intimate theater helps this when in performance, but that atmosphere continues whenever you are with them. I had a few choices of theater companies to volunteer for, but when it came down to it, ABT was the only organization that made me feel as if I was a part of the whole, rather than assisting the whole.

Sarah B.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've worked with ABT on several shows since their rebirth, and I cannot begin to express how the professionalism teamed with a family feel makes such a huge difference to the production value of the work the company is producing. Not only do ensemble members, artistic affiliates and guest artists have the ability to voice artistic opinions, ABT has created an artistic home for artists to grow within. This company truly has the future of the arts in Chicago in mind.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

What a wonderful organization! ABT is, hands down, the most positive and welcoming group of people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. This positive energy, along with their wonderful talent, community minded mission, and extraordinary leadership, in my opinion, makes them one of the strongest ensembles in the Chicago area. Not only do they endeavor to affect people's lives by creating wonderful hand crafter and thought provoking theatre, but the also affect the lives of those who live in the community they serve through various projects accompanying each production.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is one of my favorite theaters in Chicago. I drive in from out-of-state to attend their productions. It is produced at a high-quality level in an intimate setting. Their work with community service is beyond what other theaters do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the great fortune to work with American Blues Theater on several occasions. I interned with them while I was in college, working in their office and on productions. This was a great environment to learn in and set the bar pretty high for what I should look for in future jobs.

ABT is focused on community outreach, whether that be with students, Veterans, or making an effort to work with as many local artists and companies as possible. Not only do they create outstanding works of art, they put forth a great effort to make sure that anyone is able to access it. One example of this was, "Veterans Night", when Veterans were personally invited to see a show and have a discussion with the actors afterward.

The ensemble is comprised of some of the most talented and hard working individuals I've ever had the pleasure of working with. No matter what, everyone always has a positive "can-do" attitude and it reflects in their work. If anyone deserves funding, it would be American Blues Theater.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This theater's mission is to combine art and community outreach. They raise awareness of other non-profits during their season. They truly care about the patrons. It's the perfect way for art to affect and change the way we live.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Was a guest at the radio play of It's a Wonderful Life. I was blown away by the professionalism of the company. Lots of fun and a hoot, too.

Jan S.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was a board member in the early days of American Blues Theater, 25 years ago. I left because I moved and this very talented ensemble continued to make a name for itself. I was thrilled when the ensemble found me again and asked me to come back in 2009.

The first thing of note about ABT, always, is its stunning talent. ABT was founded by four very talented young men who moved forward to have extremely successful careers both inside and outside ABT. The founding leadership has attracted the same: ABT continues to fill houses and win awards. The fluidity of ABT's ensemble means that while its members may primarily act, for instance, they are invited also to contribute other talents. Recent examples are Jim Leaming's enormous acting talent coupled with his brilliance in scenic design (for which he won a 2010 Jeff award) and light design. Also, Gwendolyn Whiteside's superlative talent as an actress and the theater's discovery of her remarkable head for the business of theater and artistic direction. To name these two is not meant to overlook the rest of the ensemble but simply to illustrate the multiple talents of everyone associated with ABT. On top of that, ABT reaches out to the community -- whether farmers during Tobacco Road, servicemen over the holidays during It's a Wonderful Life or schoolchildren -- expanding the role of theater as entertainment to education, conscience and cultural mirror.

The ABT ensemble is so hardworking and dedicated that in a climate of theaters folding, ABT's spirit of determination, camaraderie and collaboration has surely contributed to its longevity.