Mary Ann Thebus (1932-2022)
Mary Ann Thebus was a much-loved Chicago actress and teacher with decades of experience on the city’s stages, and she continued to work in the Chicago theater well into her 80s, from Northlight Theatre to the Goodman to Steppenwolf, as well as being directed by her daughter, Jessica, longtime Chicago theater director and Northwestern University faculty member. Seen by many as a teaching mentor, Mary Ann taught acting at Wisdom Bridge Theatre, The Training Center, the School at Steppenwolf and The Artistic Home.
Memorable work includes: Gertrude opposite Aiden Quinn’s Hamlet in Barbara Gaines’ the 1980s Chicago Shakepeare Theater’s “Hamlet”; Steppenwolf’s 2001 “The Ordinary Yearning of Miriam Buddwing”; Amanda in “The Glass Menagerie” at both Gift & Court Theatres; Mariana in Robert Falls’ 2017 Goodman Theatre’s “Uncle Vanya” - as well as her multiple performances as Mary Tyrone in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Later in her career, she played the lead role in the Writers Theatre’s 2015 “Marjorie Prime”; and was a featured performer in the Victory Gardens’ 2018 “Four Places” and their production of “Rest”.
She was nominated for untold Jeff Awards, and was the 2002 recipient of the After Dark Award for Principle Actor.
“I would rather,” she famously told the Tribune’s Chris Jones in 2000, “perform at Organic Theater for a pittance than do some dumb film shoot where I say three little lines and get paid far more than I could make here in the theater in an entire year.”
Thebus was born in Washington, DC, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, received a graduate degree from the University of Michigan, and in her early life worked as a psychiatric social worker in San Antonio TX. She moved to Chicago in 1977 with her family and became a revered Chicago actress at 45 years old. Mary Ann is predeceased by her longtime husband William Thebus, and is survived by her daughters Jessica and Nana Marie Thebus, and two grandchildren, Leo and Willa Marie.