Jen lived the first ten years of her life on a hog farm in Huxley, Iowa. Eschewing both the rural life and her grandpa’s fervent wish to see her wed a republican, Jen set her sights on the big city, and when she turned 18, she moved to Chicago with stars in her eyes.
An ensemble member since 2003, Jen has appeared in over a dozen AROT productions, culminating in a much coveted 2008 Orgie Award for her delicate portrayal of Fudgie in John Clancy’s Fatboy. She last appeared on A Red Orchid’s stage as Celeste in Tennessee William’s The Mutilated. Other AROT appearances include The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Erice LaRue, Kimberly Akimbo, and The Hothouse, among others.
Ms Engstrom was the Angel Of America in David Cromer’s soaring production of Angels in America (both parts) at Kansas City Rep. Other regional credits include Eunice in A Streetcar Named Desire (directed by David Cromer) at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Lady MacD in MacBeth at Notre Dame Shakespeare, and Zelda in Lisa Dillman’s Ground at the 2009 Humana Festival. Her work at Northlight Theatre was rewarded with the Jack Springer Award for Best Actress in Sky Girls by Jenny Laird. Other Chicago credits include April Green in Hot l Baltimore at Mary-Arrchie (directed by David Cromer), Shirl in Defiant Theatre’s The Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage, as well as both The Incident and Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been… at Next Theatre which garnered Jeff Awards for Best Ensemble.
In 2001, Jen traveled to London with Steppenwolf Theatre’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest starring Gary Sinise. Ms Engstrom proudly made her NYC theatre debut in 2014 with Excuse My Dust, a Dorothy Parker Portfolio. With Famous Door Theatre she earned critical praise in The Great Society with the Chicago Sun-Times dubbing her performance “the shrewdest, most darkly comic performance you may see all season.”
Jen’s long and often unfortunate affinity for Dorothy Parker led her to compose a “live literature” series, bringing to life a series of Mrs. Parker’s most beloved monologues. Rick Kogan of WGN Radio called her performance at Davenport Cabaret Bar, “a revelation” and deemed its viewing “essential for those with a soul.” Jen is inspired by A Red Orchid Theatre and is honored to be a part of it.
MacArthur Award 2016
As many of you have heard, A Red Orchid Theatre has been named one of the 14 recipients of this year’s MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions. We …read more
Professional Development Series
A Red Orchid Theatre Professional Development: **This class is now full. Please check back for upcoming offerings and if you would like to be added to our contact list to …read more