Chicago Shakespeare Theater's (CST) annual gala on June 17 raised more than $1.1 million for Chicago Shakespeare in Urban Communities as 550 of the city's civic and cultural leaders attended the event at the theater's home on Navy Pier. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the third annual Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to this year’s Civic Honoree, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Artistic Honoree, legendary composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
Gala 2013 benefited CST's education and civic engagement initiatives, including Team Shakespeare, annually serving more than 40,000 students and their teachers, and the expanded Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, touring 18 neighborhood parks this summer.
The Theater’s multilevel lobbies were transformed into enchanting dining spaces with décor from Frost Lighting and fresh flower arrangements accented with theatrical flourishes by Bukiety. Actors, dressed in costumes from the season's plays, entertained guests as living art installations. Attendees enjoyed a delectable three-course dinner, sponsored by Food for Thought, which, in a nod to Richard M. Daley’s work with the Green City Movement, included a Braised Beef Short Rib in a Summer Peach Glaze and Sunchoke Panna Cotta, paired with wines courtesy of Van Duzer Vineyards.
Following dinner, guests gathered in CST’s Courtyard Theater to view a program created by CST Creative Producer Rick Boynton, Artistic Associate and Casting Director Bob Mason, and Jeff Award–winning director Rachel Rockwell. The evening featured a one-night-only performance by Broadway stars, husband and wife Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie, singing favorites composed by Sondheim. Danieley was last seen earlier this season in his portrayal of the title character in CST’s production of Sunday in the Park with George. Mazzie most recently co-starred in the Off-Broadway revival of Carrie (the musical) based on the Stephen King novel, and starred on Broadway as Diana in Next to Normal opposite Danieley. Also in attendance was five-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, who earlier in the day was honored with the Sarah Siddons Society Award for her outstanding achievements in the arts.
The second annual “Spirit of Shakespeare Awards” honored those who keep the spirit of Shakespeare alive through community service and artistic leadership. This year CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines presented the Civic Honoree award to former Mayor Daley, the longest-serving mayor in Chicago’s history. Daley’s groundbreaking work to position the city as a world-class destination enhanced the cultural landscape of the city and led to the creation of a permanent home for Shakespeare in Chicago—CST’s artistic home on Navy Pier. Mayor Rahm Emanual’s congratulatory video message commended Mayor Daley’s lasting impact on the advancement of the city and his legacy in bringing the arts to all Chicagoans, exemplified by the new initiative, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks. This public-private partnership of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Chicago Park District, Boeing, and BMO Harris Bank brings free Shakespeare performances to neighborhoods throughout the city. In accepting the honor, Mayor Daley invoked Shakespeare in a guiding belief, “What is a city but its people?” and remembered his late wife Maggie for her commitment to arts education.
CST Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin presented the Spirit of Shakespeare Award to the Artistic Honoree Sondheim, one of the most influential and accomplished composer/lyricists in Broadway history and the winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards, including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Laurence Olivier Award. A special video tribute documented CST’s longstanding commitment to the Sondheim canon. In accepting the honor, Sondheim applauded CST’s education initiatives in Chicago’s classrooms, quoting from his musical Sunday in the Park with George when he said that the most important treasures in the world are “children and art.”
The “Stand Up for Shakespeare” auction offered top-bidding guests three unique packages:
Guests also pledged varying levels of direct support to CST’s nationally recognized education and community engagement initiatives.
The GALA 2013 festivities concluded with a dessert reception courtesy of Phil Stefani Signature Events, where guests mingled with the performers and Spirit of Shakespeare Award recipients.
Alongside Lead Sponsors Donna Van Eekeren Foundation and Food For Thought Catering, the GALA 2013 Host Committee included: Allstate, Mark Ouweleen and Sarah Harding of Bartlit, Beck, Herman, Palenchar & Scott LLP; Steve and Holly Quasny of BMO Harris Bank; Bulley & Andrews; Steve and Robin Solomon of Exelon Corporation; Michael and Jacky Ferro of The Sun-Times Foundation/The Chicago Community Trust; Ellen and Paul Gignilliat; Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P.; ITW; Jan and Bill Jentes; Donna Van Eekeren and Dale Connelly of Land O’Frost ; Sheila Penrose and Ernest Mahaffey of Jones Lang LaSalle; Brit and Marilyn Bartter of J.P. Morgan; Richard Porter and Lydia Marti of Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Bill and Char Tomazin of KPMG; Ray and Judy McCaskey; Burton X. and Sheli Z. Rosenberg; John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe; Carole and Gordon Segal; Marilynn and Carl Thoma; and an anonymous donor.
July 9, 2013