Chicago Shakespeare Theater Gala raises $1 million

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Betsy Karp (from left) and husband Chicago Shakespeare Theater Board Member Jack Karp, both of Winnetka and Virginia Bobins of Chicago | Photo courtesy of Robert Carl

EVENT: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Gala/Benefit

BENEFITING: CST’S education and civic engagement programs

DATE: June 11, 2012

LOCATION: CST’s home on Navy Pier, Chicago

ATTENDED: 350

RAISED: $1 million

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Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) concluded its 25th Anniversary celebration on June 11 with Gala 2012 at its home on Navy Pier.

Three hundred and fifty of Chicago’s civic and cultural leaders attended the event benefiting the Regional Theatre Tony Award recipient’s far-reaching education and civic engagement programs. Through the leadership of Gala 2012 Lead Sponsors Northern Trust, Donna Van Eekeren Foundation and Food For Thought Catering, the support of the Gala 2012 Host Committee and the advocacy of CST’s Board of Directors, the Theater raised nearly $1 million for its continuing work as a partner in literacy for Chicago Public Schools.

Gala 2012 showcased Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s home on Navy Pier, offering sweeping views of Chicago’s skyline. The Theater’s multi-level lobbies were transformed into enchanting dining spaces with décor from Frost Lighting and fresh flower arrangements accented with theatrical flourishes by Bukiety. Adding a fanciful ambiance to the celebration, actors dressed in costumes from the 25th Anniversary season adorned the lobbies as living art installations, entertaining guests and inspiring conversation. Attendees enjoyed a sumptuous three-course dinner, sponsored by Food For Thought, which included a chilled yellow tomato gazpacho and a duo of tenderloin and grilled scampi paired with wines courtesy of Van Duzer Vineyards.

Following dinner, guests gathered in CST’s Courtyard Theater to view a program created by CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, Creative Producer Rick Boynton and Artistic Associate Bob Mason, which included a special multimedia presentation and retrospective of the 25th Anniversary Season, produced by HMS Media, Inc. The evening featured performances by Brent Barrett and Hollis Resnik, stars of CST’s hit production of Follies; popular Chicago musical theater artist Felicia P. Fields and a special appearance by The Q Brothers in between their celebrated debut of Othello: The Remix at London’s Globe to Globe festival, and their upcoming European festival appearances. Testimonials and performances by students and teachers from CST’s farreaching, arts-in-education programs were one of the evening’s highlights.

The second annual “Spirit of Shakespeare Awards” were presented, honoring those who keep the spirit of Shakespeare alive through community service and artistic leadership. This year’s Civic Honoree was Frederick H. Waddell, Chairman and CEO of Northern Trust, a committed leader in supporting programs for students; and the Artistic Honoree was leading classical actor and Tony Award recipient Brian Bedford. Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin concluded the evening’s presentation with the announcement of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, a historic initiative that will present Shakespeare, FREE FOR ALL Chicagoans, throughout the Chicago Park District neighborhoods this summer. This bold new venture is made possible by collaboration between cultural, civic and corporate partners Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Chicago Park District, and The Boeing Company.

The “Stand Up for Shakespeare” auction offered top-bidding guests four unique packages, including a walk-on role at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, a trip to Paris with round trip tickets and a weeklong stay at a fabulous apartment minutes from the Eiffel Tower, and two dinners for 10 guests on the Courtyard Theater stage catered by Acadia. Guests also pledged varying levels of direct support for CST’s Team Shakespeare education program.

The Gala 2012 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 Northern Trust, Donna Van Eekeren Foundation and Food For Thought Catering, the Gala 2012 Host Committee included: Allstate, Mark Ouweleen and Sarah Harding – Bartlit, Beck, Herman, Palenchar & Scott LLP; BCBS; Mark and Jody Furlong – BMO Harris Bank; Bulley & Andrews; CME Group; Exelon Corporation; Harve Ferrill and Karla Scherer; Greg and Christa Gallopoulos – General Dynamics Corporation; Ellen and Paul Gignilliat; Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P.; ITW; Susan C. Levy – Jenner & Block LLP; Sheila Penrose and Ernest Mahaffey – Jones Lang LaSalle; Richard Porter and Lydia Marti – Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Bill and Char Tomazin – KPMG; Donna Van Eekeren and Dale Connelly – Land O’Frost; Ray and Judy McCaskey; McDonald’s Corporation; Peggy and Dick Notebaert; J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation; Carole and Gordon Segal and Marilynn and Carl Thoma.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has become a global theatrical force known for vibrant productions on its stages at the heart of Navy Pier and for being Chicago’s cultural ambassador, bringing its work to theaters around the world and hosting international artists in Chicago. Its far-reaching service to the community affects the lives of over 40,000 students and their teachers under the banner of the Theater’s Team Shakespeare education and civic engagement programs—one of the country’s largest arts-in-education programs offered by a professional theater. For more information, see chicagoshakes.com.