Chicago—Chicago Shakespeare Theater celebrates GALA 2018 on Friday, June 8, 2018 across the company’s multi-faceted complex on Navy Pier. Funds raised will benefit the Chicago Shakespeare in Classrooms and Communities initiatives—which includes the Tony Award-winning Theater’s nationally recognized education programs and free citywide Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour. Chicago Shakespeare will present the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to Civic Honorees Marilynn and Carl Thoma and Artistic Honoree John Lithgow. Guests will enjoy a one-night-only performance in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, featuring Tony and Grammy Award-winner Heather Headley and The Voice all-star Chris Mann.
During the event, Chicago Shakespeare will present the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to honor those that embody Shakespeare’s spirit through community engagement and artistic leadership.
This year’s Civic Honorees are Marilynn and Carl Thoma, who were instrumental in the founding of the Theater and have been a driving force behind its evolution and growth. As civic leaders and philanthropists, their generosity has fostered myriad cultural organizations and artists across the country.
The 2018 Sprit of Shakespeare Artistic Honoree is John Lithgow, a Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award-winning actor whose celebrated career includes roles as varied as Sir Winston Churchill on the hit Netflix series The Crown, Malvoilo in Twelfth Night at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Arthur Mitchell in the crime drama mystery series Dexter, and Dick Solomon in the extraterrestrial sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. He has also appeared in several Broadway productions, including the musical adaptations of Sweet Smell of Success and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Five hundred attendees from Chicago’s civic and cultural community will enjoy a one-night-only performance in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, featuring Tony and Grammy Award-winner Heather Headley and The Voice all-star Chris Mann. Headley is best known for her roles as Nala in the original Broadway cast of the hit musical The Lion King and the title role in Aida, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. In 2009, she was awarded a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album for Audience of One. In 2016, she returned to the stage in the London premiere of The Bodyguard and back to Broadway for the Tony-winning revival of The Color Purple.
Singer/songwriter Mann is best known for his success as a finalist on NBC’s The Voice. With chart-topping singles spanning genres from Big Band to Broadway to Opera and Pop, he has become one of the nation’s most sought-after concert singers. As of July 2017, he has taken on the title role of The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera national tour, garnering stellar reviews.
Through the generosity of Headline Sponsor Thoma Bravo – Seth Boro, Orlando Bravo, Scott Crabill, Lee Mitchell and Holden Spaht, the Lead Consortium, the Host Committee and the advocacy of CST’s Board of Directors, GALA 2018 will support the Theater’s Chicago Shakespeare in Classrooms and Communities initiatives that annually serve thousands of students, teachers and family audiences. Every year, CST’s Team Shakespeare programs introduce more than 40,000 students to Shakespeare in performance, and have positioned the Theater as a partner in literacy to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for more than 20 years. This fall, teams representing fifty high schools from across the Chicago region come together to celebrate the power of Shakespeare and their own voices in the Theater’s second annual Chicago Shakespeare Slam. Chicago Shakespeare in Classrooms and Communities also encompasses the annual free citywide summer tradition Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, now in its seventh year. From Kelvyn Park to Loyola Park and Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks activates communities across the north, west, and south sides of the city.
GALA 2018 brings together the City’s civic and artistic communities to toast Shakespeare’s enduring legacy and enjoy a three-course dinner from Host Committee sponsor Food For Thought with grand spectacle and stunning skyline views. The festive atmosphere will feature lush floral arrangements from Pollen and striking visuals from MDR Creative Inc. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on exclusive packages during a live auction sponsored by Host Committee sponsor Razny Jewelers.
Along with the support of the event Headline Sponsor, GALA 2018 is generously supported by the Lead Consortium, including: Citadel – Kenneth C. Griffin; Keystone Capital – Kent and Liz Dauten; Exelon – Robin and Steve Solomon; Kirkland and Ellis LLP – Kevin and Joan Evanich, Linda and Dennis Myers, Richard Porter and Lydia Marti; Raymond and Judy McCaskey; Madhavan and Teresa Nayar; and Burton X. and Sheli Z. Rosenberg.
The Host Committee includes, to date: Allstate Insurance Company – Jess and Amanda Merten; Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP – Mark Ouweleen and Sarah Harding; BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois – Maurice Smith, Nazneen Razi; BMO Harris Bank; The Boeing Company; Bulley & Andrews; Lester and Renée Crown; Dover Foundation; Harve A. Ferrill; Sonja and Conrad Fisher; Food For Thought; Barbara and Richard Franke; Virginia and Gary Gerst; ITW; Jan and Bill Jentes; JLL–Christie and John Kelly; The Family of Jack Karp; KPMG LLP – Bill and Char Tomazin; Sheila Penrose and Ernie Mahaffey; J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation; Razny Jewelers; John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe; Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation; The Segal Family Foundation; Skadden, Arps, Slates, Meagher & Flom LLP – Brian and Yasmina Duwe; Carl and Marilynn Thoma; and Donna Van Eekeren Foundation.
ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
A global theatrical force, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for storytelling, musicality of language, and empathy for the human condition. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be, putting forward a company that delights in the unexpected and defies theatrical category. A Regional Tony Award winner, the Theater produces acclaimed plays at its home on Navy Pier, throughout Chicago’s schools and neighborhoods, and on stages around the world. In 2017, the Theater unveiled a new stage, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, The Yard positions Chicago Shakespeare as the city’s most versatile performing arts venue.