Chicago Shakespeare Theater Concludes Season with Gala 2012 Tonight, 6/11

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Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) concludes its 25th Anniversary season with Gala 2012 tonight, June 11 at its home on Navy Pier. Funds raised will benefit the Regional Theatre Tony Award recipient's education and civic engagement initiatives, including Team Shakespeare, which serves over 40,000 students and teachers annually across the Midwest. Through the generosity of Gala 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 anticipates raising $1 million in support of its continuing work as a partner in literacy for Chicago Public Schools.

A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the second annual "Spirit of Shakespeare Awards." This year's Civic Honoree is Frederick H. Waddell, Chairman and CEO of Northern Trust, a committed leader in supporting programs for students; and leading classical actor and Tony Award recipient Brian Bedford is the Artistic Honoree. Gala 2012 features performances by Broadway stars Brent Barrett and Susan Moniz, who triumphed in CST's production of Follies earlier this season, and Chicago favorites Hollis Resnik and Felicia P. Fields.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.

One in four members of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's audience is 18 years of age or younger. The Theater not only serves a student population from diverse backgrounds, but also creates theatrical experiences for young audiences and their families. CST is deeply engaged in the education of students and the enhancement of literacy programs by presenting world-class productions for student audiences (both at its home on Navy Pier and on a five-week Midwest tour), an original abridged production by an ensemble of students and teachers from under-served communities, and a year round intensive series of continuing education workshops for teachers. This past year, CST added a yearlong intensive residence at Benito Juarez Community Academy and Performing Arts Center in the Pilsen community and a partnership with National Louis University through a series of forums exploring the current state and future of public education.

In 2011, the Theater inaugurated the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to honor those who keep the spirit of Shakespeare alive through community service and artistic leadership. This year's civic honoree is Frederick H. Waddell, Chairman and CEO of Northern Trust.

"I am honored to follow John and Jeanne Rowe as the second annual Civic Honoree for Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Spirit of Shakespeare Awards," said Frederick Waddell. "CST's long-standing education and civic engagement programs position them alongside Northern Trust as a leading partner for Chicago Public Schools. We are proud of our ongoing relationship with the Theater, and honored to celebrate one of Chicago's leading cultural treasures on June 11."

As Chairman and CEO, Mr. Waddell leads Northern Trust's strategic giving initiatives, supporting education organizations that bring innovative, comprehensive and exemplary programs to students; effective organizations working to measurably improve the quality of life; and opportunities to create forums for social interaction that celebrate diversity and heritage. An early supporter of Team Shakespeare, Northern Trust helped position CST as a leading partner in education for Chicago Public Schools.

The 2012 Artistic Honoree is celebrated classical actor, Brian Bedford. Mr. Bedford has been a leading artist at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for 26 seasons. Recipient of the Best Actor Tony Award for Molière's The School for Wives, he is a seven-time Tony Award nominee, the recipient of an Obie Award and an inductee into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. His one-man Shakespeare show, The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet, has been performed throughout the world.

Acknowledging this year's Artistic Honoree, CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines said, "Chicago Shakespeare Theater is truly honored to present our beloved friend Brian Bedford with the 2012 Spirit of Shakespeare Award. Regarded worldwide as a leading interpreter of classical plays, we anticipate with great joy the opportunity to celebrate his work at our Gala this year."

Alongside Lead Sponsors Northern Trust, Donna Van Eekeren Foundation, Food For Thought Catering are the Gala 2012 Host Committee: Mark Ouweleen and Sarah Harding – Bartlit, Beck, Herman, Palenchar & Scott LLP; Mark and Jody Furlong – BMO Harris Bank; CME Group; Exelon Corporation; Harve Ferrill and Karla Scherer; Greg and Christa Gallopoulos – General Dynamics Corporation; Ellen and Paul Gignilliat; Robert and Patricia Hemingway Hall – HCSC; 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.

Gala 2012 showcases Chicago Shakespeare Theater's home on Navy Pier. Approximately 600 guests will enjoy a three-course dinner, sponsored by Food For Thought, served throughout the Theater's multi-level lobbies, each offering views of Chicago's skyline.

Following dinner, guests gather in CST's Courtyard Theater for a special performance headlined by Brent Barrett and Susan Moniz, two stars of CST's hit production of Follies which opened the 25th Anniversary Season under the direction of CST Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin. Prior to starring as Ben in Follies, Barrett starred in the London premiere of the Tony Award-winning revival of Kiss Me, Kate (Olivier Award nomination) and has also performed the roles of Billy Flynn in Chicago (LA Drama Critics Award) and Baron Felix Von Gaigern in Grand Hotel. Ms. Moniz performed on Broadway as both Sandy and Rizzo in Grease, and in addition to Sally in Follies has performed the iconic roles of Maria in West Side Story and Julie Jordan in Carousel.

Guests will also enjoy performances by Hollis Resnik and Felicia P. Fields. Ms. Resnik, an eight-time Jeff Award recipient and Chicago musical favorite, rocked the house as Carlotta Campion when she performed "I'm Still Here" in Griffin's production of Follies and has appeared in the national tours of Les Misérables, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Tony Award-nominated for her Broadway performance as Sophia in The Color Purple, Felicia P. Fields is a popular musical theater artist who has performed in every major Chicago-area theater.

For more information on Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Gala 2012 or to purchase tickets, please call 312.553.2000 or visit www.pjhchicago.com/cst.

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