Chicago Shakespeare Theater to Host GALA 2014 at Navy Pier, 6/16

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Chicago Shakespeare Theater to Host GALA 2014 at Navy Pier, 6/16

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) celebrates the enduring vitality of Chicago's Shakespeare with GALA 2014 on Monday, June 16 at its home on Navy Pier. Funds raised will benefit the Tony Award-winning Theater's Chicago Shakespeare in Urban Communities initiatives, including Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks and Team Shakespeare education programs. Through the generosity of GALA 2014 Lead Sponsors Exelon - Robin and Steve Solomon, Food for Thought Catering and Ventas, the support of Host Committee, and the advocacy of CST's Board of Directors, the Theater has already raised nearly $1 million and, as in previous years, anticipates exceeding the initial goal of $1.1 million. Presided over by Event Chairs Anna and Bob Livingston, Robin and Steve Solomon, and Charlene and Bill Tomazin, GALA 2014 will culminate in the presentation of the fourth annual Spirit of Shakespeare Awards. This year's Civic Honoree is The Boeing Company, represented by Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith and his wife Denise. The Artistic Honoree is Chicago theater legend Mike Nussbaum. A one-night-only musical performance in the Courtyard Theater will cap off the event.

Proceeds from Gala 2014 will support Chicago Shakespeare's education and civic engagement initiatives that annually serve over 85,000 students, teachers and family audiences. The annual citywide summer tradition Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks activates culturally underserved communities across the city and breaks down barriers to the arts by sharing a professional Shakespeare production, free for all, in Chicago Park District parks. This summer, 26 performances of Shakespeare's beloved A Midsummer Night's Dream will tour to 18 neighborhood parks throughout the city's diverse communities. Team Shakespeare, CST's nationally recognized education programming, annually introduces more than 40,000 students to Shakespeare in performance, and for 20 years has positioned the Theater as a partner in literacy to Chicago Public Schools through professional development programs for teachers.

Reflective of its global city, the reach of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's extraordinary productions extends beyond CST's theaters on Navy Pier to Chicago's schools, across the City's neighborhoods and to stages around the world. CST presents the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to honor those that keep this spirit of Shakespeare alive through community service and artistic leadership. Celebrating the spirit with which Shakespeare moves the world is especially relevant this year-the 450th since his birth-as it kicks off a two-year celebration culminating in Shakespeare's Quadricentennial in 2016, 400 years after his death.

The 2014 Spirit of Shakespeare Award Civic Honoree is The Boeing Company and Boeing Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith in recognition of the company's founding partnership and continued support of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks. As the world's largest aerospace company, Boeing is committed to advancing programs that drive human creativity, curiosity and intellect, especially in its headquarter city of Chicago. Since the inception of the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program in 2012, tens of thousands of Chicagoans of all ages have taken advantage of free performances in their communities as a direct result of this partnership. Greg and Denise Smith, both champions of the arts as a transformational agent to building strong communities, will accept the award on Boeing's behalf.

"Through the City's partnerships with great corporate citizens like Greg Smith and The Boeing Company, Chicago continues to offer accessible, world-class cultural experiences," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the City's Night Out in the Parks program showcase the best Chicago has to offer while supporting the work of our artists. Chicago is known around the world for the vibrancy of its arts and we will continue to bring this creative spirit to residents and visitors across the city."

This year's Artistic Honoree is Mike Nussbaum. At 90 years of age, Nussbaum continues to enjoy a prolific career as a director and actor on Chicago stages and around the world. His journey as a Chicago theater artist includes originating roles in David Mamet's American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross. In addition to being a bastion of the Chicago theater community, Nussbaum has worked on and off Broadway, with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has performed with Lincoln Center Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, and Second Stage Theatre, among others. Nussbaum's rich history of roles at Chicago Shakespeare Theater spans some of Shakespeare's most notable characters, including Shylock, Polonius, Friar Laurence and Richard II's John of Gaunt. His work has been honored with an Emmy and a Drama Desk Award; he is also an Illinois Legend Award and Sarah Siddons Society Award recipient. Nussbaum joins an acclaimed group of previous Artistic Honorees, who include Stephen Sondheim, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Peter Hall and Brian Bedford.

"Mike Nussbaum is a legend in his own time-an artist of integrity with profound charismatic gifts that have helped nourish the soul of a city," said CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, a longtime collaborator with Nussbaum. "Whether playing in the original companies of David Mamet's American Buffalo or Glengarry Glen Ross or in the great Peter Brook's worldwide tour of The Cherry Orchard-or playing a very sexy witch in Chicago Shakespeare's Macbeth," she chuckled. "His art continues to inspire both artist and audience alike...for close to 50 years. Simply put, he is a national treasure and we celebrate both his life's work and the way in which he's lived it."

Gala 2014 Lead Sponsors are supported by the Host Committee, which to date include: Allstate Insurance Company - Jess and Amanda Merten; Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP - Mark Ouweleen and Sarah Harding; BMO Harris Bank; Bulley & Andrews; Donna Van Eekeren Foundation; Dover Foundation; Ellen and Paul Gignilliat; GCM Grosvenor; ITW; JLL - Sheila Penrose and Ernest Mahaffey; J.P. Morgan - Brit and Marilyn Bartter; Betsy and Jack Karp; Kirkland & Ellis LLP - Richard Porter and Lydia Marti; KPMG LLP - Charlene and Bill Tomazin; Anna and Bob Livingston; Ray and Judy McCaskey; Burton X. and Sheli Z. Rosenberg; John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe; The Segal Family Foundation; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP - Brian and Yasmina Duwe; The Sun-Times Foundation/The Chicago Community Trust - Michael and Jacky Ferro and Marilynn and Carl Thoma.

Gala 2014 showcases Chicago Shakespeare Theater's home on Navy Pier with splendor and theatricality. Five hundred guests will enjoy a three-course dinner, sponsored by Food for Thought Catering, served throughout the Theater's multi-level lobbies, each offering views of Chicago's skyline. Inspired by the natural beauty of Chicago's parks, the Theater's lobbies will be transformed into a forest, with transplantable trees and ground coverings to be donated to the Chicago Park District following the evening's events. Adding a fanciful ambiance to the celebration, actors dressed as sprites and spirits will adorn the lobbies as living art installations, reminiscent of the mystical woods of this summer's Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Following dinner, guests will gather in CST's Courtyard Theater for a one-night-only performance highlighting the Theater's extraordinary artistic vision.

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