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Chicago Shakespeare's GALA 2018 Raises $1.6 Million

Chicago Shakespeare's GALA 2018 Raises $1.6 Million

Chicago Shakespeare Theater celebrated GALA 2018 on Friday, June 8, 2018, raising $1.6 million for the Chicago Shakespeare in Classrooms and Communities initiatives-which include the Tony Award-winning Theater's nationally recognized education programs and free citywide Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour.

During the event, Chicago Shakespeare presented the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards, honoring those who embody Shakespeare's spirit through community engagement and artistic leadership.

This year's Civic Honorees, Marilynn and Carl Thoma, 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 Spirit of Shakespeare Artistic Honoree John Lithgow was recognized for his extensive career as a Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award-winning actor. His celebrated career includes roles as varied as Sir Winston Churchill on the hit Netflix series, The Crown, Malvolio 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. In addition to multiple award-winning performances in Shakespeare's plays, he has also appeared in several musicals on Broadway, including Sweet Smell of Success and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Lithgow declared of the honor, "This not only gives me a chance to pay tribute to Chicago Shakespeare Theater, but also Chicago theater, period."

Following a cocktail reception and seated dinner across the Theater's lobbies, five hundred attendees from Chicago's civic and cultural community enjoyed 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. In the star-studded concert, audiences were treated to selections including "I Will Always Love You" performed by Headley, and duet performances of "Written in the Stars" from Aida and "For Good" from Wicked.

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 supports 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, to Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks engages communities across the north, west, and south sides of the city.

In honor of the festivities, Mayor Rahm Emanuel shared, "I want to thank Barbara Gaines, Criss Henderson, and the entire Chicago Shakespeare family for not only having a great celebration tonight here in the three theaters, but taking this beautiful artistic creation into our neighborhoods and into our parks all summer long for all our kids and families to enjoy."

GALA 2018 brought together the City's civic and artistic communities to toast Shakespeare's enduring legacy. Guests enjoyed a three-course dinner from Host Committee sponsor Food For Thought with grand spectacle and stunning skyline views. Following a sumptuous soup and salad course, the main course featured a pairing of Peppercorn Rubbed Beef Tenderloin and Honey Mustard Seared Atlantic Salmon, accompanied by Harvest Vegetables in a Cipollini Onion Demi-Glace. The meal concluded with guests' choice of Raspberry Rose Litchi Parfaits, Amoretti Macaroons, and Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tartlets. The meal was paired with wines courtesy of Van Duzer Vineyards.

The festive Victorian Garden-themed atmosphere featured lush floral arrangements from Pollen and striking visuals from MDR Creative Inc. across the company's multi-faceted complex on Navy Pier. In the Courtyard Lobby, artists in lavish costumes mingled and posed for photos with guests. To cap the night, guests pledged direct support to Chicago Shakespeare's education and community initiatives during a paddle raise.

Along with the support of the event Headline Sponsor, GALA 2018 was 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 included: Allstate Insurance Company - Jess and Amanda Merten; AON; 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; The Crown Family; 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

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.

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