League of Chicago Theatres to Honor Lookingglass, Route 66 and More at 2017 Gala

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The League of Chicago Theatres announces the 2017 Annual Gala, an elegant event that brings together friends of Chicago theatre to raise funds for programs to support Chicagoland's more than 250 member theatre companies.

The Chicago theatre community will honor Michael and Mona Heath with the Tribute Award, Cheryl Lynn Bruce with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Lookingglass Theatre Company Ensemble with the Artistic Achievement Award.

The event will be held Monday, May 22, 2017 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 E. Delaware Place. Cocktails will begin at 5:30pm, followed by dinner, award presentations and entertainment.

Route 66 Theatre Company has been selected as the recipient of the Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award. Nominated by a committee of industry professionals, educators and League of Chicago Theatres board members, five finalists are selected each year, and from those, a majority vote from the League membership determines the winner. Broadway In Chicago provides a $5,000 cash prize and marketing support, including a substantial advertising package for the recipient. Sideshow Theatre Company, Jackalope Theatre Company, Oracle Productions, The House Theatre of Chicago, Silk Road Theatre Project (now Silk Road Rising), the side project, Steep Theatre, The New Colony, Theatre Seven of Chicago and 16th Street Theater are previous recipients of the award.

"We are incredibly grateful to be selected by the League of Chicago Theatres and Broadway In Chicago. It is truly an honor, especially when you consider the other nominees this year. This award is a testament to the true ensemble nature of Chicago theater: its diversity, collaboration, and support for one another. Route 66 is proud to be a part of this community for almost a decade and we hope our new home at The Den Theatre helps solidify us as a leading, Equity storefront theatre company for years to come," comments Stef Tovar, Route 66 Founder and Artistic Director.

The Gala Co-Chairs are Erica Daniels, Managing Director of Victory Gardens Theater and Tyrone Phillips, Artistic Director of Definition Theatre Company

Tickets are available for $350 per person, and all proceeds benefit the League of Chicago Theatres which promotes, supports, and advocates for theatre in Chicago. To purchase tickets, or for sponsorship opportunities and participation information, visit www.chicagoplays.com or call 312-554-9800.


Tribute Award recipients Michael and Mona Heath adore Chicago theatre and the people who make it, and recently saw their 3,000th show together. Originally from the rural South (Kentucky and Virginia, respectively), they fell in love with Chicago initially through their interest in architecture, and moved to Illinois in 1991 to work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Michael as a professor and Mona in information technology. Now (mostly) retired, they split their time between Champaign and Chicago, commuting weekly to pursue their passion for live theatre, especially when it takes place in intimate storefronts. They provide financial support for theatre companies through their donor advised fund at the Chicago Community Trust. Their most visible projects to date include financing the development of the Heath Main Stage at the Den Theatre and funding the Accessible Equipment Loan Program with the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium. For more information, see www.heathfund.org.

Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Cheryl Lynn Bruce has appeared on stages across the country as well as in Europe and Mexico. She created the role of Elizabeth Sandry for Steppenwolf's Tony Award-winning production of The Grapes of Wrath, adapted and directed by Frank Galati for Broadway's Cort Theatre, Britain's National Theatre, and La Jolla Playhouse. She recently appeared as Hillary in Lucas Hnath's Hillary and Clinton at Victory Gardens, and workshopped and performed in The Compass, for Steppenwolf's Theatre for Young Audiences. She originated the lead role of Shelah in Tarell McCraney's Head of Passes at Steppenwolf and Berkeley Repertory. Ms. Bruce also premiered in Danai Gurira's The Convert, which opened at McCarter Theatre, then toured to Goodman Theatre, and Kirk Douglas Theatre. As a writer she most recently penned The Billboard with husband and world-renowned artist Kerry JameS Marshall, and directed the 10-minute play for Victory Garden's 2016 Gala.

Ms. Bruce also scripted The Hypocrisy of Justice: Sights and Sounds from the Black Metropolis (Riffin' and Signifyin(g) on Richard Wright's Native Son) for composer and musician Dana Hall, which was presented at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the 75th anniversary of the controversial novel's publication. She appeared in Studs Terkels' Race, directed by David Schwimmer and Joy Gregory at Lookingglass. A proud company member of Teatro Vista, Ms. Bruce directed La Havana Madrid and assistant directed Tamer of Horses and A View From the Bridge. She directed From the Mississippi Delta (Best Direction awards from The African American Arts Alliance and the Black Theatre Alliance) for Congo Square.

In Spring 2007, Ms. Bruce traveled to Japan to study Bunraku puppetry for her staging of Rythm Mastr, Kerry JameS Marshall's urban comic which premiered at the Wexner Center for the Arts. She was the 2006 Inaugural Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago, a 2010 3Arts Award, an unrestricTed Grant, and a 2010 3Arts fellowship for a Robert Rauschenberg Residency. Ms. Bruce was awarded both a Yale Art Gallery residency in 2011 and a Jane Addams Hull House Association's Woman of Valor Award in 2010.

The Lookingglass Theatre Company Ensemble is is the recipient of the Artistic Achievement Award. Lookingglass Theatre Company was founded in 1988 by graduates of Northwestern University and is home to a multi-disciplined collective of artists. Lookingglass has emerged as a national leader in the creation and presentation of original, cutting-edge theatrical work, having developed and produced more than 65 world-premieres, many of which have toured to U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta, Berkeley, Louisville, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Seattle. Highly imaginative, often risky, and always transformative, Lookingglass productions reach more than 45,000 attendees each year.

The Ensemble is comprised of Kareem Bandealy, Mara Blumenfeld, J. Nicole Brooks, David Catlin, Thomas J. Cox, Lawrence E. DiStasi, Christine Mary Dunford, Kevin Douglas, Laura Eason, Anthony Fleming III, Raymond Fox, Joy Gregory, Douglas Hara, David Kersnar, Louise Lamson, Daniel Ostling, David Schwimmer, Joey Slotnick, Philip R. Smith, Heidi Stillman, Tracy Walsh, Temple Williams III, Andrew White, and Mary Zimmerman. For these 24 artists, Lookingglass ensemble offers an artistic home where they can cultivate their voice, nurture their ideas, and work collaboratively on projects that resonate for themselves and for the group.

Over its 29 years, Lookingglass has garnered numerous awards in its mission to change, charge and empower audiences and artists alike. In addition to the innovative mainstage productions in Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, Lookingglass brings its ensemble-based theater core values and techniques to students in schools all over Chicago, and partners with community organizations across the city. In 2011, Lookingglass received the American Theatre Wing's Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. In February of 2016, Lookingglass received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Route 66 Theatre Company, recipient of the Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award, introduces, develops, produces, and exports new work for the stage that embrace the American spirit of exploration and risk. The Road Begins with our new play development process and reaches west, where our World and Chicago Premiere shows are given an advocate for further regional productions along the road less traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles. Since the company's founding, Route 66 has produced eight productions, two in two cities including an Off-Broadway New York premiere, been nominated for five Jeff Awards and won two. 2016 is Route 66's first season as a resident company of The Den Theatre.

Chicago theatre is a leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theatres throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theaters to the most renowned resident theatres in the country, including 5 that have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago's theatres serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. In the 2014-2015 season, Chicago theatre companies produced more than 100 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year, Chicago theatres send new work to resident theatres across the country, to Broadway, and around the world.

The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres which leverages its collective strength to promote, support, and advocate for Chicago's theatre industry locally, nationally, and internationally. The League of Chicago Theatres Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the art of theatre in the Chicago area through audience development and support services for theatres and theatre professionals.

For a comprehensive list of ChicaGo Productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website, www.chicagoplays.com. Half-price tickets are available year-round at www.hottix.org.

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