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Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) celebrated the global impact of Shakespeare with GALA 2016 at the Theater's home on Navy Pier on the 400th Anniversary of his death-April 23, 2016-a date which also marked the playwright's 452nd birthday. As the signature celebration of the yearlong Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival, the night raised a record-breaking $1.4 million that will benefit the Tony Award®-winning theater's Chicago Shakespeare in Urban Classrooms and Communities initiatives, including Team Shakespeare education programs and the FREE citywide Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour. GALA 2016 presented the Spirit of Shakespeare Award to Civic Honoree ComEd, represented by President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore. Five hundred attendees from Chicago's civic and cultural community came together to toast Shakespeare's enduring legacy and enjoy a one-night-only performance featuring Tony- and Olivier Award-winner Alan Cumming, followed by a spectacular Aon Fireworks display over the city skyline.

In addition to honorary co-chairs Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule, GALA 2016 co-chairs Ally and Suzette Bulley, Barbara Malott Kizziah and Keith Kizziah and Paulita Pike and Zulfiqar Bokhari spearheaded the evening's events. The record fundraising total was made possible by the generous support of a Host Committee of 34 individuals and corporations led by Lead Sponsors ComEd/Exelon and Food For Thought Catering.

GALA 2016 dramatically showcased the multiple lobbies and performance spaces of Chicago Shakespeare with splendor and theatricality, thanks to lush floral arrangements from Bukiety and striking visuals from MDR Creative Inc. Throughout the event spaces, Chicago Shakespeare artists inhabited framed "Living Pictures," depicting a range of fashions and inspirations from the last 400 years. Eclectic de?cor, including clusters of chandeliers coupled with forward-thinking chrome tables and stylized room settings, whimsically juxtaposed old-world with contemporary flair.

Guests enjoyed a three-course dinner from Food for Thought Catering. The main course paired succulent Beef Tenderloin with herb-crusted Barramundi, accompanied by sides of Sundried Tomato Rissoto, Mushroom Ragout, Rapini, and Lemon Beurre Blanc. Drawing on the work of the playwright himself, dessert was "A Midsummer Night's Cherry Trifle Dream" with buttery Pistachio Financier layered with airy Pistachio Cream and Tart Cherry Compote. The meal was paired with wines courtesy of Van Duzer Vineyards.

Following dinner, guests gathered in CST's Courtyard Theater for the presentation of the Spirit of Shakespeare Award, which annually honors those that keep the spirit of Shakespeare alive through community service and artistic leadership. This year, CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson presented the Civic Honoree award to ComEd, represented by ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore, in recognition of the company's reputation as both a reliable energy provider and a socially responsible business-striving to preserve the environment, support education, contribute to local arts and culture and aid in neighborhood development. In her remarks, Pramaggiore pointed to Shakespeare's relevance today and her own experiences with the playwright as a student of theater.

Event attendees were treated to a special one-night-only guest performance by Tony- and Olivier Award-winner Alan Cumming. The famed actor of stage and screen delighted a full house with four musical numbers, accompanied by Music Director Lance Horne on the piano and Tug of War ensemble member Tahirah Whittington on the cello. Former CPS Shakespeare participant Roque Sanchez addressed the crowd, speaking to how the Theater's education programs inspired him to help others and become an activist for homeless youth. The performance concluded with Chicago Public School student Ariana Burks singing Georgia Stitt's musical rendition of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29, the very poetry that inspired the Theater's Artistic Director Barbara Gaines' love of Shakespeare.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Chicago Shakespeare Executive Director Criss Henderson, Spirit of Shakespeare Honoree Anne Pramaggiore, CST Board of Directors Chair Sheli Z. Rosenberg and CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Chicago Shakespeare Creative Producer Rick Boynton, CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, Alan Cumming, CST Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin and CST Executive Director Criss Henderson. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
GALA 2016 Event Co-Chairs Ally and Suzette Bulley, Spirit of Shakespeare Honoree Anne Pramaggiore, Alan Cumming, and event co-chairs Barbara Malott Kizziah, Paulita Pike, Zulfiqar Bokhari and Keith Kizziah. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Malcolm and Virginia O’Hagan with Roger S. and Julie Baskes. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Virginia and Norman R. Bobins. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Judy and CST Board Member Raymond F. McCaskey. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Deborah Liverett, Chicago Shakespeare Board Member Eric Q. Strickland and Jacki Robinson-Ivy. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Chicago Shakespeare Producers’ Guild Co-Chair Andrew Levy with Chicago Shakespeare Board Member Judith Pierpont and Collin Levey. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Melissa Waud and Lydia Porter. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Jennifer Lansing, GALA 2016 Co-Chair Barbara Malott Kizziah and CST Board Member Chase Collins Levey. Photo by Daniel Ribar.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Judith K. and Chicago Shakespeare Board Member John P. Keller. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
James M. Trapp, Chicago Shakespeare Executive Director Criss Henderson and CST Board Member William Jentes. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Chicago Shakespeare Board Member Anna M. Livingston and her husband Robert. Photo by Daniel Ribar.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Chicago Shakespeare Director of Institutional Advancement Brooke Flanagan, incoming CST Board of Directors Chair Steven J. Solomon and his wife Robin, Nora Daley Conroy, Tara Flocco and CST Board Member Patrick Richard Daley. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Chicago Shakespeare Board Member Kevin R. Evanich and his wife Joan. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Kyle Vowell and Sierra Harlan. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Ashleigh Morpeau, Trisha Raines, CST Board Member Brian W. Duwe, Yasmina Duwe and Stephanie Coirin. Photo by Daniel Ribar.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Stan Razny and Chicago Shakespeare Board Member Ingrid Razny. Photo by Daniel Ribar.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
GALA 2016 Event Co-Chairs Ally Bulley, Paulita Pike and Barbara Malott Kizziah. Photo by Daniel Ribar.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Tony and Olivier Award-winning actor Alan Cumming performed for GALA 2016 attendees in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
The festive GALA 2016 atmosphere featured lush floral arrangements from Bukiety and striking visualsâ€"including framed “Living Picturesâ€?â€"from MDR Creative Inc. Photo by Michael Litchfield

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
GALA 2016 attendees toast playwright William Shakespeare’s four-hundred-year legacy before enjoying a three-course dinner from Lead Sponsor Food for Thought Catering. Photo by Michael Litchfield.

Photo Flash: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Hosts GALA 2016, Featuring Tony Winner Alan Cumming!
Stunning Chicago skyline views silhouetted dining spaces throughout the Theater’s multi-level lobby and performance spaces. Photo by Michael Litchfield.



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