Chicago Shakespeare Theater Presents

GALA 2018

Benefitting the Theater's Education and Community Outreach Initiatives


Civic Honorees Marilynn and Carl Thoma
Artistic Honoree John Lithgow
Heather Headley and Chris Mann in a one-night-only performance

Let’s Play had the pleasure of partaking in greatness as well as enjoying an evening among Chicago’s civic and cultural community at Chicago Shakespeare’s GALA 2018.  The Shakespeare Theater made the big move to Navy Pier nearly 20 years ago and had evolved into a robust three-theater center with the expanded capacity to embrace a diversity of programming and the vibrant production we all have come to expect!

Gala 2018 was a celebration that concluded with an extraordinary season. A season that brought forth the expansion of their artistic home on Navy Pier, under the leadership and guidance from Barbara Gaines, Artistic Director, Criss Henderson, Executive Director and Steve Solomon, Chair, Board of Directors.   

gala-2018-release-thumbChicago Shakespeare honored leading philanthropists Marilynn and Carl Thoma who are longtime Theater civic leaders and who were instrumental in the founding of the Theater and the driving force behind the development and growth with the ‘The Spirit of Shakespeare Civic Award.’ The Thoma's have been the driving force behind the Tony Award-winning theater's growth and expansion and lead the campaign for the pivotal move of "The Shakes" permanent home in Navy Pier.

One of America’s most distinguished performers John Lithgow, a Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning Actor who has left an unforgettable imprint on audiences with his work in film, television and the theater received ‘The Spirit of Shakespeare Artistic Award.’ 

Lithgow, who proclaimed that his father had a theater and that they performed all of the Shakespeare plays, has appeared in twenty Broadway productions, earning him four Drama Desk Awards, two Tony Awards along with six Emmy's, two Golden Golden and three SAG awards.   

The gala event brought together five hundred attendees to celebrate Shakespeare’s sustaining legacy in the company’s stunning venue on Navy Pier. The decor at Shakespeare Theater was exquisitely set as an English Garden across the company’s multi-faceted complex on Navy Pier. Lush floral arrangements from Pollen filled the rooms with striking visuals from MDR Creative Inc.  

A delightful cocktail reception and a seated three-course dinner from Host Committee sponsor Food For Thought with an awe-inspiring view of Lake Michigan and the stunning skyline in the distance set the ambiance for the night.

The celebration continued in the creative yet flexible and innovated global theater “The Yard” where the guests had the opportunity to benefit in a bidding auction for the Theater’s education and community outreach initiatives by donating. The proceeds from the evening's event will support Shakespeare Theater education initiatives and the free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour, returning next month to 18 parks all around the city.

A one-night, only performance in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare where innovations are worth an honorable mention featured Tony and Grammy Award-winner Heather Headley. Best known for her roles as Nala in the hit musical, The Lion King; an original Broadway, Heather also played the title role in Aida, where she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a musical.

In 2009, she was awarded a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album, and in 2016, she returned to the stage in the London premiere of The Bodyguard, then coming back to Broadway for the Tony-winning revival of The Color Purple.

Diverse singer/songwriter from NBC’s The Voice Chris Mann rose to fame as Christina Aguilera’s finalist. Chris has a massive and wide-ranging musical background whose debut album, Roads, hit # 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart.   

What a night to remember where you saw goodness at its best to benefit Chicago Shakespeare in classrooms, communities and the parks!

Every year CST nationally recognized education programs partner with more than 400 schools and 1,000 English teachers to serve 40,000 students throughout Chicagoland and beyond.

Thank You, Chicago Shakespeare, for being a cornerstone in American schools and for bringing the spirit of Shakespeare to LIFE!

Filed under: ChicagoNow

Leave a comment