Victory Gardens Theater's Gala Includes Tribute to Artistic Director Dennis Zacek

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This year’s Victory Gardens Theater’s “Chicago Stories” was a bittersweet affair.  On the one hand, it showcased two new, fantastic celebrity playwrights, Pam Crutchfield and Howard Tullman, and on the other hand, it was a tribute to retiring long-time Artistic Director, Dennis Zacek.  (Shown in pic above: Pam, Dennis and Howard) For over 34 years Dennis has lovingly steered VGT to the forefront of artistic success.  His leadership has been legendary in the Chicago theater community and beyond.  On this night, over 350 fans, friends and supporters turned out at the Four Seasons Hotel for this fun-filled evening that included a fantastic silent and live auction as well as a wonderful raffle prize presented courtesy of Edward Ford Jewelers.  Two Kennedy Space Center packages went for $6500 each, an awesome 5 night stay at the Bitter End Yacht Club brought in $4500 and a movie night package at the Biograph (a new idea from VGT’s amazing staff) raised $5600 for two packages. Over $300,000 was raised for this Tony award-winning theater company.

I was so proud to be a co-chair along with Anne Marie Peretz and Stephanie Pendexter. Emcee for the evening was the one and only Bill Kurtis.  Congrats to the celeb playwrights on their creative, witty and evocative plays.  “The Pillar’s Capital”, written by Pam Crutchfield and Zachary Whittenburg, was a funny political satire set in a Chicago ballet studio while Howard’s play, “Friends in Low Places” was an irreverant look at politcal fundraising.  Both were smash hits!

The final play of the evening, “Dennis the Musical” brought the house down.  Written by Jim Sherman and directed by Sandy Shinner, it was a funny and loving tribute to Dennis Zacek. 

We know Executive Director Jan Kallish will make the transition smooth for incoming Artistic Director, Chay Yew.  And togther, they look forward to continuing to build on Dennis’ phenomenal legacy.   (

(Fab Fotos by Mila Samokhina).


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