Chicago Shakespeare Theater Launches 2013/14 Season with Gala 2013 Celebration on June 17

H3_a_NLChicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) launches the 2013/14 Season with Gala 2013 on June 17 at its home on Navy Pier. Funds raised will benefit the Regional Theatre Tony Award® recipient’s education and civic engagement initiatives, includingTeam Shakespeare and Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks. Through the generosity of Gala Lead Sponsor the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation, the support of the Gala 2013 Host Committee, and the advocacy of CST’s Board of Directors, the Theater anticipates raising over one million dollars in support of its continuing work in Chicago’s schools and communities. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the third annual Spirit of Shakespeare Awards. This year’s Civic Honoree is former Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Artistic Honoree is composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Both honorees will be in attendance to accept their award. Gala 2013 will also feature performances by Broadway stars Jason Danieley, who triumphed in CST’s production of Sunday in the Park with George earlier this season, and Marin Mazzie, who was recently seen opposite Danieley in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Next to Normal.

The majority of proceeds from Gala 2013 will support Chicago Shakespeare’s education and civic engagement initiatives, which enrich the lives of over 85,000 students and family patrons. One in four members of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s audience is 18 years of age or younger. CST was bestowed with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2012 Shakespeare Steward Awardfor our innovative teaching of Shakespeare in American classrooms and twenty-year partnership with Chicago Public Schools. In July 2012, CST launched Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks. Over the course of three weeks, more than 10,000 Chicagoans attended free performances ofThe Taming of the Shrew in eleven parks across the city. Mayor Emanuel has endorsed this broad civic initiative as a new summer tradition for Chicago and has called for its expansion in 2013.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater has become a global theatrical force known for vibrant productions on its stages at the heart of Navy Pier and for being Chicago’s cultural ambassador, bringing its work to theaters around the world and hosting international artists. The Theater’s expansive producing work includes the development of new work and the production of musical theater, including a decade-long exploration of the Stephen Sondheim canon.

In 2011, the Theater inaugurated the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to honor those that keep the spirit of Shakespeare alive through community service and artistic leadership. This year’s Civic Honoree is former Mayor Richard M. Daley. The longest-serving mayor in Chicago’s history, Mr. Daley has earned an international reputation as a leading innovator in urban development, fiscal policy and government stewardship. As mayor, he enhanced Chicago’s quality of life, improved the public school system and infrastructure, strengthened the economy, reduced crime, improved transportation and made Chicago one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

“We are honored to recognize Richard M. Daley with the Spirit of Shakespeare Award. His work to position Chicago as a world-class destination enhanced the cultural landscape of our City and led to the creation of our artistic home on Navy Pier—a permanent home for Shakespeare in Chicago,” said Artistic Director Barbara Gaines. “The spirit of Shakespeare celebrates the spirit of Mayor Daley.”

The 2013 Artistic Honoree is Stephen Sondheim. One of the most influential and accomplished composer/lyricists in Broadway history, Mr. Sondheim is the winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards®, including the Special Tony Award® for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award.

“It is thrilling and appropriate that Mr. Sondheim will receive the Spirit of Shakespeare Award. The six productions we have staged and the two we have planned for next season have affirmed him as our most produced playwright after Shakespeare,” said CST Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin. “It is also fitting that the award will be presented at our Gala, which celebrates the educational programming at Chicago Shakespeare. Sondheim has often said that he believes teaching to be a sacred profession. I believe artists and audiences are transformed by his work and we are grateful for all he has taught us.”

Gala 2013 Lead Sponsors are supported by the Host Committee, which thus far includes Steve and Holly Quasny – BMO Harris Bank, Exelon, ITW, Brit and Marilyn Bartter – J.P. Morgan,Richard Porter and Lydia Marti – Kirkland & Ellis LLPBill and Char Tomazin – KPMG LLPRay and Judy McCaskeyCarole and Gordon Segal, and an anonymous donor.

Gala 2013 showcases Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s home on Navy Pier. Approximately 500 guests will enjoy a three-course dinner, sponsored by Food for Thought Catering, served throughout the Theater’s multi-level lobbies, each offering views of Chicago’s skyline.

Following dinner, guests gather in CST’s Courtyard Theater for a one-night-only performance that will include Broadway stars and husband and wife Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie. Danieley debuted at CST last fall as George in Gary Griffin’s critically acclaimed production of Sunday in the Park with George. Danieley’s extensive career in New York includes his Broadway debut in the title role of Hal Prince’s production of Candide (Theatre World Award, Drama League Award and Drama Desk Nomination), the leading role of Dan in Next to Normal, Aaron Fox in the Kander and Ebb musical Curtains (Outer Critics Circle Nomination) and Malcolm in The Full Monty on Broadway and the West End. He was also featured in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, directed by Gary Griffin for Encores! Marin Mazzie most recently co-starred in the highly anticipated Off-Broadway revival of Carrie (the musical) based on the Stephen King novel. Prior to that, she starred on Broadway as Diana in Next to Normal opposite Jason Danieley. Marin received Tony® and Drama Desk nominations and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance as Lilli/Katharine in the hit revival of Kiss Me Kate, and later received an Olivier Award nomination when she made her West End debut in the show. Other Broadway credits include: Enron (Drama League nomination), Monty Python’s Spamalot (also West End), Ragtime(Tony®, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics nominations), and Passion (Tony® nomination).

For more information or to join us in celebration of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Gala 2013, please call 312.553.2000 or visit

About Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company, dedicated to producing extraordinary productions, unlocking Shakespeare’s work for the next generation, and serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through the Theater’s World’s Stage Series. Recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®, CST is under the leadership of founder and Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson. Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s year-round producing season features as many as 16 plays and 650 performances with work that engages 200,000 audience members in our two intimate theater spaces at our Navy Pier home, in culturally underserved neighborhoods throughout Chicago, in Illinois schools and communities, and across the globe. One in four CST visitors is under the age of 18, an important step in nurturing a lifelong appreciation of the arts and ensuring future audiences for the nation’s great cultural institutions. Annually, CST serves more than 40,000 students and teachers through the theater’s extensive education outreach programs, which include teacher workshops, professional development seminars, performance opportunities for local high school students, professional Shakespeare matinees for student audiences, and a five-week tour each spring to urban, suburban and rural schools throughout the Midwest. CST was bestowed with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2012 Shakespeare Steward Award for our innovative teaching of Shakespeare in American classrooms and twenty-year partnership with Chicago Public Schools.