BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
“It is incredibly meaningful to be representing the Steppenwolf ensemble. Tonight, I raise a glass to you: the artists, audience, and community of supporters, who make Steppenwolf such an extraordinary place. For all of us, it is an honor to call it our artistic home—there’s no place like Steppenwolf.
—Jon Michael Hill, actor
The almost 600 guests—including dozens of Ensemble members—at the Steppenwolf’s recent gala, held in a glorious tent pitched at their Halsted location, agreed with Hill that Steppenwolf is surely the nation’s premier ensemble theater.
Over $1.15 million was raised by this annual event for Steppenwolf’s artistic, educational, and community programming. Following cocktails in the terrific new Front Bar, a spontaneous flash mob ushered in the Gala’s MC, Steppenwolf actor Alexandra Billings, who led the evening filled with song and performances. Not to be missed was an “add-rap-tation” of August Osage County, specially written and performed by the Q Brothers for the Gala.
Artistic Director, Anna D. Shapiro, paid tribute to Martha Lavey, Artistic Director for over 20 years, who died in April.
Board Chair Eric Lefkofsky praised Shapiro:
“Anna Shapiro and the ensemble have significantly increased the number of shows on all three of our stages, expanded the diversity of voices heard and seen at the theater, and continued Steppenwolf’s vital outreach into our community.”
The 2017 Gala co-chairs included Amy Eshleman and Lori Lightfoot, Cameron and Amy Findlay, Susan and David Mendelsohn, as well as ensemble members John Michael Hall, Tim Hopper, and Karen Viola, and Amy Morton and Rob Milburn.
Auctioneer Gary Metzner led an all-star auction that included a BBQ in LA at ensemble member Tom Irwin’s home with guests Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, William Petersen, and Martha Plimpton.
Following the auction, JC Brooks welcomed guests to the dance floor, with a late-night set by DJ Lucy Wak in the tent and after-hours cocktails at Front Bar with DJ Deacon Dangerfield.
Many Steppenwolf ensemble members were in attendance, including Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Glenn Davis, Audrey Francis, Francis Guinan, Tim Hopper, Tom Irwin, Tracy Letts, Sandra Marquez, Tarell Alvin McCraney, James Vincent Meredith, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Yasen Peyankov, Molly Regan, and Jim True-Frost.
Additional notable guests included Alderman Brian Hopkins; Alderman Michele Smith; Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx; and the cast of Steppenwolf’s world premiere production of Tracy Letts’s Linda Vista.
Sponsors of the 2017 Gala were Liz and Eric Lefkofsky and DLA Piper LLP, and Mendelsohn Legal.
A collective of actors formed the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1976. Now 49 members represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors, and playwrights. Although firmly grounded in Chicago, nearly 40 original productions have enjoyed national and international success. Outreach abounds with 15,000 participants in their education programs for teens and teachers.