May 01, 2016
BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
An Aon fireworks finale off Navy Pier for the 500 guests attending Gala night capped the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s yearlong recognition of the Bard’s 400-year legacy on April 23rd. The announcement that a record-breaking $1.4 million was raised for the Tony Award winning theater’s Chicago Shakespeare in Urban Classrooms and Communities initiatives was not the only highlight of the spectacular evening. A cabaret performance by Scottish actor Alan Cumming, OBE and star of The Good Wife, and the magic captured across multiple lobbies courtesy of fanciful tableaux vivants helped make it a not-to-be-matched tribute to the playwright born 452 years before.
Most moving was CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines’ tribute to community initiatives in her introduction to a former education program participant Roque Sanchez:
“When I was a young girl, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 – ‘When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone between my outcast state…’ – awakened in me a deep sense of humanity. His words, written centuries before, made me realize that I was not alone. When I founded this company thirty years ago, remembering my younger self, I knew that we had to work with students. We had to be that light in the darkness for the next generation. And now, years later, because of the generous support of so many, an astonishing two million students have been impacted by our education programs.”
Barbara and Executive Director Criss Henderson presented the Spirit of Shakespeare Honoree award to ComEd, represented by ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore, recognizing the company’s community support.
In addition to honorary co-chairs Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule, Gala co-chairs Ally and Suzette Bulley, Barbara Malott Kizziah and Keith Kizziah, and Paulita Pile and Zulfiqar Bokhari masterminded the evening. Suzette Bulley reported:
“I particularly loved the tableaux vivants in all the rooms, with Chicago Shakespeare artists in a wide range of fashions representing the last 400 years, some inspired by famous works of art. Some had great twists: the woman in an eighteenth-century French tableau wore contemporary jewelry and was reading Little Women.”
Guests particularly loved the dessert, a “Midsummer Night’s cherry trifle dream,” featuring layers of pistachio cream and tart cherries. A fitting treat for a birthday celebration.