Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) concludes its 25th Anniversary season with Gala 2012 tonight, June 11 at its home on Navy Pier. Funds raised will benefit the Regional Theatre Tony Award recipient's education and civic engagement initiatives, including Team Shakespeare, which serves over 40,000 students and teachers annually across the Midwest. Through the generosity of Gala Lead Sponsors Northern Trust, Donna Van Eekeren Foundation and Food for Thought Catering, the support of the Gala 2012 Host Committee, and the advocacy of CST's Board of Directors, the Theater anticipates raising $1 million in support of its continuing work as a partner in literacy for Chicago Public Schools.
A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the second annual "Spirit of Shakespeare Awards." This year's Civic Honoree is Frederick H. Waddell, Chairman and CEO of Northern Trust, a committed leader in supporting programs for students; and leading classical actor and Tony Award recipient Brian Bedford is the Artistic Honoree. Gala 2012 features performances by Broadway stars Brent Barrett and Susan Moniz, who triumphed in CST's production of Follies earlier this season, and Chicago favorites Hollis Resnik and Felicia P. Fields.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 in Chicago. Its far-reaching service to the community affects the lives of over 40,000 students and their teachers under the banner of the Theater's Team Shakespeare education and civic engagement programs—one of the country's largest arts-in-education programs offered by a professional theater.
One in four members of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's audience is 18 years of age or younger. The Theater not only serves a student population from diverse backgrounds, but also creates theatrical experiences for young audiences and their families. CST is deeply engaged in the education of students and the enhancement of literacy programs by presenting world-class productions for student audiences (both at its home on Navy Pier and on a five-week Midwest tour), an original abridged production by an ensemble of students and teachers from under-served communities, and a year round intensive series of continuing education workshops for teachers. This past year, CST added a yearlong intensive residence at Benito Juarez Community Academy and Performing Arts Center in the Pilsen community and a partnership with National Louis University through a series of forums exploring the current state and future of public education.
In 2011, the Theater inaugurated the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to honor those who keep the spirit of Shakespeare alive through community service and artistic leadership. This year's civic honoree is Frederick H. Waddell, Chairman and CEO of Northern Trust.
"I am honored to follow John and Jeanne Rowe as the second annual Civic Honoree for Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Spirit of Shakespeare Awards," said Frederick Waddell. "CST's long-standing education and civic engagement programs position them alongside Northern Trust as a leading partner for Chicago Public Schools. We are proud of our ongoing relationship with the Theater, and honored to celebrate one of Chicago's leading cultural treasures on June 11."
As Chairman and CEO, Mr. Waddell leads Northern Trust's strategic giving initiatives, supporting education organizations that bring innovative, comprehensive and exemplary programs to students; effective organizations working to measurably improve the quality of life; and opportunities to create forums for social interaction that celebrate diversity and heritage. An early supporter of Team Shakespeare, Northern Trust helped position CST as a leading partner in education for Chicago Public Schools.
The 2012 Artistic Honoree is celebrated classical actor, Brian Bedford. Mr. Bedford has been a leading artist at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for 26 seasons. Recipient of the Best Actor Tony Award for Molière's The School for Wives, he is a seven-time Tony Award nominee, the recipient of an Obie Award and an inductee into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. His one-man Shakespeare show, The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet, has been performed throughout the world.