The Chicago Shakespeare Theater celebrated Gala 2013 at its Navy Pier home June 17 with more than 550 in attendance. The highlight was the presentation of the third annual Spirit of Shakespeare Awards to civic honoree, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and artistic honoree, composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
A multilevel opening reception featured actors, dressed as characters from several of the theater's productions during the 2012-2013 season, posing as living art installations. Food for Thought Catering presented a dinner menu inspired by Daley's work with the Green City Movement.
The program in the Courtyard Theater opened with welcoming remarks from Barbara Gaines, CST artistic director; Criss Henderson, CST executive director; Raymond McCaskey, board chair; and Sheli Rosenberg, chair elect.
"From the Cook County Jail to the esteemed Edinburgh Festival, we have presented our work," Rosenberg said of the reach of CST.
Broadway stars Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie performed Cole Porter's "You're the Top" before Daley was presented with his award. In accepting the honor, Daley invoked Shakespeare in talking about Chicago: "What is a city but its people?" He spoke movingly about his family and late wife, Maggie, who "was so committed to the arts."
Prior to Sondheim accepting his award, Danieley and Mazzie performed his songs "Finishing the Hat" and "Not a Day Goes By." A video presentation showed clips from productions by Sondheim for CST.
"Children and art are two things very dear to me, and this theater has both," Sondheim said.
Gala 2013 raised $1.1 million to benefit CST's education and community outreach programs that include Team Shakespeare and Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks.
Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers
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