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Chicago Shakespeare Gala 2014 raises $1.2 million for Shakespeare in Urban Communities

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater celebrated the enduring vitality of Shakespeare on June 16 with GALA 2014 at its home on Navy Pier, raising nearly $1.2 million for Chicago Shakespeare in Urban Communities.

Guests included 350 of Chicago’s civic, corporate and cultural leaders. Proceeds benefit CST’s civic engagement and education initiatives, including the citywide summer tradition Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks and Team Shakespeare education programs.

The gala showcased the multiple lobbies and performance spaces of Chicago Shakespeare by transforming them into a forest, reminiscent of the mystical woods of this summer’s Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Actors dressed as Shakespearean characters adorned the lobbies as living art installations during the cocktail hour.

Following dinner was the presentation of the Spirit of Shakespeare Awards. This year’s Civic Honorees was the Boeing Company, and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith and his wife Denise of Winnetka. Chicago theater legend Mike Nussbaum was the Artistic Honoree.

Other happenings included performances by Broadway actresses Allison Semmes (“Book of Mormon,” “Motown the Musical”), who is currently starring as Diana Ross in the first national tour of “Motown the Musical,” and Susan Moniz (“Grease”), most recently seen at CST as Sally Durant Plummer in “Follies.”

CPS Shakespeare student participants performed monologues from “Othello” and “Hamlet,” while Chicago Public School teachers spoke to their transformative experiences in the Team Shakespeare program and its effect on their classroom engagement.

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