Siddons Society honors Bebe Neuwirth and Chicago theater critics

The multitalented Bebe Neuwirth has been named recipient of the Sarah Siddons Society of Chicago’s 2014 Artist-of-the-Year Award. The winner of two Tony awards and two Grammies will be honored at “All That Jazz,” 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 7 at the Ritz Carlton Chicago, 160 E. Pearson St.

Neuwirth’s Tony wins were for playing Velma in “Chicago” and Nickie in “Sweet Charity.” She has numerous other Broadway and Off-Broadway credits and earned two Emmys for playing Lilith in “Cheers” on television.

“The Roosevelt theater faculty had a connection to Bebe and thought she would be an ideal person to honor,” said Dominic Missimi, event producer and director. It seems particularly appropriate this year because the society is presenting a scholarship to a student at the Chicago College of Performing Arts Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University for the first time.

Special Recognition Awards will be given to Hedy Weiss, theater and dance critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” and Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones.

“We had an event this year where we had Hedy act as a moderator,” Missimi noted. “She did such a fantastic job that many of the members came forward and said, ‘Why don’t we ever honor our critics?’”

Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker will serve as Master of Ceremonies. “For the past several years, he has been our emcee for the program. He is a charming presence and we all love him,” Missimi said.

Entertainment will include the performance of musical numbers from Neuwirth’s career by students at the Chicago College of Performing Arts Theatre Conservatory. There will also be performances by Chicago musical theater stars Travis Taylor, Heidi Kettenring and Rebecca Finnegan.

The Sarah Siddons Society provides scholarships to theater students at major universities and colleges in the Chicago area. In addition, for over 60 years, the society has annually honored celebrated stage and film actors.

All of the proceeds of the luncheon are earmarked for the scholarships, which are being given to seven theater students at four schools this year.

Tickets to “All That Jazz” are $175. Call Mary Lou Bilder-Gold at (847) 446-4140 or visit www.sarahsiddonssociety.org.

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