Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 2022 Gala Raises Nearly $2M; Celebrates New Education Center

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s world-renowned ensemble was joined by more than 460 civic, cultural and business leaders from Chicago for its annual fundraising gala on May 14, raising more than $1.98 million to support its educational and artistic programming. 

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(back row, left to right) Ensemble Members Yasen Peyankov, Rajiv Joseph, Namir Smallwood, Glenn Davis, Eric Simonson, Robert Breuler, Celeste M. Cooper, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Sandra Marquez, Alana Arenas, Kate Arrington, Caroline Neff and Jim True-Frost, (front row, left to right) Jeff Perry, Audrey Francis and Tim Hopper | Photo by Kyle Flubacker

Held at Rockwell on the River, the festive evening was designed and produced by Frost Chicago and hosted by the company’s new artistic directors, Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis as well as Executive Director E. Brooke Flanagan along with the nonprofit’s board of trustees. A cocktail reception with Steppenwolf’s ensemble kicked off the event, followed by a seated three-course gourmet dinner catered by Calihan and wine provided by Rodinia Fine Wines, beer by Hopewell Brewery and spirits by CH Distillery.

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Members of the Steppenwolf Ensemble take the stage | Photo by Kyle Flubacker.

The evening was also a celebration of the company’s 46th season and late 2021 opening of its new 50,000-square-foot Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Throughout the evening, a dynamic display of photography and video clips played along the walls of the venue, showcasing Steppenwolf’s ensemble and the construction and unveiling of the new center, which will help the theater company expand its education programs to more than 30,000 students in the Chicago area. 

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(left to right) Ensemble Members and Artistic Directors Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis emceed the evening | Photo by Kyle Flubacker

A new production of Anton Chekhov’s Seagull, adapted and directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov with an ensemble-packed cast including Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry, is now playing in the Ensemble Theater through June 12.

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The evening included a toast from Co-Founder Jeff Perry (right) to Board Chair Eric Lefkofsky | Photo by Kyle Flubacker

Additional guests included Board of Trustees Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Gala Co-Chairs Caroline and Keating Crown, Nora Daley and Sean Conroy, and Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert. Chicago’s First Lady Amy Eshleman, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Erin Harkey and Arts Alliance Illinois Executive Director Claire Rice also attended. 

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(left to right) Board Chair Eric Lefkofsky, Liz Lefkofsky, Gala Co-Chairs Bryan Traubert and Penny Pritzker, Artistic Director Glenn Davis, Executive Director Brooke Flanagan, Gala Co-Chair Nora Daley, Artistic Director Audrey Francis, Gala Co-Chairs Keating and Caroline Crown | Photo by Kyle Flubacker

Sponsors included Caroline and Keating Crown, GCM Grosvenor, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Topher and Peyton Merrill, Northern Trust, Anne and Don Phillips, Pritzker Traubert Foundation, The Crown Family and Zell Family Foundation.

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Trustee Carole Brown keeps bidding during the auction of one-of-a-kind experiences | Photo by Kyle Flubacker

Steppenwolf Theatre Company was founded more than 46 years ago by a circle of students who craved a space to call their own; today Steppenwolf is the nation’s premier ensemble theater with 49 members who are among the top actors, playwrights and directors in their fields.


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Donna Berry Glass

Donna Berry Glass is a freelance writer in Marin County who writes mostly about family and kid-oriented topics. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family exploring the natural beauty of Marin, snuggling with her Cavalier King Charles spaniel while reading a good book or whipping up something delicious in her space-challenged kitchen. Donna is a supporter of the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much needed services to seniors and disabled individuals.