Better Makers: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Honors Key Philanthropists and Actors

Better Makers: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Honors Key Philanthropists and Actors

Since 1986, Chicago Shakespeare Theater has been dazzling Chicagoans with award-winning, Shakespeare-inspired performances. Founded by the current Artistic Director, Barbara Gaines, the regional Tony Award-winning theater performs for schools and neighborhoods throughout Chicagoland and on stages around the world. CST is now housed in one of the city’s most iconic destinations, Navy Pier.

On June 8, Chicago Shakespeare Theater held GALA 2018, an event celebrating the arts and honoring leaders in both the theater and philanthropic community. CST presented awards to philanthropists Marilynn and Carl Thoma for the pivotal role they’ve played in the growth of the company, and award-winning actor John Lithgow for his outstanding career and embodiment of Shakespeare.

The evening included an exclusive performance at The Yard by Tony and Grammy Award-winner Heather Headley and “The Voice”‘s Chris Mann.

GALA 2018 raised $1.6 million for the theater’s education and community outreach initiatives. CST’s education programs support literacy and creativity for 40,000 students each year.

The evening was made possible thanks to the generosity and support of: Thoma Bravo — Seth Boro, Orlando Bravo, Scott Crabill, Lee Mitchell and Holden Spaht  — the Lead Consortium, the Host Committee, and the advocacy of CST’s Board of Directors.

The free Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks tour is a popular pastime amongst both locals and visitors. The nonprofit theater welcomes 30,000 guests to shows in neighborhood parks across the city each summer.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater's GALA 2018
Chicago Shakespeare Board of Directors Chair Steve Solomon, Executive Director Criss Henderson, Spirit of Shakespeare Civic Honorees Carl and Marilynn Thoma, Artistic Honoree John Lithgow, Heather Headley, Chicago Shakespeare Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, Chris Mann, and Creative Producer Rick Boynton. (Photo by Johnny Knight Photo.)
Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Liam Ouweleen, Bob Mason, Mark Ouweleen
Liam Ouweleen, Chicago Shakespeare Artistic Associate/Casting Director Bob Mason, and Board Member Mark Ouweleen. (Photo by JLauryn Photography.)
Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Verett Mims and Amrit Singh
Verett Mims and Amrit Singh (Photo by Michael Litchfield.)
GALA 2018: Chicago Shakespeare Theater
GALA 2018 Spirit of Shakespeare Artistic Honoree John Lithgow (second from left) with Chicago Shakespeare Theater leadership: Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, Creative Producer Rick Boynton, and Executive Director Criss Henderson. (Photo by Johnny Knight Photo.)
Chicago Shakespeare Theater — Chicago Shakespeare Slam
Impact: More than 300 students from public, private, and parochial schools across Chicagoland unite for Chicago Shakespeare Slam — a community building high school Shakespeare slam. Pictured: students from Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Chicago (Photo by Liz Lauren.)


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Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.