By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
Steppenwolf Theatre Company celebrates 42 seasons of innovative ensemble theatre with an evening of celebration, which will be emceed by actor Rainn Wilson. Veteran comic, film and Broadway star Chris Rock will serve as guest auctioneer.
Wilson stars in “The Doppelgänger” (an international farce) at Steppenwolf this spring and is well-known for his role as “Dwight Schrute” on NBC’s award-winning comedy “The Office.” Comedian, actor, director and producer Chris Rock, who is best known for his standup comedy and who starred in the world premiere Broadway production of “The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” directed by Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro, and of Netflix’s “Tamborine,” will be the guest auctioneer alongside Christie’s Robbie Gordy. Gala 2018 co-chairs include Verett Mims; Elliot Stultz; ensemble member Audrey Francis and Chris Froseth; Cathy and ensemble member James Vincent Meredith; and co-founder Jeff Perry and Linda Lowy, bringing an exciting mix of artist and board collaboration to the event. Steppenwolf Trustees join more than 600 civic and business leaders from across Chicagoland at the 2018 Gala. This year’s gala will be at a new location not far from the theatre, 1340 N. Cherry Ave., Chicago, on Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 6:30pm.
This extraordinary night, curated by Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and the Steppenwolf ensemble, will begin with a unique opportunity to mingle with ensemble members during a festive cocktail reception before moving on to a gourmet seated dinner. The live auction featuring Rock and Gordy will provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences. There will be a special guest presenting a tribute to ensemble member John Mahoney, who passed away earlier this year. Concluding the evening will be live music and dancing, followed by DJ Matt ROAN, who will keep guests grooving until late in the evening.
“The Gala is our opportunity to celebrate our amazing ensemble and the tremendous artists who have lent their talents to the success of our season. So many remarkable things are happening at Steppenwolf, and this evening allows us to honor the thrilling work that has occurred while reveling in our excitement for the superb programs and productions we have planned for the future,” shares Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro.
The 2018 Gala is hosted by Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees and the celebrated ensemble of artists. Steppenwolf’s annual Gala benefit raises approximately $1 million in crucial support for the theater’s adventurous, thought-provoking work and vital arts outreach in Chicago schools and neighborhoods.
Executive Director David Schmitz shares, “We are incredibly excited for Steppenwolf’s annual Gala this year, especially since we will be hosting it off-site for the first time in many years. The change in venue, new additions to our incredible ensemble, exciting guests and fantastic entertainment are going to make for an evening that attendees will not soon forget. We couldn’t make an event like this happen without the wonderful co-chairs, board members, staff and ensemble all working together to create a polished, thrilling and fun celebration.”
About Chris Rock:
Lauded by peers and critics alike, Chris Rock is one of our generation’s strongest comedic voices. As an actor, director, producer and writer he has created many memorable moments. Rock recently wrapped his international Total Blackout Tour, which was his first tour in nine years, which resulted in his first of two Netflix standup specials “Tamborine,” which premiered on the streaming site on February 14th and garnered rave reviews from critics. This spring, Rock will reunite with Adam Sandler in Netflix’s original movie “The Week Of.” He also executive-produced BET’s newest late-night talk show, “The Rundown with Robin Thede.”
Rock returned in 2016 to host the 88th Annual Academy Awards. In the past two years, he has directed HBO’s comedy special “Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo,” guest-starred on the hit series “Empire” and made an appearance in the Netflix holiday special “A Very Murray Christmas,” starring Bill Murray.
With a career spanning more than three decades, Rock has enjoyed ongoing success in both film and television as a comedian, actor, writer, producer and director. Among other projects, in 2014 he led the ensemble cast of “Top Five,” a critically acclaimed comedy feature that he also wrote and directed. His television work includes serving as executive producer, writer and narrator for the series “Everybody Hates Chris,” which ran from 2005 to 2009, and as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1989-1993.
About Rainn Wilson:
Rainn Wilson is an Emmy-nominated and SAG award-winning actor with Chicagoland roots (he graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka) who has found himself in a variety of comedic and theatrical roles throughout his career. His first breakthrough role came when he played assistant mortician “Arthur Martin” in HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” winning him and the cast a Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.” Wilson is best known for playing the inimitable “Dwight Schrute” for nine seasons on NBC’s Emmy award-winning comedy “The Office.”
Wilson’s film credits include the Netflix feature “Shimmer Lake,” directed by Oren Uziel; “Hesher,” opposite Natalie Portman and Joseph Gordon-Levett; “Super,” with Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler, and Ellen Page; “Cooties” opposite Elijah Wood; and the acclaimed comedies “Juno” and “Almost Famous,” among other films.
On TV, Wilson portrayed the irascible but brilliant “Detective Everett Backstrom” in FOX’s subversive/comic crime procedural “Backstrom,” and he recently appeared as a special guest star in Cameron Crowe’s Showtime series “Roadies.” Wilson founded the YouTube channel Soul Pancake, which has 2.5 million subscribers. In 2015 he published his memoir, “The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy.”
For information regarding tickets, contact Steppenwolf’s Special Events Department at 312-654-5632 or [email protected].