Sunday, June 15, 2008—Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) today received the 2008 Regional Theatre Tony Award at the 62nd Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards hosted by Whoopi Goldberg at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Tony Award-winning actor Michael Cerveris (Assassins, 2004) and Chicago Shakespeare veteran (A Little Night Music, 2003) presented the award to CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson.
One of the most coveted honors in the entertainment industry, the Regional Theatre Tony Award honors a nonprofit professional regional theatre company in the United States that has displayed a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally. It is awarded by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing based upon a recommendation by the American Theatre Critics Association and is accompanied by a grant of $25,000 sponsored by Visa, U.S.A.
CST Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin, Creative Producer Rick Boynton, and members of the Board of Directors, including Frank D. Ballantine, C. Gary Gerst, M. Hill Hammock, Judith Pierpont, Mark E. Rose, Steven J. Solomon and Gayle R. Tilles also attended the ceremony in New York City. Chicago Shakespeare hosted a pre-event dinner at The Michelangelo Hotel in Midtown Manhattan where CST friends and supporters celebrated the honor.
In accepting the Tony Award, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines thanked the American Theatre Critics Association, the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League and reflected on Chicago Shakespeare’s journey to the Tony: “This moment runs a close second to the day twenty years ago when we produced Henry V on the roof of an English pub overlooking Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Without that risky moment, this celebratory moment would not have come to pass, and we only could have taken that risk in Chicago, a world class city, a place where the arts are cherished and where theater is celebrated with generosity and passion.”
Addressing an audience of theatrical luminaries at Radio City Music Hall, she concluded, “If you have been to Chicago Shakespeare, you know it is a home for artists from Chicago, from America and from all around the great globe itself. If you haven’t been to Chicago Shakespeare, take the New Jersey Turnpike to I-80 and turn left.”
“This is not only an extraordinary honor for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, it is a bold statement for Chicago—the ‘Tony-est’ city in America, now claiming four Regional Theatre Tony Awards,” said Executive Director
Criss Henderson upon receiving news of the Award. “We recognize that our work is made possible by a welcoming artistic community, generous support from our Board and community leaders throughout the City, enthusiastic subscribers and audience members.”
For the past two decades, Gaines and Henderson have led CST from a modest Shakespeare theater operating out of a dance auditorium on Chicago’s north side to the establishment of one of Chicago’s leading cultural institutions and one of America’s largest and most respected nonprofit theaters in a state-of-the-art facility on Navy Pier with a $14 million operating budget. By coupling the talents of the Theater’s producing team with an international roster of distinguished actors, CST aims to give theatergoers the means to explore the dramatic works of William Shakespeare and other classics, while providing important counterpoint through newly commissioned plays and the presentation of acclaimed guest artists from across the globe.