Writers’ Theatre gives words their due
Architect Jeanne Gang (from left), a 2011 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant recipient and principal of Studio Gang Architects, with Gala Co-Chairs Roger Weston and Pam Phillips Weston of Winnetka, and Writers’ Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam. Best known for Chicago’s Aqua tower, Gang is designing Writers’ Theatre’s new theatre center in downtown Glencoe. | Contributed photo
WHAT: Writers’ Theatre 20th Anniversary WordPlay Gala
WHEN: April 21, 2012
BENEFITING: Writers’ Theatre
WHERE: The Four Seasons, Chicago
Updated: June 4, 2012 10:22AM
Oh, what a night for theater.
Glencoe’s Writers’ Theatre sang in its 20th year on April 21 during the anniversary gala WordPlay, held in the grand ballroom of Chicago’s Four Seasons hotel.
The event paid homage to the authors, actors and audiences who embraced Founding Artistic Director Michael Halberstam’s risky and revolutionary idea to bring theater to the outskirts of a Midwest city.
Halberstam, reciting a quote by British playwright Tom Stoppard, said: “ ‘I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you might nudge the world a little.’
“I think that sentiment pretty much embodies every reason I have to come back to work every morning,” he added.
To mark the occasion, the Illinois Legislature declared April 21, 2012, Writers’ Day.
President Barack Obama also sent a letter of congratulations.
William Brown and Doug Frew cleverly conceived the night’s performance with a nod to both the Gold Coast hotel and the return of the hit musical “Jersey Boys.”
“Live at the Four Seasons…” took guests through a musical rendition of Writers’ Theatre’s history.
Actors Jameson Cooper, Devin DeSantis, Stephen Schellhard and Jarrod Zimmerman crooned, “It’s too good to be true. Where would we be without you?” and serenaded renowned architect Jeanne Gang, hired by the company to design the troupe’s new facility in downtown Glencoe, with “Jeanne, Baby!”
The quartet also praised the company for its trademark intimacy, joking how audience members sit within spitting distance of actors.
Trustee Christine Pompizzi, who previously chaired the WordPlay gala, said of Writers’ Theatre: “You walk in the door and you just feel good. It’s family.”
Bottom Line: Between a live auction and donations, the annual event raised a record-breaking $650,000 for Writers’ Theatre productions.