Steppenwolf Theatre Company celebrates 42 seasons of innovative ensemble theatre with an evening of celebration emceed by actor Rainn Wilson, who will be starring 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, 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 Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642, 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. Actor Rainn Wilson (The Doppelgänger (an international farce), NBC’s The Office) will emcee this special evening, which will include a live auction led by Chris Rock (The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Netflix’s Tamborine) as guest auctioneer, alongside Christie’s Robbie Gordy, and feature 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.”
Gala sponsors are Allstate, The Bluhm Family Foundation, Exelon, Greenberg Traurig, Grosvenor Capital Management, The Harris Family Foundation - Caryn & King Harris, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, PwC and Official and Exclusive Airline Partner, United.
Rainn Wilson is an Emmy nominated and SAG award-winning actor with Chicagoland roots (he graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill.) 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. Most recently he starred in The Boy, which premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival; Permanent, opposite Patricia Arquette. Next up, Wilson co-stars in Warner Bros adventure feature The Meg, opposite Jason Statham.
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. Most recently, he made a splash in the new season of Star Trek as conman “Harry Mudd,” and is in the upcoming second season HBO Duplass series Room 104.
Wilson has an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, and spent ten years doing theatre in New York before moving to Los Angeles. He was on Broadway in The Tempest with Patrick Stewart, and the Tony nominated London Assurance. Wilson worked off-Broadway at The Public Theater and Playwrights Horizons, and performed regularly at The Arena Stage, The Guthrie, and with the touring repertory theater The Acting Company. The comedy show he created, The New Bozena, had a successful off-Broadway run at The Cherry Lane, and later played in Los Angeles at The Hudson Guild and The Tiffany. Most recently, Wilson performed the critically acclaimed one-person monologue Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) at The Geffen, the filmed adaptation of which is streaming on BroadwayHD.
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.”
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 9 years which resulted in his first of two Netflix standup specials, Tamborine. Tamborine 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 2 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. In 2014 he led the ensemble cast of Top Five, a critically acclaimed comedy feature that he also wrote and directed. In 2009 Rock ventured into the documentary world as a writer and producer of Good Hair, and in 2014 he executive produced Eat Drink Laugh: The Story of the Comic Strip, a documentary recounting the history of one of New York’s most famous comedy venues. His feature acting credits include the Grown Ups and Madagascar franchises, Head of State, Nurse Betty, CB4, Death at a Funeral, I Think I Love My Wife, 2 Days in New York, Dogma and New Jack City.
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.
Rock has won four Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards and is a New York Times Best-Selling Author. In addition, he received two nominations for the 2016 Emmy Awards, for Outstanding Director for a Variety Special for Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, and Outstanding Special Class Program for the 88th Annual Academy Awards.
Single tickets starting at $1,000 and tables for Gala 2018 are currently available by contacting Steppenwolf’s Special Events Department at 312-654-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Event 2018 Gala
Date Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 6:30pm
Address 1340 N. Cherry Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642
Highlights Actor Rainn Wilson will emcee
Cocktail reception and seated dinner with the Steppenwolf
Exciting live auction, with Chris Rock as guest auctioneer,
featuring once-in-a lifetime adventures
Live band and dancing followed by a late-night DJ and after-hours
Tickets To purchase tickets, contact Steppenwolf’s Special Events
Department at 312-654-5632 or
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programming includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.