Steppenwolf Theatre Company celebrates 48 years with an annual gala

Sun. May 12, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosted an impressive gala on May 11 at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 West 35th Street. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. guests were treated to an experience to highlight the 48 years of entertainment from the iconic troupe.

A steampunk aesthetic greeted ticket holders as they entered the establishment at the step and repeat in the front vestibule. Then a short ride on a large freight elevator carried them to the next floor underneath hanging pocket watches and a chandelier. “One, two, three, one, two, three, drink” from the Sia track summed up the cocktail hour and appetizers were passed by the bustling staff. An open bar had the black tie and evening gown attendees reveling in the upscale environment with dynamic, wraparound views of the city.

The staff guided the guests to their tables that surrounded a small stage in the middle of the next room. The salad course was set and a video of Steppenwolf founder Gary Sinise played with a message that he was unable to attend. Announcements were made and the ensemble members that were present were recognized onstage.

Cast members from the current production of Purpose were on hand to promote the project and anticipation increased for Steppenwolf ensemble member Laurie Metcalf's return production of Little Bear Ridge Road beginning June 13.

Education was also highlighted at the fundraiser in the success story of performer Brandon Rivera handling the accolades with grace and humbleness. Brandon was originally among the many teens who learned early on thanks to Steppenwolf's educational programs that led to performing onstage in the iconic venue.

Raising money to fuel important programming to educate and entertain others is vital and no one holds a live auction quite like the Steppenwolf does. Distinctive titles for each package were centered around the New York City theater scene with celebrities donating their time and energy.

Private dinners, exclusive tours and tickets to upcoming shows were wove through the prizes to be bid upon by raising a paddle in the form of a sheet of paper. Among the items up for grabs were a portrait session from photographer Sandro Miller, an intimate dinner in the backyard of Chef Rick Bayless and a private tour by ensemble member Kate Arrington of The Schubert Archive. The amounts rose to atmospheric amounts as cheers from the crowd ensued.

Dinner and dessert were served then dancing commenced in a separate room with tunes from DJ Rae Chardonnay.

A long list of sponsors included Northern Trust, Allstate and Sterling Bay, among many others. The fundraising committee accomplished its mission by raising $1.58 million dollars when all was said and done. The theater troupe has come a long way since they first began performing in a church basement in Highland Park, Illinois. Steppenwolf now operates as a not-for-profit organization where these necessary funds will make all the difference in the world of creating art.

For a complete calendar of production work and ticket options surrounding the current shows please visit