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Apr 06, 1999

The Theatre School, DePaul University, Announces 11th Annual Awards For Excellence In The Arts Gala On May 7

CHICAGO, Ill. — Theoni V. Aldredge, Tom Aldredge, Blythe Danner, Ann Dowd, Scott Ellis, Vincent Guastaferro, John Mahoney and Louis Zorich will receive the prestigious Theatre School Award for Excellence in the Arts at the 11th Annual  DePaul Theatre School Awards Gala, it was announced at Circus Nightclub today. Alumnus Joe Mantegna will host the awards presentation on Friday, May 7, 1999.

McDonald’s Corporation will receive the 1999 Corporate Award for Excellence in the Arts. The award is given in recognition of the company’s outstanding charitable support of arts organizations and children’s causes around the world. Jack M. Greenberg, President and CEO of McDonald’s Corporation, will attend the Gala to accept the award.

"It is our great privilege to induct another extraordinary group of honorees into that list of 58 artists who have received this award during the past 10 years," says John Ransford Watts, dean of The Theatre School. "We are especially pleased to recognize the work of these recipients at one of the most spectacular parties of the Chicago season. It promises to be an evening of elegance, fun and surprises."

The Theatre School Awards Gala begins with a 6 p.m. reception at DePaul's Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo Drive, Chicago. The on-stage presentation of the Awards for Excellence in the Arts begins at 7 p.m. A cocktail reception, dinner and dancing to the music of the Stanley Paul Orchestra begin at 8:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago and Towers, 720 S. Michigan Ave. The evening will include a raffle and silent auction. The ticket price for the black-tie benefit is $250 per person. To arrange reservations, call (312) 362-8253.

Since 1989, the Awards Gala has raised more than $1 million for The Theatre School Scholarship Fund and for Chicago Playworks (founded as the Goodman Children’s Theatre in 1925), the city's oldest continuously operating theatre for young people. The Theatre School Scholarship Fund dispenses more than $450,000 in financial aid to students in the school’s conservatory theatre training program each year.

Edward A. Brennan, chairman of the DePaul University Board of Trustees, and Alan G. McNally, chairman and CEO of Harris Trust and Savings Bank, are Gala Co-Chairmen. Sondra A. Healy, chairman of Turtle Wax, Inc., heads the Awards Gala Committee that is instrumental in the planning of the annual event. Merle Reskin is Honorary Chairman of the Gala.

"The Theatre School is a nationally renowned conservatory for young theatre artists, and the Gala is an opportunity to showcase and support these talented students in all aspects of their theatre craft," Mrs. Healy says. "As we celebrate DePaul University’s Centennial and 20 years of The Theatre School as part of this great university, those who attend will see first-hand the interaction between students and stars and feel directly how their support of the school's scholarship program can impact students' lives."

Major supporters of the 11th Annual Awards Gala include American Airlines, Circus Nightclub, Hilton Chicago and Towers, McDonald's Corporation, Thiessen Printing Corporation, Turtle Wax, Inc., and Waterford/Wedgwood USA. Lord Piers Wedgwood and Waterford/Wedgwood USA will again donate the presentation pieces to be awarded. American Airlines, Hilton Chicago and Towers and Waterford/Wedgwood USA have sponsored the Gala since the event was created by Dean Watts in 1989.

Members of the 1999 Gala Planning Committee are: Marlys Beider, Elizabeth Bertucci, Carole Cirignani, Joan Dry, Evelyn Echols, Loretta Foxgrover, Rev. Joe Geders, C.M., Doris Giovannini, Bobbie Goldblatt, Linda Goodman, Sondra A. Healy, Mary Hechinger, Patricia Hurley, John Iltis, Bella Itkin, Gloria Jones, Frederic S. Lane, Len Lechniak, Tootie LePetit, Lollie McKeon, Jane Ellen Murray, Alice O’Neill Licht, Beverly Persky, Vonita Reescer, Merle Reskin, Arlene Shattil and Jill Stewart.

Since 1989, 58 distinguished artists have been recipients of The Theatre School's Award for Excellence in the Arts. They are: F. Murray Abraham, Don Ameche, Gillian Anderson, Kevin Anderson, Ed Asner, Martin Balsam, Dixie Carter, Richard Christiansen, Melinda Dillon, Fred Ebb, Dennis Farina, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Franz, William Friedkin, John Guare, Richard Gilliland, Irma P. Hall, Julie Harris, Katherine Helmond, Marilu Henner, Gregory Hines, Hal Holbrook, Celeste Holm, Linda Hunt, Anne Jackson, James Earl Jones, John Kander, Harvey Korman, Martin Landau, Sherry Lansing, Ray Liotta, Patti LuPone, Michael Maggio, Karl Malden, Joe Mantegna, Marlee Matlin, Mercedes McCambridge, Rita Moreno, Lois Nettleton, Edward James Olmos, Estelle Parsons, Maria Tallchief Paschen, Elizabeth Perkins, William Petersen, Amy Pietz, Lloyd Richards, Jean Smart, Steve Smith, Meshach Taylor, Regina Taylor, Daniel J. Travanti, Eli Wallach, William Warfield, Wendy Wasserstein, George Wendt, Alfre Woodard, Jane Wyman and Larry Yando. In 1998, American Airlines received the first-ever Corporate Award for Excellence in the Arts.

McDonald’s Corporation and Ronald McDonald House Charities both have a long history
of supporting the arts and other children’s initiatives worldwide. In Chicago, giving has ranged from supporting organizations such as the Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to organizations such as the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, which focuses on exposing at-risk children to the arts. Many other local organizations serving children, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, have received support from McDonald’s. In addition, both McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) address serious issues facing children today. Recently, RMHC awarded a total of

$2 million to two organizations — Interplast and Operation Smile — to fund its first global initiative providing re-constructive surgeries for children in developing countries around the world. As part of their overall support of RMHC, McDonald’s restaurants in 28 countries are supplementing that effort by providing meals and translators to the volunteer medical teams who conduct the surgeries, and clothing, food and additional funding to the children benefiting from the program.

The eight recipients of the Award for Excellence in the Arts include six alumni of the School.

Costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge, an alumna of the School, has amassed an extraordinary body of work during her nearly 50-year career. She received a 1975 Academy Award for her costume design of The Great Gatsby and has been nominated for 14 Tony Awards, receiving the prize three times for Annie (1977), Barnum (1979) and La Cage aux Folles (1984). She received a 1975 Theatre World Award for the Broadway production of A Chorus Line. Her other Broadway credits include Dream Girls, Woman of the Year, 42nd Street, Private Lives, Blithe Spirit and Chess, among many others. Her extraordinary list of feature film credits includes Network, The Champ, The Rose, Annie, Ghostbusters, Moonstruck, Eyes of Laura Mars, Stanley and Iris, Mrs. Winterbourne, The Mirror Has Two Faces and The First Wives Club. Ms. Aldredge has been the head costume designer for the New York Shakespeare Festival since 1962. She is the recipient of the Village Voice Obie Award for Distinguished Service to
off-Broadway Theatre, a Maharam Award for Peer Gynt, the New York City Liberty Medal, numerous Drama Desk and Critic awards, and has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.

Alumnus Tom Aldredge has enjoyed an award-winning 40-year career in a myriad of leading and featured roles on and off-Broadway and in regional theatre, television and films. He premiered on Broadway in the 1959 jazz musical The Nervous Set. Other Broadway credits include The Iceman Cometh, On Golden Pond, Into the Woods, Inherit the Wind and 1776, among many others. He received a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award nomination for Sticks and Bones and subsequent Tony Award nominations for Where’s Charlie?, The Little Foxes with Elizabeth Taylor, and Stephen Sondheim’s Passion. Mr. Aldredge has portrayed a wide range of Shakespearean and contemporary roles for the New York and Connecticut Shakespeare Festivals. He received Obie Awards for his work in The Premise, Stock Up on Pepper ‘Cause Turkey’s Going to War and Measure for Measure, and a Drama Desk Award nomination as Ezra Pound in Incommunicado. Scores of television credits include Camino Real, The ThreePenny Opera, O! Pioneers, Barbarians at the Gate and John Frankenheimer’s Andersonville. He received an Emmy Award for his performance as William Shakespeare in the CBS special Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare. Mr. Aldredge’s many feature film credits include The Rain People, The Adventures of Huck Finn, Rounders, Message in a Bottle and the upcoming Earthly Possessions. Tom and Theoni V. Aldredge met at the Goodman School of Drama and have been married for 47 years.

Stage and screen actress Blythe Danner received a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in Butterflies Are Free and subsequent Tony Award nominations for her performances as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire and as Emma in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. Her other numerous stage credits include Blithe Spirit with Geraldine Page on Broadway; The Philadelphia Story and The Miser (for which she received a Theatre World Award) at Lincoln Center; Sylvia at the Manhattan Theatre Club; Moonlight and The Deep Blue Sea at Roundabout Theatre; and Beatrice to Kevin Kline’s Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the New York Shakespeare Festival. She has been a member of the Williamstown Theatre Festival for some 25 years. Her film work includes 1776, The Great Santin, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, Alice, Homage, The Prince of Tides and the upcoming Love Letter from Dreamworks. Also upcoming is The Farmhouse to be seen on the Sundance Channel. She received Cable Ace Award nominations for HBO’s Judgement and the soon to be released Lifetime A Call To Remember with Joe Mantegna. Other numerous television credits include the series Adam’s Rib, Too Far to Go, M.A.S.H., The Sea Gull, Candida and Tennessee Williams’ Eccentricities of a Nightingale.

Ann Dowd, a 1982 graduate of The Theatre School, received critical acclaim playing "Sister Maureen" on the ABC drama Nothing Sacred last season. An accomplished actor in film, television and theatre, she appeared on Broadway in Taking Sides and received the 1993 Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Broadway Debut for her role in Candida. She has numerous other stage credits, including The Glass Menagerie, The Normal Heart and several productions at Chicago’s Court Theatre. She was the recipient of the 1987 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Supporting Actress and Jefferson Citations for Outstanding Performance in both 1983 and 1984. In addition to Nothing Sacred, Ms. Dowd has guest-starred in such television series as Law & Order and Molly Dodd and has been featured in several television movies and miniseries, including North and South, First Steps and Babysitter's Club. Her feature film credits include Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia, George Miller's Lorenzo's Oil, Andrew Bergman's It Could Happen To You, Peter Weir's Green Card, and Shiloh with Rod Steiger.

Director Scott Ellis, a graduate of the class of 1978, has garnered great critical acclaim during a distinguished career in New York City and abroad. He directed the Broadway productions of 1776, receiving Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Tony Award nominations for Best Director and Best Revival; Steel Pier, receiving Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Tony Award nominations for Best Director and Best Musical; Company, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Revival; She Loves Me, receiving Drama Desk and Tony Award nominations for Best Director and Best Revival; Picnic, receiving an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination as Best Director; and A Month in the Country starring Helen Mirren. He received an Olivier Award for Best Director for She Loves Me on London’s West End. Mr. Ellis’ off-Broadway credits include Dark Rapture with Scott Glenn and Marisa Tomei at Second Stage Theatre and The World Goes ‘Round: The Music of Kander and Ebb, for which he received Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for Best Director and Best Musical Revue. He directed A Little Night Music at the New York City Opera, receiving a Drama Desk Award for Best Director. He also directed David Rabe’s new play Corners and Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and was the director and co-conceiver of "Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall" and "The Leading Ladies of Broadway" for PBS’ Great Performances, among other projects. Currently, he is directing That Championship Season at Second Stage Theatre. Mr. Ellis is also an artistic adviser for the Niederlander Organization and the Associate Artistic Director of the Roundabout Theatre.

Vincent Guastaferro received his graduate degree from the School in 1976 and since then has collected an impressive list of credits as a professional actor. He started in Chicago during the burgeoning theatre scene of the late 1970s and won Joseph Jefferson Citations for his performances in Cowboy Mouth and P.S., Your Cat is Dead. Other Chicago credits include the title role in Scapino (the Theatre Building’s inaugural production), Bernie in Sexual Perversity in Chicago and The Turn of the Worm at Drury Lane South opposite Kaye Ballard and Vera Miles. He appeared in Bleacher Bums at the Organic Theatre and later moved to Los Angeles to re-open the play, receiving a Drama Logue Award for his performance. Other L.A. theatre credits include Detective Story, No Place to Be Somebody and Creeps, for which he won another Drama Logue Award. Mr. Guastaferro’s numerous feature film credits include State of Grace, Next of Kin, Nothing in Common and the recent independent feature directed by Stuart Gordon, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. He appeared in several of David Mamet’s films, including Things Change, The Water Engine and Homicide, and recently completed a successful seven-month run on Broadway in Mr. Mamet’s The Old Neighborhood opposite Peter Riegert and Patti LuPone. He has guest-starred on numerous television programs, from Lou Grant to the current hit Becker; appeared in recurring roles on several series, including Brooklyn South and NYPD Blue; and been featured in several mini-series, including In A Child’s Name, Sinatra and Nitti, in which he portrayed Al Capone. Mr. Guastaferro’s recent projects include a recurring role on Lifetime’s Any Day Now, Woody Allen’s upcoming fall project and the feature film Liberty Heights, directed by Barry Levinson.

John Mahoney received a 1986 Tony Award, a Clarence Derwent Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance in The House of Blue Leaves and has been nominated for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for his role on NBC’s hit sitcom Frasier. After pursuing a variety of other careers, Mr. Mahoney enrolled in classes at Chicago’s St. Nicholas Theater at age 37, where he performed opposite John Malkovich and was subsequently invited to become a part of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble. He has appeared in more than 30 Steppenwolf productions, including Orphans and the recent The Man Who Came to Dinner, a role he reprised in July at London’s Barbican Center. Other theatre credits include the off-Broadway production of Orphans, for which he received a Theatre World Award and a second Drama Desk Award nomination. Mr. Mahoney’s impressive list of film credits include The American President, Primal Fear, Barton Fink, Suspect, Eight Men Out, Say Anything, The Hudsucker Proxy, In the Line of Fire and Moonstruck. On television he has starred on several series, in

the mini-series Favorite Son and in the TV movies Dinner at Eight and David Mamet’s The Water Engine. He received the Chicago Film Critics Association’s 1998 Commitment to Chicago Award.

Alumnus Louis Zorich received a Tony Award nomination for Hadrian VII and a Drama Desk Award nomination for They Knew What They Wanted. His numerous theatre credits include Broadway productions of She Loves Me, The Marriage of Figraro and Arms and the Man. Also on Broadway, he appeared in Death of a Salesman starring Dustin Hoffman, which he later performed on the stage of the Blackstone (now Merle Reskin) Theatre in Chicago and in the television production. On television, he currently appears on the NBC sitcom Mad About You, was a regular on the critically acclaimed Brooklyn Bridge and guest-starred on such programs as Remember WENN, Spenser: For Hire and Law & Order. Mr. Zorich’s many feature film credits include Commandments, City of Hope, Bloodhounds of Broadway, Fiddler on the Roof and The Muppets Take Manhattan. While appearing off-Broadway in The Opening of a Window, Mr. Zorich met actress Olympia Dukakis. The two have been married for 35 years and together they co-founded the Whole Theater in Montclair, New Jersey.

Master of Ceremonies and alumnus Joe Mantegna holds an Honorary Doctorate from DePaul University and was awarded The Theatre School's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1989. He is the recipient of Tony and Joseph Jefferson Awards for his performance in Glengarry Glen Ross and is featured in the films Bugsy, Alice, Godfather III, House of Games, Things Change (for which he received the Best Actor Award at the 1988 Venice Film Festival), Searching for Bobby Fischer, Forget Paris, Eye for an Eye, Up Close and Personal, Albino Alligator and Celebrity, among others. As a playwright, he was awarded an Emmy for Bleacher Bums and received New York's 1984 Drama Desk Award. Television appearances include the CBS mini-series The Last Don and HBO’s original feature The Rat Pack, both of which earned him Emmy Award nominations; the HBO feature films State of Emergency, Above Suspicion and Comrades of Summer; and David Mamet's The Water Engine. Mr. Mantegna is the narrator of the Academy Award-nominated documentary films Crack USA: County Under Siege and Death on the Job. He executive produced and starred in the film Jerry and Tom and recently completed starring roles in the independent features The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, Error in Judgment, Boy Meets Girl, Body and Soul and The Runner. He was recently honored by the Chicago Film Critics Association with their Commitment to Chicago Award.