Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

The Theatre School at DePaul University to honor Two-time Tony nominee and Emmy winner André De Shields, Broadway in Chicago President Lou Raizin, Theatre School alumna Karen Aldridge on Nov. 9

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

The Theatre School at DePaul University (John Culbert, Dean) is presenting The 2015 Awards for Excellence in the Arts gala on Monday, November 9, 2015, in the Atlantic Ballroom of the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. The Radisson Blu is located at 221 North Columbus Drive. The event will begin with a 6 PM cocktail reception, followed by dinner and program at 7 PM, and will conclude with a dessert reception.

The Annual Awards for Excellence in the Arts recognize distinguished artists and visionaries who have proven their dedication, talent, and leadership in support of the arts. All proceeds from the event directly benefit The Theatre School Scholarship Fund, supporting students from all over the nation to train at the school.

The Theatre School will honor André De Shields (Ain’t Misbehavin‘; The WizThe Fully Monty) with the 2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts. Mr. De Shields is currently rehearsing GOTTA DANCE, the new Broadway-bound musical about professional basketball’s first ever aged 60-and-older dance team, which begins performances on December 13, 2015 and runs through January 10, 2016 at Broadway In Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre. Over the summer, he debuted his new work, CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. at Victory Gardens Theater.

Full Cast Announced for GOTTA DANCE starring André De Shields, Lillias White, Georgia Engel, Stefanie Powers, Lori Tan Chinn and More 

Multimedia: CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. Opening Night with André De Shields

The cast of GOTTA DANCE. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The cast of GOTTA DANCE. Photo by Matthew Murphy

In a career spanning forty-six years, De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, choreographer, and educator. He is the recipient of three Jeff Awards, one as Director for Victory Gardens Theater’s 1987 production of The Colored Museum, and two as Featured Performer in a Musical for the Goodman Theatre’s productions of Play On! (1998) and Mary Zimmerman’s The Jungle Book (2013). André’s professional career began at Chicago’s Shubert Theatre in the 1969 production of Hair. From there he moved on to The Me Nobody Knows at the Civic Opera House, and ultimately became a member of The Organic Theatre Company where he created the role of Xander the Unconquerable, Ruler of the Sixth Dimension, in the cult sensation Warp. A multiple Tony Award nominee, De Shields is best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway musicals: The WizAin’t Misbehavin’Play On! and The Full Monty. His numerous accolades include an Emmy Award for the NBC Special based on Ain’t Misbehavin’, the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, the Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, and two Doctor of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the State University of New York-College at Buffalo.

Lou Raizin

Lou Raizin

Lou Raizin (President, Broadway In Chicago) will receive the 2015 Leadership Award for Excellence in the Arts in recognition of extraordinary contributions to arts and cultural institutions in Chicago. Lou Raizin has over 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry. As a founder and the prime force behind Broadway In Chicago, a joint theatrical venture formed in 2000, his leadership propelled the transformation of Chicago from a short-term stop on “the road” to the third most important city in the world for theater. Encompassing the five premier theatre stages in the city, Broadway In Chicago has brought an economic impact of up to over $750 million annually to the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, and supports more than 9,200 local jobs. As Senior Vice President of the Nederlander Organization, one of the world’s leading entertainment companies, Raizin is responsible for the development of new ventures, theatres, and the pursuit of acquisitions in entertainment-related fields domestically and abroad. Raizin’s focus on economic development, tourism, and culture has led to the creation and continued sponsorship of the annual League of Chicago Theater’s Emerging Theater Award and the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Award. Raizin’s stint as Chair of the Chicago Loop Alliance led to the creation of Pop Up Art Loop, comprised of over 14 galleries, and a number of major public art projects in the city. Raizin serves on the Executive Committee of Choose Chicago and chairs the State Street Commission.

Karen Aldridge

Karen Aldridge

Theatre School alumna Karen Aldridge will accept the 2015 Alumni Award for Excellence in the Arts. Karen Aldridge is an accomplished television, film, and theatre actor. She starred in the international tour of Le Costume, a French-language production directed by Peter Brook, immediately after receiving her MFA in Acting from The Theatre School. She originated the role of Mrs. Phelps in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda the Musical on Broadway. She has appeared in The Trinity River Plays (Jeff Award nomination for Best Actress), Proof (Black Theater Alliance Award-Ruby Dee Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play), The Good Negro, and The Cook (Jeff Award nomination for Best Actress), all at the Goodman Theatre. Other Chicago credits include Olivia in Twelfth Night, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Isabella in Edward II, and Princess of France in Love’s Labour’s Lost at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-nominated Man from Nebraska at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where she originated the role of Tamyra. Other notable Chicago roles include Nina in The Seagull at Writers’ Theatre; and Joan in Far Away and Hester in In the Blood (Jeff Award nomination for Best Actress) at Next Theatre Company. Her regional credits include productions with the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theater, Magic Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, and Marin Theatre Company. On television, Karen has appeared in a recurring role as Dr. Kendra on NBC’s Chicago Fire and as Dr. Ella Harris in the Golden Globe-winning series Boss. Other television & film credits include CBS’ Blue Bloods, CBS’ Unforgettable, and Ron Howard’s The Dilemma. Future projects include Baz Luhrmann’s original Netflix series The Get Down and Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Tug of War.

The co-chairs for the 27th Annual Awards for Excellence in the Arts include Joseph M. Antunovich (President, Antunovich Associates); Sondra A. Healy (Chairman, Turtle Wax Inc.); Trisha Rooney (President, R4 Services); and Rev. Monsignor Kenneth Velo (Senior Executive, Office of Catholic Collaboration, DePaul University). Additional supporters of the event include Exelon, Geico, PNC Bank, R4 Services, and Antunovich Associates.

Single tickets can be purchased for $500. For more information and table pricing, please contact DePaul University’s Office of Advancement: (312) 362-8455 or

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Blog, Jade Magazine and

Other articles about André De Shields:
Two-time Tony nominee and Emmy winner André De Shields and Broadway in Chicago President Lou Raizin to be honored at DePaul University theatre gala on Nov. 9
Two-Time Tony nominee André De Shields, Tony Winner Lillias White, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’s Lori Tan Chinn, Stephanie Powers, Georgia Engel & More Will Lead Broadway-Bound Musical GOTTA DANCE in Chicago
Photos and Video: Behind the Scenes with THE WIZ’s André De Shields at The Wiz is 40 at #Summerstage30 
Video: André De Shields sings Smile in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays
Video: André De Shields sings Street Corner Symphony and Mary Mack in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays
Photo and Video Preview: Two-time Tony nominee André De Shields Kicks Off Victory Gardens’ 2015 Ignition Festival of New Plays with CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P
Two-time Tony nominee André De Shields, GREY’S ANATOMY star Sandra Oh, Kimberly Lawson, Donica Lynn, Tony Mhoon, Doug Peck, Robert Reddrick, Anjali Bhimani and More set for 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays at Victory Gardens Theater, July 16-19
Victory Gardens Theater’s IGNITION Festival of New Plays features new works by Two-time Tony nominee André De Shields, Julia Cho, Minita Gandhi, Basil Kreimendahl, José Rivera, Madhuri Shekar and A. Zell Williams, July 16-19 THE GRAND ILLUSION by ANDRÉ DE SHIELDS in FOX FELLOWSHIPS
Conversations with the Divine with Owais Ahmed, Baize Buzan, Kathryn Cesarz, Kamal Hans, Brian Grey, Donica Lynn, Patrese McClain and Miranda Zola at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater
Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards
Click here for more articles on André De Shields.

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