OFFBEAT: League of Chicago Theatres celebrates 175 years of Windy City stage greats

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-05-20T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: League of Chicago Theatres celebrates 175 years of Windy City stage greatsBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Deb Clapp, executive director of the League of Chicago Theatres, can vividly remember her first "big stage performance" experience as a young audience member.

"I was around 10 years old and grew up near Hartford, Connecticut," she said.

"My mom was a volunteer usher at a theater and she took me along one afternoon when Marlo Thomas was starring in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.' It's not exactly what you'd expect a 10-year-old to a see. But I caught a glimpse and it was real first taste of the world of theater."

Clapp is referring to the 1992 run of the Edward Albee play as a revival at the Hartford Stage Company, with Thomas in the title role and actor Robert Foxworth playing her long-suffering husband.

Tonight, Clapp and a crowded ballroom will share memories, stage stories and honor Chicago greats at the The League of Chicago Theatres 2013 Gala in the Grand Ballroom at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile. This year, the League is celebrating Chicago's "jubilee dodransbicentennial."

The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theaters which leverages its collective strength to promote, support and advocate for Chicago's theater industry locally, nationally and internationally, with its Foundation dedicated to enhancing the art of theater in the Chicago area through audience development and support services for theaters and theater professionals.

Clapp, who has been in her role with the organization for five years, is especially excited about tonight's special honorees.

The League of Chicago Theatres announced last month 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, Ill. is the recipient of the 2013 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theater Award and will receive a $5,000 award, consultation with Broadway In Chicago staff members, and a marketing package that includes advertising support.

The 16th Street Theater was selected by a majority vote of their peers aka the member companies of the League of Chicago Theatres.

In addition to the Emerging Theater Award, the League will honor Jeff Perry as the recipient of the 2013 Tribute Award. Writers' Theatre's Artistic Director Michael Halberstam will receive the 2013 Artistic Leadership Award an The Jeff Committee, now celebrating its 45th Anniversary, will receive the first-ever Theatre Advocacy Award.

The chair of the 2013 Gala is League of Chicago Theatres board is Diana Martinez, president of DLM Entertainment Consulting.

For more information about the League of Chicago Theatres visit or call (312) 554-9800.

Chicagoland boasts more than 250 professional theaters and consists of a rich and varied acting community ranging from storefront, non-union theaters to renowned resident theaters in the country, including five which have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago's theaters serve five million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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