Jeff Committee recognizes enduring theaters, including Drury Lane, with special award
Drury Lane Theatre, a suburban mainstay for nearly 80 years (the last 34 in Oakbrook Terrace, the first 45 in Evergreen Park), is among four Chicago-area theaters that will be recognized for their longevity and their contributions during the 50th annual equity Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremony Monday, Oct. 22.
Speaking on behalf of the DeSantis family, Drury Lane employees and artists, artistic director William Osetek expressed appreciation to Jeff committee members, adding that recognition for Drury Lane's late founder and patriarch, theatrical impresario Tony DeSantis, was especially gratifying.
"It will always feel strange to be commended for doing what you love to do," he said, pointing out they all follow in the footsteps of DeSantis, who made his intentions clear when he founded the family-run business.
His main objective "was to create amazing entertainment and escapism," Osetek said.
That remains Drury Lane's mission: to do great shows, he said.
Other honorees include the 93-year-old Goodman Theatre, one of the world's leading theater companies and the recipient of 22 Tony Awards; Court Theatre, founded in 1955 as a summer drama festival at the University of Chicago and transformed under the late professor Nicholas Rudall into a regional powerhouse; and The Second City. Rooted in the teachings of Viola Spolin, the mother of improvisational theater, Second City was founded in 1959. In the ensuing 59 years, Second City emerged as the nation's pre-eminent sketch comedy and improv company and training ground, launching the careers of such artists as Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Fred Willard, Martin Short, Tina Fey and Jeff Garland, among others.
Representing 294 years of theater, the four honorees collectively have received more than 1,400 Jeff nominations and 350 Jeff Awards. The awards were established in 1968 to recognize excellence in equity and non-equity (nonunion) Chicago-area theater. The ceremony takes place Monday, Oct. 22, at Drury Lane, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. Tickets are available at jeffawards.org.