Life story: West Dundee actor thrived in local theater community

  • Tessa Dettman

    Tessa Dettman

  • Dundee-Crown graduate Tessa Dettman, right, died on Wednesday of complications from lymphoma.

    Dundee-Crown graduate Tessa Dettman, right, died on Wednesday of complications from lymphoma. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 8/23/2020 12:35 PM

When Tessa Dettman performed as Dorothy in a grade-school production of "The Wizard of Oz," her love of acting shined through.

That shine never faded.


Dettman, 25, died Wednesday of complications from lymphoma, according to her mother, Martha Basile.

Known in the local theater community, the 2013 Dundee-Crown High School graduate and West Dundee resident won an award for her performance as Jo March in Brown Paper Box Company's production of "Little Women" in Chicago.

Basile said her daughter's love of performing on the stage remained strong despite an illness that required numerous hospital visits for lymphoma treatments. Dettman longed to return to the stage as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic allowed it.

"She was looking forward to getting better and getting back out in the theater world," Basile said. "She loved it so much."

After performing in several productions at Dundee-Crown High School, Dettman attended Northwestern University and received a bachelor's degree in theater. She performed in nine theater productions at Northwestern and appeared in three student films.

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In addition to her performance in "Little Women," she appeared in productions of "Lucky: A Musical," "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Proxy" after graduating from Northwestern in 2017.

Dettman is survived by her parents, Basile and Gary Dettman, and numerous relatives from the Basile and Dettman families. There will be a private gathering to celebrate her life.

In lieu of flowers, her parents ask that donations be made to PAWS Chicago.

"My husband and I have always been proud of everything with her," Basile said. "She was good in school, a good person. We supported everything she wanted to do."

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