Diane Van Lente, Chicago Theatre Leader, Dies at 57

Obituaries   Diane Van Lente, Chicago Theatre Leader, Dies at 57 Diane Van Lente, executive producer of the Drury Lane Theatres in Chicago, died Aug.13 at age 57. The cause was ovarian cancer. Her death came only ten weeks after that of her father, Tony De Santis, who founded the Drury Lane empire of theatres.

Ms. Van Lente was raised in her father's theatres (they lived above one of them), working backstage beginning at the age of nine. She eventually rose to the position of executive producer, a job she had held for the last quarter century. She was known by friends and family as "Chi Chi," a nickname Mr. De Santis gave her when she was a child. The Drury Lane theatre chain, which once canvassed the Chicago area, still includes the 971-seat Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace and the 549-seat Drury Lane Water Tower Place, which opened in 2005. Fare typically includes crowd-pleasing musicals — a genre she and her father favored — anchored by faded or rising film and television stars.

Her 1975 marriage to Robert Van Lente ended in divorce. She is survived by two sons, Jason and Thomas Van Lente, her mother, Lucille, nieces and nephews Kyle, Abby and Drew De Santis, as well as aunt and uncle Dante and Kay DeSantis. A funeral mass will be said Aug. 17 at 10 AM at Holy Name Cathedral, 730 N. Wabash, Chicago, with visitation with the family at Holy Name from 9-10 AM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the American Cancer Society, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, 1801 S. Meyers Rd., Oak Brook Terrace, IL 60181.