Come to the Steppenwolf Theatre Company's Gala 2000 benefit with enough money, and you may leave with an invitation to dine with John Malkovich, Gary Sinise or Frank Galati.
The April 15 event (tickets $1,000-$25,000), proceeds from which benefit Steppenwolf, begins with a cocktail reception followed by a 6 PM performance of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dale Wasserman's stage adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel. Post-show activities include a formal dinner with the play's stars, dancing and a Sara Lee dessert buffet.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the evening, however, is the Gala live auction. Among the items on the block are dinners with director Frank Galati and actors Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. Twenty lucky bidders will win the right to visit Galati's Chicago home, where the Tony-winning helmsman will cook them a meal and share backstage stories.
A little fancier is Sinise's offer. No chef, Sinise will instead host a dinner for 20 at Steppenwolf board members Donna LaPietra and Bill Kurtis' Mettawa home. Charlie Trotter, of the renowned Charlie Trotter's restaurant, will prepare the food.
Tonier still is Malkovich's plan. Only eight people will be allowed at the gourmet dinner at his home, which happens to be in Provence, France. Airline tickets and hotel lodging are including in the auction price. For information on the gala, call (312) 335-1888.
Over the past decade, as such Steppenwolfers as Gary Sinise, Laurie Metcalf and John Mahoney have grown more and more famous, the average production at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company has contained precious few of the theatre's ensemble members.
Breaking that tradition is the troupe's upcoming stage version of Ken Kesey's novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” written by Dale Wasserman. As previously announced, Gary Sinise will star as McMurphy in the mental hospital drama, and Amy Morton as Nurse Ratched. (Both are members of the theatre, Sinise a founder). Now, joining the cast are K. Todd Freeman, Mariann Mayberry, and Rick Snyder. Terry Kinney directs, making for a total of a half dozen Steppenwolf ensemble members returning to the Nest.
The show will play April 6-June 18, officially opening April 16. Rounding out the cast are Sarah Chariper, Stephanie Childers, Jennifer Engstrom, Eric Johner, Leonard Kraft, Misha Kuznetsov, Ross Lehman, Bill Noble, Ron O.J. Parson, Tim Sampson, Warren Schueneman, Christian Stolte, Greg Vinkler, Danton Stone, Afram Bill Williams and John Watson, Sr.
Kinney, also a founder of the Chicago theatre, has previously directed A Streetcar Named Desire, A Clockwork Orange and ...And a Nightingale Sang. As an actor, he has starred in The Grapes of Wrath and Buried Child, both on Broadway.
Sinise directed the production of Buried Child in which Kinney starred, and acted opposite him in Grapes of Wrath as Tom Joad. In films, Sinise is currently represented in "Mission to Mars" and "Reindeer Games."
Morton was seen on the New York stage recently in Tina Landau's Space at the Public Theater. At Steppenwolf, her credits include Three Days of Rain and The Berlin Circle, and, as director, Mizlansky/Zilinsky.
Snyder played Gene in Steppenwolf's recent staging of Side Man and Scrooge in the Goodman Theatre mounting of A Christmas Carol. Mayberry was seen in Hysteria and The Berlin Circle, both at Steppenwolf. Freeman, meanwhile, is best known for playing the title role in the Steppenwolf, and then Broadway, productions of The Song of Jacob Zulu.
The show will be presented at Steppenwolf by arrangement with Michael Leavitt and Fox Theatricals. From Chicago, it will travel to the BITE:00 Festival at the Barbican Centre in London. As for a possible transfer to Broadway in the 2000-01 season, a production spokesperson last year told PBOL, "It's our hope that will happen; Fox Theatricals owns the New York rights, and that's why we're with them."
--By Robert Simonson