Photograph by Jon Cancelino
This summer, Ravinia Festival will celebrate the 80th birthday of renowned American composer Stephen Sondheim during the 2010 Gala Benefit evening. The event, which begins at 5 p.m. on July 31, includes dinner and a musical performance of Sondheim’s most sensational songs. The highly anticipated concert will feature the Tony Award-winning vocal talents of Patti LuPone, George Hearn, Audra McDonald, and Michael Cerveris, all of whom are returning to the Ravinia stage for the occasion. Guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvres and cocktails on the lawn prior to the concert. Following the performance, they will indulge in a delicious three-course dinner in a tent on the lawn, where they can mingle with the star vocalists.
Ravinia’s Sondheim programming, which began in 2001 and included performances from Sondheim’s West Side Story, will culminate with this year’s celebration. Gala co-chairs Susan Elliott and Marcie Stein of the Ravinia Women’s Board look forward to the opportunity to honor the greatly admired and respected composer. “It is so exciting to have Stephen Sondheim at Ravinia,” Marcie says. “He’s a major name and a major force in American musical theater.”
Proceeds from the evening will benefit the not-for-profit Ravinia Festival and primarily support its REACH*TEACH*PLAY programs, the newest of which, the REACH Orchestra, was started in January 2010 by the Ravinia Women’s Board. The initiative formed an after-school orchestra program of 72 inner-city children, who were each given an instrument of their choice. With efforts under way to form a second orchestra, the Gala Benefit will provide the ideal opportunity to support a celebrated and treasured community organization. “You won’t find too many people, either who have grown up here or who have lived here recently, who don’t have a good Ravinia experience,” Susan says. “Ravinia engenders very fond feelings for people, and the Gala Benefit is just one piece of that.”