Video Sneak Peek: Sarah Siddons Society of Chicago Benefit Awards Show Honoring Tony, Grammy and Emmy Winning HADESTOWN Star André De Shields; Ceremony Will Be Live-streamed on Nov. 28

The Sarah Siddons Society of Chicago just released a video sneak peek of their 2021 Sarah Siddons Society Actor of the Year Award Benefit honoring Tony, Grammy and Emmy Winning HADESTOWN Star André De Shields. Sarah Siddons Society’s Board President Martin Balogh presented André with the 2021 Sarah Siddons Society Actor of the Year Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Theatre at The Edge Theater on October 25 at The Edge Theater in Chicago. The presentation, which included performances and a conversation with André, was taped before an intimate live socially distanced audience and will be live-streamed on Sunday, November 28 at 5pm CST/6pm EST. There is a suggested donation starting at just $15. All proceeds benefit theater arts student scholarships at four Chicago area universities. Register here http://sarahsiddonssociety.org/event…/2021/virtual-benefit

Below is the sneak peek and my full coverage of the night.

André was resplendent in a reversible sequin silver and black tuxedo jacket with black satin peak lapels, red pocket square, black dress shirt, black and silver striped vest, black trousers with a silver pinstripe, and silver boots.

Allen Gilmore, Lia Chang and André De Shields. Photo by Scott Gryder

André had a chance to meet the performers, Sarah Siddons Society Board Members and Sponsors and the 2021 Sarah Siddons Society Scholarship recipients during the group photos before the program began.

The Edge Theater in Chicago. Photo by Lia Chang
2021 Sarah Siddons Society Actor of the Year Award recipient André De Shields with David Fiorello (Musical Director/Piano), Kelan M. Smith (Guitar & Banjo), Vocalist Juwon Tyrel Perry, Justin Akira Kono (Drums) Vocalist Darilyn Burtley, Jackson Kidder (Bass) Vocalist Melanie Loren, Greg Strauss (Trumpet), Vocalist Gabriel Mudd and Kimberly Lawson (Violin). Photo by Lia Chang
2021 Sarah Siddons Society Actor of the Year Award recipient André De Shields with Sarah Siddons Society Board of Directors and Siddons Artistic Council (L to R back row) Brian Shaw, Donterrio Johnson, Martin Balogh, Carl Stimson, Ray Frewen, Daryl Brooks, Daniel Bender. (L to R front row) Francine Pepitone, Michelle Cucchiaro, Marc Kaufman, Denise McGowan Tracy, Jason Beck. Photo by Lia Chang
2021 Sarah Siddons Society Actor of the Year Award recipient André De Shields with Scholarship recipients (From L to R) Montana Lavallee, Paul Danowski, Savannah Youngblood, Nathe Rowbotham, Nataki Rennie, Nealie Tinlin, Camryn Schepps, Jerod Turner. Photo by Lia Chang
Allen Gilmore, André De Shields and Dennis Začek. Photo by Lia Chang

Sarah Siddons Society’s Board President Martin Balogh presented André with the 2021 Sarah Siddons Society Actor of the Year Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Theatre.

Chicago Roots

It was a full circle moment for André who began his professional career in the 1969 Chicago production of HAIR at the Shubert Theatre, which lead to a role in The Me Nobody Knows at Civic Stage.

Chicago Tribe. Left to Right: Carol Ruth, Valerie Williams, Chuck McKinney, Stan Shaw, and André De Shields in Hair. Photo courtesy of Ebony Magazine
Chicago Tribe. Left to Right: Carol Ruth, Valerie Williams, Chuck McKinney, Stan Shaw, and André De Shields in HAIR. Photo courtesy of Ebony Magazine

André won his 1st Jeff Award in 1987 for Best Director for The Colored Museum at Victory Gardens Theater, and was the choreographer for Bette Midler and the Harlettes at The Happy Medium.

André De Shields in CAMINO REAL at The Goodman in 2012. Photo by Liz Lauren

He appeared at The Goodman in productions of Play On! for which he received his 2nd Jeff Award and a Black Theater Alliance Award; Waiting for Godot; Camino Real; and the world premiere of Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a co-production of the Goodman Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company.

Anjali Bhimani, André De Shields, NIkka Graff Lanzarone, Monique Haley, Geoff Packard, Akash Chopra, Ed Kross and Govind Kumar in The Jungle Book at The Goodman Theatre in 2013. Photo by Lia Chang
The Jungle Book’s Jeff Award winners Doug Peck (musical direction) and André De Shields at the Drury Lane Oakbrook, Oakbrook Terrace, Il, on November 4, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

He collected his 3rd Jeff Award (Outstanding Achievement in the category of Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical) for his role as King Louie in The Jungle Book in 2013. He also garnered an Elliot Norton Awards nomination for Outstanding Musical Performance by an Actor and an IRNE Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor – Musical.

André De Shields and Linda Kimbrough in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at Victory Gardens Theater in 2011. Photo by Liz Lauren

Other Chicago credits include Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at Victory Gardens Theater; Poe and Warp! at Organic Theatre Company and the pre-Broadway World Premiere of Gotta Dance at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre in 2015.

André De Shields as Xander the Unconquerable, Ruler of the Sixth Dimension in Organic Theater’s production of Warp! in 1973. Photo by Richard Wheeler
André De Shields and Georgia Engle in Pre-Broadway run of GOTTA DANCE at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre in 2015. Photo by Matthew Murphy

André was a recipient of the 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship/Distinguished Achievement. He received the 2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, and his residency culminated at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater with his theatrical concert, CONFESSIONS of a P.I.M.P. in  2016, directed by Dennis Začek.

Marcelle McVay, André De Shields and Dennis Začek. Photo by Lia Chang

A showstopper at the age of 75, André was the triple-crown winner of the 2019 award season, garnering Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Grammy Awards for his universally praised role as Messenger to the Gods, Hermes, in Hadestown.

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields as Hermes in HADESTOWN in 2019. Photo by Lia Chang

In an unparalleled career spanning more than 52 years, André has distinguished himself as an actor, director, philanthropist, activist and educator.

André picked up an Emmy for his performance as the Viper in the NBC special Ain’t Misbehavin’, two Tony nominations for Play On! and The Full Monty, and has established himself as a veritable cabaret king — choreographing two shows for Bette Midler and creating six solo theatrical concerts.

André starred in his breakout role, the title character in The Wiz, which ran for more than 1,600 performances and won seven Tony Awards – including best musical.

(L-R) Armelia McQueen, Ken Page, Charlayne Woodard, André De Shields and Nell Carter in a scene from the Broadway production of the musical “Ain’t Misbehavin”. Photo by Martha Swope

He starred in the original cast of the Fats Waller musical Ain’t Misbehavin’, a role he later revived, directed, and choreographed for the 30th anniversary run. Andre’s first Tony nomination was for Play On!, a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, featuring Duke Ellington’s music. He received another Tony nomination in 2001 for The Full Monty. André’s other Broadway credits include Impressionism and Prymate.

THE FULL MONTY musical, from left, Marcus Neville, André De Shields, John Ellison Conlee, Patrick Wilson, Romain Fruge and Jason Danieley in 2000. Kirk McKoy-Los Angeles Times

André embraced cabaret early on. Beginning in the ’70s, he created a string of original shows that performed at such landmark New York clubs as Gypsy’s, the Grand Finale, Reno Sweeney, Les Mouches, the Club at La MaMa, the Horn of Plenty, Greene Street, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London. In 1984, he co-wrote, choreographed, co-directed, and starred in the Broadway musical revue André De Shields’ Haarlem Nocturne. More recent cabaret appearances have included Black By Popular Demand: A Musical Meditation on How Not To Be Eaten by The Sphinx at Feinstein’s/54 Below and The Cabaret; Old Dawg; New Tricks at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series in New York, at Old School Square’s Crest Theatre in Delray Beach, Fl. and Aventura Arts & Cultural Center; Black By Popular Demand at Joe’s Pub, and I Put A Spell On You at Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York. He is a recipient of the 2018 Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award.

This summer, André starred in the title role of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s King Lear. On opening night, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones issued a Mayoral Proclamation naming June 4, 2021 as “King Lear/André De Shields Day”.

New York Senator Brad Hoylman presented Mr. De Shields with a Senate Proclamation on April 8th, 2021 proclaiming the day “André De Shields Appreciation Day”. The surprise proclamation was arranged by producer Tom D’Angora to honor the extensive charity work and activism, along with the public appearances, Mr. De Shields has done for the community this year.

Allen Gilmore and André De Shields in St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of KING LEAR in 2021. Photo by Lia Chang

André is the recipient of the 2021 John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. In 2020, he received the 2020 Grammy Award for Musical Theater Album for Hadestown, an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Boston Conservatory at Berklee, the 2020 AUDELCO for Lifetime Achievement and the 2020 Red Bull Theater Matador Award for Excellence in Classical Theater.

2019 honors include The Actors’ Equity Foundation Richard Seff Award, which honors veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year, the Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 SAGE Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award, and The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre, among others. He was also inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Theater Hall of Fame Class of 2019- Michael Price, Natasha Katz, Carolyn Capstick Meehan, André De Shields, Donna McKechnie, Emily Mann, Michael Feingold and Ann Reinking at the New York Friars Club in New York on November 18, 2019. Photo: Lia Chang
André De Shields receives the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Jack Young in the Ceremonial Room of Baltimore City Hall on August 19, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang

He received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young on August 19 2019. Other accolades include the 2018 Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, the 2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. His film and TV roles include Keys, who first appeared in a 2014 episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” He has also appeared on “Law and Order” twice, as Dr. Elvin Simmonds (Custody,1996) and Mr. Miller (Cost of Capital, 2006); Dale Rustin on NBC’s “New Amsterdam”; Anton Ego in Ratatouille: The TikTok Tok Musical, the Algebra Tutor in “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch”  on Netflix; Chubby in “Katy Keene” on the CW; and Wyndham on “Almost Family.”

He stars in Foxing’s new music video, Draw Down the Moon, and can be heard on the podcasts Live From Mount Olympus as Hermes and One Speckled Hen. He can next be seen as Gavin Plimsoll in Charles Busch and Carl Andress’ comedy film, The Sixth Reel. De Shields is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC. andredeshields.com

The 2021 Sarah Siddons Society Actor of the Year Award Benefit was produced by Board Member and long-time Chicago event producer Denise McGowan Tracy.

The event was hosted by Daryl D. Brooks, producing managing director of Black Ensemble Theater, and featured terrific performances of musical selections from some of André’s iconic Broadway shows Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Wiz, HAIR, and Hadestown, in addition to The Goodman Theatre’s production of The Jungle Book, by some of Chicago’s most talented rising stars- vocalists Darilyn Burtley, Melanie Loren, Gabriel Mudd, and Juwon Tyrel Perry.

Darilyn Burtley, Melanie Loren, Juwon Tyrel Perry, and Gabriel Mudd. Photo by Lia Chang

David Fiorello served as Musical Director and played the piano. He was joined by Jackson Jay Kidder on Bass, Justin Akira Kono on Drums, Kimberly Lawson on Violin, Kelan M. Smith on Guitar and Banjo, and Greg Strauss on Trumpet.

Darilyn Burtley and Gabriel Mudd. Photo by Lia Chang
Gabriel Mudd. photo by Lia Chang
Juwon Tyrel Perry, Melanie Loren, Darilyn Burtley and Gabriel Mudd. Photo by Lia Chang
Juwon Tyrel Perry, Melanie Loren, Music Director David Fiorello, Darilyn Burtley, Gabriel Mudd take a bow at The Edge Theater in Chicago on October 25, 2021. Photo by Lia Chang

The program also included the induction of Sarah Siddons Society 2021 scholarship recipients Paul Danowski, Montana Lavallee, Nathe Rowbotham, Nataki Rennie, Camryn Schepps,Nealie Tinlin, Jerod Turner, and Savannah Youngblood.

2021 Sarah Siddons Society Scholarship recipients Nataki Rennie, Camryn Schepps, Montana Lavallee, Nealie Tinlin, Jerod Turner, Nathe Rowbotham, Camryn Schepps, Savannah Youngblood and Paul Danowski. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields with 2021 Sarah Siddons Society Scholarship recipients Jerod Turner, Nataki Rennie, Nathe Rowbotham, Camryn Schepps, Nealie Tinlin, Savannah Youngblood and Paul Danowski. Photo by Lia Chang

Congratulatory messages from Joe Mantegna and Carolyn Purdy-Gordon from André’s Organic Theater years, and The Jungle Book‘s director Mary Zimmerman were presented via video; while Dennis Začek and Allen Gilmore paid tribute in person.

André De Shields and Dennis Začek. Photo by Lia Chang

Chicago Midwest Emmy-Award recipient Ed Tracy conducted a compelling interview with André.

André De Shields and Ed Tracy. Photo by Lia Chang
Ed Tracy interviews André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

All Proceeds Benefit the Sarah Siddons Society Scholarship Program. Since its inception in 1952, the mission of the Society has been to fund scholarships to promising theater arts students at top Chicago area universities including; The Theater Department, Columbia College; The Theatre School at DePaul University; Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and Northwestern University School of Communications.

Ed Tracy and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ed Tracy and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ed Tracy and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields and Scott Gryder. Photo by Lia Chang
Gabriel Mudd, André De Shields, Melanie Loren and Juwon Tyrel Perry. Photo by Lia Chang
Allen Gilmore, Joslyn Jones and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

The Sarah Siddons Awards has been given annually to an outstanding actor and has included major stars from theatre and film. Past winners include Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tracy Letts, Betty Buckley, Kate Baldwin, Kate Shindle, Brian D’Arcy James, Sutton Foster, Jessie Mueller, Bebe Neuwirth,Audra McDonald, Barbara Cook, John O’Hurley, Patti LuPone, William Peterson, Kathleen Turner, John Mahoney, Elaine Stritch, Chita Rivera, Heather Headley, Brian Dennehy, Faye Dunaway, Julie Andrews, Lynn Redgrave, Bernadette Petters, Stefanie Powers, Loretta Swit, Ellen Burstyn, Lily Tomlin, Sada Thompson, Liza Minnelli, Lucie Arnaz, Rita Moreno, Lauren Bacall, Ann Miller, Dorothy Loudon, Angela Lansbury, Claudette Colbert, Jessica Tandy, Cloris Leachman, Lynn Redgrave, Julie Harris, Angela Lansbury, Collen Dewhurst, Bette Davis, Irene Dailey, Barbara Rush, Helen Hayes, Celeste Holm, Eve Arden Carol Channing, Myrna Loy, Nancy Kelly, Julia Meade, Florence Henderson, Getrude Berg, Geraldine Page, Ruth Toman, Anne Rogers, Shirley Booth, Nancy Kelly, Deborah Kerr, and Beatrice Lillie.

Sarah Siddons Society is grateful to the following sponsors for their support: 

GOLD
Martin Balogh and Carl Stimson
Any and Marcie Stein

BRONZE
Lana J. Baumeister
Daniel J. Bender
BuddyZ Pizzeria
Michelle and Steven Cucchiaro
Bernard and Sally Dobroski
Francine Pepitone
Stephen Erenburg
A special Thank You to The Peninsula Chicago and Resident Manager Max Schroeder.

Oct. 25: Tony, Grammy and Emmy winning HADESTOWN Star André De Shields to Receive Sarah Siddons Society 66th Annual Actor of the Year Award 
WGNTV: Dean Richards chats with Tony Award Winner André De Shields

Broadwayworld: Andre De Shields to Receive Sarah Siddons Society 66th Annual Actor of the Year Award

Urban Matter: André De Shields to Receive Sarah Siddons Society 66th Annual Actor of the Year Award

André De Shields and Lia Chang. Photo by Scott Gryder.

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. Click here for Cre8sianproject.com’s latest profile on Lia.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2021 Lia Chang Multimedia, unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s