Past Events

Get Ready to Party

A Red Orchid’s mission is to produce live theatre with rigor, compassion, and honesty. In addition to our theatre, we hold special events throughout the year that provide our patrons with a behind the scenes glimpse of what it takes to produce the art we have been making for the past 30 years. By attending these events, you are contributing to the fearless art we have become known for. Explore the galleries below from some of our past events:

2024 Grit & Glimmer Gala

On April 2024, we gathered at at Bridge410 to celebrate 31 years! The Founders’ Circle VIP pre-gala reception was hosted by Ensemble Members Kirsten Fitzgerald, Michael Shannon, Guy Van Swearingen & Lawrence Grimm and featured a performance by The Oh Yeahs. The gala itself was hosted by Ensemble Member Sherman Edwards and featured a performance by The Breaks, who were joined by Ensemble Member Natalie West to perform a song from Revolution. In addition to our silent auction, paddle raise, wine pull, and raffle, we honored our Board Chair Jane Madden, Board Members Robin & Hugh Breslin, and our 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins. We raised over $78,000 in support of our future! 

Take a look at the event’s opening video celebrating 31 years of A Red Orchid created by Associate Artistic Director Travis A. Knight with music by Ensemble Member Steve Haggard. 

Two Mics

On December 29, 2024, we partnered with our friends at The Gift Theatre for a special fundraising event: a night of improv featuring AROT’s Michael Shannon and The Gift’s Michael Patrick Thornton! The night’s opening act was Sherman Edwards & Esteban Andres Cruz from AROT and Hannah Toriumi & Gregory Fenner from The Gift. They performed to a sold-out house at The Understudy Coffee & Books in Andersonville.

2023 Benefit: Grit & Glimmer

On April 30, 2023, we had a blast at G-Man Tavern celebrating 30 years of A Red Orchid Theatre! The evening was preceded by a VIP reception featuring music from Mike Mahler and acoustic duo Jasmine + Perona. The benefit itself, hosted by Ensemble Member Sadieh Rifai, featured standup comedy by Sherman Edwards, music by Ensemble Member Brett Neveu and The Last Afternoons, a silent auction, a raffle, and a paddle raise, and Board Member Becky Mills was presented with the Orchid Visionary Award. Thanks to our patrons’ generosity, AROT raised over $55,000!

2021 Comedy Pop-Ups

On August 24 & 25, 2021, we hosted two nights of comedy pop-ups to benefit A Red Orchid Theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first night featured stand-up comedy by Onicia Muller and Kellye Howard, and improv by Michael Shannon and David Pasquesi; the second night featured stand-up by Gena Gephart and Sherman Edwards, and improv by Michael Shannon and David Pasquesi. Both shows were performed to sold-out houses!

2021 Virtual Root Ball

Our 2021 Root Ball gala was a virtual night of auctions, raffles, performances, and togetherness. Viewers were immersed in the digital celebration by music and illustrations from Prob Cause, intimate magic from Jon Tai, and music from the cast of our upcoming audio play, AMERICAN BOTTOM, plus appearances by Nick Offerman and Sherman Edwards. Thanks to our supporters, we raised over $50,000!

Root Ball-website banner-min

2020 Improv Performance Series

In January 2020, Founding Ensemble Member Michael Shannon presented an improv performance series at A Red Orchid Theatre with fellow TV and film actor David Pasquesi.

2019 Season 27 Opening Party

A Red Orchid’s Ensemble, Board & Staff kicked off our 27th Season at one of the best music hangouts in Chicago: The Hideout! Taking the stage were original Chicago bands: The Ars Nova, The Last Afternoons, and Toy Robots.

2018 Gala

Emceed by sportscaster Tom Shaer of SportsEvents, our 2018 gala included dinner, drinks, dancing, silent and live auctions, a program honoring Founding Ensemble Member Lawrence Grimm, Old Town legend Belle Kerman, and Chicago Tribune writer & WGN radio personality Rick Kogan. This event also included a VIP experience with members of A Red Orchid’s ensemble and artists from the winter show, FULFILLMENT CENTER.

2018 Closing Party - Gman

At this event, guests enjoyed performances by several local bands: The Last Afternoons (featuring Ensemble Member Brett Neveu), indie rock band Toy Robots, and A Red Orchid’s own Tough Club, straight from the stage of 33 TO NOTHING! Our 25th anniversary season was a huge success, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of our patrons, donors, and friends! The Season 25 Closing Party was sponsored by GMan Tavern and Begyle Brewing Co.

2018 American Writers Museum

The Spring 2018 fundraiser included drinks, light appetizers, and an excerpt performance from Ensemble Member Jennifer Engstrom’s one-woman show, EXCUSE MY DUST: A DOROTHY PARKER PORTFOLIO. A Red Orchid also announced the shows for the upcoming 26th season. All proceeds from the evening went to A Red Orchid Theatre and the American Writers Museum.

2017 Oscar Party

Ensemble members, staff, friends, and family gathered to celebrate Founding Ensemble Member Michael Shannon’s Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS. Tickets included a red carpet experience, appetizers, and drinks. All proceeds benefited A Red Orchid Theatre. This event was sponsored by Rockit Bar & Grill and Lagunitas Brewing Company.

2017 Gala

Our 2017 gala, a celebration of our 25th season, included dinner, drinks, dancing, silent & live auctions, and a program honoring Founding Ensemble Member Michael Shannon and Board Member Christian Chadd Taylor. Both Michael and Chadd contributed so much to the history of A Red Orchid and we would not be where we are today without them.

2017 Closing Party - Ada St

Members of the ensemble, board of directors, and staff joined artists from our 24th season as well as A Red Orchid patrons and supporters to celebrate the close of another fantastic year. Together, we enjoyed dinner and drinks, music, dancing, and good times with the A Red Orchid family! All proceeds benefited A Red Orchid Theatre.

2017 Angels in America

We, like many others, see MILLENNIUM APPROACHES as a call to action. Our staged reading, conceived by Will Von Vogt and Ensemble Member Shade Murray, was an opportunity to connect and galvanize the Chicago theatre community and its patrons while celebrating the power of voices that challenge the current political climate, on stage and in the streets. From director and Ensemble Member Shade Murray: “Political and heartfelt, historical and mythical, Tony Kushner’s epic play is about a nation falling apart during a seismic shift in politics and morality. Spiritual forces intervene, culminating in the arrival of an angel and a call to rebuild. The play promises a fascinating experience at this current juncture: Roy Cohn, a principal character in the play, was a mentor of our current president.

ANGELS IN AMERICA has profound statements to make about our past, the present, and quite possibly our future.” Ticket sales directly benefited our local chapter of the ACLU as well as a season of political theatre curated at A Red Orchid. Attendees had the opportunity to support additional organizations like the Howard Brown Health Center, Planned Parenthood, and the Committee to Protect Journalists. This event was made possible through donations by Victory Gardens Theater and Tony Kushner.

2016 Gala

Our 2016 gala, hosted by Christian Stolte, star of CHICAGO FIRE, was truly an inspiring night. We honored Founding Artistic Director and Chicago firefighter Guy Van Swearingen, shared plans for our upcoming youth project, and regaled guests with stories from years past and dreams for our future. As Artistic Director and Ensemble Member, Kirsten Fitzgerald said, “Live theatre is a radical act of empathy and optimism. I plan to work harder than ever to take more risks and create more opportunities for connection both on the stage and with our patrons. I am honored to have all of you working harder alongside us to make this all possible.”

The Hitchcock Halloween Gala was sponsored by Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits, Lagunitas Brewing company, BMO Global Asset Management, and Wintrust Bank of Old Town.

2016 Closing Party - DoubleDoor

2015 Gala

This celebration of our 23rd season was co-hosted by Founding Ensemble member and Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon and Emmy Award-winning television contributor and Rockit Ranch Productions CEO Billy Dec. The evening included dinner, drinks, a live and silent auction, as well as stories about A Red Orchid Theatre told by a variety of individuals whose lives have been impacted by the organization.

The festivities continued with an after party at the Underground featuring live music by Chicago’s Prob Cause and alive art demonstration by Anthony Venturini. The 2015 Gala was sponsored by Rockit Ranch Productions, Sunda New Asian, Underground, Terlato Artisan Spirits, Terlato Wines, Langley’s, and Shimizu-No-Mai.

2014 Gala

A Red Orchid Theatre celebrated 22 years of ensemble-based theatre in Chicago at our annual gala, co-hosted by Founding Ensemble member and Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon and Emmy Award-winning television contributor and Rockit Ranch Productions CEO Billy Dec. The evening began with a VIP cocktail reception and gourmet dinner, and featured live performances from a variety of the company’s productions, as well as a live and silent auction. The celebration continued with an after party and live auction at The Underground. Henry Cavill, Shannon’s MAN OF STEEL co-star, surprised guests by stopping by to celebrate with us.

2013 Man of Steel Party

At this event, Founding Ensemble member and Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon and Emmy Award-winning television contributor and Rockit Ranch Productions CEO Billy Dec co-hosted a benefit screening of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action-adventure film, MAN OF STEEL, in which Shannon co-stars. A reception at Rockit Bar & Grill followed the screening, which included seasonal passed bites, themed Grey Goose cocktails, and a Movie Star Popcorn Bar. All proceeds from the event benefited A Red Orchid Theatre. This event was sponsored by Grey Goose, Rockit Ranch Productions, Rockit Bar & Grill, and Heineken.

2013 Arlington Race Course

A Red Orchid Theatre hosted an afternoon at Arlington Park as a kick-off benefit for SIMPATICO by Sam Shepard, the final play of our 20th season. The festivities included a sneak peek performance of a scene from the play, a buffet lunch and bar, a silent auction, and a panoramic view of Thoroughbred racing action. This event was sponsored by Arlington Park and Rockit Ranch Productions.

2013 20th Anniversary - Metro

2007 Bug Premiere Party