In Chicago the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the Goodman Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Now in its 35th year, the play has entertained more than 1.5 million theatergoers — and on Nov. 29, an intimate group of the Goodman’s patrons toasted to another great season. Sponsored by BMO Private Bank, Aon and KPMG, the event began with dinner and drinks at Petterino’s (150 N. Dearborn), and included remarks from Goodman Executive Director Roche Schulfer and Associate Producer and Director Steve Scott. The evening included a performance of “A Christmas Carol” and the lighting of the Goodman’s holiday tree in its lobby, which also kicked off the launch of an endowment fund dedicated to ensuring the show’s future performances.
Kids, parents and grandparents turned out in their Sunday best for the ninth annual Sweet Home Chicago holiday brunch at the Four Seasons (120 E. Delaware) on Dec. 9. With almost half of the 480 guests under age 10, it was a family-friendly day spent building gingerbread houses and visiting with Santa, but most importantly raising money for WINGS, an organization that provides women and children of domestic violence a safe haven to get back on their feet. With the help of honorary chairs Tom and Cece Ricketts and many of their philanthropic friends, including John and Rita Canning, Steve and Nancy Crown, Jim and Ellen O’Connor and Ron and Christina Gidwitz, this was a record-setting year; the event raised more than $600,000.
Dec. 18: The Second City sets the standard for comedic excellence, so it’s not surprising that when this talented crew decides to raise funds for Onward Neighborhood House, it pulls out a star-studded all-nighter. The marathon benefit begins at 6 p.m. and features 24 hours of nonstop comedy and music from an all-star cast.
In true Columbia College Chicago style, 90 students — representing 11 of the school’s departments — showcased their talents in visual arts, music, dance, theater and fashion at the Open Doors Gala on Dec. 7. Held at the school’s Media Production Center (1600 S. State), the event — co-chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Marshall Field V, Richard Kiphart and Sylvia Neil and attended by guests such as Linda Johnson Rice — also honored the former chairman and CEO of Sara Lee Corp., John H. Bryan, who received the Chicago Legacy Award (in memory of publishing pioneer John H. Johnson) for his contributions to the arts. The sold-out crowd helped raise more than $800,000 for the Open Doors Scholarship fund, which assists Chicago public school graduates in continuing their education at Columbia College.
Dec. 12: Artist and native Chicagoan Francine Turk, known for her mastery of charcoal and dramatic nude sketches, celebrates 10 years of artistic accomplishments with a new exhibition, “A Decade of Evolution … a Retrospective,” held at KM Fine Arts in the John Hancock Center. On Dec. 12 get a first look at the collection — and celebrate Turk’s career — at an opening night reception.
The British are here — and they didn’t come quietly. Burberry, the London-based brand best known for its iconic trenches and signature plaid, celebrated the opening of its five-story flagship (633 N. Michigan) on Nov. 29 with a massive bash. Hundreds of the city’s most stylish bloggers and trendsetters attended, many of whom were featured in the fashion house’s “Art of the Trench” campaign. The evening started with a bang as glitter and confetti showered from the roof while the song “London Calling” by the Clash boomed throughout the store, followed by a performance by Carl Barât of English rock band The Libertines. The flagship, which has been two years in the making, marks the brand’s second-largest U.S. location and features a plaid glass façade specially created for the city by Burberry Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey. “People here truly enjoy style,” Bailey said. Judging by the night’s turnout, he’s right.
The GEANCO Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving health conditions in Africa, held its second annual Health and Hope for Africa concert. Co-founder Dr. Godwin Onyema and his family, along with chairman Richard Dent, hosted more than 200 guests for dinner at the Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore). Performances by female African dance group Ayodele and violinist Lee England Jr. kept guests entertained well into the evening, which raised more than $75,000 for the development of Augustine Memorial Hospital in Nigeria to provide medical care for the poor and medical training for doctors, nurses and students.
An intimate group of 70 attendees brought in big money at the Chicago Community Trust’s Nuestro Futuro reception at BMO Harris Bank (115 S. LaSalle). More than $70,000 was raised for Nuestro Futuro, a philanthropic giving circle formed by Chicago’s Latino leaders, which distributes $200,000 in grants every year to local nonprofits. The 2012 Nuestro Futuro grant recipients were recognized during a program honoring longtime supporter King W. Harris for his contributions to the organization.
Actress Jane Seymour, known for her role as a frontier doctor, came to town to serve as the mistress of ceremonies for the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s inaugural Hope on the Horizon dinner at the Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan). Chaired by Nancy and Steve Crown and Leonard A. Lauder — with a special performance by Glen Campbell who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011 — the event brought out 200 local heavy-hitters. Partygoers made the evening a homerun smash, raising nearly $1.5 million to help fund innovative drug research to combat the disease.
Ken Downing, the acclaimed Dallas-based fashion director of Neiman Marcus, swung by the chic retailer’s Northbrook location (5000 Northbrook Court) to present his latest style report while models strutted down the runway. One of just a handful of store visits by Downing this season, more than 100 stylish Chicagoans turned out to hear his take on the hottest trends: navy as the new neutral, brooches as the way to add drama to your look and a cherry lip as the season’s perfect pout.