Tony Award-winning theatre director and Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro, a 1990 graduate of Columbia College Chicago, will speak at Columbia’s graduation ceremony for Theatre majors on Saturday, May 16, at 1:30 PM.
Also speaking during the Columbia College commencement weekend will be Broadway performer and recording artist Chester Gregory, a 1995 graduate of the Columbia College Theatre Department‘s Musical Theatre Program. Gregory will speak at the commencement ceremony for Music majors on Sunday, May 17, at 5:30 PM.
Both ceremonies will take at Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress. Shapiro and Gregory will receive honorary doctorates from the college, which will be presented to them by Columbia’s president Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim.
Shapiro and Gregory are among five Columbia alumni who will be receiving honorary degrees for their achievements in business and the fine, performing and creative arts during the spring 2015 commencement ceremonies on May 16 and 17. The other honorees are screenwriter Josefina López, record producer Nan Warshaw, and Len Amato, president of HBO Films.
“These five Columbia College Chicago alumni have had tremendous impact in their respective fields and truly embody the mission of the college by ‘authoring the culture of their times,” said Dr. Kim in announcing the names of the commencement speaker/honorees. “They are an inspiration to all and we look to the Class of 2015 to follow their lead with high aspirations as they begin their careers.”
Anna D. Shapiro will become Steppenwolf Theatre Company‘s artistic director starting in the 2015-2016 season. Shapiro graduated from Columbia College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1990, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre directing from the Yale School of Drama. She won a Joseph Jefferson Award (Chicago’s top theatre prize) in 2007 for directing Steppenwolf’s August: Osage County, and then won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play when that show transferred to Broadway. Her other New York credits include the current hit Fish in the Dark; her Tony-nominated 2011 staging of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ The Motherfucker with the Hat, which she also directed at Steppenwolf; and her 2014 Broadway revival of Of Mice and Men, which National Theatre Live selected as the first American production to be broadcast to over 700 cinemas across the US and Canada. She has been affiliated with Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago since 1995, serving as the original director of the New Plays Lab, later joining the artistic staff as Resident Director, Associate Artist and, since 2005, as an Ensemble member with numerous directing credits.
Chester Gregory, who graduated from Columbia in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre, is an award-winning actor, singer, and songwriter whose rise to fame began when he starred as ’60s soul singer Jackie Wilson in The Jackie Wilson Story at the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago and then at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray as Seaweed Stubbs. Other Broadway credits include the original casts of Tarzan, Cry-Baby, and Sister Act. This year, he starred at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in an acclaimed revival of August Wilson’s drama Two Trains Running. Gregory’s awards include an NAACP Theater Award, a Joseph Jefferson Award, and a Black Theatre Alliance Award. Gregory continues to tour nationally with his one-man show The Eve of Jackie and now resides in Los Angeles, where he is transitioning into TV and film work.