Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alumnus and Broadway musical theatre performer Chester Gregory ’95, HDR ’15, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Musical Theatre, will appear at the City of Chicago’s third annual Fifth Star Awards on Wednesday, September 14, at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.
Gregory is being flown in by the city to present Chicago theatre icon Jackie Taylor, founder and artistic director of the Black Ensemble Theatre, with a Fifth Star Award.
Gregory, whose Broadway and national tour musical theatre credits include Hairspray, Sister Act, Dreamgirls, Cry-Baby, Tarzan, and Motown the Musical, launched his career in Chicago shortly after graduating from Columbia, when he portrayed legendary soul singer Jackie Wilson in The Jackie Wilson Story, a musical biography written and directed by Taylor, in 2000.
In 2015, Gregory received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Columbia College Chicago when he spoke at the commencement exercises for graduating Music majors.
Also at the Fifth Star Awards, Columbia College Chicago Music Department faculty member Sebastian Huydts will perform an original piano work, “Sonata in Skrebneski,” composed by Music Department faculty member James Kimo Williams in honor of another Fifth Star Award recipient, photographer Victor Skrebneski HDR ’95, an emeritus member of the Columbia College Chicago Board of Trustees.
The Fifth Star Awards honor significant Chicago artists and cultural institutions with live performances and video tributes. Besides Jackie Taylor and Victor Skrebneski, this year’s honorees include The Second City comedy theatre, whose CEO and Executive Producer, Andrew Alexander, is a member of Columbia College’s Board of Trustees. Second City is a partner with the Columbia College Theatre Department on the school’s pathbreaking BA Program in Comedy Writing and Performance. Also being honored are blues musician Buddy Guy and Carlos Tortolero, founder and president of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.
The Fifth Star Awards ceremony begins at 7 PM on Wednesday, September 14, in Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph, in downtown Chicago. Admission is free. The event is presented by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, whose commissioner, Mark Kelly, is Columbia College Chicago’s former Vice President of Student Affairs. “Our annual Fifth Star Awards is a night of stars under the stars,” says Kelly. “Best of all: it’s free–and you’re invited! We hope Chicagoans and visitors alike will join us in Millennium Park on September 14 to celebrate Chicago’s creativity.”