Sheldon Patinkin Memorial Free Recommended The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Mon., Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m. 2015

I saw a documentary last week about the Compass Players, the legendary troupe that invented modern improv at a Hyde Park bar 60 years ago. It was an awful piece of work. Misguided. Clumsy. Idiosyncratic in all the wrong ways. But it had one golden virtue: an interview with Sheldon Patinkin. Author, scholar, translator, teacher, director, formidable mentor, doting uncle, smart aleck, and pillar and pioneer of Chicago theater, Sheldon, sadly, can’t be seen in the flesh anymore. He died on September 21, aged 79. So the interview was a small godsend—a chance to see him as bright and wise as ever.

Sheldon’s friends and colleagues have scheduled a tribute for Monday, January 26, 7:30 PM, at the North Shore Center for the Arts in Skokie. The emcee will be 30 Rock regular Scott Adsit, and there will be speakers from a few of the institutions Sheldon helped build: Second City (CEO Andrew Alexander and director of comedy studies Anne Libera), Steppenwolf Theatre (cofounder Jeff Perry, outgoing artistic director Martha Lavey, and Lavey’s Tony-winning soon-to-be successor Anna D. Shapiro), and Columbia College, where he served a long tenure as theater department chair (president Kwang-Wu Kim and former academic dean Caroline Latta). Also on hand will be such Chicago-bred, Sheldon-infused theater folk as Michael Patrick Thornton, David Cromer, Tom Mula, and Meg Thalken. Past and present Columbia students will perform musical numbers from productions Sheldon directed, both professionally and at school.

The event is free but full; I’m told there’s a chance of getting in, though, if you’re willing to wait on no-shows. —Tony Adler

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