About Face Theatre held its annual gala at the Museum of Broadcast Communications on May 11. Even though it was a Friday, you would have sworn it was a Saturday night. Wonka Ball at Saturday Night Live: The Experience! proved to be the perfect theme for the LGBTQ-focused theater company.
Guests were encouraged to dress as their favorite comedy characters, picking from a variety of SNL skits, and to explore the exhibits in the museum. It was an opportunity for Chicagoans to go "backstage" of the New York-filmed TV show, where attendees could get an up-close view of costumes, dressing rooms and the control booth. They could play guitar on the Wayne's World couch or sit in the makeup chair like a celebrity. Along the way, there were food stops in the maze of nostalgia, thanks to vendors like Taylor's Tacos and Vincent.
On the fourth floor of the building, more bites were offered from Fat Cat, Polo Cafe and STK Chicago, in addition to snacks and desserts courtesy of Do-Rite Donuts, Garrett Popcorn and Insomnia Cookiesplus an Ambiguously Gay Duo cake cut at the end of the night. Blue Plate Catering, MillerCoors and CH Distillery provided cocktails and other beverages.
DJ Matthew Harvat played a mix of current and retro tunes while people danced and mingled. Guests were able to explore an outdoor VIP area, coffee talk with Linda Richman and bid on the silent auction items along the exterior wall. Raffle prizes included tickets to Saturday Night Live in New York City, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Hamilton Chicago and Sesame Street.
Jim Bennett and Heather Vickery hosted the awards ceremony, during which the About Face Youth Theatre MVP Award was given to Liv Haman for outstanding work as an ensemble member.
Recipients of the Leppen Leadership Award were talented trans actor Delia Kropp and the Chicago Inclusion Project, which is dedicated to inclusive hiring practices in the theater community.
Throughout the ceremony, SNL characters popped out for brief and hilarious performances.
AFT is dedicated to advancing the LGBTQ community in the world of theater in the Chicago area. Visit www.AboutFaceTheatre.com for details on upcoming shows, including Bull in a China Shop by Bryna Turner.
Photos by Jerry Nunn