10 years ago my buddies David Schwimmer & Joey Slotnick were looking for new ways to raise money and awareness for their non profit theatre group Lookingglass to build their first home in the Historic Water Tower Pumping Station on Michigan Avenue. I strongly felt their was an active, art/theatre loving, socially conscious & supportive younger demographic in Chicago that would love to get behind it so I founded the Lookingglass Theatre’s Junior Board and kicked it all off with a giant 1000 person event called the Madhatter’s Ball that David, Joey & I hosted that was a huge success!
Each year the Junior Board got bigger & stronger raising more money & awareness about art & theatre in Chicago, and specifically Lookingglass productions, and their wonderful programs we began to support for kids. The buzz for Madhatter’s Ball has steadily also grown as a crazy, cooky evening of actors, art lovers, celebrities, philanthropists and more all coming together for a night of dining, drinking, auctions, costumes and good times. I am thrilled to say this is the 10 year anniversary of Madhatters and since the junior board has made my dream & vision come true and by taking it upon themselves to grow & produce the event better than ever, I will be attending as a guest and supporter!
I would love to see all of you out there this Saturday, June 25th at 8pm 1000 feet in the sky at the top of the John Hancock Observatory. Tickets also include a wristband to the after party at The Underground… All info on that and more can be found here – see you there!!!!! BTW, heads up, will be giving 2 tickets away Thursday 6/23 on www.twitter.com/BillyDec so make sure you follow me!
Film has the Oscars, TV has the Emmy’s, Broadway has the Tony’s, and the Jeff Awards evolved as a response to Chicago actors who were looking for a way to honor our local theatre talent- well deserved as Chicago has such a vibrant & enriching theatre community! This year the Jeff Awards (ceremony directed by Michael Weber) will be held October 25th at the Drury Lane in Oak Brook, followed by a reception featuring musicals and video segments from nominated plays. For tickets & more info visit www.jeffawards.org!
The Jeff Awards have been celebrating and honoring excellence in Chicago theatre since its inception in 1968. The 50 members on the committee represent a wide variety of background in theatre and promote artistic growth, educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and pride in the achievements of the theatre community… all united by an interest in properly evaluating and acknowledging theatre in Chicago! They evaluate over 250 locally produced shows & nominate shows based on the following categories: Production, Director, Actor and Actress in a Principal Role, Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role, in the two categories of Plays and Musicals. Awards are also given for Production, Direction, Actor and Actress in a Revue, and Cameo Performance, as well as Ensemble, Choreography, Scenic Design, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Original Music, Musical Direction, Sound Design, New Work and Adaptation. Awards are determined by a secret ballot audited by an accounting firm & the best part of the awards is that the committee does not use the words “best” or “winner,” instead it supports outstanding achievements & the evolvement of the theatre community.
I am very proud to say that Lookingglass theatre, where I serve on the board of directors, received 7 of the following nominations for their groundbreaking & breathtaking work:
NEW WORK – PLAY
David Schwimmer and Andy Bellin – “Trust” – Lookingglass Theatre Company
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – PLAY
Allison Torem – “Trust” – Lookingglass Theatre Company
SOUND DESIGN – LARGE
Ray Nardelli – “Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale” – Lookingglass Theatre Company and Silverguy Entertainment
LIGHTING DESIGN – LARGE
Brian Sidney Bembridge – “Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale” – Lookingglass Theatre Company and Silverguy Entertainment
ORIGINAL INCIDENTAL MUSIC
Ray Nardelli, Andre Pluess, Kevin O’Donnell and Josh Horvath – “Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale” – Lookingglass Theatre Company and Silverguy Entertainment
Bridges Media – Multimedia Design – “Trust” – Lookingglass Theatre Company Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi – Circus Choreography and Movement Direction – “Icarus” – Lookingglass Theatre Company
And special shout out to my fav actor Joey Slotnick who is up for an award for “Actor in a Principal Role- Musical” from Goodman Theatre’s production of “Animal Crackers.”
ever since I was floored by my buddy david schwimmer’s play “trust” at the lookingglass theatre (click here for my review) about the story of an internet predator’s effect on a young victim & her family, and subsequently learned of the horrible amounts of sexual abuse & rape that occurs these days to children all around us (1 out of 4 girls, 1 out of 7 boys), I have been doing my best to seek out ways to support the fight against it. I recently toured the facilities of chicago children’s advocacy center that treated 20,000+ women and children who were the victimes of rape and sexual assault since mayor daley created it ten years ago (and was so moved, I joined the board), I flew out to Los Angeles last week to attend the Annual Rape Treatment Center Fundraiser hosted by the cast of “Glee” (click here for pics & “read more” below for detail), and now I am inviting you to join me & Schwimmer to support the fight at a private event after the chicago international film fest premiere of the movie version of “trust” (see trailer above) that he directed starring clive owen, catherine keener, & viola davis. will you join us?
I had the honor of being invited by schwimmer to the toronto film fest premiere of “trust” so I can tell you first hand that not only is this movie one you must not miss, but its also really cool to see it and support on a night it’s presented at a major film festival, like it will be at chicago’s international film fest on monday oct 18th at 8p. if you can come, schwimmer will be presenting the movie himself and doing a q&a after, and then we will be hosting a two-hour private reception at Rockit Bar & Grill at 10pm w/cocktails & hors d’ouevres. Proceeds from the event will benefit Rape Victims Advocates & cinema/chicago. for tix and info: http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/special_events/trust_fundraiser.php
I guess I need to say one more thing that many of you have heard me talk about on facebook & twitter. as proud, dedicated & supportive I am to the organizations above for all the help the give to enormous amount of victims out there, I think we need to also focus on how to help lessen the amount of victims out there by getting the word out, as I know this movie does, as it obviously has gotten me. so please, whether you can or can’t join us on this night, please help me/us spread this post around (shortlink: http://tiny.cc/xpxxw)… it may enhance awareness, stop a bad thing, make more people safe… thanks all.
it’s always a pleasure to chat and catch up with my buddy david kaplan on comcast sportsnet – we covered all things chicago but more importantly, our hometown champs – the chicago blackhawks (you have to see these stanley cup pictures, they’re a riot!) – the annual piven theatre workshop benefit i host with jeremy piven every year (you can check me out on the set of entourage by clicking here) and lookingglass theatre’s madhatter’s ball which was a blast last night!
Tags: billy dec, blackhawks, comcast sportsnet, david kaplan, david schwimmer, entourage, hbo, jeremy piven, joey slotnick, piven theatre workshop, rockit bar and grill, stanley cup, sunda, the underground s, unda
Lookingglass theatre was formed over 20 years ago by a group of local college kids. 15 yrs ago I became best friends w/ two members randomly, Joey Slotnick and David Schwimmer, who introduced me to the group, and I fell in love w/ it immediately. So much that about 10yrs ago I founded the lookingglass Junior Board to get young professionals involved, where joey, david & I began to host great parties for them called the madhatters ball to benefit the theatre and their children’s programs! (See video above!)
This year madhatters ball happens thursday night 6/24 and has a whole new spin on it! The junior board has grown so much and so strong in the last decade, that they are taking it by the horns and producing this amazing event all on their own, which means I get to join you all for the fun and come as a fellow guest to party!
The night starts w/a performance of Lookingglass Alice at the theatre, rolling into a party at the ritz carlton, wrapping w/an after-party at The Underground w/ one of my favorite djs in the world, dj irie! Tickets and more info can be found at lookingglasstheatre.org
As you might know, I have been a huge fan and supporter of art and theatre in chicago, all my life. If ever asked me what my favorite play was, I would have told you it was hands down “race. How blacks and whites feel about the American obsession.” Now, it may have tied with a new play I saw last night, called “trust.”
To be forthcoming, both were adapted/written for stage and directed by my best friend david schwimmer, but know that is not why I liked them. In fact, after 15yrs of friendship, I can tell you that we have thoroughly established that our artistic tastes are very different, if not sometimes opposite, so trust me, these works stand absolutely on their own. What I like about them most is that they deal with very current issues, that have a meaningful, impactful and necessary message, that cause viewers to reflect, acknowledge and consider changing immediately for the better, in one way or another.
omg- hilarious that there are still people asking to help find me in entourage this week! i’m the dude with the shaved head sitting right next to fellow chicagoans jeremy piven (behind me), david schwimmer (back to us), and gary cole (across from me)… fun times… thx to whoever sent me this… sure it clears the mystery right up! haha!
and wow, there was a ton of shout out to chicago in this episode huh? crazy…
If scroll down to the Jeremy Piven video below- you will see him making fun of me while we were filming a scene together on entourage insisting that I keep my day job! (ya, I know, he’s right)
Anywho, the episode finally airs this Sunday (8/2)! Just whatever you do, don’t blink, you will for sure miss me! (that is, if my ugly mug didn’t hit the cutting room floor already! ugh)
Coolest thing about the experience was that my scene was with 3 huge chicago theatre actors- Gary Cole (Steppenwolf), Jeremy Piven (Piven workshop), and David Schwimmer (lookingglass)! 5 hours filming together on set rapping between scenes about how cool chicago is and how much they miss it! Come on- do you see the absolute coolness in that? One of the top shows on tv, actors competing from around the world, and there are 4 people filming around that endeavor table from chicago! (actually, 5! One actress used to work at a bar in wrigleyville while taking acting classes here!)