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  • Nov 24 2014

    A Celebration of Sheldon Patinkin

    A celebration of the life of Sheldon Patinkin will take place Monday, January 26, 2015, at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, located at 9501 Skokie Blvd. in the suburb of Skokie north of Chicago. The free event starts at 7:30 PM, with guest speakers reflecting on Mr. Patinkin's enormous impact on Chicago theatre. A reception with cash bar will follow the presentation. RSVPs are encouraged. For reservations, please call 312-369-6333 to leave a message or respond via Eventbrite.

    The event is presented jointly by the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and The Second City -- three organizations with which Mr. Patinkin had close professional and personal ties for decades.

    Sheldon Patinkin was Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department from 1980 to 2009, when he assumed the title of Chair Emeritus, continuing to teach and direct at the College until his death. He was an Artistic Consultant at Steppenwolf Theatre and co-founder of The School at Steppenwolf, and taught at The School for 17 years. And he was an original member of Second City from the company's beginnings -- when it was founded in 1959 by Bernard Sahlins, Paul Sills, and Howard Alk. He served as Sills' assistant director and then succeeded Sills as artistic director of the groundbreaking comedy theatre, eventually becoming an Artistic Consultant there.

    Born in Chicago on August 27, 1935, Mr. Patinkin died September 21, 2014, following a heart attack. He was an integral figure in the development of a professional, grassroots Chicago theatre scene starting in the 1950s, when he was part of the talented young group of artists who created the Playwrights Theatre Club, Compass Players, and The Second City. He directed some of Chicago theatre's most memorable productions, including the commercial Chicago premieres of several Off-Broadway hits as well as productions at Steppenwolf, The Second City, Gift Theatre, City Lit Theater, National Jewish Theatre, and other Chicago-area companies. During his tenure as Chair, the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department educated hundreds of students who have gone on to distinguished careers in theatre, film, and television; he also mentored alumni who went on to start their own theatre companies. His books include Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater (Sourcebooks, 2000) and "No Legs, No Jokes, No Chance": A History of the American Musical Theater (Northwestern University Press, 2008). In that book, he wrote:

    "We live in a time when, more and more, the response to trouble is violence; when too many individual communities have become too insular for the good of the larger community; when too much beyond one's immediate world seems to exist either to be feared to taken advantage of; when too many people try not to feel deeply or try to disguise their feelings with catch phrases, crudeness, inarticulateness, and sentimentality. It is one of the most important functions of both art and entertainment to help us transcend such times, sometimes by helping us to think things through, sometimes by helping us not to think at all."

    "Sheldon was an artist, a scholar and a dear friend. He was a mentor to multiple generations and a productive and prolific leader of the Chicago theatre community until his final days. We look forward to celebrating his extraordinary life and career," said Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc.

    “Sheldon has been a part of the Steppenwolf family from the earliest days of our existence," said Martha Lavey, Artistic Director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. "He was an artist, a teacher, a mentor, and a friend. The School at Steppenwolf will always be a part of Sheldon’s legacy. His influence lives on in the work of several generations of theatre artists.”

    "At Columbia College we encourage our students to 'live what you love,' and Sheldon personified that ideal every day -- in every aspect of his teaching, directing, and mentorship," said John Green, Mr. Patinkin's successor as Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department. "Like George in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, he awoke students to the many possibilities of their lives as theatre artists, and the extension of those lives out into the community he loved and served so well."


    11/24/2014 Comments (0)
  • Nov 5 2014

    Dick Schaal

    "We are very sad to hear the news of Dick Schaal's passing. As an improviser from the early days of The Second City, he was an artist, innovator and an incredible physical comedian. Through the years, he would often return to Chicago to see the latest Mainstage revues. Through his acting, directing and teaching, he inspired generations of actors and improvisers. Our thoughts are with his family and friends." - Andrew Alexander, CEO/Executive Producer for The Second City

    Click here to read Dick Schaal's obituary in the Chicago Tribune.

    11/5/2014 Comments (0)
  • Sep 24 2014

    Andrew Alexander Honored by Phi Beta Kappa Association

    Andrew Alexander, Executive Producer & CEO of The Second City, Inc., will be honored for his contributions to Chicago’s cultural life by the Chicago alumni association of Phi Beta Kappa, the prestigious national academic society, at its Annual Dinner and Scholarship Benefit on Friday, November 14, 2014 at 6:30p. The event will be held at The Casino (195 E. Delaware Place) and is open to the public. Tickets and additional information are available at www.pbkaca.org.

    Past recipients of Phi Beta Kappa’s Distinguished Service Award include Lois Weisberg, former Chicago Commissioner of Cultural Affairs; Project Exploration’s Paul Sereno and Gabrielle Lyon; the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s William Mason; the Art Institute of Chicago’s James Cuno; and Arne Duncan, former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools and current U.S. Secretary of Education. The full list of past recipients can be found at www.pbkaca.org.

    In addition to presenting the Distinguished Service Award, Phi Beta Kappa Chicago annually awards scholarships to outstanding CPS high school students and advocates intellectual pursuits and the benefits of a liberal education.

    Andrew Alexander
    Andrew Alexander is best known for his leadership of The Second City theatre company and the hit television show SCTV. Alexander is a major presence in the entertainment scene and also works as a theatre, film, and television producer.

    Alexander was born in London, England. He studied at Tri-State College in Indiana and Ryerson University in Toronto. Working as a cab driver, truck driver, speakeasy operator, waiter, tree salesman, marketing manager, ad salesman, magazine editor, and producer in the alternative theatre scene in Toronto positioned him well for a career in the Comedy Business. That chance came in 1974 when he became the head of The Second City in Toronto.

    As leader of the Toronto theatre, Alexander produced and developed content for live theatre shows in collaboration with the legendary performers of the 1970s: Gilda Radner, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, and Joe Flaherty, among others. Two years later, he forged a partnership with Len Stuart to create The Second City Entertainment Company, whose first production was the groundbreaking television show SCTV. After almost a decade developing the Entertainment Company, Alexander and Stuart became owners of The Second City Chicago in 1985. Since then, Alexander has actively led The Second City in Canada and the United States for over thirty years.

    Alexander has produced or executive produced over 200 Second City revues in Canada and the United States. Under his leadership, The Second City has created innovative revues that have inspired generations of comedic creators. Over the past 35 years, The Second City has made its mark by operating resident theatres and/or improv training facilities in Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Edmonton, London Ontario, New York, and Cleveland. Never forgetting the company’s Windy City roots, The Second City has at one point operated three resident theatres in Chicago alone.

    During Alexander’s prolific career as a television producer, he has co-developed and executive produced more than 185 half-hour shows and produced over 150 hours of television comedy for SCTV. Throughout the length of SCTV’s run, the comedy series garnered an ACTRA Award, two Emmy Awards, and 13 Emmy Award nominations.

    Alexander has also developed television programming for numerous networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox Television, Comedy Central, HBO, Showtime, A&E, and the CBC. Alexander has had co-production deals with MGM Television, Imagine Films, Disney Studios, and United Artist. He has also produced movies and television shows with some of North America’s brightest stars including Ed Asner, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Bill Murray, Chris Farley, Bonnie Hunt, Shelly Long, Andrea Martin, Steve Carell, John Candy, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Harold Ramis, Martin Short, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey.

    Recently, Alexander served as Executive Producer for Second City’s Next Comedy Legend on CBC (2007). He was also executive producer of the Canadian feature film Intern’s Academy (2004), written by Dave Thomas and featuring Canadian comedy virtuosos Dan Aykroyd, Dave Foley, Dave Thomas, and Maury Chaykin.

    Alexander was a founding shareholder of the Pay Television service Super Channel and also served on the Board of Directors.

    Alexander serves on the Columbia College Board of Trustees. He is Chair of the Gilda’s Club Toronto Honorary Board and acts as an Honorary Member of the Chicago Gilda’s Club Board. Alexander has also served on the Board of the League of Chicago Theatres and the Canadian Walk of Fame. In 2008, he coordinated a reunion of the cast of SCTV in Toronto and launched the Alumni Fund, a fund that in its first months raised over $200,000 to assist actors and support staff during times of illness or economic hardship.

    Alexander has received numerous awards including the Canadian Comedy Awards Chairman’s Award, Gilda’s Magic Award from Gildas Club, and the League of Chicago Theatres’s 2009 Artistic Leadership Award. That same year, Alexander was named Chicago Tribune’s Chicagoan of the Year. He has also been featured in Crain’s 2011 Who’s Who Chicago Business and Chicago Magazine’s 2012 Power 100.

    Since acquiring The Second City Chicago in 1985, the company under Alexander’s leadership has collected 148 Jeff Award Nominations and 28 Jeff Award wins. Since 1975, Second City Toronto has been nominated for 19 Doras and 2 Dora wins. On behalf of The Second City as a whole, Alexander has accepted the Spirit of Innovation Award 2011, the NAB Spirit of Broadcasting Award 2012, Lifetime Achievement Award from Just for Laughs, and the 2012 Big Shoulders Award from the Chicago Film Critics.

    In his current capacity as CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Alexander ensures that Second City’s empire of funny will stay on top.

    Phi Beta Kappa
    The mission of Phi Beta Kappa is to inspire enthusiasm for pursuits of the mind.

    Individuals are elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a result of the intellectual curiosity, discipline, rigor, and achievement they exhibit over the extended course of a liberal education.

    Providing such persons with a locus to apply and further develop that mindset, the Phi Beta Kappa Association of the Chicago Area advocates intellectual pursuits and the benefits of a liberal education. Through diverse activities drawing upon the resources of metropolitan Chicago, our goal is to inspire enthusiasm for pursuits of the mind, a sense of discovery, and independent judgement.

    9/24/2014 Comments (0)
  • Sep 18 2014

    Key and Peele Found Love at SC

    Here's a great piece on SC alum Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele on how they got their start together at The Second City!

    9/18/2014 Comments (0)
  • Sep 4 2014

    SC Alum Joan Rivers Passes Away

    We are so sad to learn of Joan Rivers’ death. Though her time with Second City was short, Joan Rivers embodied all of the attributes of a Second City alum - hard-working, smart as a whip and incredibly funny. We are very sad to lose this trailblazer but are so thankful for her prolific body of work. Our thoughts are with her beloved family and friends.

    - Andrew Alexander, CEO & Executive Producer, The Second City



    9/4/2014 Comments (0)
  • Sep 3 2014

    Stephen Colbert On Late Night with Seth Meyers

    If you didn't catch SC alum, Stephen Colbert, on Late Night with Seth Meyers, here's a clip -- one where he sings a lil' song from his time at Second City nonetheless!

    9/3/2014 Comments (0)
  • Aug 11 2014

    SC Alum, Christina Anthony, Lands Role in "Found" Off-Broadway

    Found features a book by Tony Award nominee Hunter Bell ([title of show]) and Lee Overtree and original music and lyrics by Eli Bolin.

    The ensemble cast of ten includes Christina Anthony ("The Second City," "Key & Peele"), Nick Blaemire(Godspell, Glory Days), Andrew Call (Rock of Ages, American Idiot),Daniel Everidge (Grease, Fat Camp), Orville Mendoza (Peter and the Starcatcher, Pacific Overtures), Betsy Morgan (Les Misérables, A Little Night Music), Molly Pope (Molly Pope, Okay?; Introducing Molly Pope), Danny Pudi ("Community," "Gilmore Girls"), Sandy Rustin (Rated P [for parenthood], Modern Orthodox) and Barrett Wilbert Weed (Bare, Heathers).

    "Found is an original musical based on scores of surprising and eccentric discarded notes and letters that have been 'found' in the real world by every-day people," press notes state. "Inspired by actual events, the show follows Davy (Blaemire) who, along with his two best friends, is lost and broke. When he finds a strangely revealing note on his windshield meant for someone else, it sparks an outlandish idea that finds him and his compatriots on a wild, comedic journey. This raucous and insightful new musical tells a story of ambition, betrayal and loyalty while celebrating the weirdness in all of us."

    For the full article, click here.

    8/11/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jul 10 2014

    George Morrison, Compass Player Alum, Dies at 86

    The Second City is saddened by the death of Compass Players director and esteemed acting teacher, George Morrison at the age of 86. In addition to being a director with the Compass Players, George also founded the New Actors Workshop with fellow Compass Players Mike Nichols and Second City co-founder Paul Sills in 1988.

    Our thoughts are with his friends and family. Click here to learn more about the life of George Morrison.

    7/10/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jul 10 2014

    SC Alums Sweep Up Emmy Nominations

    Congrats to all of our TourCo and SC resident stage alums that received Emmy Nominations last night!

    • Amy Poehler
    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus
    • Stephen Colbert
    • Tina Fey
    • Tom Purcell
    • Paul Dinello
    • Keegan Michael Key
    • Rebecca Drysdale
    • Rich Talarico
    • Jane Lynch
    • Joshua Funk
    • Ian Roberts

    7/10/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jul 1 2014

    The Second City Remembers Paul Mazursky

    It is with great sadness that The Second City learned of the passing of film director, screenwriter, actor and Second City alum Paul Mazursky in Los Angeles last night. Mazursky earned an Oscar nomination for directing his first film "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" in 1969. Other films he wrote and directed include the Oscar winning "Harry and Tonto," "An Unmarried Women" which was nominated for Best Picture and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills." Paul Mazursky performed with The Second City in 1961 in a long running engagement at the Ivar Theatre in Los Angeles. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.


    7/1/2014 Comments (0)