Monday, September 23, 2013

Loving The Devil’s Ball for its “Old Chicago” Charm

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By Ashley May Coussens, Secretary of the Auditorium Theatre Junior Board

As I hurried up to the Auditorium Theatre in my favorite heels on September 28, 2012, I was amazed by the throng of people - all dressed to the nines - crowding the front doors and eagerly holding their tickets to The Devil's Ball. Even though it was my second year being on the hosting Junior Board, and even though I, as a member of the Event Planning Committee, knew exactly what was in store, I couldn't help but feel delighted when I was handed a glass of sparkling champagne as I walked through the threshold to the vast room before me. I felt like royalty as I took in the elegant charm of the theatre lobby, alive in all the glory of its 1889 splendor. It truly did feel like a night in "Old Chicago,” although there was a distinct atmosphere filled with the energy of a new generation of art-lovers, not to mention part-lovers, too! Hundreds of people filled the room with excitement - flooding the silent auction tables, buying as many wine raffle corks as they could carry in their clutch purses, tearing it up on the dance floor with the awesome DJ, making crazy faces with the funny accessories at the Smilebooth, enjoying the delectable hors d'oeuvres buffet, and - of course - drinking to their hearts' content. For all in attendance, it was an unforgettable night!

As I look forward to another fun-filled event this fall, I know that this year's Devil's Ball, sponsored by Rivers Casino, promises to be even better! One of the things I'm most excited for every year is the historical theatre tour. Sure, there are some great parties in this city, but how many of them are held in a National Historic Landmark as breathtakingly beautiful and historically rich as this? Full of intricately crafted architecture, the Auditorium was originally designed as an opera house but has been utilized for just about every type of event you could think of - ballets, classical music concerts, rock concerts, shows by famous comedians... At one point it was even used as a bowling alley! Who would have thought?! With 124 years of fascinating history in one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world, there are plenty of interesting new tidbits to learn at The Devil's Ball each year.  This year, the tours have an added layer of discovery - in addition to the traditional guided tours, guests will receive a map of all of the most fascinating areas of the theatre and have the opportunity to explore on their own the areas that interest them most! For me, even just standing on the stage as the performers do and looking out into the expansive and awe-inspiring house with all of its grandiose balconies is exhilarating.

A variety of other new and exciting features will add to event this year. We'll have tequila tastings and specialty cocktails, and Uber will be giving out free cab rides to lucky attendees. This year our silent auction will build even more suspense by going digital with Auctions by Cellular, allowing people to bid remotely and always keep an eye on that item they want, no matter where they are at the party. We'll even have "personal shoppers" to help those who aren't the most tech savvy, and they'll be there to make sure you can still bid even if your phone dies. Some highlights of the packages we'll be bidding on: Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bears, Chicago White Sox, Northwestern Football, Notre Dame Football, Broadway in Chicago, The Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Second City, Blue Man Group, performances by some of Chicago's top dance companies, cooking lessons, wine tastings, salon services... and so much more!

Every year I get more excited for The Devil's Ball - because a night in "Old Chicago" never gets old! Partying with the best of Chicago, all while knowing that you're helping a great cause by supporting the Auditorium's educational programs, architectural restoration, and world-class artistic performances - does it get any better than that? With the event less than a week away, be sure to mark your calendar for September 27, 2013, and get your ticket today.  Check out to see photos from last year's Smilebooth and hear why so many people keep coming back! Don't miss the event of the season - even Chicago Magazine agrees that it's "a devil of a time.”

Can't wait to see you there!
Ashley May Coussens
Secretary of the Auditorium Theatre Junior Board

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Devil's Ball - Through the Eyes of a Lens

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By Katy Bradford, 2012 Event Photographer

With the return of The Devil’s Ball this year, the Auditorium Theatre's Junior Board hosts an incredible evening of food, beverage and bidding. The lobby of the theatre provides an elegant backdrop for dancing and mingling.

Once you've grabbed a beverage and perused the silent auction items, you can mull over what to bid on while enjoying a complimentary backstage tour. While backstage you'll get a brief overview of the amazing musicians, dance companies, and actors who have graced the stage of the Auditorium Theatre. Next, stop by the photo booth to have photos taken. Props from boas to big sunglasses are provided, making your photos memorable, one of kind mementos of the evening for you and your friends to share.

Revisit the auction table to bid on a variety of silent auction items, ranging from professional photography sittings to Chicago Bears, Cubs and Sox ticket packages. If the silent auction doesn't get you, the Wine Cork Lottery may be more your speed. Corks are numbered and sold throughout the night. Winners then match their corks to a surprise bottle of wine to take home at the end of the evening. The selection includes a range of labels, even high-end bottles depending on how the corks fall.

As the evening winds down, the dancing continues and the silent auction winners are announced. The Devil's Ball is the perfect way to spend an evening with friends or come solo and meet new people who enjoy supporting the arts while having an incredible time.

Tickets for this year’s event can be purchased online through the Auditorium Theatre.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Growing Up with Ballet West [of "Breaking Pointe"]

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I am very excited to see Ballet West perform at the Auditorium Theater this fall. I grew up in Salt Lake City and feel a special kinship with Ballet West. I am bringing 60 people from my studio to the performance in order to share the experience.  Many people in Chicago would have no way of knowing the high quality of this ballet company unless they have been watching Breaking Pointe on television. 

Salt Lake City is a very unusual city.  Amidst the Rocky Mountains,  and less than 1/10 the size of Chicagoland , Salt Lake has an extremely strong arts community. The city has 3 modern dance companies of excellent repute, a fine symphony orchestra (The Utah Symphony), Ballet West, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the University of Utah, which has one of the best university ballet programs in the country. After establishing the San Francisco Ballet with his brothers Harold & Lew, Willam Christensen came to Salt Lake and began the University Ballet program in 1951.  Other universities had modern dance programs , but not a program for ballet dancers. He then went on to create  the Utah Civic Ballet which then became Ballet West in 1963. Bill Christensen was the first to stage  the full length Coppelia, Swan Lake and Nutcracker in the United States. 

When I was growing up in Salt Lake, one of the most exciting times of the year was the Nutcracker auditions. Children from Salt Lake area and even as far as Ogden came to audition. There were many strong ballet schools so the competition was fierce to be selected.  We used to do 24 performances of Nutcracker between Christmas and New Years, traveling  to Ogden, Logan, and Provo for additional performances. 

When I reached the university ballet department,  I was able to study with Bill Christensen, or Mr. C as we called him, and many other marvelous faculty members. Bill had an energy and charisma that made class fun and a drive for perfection that made us all better dancers. He has left a wonderful legacy of dance at the University and with Ballet West.  Ballet West now draws superb dancers from all over the country.  Under the leadership of Adam Sklute, the company is becoming even stronger. Last February I saw the Ballet West production of Cinderella in Salt Lake, and it was exquisite: beautiful ballet technique, amazing costumes and sets and excellent interpretation of the roles by the dancers. I would recommend that everyone take the opportunity to see this gem of a company at the Auditorium Theatre (October 4-6).

Click here for tickets and information.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Enter to Win #DevilsBall Tickets on Twitter!

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Enter to win a pair of FREE tickets to the Auditorium Theatre Junior Board's The Devil's Ball on Friday, September 27! The evening includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live DJ, theatre tours, auction and the return of the ever popular Smilebooth!

How to Enter: Tweet and complete the following prompt on Twitter to enter to win:

“If I won tix 2 #DevilsBall @AuditoriumChgo I would...”

Contest Rules: All entries must include #DevilsBall and @AuditoriumChgo. Only public tweets will be counted as entries. Enter as many times as you like for more chances to win!

One winner will be selected and contacted via Twitter on September 20th. The most creative tweet that represents/promotes the event will win.

SmileboothThe Devil's Ball from Smilebooth Chicago on Vimeo.

About the Junior Board:

The Auditorium Theatre Junior Board is a diverse group of young professionals committed to furthering the mission of the Auditorium Theatre. The Junior Board is devoted to raising awareness and generating support for the Auditorium’s educational outreach efforts and world-renowned programming and helping fund the restoration and preservation of our National Historic Landmark Auditorium Theatre.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The meaning behind "The Devil's Ball"

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“He play'd the music at the Devil's Ball
 In the Devil's hall
I saw the funniest devil that I ever saw…”
- Irving Berlin

The Devil’s Ball is a is an annual fundraiser thrown by our Junior Board in order to raise money and generate awareness for the Auditorium Theatre for continued support in artistic programming, education, and restoration efforts.

So now you ask, why the name, “The Devil’s Ball?” We’ve had several questions about the name lately, so we thought we’d clear up the confusion. The event was partially named after the songAt the Devil’s Ball (1913), composed by Irving Berlin. The song offers a view of life in a contemporary city of 1913 as exciting and glamorous. Mr. Berlin is a very well know composer, having created the scores for Madame Butterfly, Top Hat and even White Christmas, a song featured in Holiday Inn (1935). And just as a side note, he was popular icon within the Hollywood elite of the era; he was a very close friend and colleague with Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Ginger Rogers. We encourage you to listen to the song and read the full lyrics.

The Devil’s Ball was also inspired by the popular novel by Erik Larson and Chicago’s connection to the 1893 World’s Fair that the Auditorium Theatre was a part of. The author actually quotes some of the features of the Auditorium in his novel: "The result was an opulent structure that, for the moment, was the biggest private building in America. Its theater contained more than four thousand seats, twelve hundred more than New York's Metropolitan Opera House. And it was air-conditioned, through a system that blew air over ice."

So, now you know a little bit more about this event and the reference it has not only to the Auditorium Theatre, but also to Chicago’s history. The Devil’s Ball is a cocktail party that celebrates not only the Auditorium, but also ‘old Chicago’ in a gala event for those 21 years of age and above, as there will be an open bar.  The Junior Board is a group of young professionals dedicated to the preservation and restoration of our National Historic Landmark, Auditorium Theatre.  The event will also feature a silent auction, wine raffle, heavy appetizers, guided theatre tours of the historic Auditorium Theatre, a DJ and dancing.  Plus, make a trip to our popular return attraction, the Smilebooth. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore Chicago in a whole new way; dance with us at the Devil’s Ball.

The Devil's Ball
Presented by the Auditorium Theatre Junior Board and Rivers Casino

Venue: Auditorium Theatre Lobby
Dates: Friday, September 27, 2013
Times: 7:30 pm
Price: See Below

Join the Auditorium Theatre Junior Board for the third annual Devil's Ball. The evening includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live DJ, theatre tours, auction and the return of the ever popular Smilebooth!

$65 until September 13
$75 from September 14 - September 26
$85 at the door (cash only)

Use special offer code BALL when purchasing

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