Steppenwolf Announces Pants Optional: A Steppenwolf Soirée

Steppenwolf Theatre Company replaces its 2020 Gala with a special online event, Pants Optional: A Steppenwolf Soirée, celebrating the power of theater and raising vital funds to keep it alive during a time of necessary social-distancing. Ensemble member Audrey Francis emcees this festive virtual gathering on Saturday, May 9, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. CST, with special appearances by Steppenwolf ensemble members Joan Allen, Gary Cole, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez and Laurie Metcalf, along with celebrity guests who will be announced on Steppenwolf’s social media channels and website. Free of charge and open to all, Pants Optional is an opportunity for Steppenwolf, its community of artists, audiences and supporters to connect, engage and take a collective breath. 

Steppenwolf ensemble members including Joan Allen, Gary Cole, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez and Laurie Metcalf and esteemed celebrity guests will make special appearances in this unforgettable virtual soirée, uniting with Steppenwolf supporters, audiences and fans viewing the event from the comfort of their homes. Throughout the evening, guests will be able to give online, by phone or by text to help raise funds to bring back to the stage I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, this season’s Steppenwolf for Young Adults hit world premiere based on the award-winning novel by Erika L. Sánchez, adapted by celebrated Chicago playwright Isaac Gómez. The extended and sold out run was cut short by the COVID-19 crisis and remounting the production in the Spring of 2021 would bring back to life this essential Chicago story for those who were unable to see it and others who want to see it again. 

Wrapping up Steppenwolf’s spectacular online bash, attendees can participate in a virtual dance party with the talented DJ Tracy Young, who won a 2020 Grammy for her remix of Madonna’s I Rise

Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro shares, “Although our traditional gala is always a wonderful night that we look forward to, I know that this year’s event will be truly special. Being able to come together online with a greater swath of Steppenwolf artists, audiences and supporters for a collective moment of joy during these difficult times is just what we need to support live theater and each other. “

Pants Optional: A Steppenwolf Soirée co-chairs include ensemble member Joan Allen; trustee Susan Berghoef; ensemble members Gary Cole and Sandra Marquez; and trustee Anne Phillips and Don Phillips.

“Every year we look forward to a fun celebration with artists, ensemble, trustees and guests in support of the incredible work that Steppenwolf Education does season after season. We’re thrilled that this year’s virtual platform allows us to expand our reach by making it free and open to all. What better way to uplift the power of live theatre than raising funds to bring back a production that was so meaningful to our teen and public audiences. We are looking forward to reuniting with our Steppenwolf community online with this event and at our theatre again in the future,” shared Executive Director David Schmitz.

Pants Optional: A Steppenwolf Soirée lead sponsors are Anne and Don Phillips with additional support from Innovators Allstate, The Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation, Exelon, Grosvenor Capital Management, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, The Orlebeke Foundation and The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation and Visionary Sponsors Douglas R. Brown and Rachel Kraft, CRC Group, The Crown Family, DLA Piper LLP (US), Cameron and Amy Findlay, Green Courte Partners, LLC, ITW, Chris and Eileen Murphy, Norcon, Inc., Bruce Sagan and Bette Cerf Hill, Deborah and Stephen Quazzo, Matthew Shapiro, Sterling Bay, John and Carol Walter Family Foundation, Steppenwolf Associates and United Airlines.

For more details on how to stream Pants Optional: A Steppenwolf Soirée, visit