“I loved Sheldon. He was a brilliant teacher. And his focus was on the acting, and the inner wants and the goals. And he wouldn’t let you be up there and lie for a minute. I didn’t realize it at the time just how good he was, but he would not let you get away with a single bit of falseness. He would just push you and push you. Very nurturing.”
That’s former “Saturday Night Live” star and Second City Toronto standout Robin Duke talking about the late Chicago theater legend Sheldon Patinkin in 2008.
On Monday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. — four months after Patinkin died in late September at age 79 — a tribute to him titled “A Celebration of the Life of Sheldon Patinkin” will be held at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie and hosted by Patinkin’s former Columbia student Scott Adsit. Adsit starred at Second City in the 1990s and later on NBC’s sitcom “30 Rock.” Guest speakers include associates from his tenures at Second City and Steppenwolf Theatre as well as Columbia College, where Patinkin spent decades as head of the theater department. As per a recent press release, they include the following:
Steppenwolf Theatre co-founder and ensemble member (and former Columbia College Theatre faculty member) Jeff Perry (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy).
Tony- and Jeff Award-winning director, Steppenwolf ensemble member and Columbia College alumna Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County, Of Mice and Men).
Obie-and Jeff Award-winning director and actor David Cromer (Our Town), a Columbia College alum and former member of its theatre department.
Actress Martha Lavey, artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre.
Andrew Alexander, CEO and executive vice president of Second City and former producer of SCTV, for which Patinkin wrote and produced.
Anne Libera, director of comedy studies at Second City and coordinator of the Columbia College Theatre Department’s comedy writing and performance program.
Jeff Award-winning actor Michael Patrick Thornton, artistic director of the Gift Theatre and a former Patinkin student at Steppenwolf.
Jeff Award-winning actor-director-playwright Tom Mula, actress Meg Thalken and actress/director/former Columbia College academic dean Caroline Latta. All are Columbia College Theatre Department faculty members and longtime Patinkin collaborators.
Additional speakers include Columbia College president Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim and Patinkin’s family members Lynn Patinkin and Simon Landon.
“Sheldon was a very special person,” director and comedian David Steinberg said earlier this year. “He was important to everyone he worked with. He guided everyone. He negotiated real political waters. I might have been combative with everyone onstage, but they were serious about their hostilities. He could navigate the personalities. And he knew everything. Really, the most important thing you bring to Second City is information that no one else has, and intelligence that no one else has. My advantage was that theology stuff and other things. And I was a book reader. Sheldon had read everything that I had read. He was a teacher.”
*Patinkin’s Skokie memorial is free and open to the public, but all 770 seats are spoken for. However, those interested in attending can come to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie and put their names on a waiting list in case space becomes available.
Related: Robert Klein, George Wendt, Dave Thomas and David Steinberg remember Sheldon Patinkin