Billy is listed at #4.
What makes Chicago’s theater world special? We picked up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly for clues. In the cover story, “CSI” star William Petersen explains his decision to leave his role as one of the top paid actors in television, earning a rumored $600,000 an episode, to move back to Chicago and Chicago theater: “It was too safe for me at this point. So I needed to try and break that, and the way to do that, for me, is the theater.” EW went on to credit Petersen for much of the show’s success, notably bringing a theatrical ensemble philosophy to play in its production. Or consider the runaway success of Steppenwolf’s “August: Osage County,” which transferred to Broadway, receiving critical acclaim and multiple Tony Awards, not by shaking it up with Broadway “names” but instead by virtually transferring the Steppenwolf production intact, with the addition of lead producer and fellow Chicagoan Steve Traxler. What makes Chicago theater—or for that matter, Chicago dance or any other form of performance practiced on our stages—special? We’d contend it’s the power of the ensemble, the spirit of collaboration that champions artistic risk-taking and subordinates the commercial. And so, in that spirit, the critical ensemble responsible for Newcity’s ongoing stage coverage presents our take on the most influential people on and offstage in Chicago.
4. William PetersenActor, Steppenwolf ensemble – steppenwolf.org)
Within weeks of William Petersen’s spellbinding performance as the lead in Steppenwolf’s production of Conor McPherson’s “Dublin Carol,” the announcement was made that Petersen had become the forty-second member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, leaving his enormously successful and lucrative role as Dr. Gilbert Grissom on the popular CBS television network series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” to return to Chicago full-time. Long before his success in film and television, Petersen was a founding member of Remains Theatre, a Chicago ensemble that, like Steppenwolf in the 1970s, had helped define the storefront theater scene of the 1980s and whose co-founders also include current Steppenwolf members Gary Cole and “Dublin Carol” director Amy Morton.
Check out the rest of the list at New City Stage.