Cortney Hall and Matthew Rodrigues to Host Porchlight Music Theater’s ICONS GALA

Cortney Hall and Matthew Rodrigues of NBC5’s “Chicago Today” will host Porchlight Music Theater’s award-winning fundraising event, the ICONS Gala. The ICONS Gala, chaired by Joe Higgin and Scott Hoesman, will be Friday, September 23 at 5:30 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, 160 E. Pearson St. This year’s special event includes the presentation of the ICON Award to one of Broadway’s greatest singers and dancers. Ladies, Tony Award Winner Donna McKechnie. The evening will include a performance by Ms. McKechnie, an intimate conversation on stage with a journalist Paul Lisnek and the presentation of the ICON Prize, the presentation of the Luminary Prize to Dan Ratner and the Geneviève and Daniel Ratner Foundation, performances celebrating Ms. McKechnie’s career and a silent auction. Single tickets, table reservations and sponsorships are now on sale on

The ICONS Gala is Porchlight’s annual celebration that includes a cocktail reception, three-course wine dinner and awards presentations, peppered with stunning performances from Porchlight favorites saluting the impressive career of Ms. McKechnie created specifically for the ICONS Gala. Performer in tributes to music and dance, led by the artistic director Michael Weber with co-direction and choreography by Jenna Choppe and music directed by Linda Madonia are Christopher Chase Carter (additional performer/choreography), Gilbert Domally (interpreter), Kelly Felthous (additional performer/choreography), Reneisha J. Jenkins (additional performer/choreography), Hanah Rose Nardone (interpreter) and will jump (interpreter). Joining Madonia on keyboard in the ICONS group are Marcel Reimao Bonfim (low); Justin Akira Kono (battery) and Jonathan Golco (reeds).

The ICONS Gala was launched in 2012 and honored Hal Prince, Elaine Stritch, Bob Fosse, Ethel Triton and Fred Astaire among others. In 2020, the ICON Award, celebrating an outstanding artist who has made an indelible contribution to American entertainment through our art form of musical theatre, was created and presented to living legends Joel Gray and, more recently, Chita Rivera.

The Luminary Award, given this year to Dan Ratner and the Geneviève and Daniel Ratner Foundation, recognizes an outstanding individual, family, or family foundation with a history of philanthropic and volunteer leadership on behalf of Porchlight and Chicago Musical Theater. Past winners include Rick and Dean Bayless and the Bayless Family Foundation, Elaine Cohen and Arlen D. Rubin, jim jensen and John Klingenstein.

ON Donna McKechnie2022 ICON Award Recipient

Donna McKechnie, who received a Tony Award for her performance as “Cassie” in the original A Chorus Line company, is internationally regarded as one of Broadway’s leading singers and dancers. Ms. McKechnie has performed and choreographed productions in London’s West End, as well as theater productions in Tokyo and Paris.

Some of Mrs. McKechnie’s Broadway credits include the original Broadway productions of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Education of Hyman KaplanPromises, Promises, Company, State Fair, (Fred Astaire Award) and The Visit as well as On the Town, Sweet Charity, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Sondheim: A Musical Tribute (which she also choreographed).

Ms. McKechnie has performed and/or choreographed many regional plays and musicals including Follies, Mack and Mabel, Gypsy, The Glass Menagerie, Sweet Charity, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, Guys and Dolls and can be seen in concert and with Symphony Orchestras as well as TV specials and drama series such as “Fame”, “Cheers” and “Dark Shadows”. She was featured in the movie “Every Little Step” and played “Rose” in the movie “The Little Prince.”

She will open and present her one woman show, “Take Me to The World – The Songs of Stephen Sondheim” This year.

Ms. McKechnie’s memoir, “Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life”, was published by Simon and Schuster. She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2019. For more information, go to


Dan Ratner is an entrepreneur, technologist and writer. He is co-founder and CEO of Public Good, the leader in connecting news with the actions people can take to make a difference in the world. Ratner loves explaining technical topics to non-technical audiences and has co-authored two best-selling books on nanotechnology, a white paper on the importance of social causes to brands, two peer-reviewed academic articles on artificial intelligence and flies solo on an upcoming novel about Marco Polo. His writings have been published worldwide in six languages ​​in media ranging from USA Today to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He is also a board member of Cure Violence Global, the first anti-violence NGO in the United States. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer at Obama for America 2012 and CTO of Sittercity, America’s first and largest service dedicated to finding quality care online. Him and his wife Genevieve Thiers personally express their generosity through the Geneviève and Daniel Ratner Foundation. He is passionate about using technology to make the world a better place by empowering everyone to make a difference.


Cortney Hall is the Emmy-nominated host of NBC Chicago’s “Chicago Today” lifestyle show. She and her co-host, Matthew Rodrigues, enjoy taking viewers on a journey through Chicago’s bustling neighborhoods and suburbs. They explore the latest hotspots, chat with celebrities, and explore trends in beauty, fashion, food, and entertainment. Born and raised in Chicago, Hall previously worked as an anchor for nearly a decade at WGN Morning News and CLTV. Before returning home, Cortney was a news anchor and reporter in Orlando, Florida. She worked as a producer at Bloomberg News in New York and began her reporting career at WCIA news in Champaign, Illinois. She also hosted the Chicago Bulls arena for four seasons, entertaining an audience of 21,000 basketball fans at the United Center. Hall earned her BS from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in 2003, but learned the art of storytelling at the Medill School of Journalism in Northwestern University where she obtained her master’s degree.


Matthew Rodrigues is the Emmy-nominated host of “Chicago Today” with Cortney Hall, which is now in its fourth season, airing on NBC5. This dynamic show highlights the best Chicago has to offer in food, fashion, entertainment, adventure, parenthood and more. Additionally, he has traveled the world to source, host and produce engaging video content for HotelTonight, Airbnb and Tastemade Travel. Whether it’s sipping the best-selling wine produced in Valle de Guadalupe, paddling a 2000-pound pumpkin-turned boat in Portland, OR, or researching the origin of the hamburger in Germany, the energy and l Rodrigues’ expertise has helped millions of viewers discover the fun in all adventures. For five years, he was the main presenter and producer of the largest independent women’s media company, POPSUGAR. While there, he flew to more than 36 destinations for the Hilton travel series “Find Your Happy” and served as the host of the celebrity and lifestyle TV show, “POPSUGAR Now.” During that time, he interviewed Hollywood stars and hosted live shows on the Oscars red carpet. He has worked with big names in the industry such as NBC, Tastemade Travel, HotelTonight, Hilton, Circus of the sunCBS’s The Talk, Wanderlust, ABC’s “The View” and FOX.


Paul Lisnek is a multi-Emmy, Beacon, Telly, Cablefax and Communicator award-winning television personality. He hosts WGN-TV’s Political Report and is WGN-TV’s political analyst appearing on all of WGN’s #1 rated newscasts. He hosts the WGN podcast”Paul Lisnek Behind the Curtain,” featuring interviews with entertainment personalities like Joel Gray, Lucie Arnaz, Anthony Michael Hall, Richard Thomas and Beth Level. He hosts “Newsmakers” and “Broadway in Chicago Backstage” for the Comcast network where he sits with the cast of major Broadway shows like Hamilton, Wicked, Paradise Square, Moulin Rouge and, most recently, The Devil Wears Prada. The Museum of Broadcast Communications is home to the Paul M. Lisnek Gallery, a permanent tribute to Paul’s work in television and radio. He has written 15 books, including two works of fiction, Assume Guilt and Assume Treason, which was named a finalist for the Indie Award Best Mystery of the Year.


Porchlight Music Theater is Chicago’s award-winning musical theater center. Through live performances, youth education and community outreach, we impact thousands of lives each season, bringing the magic of musicals to our theater at Ruth’s Page Center for the Arts on the Gold Coast and in city districts. Porchlight has earned a national reputation for boldly reimagining classic musicals, supporting new work and young performers, and showcasing Chicago’s most notable musical theater artists, all through the lens intimate and powerful theatrical “Chicago Style”.

Porchlight’s history over the past 27 years includes over 70 major works with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Porchlight’s commitment to the past, present and future of musical theater has led the company to develop the Porchlight Revisits and New Faces Sing Broadway series of programs, which have quickly become audience favourites.

Porchlight’s education and outreach programs target schools, youth of all ages and skill levels, and community organizations, including the ongoing collaboration with Chicago Youth Centers. Porchlight awards dozens of full scholarships and hundreds of free tickets each year to ensure accessibility and genuine engagement with this uniquely American art form.

The company’s many accolades include 178 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations (Jeff) and 45 Jeff Awards, as well as 44 Black Theater Alliance (BTA) nominations and 12 BTA Awards. In 2019, Porchlight graduated from the Large Theater Level of the Equity Jeff Awards and was honored with eight nominations in the Technical and Artistic categories and won three awards in its first year at this level, including Best Ensemble for Duke Ellingtonsophisticated ladies.

During the global pandemic, Porchlight has become one of the leaders in virtual programming in Chicago, quickly launching a slew of free offerings such as Sondheim @ 90 Roundtables, Movie Musical Mondays, Porchlight by Request: Command Performances, and WPMT: Classic Musicals from the Golden Age of Radio. . In 2021, Porchlight launched its annual summer series, Broadway in your garden, performing in city parks and venues.

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