The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, and other area papers have all noted that Pegasus consistently produces exceptional, important work.
The New York Times Travel section in October 1997 listed Pegasus Players as one of two theatres not to be missed in any trip to Chicago.
Richard Christiansen of the Chicago Tribune has twice named Pegasus’ Artistic Director Arlene Crewdson as one of the top twenty Chicago artists who made memorable contributions, once in 1988 and again in 1991, citing her as “one of the most creative and determined producers in Chicago.”
Pegasus believes in choosing challenging scripts because of their artistic and social worth; therefore, the theatre frequently produces works that others do not consider commercially viable. For example, because of their artistic excellence, Pegasus has produced many of Stephen Sondheim’s musicals that were not initially successful on Broadway, such as Assassins, Merrily We Roll Along, Pacific Overtures, Anyone Can Whistle, The Frogs, Passion, and Company. Stephen Sondheim himself has recognized the company by becoming a financial, as well as artistic, supporter.
In the past, Pegasus has worked with the Human Relations Foundation to produce works that address sensitive racial, political, and discrimination issues.
In 1991, Pegasus Players and a team of Ellington scholars painstakingly reconstructed the “lost” Duke Ellington musical Jump for Joy (which attacked the racial stereotypes of the day and contains eight new Ellington songs never recorded, published, or heard by the public) and as a result was featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and National Public Radio.
The theatre’s sixteenth season opened with Duke Ellington’s only book musical, Beggar’s Holiday, which had not been produced since it closed in 1947. As a result of this production, twenty Ellington songs that had could have been lost forever were fully restored.
In 1993, Pegasus Players was also chosen by the United States government to represent United States culture in a tour of The Songs of Bubblin’ Brown Sugar through six countries in northern Africa. In 1993 alone, Pegasus’ productions were seen live by more than 150,000 people in this country and abroad, and by more than two million people on television in Egypt and Morocco, giving Pegasus one of the largest, most diverse audiences of any theatre in the United States.
“…Applause was continuous, and at the end of each half the performers drew whistles, cheers, stomping and standing ovations. Everyone who attended seems to have spread the word that the Pegasus Players put on the best cultural evening to reach Alexandria in years. Many people made a point of informing us that they were calling their Cairo friends and relatives to insist they go to the opera house shows…the postmortems are still coming, and the only complaint is that we didn’t present The Songs of Bubbling Brown Sugar for a second night.”
Egypt/North African Tour
In 1992, The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with British American Advanced Administrator Training Institute awarded the artistic director a Fellowship to study in London.
In fall 1994, Artistic Director Arlene Crewdson was sent by the U.S. government to represent the U.S. in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in that country’s first ever international theatre festival.
From 1990 to 1994, Pegasus Players productions were used by Dodger Productions of New York on year-long tours that traveled nationally. Plays such as Into the Woods, Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story, Once On This Island, and The Secret Garden were performed in almost every state in the union.
Pegasus Players’ Chicago Young Playwrights Festival has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, Time, Architectural Digest, Barron’s, Travel & Leisure, Sports, and Forbes through sponsorship with Toyota.
Artistic Director Arlene Crewdson was chosen to represent the city of Chicago in Egypt for the Department of Cultural Affairs in the Chicago Artists International Program.
Pegasus Players holds 77 Joseph Jefferson Citation awards for theatre excellence, Chicago’s equivalent to the Tony Awards, the largest amount of any theatre in this category.
Pegasus Players’ four outreach programs, the Young Playwrights Festival, the Senior/ Disabled Touring Program, ARTS (an arts blending program in the schools), and the Main Stage Outreach Program have been honored by the city of Chicago and the Joseph Jefferson Committee. Pegasus’ outreach programs have served close to 400,000 people.
Channel 20 in Chicago aired a half-hour documentary on the 1996 Young Playwrights Festival.
Pegasus produced the American premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s first musical, Saturday Night, during its twentieth-anniversary season.
Pegasus toured its production of Side by Side by Sondheim to Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, and Morocco in 2000 through the sponsorship of the United States Embassies in these countries.
In January 2000, Pegasus was one of four recipients of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Year 2000 Human Relations Award. This coveted citywide award was bestowed for Pegasus Players’ outstanding achievements in improving “intergroup understanding and cooperation in the city.” This award was bestowed because of Pegasus Players’ “socially-aware productions” and the theatre’s extensive outreach programs. Pegasus is the only arts organization ever to win the award.
In 2001, Pegasus became the first arts organization to win the James Brown IV Award of Excellence for Outstanding Community Service. This award, now in its 28th year, was established by the Chicago Community Trust Executive Committee to honor James Brown IV, whose leadership benefited the Trust during his twenty-four years as executive director. The award came with a $50,000 cash prize. Pegasus is the only arts organization to win the award.
In 2001, Pegasus Players produced the world-premiere musical Muscle by Broadway legend James Lapine, William Finn, and Ellen Fitzhugh.
In 2002, Pegasus Players returned to tour Egypt with The Fantasticks and Morocco with Chicago: Rhythms and Rhymes for the U.S. embassies in these countries.