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Theater Producer Abbie DeSantis

abbie-desantisLike few other producers in the Midwest, Abbie DeSantis can say that she literally grew up in the local theater scene: She’s been closely connected with it since childhood, learning the ropes from her grandfather, Drury Lane Theatre founder Anthony DeSantis. Today, Abbie produces for Drury Lane, working alongside brothers Kyle and Drew. (Cousins Jason and Tom VanLente also serve as producers.)

“I love the quote, ‘Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire’ (‘No matter where you go or turn, you will always end up at home,’)” says DeSantis, whose ancestors hail from outside of Rome. “My work and my family are so intertwined, and they’re both integral to me. Many of our holidays were spent working together at Drury Lane. There is no better playground than growing up in a theater, surrounded by your siblings and cousins.”

Today, DeSantis upholds the family tradition of offering folks high-quality dining and theater at an affordable price. “We have taken what my grandfather built and have expanded on it with our own vision,” DeSantis says. “My family passionately supports the arts and it is our goal to put the very best possible product on stage.”

DeSantis’ background reflects strengths in a variety of areas. A graduate of Boston University’s School of Hospitality, Abbie also has a big place in her heart for the Indigenous Education Foundation. A volunteer with IEFT since 2008, she obtained her English as a Foreign Language teaching certificate in northern Tanzania.

She also loves fashion and has lent her support to local fashion designers. What’s more, “My family has ardently supported Catholic Charities over the years. We celebrate our Catholic heritage as much as our Italian one; they go hand in hand in my family.”

DeSantis also reports fond backstage memories as a girl, when she was wowed by the costumes and big-ticket production numbers. That explains in large part why she strives to make Drury Lane a home for top-notch family entertainment. “It touches my heart to see young audiences that may be experiencing the art form of a musical for the first time, and remembering my first time seeing a musical at Drury Lane,” she says.

As for the future, DeSantis notes that for all the thrills she still gets bringing a new show to life, nothing compares to the sublime joy of working alongside family. “I am enjoying working with my brothers and cousins, and it has been really gratifying to all of us to see our subscription rates grow over the last several years,” she says. “We hope to create audiences of the future, not just for our theater, but for others as well, and our venue lends itself to family outings, with the restaurant steps away from the theater.”

A wonderful dinner, of course, is just the half of it: “We love to do large-scale musicals that leave audiences wowed — by the talent, the sets and the entire experience.”

About Lou Carlozo

Lou Carlozo is award-winning journalist who spent 20 years reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune. He began writing for Fra Noi in 2007, and claims maternal and paternal southern Italian lineage. The monthly Lou&A columnist and a music reviewer/writer, his work has appeared in Reuters, Aol, The Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor and news outlets around the world. In 1993, he was a Pulitzer Prize team-reporting finalist for his contributions to the Tribune’s “Killing Our Children” series. He resides in Chicago with his wife of 21 years, a hospital chaplain, and their teenage son and daughter.