CHICAGO
05/03/2011 01:37 pm ET | Updated Jul 03, 2011

Lookingglass Theatre Wins Regional Tony Award; Fifth Company In Chicago To Win Prize

Chicago's storied Lookingglass Theatre has become the fifth company in the city to win a prestigious Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, according to an announcement Tuesday morning.

Lookingglass was founded in 1988 by a group of Northwestern University graduates, who began by developing Lewis Carroll's "Through the Lookingglass" into the play "Lookingglass Alice," which became the signature work for the company.

One of its founding members was David Schwimmer, the star of TV's "Friends," as WBEZ reports. It also counts Tony-winning writer and director Mary Zimmerman among its 22 ensemble members and 15 affiliates.

Since 2003, the company has performed at the historic Water Tower on Michigan Avenue, the Chicago Sun-Times writes. It has produced 50 world premieres to date, and has an annual budget nearing $5 million.

"I cannot believe it," said Rachel Kraft, the executive director of the company, to the Chicago Tribune. "I didn't think Chicago would be so lucky. We were caught off-guard and we are thoroughly unprepared."

The Tribune has more on the history and style of the company:

In the annals of Chicago theater, Lookingglass was perhaps the first resident company to develop the kind of visual and movement-oriented sensibility and speciality that many did not associate with the early, in-your-face years of Chicago theater.

Ever since its founding, the vast bulk of the work at Lookingglass has been original pieces of theater, frequently original adaptations of non-dramatic source material. Lookingglass also has created a large number of circus-oriented pieces of theater (such as "Hephaestus"). Many of these have been the work of Larry DiStasi, another ensemble member and also a founder of the Actors' Gymnasium performing arts school in Evanston.

Lookingglass has enjoyed great support from the city of Chicago, which owns the historic Lookingglass space and rents it to the company for a nominal fee, an arrangement shepherded by Lois Weisberg, Chicago's former commissioner of cultural affairs. Lookingglass, however, created and developed the unusual and flexible theater inside the Water Tower Water Works.

Lookingglass joins the Goodman Theatre, the Victory Gardens Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in the ranks of local companies that have won the award, making Chicago the city with the most Regional Tonys in the country.

Company members will accept the award at the Tony awards in New York in June.