Friday September 22nd 2017

The 44th Annual Jeff Awards Equity

Chicago is a “theater city”! No matter what those people out East think, there is none better than the Chicago theater performers, production people and those who make the theater very special- audiences who appreciate the work done by those who devote their lives to the art form we call “Live Theater”. Those who are on our stages, members of Equity ( now 100 years old), are honored each year by the Joseph Jefferson Committee, who select those who have done outstanding work in different categories in various categories. This, the 44th Annual presentation, that took place at Drury Lane Oakbrook, was an evening to remember. For three hours, we were entertained with excerpts from the nominated musicals, scenes from some of the marvelous works that graced our stages and also a little story about the union itself- Equity is in fact the union that allowed performers rights that they were not granted back in the early days. Yes, while people enjoyed the productions that entertained them, the performers were underpaid and had no recourse or benefits. Today, thanks to Actors’ Equity, they are paid for performing as well as rehearsal and have benefits that allow them to live a normal life. Bravo to Equity!

Thee evening’s activities were hosted by Susie McMonagle and Nick Sandys ( names very familiar to Chicago theater audiences) and as usual the announcing was done by J. Chris Baum. A host of local performers took the stage to read the nominees and open the envelope that , for many recipients, is a reason to rejoice or cry ( or like our Cubs, say “wait until next year”). A wonderful evening was had by all with some delicious food before and after the ceremony. You do not have to be IN the theater scene to enjoy an evening like this. If you enjoy watching TV Award shows, and wish you could be in one of those audiences, this is a chance to experience the same feeling and with a much nicer group of people. Yes, Chicago talent, both onstage and backstage, are far nicer than the “other” groups.

This years evening was produced by Merril Prager, who did a great job working alongside director Michael Weber ( who also wrote the script). Linda Madonia handled the orchestra and with the help of the Events Committee truly made this a very special night. Both large theaters and small participated in the evening with awards going to Chicago Shakespeare ( many for its amazing musical production “”Follies” ( a little known Sondheim production that took the city by storm), That amazing ( and long) “The Iceman Cometh” at The Goodman and Second City ( how do they keep creating this amazing comedy?). I  am putting the number of awards that each theater won at the end of this article, but you can read the entire award lits at


Chicago Shakespeare Theater 8
Goodman Theatre 7
Court Theater (1 in association with
Christopher McElroen Productions)
First Folio Theatre 2
lonesome road productions in association with
Jim Jensen and Lisselan Productions
Marriott Theatre 2
The Second City e.t.c. 2


“Follies” 6
“The Iceman Cometh” 6
“The Doyle & Debbie Show” 2
“HERO the Musical” 2
“The Turn of the Screw 2
“We’re All in This Room Together” 2
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