Saturday December 3rd 2016

The 48th Annual Jeff Awards

 

jeff-headerOctober 17, 2016 – Chicago, IL. The gala 48th Annual Equity Jeff Awards held at Drury Lane Oakbrook on Monday, October 17, celebrated a season of outstanding productions.

Entering the Drury Lane building, one could feel the excitement of the evening. Thank goodness there was no Cubs game on this night! Actors, directors, critics, members of the Jeff Committee were mingling, having drinks, sharing gossip and those who were nimonated, feeling tension. I for one, feel that just being nominated in a “Theater City” such as ours, should be enough to feel elated. Winning is the icing on the cake. Drury Lane does things in a special way. Above the doors that take the audience into the theater itself, a mural with photos of all the nominees- another great touch. The lights wend down at 7:30 p.m. (give or take a few minutes) as the hor’s dourves and drinks ceased in the outer lobby, and the two hours of non-stop excitement began! Below you will find the evenings results!

Speaking of magic,The classic revenge tale “The Tempest”, reimagined at Chicago Shakespeare Theater as a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement, was recognized for Production-Play for a large theatre, Direction of a Play for Aaron Posner and Teller, Magic Design for “The Great Tomsoni” Johnny Thompson, and Lighting Design for Thom Weaver.tempest2-300x245

Porchlight Music Theatre’s “Dreamgirls”, the story of the aspirations and success of rhythm and blues artists in the 1960s and 70s, was honored with awards for Production-Musical for a midsize theatre, Principal Actress Donica Lynn, Supporting Actor Eric Lewis and Costume Designer Bill Morey.

harlanParamount Theatre’s “West Side Story” received awards for Production-Musical for a large theatre, newly named The Dr. Harlan Haimes Award, and for Supporting Actress Mary Antonini and Choreographer William Carlos Angulo. The Dr. Haimes Award is a new one, honoring the late Dr. Haimes, who was a true theater lover, even during his days of health decline, he made every effort to attend the theater with his wife, Susan and be with friends. His wife and daughters made the presentation of this new award and as an old friend, I would have to say, he would have been proud of tonight’s award and presentation!

The award for Production-Play of a midsize theatre went to “United Flight 232”, about the emergency landing of that flight, produced by The House Theatre of Chicago. Its cast was honored with the prestigious Ensemble award, sponsored by Actors’ Equity Association.

Rachel Rockwell received the statue for Director of a Musical in a large theatre for “Ride the Cyclone”, the story of school choir members who compete for another chance at life after a rollercoaster crash, which will soon open off Broadway.

Principal acting honors in a play went to Mary Beth Fisher for “Domesticated” at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Dexter Zollicoffer in Northlight Theatre’s “Charm”.  Principal actor in a musical was awarded to Nathaniel Stampley for “Man of La Mancha” at Marriott Theatre.

Brian Quijada was recognized with two awards: Solo Performance and Sound Design of his original autobiographical play “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?”, which expresses his curiosity about the role of Latinos in the Civil Rights era, produced by Teatro Vista in association with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Victory Gardens Theater.

Shari Addison received the award for Actor or Actress in a Revue for “Dynamite Divas” at Black Ensemble Theater.

Chicago continues to be a nurturing center for New Works, and top awards went to Philip Dawkins for “Charm” at Northlight Theatre, based on the true story of a transgender woman teaching etiquette to LGBTQ youth in Chicago, and to John Reeger, the late Julie Shannon and Michael Mahler for “The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes”, a musical tale of the mystery that ensues when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle kills off his famous detective.  The statue for New Adaptation was awarded to Robert Falls and Seth Bockley for their interpretation of Roberto Bolaño’s epic novel, 2666, with 15 actors playing 80 roles over five hours.

The awards for supporting actors in a play went to Jacqueline Williams in “The House That Will Not Stand” at Victory Gardens Theater and Mike Nussbaum in “The Price” at TimeLine Theatre Company.

A Special Award was presented to Michael Halberstam, Artistic Director of Writers Theatre.  Under his artistic leadership, from founding Writers Theatre in 1992 with performances in the back of a bookstore to its new state-of-the-art michael-halberstam-large-headshot-newfacility designed by world-renown Studio Gang Architects, Writers Theatre has attained a national reputation for excellence and has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry.

The capacity audience enjoyed live performances from nominated musicals and video performances from nominated plays.  The Equity Awards ceremony was directed by Michael Weber, with music direction by Linda Madonia and stage management by Colleen Tovar.  Merril Prager served as producer for the evening.  Actors Janet Ulrich Brooks and James Earl Jones II emceed the event.  Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a lavish Drury Lane buffet and dancing.

The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre, the Jeff Awards Committee is dedicated to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors. The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theatres and theatre artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and civic pride in the achievements of the theatre community. Each year, the Jeff Awards Committee evaluates over 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards Non-Equity Wing was established in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre. The next Non-Equity awards ceremony will be held at Park West on June 5, 2017.

2016 Equity Jeff Award Recipients

PRODUCTION – PLAY – LARGE
“The Tempest” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

PRODUCTION – PLAY – MIDSIZE
“United Flight 232” – The House Theatre of Chicago

PRODUCTION – MUSICAL – LARGE
“West Side Story” – Paramount Theatre

jeff-dgPRODUCTION – MUSICAL – MIDSIZE
“Dreamgirls” – Porchlight Music Theatre

DIRECTOR – PLAY
Aaron Posner and Teller – “The Tempest” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

DIRECTOR – MUSICAL
Rachel Rockwell – “Ride the Cyclone” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

ENSEMBLE
“United Flight 232” – The House Theatre of Chicago

ACTOR IN A PRINICPAL ROLE – PLAY
Dexter Zollicoffer – “Charm” – Northlight Theatre

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – MUSICAL
Nathaniel Stampley – “Man of La Mancha” – Marriott Theatre

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – PLAY
Mary Beth Fisher – “Domesticated” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – MUSICAL
Donica Lynn – “Dreamgirls” – Porchlight Music Theatre

ACTOR OR ACTRESS IN A REVUE
Shari Addison – “Dynamite Divas” – Black Ensemble Theater

SOLO PERFORMANCE
Brian Quijada – “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?” – Teatro Vista in association with the
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Victory Gardens Theater

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – PLAY
Mike Nussbaum – “The Price” – TimeLine Theatre Company

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL
Eric Lewis – “Dreamgirls” -Porchlight Music Theatre

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – PLAY
Jacqueline Williams – “The House That Will Not Stand” – Victory Gardens Theater

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL
Mary Antonini – “West Side Story” – Paramount Theatre

NEW WORK
Philip Dawkins – “Charm” – Northlight Theatre
John Reeger, Julie Shannon and Michael Mahler – “The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes”
– Mercury Theater Chicago

NEW ADAPTATION
Robert Falls and Seth Bockley – “2666” – Goodman Theatre

CHOREOGRAPHY
William Carlos Angulo – “West Side Story” – Paramount Theatre

ORIGINAL MUSIC IN A PLAY
Diego Colon and Christopher Kriz – “The Grapes of Wrath” – The Gift Theatre

MUSIC DIRECTION
Ryan T. Nelson – “Man of La Mancha” – Marriott Theatre

SCENIC DESIGN – LARGE
Jeffrey D. Kmiec – “Deathtrap” – Drury Lane Productions

SCENIC DESIGN – MIDSIZE
Sarah E. Ross – “The Rainmaker” – American Blues Theater

LIGHTING DESIGN – LARGE
Thom Weaver – “The Tempest” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

LIGHTING DESIGN – MIDSIZE
Mike Durst – “Adding Machine: A Musical” – The Hypocrites

COSTUME DESIGN – LARGE
Catherine Zuber – “War Paint” – Goodman Theatre

COSTUME DESIGN – MIDSIZE
Bill Morey – “Dreamgirls” – Porchlight Music Theatre

SOUND DESIGN – LARGE
André Pluess – “Treasure Island” – Lookingglass Theatre Company and
Berkeley Repertory Theatre

SOUND DESIGN – MIDSIZE
Brian Quijada – “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?” – Teatro Vista in association with the
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Victory Gardens Theater

PROJECTIONS / VIDEO DESIGN
Shawn Sagady – “2666” – Goodman Theatre

ARTISTIC SPECIALIZATION
Johnny Thompson – Magic Design – “The Tempest” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

2015-2016 EQUITY STATISTICS
In its 48th Equity season, August 1, 2015 through July 31, 2016, the Jeff Awards Committee judged the opening nights of 158 productions from 58 producing organizations.  Of these, 112 productions were “Jeff Recommended”, which made them eligible for award nominations.

All in all, it was a FIVE STAR EVENT and a wonderful evening of entertainment, on the stage and off- Love was in the air and love of theater is what we all have!

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