(October 2, 2023 CHICAGO) At the 55th anniversary celebration of Equity theater excellence, the Jeff Awards recognized 46 award recipients selected from among 214 theater artist nominees across 32 artistic and technical categories from among productions at 35 companies. Award-winning Chicago actor, director and voiceover artist Lorenzo Rush Jr. hosted the theater celebration along with Jeff Awards recipient and announcer Janet Ulrich Brooks, in a program featuring performances from 14 nominated productions and dozens of local theater artists as presenters. Johanna McKenzie Miller directed the awards program with music direction by Carolyn Jean Brady.
The Goodman Theatre received the most awards for a large theater (12) and midsize theater Teatro Vista was honored with eight awards. The Goodman production of "The Who's Tommy" was recognized with nine awards including Production Musical, Direction - Musical (Des McAnuff), Musical Director (Rick Fox), Ensemble which was shared with Court Theatre (The Gospel According to Colonus), Performer in a Principal Role Musical (Ali Louis Bourzgui ), Choreography (Lorin Latarro), Lighting Design (Amanda Zieve), Sound Design (Gareth Owen), and Projection Design (Peter Nigrini). Additional awards for "The Cherry Orchard" included Production Play and Direction (Robert Falls), and Rebecca Gilman's new work Swing State. The Dream King, at Teatro Vista, garnered multiple honors for author, actor and composer Marvin Quijada, along with scenic, sound, lighting and puppet design, as well as the award for Production Play which it shared with American Blues Theater (Fences).
Three theaters each collected three awards. American Blues Theater received honors for its production of Fences including Director Midsize (Monty Cole), Performer in a Principal Role (Kamal Angelo Bolden) and Production Play Midsize. Rivendell Theatre took awards for "Motherhouse" including Ensemble, Performer in a Supporting Role (Meighan Gerachis) and New Work (Tuckie White). Porchlight Music Theatre's production of "Cabaret" received two performance awards for Principal Role Musical (Erica Stephan), Supporting Role Musical (Mary Robin Roth) and for Costumes (Bill Morey).
Additional awards were presented for Performer in a Revue to Felicia P. Fields "Pearl's Rollin' with the Blues, at Writers Theatre) and Evan Mills (Don't Quit Your Daydream, at The Second City). Performer in a Supporting Role Play also went to Karen Aldridge (Is God Is, at A Red Orchid Theatre) and in the Musical category, Elizabeth Stenholt ("Fun Home" at Paramount Theatre) and Joy Woods (The Notebook, at Chicago Shakespeare Theater) shared Performer in a Supporting Role honors. For her work in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" at Mercury Theater Chicago, Alexis J. Roston received the award for Solo Performance. And directing honors also went to Elizabeth Margolius (Director Musical Midsize) for "London Road" at Shattered Globe Theatre, which also received the award for Production Musical Midsize.
Among the technical awards, Scenic Design (Large) was shared by Andrew Boyce ("gatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express Drury Lane Productions) and Jeffrey Kmiec (Into the Woods Paramount Theatre) and Joe Schermoly received the award for Midsize theater for The Dream King. Additional Costume Design awards went to Robert Kuhn (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Mercury Theater Chicago). "The Who's Tommy" and "The Dream King" captured sound design awards for Gareth Owen and Matthew Chapman, as well as lighting design honors for Amanda Zieve and Conchita Avitia.
Other technical honors went to Peter Nigrini for Projection Design in "The Who's Tommy" at Goodman Theatre. Artistic Specialization recognition was awarded to puppet designers for two productions including Drew Dir (Manual Cinema's Christmas Carol Writers Theatre and Manual Cinema) and Mike Oleon (The Dream King Teatro Vista). The Properties Design team of Amanda Herrmann and Yu Shibagaki also received the Artistic Specialization Award for their work in "Lucy and Charlie's Honeymoon" at Lookingglass Theatre Company.
In the recently added Short Run Productions category (defined by 9-17 performances), awards were presented to Court Theatre (Production) for "The Island" and to Kelly Anne Clark for Performer in "Being Seen" at RG Productions.
The Jeff Awards New Work category recognized authors of four new productions. They included Bekah Brunstetter and Ingrid Michaelson (The Notebook Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Rebecca Gilman (Swing State Goodman Theatre), and Tuckie White (Motherhouse Rivendell Theatre Ensemble). In addition to New Work, Marvin Quijada (The Dream King Teatro Vista) also received the award for Original Music along with co-creators Matthew Chapman, Elliott Taggart and Ethan T. Parcell.
Robert Falls received the Equity Special Award for his visionary direction and impact on Chicago theater. An internationally recognized theater artist, Falls has had a career spanning more than four decades where he has received multiple honors including a Tony Award, Obie Award, Helen Hayes Award and over a dozen Jeff Awards, along with other prestigious recognition and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame. Under his artistic leadership at the Goodman Theatre, the organization received a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre and was named "the number one regional theater in the U.S." by Time magazine. At the Goodman, he also directed more than 40 productions and produced/co-produced hundreds of plays including more than 150 world premieres, with more than two dozen shows transferring to Broadway and earning over 20 Tony Awards.
In its 55th Anniversary season, July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023, the Jeff Awards membership judged the opening nights of 105 productions from 40 producing organizations. Of these, 88 productions were "Jeff Recommended," which made them eligible for award nominations.
55th ANNIVERSARY EQUITY JEFF AWARD RECIPIENTS:
Production - Play (Large)
"The Cherry Orchard" Goodman Theatre
Production - Play (Midsize)
"The Dream King" Teatro Vista
"Fences" American Blues Theater
Production Musical (Large) - The Dr. Harlan Haimes Award
"The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Production Musical (Midsize)
"London Road" Shattered Globe Theatre
Director - Play (Large) - The Michael Maggio Award
Robert Falls "The Cherry Orchard" Goodman Theatre
Director Play (Midsize)
Monty Cole "Fences" American Blues Theater
Director - Musical (Large)
Des McAnuff "The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Director - Musical (Midsize)
Elizabeth Margolius "London Road" Shattered Globe Theatre
"Motherhouse" Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Ensemble Musical or Revue
"The Gospel at Colonus" Court Theatre
"The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Performer in a Principal Role - Play
Kamal Angelo Bolden (Troy Maxson) "Fences" American Blues Theater
Marvin Quijada (Actor) "The Dream King" Teatro Vista
Performer in a Principal Role Musical
Ali Louis Bourzgui (Tommy) "The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Erica Stephan (Sally Bowles) "Cabaret" Porchlight Music Theatre
Alexis J. Roston (Billie Holiday) "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" Mercury Theater Chicago
Performer in a Revue
Felicia P. Fields "Pearl's Rollin' With the Blues" Writers Theatre
Evan Mills "Don't Quit Your Daydream" The Second City
Performer in a Supporting Role - Play
Karen Aldridge (She) "Is God Is" A Red Orchid Theatre
Meighan Gerachis (Aunt Weezie) "Motherhouse" Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Performer in a Supporting Role - Musical
Mary Robin Roth (Fraulein Schneider) "Cabaret" Porchlight Music Theatre
Elizabeth Stenholt (Medium Alison) "Fun Home" Paramount Theatre
Joy Woods (Middle Allie) - "The Notebook" Chicago Shakespeare Theater
New Work - The Libby Adler Mages Award
Bekah Brunstetter and Ingrid Michaelson "The Notebook" Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Rebecca Gilman "Swing State" Goodman Theatre
Marvin Quijada "The Dream King" Teatro Vista
Tuckie White "Motherhouse" Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Scenic Design (Large)
Andrew Boyce "Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express" Drury Lane Productions
Jeffrey D. Kmiec "Into the Woods" Paramount Theatre
Scenic Design (Midsize)
Joe Schermoly "The Dream King" Teatro Vista
Costume Design (Large)
Bill Morey "Cabaret" Porchlight Music Theatre
Costume Design (Midsize)
Robert Kuhn "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" Mercury Theater Chicago
Sound Design (Large)
Gareth Owen "The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Sound Design (Midsize)
Matthew Chapman "The Dream King" Teatro Vista
Lighting Design (Large)
Amanda Zieve "The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Lighting Design (Midsize)
Conchita Avitia "The Dream King" Teatro Vista
Lorin Latarro "The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Rick Fox "The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Original Music in a Play
Matthew Chapman, Marvin Quijada, Elliot Taggart and Ethan T. Parcell "The Dream King" Teatro Vista
Peter Nigrini "The Who's Tommy" Goodman Theatre
Drew Dir Puppet Design "Manual Cinema's Christmas Carol" Writers Theatre and Manual Cinema
Amanda Hermann and Yu Shibagaki Properties Design "Lucy and Charlie's Honeymoon"
Lookingglass Theatre Company
Mike Oleon Puppet Design "The Dream King" Teatro Vista
Short Run - Production
"The Island" Court Theatre
Short Run - Performer
Kelly Anne Clark (The Actor) "Being Seen" RG Productions
By Theater Company
Goodman Theatre 12
American Blues Theater......3
Porchlight Music Theatre......3
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble......3
Chicago Shakespeare Theater......2
Mercury Theater Chicago......2
Shattered Globe Theatre......2
"The Who's Tommy"......9
"The Dream King"......8
"The Cherry Orchard"......2
Marvin Quijada......3 1 with Matthew Chapman, Elliot Taggart and Ethan T. Parcell
Matthew Chapman......2 1 with Marvin Quijada, Elliot Taggart and Ethan T. Parcell
ABOUT THE JEFF AWARDS
The Jeff Awards is one of the most active and engaged theater awards organizations in the country evaluating hundreds of theatrical productions annually and holding two awards ceremonies highlighting work over the past Equity and Non-Equity seasons. Through our recommendations, awards, and honors we help foster the growth of companies, encourage artists, bring new appreciation for diverse storytelling, and cultivate civic pride in the achievements of the Chicago theater community. Originally chartered in 1968 to recognize Equity productions, the Jeff Awards Non-Equity Wing was established in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre. For more information, visit www.jeffawards.org .