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Jeff Awards for Equity Theater presented
-- From a press release

This article shared 636 times since Tue Oct 18, 2022
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CHICAGO — In its 54th anniversary celebration of Equity theater excellence, the Jeff Awards recognized 46 award recipients selected from among 201 theater artist nominees across 38 artistic and technical categories on Oct. 17. Award-winning Chicago actor, singer and entertainer E. Faye Butler hosted the first live in-person awards program and tribute to the theater community since 2019. The spectacular event, under the direction of Jim Corti and music direction by David Fiorello, featured work of many of the nominated productions and dozens of local theater artists as presenters. Acceptance speeches will be posted to the Jeff Awards YouTube channel.

The Goodman and Paramount Theatres tied for the most awards with each taking home six this season. "Kinky Boots" received all six awards for Paramount, including Production — Musical (Large) and Musical Direction. Goodman Theater garnered five awards for "Good Night, Oscar", including Production — Play (Large), Sean Hayes for Performer in a Principal Role and Doug Wright for New Work, and one for "Gem of the Ocean".

A Red Orchid Theatre captured five awards for "The Moors", including Production — Play (Midsize) and Director for Kirsten Fitzgerald. Four awards were presented to Porchlight Music Theatre for "Blues in the Night" with honors for Production — Revue, as well as for Direction by Kenny Ingram, Musical Direction by David Fiorello, and Felicia P. Fields as Performer in a Revue.

Three theaters each collected three awards. Drury Lane Productions received two honors for "Steel Magnolias" for Ensemble — Play (Large), Elizabeth Ledo as Performer in a Supporting Role, and for Richard Bermudez as Performer in a Principal Role — Musical in "Evita". Steppenwolf Theatre Company was recognized for "Choir Boy" with awards for Ensemble — Play (Large), Sheldon D. Brown as Performer in a Supporting Role, and Jason Lynch for Lighting Design. Teatro Vista's "Somewhere Over the Border" received awards for Production — Musical (Midsize), Ensemble and Director Denise Yvette Serna.

Additional performance awards were presented for Performer in a Principal Role — Play to Cassidy Slaughter-Mason in "The Luckiest" at Raven Theatre. Michael Wordly from "Kinky Boots" received the award for Performer in a Principal Role. Daniella Dalli, from "The Sound of Music" at Marriott Theatre, and Sara Reinecke, who appeared in "Kinky Boots", were both awarded Performer in a Supporting Role — Musical. And for her work in "Songs for Nobody" at Northlight Theatre, Bethany Thomas received the award for Solo Performance.

Directing awards also went to Ron OJ Parsons for "Relentless" at TimeLine Theatre Company. Within the category of musical direction, there was a tie and Kory Danielson of "Kinky Boots" and David Fiorello for "Blues in the Night" at Porchlight were recognized.

Among the technical awards, Alex Sanchez received the award for Choreography for work on "West Side Story" at Marriott Theatre. Christian Kelly-Sordelet and David Blixt were recognized for Fight Choreography in "Athena" at Writers Theatre, while Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi received the Artistic Specialization award for Circus and Movement Design based on "Lookingglass Alice", a production of Lookingglass Theatre Company in association with The Actors Gymnasium.

Other technical honors went to teams for "Good Night, Oscar", including Rachel Hauck (Lighting) and André Pluess (Sound), and "The Moors" featuring K Story (Lighting), Jeffrey Levin (Sound) and Myron Elliott-Cisneros (Costumes). Additional theater artists honored were lighting designer Joe Schermoly for "Hurricane Diane" at Theater Wit and costume designer Ryan Park for "Kinky Boots." The award for Projection Design was presented to Rasean Davonte Johnson and Michael Salvatore Commendatore for "It Came From Outer Space," a production of Chicago Shakespeare Theater in association with Universal Theatrical Group.

This year, the Jeff Awards introduced a new category for Short Run Productions (defined by 9-17 performances), which opened up opportunities for a number of theaters who produce shorter production runs and those reentering after the pandemic. Awards honored "The Magnolia Ballet" by About Face Theatre for Production — Play and Terry Guest for Performer in a Principal Role. Congo Square Theater received the Ensemble award for "What to Send Up When It Goes Down" and Angela Weber Miller was recognized for Design in "Who's Holiday!" at Theater Wit.

The Jeff Awards New Work category this season recognized three authors and their productions including Tyla Abercrumbie for "Relentless" produced by TimeLine Theatre Company and Doug Wright for "Good Night, Oscar." Natalie Y. Moore was also recognized for her work,"The Billboard," presented at 16th Street Theater in a short run production. In addition, the award for Original Music in a Play was presented to Pornchanok Kanchanabanca for "Gem of the Ocean" at Goodman Theatre.

Chuck Smith received a Special Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. Smith is a Chicago native who has directed and produced productions across the country for over half a century. A nationally recognized director and five time Jeff Award nominee, Smith currently serves as resident director and member of the Board of Trustees of the Goodman Theatre. He is also a resident director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, FL and an associate member of MPAACT and The American Blues Theater in Chicago.

In its 54th Anniversary season, July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, the Jeff Awards membership judged the opening nights of 94 Equity productions from 49 producing organizations. Of these, 76 productions were "Jeff Recommended", which made them eligible for award nominations.


Production - Play (Large) - The Dr. Harlan Haimes Awards

"Good Night, Oscar" - Goodman Theatre

Production - Play (Midsize)

"The Moors" - A Red Orchid Theatre

Production - Musical (Large)

"Kinky Boots" - Paramount Theatre

Production - Musical (Midsize)

"Somewhere Over the Border" - Teatro Vista

Production - Revue (Large)

"Blues in the Night" - Porchlight Music Theatre

Director - Play (Large)

Ron OJ Parson - "Relentless" - TimeLine Theatre Company

Director - Play (Midsize)

Kirsten Fitzgerald - "The Moors" - A Red Orchid Theatre

Director - Musical (Large)

Trent Stork - "Kinky Boots" - Paramount Theatre

Director - Musical (Midsize)

Denise Yvette Serna - "Somewhere Over the Border" - Teatro Vista

Director - Revue (Large)

Kenny Ingram - "Blues in the Night" - Porchlight Music Theatre

Ensemble - Play

"Choir Boy" - Steppenwolf Theatre Company

"Steel Magnolias" - Drury Lane Productions

Ensemble - Musical

"Somewhere Over the Border" - Teatro Vista

Performer in a Principal Role - Play

Sean Hayes (Oscar Levant) - "Good Night, Oscar" - Goodman Theatre

Cassidy Slaughter-Mason (Lissette) - "The Luckiest" - Raven Theatre

Performer in a Principal Role - Musical

Richard Bermudez (Che) -"Evita" - Drury Lane Productions

Michael Wordly (Lola) - "Kinky Boots" -Paramount Theatre

Performer in a Revue

Felicia P. Fields (Performer) - "Blues in the Night" - Porchlight Music Theatre

Solo Performance

Bethany Thomas (Performer) - "Songs for Nobodies" - Northlight Theatre

Performer in a Supporting Role - Play

Sheldon D. Brown (AJ) - "Choir Boy" - Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Elizabeth Ledo (Truvy) - "Steel Magnolias" - Drury Lane Productions

Performer in a Supporting Role - Musical

Daniella Dalli (Mother Abbess) - "The Sound of Music" - Marriott Theatre

Sara Reiniecke (Lauren) - "Kinky Boots" - Paramount Theatre

New Work (The Libby Adler Mages Award)

Tyla Abercrumbie - "Relentless" - TimeLine Theatre Company

Doug Wright - "Good Night, Oscar" - Goodman Theatre

Scenic Design (Large)

Rachel Hauck - "Good Night, Oscar" - Goodman Theatre

Scenic Design (Midsize)

Joe Schermoly - "Hurricane Diane" - Theater Wit

Costume Design (Large)

Ryan Park - "Kinky Boots" - Paramount Theatre

Costume Design (Midsize)

Myron Elliott-Cisneros - "The Moors" - A Red Orchid Theatre

Sound Design (Large)

André Pluess - "Good Night, Oscar" - Goodman Theatre

Sound Design (Midsize)

Jeffrey Levin - "The Moors" - A Red Orchid Theatre

Lighting Design (Large)

Jason Lynch - "Choir Boy" - Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Lighting Design (Midsize)

K Story - "The Moors" - A Red Orchid Theatre


Alex Sanchez - "West Side Story" - Marriott Theatre

Music Direction

Kory Danielson - "Kinky Boots" - Paramount Theatre

David Fiorello - "Blues in the Night" - Porchlight Music Theatre

Original Music in a Play

Pornchanok Kanchanabanca - "Gem of the Ocean" - Goodman Theatre

Fight Choreography

Christian Kelly-Sordelet and David Blixt - "Athena" - Writers Theatre

Projection Design

Rasean Davonte Johnson and Michael Salvatore Commendatore - "It Came From Outer Space" - Chicago Shakespeare Theater in association with Universal Theatrical Group

Artistic Specialization

Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi - Circus and Movement Design - "Lookingglass Alice" - Lookingglass Theatre Company in association with The Actors Gymnasium

SHORT RUN - Production

"The Magnolia Ballet" - About Face Theatre

SHORT RUN - Ensemble

"What to Send Up When It Goes Down" - Congo Square Theatre Company

SHORT RUN - New Work

Natalie Y. Moore - "The Billboard" - 16th Street Theater

SHORT RUN - Performer

Terry Guest (Ezekiel "Z" Mitchell VI) - "The Magnolia Ballet" - About Face Theatre

SHORT RUN — Design

Angela Weber Miller - Scenic Design - "Who's Holiday!" - Theater Wit

SPECIAL AWARD - Lifetime Achievement in Theatre

Chuck Smith



Goodman Theatre 6

Paramount Theatre 6

A Red Orchid Theatre 5

Porchlight Music Theatre 4

Drury Lane Productions 3

Steppenwolf Theatre Company 3

Teatro Vista 3

About Face Theatre 2

Marriott Theatre 2

Theater Wit 2

Timeline Theatre Company 2


"Kinky Boots" 6

"Good Night, Oscar" 5

"The Moors" 5

"Blues in the Night" 4

"Choir Boy" 3

"Somewhere Over the Border" 3

"The Magnolia Ballet" 2

"Relentless" 2

"Steel Magnolias" 2


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 .

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