November 4, 2013 Chicago, IL. At the gala 45th Annual Equity Jeff Awards held at Drury Lane Oakbrook on Monday, November 4, Steppenwolf Theatre Company's "Good People" received the award for Production-Play in a large tier theatre. Principal Actress Mariann Mayberry was also honored for her role in this David Lindsey-Abaire play, which considers the dangerous consequences of holding on to the past or leaving it behind. William Brown received Best Director of a play for Writers Theatre's production of the French farce "The Liar", adapted by David Ives.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater's "Sunday in the Park with George" won top awards with three statues: Production-Musical in the large theatre category, Director Gary Griffin and Projections Designer Mike Tutaj. The Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical was inspired by the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat, which hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.
In the midsize theatre tier, TimeLine Theatre Company won the award for Production-Play with "33 Variations", a play by Moises Kaufman inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven's eponymous work. The midsize Production-Musical award went to Porchlight Music Theatre's "A Class Act", a musical retrospective of composer-lyricist Edward Kleban, best known as lyricist for "A Chorus Line". Principal Actor in a Musical was awarded to Bill Larkin for his moving portrayal of Kleban. The Lyric Opera of Chicago ventured onto the comedy scene with The Second City in "The Second City Guide to the Opera", which earned awards in the Production-Revue category and for Director Billy Bungeroth. David M. Lutken received the Actor in a Revue statue for Northlight Theatre's "Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie".
A Special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to actor Dale Benson, in recognition of his career spanning over half a century of continuous work in Chicagoland theatre. The award presentation by Jeff Awards Chair Diane Hires included a musical montage featuring "Make 'Em Laugh" performed by a chorale of actors for Dale, their beloved colleague.
Chicago continues to be the hub for premiering new works. Top awards for New Work-Play went to both Luis Alfaro's "Mojada", a re-imagination of Euripides' "Medea" in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, produced by Victory Gardens Theater; and to Rajiv Joseph's "The Lake Effect", a drama of an Indian American family in crisis, produced by Silk Road Rising. David Rice won New Adaptation-Play honors for his musical version of "Cymbeline" in Civil War Appalachia, produced by First Folio Theatre. Rice's collaboration with composer Michael Keefe also received the statue for Original Music in a Play.
Television and screen actor Michael Shannon returned to his theatrical home to win Actor in a Principal Role-Play award as the conniving Carter in Sam Shepard's "Simpatico" at A Red Orchid Theatre. Christine Sherrill received Actress in a Principal Role-Musical as faded silent screen star Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" at Drury Lane Oakbrook. Alexis J. Rogers took the top honor for Solo Performance for her captivating performance as jazz legend Billie Holiday in Porchlight Music Theatre's "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill". Honors for supporting roles in a play were awarded to Raymond Fox in TimeLine Theatre Company's "Blood and Gifts" and Elizabeth Ledo in "Tartuffe" at Court Theatre. Awards for supporting roles in a musical went to AndrÃ© De Shields in "The Jungle Book" produced by Goodman Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company, and Bethany Thomas in "South Pacific" at Marriott Theatre. Newcomer Callie Johnson received an award for Cameo Performance in Porchlight Music Theatre's "Pal Joey".
The prestigious Ensemble Award went to the Q Brothers' hip-hop "Othello: The Remix" from Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd. The Q Brothers creative interpretations have inspired new appreciation of the Bard.
The near capacity audience enjoyed live performances from all nominated musicals and revues 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, Equity Wing Chair of the Jeff Committee, served as producer for the evening. Music Director Roberta Duchak and Artistic Director BJ Jones 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 52 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre, the Jeff Awards Committee is committed 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 evaluates over 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non-Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre. The next Non-Equity awards ceremony will be held on June 2, 2014, at Park West.
2013 Equity Jeff Award Recipients
PRODUCTION PLAY LARGE
"Good People" Steppenwolf Theatre Company
PRODUCTION PLAY MIDSIZE
"33 Variations" TimeLine Theatre Company
PRODUCTION MUSICAL LARGE
"Sunday in the Park with George" Chicago Shakespeare Theater
PRODUCTION MUSICAL MIDSIZE
"A Class Act" Porchlight Music Theatre
"The Second City Guide to the Opera" Lyric Opera of Chicago and
The Second City
William Brown "The Liar" Writers Theatre
Gary Griffin "Sunday in the Park with George" Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Billy Bungeroth "The Second City Guide to the Opera" Lyric Opera of Chicago
and The Second City
"Othello: The Remix" Chicago Shakespeare Theater and
Richard Jordan Productions Ltd
ACTOR IN A PRINICPAL ROLE PLAY
Michael Shannon "Simpatico" A Red Orchid Theatre
ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE MUSICAL
Bill Larkin "A Class Act" Porchlight Music Theatre
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE PLAY
Mariann Mayberry "Good People" Steppenwolf Theatre Company
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE MUSICAL
Christine Sherrill "Sunset Boulevard" Drury Lane Productions
ACTOR OR ACTRESS IN A REVUE
David M. Lutken "Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie"
Alexis J. Rogers "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" Porchlight Music Theatre
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE PLAY
Raymond Fox "Blood and Gifts" TimeLine Theatre Company
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE MUSICAL
AndrÃ© De Shields "The Jungle Book" Goodman Theatre in association with
Huntington Theatre Company
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE PLAY
Elizabeth Ledo "Tartuffe" Court Theatre
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE MUSICAL
Bethany Thomas "South Pacific" Marriott Theatre
Callie Johnson - "Pal Joey" - Porchlight Music Theatre
Luis Alfaro "Mojada" Victory Gardens Theater
Rajiv Joseph "The Lake Effect" Silk Road Rising
David Rice "Cymbeline" First Folio Theatre
Linda Fortunato "42nd Street" Theatre at the Center
ORIGINAL MUSIC IN A PLAY
Michael Keefe and David Rice "Cymbeline" First Folio Theatre
Doug Peck "The Jungle Book" Goodman Theatre in association with
Huntington Theatre Company
SCENIC DESIGN LARGE
David Gallo "Head of Passes" Steppenwolf Theatre Company
SCENIC DESIGN MIDSIZE
Angela Weber Miller "Edward Albee's Seascape" Remy Bumppo
LIGHTING DESIGN LARGE
T.J. Gerckens "Metamorphoses" Lookingglass Theatre Company
LIGHTING DESIGN MIDSIZE
Brian Sidney Bembridge "Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West"
TimeLine Theatre Company
COSTUME DESIGN LARGE
Susan E. Mickey "The School for Lies" Chicago Shakespeare Theater
COSTUME DESIGN MIDSIZE
Emily Waecker "You Never Can Tell" Remy Bumppo Theatre Company
SOUND DESIGN LARGE
James Savage "Othello: The Remix" Chicago Shakespeare Theater and
Richard Jordan Productions Ltd
SOUND DESIGN MIDSI Jim Jensen and Lisselan ProductionsZE
Martin Desjardins, Andre Pluess and Christian Gero "columbinus"
American Theater Company
PROJECTIONS / MEDIA DESIGN
Mike Tutaj "Sunday in the Park with George" Chicago Shakespeare Theater
John Tovar "The Opponent" A Red Orchid Theatre
WIG AND MAKE-UP DESIGN
Melissa Veal "The School for Lies" Chicago Shakespeare Theater
2012-2013 EQUITY STATISTICS
In its 45th Equity season, August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2013, the Jeff Awards Committee judged the opening nights of 143 productions from 52 producing organizations. Of these, 109 productions were "Jeff Recommended", which made them eligible for award nominations.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater ( 2 with
Richard Jordan Productions Ltd ) 7
Porchlight Music Theatre 4
Steppenwolf Theatre Company 3
TimeLine Theatre Company 3
First Folio Theatre 2
Goodman Theatre in association with
Huntington Theatre Company 2
Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Second City 2
A Red Orchid Theatre 2
Remy Bumppo Theatre Company 2
"Sunday in the Park with George" 3
"A Class Act" 2
"Good People" 2
"The Jungle Book" 2
"Othello: The Remix" 2
"The School for Lies" 2
"The Second City Guide to the Opera" 2