The Jeff Awards for outstanding achievement in Chicago area Equity productions of the past season were handed out Monday night at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook, and all forms of theatrical magic were celebrated.
The Jeffs, which acknowledge the differences in scale and budget for “large” and “midsize” productions, named Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s sleight-of-hand rendering of “The Tempest” (directed by Aaron Posner and illusionist Teller), as best production of a play by a large company — a fitting choice for the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death. In the midsize category, The House Theatre of Chicago’s chilling tale of a real-life plane crash, “United Flight 232,” captured the Jeff, as well as the coveted award for best ensemble.
Paramount Theatre, that great Aurora-based success story, received the Jeff for best large-scale musical production (with the award newly named in memory of passionate theatergoer Dr. Harlan Haimes), with William Carlos Angulo earning the best choreography award for his fierce, innovative fight scenes. And Porchlight Music Theatre’s production of “Dreamgirls,” a riff on the story of The Supremes, was named best midsize musical, with Donica Lynn (a sensational Effie White) named best principal actress in a musical. Nathaniel Stampley’s exceptional turn in “Man of La Mancha” at the Marriott Theatre earned him the Jeff for best principal actor in a musical. And Rachel Rockwell captured the award for best director of a musical for the Chicago Shakespeare production of “Ride the Cyclone,” set to open off Broadway in November.
The solo performance award went to beat-box master Brian Quijada for his beguiling autobiographical work, “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?,” about the evolution of his Latino identity —produced by Teatro Vista, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Victory Gardens Theater. Named best new works were Philip Dawkins play, “Charm,” produced by Northlight Theatre, and the Mercury Theater production of “The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes,” a musical by John Reeger, the late Julie Shannon and Michael Mahler. The best new adaptation award was given to Robert Falls and Seth Bockley for “2666,” their five-hour version of Roberto Bolaño’s epic novel that featured 15 actors playing 80 roles.
A special award was presented to Michael Halberstam, artistic director of Glencoe-based Writers Theatre, which he co-founded in 1992, and which has since moved from its back-of-a-bookstore origins to an award-winning complex designed by the renowned Studio Gang Architects.
Following is a complete list of the Equity Jeff Award winners:
+ 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
+ PRODUCTION, 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 PRINICIPAL 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; and 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