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Sound masters among Merritt Award honorees

Although the Tony Awards no longer pay homage to sound designers, since 1994, Chicago’s Michael Merritt Awards (named after the influential Chicago scenic designer and teacher), have served as an annual celebration of all aspects of theatrical design and collaboration, including sound. And on May 16 at Loyola University’s Newhart Family Theatre (1020 W. Sheridan), it will stage its awards presentation, along with its invariably impressive showcase of works by Chicago-area emerging theatrical designers and graduating design students from Chicago’s best theatrical design programs. (I will be moderating a panel with the winning designers from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m., with the awards presentation to follow, and “food, wine, beer and fellowship” throughout the evening.)


In search of sound advice for Chicago’s theaters

The 2016 recipients include:

Michael Bodeen, sound designer and composer, and winner of the 2016 Michael Merritt Design Award. (Photoc ourtesy of Mertitt Awards)
Michael Bodeen, sound designer and composer, and winner of the 2016 Michael Merritt Design Award. (Photoc ourtesy of Mertitt Awards)

Michael Merritt Award: Michael Bodeen, an award-winning composer, sound designer, and guitarist with wide-ranging New York, Chicago and regional theater credits including music composition and/or sound (often in collaboration with Rob Milburn) for such Broadway productions as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Larry David’s “Fish in the Dark,” “This is Our Youth” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” He has worked often at Steppenwolf Theatre and at several international venues.

Robert Christen Award winner: David Naunton, the house Audio Supervisor at the Goodman Theatre, where he has worked for 30 years and runs the Sound Department more than a dozen productions every season. Since 2001 he also has served as adjunct professor for DePaul University Theatre School’s Sound Program.

Michael Maggio Emerging Designer winner: Scott Davis, an award-winning, Chicago-based scenic designer who has created sets for more than 20 shows at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, including “Tug of War,” “Ride the Cyclone,” “Road Show,” and “Pericles.” He also has worked with Court Theater, Paramount Theater, Drury Lane Theater, Northlight Theater, Steppenwolf Theater, Victory Gardens, Mercury Theater, Griffin Theater Company and many other Chicago and regional theater companies, and is on the adjunct faculty at Columbia College.

Emerging Technical Collaborator Award: Jeff Glass, an electrician, lighting designer, and production manager who has worked with Lookingglass Theatre, The New Colony, The Inconvenience, About Face and other companies, and recently served as the master electrician at Lookingglass, and for Northwestern University’s Waa-Mu show.

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