The 2016-2017 theater season in Chicago was, by any measure, an exceptionally great one for musical theater. That is one conclusion to be reached by scanning the list of nominees for the 2016-2017 Jeff Awards, which honor excellence in Equity professional productions at both “large” and “midsize” theaters in the Chicago area.

The other conclusion? Perhaps as a result of the ever more fierce competition in this field, a couple of altogether fabulous musical productions failed to be nominated, and audiences who caught them might be astounded by their lack of inclusion.

Consider this: The nominations for best “large” production include “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and “Disney’s Little Mermaid” (both at Paramount Theatre in Aurora); “Crazy for You” (at the Drury Lane Theatre), and “Parade” (at Writers Theatre). Sadly, not included were the roof-raising “Jesus Christ Superstar,” featuring an all African-American cast (at Paramount), and the absolutely beguiling revival of “She Loves Me” (at Marriott Theatre). “The Bridges of Madison County” (also at Marriott), did garner nominations for both its stellar leads.

On the “midsize” front there are three worthy musical nominees: “In the Heights” and “The Scottsboro Boys” (both at Porchlight Music Theatre), and “Disney’s Mary Poppins” (at Mercury Theater Chicago). In addition, the three shows selected for inclusion in the “Best Revue” category — “Marry Me a Little” (Porchlight), “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” (Drury Lane) and “Spamilton” (at The Royal George Theatre) — could all easily be considered full-fledged works of musical theater.

When it comes to plays, the nominations were all over the map, with “large theater” productions including: “Blues for an Alabama Sky” (at Court Theatre) and “East Texas Hot Links” (at Writers Theatre), both directed by Ron OJ Parson; “Hand to God” (Victory Gardens Theatre); “Man in the Ring ” (Court Theatre) and “Uncle Vanya” (Goodman Theatre). Unaccountably missing here is the Goodman Theatre production of Charles Smith’s haunting “Objects in the Mirror,” although it is among the nominees for best new play.

The plays nominated in the “midsize” category include “Born Yesterday” (Remy Bumppo Theatre); “The Columnist ” (American Blues Theater); “End of the Rainbow” (a play with tons of music, at Porchlight Music Theatre); “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!” (American Blues Theater), and “Silent Sky” (First Folio Theatre).

Timothy Edward Kane (from left), Susaan Jamshidi, Lindsay Stock and Ross Lehman in Selina Fillinger’s “Faceless,” at Northlight Theatre. | Michael Brosilow

The “new play” category gives a good indication of the vast range of work that arrived on Chicago stages and includes: Michael Cristofer’s “Man in the Ring” (Court Theatre); Selina Fillinger’s “Faceless” (Northlight Theatre); Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (Northlight Theatre); Ike Holter’s “The Wolf at the End of the Block” (Teatro Vista); Antoinette Nwandu’s “Pass Over” (Steppenwolf Theatre); Madhuri Shekar’s “Queen” (Victory Gardens ) and Charles Smith’s “Objects in the Mirror” (Goodman Theatre).

While all the performers nominated for Jeffs are fully deserving, several notable performances were sadly overlooked, including actresses Tyla Abercrumbie (in “East Texas Hot Links”), Toya Turner (in “Blues for an Alabama Sky”), Brittany Burch and Janelle Villas (in “Pilgrims,” at The Gift Theatre) and Wandachristine (in “Beauty’s Daughter,” a solo show produced by American Blues Theater), and actors Tom Irwin (in “The Christians”) and Julian Parker (in “Pass Over”), both at Steppenwolf.

The Jeff Awards ceremony (open to the public) will be held Nov. 6 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, and will include performances from the nominated musicals and revues, pre-show appetizers and a cash bar, and a post-show buffet. For complete information and tickets visit

Court Theatre’s production of “Blues for an Alabama Sky” is among the plays nominated for a 2016-2017 Jeff Award. | Michael Brosilow

Following is a complete list of the 2016-2017 Jeff Award nominees as announced in today’s official statement:

Production Play (Large): “Blues for an Alabama Sky” (Court Theatre); “East Texas Hot Links” (Writers Theatre);  “Hand to God” (Victory Gardens Theatre); “Man in the Ring” (Court Theatre);  “Uncle Vanya” (Goodman Theatre).

Production Play (Midsize): “Born Yesterday ” (Remy Bumppo Theatre); “The Columnist” (American Blues Theater); “End of the Rainbow” (Porchlight Music Theatre); “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!” (American Blues Theater); “Silent Sky” (First Folio Theatre).

Production Musical (Large): “Chicago the Musical” (Drury Lane Productions); “Crazy for You” (Drury Lane); “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (Paramount Theatre); “Parade” (Writers Theatre);  “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ” (Paramount Theatre).

Production Musical (Midsize): “Disney’s Mary Poppins” (Mercury Theater Chicago); “In the Heights” (Porchlight Music Theatre); “The Scottsboro Boys” (Porchlight Music Theatre).

Production Revue:  “Marry Me a Little” (Porchlight Music Theatre);  “Smokey Joe’s Café” (Drury Lane); “Spamilton” (The Royal George Theatre).

Ensemble: “Blizzard 67” (16th Street Theater); “East Texas Hot Links” (Writers Theatre); “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!” (American Blues Theater); “The Scottsboro Boys ” (Porchlight Music Theatre);  “Smokey Joe’s Café” (Drury Lane); “Spamilton” (The Royal George Theatre).

New Play: Michael Cristofer, “Man in the Ring” (Court Theatre); Selina Fillinger, “Faceless” (Northlight Theatre); Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (Northlight Theatre); Ike Holter, “The Wolf at the End of the Block” (Teatro Vista); Antoinette Nwandu, “Pass Over ” (Steppenwolf Theatre); Madhuri Shekar, “Queen” (Victory Gardens); Charles Smith, “Objects in the Mirror”     (Goodman Theatre).

Director, Play: David Darlow, “Born Yesterday” (Remy Bumppo Theatre); Gary Griffin, “Hand to God” (Victory Gardens); Charles Newell, “Man in the Ring” (Court Theatre); Ron OJ Parson , “Blues for an Alabama Sky” (Court Theatre);  Ron OJ Parson, “East Texas Hot Links” (Writers Theatre); Chuck Smith, “Objects in the Mirror ” (Goodman Theatre).

Director, Musical or Revue: Jim Corti, “Sweeney Todd” (Paramount Theatre); Matthew Crowle, “Crazy for You” (Drury Lane ); Marcia Milgrom Dodge, “Smokey Joe’s Café” (Drury Lane); Gary Griffin, “Parade” (Writers Theatre); William Osetek, “Chicago the Musical” (Drury Lane).

Principal Actor, Play: Allen Gilmore, “Man in the Ring” (Court Theatre); Allen Gilmore, “Objects in the Mirror” (Goodman Theatre); Erik Hellman, “Miss Bennet: Christmas  at Pemberley” (Northlight Theatre); Daniel Kyri, “Objects in the Mirror” (Goodman Theatre); Mike Nussbaum, “Relativity” (Northlight Theatre); Alex Weisman, “Hand to God” (Victory Gardens).

Principal Actor, Musical:  Clyde Alves, “Crazy for You” (Drury Lane); Patrick Andrews, “Parade” (Writers Theatre); Alex Goodrich, “She Loves Me” (Marriott Theatre); Paul-Jordan Jansen, “Sweeney Todd” (Paramount Theatre); Nathaniel Stampley, “The Bridges of Madison County” (Marriott Theatre).

Angela Ingersoll starred as Judy Garland, with Kyle Hatley as her fiance, in the Porchlight Music Theatre production of “End of the Rainbow.” | Kelsey Jorissen

Principal Actress, Play: Cassandra Bissell, “Silent Sky” (First Folio Theatre); Chaon Cross, “The Hard Problem” (Court Theatre); Angela Ingersoll, “End of the Rainbow” (Porchlight Music Theatre); Elizabeth Ledo, “Bright Half Life” (About Face Theatre); Eliza Stoughton, “Born Yesterday” (Remy Bumppo Theatre); Lisa Tejero, “Wit” (The Hypocrites).

Principal Actress, Musical: Kelly Felthous, “Chicago the Musical” (Drury Lane); Bri Sudia, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon  Barber of Fleet Street” (Paramount Theatre); Bri Sudia, “Wonderful Town” (Goodman Theatre); Kathy Voytko, “The Bridges of Madison County” (Marriott Theatre); Aerial “Mon’Aerie,” “A Tribute to Josephine Baker” ( Black Ensemble Theater).

Solo Performance: Will Allan, “Circumference of a Squirrel”; Linda Reiter, “Rose”; Simon Slater, “Bloodshot”; Gene Weygandt, “Uncle Phillip’s Coat” (all at The Greenhouse Theater Center).

Supporting Actor, Play: Marton Csokas, “Uncle Vanya” (Goodman Theatre); Keith Kupferer, “The Mystery of Love & Sex” (Writers Theatre); Adam Poss, “Queen” (Victory Gardens); Tommy Rivera-Vega, “Parachute Men” (Teatro Vista).

Supporting Actor, Musical: Larry Adams, “Crazy for You” (Drury Lane); Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (Paramount Theatre);  Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, “Parade” (Writers Theatre); Alex Goodrich, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (Marriott Theatre); James Earl Jones II, “She Loves Me” (Marriott Theatre).

Marton Csokas plays Astrov and Kristen Bush plays Yelena in the Goodman Theatre production of “Uncle Vanya.” | Liz Lauren

Supporting Actress, Play: Kristen Bush, “Uncle Vanya” (Goodman Theatre); Kymberly Mellen, “The Columnist” (American Blues Theater); Lia Mortensen, “The Mystery of Love & Sex ” (Writers Theatre); Caroline Neff, “Uncle Vanya” (Goodman Theatre).

Supporting Actress, Musical: Felicia Boswell, “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Paramount Theatre); E. Faye Butler, “Chicago the Musical ” (Drury Lane); Angela Ingersoll, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (Marriott Theatre); Iris Lieberman, “Cabaret ” (Theatre at the Center); Meghan Murphy, “Mamma Mia!” (Marriott Theatre).

Actor in a Revue: Austin Cook, “Marry Me a Little” (Porchlight Music Theatre); Justin Keyes, “Smokey Joe’s Café” (Drury Lane); Yando Lopez, “Spamilton” (The Royal George Theatre); Evan Tyrone Martin, “I Left My Heart: A Salute  to the Music of Tony Bennett”        (Mercury Theater Chicago).

Actress in a Revue: Michelle Lauto, “Spamilton” (The Royal George Theatre); Donica Lynn, “Smokey Joe’s Café” (Drury Lane); Meghan Murphy, “Smokey Joe’s Café” (Drury Lane); Bethany Thomas, “Marry Me a Little” (Porchlight Music Theatre).

Scenic Design (Large): William Boles, “Native Gardens” (Victory Gardens Theater); Linda Buchanan, “Blues for an Alabama Sky” (Court Theatre); Jeffrey D. Kmiec, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (Paramount Theatre); Jack Magaw, “East Texas Hot Links” (Writers Theatre); Courtney O’Neill, “Harvey” (Court Theatre); Todd Rosenthal, “Uncle Vanya” (Goodman Theatre).

Scenic Design (Midsize): Angela Weber Miller, “Captain Blood” (First Folio Theatre); Greg Pinsoneault, “In the Heights” (Porchlight        Music Theatre); Christopher Rhoton, “End of the Rainbow” (Porchlight Music Theatre); Grant Sabin, “Born Yesterday” (Remy Bumppo Theatre); Joe Schermoly, “Naperville” (Theater Wit).

Costume Design (Large): Theresa Ham, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (Paramount Theatre); Theresa Ham, “Mamma Mia!” (Marriott Theatre); Rachel Healy, “Blues for an Alabama Sky” (Court Theatre); Susan E. Mickey, “Shakespeare in Love” (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Sully Ratke, “Chicago The Musical” (Drury Lane).

Costume Design (Midsize): Kristy Leigh Hall, “Pygmalion” (Remy Bumppo Theatre); Izumi Inaba, “A Comeical Tragedy for Mister Punch” (The House Theatre of Chicago); Kate Setzer Kamphausen, “In the Heights” (Porchlight Music Theatre); Bill Morey, “End of the Rainbow” (Porchlight Music Theatre); Mieka van der Ploeg, “The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz ” (The House Theatre of Chicago).

Sound Design (Large): Mikhail Fiksel, “The Hunter and the Bear” (Writers Theatre); Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, “Julius Caesar” (Writers Theatre); Andre Pluess, “Man in the Ring” (Court Theatre); Richard Woodbury, “Uncle Vanya” (Goodman Theatre).

Sound Design (Midsize): Joe Court, “10 Out of 12” (Theater Wit); Heath Hays, “The Room” (A Red Orchid Theatre); Grover Holloway, “The  Great and Terrible  Wizard of Oz” (The House Theatre of Chicago); Jeffrey Levin, “The River Bride” (Halcyon Theatre).

Lighting Design (Large): Nick Belley and Jesse Klug, ” Sweeney Todd: The Demon  Barber of Fleet Street” (Paramount Theatre); Bart Cortright, “The Hunter and the Bear” (Writers Theatre); Lee Fiskness, “Chicago the Musical” (Drury Lane); Greg Hofmann, “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Paramount Theatre); Jesse Klug, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (Paramount Theatre).

Lighting Design (Midsize): Erik Barry, “Circumference of a Squirrel” (The Greenhouse Theater Center); Christine Binder, “Bright Half Life’ (About Face Theatre); Cat Davis, “The River Bride” (Halcyon Theatre); John Kelly, “I Am My Own Wife” (About Face Theatre); Michael Stanfill, “Wit” (The Hypocrites).

Choreography: Matthew Crowle, “Crazy for You” (Drury Lane); Jane Lanier, “Chicago the Musical” (Drury Lane); Ericka Mac, “Mamma Mia!” (Marriott Theatre); Tammy Mader, “Singin’ in the Rain” (Marriott Theatre); Alex Sanchez, “Wonderful Town” (Goodman Theatre).

Original Music: Neil Bartram, “Shakespeare in Love” (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Orbert Davis, “Paradise Blue” (TimeLine Theatre); Christopher Kriz, “Silent Sky ” (First Folio Theatre); Ronnie Malley, “Great Expectations” ( Silk Road Rising and Remy Bumppo Theatre).

Music Direction: Austin Cook, “Marry Me a Little” (Porchlight Music Theatre); Roberta Duchak, “Smokey Joe’s Café” (Drury Lane); Michael Mahler, “Parade” (Writers Theatre); Doug Peck, “Wonderful Town” (Goodman Theatre); Tom Vendafreddo, “Sweeney Todd” (Paramount Theatre).

Puppet Design: Jesse Mooney-Bullock, “A Comedical Tragedy  for Mister Punch” (The House Theatre of Chicago); Jesse Mooney-Bullock, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (Paramount Theatre); Blair Thomas, “Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth” (Lookingglass Theatre).

Projection Design: Christopher Ash,  “Mamma Mia! ” (Paramount Theatre); Paul Deziel, “Beauty’s Daughter” (American Blues Theater); Stephan Mazurek, “The Fundamentals” (Steppenwolf Theatre); Mike Tutaj, “Julius Caesar” (Writers Theatre); Mike Tutaj, “Objects in the Mirror” (Goodman Theatre).