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2019 Equity Jeff Award Winners
Oct 21, 2019


Jeff AwardsThe 51st Annual Jeff Awards Ceremony took place on October 21, 2019, during a spirited evening at Drury Lane Oakbrook. "Frankenstein," produced by Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, took home five awards, including Best Production - Play in the Midsize category. Court Theatre also took home five awards, including the coveted Ensemble Award for "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf" and four awards for "Photograph 51." Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of "Downstate" received the Jeff Award for Best Production - Play in the Large category. The award for Best Production - Musical in the Large category went to "Six" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and the award for Best Production - Musical in the Midsize category went to "Caroline, or Change," produced by Firebrand Theatre in partnership with TimeLine Theatre Company.

Three new works received Jeff Awards this year. The award for New Work - Play was presented to Bruce Norris for "Downstate" at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and two awards for New Work - Musical were bestowed on David Cale for "We're Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time" at Goodman Theatre in co-production with The Public Theater, and to Michael Mahler and Jason Brett for "Miracle," produced by William A. Marovitz and Arny Granat.

In the acting categories, awards for Performer in Principal Role - Play went to Janet Ulrich Brooks (Maria Callas) for "Master Class" at TimeLine Theatre Company, and to Chaon Cross (Rosalind Franklin) for "Photograph 51" at Court Theatre.

E. Faye Butler (Rose) in "Gypsy" at Porchlight Music Theatre, and Barbara E. Robertson (Anna Edson Taylor) in "Queen of the Mist" at Firebrand Theatre received awards for Performer in a Principal Role - Musical. The Solo Performance award went to Joe Foust for "The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey" at American Blues Theater. The award for Performer in a Revue went to Robin DaSilva (Mahalia) in "Mahalia Jackson: Moving Thru the Light" at Black Ensemble Theater.

The awards for Performer in a Supporting Role - Play went to K. Todd Freeman (Dee) in "Downstate" at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and to Brian Keys (Dwight Barnes) in "The Recommendation" at Windy City Playhouse. The awards for Performer in a Supporting Role - Musical went to Donica Lynn (Oda Mae) in "Ghost The Musical" at Theatre at the Center, and to Nat Zegree (Jerry Lee Lewis) in "Million Dollar Quartet" at Marriott Theatre.

A Special Jeff Award was presented to Teatro Vista. Over the last three decades, Teatro Vista has theatrically depicted the human experience from its unique Latinx perspective. Founded in 1989 by actors Henry Godinez and Eddie Torres to provide a platform upon which stories born of and relevant to the Latino culture could be heard, Teatro Vista has enriched the Chicago theatre scene with haunting, humorous, historical and magical stories. Teatro Vista, now under the artistic direction of Ricardo Gutierrez, continues to challenge and entertain Chicago audiences with its gifted ensemble of dynamic artists.

The evening was hosted by Steven Strafford with Music Direction by Charlotte Rivard-Hoster. The ceremony was directed by Steve Scott and produced by Jeff Award member Deric Gochenauer.

The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre (including producers, directors, actors, playwrights, designers, professors of theatre, entertainment lawyers and agents, and theatre lovers), the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards and honors. Opening night judges include not only Jeff members but also the team of Artistic and Technical theatre volunteers (the "A/T Team") which is comprised of artistic directors, producers, directors from major Chicago theatres, actors and designers. 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 judges 300 theatrical productions and host 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.

2019 Jeff Award Recipients:

Production - Play - Large
"Downstate" - Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Production - Play - Midsize
"Frankenstein" - Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

Production - Musical - Large
"Six" - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Production - Musical - Midsize
"Caroline, or Change" - Firebrand Theatre in partnership with TimeLine Theatre Company

Production - Revue
"You Can't Fake the Funk: A Journey through Funk Music" - Black Ensemble Theater

Ensemble - Play
"For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf" - Court Theatre

Ensemble - Musical or Revue
"Six" - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

New Work - Play
Bruce Norris - "Downstate" - Steppenwolf Theatre Company

New Work - Musical
David Cale - "We're Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time" - Goodman Theatre in co-production with The Public Theater
Michael Mahler and Jason Brett - "Miracle" - William A. Marovitz and Arny Granat

Director - Play - Large
Vanessa Stalling - "Photograph 51" - Court Theatre

Director - Play - Midsize
Ian Frank - "Frankenstein" - Remy Bumppo Theatre Company
Jonathan Wilson - "The Recommendation" - Windy City Playhouse

Director - Musical - Large
Jim Corti - "The Producers" - Paramount Theatre

Director - Musical - Midsize
Lili-Anne Brown - "Caroline, or Change" - Firebrand Theatre in partnership with TimeLine Theatre Company

Performer In A Principal Role - Play
Janet Ulrich Brooks (Maria Callas) - "Master Class" - TimeLine Theatre Company
Chaon Cross (Rosalind Franklin) - "Photograph 51" - Court Theatre

Performer In A Principal Role - Musical
E. Faye Butler (Rose) - "Gypsy" - Porchlight Music Theatre
Barbara E. Robertson (Anna Edson Taylor) - "Queen of the Mist" - Firebrand Theatre

Solo Performance
Joe Foust (Solo Performer) - "The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey" - American Blues Theater

Performer In A Supporting Role - Play
K. Todd Freeman (Dee) - "Downstate" - Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Brian Keys (Dwight Barnes) - "The Recommendation" - Windy City Playhouse

Performer In A Supporting Role - Musical
Donica Lynn (Oda Mae) - "Ghost The Musical" - Theatre at the Center
Nat Zegree (Jerry Lee Lewis) - "Million Dollar Quartet" - Marriott Theatre

Performer In A Revue
Robin DaSilva (Mahalia) - "Mahalia Jackson: Moving Thru the Light" - Black Ensemble Theater

Scenic Design - Large
Arnel Sancianco - "Photograph 51" - Court Theatre

Scenic Design - Midsize
Lauren Nigri - "The Recommendation" - Windy City Playhouse

Costume Design - Large
Rueben Echoles - "You Can't Fake the Funk: A Journey through
Funk Music" - Black Ensemble Theater

Costume Design - Midsize
Jeff Hendry - "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder" - Porchlight Music Theatre

Sound Design - Large
Rick Sims - "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" - Lookingglass Theatre Company

Sound Design - Midsize
Christopher Kriz - "Frankenstein" - Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

Lighting Design - Large
William C. Kirkham - "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" - Lookingglass Theatre Company

Lighting Design - Midsize
Mike Durst - "Frankenstein" - Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

Choreography
Brenda Didier - "The Producers" - Paramount Theatre

Original Music
Andre Pluess and Amanda Dehnert - "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" - Lookingglass Theatre Company

Music Direction
Roberta Duchak and Joe Beighton - "Six" - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Fight Choreography
Jon Beal - "Cardboard Piano" - TimeLine Theatre Company

Puppet Design
Chicago Puppet Studio - "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" - Lookingglass Theatre Company

Projection Design
Rasean Davonte Johnson - "Frankenstein" - Court Theatre

Artistic Specialization
Kristy Leigh Hall - Makeup Design "Frankenstein" - Remy Bumppo Theatre Company
Cassy Schillo and Wendy A. Huber - Properties Design "All Childish Things" - First Folio Theatre


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