The gala 44th Annual Jeff Equity Awards ceremony honoring excellence in professional theatre produced within the immediate Chicago area was held on Monday, October 15, at Drury Lane Oakbrook.
The Goodman Theatre's The Iceman Cometh took top honors for a play in the large theatre tier with a total of six awards, incuding Production - Play, Director Robert Falls, Supporting Actor Brian Dennehy, Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet and Lighting Designer Natasha Katz. The all-star cast of Eugene O'Neill's Iceman, a colossal production that played to sold-out audiencs last spring, also received the coveted Ensemble award.
In musical categories for large theatres, Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Follies won top awards for a musical with six statues, including Production -Musical, Director Gary Griffin, Music Director Brad Haak, Principal Actress Caroline O'Connor, Supporting Actress Hollis Resnik and Costume Designer Virgil C. Johnson. The Stephen Sondhein-James Goldman Follies, about a reunion of performers from the Follies was a huge hit at CST's Navy Pier theater.
In the midsize theatre tier, TimeLine Theatre Company won the top award for Production-Play with The Pitmen Painters, a drama by English writer Lee Hall about a group of miners who become unlikely artists. The Production-Musical Award for midsize theatres went to The Doyle & Debbie Show, a commercial production from lonesome road productions in association with Jim Jensen and Lisselan Productions, which played for several months at the Royal George Theatre.
Bruce Arntson, the creator of the parody of country music duos, also took home the statue for Principal Actor in a Musical. In the Production-Revue category, The Second City e.t.c. scored with We're All in This Room Together as did Ryan Bernier for Director-Revue. Edgar Blackmon received the Actor in a Revue award for Who Do We Think We Are at The Second City mainstage.
A Special Award was presented to Actors’ Equity Association in celebration of their century of service to actors and stage managers in Chicago and across America. Dev Kennedy, Central Regional Vice President, and Nick Wyman, AEA’s President, received the award from Diane Hires, Chair of the Jeff Awards Committee. An engaging history of AEA was presented by AEA Central Regional Board Members and included modeling the legendary Gypsy Robe. AEA’s Central Regional Director Christine Provost and Christian Hainds, Senior Business Representative, presented the coveted Ensemble Award, which AEA sponsors annually.
Chicago continues to be the nurturing center for New Works, and top awards for New Work-Play went to Ayad Akhtar for his arresting drama Disgraced at American Theater Company in special arrangement with The Araca Group and to Sarah Gubbins for her thought provoking piece The Kid Thing produced by Chicago Dramatists and About Face Theatre. Aaron Thielen and Michael Mahler were honored with a New Work-Musical statue for their comedy HERO the Musical at Marriott Theatre, and Oren Jacoby won New Adaptation-Play honors for his incisive rendering of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man at Court Theatre in association with Christopher McElroen Productions.
Timothy Edward Kane took the top honor for Solo Performance for his performance in An Iliad at Court Theatre. In other acting categories, Larry Yando won Actor in a Principal Role-Play award as Roy Cohn in Court’s Angels in America while Diane D’Aquila took home Actress in a Principal Role-Play for the title role in Elizabeth Rex at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Comedic turns earned Supporting Role honors for Alex Goodrich in HERO the Musical at Marriott and for Natalie West in The Butcher of Baraboo at A Red Orchid Theatre.
Michael Weber, the Artistic Director of Porchlight Music Theatre, again directed the awards ceremony, with Colleen Tovar, stage manager, and Linda (Slein) Madonia, music director. Merril Prager, Equity Wing Chair of the Jeff Committee, served as producer for the evening. Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a lavish Drury Lane buffet and dancing.
The Complete 2012 Equity Jeff Award Recipients Include:
PRODUCTION – PLAY – LARGE
PRODUCTION – PLAY – MIDSIZE
“The Pitmen Painters” – TimeLine Theatre Company
PRODUCTION – MUSICAL – LARGE
PRODUCTION – MUSICAL – MIDSIZE
“The Doyle & Debbie Show” – lonesome road productions in association with
PRODUCTION – REVUE
“We’re All in This Room Together” – The Second City e.t.c.
DIRECTOR – PLAY
DIRECTOR – MUSICAL
DIRECTOR – REVUE
Ryan Bernier – “We’re All in This Room Together” – The Second City e.t.c.
ACTOR IN A PRINICPAL ROLE – PLAY
ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – MUSICAL
Bruce Arntson – “The Doyle & Debbie Show” – lonesome road productions
in association with Jim Jensen
and Lisselan Productions
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – PLAY
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – MUSICAL
Edgar Blackmon – “Who Do We Think We Are?” – The Second City
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – PLAY
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – PLAY
Natalie West – “The Butcher of Baraboo” – A Red Orchid Theatre
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL
NEW WORK – PLAY
– “Disgraced” – American Theater Company in special arrangement with
NEW WORK – MUSICAL
NEW ADAPTATION – PLAY
Oren Jacoby – “Invisible Man” – Court Theatre in association with
ORIGINAL INCIDENTAL MUSIC
SCENIC DESIGN – LARGE
SCENIC DESIGN – MIDSIZE
LIGHTING DESIGN – LARGE
LIGHTING DESIGN – MIDSIZE
Michael McNamara – “The Turn of the Screw” – First Folio Theatre
COSTUME DESIGN – LARGE
COSTUME DESIGN – MIDSIZE
Branimira Ivanova – “Cloud 9” – The Gift Theatre
SOUND DESIGN – LARGE
SOUND DESIGN – MIDSIZE
Christopher Kriz – “The Turn of the Screw” – First Folio Theatre
PROJECTIONS / MEDIA DESIGN
The House Theatre of Chicago
Actors’ Equity Association