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Members of the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee
Click on a name to read the member's profile:



Emeritus Members



DAVID ALEX 

has had his award-winning plays staged in several cities.  He has received three grants from the Illinois Arts Council for Recognition in Playwriting and one from the Pilgrim Foundation. Recent productions include ADRIFT, ENDS, an African-American Theatre Festival Award Winner (Univ. of Louisville) at New Jersey Repertory Company; ONTO INFINITY at Waukegan's Bowen Park Theatre Company; and BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON at Chicago Playwrights' Center. Dramatic Publishing has published two of his plays. He has served as Secretary of the Chicago Alliance for Playwrights and the Illinois Theatre Association. Alex retired in 2003 from Hoffman Estates High School,where he taught mathematics, coached track, and directed the fall play. He occasionally conducts writing workshops for young authors.


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CHARLES A. BERGLUND received his undergraduate degree in theatre from Northern Illinois University and a master's degree in theatre from Indiana. For over 30 years he was a high school Speech Arts Department Chair and Director of Theatre. He has been recognized as an educator and director by state and national organizations, and he has directed over 100 plays and musicals on the high school, community, college and university levels. Retired since 2001, he now acts, directs and teaches in many local venues University.
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OLEG BIERMAN 

is a long-time theater enthusiast and follower. Born in the Soviet Union, Oleg got exposure to Russian theater, and the Stanislavski theater system, from a very young age due to his parents. He participated in high school and local theater as a director and actor, while attending some of the best performances in the Russian theater scene.  After arriving to Chicago as a refugee from the Soviet Union in 1989, he immediately embraced Chicago theater, and continues to be a devoted enthusiast. He also is fortunate to have the opportunity to travel regularly to see theater in Moscow, London and New York. He appreciates the opportunity to contribute to further advancing Chicago theater nationally and internationally. Oleg works as an information technology management professional.

 


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CAROL ANN BLACK has been active in the theatrical and musical industry in the Chicago area for the past twenty-six years. Prior to her retirement, she served as Membership Services Coordinator at Actors' Equity Association where she was employed for sixteen years. Prior to joining the staff at AEA she was co-owner of Bands and Bows, a musical booking agency; prior to that she served as Office Manager and Booking Agent for the Franz Benteler Royal Strings Orchestra.
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DREW BLAU 

is a professional actor and arts administrator with a degree in Theatre and Government & Politics from the University of Maryland.  Performing credits include: National Tours: Oliver! (Artful Dodger; 2004 Best Featured Actor in a Musical Nomination, NJ Star-Ledger), The Full Monty (Nathan Lukowski), The Will Rogers Follies (James Rogers); Regional: Woolly Mammoth: Fever/Dream; Goodspeed Opera House; Great Expectations, Babes in Arms; Hartford Stage: A Christmas Carol; Kennedy Center: Broadway Today with Stephen Schwartz and The Making of Ragtime.  Drew recently toured North America as the Assistant Company Manager of Disney's Beauty & the Beast, and has served as Production Liason on The Light in the Piazza National Tour and Love, Loss, and What I Wore at the Broadway Playhouse in Chicago.  In addition, Drew has worked at the Katherine Thomas School in Rockville, MD as Drama and Music Teacher to children with learning disabilities, and supported the office of Congressman Rob Andrews (NJ-1) as a Congressional Intern.  With his better half, Kristina Herne, Drew has seen over a thousand productions in Chicago, London, Washington DC, and New York.  Current projects include Drew's nonprofit organization, the Chicago Film Archive of Performance (CFAP), and collaborating with Kristina on a children's picture book about theatre.


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BEVERLE BLOCH 

Theatre director, educator and scholar,  Dr. Bloch holds a  Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Denver, as well as a Masters degree in Mass Communication.  A  native Chicagoan, Bloch performed with several local theatre groups including the Center Stage and Second City, while pursuing a B.S. in  Speech at Northwestern University. .  In Denver, CO,  she founded the Comedy Connection, an improvisation-based comedy troupe. while pursuing graduate studies at the University of Denver..  Dr. Bloch has taught courses in Communication, Theatre and Speech at several colleges and universities including the University of Denver, Bowling Green State University, Lewis University, and St. Andrews Presbyterian College and has directed, and adapted more than 30 theatre productions, in Chicago and on university and college campuses.


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LARRY TODD  COUSINEAU 

is a bookwriter and lyricist, whose most recent musical, 40 is the New 15 (with composer Cindy O'Connor), had a critically-acclaimed run at the NoHo Arts Center in Los Angeles, receiving Best New Musical award from Stagescene LA in 2010.  The developmental production of 40 is the New 15 received a 2010 GLAAD Media Award Nomination for Outstanding Los Angeles Theatre, and was chosen by Stephen Schwartz for the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop.Now and Then a Hero (with composer Jake Anthony) was part of the Missoula Colony Festival; and his musical drama, All That He Was (with composer Cindy O'Connor), at the Tisch School of the Arts (NYU), earned Larry the Kennedy Center National Playwright's Award and the ACTF Musical Theater Award.  His historical-fiction musical, The Last Princess (with music by Allen Hong) was also featured in the Disney/ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop.  Larry is Assistant Artistic Director and lyric lab instructor for Midwest New Musicals.


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JUDITH  COXE is a member of Canadian Equity, and of ACTRA. She began performing with The Toronto Children Players. She was host of a television show for children for the CBC, and performed regularly for them in both radio and television drama. She did theater work at Hart House, University of Toronto, and was a repertory member of the Straw Hat Players and the Crest Theatre in Toronto. She taught first art history, then drawing and painting, in her 20 years as a Professor of Fine Art, and as a professional artist.
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JARRIN DAVIS 

is a graduate of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln with a degree in Theater.  Upon graduation, he was offered the position of Artistic Director at Omaha Center Stage where he worked for nine years. While there, his production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “ won first prize in the Toyama International Theater Festival, held in Toyama City, Japan, winning top honors from 66 other countries’ best performance entries. Davis was also named Best Director at this prestigious International Theater Festival.  As playwright, his first play “Son of a Distant Moon” has received performances and very-loud accolades in New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC. During his two years in DC, he spent one as the Arts Reviewer for a Washington, DC weekly newspaper. Davis recently moved to Chicago where he continues writing, directing and loving Chicago local theater.



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GEORGE  DEMPSEY has been actively involved at the Theatre of Western Springs since 1972 as an actor, director, designer and Board of Governors member/Chairman. Prior to that he was a founding member of the Saigon Theatre and is a former member of the original board at Bailiwick Repertory. An avid Chicagoland theatregoer, George had been seeing an average of 65 productions per year before joining the Jeff Committee in 2005.
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ALYSSA DICKMAN 

 returns to The Jeff Committee.


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TRISH ELLIOTT 

has a double B.A. in Theatre and in English from Purdue University, and a double M.A. in Theatre and English from University of Illinois. A member of Equity, SAG and AFTRA, Trish worked in summer stock, in Los Angeles in TV and Film, and was a member of Lonny Chapman's Group Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles, also serving on the board for two years. Trish moved to Chicago in 1981, and worked in theatre, commercially, and in television, before founding the corporate entertainment company Redmink Productions. She began this venture in 1987 with her business partner, David Mink. Trish also worked closely with Victory Gardens theatre, and Sandy Shinner, reading new plays. Trish was married to actor Bruce Barsanti for 18 years, until his death in 2009. She edited and published Bruce's novel "A Civil Man" after his death. Trish has been a cast member of the radio program "Unshackled" for 25 years, and continues to perform, write, and produce for Redmink Productions. 


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LIZ ELLISON 

is a Chicago-based playwright. She is a 2012-2013 Core Apprentice at the Playwrights’ Center, and her plays have been developed and produced in Chicago, New York, Omaha, Aspen, and elsewhere. She has been a semifinalist for the Princess Grace Award and a three-time O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semifinalist. Her work appears in the Vintage Books anthology SHORTER, FASTER, FUNNIER. Liz holds a B.A. in theater and English from Dartmouth College and an M.F.A. in dramatic writing from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was a recipient of the Steven Bochco Fellowship.


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DOREEN  FEITELBERG  holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Witwatersrand University in South Africa, and qualifications in speech and drama teaching from the University of South Africa and Trinity College London. In Johannesburg she ran a large private studio and taught in both the drama and communication departments of the university. She has acted, directed and judged drama festivals and speech examinations. She holds the position of Life Vice President of the South African Guild of Speech and Drama Teachers, and was on the executive board of the Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa. Currently she is a private tutor in voice, acting and effective speaking skills and is involved in presentations of stories on stage. She is a faculty member of the Theatre School at Columbia College.
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DAINA GIESLER 

has a Masters degree in Theater from New York University and a BA in Choreography from Columbia College. She studied abroad with the Greenwich Theatre in England and recently was the Artistic Director and founder of Oswego Playhouse in the Fox Valley.  Currently, she is a guest director at Steele Beam Theatre.  Previously, while Artistic Director at Theatre Charlotte in North Carolina she taught theatre and directed at University of NC.  Previous directing positions include University of St Francis in Joliet, Triton College, Theatre of Western Springs, and as owner and director of Dainamite Studios,inc she brought theatre and dance to River Forest.  Having traveled around the world and seen theatre globally...Chicago is an amazing theatre city!

 


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WOODROW B. GIFFEY  
is a Chicago native,  involved in our wonderfully diverse theatre community for nearly 25 years.  He attended Lewis University as well as North Eastern Illinois University, majoring in theatre education and management. Woody has worked both onstage and in production with local companies such as Lifeline Theatre, Bailiwick Repertory, Victory Gardens and Interplay Theatre.  Professional mentors/coaches he has had the pleasure of working with include Glenn Hering, Beckie Menzie, Donald Miller, and Chet Kondratowicz.  Woodrow is an editor/design consultant with a variety of local and national print/web media publications. He is truly honored to be a member of the Jeff committee and it's dedication to recognizing artistic excellence. Woody is especially thrilled to participate at such a vibrant time in Chicago, as our city continues to shine by making significant theatrical contributions to the world's stages.

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JOHN D. GLOVER 

a native of Dayton, Ohio, has been an actor and director in Indiana and Ohio regional theaters for many years.  He served as the Director of the Purdue University Theater Company from 1988 to 1993, and in 1989, he had the honor of directing the grand opening of the Theater at the Center in Munster, Indiana.  In addition to the university setting, John has directed for several community theaters across Chicagoland and northwest Indiana.  A long time resident of Chicago, John is an avid fan and patron of Chicago theater.


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ALVIN GOLDFARB 

served as President of Western Illinois University from 2002 until his retirement in 2011.  Dr. Goldfarb also spent 25 years at Illinois State University where he served as Provost and Academic Vice President, Dean of Fine Arts, Chair of Theatre, Managing Director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and Professor of Theatre.  Dr. Goldfarb has coauthored two leading textbooks, with Edwin Wilson retired theatre critic of the Wall Street Journal, and coedited Theatrical Performance During the Holocaust.  He has published many articles and reviews and has received alumni awards from Hunter College, where he received his master's degree, and from the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he received his Ph.D.  Dr. Goldfarb has also served on the Illinois Arts Council.


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JOHN A. GOLDSTEIN  is a partner with the Chicago-based national law firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, specializing in commercial real estate and lending law. He received his A.B. (magna cum laude) in Mathematics and Art History from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa; and he earned his J.D. from Northwestern University. John is a bronze life master in bridge and currently serves as Vice-President of District 13 of the American Contract Bridge League. As an impassioned traveler, he has visited all seven continents. John has served on several equity theater boards in the Chicago area and is a huge supporter of the arts.
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JOYCE STERN GREENBERG  

began her theatrical career as a child performer, and, over the years has worked as a singing comedienne, actress, teacher, director, booking agent, producer, and host of a television discussion/interview series. She is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Speech. For the ten year span between 1986 and 1996, she was the producing artistic director of the nationally acclaimed performing troupe, "Acting Up!", while on staff at Oakton Community College. She then returned to the artistic director position of the troupe, now known as "Still Acting Up!" from 2000 to 2004. Other directing credits include work for Stage Two, Attic Playhouse and the Northlight Theatre Open Door Ensemble.  In 2009, Joyce co-founded Spotlighters at the Mette, which she directs and hosts.  Produced by the Wilmette Theatre, Spotlighters presents musical revues featuring intergenerational casts of performers between the ages of 9-17 and over 55. 


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JODY  GREENSPAN  is a higher education consultant and a national and state political campaign consultant. She was formerly the Senior Assistant Dean at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She majored in theater and psychology at Smith College, Northampton, MA. She also holds a J.D. degree from Boston College Law School. Jody has studied theater administration and production at RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and at the University in London, as well as entertainment law and theater management at Boston University School of Law. She also has worked summer stock at the Lake Region Playhouse in Guilford, NH, and at the Charles Playhouse in Boston, MA. Jody worked as a theater researcher and writer at Theatre Quarterly, a theatrical critical magazine published in London. She loves theater and is proud to be a member of the Jeff Awards Committee.
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SUSAN  HAIMES  

A past chair of the Jeff Committee, Susan has been involved in Chicago theater for about 40 years, has directed over 30 productions, and has produced more than that, mostly on the North Shore. She was a board member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company in its beginning years. Formerly a drama teacher, Susan is the past president and co-founder of Highland Park Players. Her husband, Dr. Harlan Haimes, shares her love for Chicago theater and attends every production with her. Susan and Harlan's company, Brittany Production, Inc., has produced Equity theater in Chicago.


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ROBERT  HAUSER 

was born and raised in Chicago, attending St. Patrick’s High School and the University of Illinois with a degree in history.  He is an attorney specializing in civil and criminal litigation and he received his J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He and his wife have traveled all over the world.  Bob has been or is involved with many not for profit organizations, including NICASA, Lambs Farm, National Association for Down Syndrome, Center for Independent Futures and the Ted Fund. He also serves the University of Illinois as a member of the Illinois Foundation, the Chancellor’s Circle, the Friends of History Board and the Alumni Awards Committee. Actively involved in theatre, Bob has attended and supported various Chicago theatres over many years, and looks forward to serving with the prestigious group of Jeff Committee members.


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RICHARD  HESLER  is a Professor Emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University, where he taught acting and served as Director of Theater. A graduate of the University of Iowa theatre program, he trained professionally at the Game Theatre with Viola Spolin and Paul Sills, co-founded The Unity, an acting company, was on the board of Pegasus, and was artistic director of the Barry Street Loft Theatre, an early off-Loop theatre. He has staged more than 100 plays for university and off-Loop theatre audiences and was formerly a member of Actors' Equity.
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DIANE  HIRES  
served as administrator, fine arts department chair, and choral director at Downers Grove High Schools during her 37-year career. She chaired the District 99 music department, honored as the Outstanding Total Music Department in Illinois by the IL Music Educators Association. In addition to conducting choirs and ensembles, Diane served as music director for many high school and community theatre musicals. She received the Harold Decker Award for outstanding contributions to choral music from the IL-American Choral Directors Association and was awarded the Mary E. Hoffman Award for outstanding teaching from IMEA. The State Board of Education and Downers Grove District 99 honored Diane with the "Those Who Excel" Award. Currently, Ms. Hires directs the 65-voice Chancel Choir at the First United Methodist Church in Downers Grove and serves as a guest director, clinician, and accompanist.

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MARTHA J. HUDAK 

Martha Hudak of MJ Hudak Consultants specializes in marketing communications and change management communications. Among her experiences in various industries was as general manager for Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre and board member and benefit chair for Chicago Dramatists. As an avocation, she has studied playwriting, music, dance and acting and has been on-stage and back-stage in community theatre productions, gridiron shows and sang with choirs as an alto. She holds master and bachelor degrees in journalism and communications with a minor in speech broadcasting. On the side, she likes doing voiceover work. 

 

 


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CAROL  KANTER 

is a psychotherapist in private practice in Evanston.  Over many decades she has been mining the psychological gold that good theater in Chicago offers.  Her book And Baby Makes Three explores the emotional transition to parenthood.  Her poetry has appeared in various literary journals, two chapbooks published by Finishing Line Press, and paired with her husband Arnold’s photography in two coffee-table-type books:  No Secret Where Elephants Walk and Where the Sacred Dwells, Namaste—check out the website www.DualArtsPress.com


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MASAHIRO  KASAI 

was born and grew up in Japan, where he had occasional contact with both traditional Japanese and western arts.  He came to the United States at the age of 18 to pursue a university education, where exposure to a wide array of films, theater, music and the visual arts started to give a shape to his general curiosity about art.  Throughout his long career as a student, this interest continued. Many evenings were spent going to theater and musical performances, and much time was spent in museums. In addition, he took numerous university courses in theater, art history, film and music.  Upon completion of his doctorate twelve years ago, he settled in Chicago, where the passion for art has turned into a means for exploring humanity.  He spends most of his spare time in theaters, and by day he works as the director of the testing program at Northeastern University.  


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CHET  KONDRATOWICZ is a professor emeritus at Lewis University where under his direction a very active theatre department was created, spawning dozens of theatre professionals working in all areas of theatre, film and television. He holds graduate degrees in theatre and English from the University of Minnesota and Loyola University. Chet supervised the design and reconstruction of an airplane hangar into the Philip Lynch Theatre at Lewis University. He has directed extensively on the college, community and professional levels. He currently serves as Director of Fine Arts Programming at Saint Patrick Performing Arts Centre. In May, 2006, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Lewis University.
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DAVID LIESSE  is a retired teacher and school administrator. His background in theater includes teaching at both the high school and college levels. He has also directed, produced, and acted. David is a former president of the Saints, Chicago's Volunteers for the Performing Arts; and as former chair of the Non-Equity Wing, has produced Jeff Non-Equity Awards shows.
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JACQUE LUEKEN 

is a director and teaching artist who received her BFA in Acting from Syracuse University. Upon graduation she moved to Chicago to work with Steppenwolf Theatre Co as Asst. Coordinator for their summer acting intensive.   Since being in the city, Jacque has directed numerous shows with companies including TYA at Apple Tree Theatre, Noble Fool Performing Arts Academy, VPT, Emergency Theatre Co and Three Cat Education. She has worked in theatre education as a teaching artist with American Theatre Company, Apple Tree Theatre, Noble Fool Theatricals Performing Arts Academy, Emerald City Theatre Co and After School Matters. Jacque also is Executive Director of Three Cat Education, where she writes and directs original scripts for youth productions and summer camps (housed at the Skokie Theatre) as well as teaching and directing at their Lincoln Park location (The Menomonee Club). She also is a founding collective member of Ag47, an arts mentorship program serving pre-teen and teenage girls in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.

 


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LIBBY ADLER MAGES is Chairman of Mavin Productions II, Inc., She has produced shows in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Libby was the founder of the Rose Theater, a founding member of Stratford Investors (a theatrical investment group) and a former Chair of the Jeff Committee. Her productions have received many awards, including a Tony Award, A Pulitzer Prize, an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Awards and the Lucille Lortel Award for the most unique theatrical experience in 2001. Recent Chicago Productions include: Over the Tavern, Life's Not Fair...So What, and King O' The Moon. On Broadway she produced the multiple Tony Award winning show Thoroughly Modern Millie (Best musical of 2002). She also produced touring productions of Say Goodnight Gracie, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Enchanted April as well as the London production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.
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JEFFREY M. MARKS an active trial attorney, has continued as an actor, singer, dancer, musician and theatre technical director, despite his busy legal career. He also counsels and represents artists and theatres. He is a volunteer for Lawyers for the Creative Arts and other arts organizations, chairs a Fine Arts Commission, and produces and hosts a Cable TV Fine Arts series. Throughout the year he also performs with the Chicago Bar Association's political parody revues (The Bar Show/Christmas Spirits), appears in "industrials", and sings with the political comedy/jazz quartet The Acappellants. He is married to director Stevi Marks. Jeff is a past Equity Chair, and is currently Chair of Media and Marketing of the Jeff Awards Committee.
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ROBERT J. NYE a former Jeff Committee chairman, is an attorney, professor of law, and distance education director and consultant to the intellectual property law center at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Mr. Nye's involvement with the performing arts in Chicago has included counseling members of the arts community, guiding students interested in entertainment law and intellectual property law, acting in video projects of the American and Chicago Bar Associations, and performing in a number of Chicago Bar Association Christmas Spirits shows
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SHAWN PATRICK O'DONNELL 

is a performer and is celebrating over 35 years in the business.  He was a member of IATSE, is currently a member of SAG/AFTRA, and is an Equity Member Candidate.  Born in Philadelphia, Shawn grew up in Florida and feels fortunate to have been a part of the Youth Arts Training Program, a Jimmy Carter initiative.  He later attended Florida School of the Arts.  He is a fan of Chicago theatre since relocating here in the mid-90s.

 


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MEADE PALIDOFSKY an award-winning playwright and lyricist, is the founder and Artistic Director of Storycatchers Theatre (the new name for Music Theatre Workshop).  As Artistic Director, she has overseen the writing and production of more than 40 original musicals based on the real life stories of Chicago youth.  Her work with incarcerated teens has been profiled by This American Life and Humankind on National Public Radio, and in the P B & J documentary Girls On The Wall.  Ms. Palidofsky was recently part of the Columbia College Chicago/Scotland Arts Council artist exchange at the Citizens Theater in Glasgow.  She was a founder of the Chicago Dramatists Workshop. And recently she was awarded a 2010 Chicago Community Trust Experienced Leader Fellowship. 
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ERROL PEARLMAN received his degree in Music from DePaul University. Pianist, singer, composer and director, he taught stage singing at Loyola University and the Goodman Theatre School of Drama, where he also wrote original scores for their Children's Theatre. He co-founded Center Stage Theatre Arts and the Chicagoland Theatrical Troupe, and produced and directed productions in and around Chicago. He has written musicals produced at the Theatre Building, Chicago Jewish Theatre, University of Wisconsin, National College of Education, Southwest Texas University, The Roxy, and the Hungry Eye Theatre in New York. The retired Fine Arts Department chairman, choral and theatre director of a Chicago High School, he is currently involved in vocal coaching, musical directing and composing a new musical.
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PAULETTE A. PETRETTI is a partner with the Chicago law firm of Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, Chtd., where she concentrates in labor and employment law and litigation. She has been a member of the Jeff Committee since 1992; she is currently the Vice Chair and previously served on the Executive Committee as Treasurer and Criteria Chair. Prior to law school, Petretti was a theatre teacher, actress and director in the Midwest and New York City and remains a member of Actor's Equity Association (AEA) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
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JOHN (JACK) GRANT- PHILLIPS  

has been a working professional actor and director for over thirty years. He earned an MFA in Directing from Yale School of Drama , where he was the John Schubert Memorial Scholar in Directing. He has directed over 400 stage plays, acted in over 200 roles onstage and over 75 roles in film, commercials and television. His work has been seen in most major theatre festivals in the world including Avigon, the Betif Festival in Belgrade, Tel Aviv, Edinburgh, the Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival and the first New York City Festival of the Arts. As a director and producer, Jack has participated in developing over forty original works. He has been an educator and lecturer at Harvard University, Yale Drama School, American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training, Gonzaga University and the Leslie University Graduate School of Education. Jack is included in both Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. He is currently Artistic Director of the Theatre of Western Springs and a Past President of the American Association of Community Theatre. He recently received the Art Cole Award from the American Association of Community Theatre for his lifetime contribution to community theatre.


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PHILIP  POTEMPA 

A full-time daily entertainment newspaper columnist for The Times of Northwest Indiana and Illinois, Philip began covering theater in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois for The South Bend Tribune in 1992, before joining The Times in 1995.  He is the author of three published books chronicling stories, interviews, recipes and memories from his personal and professional experiences. Released in May 2010, his third book, "Further From the Farm" (Pediment Press) continues the chronicle of his journalism journey and features favorite celebrated stories from his interviews, including Mary Tyler Moore, Lily Tomlin, Julia Child, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Dolly Parton, Betty White, Karl Malden, Phil Donahue and Bea Arthur.  He also is an adjunct instructor in  communication at both Valparaiso University and Purdue University North Central.  When not at his desk in the newsroom, lecturing in a classroom or in a theater seat, Philip divides his time between his family's farm in Northwest Indiana and his home in Chicago.


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MERRIL  PRAGER was born in New York, grew up in Evanston and has been a lifelong fan of theater. She has served on the Board of Trustees of Northlight Theatre since 2003. In her professional life, she has a consulting practice providing finance and accounting services to not-for-profit organizations. She also serves on the boards of North Suburban United Way and Acts of Kindness Cabaret, whose mission is promoting cabaret music while helping not-for-profit organizations raise money for their good causes and passing along random acts of kindness.
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JERRY  PROFFIT  earned a master's degree in theater from Northwestern University, directed high school theater for 32 years, and is now the Administrator of the Fast Track Master's in Directing Program at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. He has been recognized by both state and national theater organizations for his contributions to educational theater and has served as adjudicator at regional and international festivals.
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JOHN  RANDLE  received a B.F.A. degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.A. in interdisciplinary arts from Columbia College. He has designed and built sets for Interplay, Healthworks, the Von Heideke Ballet Company and the NeoFuturists.
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LINDA  ROBERTS  holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in dramatic literature from Indiana University and an M.A. in education from the University of Chicago, where she taught in the Lab School. She is founder and Artistic Director of Roberts Marionettes, tours as a solo performer, and has presented nearly 12,000 performances as a professional puppeteer. She has taught theatre, adapted folktales, studied adjudication, and toured as a circus aerialist; she is also an actress, designer and director.
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STEVE  SCHROEDER 

holds a Bachelor of Arts (Theatre Arts Minor) from California State University, Chico and a Masters of Arts (Performance Studies emphasis) from California State University, Northridge. As a Professor of Speech Communication and former Director of Forensics at College of DuPage, Steve has coached numerous national championship teams and award-winning readers theatres. Steve was also a faculty member with the Institute for Readers Theatre and Bristol Academy of Performing Arts. Steve is also an award-winning actor and director, working with both professional and community theaters across Chicagoland. Steve spent 13 seasons acting and directing at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, where he is perhaps best known for playing the Lord Mayor of Bristol.

 


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ALLEN  SCHWARTZ  has been an enthusiast, supporter and fan of Chicago theatre since its rise in the early 1970s. A world traveler, he has also sampled theatre all over the globe. In addition, he is an Architectural Tour guide and believes that with its architectural and theatrical gems, Chicago is indeed a Wonderland.
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LISA M. SCOTT 

is a passionate theatergoer and a playwright affiliated with the Chicago Dramatists, Her background in theater also includes improvisation and acting. By day, Lisa provides due diligence research for investment groups and writes on healthcare policy and finance, a field she’s covered as a reporter and editor for many years. She received her B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University.  


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JAMES  SEVERNS  returned to Chicago after retiring as chairperson of the theatre department at Truman State University in Missouri. Since returning home, he has continued teaching and working in theatre. A graduate of Purdue, Indiana, and Iowa, he also did graduate work at Bristol University, England. He has worked in educational and professional theatre as a director, designer, actor and writer in the United States and Britain. He is a member of Actors Equity and several academic theatre societies.
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MICHAEL SHAPIRO 

did his undergraduate work at the University of Rochester and graduate work at Columbia University.  For over 40 years, he taught Shakespeare, dramatic literature and other courses as a member of the English department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with time out for visiting positions at Cornell, Reading (England) and Donjin (Taiwan).  An active scholar in his field, he published two books, as well as numerous articles, reviews, and notes.  He was cofounder and artistic director of the Revels Players (an amateur troupe devoted to early English drama), cofounder and director of a program in Jewish studies, and an affiliate of the Theater Department,  He also did occasional theater reviews for the university radio station, directed plays at his synogogue, and served as dramaturg for a production of The Merchant of Venice (a play he continues to work on).  Since 2008,  when Michael and his wife moved to the South Loop,  he has been a full-time visiting professor at Loyola.  

 


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JAMES SHERMAN 

is the author of the plays Magic Time, The God of Isaac, Mr. 80%, The Escape Artist, Beau Jest, This Old Man Came Rolling Home, Jest A Second!, Romance in D, From Door to Door, The Old Man’s Friend, Affluenza!, Half and Half, Relatively Close, and Jacob and Jack.  In 2006, James wrote and directed the movie of his play, BEAU JEST, starring Lainie Kazan, Seymour Cassel, and Robyn Cohen.     James has an M.F.A. in Theatre from Brandeis University and an M.A in Library and Information Science from Dominican University. He was a founding member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.  Currently teaching playwriting and Improvisation at Columbia College of Chicago and DePaul University, he has taught Playwriting and Acting at The Second City Training Center, Chicago Dramatists Workshop, and Victory Gardens Theater.  He was a visiting professor for the spring ’01 semester in Seoul, South Korea at the Korean National University of the Arts.  He has led workshops in Improvisation at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA.  James has been the recipient of fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Ragdale Foundation, The Byrdcliff Art Colony, and Yaddo. 


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JASON PAUL SMITH  has directed film, cabaret, and theater across the United States.  He has produced and directed many Chicago productions including a cabaret and theater series at the Skokie Theater Music Foundation with Three Cat Productions. He recently was awarded a 2009 Ragdale Residency for the documentary entitled “Don’t Mess with Bill: The Story of Dorothy Fairbairn”. He serves on the board of the Chicago Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
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CAROL SOUTHARD 

has a Master’s degree in Nursing Administration and despite always wanting to be a stage actress, she instead became a nurse and for the past 28 years has been a pioneer in the field of tobacco cessation. Carol is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and is a Tobacco Cessation Consultant for Chicago area hospitals. She has published articles, chapters for text books, and does get “on stage” by presenting workshops and seminars for health professionals as well as for community groups on tobacco cessation throughout the nation.  Carol won the 2012 American Lung Association and Koop Foundation Unsung Heroes in Tobacco Control award – the first nurse and the first woman to have ever received this award.  Carol is passionate about the theater and has been an avid aficionado virtually her entire life.

 


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NATALIE  VAN STRAATEN 

studied dramatic literature while earning her B.A. in English at the University of Michigan and later studied theater criticism at Northwestern University. Her professional life has been as writer/editor/columnist focusing on arts subjects. She also has served as a juror/judge/curator for numerous art exhibits, and she has led panels as a moderator on various arts issues. Founding publisher of Chicago Gallery News (1982), Natalie also held a position concurrently as executive director of the Chicago Art Dealers Association (1987-2007).


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NANCY  WOODRUFF  holds a BA in Speech Education and an MA in Liberal Studies. Besides having the pleasure of enriching high school students in her Speech, English, and Theatre classes with her love of theatre, she was Technical Director at York High School in Elmhurst for over 50 productions. After serving on the board of the Illinois High School Theatre Festival for a number of years, she was honored to be the Festival Director in 2000. Besides serving on the Boards of suburban theatre companies, she has worked as a freelance technician for theatre companies throughout the Chicago area, including Marriott Lincolnshire and Light Opera Works. Her retirement in 2002 afforded the wonderful opportunity of joining the Jeff Committee
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PATRICIA J. WOZNY 

is a retired high school teacher and administrator in the areas of Speech, Theater and English.   Having received a Masters Degree in Theater from Illinois State University, she directed state award winning plays, group interpretations and musicals in south suburban high schools, as well as acted and directed in community theater.  She remains active in both speech and theater at Downers Grove South High School, and is honored to serve as the Chairperson for the Illinois High School State Drama and Group Interpretation Contest. Additionally, she volunteers as an interpreter for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.  An enthusiastic Chicago play attendee, she also travels throughout the country to view professional and regional theater. 


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Emeritus Members

JOAN  KALOUSTIAN  served two terms as Jeff Committee chair, and as chair of the Equity wing, she produced the 1993 Jeff Silver Anniversary gala as well as several other Jeff Awards ceremonies. She has served on the board of directors of Classic American Theatre and co-produced a number of its staged readings. Joan has a BA in liberal arts from the University of Wisconsin and a master's degree in Marketing from Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management. When not in the theatre, she is Vice President and Senior Marketing Strategist for The Citigroup Private Bank.
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MARVIN  MIRSKY a University of Chicago faculty member emeritus, has taught courses in literature, drama, and film. He originated and developed the University's Stratford, Ontario, Shakespeare Festival seminar/tours.
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List of Members
Officers & Executive Committee