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New Works Garner Production Honors at 40th Annual Jeff Awards

Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Chicago Dramatists Top List of Award Recipients

Debut of New Awards Structure Balances Recognition

Monday, October 20, 2008 - Chicago, IL. At a star-studded gala celebrating 40 years of the Jeff Awards, The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee presented 37 awards to celebrate excellence in Chicago-area Equity theatre. Over 700 gathered at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie to honor 150 nominees from Equity theatrical productions that opened between August 1, 2007, and July 31, 2008.

Beginning this season, the Jeff Awards honored the work of Large and Midsize theatres in separate categories for productions and technical elements. The two tier system allows separate awards for each tier in seven award categories: Production – Play, Production – Musical, Production – Revue, Scenic Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, and Sound Design.

World premieres of new works and adaptations dominated the awards. Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s new "ad-Rap-tation" musical "Funk it Up About Nothin’" (a tuneful update of "Much Ado About Nothing") won the coveted Ensemble Award, and Ron Wells' adaptation of "The Comedy of Errors," which added a behind-the-scenes World War II movie to the tale of mistaken identities, won four Awards, for Outstanding New Adaptation, Outstanding Production – Play (Large), Outstanding Director – Play (Barbara Gaines) and Outstanding Costume Design (Ana Kuzmanic). Chicago Dramatists, known for its nurturing of new works, was also honored with four total awards, including three for their critically acclaimed cop drama, "A Steady Rain," earning Outstanding Production – Play (Midsize), Outstanding New Work for playwright Keith Huff, and Outstanding Actor in a Principal Role – Play (Randy Steinmeyer).

The stunning Marriott Theatre production of "Les Miserables" led the Musical honors with four Awards for Production – Musical (Large), Outstanding Director – Musical (Dominic Missimi), Actor in a Principal Role – Musical (John Cudia), and Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical (Richard Todd Adams). Drury Lane Oakbrook, under the new leadership of Kyle DeSantis with his emphasis on production values, scored big with its musical "Sweet Charity," winning Awards for Outstanding Director of a Musical (Jim Corti, in a statistical tie with Dominic Missimi), Outstanding Principal Actress – Musical (Summer Naomi Smart) and Outstanding Choreography (Mitzi Hamilton). Goodman Theatre's "The Trip to Bountiful," the tale of an elderly woman determined to see her family home one last time, was recognized for its leading actress Lois Smith, supporting actress Hallie Foote (daughter of its playwright Horton Foote) and Outstanding Scenic Design by E. David Cosier. Northlight Theatre's "Ella," the imagining of an Ella Fitzgerald concert rehearsal, came away with 3 awards, including Outstanding Actress in a Revue (E. Faye Butler, currently starring in "Caroline or Change" at Court Theatre), Outstanding Production – Revue, and Outstanding Director – Revue (Rob Ruggiero).

Eileen Boevers, founder and recently retired Executive Director of Apple Tree Theater, received a Special Award for her lifetime of contributions to Chicago theatre, including producing, directing, performing, writing, and theatre education.

The 40th Anniversary ceremony hosts, Cindy Gold and Nancy Voigts, presided over a spirited ceremony which included contemporary projection designs, videos, and live musical numbers from nominated productions. Presenters included many past Jeff Award recipients, Jeff founders Guy Barile and Felix Shuman, and Art Kassul, the first Award recipient for Outstanding Actor in a Principal Role – Play, in 1969. Michael Weber directed the ceremony, which was produced by Jeff Awards Equity Chair Diane Hires.

During the 2007-2008 season, the Jeff Awards sent judges to the opening nights of 123 Equity openings offered by 52 producing organizations. From these openings, 88 Equity productions were "Jeff Awards Recommended," which made them eligible for Jeff Award nominations.

The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 50 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre, the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards and honors. 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. The Jeff Awards evaluates over 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies annually. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non-Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union Chicago theatre. The next Non-Equity awards ceremony will be held on June 8, 2009.

COMPLETE LIST OF JEFF EQUITY NOMINATIONS:

Production - Play – Large
"The Comedy of Errors," Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Production - Play – Midsize
"A Steady Rain," Chicago Dramatists

Production - Musical – Large
"Les Miserables," Marriott Theatre

Production - Musical – Midsize
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Bailiwick Repertory Theatre

Production – Revue
"Ella," Northlight Theatre

Ensemble
"Funk It Up About Nothin'", Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Director – Play
Barbara Gaines, "The Comedy of Errors," Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Director – Musical (2)
Jim Corti, "Sweet Charity," Drury Lane Oakbrook
Dominic Missimi, "Les Miserables," Marriott Theatre

Director – Revue
Rob Ruggiero, "Ella," Northlight Theatre

New Work
Keith Huff, "A Steady Rain," Chicago Dramatists

New Adaptation
Ron West, "The Comedy of Errors," Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Solo Performance
Nilaja Sun, "No Child…," Lookingglass Theatre Company

Actor in a Principal Role – Play
Randy Steinmeyer, "A Steady Rain," Chicago Dramatists

Actor in a Principal Role – Musical
John Cudia, "Les Miserables," Marriott Theatre

Actress in a Principal Role – Play
Lois Smith, "The Trip to Bountiful," Goodman Theatre

Actress in a Principal Role – Musical
Summer Naomi Smart, "Sweet Charity," Drury Lane Oakbrook

Actor in a Supporting Role – Play
Mark Ulrich, "Juno and the Paycock," The Artistic Home

Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical
Richard Todd Adams, "Les Miserables," Marriott Theatre

Actress in a Supporting Role – Play
Hallie Foote, "The Trip to Bountiful," Goodman Theatre

Actress in a Supporting Role – Musical
Jessie Mueller, "Carousel," Court Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre

Actor in a Revue
James Rank, "The American Dream Songbook," Next Theatre Company

Actress in a Revue
E. Faye Butler, "Ella," Northlight Theatre

Scenic Design – Large
E. David Cosier, "The Trip to Bountiful," Goodman Theatre

Scenic Design – Midsize
Kevin Depinet, "Cadillac," Chicago Dramatists

Costume Design – Large
Ana Kuzmanic, "The Comedy of Errors," Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Costume Design – Midsize
Bill Morey, "Nine," Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago

Lighting Design – Large
J. R. Lederle, "The Turn of the Screw," Writers' Theatre

Lighting Design – Midsize
Mike Durst, "Requiem for a Heavyweight," Shattered Globe Theatre

Sound Design – Large
Barry G. Funderburg, "Carter's Way," Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Sound Design – Midsize
Jack Arky, "Because They Have No Words," Piven Theatre

Choreography
Mitzi Hamilton, "Sweet Charity," Drury Lane Oakbrook

Original Incidental Music
David Pavkovic, "Nelson Algren: For Keeps and A Single Day," Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Museum of Contemporary Art

Musical Direction
Doug Peck, "Carousel," Court Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre

Fight Choreography
Nick Sandys, "Requiem for a Heavyweight," Shattered Globe Theatre

Outstanding Achievement in Videography (Artistic Specialization)
John Musial, "Nelson Algren: For Keeps and A Single Day," Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Museum of Contemporary Art

Special Award
Eileen Boevers, Outstanding Achievement, Founder, Apple Tree Theatre

Multiple Award Recipients
Companies:  
Chicago Shakespeare Theater 5
Chicago Dramatists 4
Marriott Theatre 4
Drury Lane Oakbrook 3
Goodman Theatre 3
Northlight Theatre 3
Court Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre 2
Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Museum of Contemporary Art 2
Shattered Globe Theatre 2
Productions:  
"Les Miserables," Marriott Theatre 4
"The Comedy of Errors," Chicago Shakespeare Theater 4
"A Steady Rain," Chicago Dramatists 3
"Ella," Northlight Theatre 3
"Sweet Charity," Drury Lane Oakbrook 3
"The Trip to Bountiful," Goodman Theatre 3
"Carousel," Court Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre 2
"Nelson Algren: For Keeps and A Single Day," Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Museum of Contemporary Art 2
"Requiem for a Heavyweight," Shattered Globe Theatre 2

Contact:
Jeffrey Marks, Media Chair at 312.606.0400 or media@jeffawards.org or Diane Hires, Equity Chair at equitywing@jeffawards.org. Additional information and photographs are available at www.jeffawards.org.

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