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Celebrating... Emcees: Janet Ulrich Brooks and James Earl Jones II New Work - The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes - Mercury Theater Chicago Production - Musical - Midsize:  Dreamgirls - Porchlight Music Theatre Donica Lynn - Actress in a Principle Role - Musical - Dreamgirls - Porchlight Music Theatre Ryan T. Nelson, Music Dir. & Nathaniel Stampley, Actor Principal Role Musical - Man of La Mancha West Side Story - Paramount Theatre - Production - Musical - Large Shari Addison - Dynamite Divas - Black Ensemble Theater - Actor or Actress in a Revue The Tempest - Chicago Shakespeare Theater - Production - Play - Large Brian Quijada - Where Did We Sit on the Bus - Solo Performance and Sound Design - Midsize United Flight 232 -  The House Theatre of Chicago - Production Play - Midsize Dexter Zollicoffer portrayed Mama Gloria Allen in Charm - Northlight Theatre Seth Bockley - New Adaptation - 2666 - Goodman Theatre Johnny Thompson - Magic Design - The Tempest - Chicago Shakespeare Theater Michael Halberstam - 2016 Special Award Recipient

photos by Johnny Knight

See the full gallery of Johnny Knight's photographs from The Jeff Awards. 




The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee announced that the 44th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony, recognizing excellence in non-union Chicago theatre, will be held at The Athenaeum on June 5, 2017. This awards show will be honoring non-Equity productions for the season running April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

The Athenaeum, located at 2936 N. Southport Avenue in Chicago, seats 984 patrons in its classic Main Stage space built in 1911.  John Glover, the Chair of the Non-Equity Wing for the Jeff Committee and producer of the awards show, shared that the past three award shows have been sold out, and it was time to explore a new venue.  John stated, “The Park West has been a terrific host to this awards show for many years, but we have outgrown the space.  It’s a great dilemma to have to face.”  Jeff DeLong, the Director of Marketing & Development at the Athenaeum, stated, “We are thrilled to host the Non-Equity Jeff Awards.  So many of the nominees are resident producing partners that perform here.  This event contributes to the 105-year legacy of off-loop theatre at the Athenaeum. Having the Jeff Awards here will be a great new traditionas we enter our second century." 

See the press release for more details.






The gala 48th Annual Equity Jeff Awards was held at Drury Lane Oakbrook on Monday, October 17.  See the complete list of recipients.

The classic revenge tale The Tempest, reimagined at Chicago Shakespeare Theater as a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement, was recognized for Production-Play for a large theatre, Direction of a Play for Aaron Posner and Teller, Magic Design for “The Great Tomsoni” Johnny Thompson, and Lighting Design for Thom Weaver. 

Porchlight Music Theatre’s Dreamgirls, the story of the aspirations and success of rhythm and blues artists in the 1960s and 70s, was honored with awards for Production-Musical for a midsize theatre, Principal Actress Donica Lynn, Supporting Actor Eric Lewis and Costume Designer Bill Morey. 

Paramount Theatre’s West Side Story received awards for Production-Musical for a large theatre, newly named The Dr. Harlan Haimes Award, and for Supporting Actress Mary Antonini and Choreographer William Carlos Angulo.

The award for Production-Play of a midsize theatre went to United Flight 232, about the emergency landing of that flight, produced by The House Theatre of Chicago. Its cast was honored with the prestigious Ensemble award, sponsored by Actors’ Equity Association. 

Rachel Rockwell received the statue for Director of a Musical in a large theatre for Ride the Cyclone, the story of school choir members who compete for another chance at life after a rollercoaster crash, which will soon open off Broadway. 


Principal acting honors in a play went to Mary Beth Fisher for Domesticated at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Dexter Zollicoffer in Northlight Theatre’s Charm.  Principal actor in a musical was awarded to Nathaniel Stampley for Man of La Mancha at Marriott Theatre. 

Brian Quijada was recognized with two awards: Solo Performance and Sound Design of his original autobiographical play Where Did We Sit on the Bus?, which expresses his curiosity about the role of Latinos in the Civil Rights era, produced by Teatro Vista in association with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Victory Gardens Theater. 

Shari Addison received the award for Actor or Actress in a Revue for Dynamite Divas at Black Ensemble Theater. 

The awards for supporting actors in a play went to Jacqueline Williams in The House That Will Not Stand at Victory Gardens Theater and Mike Nussbaum in The Price at TimeLine Theatre Company.


Chicago continues to be a nurturing center for New Works, and top awards went to Philip Dawkins for Charm at Northlight Theatre, based on the true story of a transgender woman teaching etiquette to LGBTQ youth in Chicago, and to John Reeger, the late Julie Shannon and Michael Mahler for The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, a musical tale of the mystery that ensues when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle kills off his famous detective.  The statue for New Adaptation was awarded to Robert Falls and Seth Bockley for their interpretation of Roberto Bolaño’s epic novel, 2666, with 15 actors playing 80 roles over five hours.

The capacity audience enjoyed live performances from nominated musicals and video performances from nominated plays.  The Equity Awards ceremony was directed by Michael Weber, with music direction by Linda Madonia and stage management by Colleen Tovar.  Merril Prager served as producer for the evening. Actors Janet Ulrich Brooks and James Earl Jones II emceed the event.  Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a lavish Drury Lane buffet and dancing.


See the press release and complete list of recipients.





    The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee paid tribute to Michael Halberstam with a Special Award at the 2016 Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony on Monday, October 17. The Artistic Director of Writers Theatre since its inception in 1992, he is being honored for his outstanding accomplishments and contributions to Chicagoland theatre. 

Writers Theater has grown from a small space in the back room of a Glencoe bookstore to its new state-of-the-art facility designed by world-renown Studio Gang Architects. Under his artistic leadership,  the theatre has attained a national reputation for excellence, garnering critical praise for consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry, providing the finest interpretations of both classic and contemporary theatre.    Individually, Michael Halberstam has received many prestigious awards for artistic achievement, including seven Jeff nominations as an actor, director and adapter.   In addition, Writers Theatre has received more than 100 nominations and 26 awards.  

The Jeff Awards Committee congratulates Michael Halberstam on creating a dynamic world-class theatre on the brink of its 25th Anniversary Season.

See the complete press release.





Multiple Jeff Award-winning actors Deanna Dunagan and Mike Nussbaum did the honor of announcing the nominees for the 2015-2016 Jeff Equity Awards.  Watch the video, see the complete list of nominees,or the press release with all the details.

During the 2015-16 season, Jeff Awards Committee judges attended opening nights of 158 Equity productions offered by 58 producing organizations, and from these openings, 112 productions were "Jeff Recommended" and eligible for award nominations. Productions must have opened between August 1, 2015 and July 31, 2016.


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"Jeff Recommended" indicates that at least one element of a show was deemed excellent by opening night judges. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.
The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee celebrates the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards and honors. The committee 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.

Help us in our work of fostering high-quality Chicagoland theatre by making a tax-deductible donation. The Jeff Awards is a registered 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code.