Thoughts on the Equity Jeff nominations


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Finally, Equity Jeff nominations for Chicago Equity theatrical productions that opened between Aug. 1, 2008, and July 31, 2009 have been announced (see the list of nominees at the bottom of this post).

I’m glad to see that Caroline, or Change and A Minster’s Wife were strongly recognized — two of the best productions I’ve seen in Chicago, this season or not. Also Mary Ernster was nominated TWICE for best actress in a musical for her work in Wings and The Light in the Piazza. Both her performances were stunning. However, the award should go to E. Faye Butler. Her Caroline was a force, and I want her to reprise it soon.

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, who produced The Walls (which I loved), was widely recognized — with nominations for best new work (The Walls), production of a mid-sized play (These Shining Lives — or “the other Radium Girls,” as Jamie coins it), and principal actress in a play (Rebecca Spence – These Shining Lives).

Noticeable acting nom omissions in my mind were Kate Fry (A Minster’s Wife) and Rachel York (Turn of the Century) for best actress in a musical — Fry’s performance was subtle and pitch perfect, and York carried a mammoth clunker of a show on her back. Barbara Robertson was a great Mame this season — until she delivered Jerry Herman’s rangy ballads. (What is Barbara doing now?)

Other noticeable omissions include Goodman’s Desire Under the Elms and Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts.  Neither production received a single nomination, yet both were deemed worthy of a Broadway transfer. The transfer of Elms earlier this year was a failure, closing prematurely at a financial loss and later snubbed at the 2009 Tonys. Let’s hope a better fate for Donuts, which I’m sure will occur since everyone is still a twitter about August: Osage County.

Marriott was well-represented, but I’m surprised that their production of Spelling Bee got a best musical nom, and not Piazza. Spelling Bee was very much a copy of the Broadway and Drury Lane Water Tower productions, while Piazza was beautifully reinvented for their in-the-round stage.

As for lead actor in a musical, Nick Garrison’s Hedwig is the only nominated performance I’ve seen. However, it was enough to convince me he should win, as it was probably one of the best performances I’ve seen an actor give on any stage.

Another strong category is actress in a supporting role – musical. Summer Smart (Piazza), Liz Baltes (A Minister’s Wife) and Melanie Brezill (Caroline) were all fabulous. Alene Robertson was a boozy delight as Very Charles in Drury Lane’s Mame, too. However, it’s a role she’s played several times before, and I believe has previously been Jeff nominated for, as well.

Again, surprised Kate Fry was not recognized in this category for her work in Caroline as Rose — another favorite performance of mine. Did she do something to piss off the Jeff committee? Seriously.

However, overall, great recognition of a great season.

Jeff Awards will be presented at the 41st Annual Jeff Awards ceremony on Monday, October 19, at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

2009 Jeff Award Nominees (from JeffAwards.org):

PRODUCTION — PLAY – LARGE

“The Arabian Nights” – Lookingglass Theatre Company
“Boleros for the Disenchanted” – Goodman Theatre
“The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of King Edward II …” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
“The Lieutenant of Inishmore” – Northlight Theatre
“The Piano Lesson” – Court Theatre
“Ruined” – Goodman Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club
“The Seafarer” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
“Twelfth Night” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

PRODUCTION — PLAY – MIDSIZE

“The History Boys” – TimeLine Theatre Company
“The Little Foxes” – Shattered Globe Theatre
“A Moon for the Misbegotten” – First Folio Theatre
“Not Enough Air” – TimeLine Theatre Company
“Our Lady of the Underpass” – Teatro Vista . . . Theatre with a View
“The Overwhelming” – Next Theatre Company
“These Shining Lives” – Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

PRODUCTION — MUSICAL – LARGE

“The Boys from Syracuse” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
“Caroline, or Change” – Court Theatre
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” – Marriott Theatre
“Million Dollar Quartet” – Dee Gee Theatricals, John Cossette Productions and Northern Lights, Inc.
“A Minister’s Wife”- Writers’ Theatre
“Miss Saigon” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” – Marriott Theatre

PRODUCTION — MUSICAL – MIDSIZE

“Once on this Island” – Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago
“Tomorrow Morning” – Hillary A. Williams, LLC

PRODUCTION — REVUE

“America: All Better!” – The Second City
“Forbidden Broadway: Dances with the Stars” – John Freedson, Harriet Yellin and Margaret Cotter
“Studs Terkel’s Not Working” – The Second City e.t.c.

ENSEMBLE

“The Arabian Nights” – Lookingglass Theatre Company
“The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of King Edward II…” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
“Forbidden Broadway: Dances with the Stars” – John Freedson, Harriet Yellin and Margaret Cotter
“The History Boys” – TimeLine Theatre Company
“Million Dollar Quartet” – Dee Gee Theatricals, John Cossette Productions and Northern Lights, Inc.
“Scenes from the Big Picture” – Seanachai Theatre Company
“The Seafarer” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
“Studs Terkel’s Not Working” – The Second City e.t.c.

NEW WORK — PLAY

Lisa Dillman – “The Walls” – Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Lynn Nottage – “Ruined” – Goodman Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club
Masha Obolensky – “Not Enough Air” – TimeLine Theatre Company
Tanya Saracho – “Kita y Fernanda” – 16th Street Theater
Tanya Saracho – “Our Lady of the Underpass” – Teatro Vista…Theatre with a View

NEW ADAPTATION — PLAY

Seth Bockley – “Jon” – Collaboraction
Frank Galati – “Kafka on the Shore” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Frank Mahon & Milissa Pacelli – “The Quiet Man Tales” – Libby Adler Mages, Tony D’Angelo and Smock Alley Theater Company

NEW WORK OR ADAPTATION – MUSICAL

David H. Bell & Jeremy Cohen – “The Bowery Boys” – Marriott Theatre
David H. Bell & Keith Dworkin – “The Boys from Syracuse” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Josh Schmidt, Jan Tranen & Austin Pendleton – “A Minister’s Wife” – Writers’ Theatre

DIRECTOR – PLAY

Randall Arney – “The Seafarer” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Nick Bowling – “The History Boys” – TimeLine Theatre Company
David Cromer – “Picnic” – Writers’ Theatre
Sean Graney – “The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of King Edward II…” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Ron OJ Parsons – “The Piano Lesson” – Court Theatre
John Tillinger – “Don’t Dress for Dinner” – The British Stage Company
Alison C. Vesely – “A Moon for the Misbegotten” – First Folio Theatre
Rachel Walshe – “These Shining Lives” – Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Kate Whoriskey – “Ruined” – Goodman Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club

DIRECTOR – MUSICAL

David H. Bell – “The Boys from Syracuse” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Michael Halberstam – “A Minister’s Wife” – Writers’ Theatre
Charles Newell – “Caroline, or Change” – Court Theatre
Marc Robin – “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” – Marriott Theatre
Rachel Rockwell – “Miss Saigon” – Drury Lane Oakbrook

DIRECTOR — REVUE

Gerald Alessandrini & William Selby – Forbidden Broadway: Dances with the Stars” – John Freedson, Harriet Yellin and Margaret Cotter
Matt Hovde – America: All Better!” – The Second City
Matt Hovde – Studs Terkel’s Not Working” – The Second City e.t.c.

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE — PLAY

Maury Cooper – “Buried Child” – Shattered Globe Theatre
Russell G. Jones – “Ruined” – Goodman Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club
Timothy Edward Kane – “Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Goodman Theatre
Larry Neumann, Jr. – “A Moon for the Misbegotten” – First Folio Theatre
William L. Peterson – “Blackbird” – Victory Gardens Theater
Robert Sella – “Amadeus” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE — MUSICAL

Joseph Anthony Foronda – “Miss Saigon” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Sean Fortunato – “Curtains” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Nick Garrison – “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” – American Theater Company
Brian Sears – “The Bowery Boys” – Marriott Theatre
Richard Strimer – “Crazy for You” – Theatre at the Center

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – PLAY

Janet Ulrich Brooks – “Not Enough Air” – TimeLine Theatre Company
Saidah Arrika Ekulona – “Ruined” – Goodman Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club
Mary Beth Fisher – “Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Goodman Theatre
Kirsten Fitzgerald – “Pumpgirl” – A Red Orchid Theatre
Mattie Hawkinson – “Blackbird” – Victory Gardens Theater
Peggy Roeder – “Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory & The Thanksgiving Visitor” – Provision Theater
Rebecca Spence – These Shining Lives” – Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE — MUSICAL

E. Faye Butler – “Caroline, or Change” – Court Theatre
McKinley Carter – “John and Jen” – Apple Tree Theatre
Mary Ernster – “The Light in the Piazza” – Marriott Theatre
Mary Ernster – “Wings” – Apple Tree Theatre
Hollis Resnik – “Grey Gardens” – Northlight Theatre

SOLO PERFORMANCE

Taylor Mac – “The Young Ladies of . . .” – About Face Theatre
Max McLean – “Mark’s Gospel” – Fellowship for the Performing Arts
Tom Mula – “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” – Theater Wit
Gwendolyn Whiteside – “The K of D: An Urban Legend” – The Route 66 Theatre Company

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE — PLAY

Lance Baker – “Mauritius” – Northlight Theatre
Jake Cohen – “Up” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Jon Michael Hill – “The Tempest” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Ross Lehman – “Twelfth Night” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Ron Rains – “The Quiet Man Tales” – Libby Adler Mages, Tony D’Angelo and Smock Alley Theater Company
Alex Weisman – The History Boys” – TimeLine Theatre Company
Larry Yando – Twelfth Night” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE — MUSICAL

Malcolm Durning – “Caroline, or Change” – Court Theatre
Sean Fortunato – “The Producers” – Theatre at the Center
Levi Kreis – “Million Dollar Quartet” – Dee Gee Theatricals, John Cossette Productions, and Northern Lights, Inc.
Dennis Moench – “All Shook Up” – Marriott Theatre
Max Quinlan – “The Light in the Piazza” – Marriott Theatre
Alan Schmuckler – “A Minister’s Wife” – Writers’ Theatre
Bernie Yvon – “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” – Marriott Theatre

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE — PLAY

Janet Ulrich Brooks – “Weekend” – TimeLine Theatre Company
Hillary Clemens – “Picnic” – Writers’ Theatre
Linda Gehringer – “The Crowd You’re In With” – Goodman Theatre
Spencer Kayden – “Don’t Dress for Dinner” – The British Stage Company
Eileen Niccolai – “The Little Foxes” – Shattered Globe Theatre
Roxanne Reese – “Magnolia” – Goodman Theatre

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL

Liz Baltes – “A Minister’s Wife” – Writers’ Theatre
Melanie Brezill – “Caroline, or Change” – Court Theatre
Alene Robertson – “Mame” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Summer Smart – “The Light in the Piazza” – Marriott Theatre
Laura E. Taylor – “The Producers” – Theatre at the Center
Nancy Voigts – “Curtains” – Drury Lane Oakbrook

ACTOR IN A REVUE

Mark David Kaplan – “Forbidden Broadway: Dances with the Stars” – John Freedson, Harriet Yellin, and Margaret Cotter
George Andrew Wolff – “Side by Side by Sondheim” – Light Opera Works Second Stage

ACTRESS IN A REVUE

Amanda Blake Davis — “Studs Terkel’s Not Working” – The Second City e.t.c.
Anne Gunn — “Side by Side by Sondheim” – Light Opera Works Second Stage
Leisa Mather — “Forbidden Broadway: Dances with the Stars” – John Freedson, Harriet Yellin, and Margaret Cotter

SCENIC DESIGN – LARGE

Christopher Ash – “Pump Boys & Dinettes” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Brian Sidney Bembridge – “The Maids” – Writers’ Theatre
Linda Buchanan – “Boleros for the Disenchanted” – Goodman Theatre
Kevin Depinet – “The Crowd You’re In With” – Goodman Theatre
Jack Magaw – “Picnic” – Writers’ Theatre
Lucy Osborne – “Twelfth Night” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

SCENIC DESIGN – MIDSIZE

Brian Sidney Bembridge – “The History Boys” – TimeLine Theatre Company
Melania Lancy – “The Little Foxes” – Shattered Globe Theatre
Angela Miller – “A Moon for the Misbegotten” – First Folio Theatre
Courtney O’Neill – “Talk Radio” – The Gift Theatre Company
Keith Pitts – “Weekend” – TimeLine Theatre Company

COSTUME DESIGN – LARGE

Mara Blumenfeld – “The Arabian Nights” – Lookingglass Theatre Company
Dona Granata – “Turn of the Century” – Goodman Theatre
Virgil Johnson – “Amadeus” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Lucy Osborne – “Twelfth Night” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Tatjana Radisic – “Mame” – Drury Lane Oakbrook

COSTUME DESIGN — MIDSIZE

Rachel Laritz – “The Voysey Inheritance” – Remy Bumppo Theatre Company
Bill Morey – “Candide” – Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago
Alison Siple – “The Marriage of Figaro” – Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

SOUND DESIGN — LARGE

Lindsay Jones – “Macbeth” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Ray Nardelli and Joshua Horvath – “Miss Saigon” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Andre J. Pluess – “Ghostwritten” – Goodman Theatre
Josh Schmidt – “The Tempest” – Steppenwolf Theatre
Darron L. West – “Radio Macbeth” – Court Theatre

SOUND DESIGN – MIDSIZE

Joe Court – “The Unseen” – A Red Orchid Theatre
Andrew Hansen – “Not Enough Air” – TimeLine Theatre Company
Lindsay Jones – “The K of D: An Urban Legend” – The Route 66 Theatre Company

LIGHTING DESIGN — LARGE

Christopher Akerlind – “Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Goodman Theatre
John Horan – “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” – Northlight Theatre
James Ingalls – “Kafka on the Shore” – Steppenwolf Theatre
Natasha Katz – “Turn of the Century” – Goodman Theatre
Jesse Klug – “Miss Saigon” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Philip S. Rosenberg – “Amadeus” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

LIGHTING DESIGN — MIDSIZE

Matthew Gawryk – “The Unseen” – A Red Orchid Theatre
Jeremy Getz – “El Grito del Bronx” – Collaboraction and Teatro Vista i/a/w Goodman Theatre
Shelley Strasser Holland – “The Glass Menagerie” – Shattered Globe Theatre
Jesse Klug – “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” – American Theater Company
Tyler Micoleau – “The Screwtape Letters” – Fellowship for the Performing Arts

CHOREOGRAPHY

David H. Bell – “The Boys from Syracuse” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Brenda Didier – “Once on this Island” – Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago
Linda Fortunato – “Crazy for You” – Theatre at the Center
Matt Raftery – “The Bowery Boys” – Marriott Theatre
Marc Robin – “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” – Marriott Theatre

ORIGINAL INCIDENTAL MUSIC

Andrew Hansen – “Not Enough Air” – TimeLine Theatre Company
Alaric Jans – “Twelfth Night” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Dominic Kanza – “Ruined” – Goodman Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club

MUSIC DIRECTION

Richard Carsey – “A Minister’s Wife” – Writers’ Theatre
Eugene Dizon – “Candide” – Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago
Roberta Duchak – “Miss Saigon” – Drury Lane Oakbrook
Michael Mahler – “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” – Marriott Theatre
Ryan T. Nelson – “The Light in the Piazza” – Marriott Theatre
Doug Peck – “Caroline, or Change” – Court Theatre
Doug Peck – “Wings” – Apple Tree Theatre
Malcolm Ruhl – “Pump Boys & Dinettes” – Drury Lane Oakbrook

ARTISTIC SPECIALIZATION

Ned Mochel – Fight Choreography – “On An Average Day” – The Route 66 Theatre Company
Steve Tolin – Special Effects – “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” – Northlight Theatre
Mike Tutaj – Video Design – “Jon” – Collaboraction
Mike Tutaj – Film & Video Design – “Tomorrow Morning” – Hillary A. Williams, LLC

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