Joseph Jefferson Awards

Joseph Jefferson awards

2017

 By Dan Zeff

 

Oakbrook Terrace—The Paramount Theatre in Aurora added additional luster to its reputation as one of the major musical theaters outside of New York City by collecting eight Jeff Awards presented at the 49th annual awards celebration. The ceremony was held again this year before a large and typically boisterous crowd in the Drury Lane Theatre.

The Jeffs are sponsored by the Joseph Jefferson committee, which sent scouts out from August 1, 2016, through July 31, 2017. to attend 159 productions staged by 62 producing companies. From the original 159, 123 were selected by the committee as worthy of a Jeff nomination, making them eligible for a Jeff Award.
The Jeff Awards have now ballooned to 32 categories covering both mid-sided and large theaters. Combine the large number of nominations with some extra long acceptance speeches, special awards, a bit of clowning by some presenters, and the extended whooping and hollering by the audience and you get a three-hour show. Add a 90-minute pre-ceremonies reception and a post awards buffet, plus the long drive to and from Oakbrook Terrace for many visitors and the result was a jam-packed evening that likely cleared midnight.

Yet who could deny Jonathan Butler-Duplessis his chance to go ballistic on stage as the recipient of the award for actor in a supporting role (musical) for his performance in the Writers Theatre revival of “Parade?” Or Alex Weisman so choked up he was barely intelligible getting the Jeff for actor in a principal role (play), his reward for honoring us with one of the truly astonishing performances of the past season?

But few spectators felt the evening dragged. The Jeffs are the capstone of the area theater season, the Chicagoland equivalent of the Academy Awards, the Tonys, the Grammys, and the Emmys. For the large theater community, this is the evening to cheer its own, and cheer they did. Whatever the competitive stresses of the day-to-day life in local theater, the Jeff Awards are a love-in, and standing ovations were the order of the night.

The Paramount took home five Jeffs for its revival of “Sweeney Todd” and three for its colorful fantasy “The Little Mermaid,” illustrating the breadth of the company’s ambition and a testament to artistic director Jim Corti’s genius at elevating the Paramount to national significance in only six years. He is the man of the decade in Chicagoland theater.

A complete list of Jeff winners and their categories follows below.

 

2017 Equity Jeff Award Recipients

PRODUCTION – PLAY – LARGE

“Blues for an Alabama Sky” – Court Theatre

PRODUCTION – PLAY – MIDSIZE

“Born Yesterday” – Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

PRODUCTION – MUSICAL – LARGE

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre

PRODUCTION – MUSICAL – MIDSIZE

“The Scottsboro Boys” – Porchlight Music Theatre

PRODUCTION – REVUE

“Smokey Joe’s Café” – Drury Lane Productions

DIRECTOR – PLAY

Ron OJ Parson – “Blues for an Alabama Sky” – Court Theatre

DIRECTOR – MUSICAL

Jim Corti – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber

    of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre

ENSEMBLE

“East Texas Hot Links” – Writers Theatre

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – PLAY

Alex Weisman – “Hand to God” – Victory Gardens Theater

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – MUSICAL

Paul-Jordan Jansen – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber

    of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – PLAY

Angela Ingersoll – “End of the Rainbow” – Porchlight Music Theatre

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE – MUSICAL

Kathy Voytko – “The Bridges of Madison County” – The Marriott Theatre

ACTOR IN A REVUE

Austin Cook – “Marry Me a Little” – Porchlight Music Theatre

ACTRESS IN A REVUE

Michelle Lauto – “Spamilton” – The Royal George Theatre Cabaret

SOLO PERFORMANCE

Linda Reiter – “Rose” – The Greenhouse Theater Center

    in association with Forum Productions

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – PLAY

Marton Csokas – “Uncle Vanya” – Goodman Theatre

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL

Jonathan Butler-Duplessis – “Parade” – Writers Theatre

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – PLAY

Kymberly Mellen – “The Columnist” – American Blues Theater

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – MUSICAL

  1. Faye Butler – “Chicago The Musical” – Drury Lane Productions

NEW PLAY

Michael Cristofer – “Man in the Ring” – Court Theatre

Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon – “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley”   – Northlight Theatre

Antoinette Nwandu – “Pass Over” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company

CHOREOGRAPHY

Matthew Crowle – “Crazy for You” – Drury Lane Productions

ORIGINAL MUSIC IN A PLAY

Orbert Davis – “Paradise Blue” – TimeLine Theatre Company

MUSIC DIRECTION

Tom Vendafreddo – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

   Paramount Theatre

SCENIC DESIGN – LARGE

Jeffrey D. Kmiec – “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” – Paramount Theatre

SCENIC DESIGN – MIDSIZE

Joe Schermoly – “Naperville” – Theater Wit

LIGHTING DESIGN – LARGE

Nick Belley and Jesse Klug – “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber

    of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre

LIGHTING DESIGN – MIDSIZE

Cat Davis – “The River Bride” – Halcyon Theatre

COSTUME DESIGN – LARGE

Theresa Ham – “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” – Paramount Theatre

COSTUME DESIGN – MIDSIZE

Kristy Leigh Hall – “Pygmalion” – Remy Bumppo Theatre

SOUND DESIGN – LARGE

André Pluess – “Man in the Ring” – Court Theatre

SOUND DESIGN – MIDSIZE

Grover Hollway – “The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz”

    – The House Theatre of Chicago

PROJECTION DESIGN

Mike Tutaj – “Objects in the Mirror” – Goodman Theatre

PUPPET DESIGN

Jesse Mooney-Bullock – “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” – Paramount Theatre

Contact Dan at ZeffDaniel@yahoo.com.             November 2017

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