While all of New York City is bracing for this Sunday’s Tony Awards, lightheartedly christened “The Hamilton’s” this year, Chicago’s theater community is basking in some award show aura of its own. Teasingly referred to as the “Theatre Prom,” a sold out, Monday night, Park West crowd of 700 theater aficionados were on hand to celebrate and toast the recipients of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards 2015-2016 season. Non-Equity may be considered a synonym for “intimate theater spaces” and “shoe-string budgets,” but the talent and integrity on hand felt epic, indeed. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s sold-out revival of Jonathan Larson’s Rent, received the award for best production of a musical or revue. Griffin Theatre Company’s London Wall, an intense drama about the women involved in a London law firm in 1931, was crowned best production of a play. In the evening’s biggest surprise, two productions tied for the coveted ensemble award: Steep Theatre Company’s production of Posh, a look at the decedent lifestyle of privileged Oxford University students, and Raven Theatre’s powerful production of Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, an intense, vaudeville-style interpretation of the infamous case of nine innocent African-American men falsely accused of sexually assaulting two white women in 1930’s Alabama. Director Kimberly Senior was individually honored during the evening with a Special Jeff Award “for her efforts as a mentor to emerging directors, and her advocacy in helping to promote the careers of fellow artists.”
The following is a complete list of all of the 2016 Non-Equity Jeff Award recipients:
PRODUCTION, PLAY: London Wall, Griffin Theatre Company.
PRODUCTION, MUSICAL OR REVUE: Rent, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.
ENSEMBLE: Posh, Steep Theatre Company, and Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, Raven Theatre.
DIRECTOR, PLAY: Robin Witt, London Wall, Griffin Theatre Company.
DIRECTOR, MUSICAL OR REVUE: Scott Weinstein, Rent, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.
ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE, PLAY: Julian Parker, The Hairy Ape, Oracle Theatre.
ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE, MUSICAL: Quinton Guyton, Lawd the CVS is Burning…A Gospel Musical Stage Play, MPAACT.
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE, PLAY: Amanda Drinkall, Last Train to Nibroc, Haven Theatre.
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE, MUSICAL: Courtney Mack, Heathers: The Musical, Kokandy Productions.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, PLAY: JP Pierson , The Lisbon Traviata, Eclipse Theatre Company.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, MUSICAL OR REVUE: Aubrey McGrath, Rent, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, PLAY: Cecelia Wingate, Byhalia, Mississippi, The New Colony and Definition Theatre Company.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, MUSICAL OR REVUE: Amanda Horvath, Murder Ballad, Bailiwick Chicago.
SOLO PERFORMANCE: Anna Dauzvardis, Liberty City, Creative Arts Foundation.
NEW WORK: Evan Linder, Byhalia, Mississippi, The New Colony and Definition Theatre Company.
NEW ADAPTATION: Tie -Elizabeth Lovelady, D.O.A. Strawdog Theatre Company, and Christina Calvit, Miss Buncle’s Book, Lifeline Theatre.
CHOREOGRAPHY: Sawyer Smith, Heathers: The Musical, Kokandy Productions.
ORIGINAL MUSIC IN A PLAY: Danny Rockett, How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients, Trap Door Theatre.
MUSIC DIRECTION: Jeremy Ramey, Rent, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.
SCENIC DESIGN: John Wilson, Byhalia, Mississippi, The New Colony and Definition Theatre Company.
LIGHTING DESIGN: Charles Cooper, Murder Ballad, Bailiwick Chicago.
COSTUME DESIGN: John Nasca, Design for Living, Pride Films and Plays.
SOUND DESIGN: Jeffrey Levin, The Hairy Ape, Oracle Theatre.
ARTISTIC SPECIALIZATION: Breon Arzell, Step Master, The Hairy Ape, Oracle Theatre.