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The 44th Annual Jeff Awards Celebrating Non-Union Chicago Theatrical Productions

The 44th Annual Jeff Awards Celebrating Non-Union Chicago Theatrical Productions
Non-Equity Jeff Awards

Logo Photo from the Night

Monday night saw Broken Nose Theatre and Refuge Theatre taking the top honors at The 44th annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards held at the Athenaeum Theatre. Celebrating non-union Chicago theatrical productions, the award’s wealth was spread to 19 different shows in 26 categories. The biggest winner of the night was At the Table, created by Broken Nose Theatre, which received four awards total including Best Production – Play, Best Ensemble, Best Director for Spenser Davis and Best Actress in a Supporting  Role – Play for Echaka Agba. In the musical category, Refuge Theatre’s High Fidelity: The Musical walked away with Best Production – Musical, Best Director for Christopher Pazdernik and best Scenic Design for Michelle Manni. The 55 men and women making up the Jeff Committee each share a passion and respect for theatre and hand-selected David Cerda from Hell in a Handbag Productions as the recipient of the 2017 Non-Equity Special Award. Cerda was allowed to speak longer than the evening’s requisite 30 seconds and joked early on in his speech “I do deserve it.”  Switching to a more serious tone, he shared his love for the genre.  “There is always hope no matter how hopeless things seem.” Through the performing arts “I discovered I mattered… and theater saved my life.” Closing his speech he reminded a room full of his Non–Equity colleagues to “pay your people a livable wage” which was met with thunderous applause.

Alexis J. Roston, Lillian Castillo

Hosts Alexis J. Roston and Lillian Castillo

Alexis J. Roston and Lillian Castillo played hostesses for the evening, cracking jokes and keeping the pace of the evening flowing. The casts of The Wiz, How We Got On, Northhanger Abbey, The Most Happy Fella, Urinetown, and High Fidelity: the Musical reunited and took to the stage one more time performing selections from each of their nominated shows. Award highlights of the evening included John Nasca winning his second consecutive award for Costume Design for Pride Films and Plays’ Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Ike Holter’s  powerful Prowess taking home two awards, including Best New Play, double nominee Henry McGinniss winning Best Actor in a Principle Role –Musical for Bay Boy: The Musical  and a surprised Veronica Garza breathlessly taking the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Musical trophy for her dual role in Underscore Theatre Company’s Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera. “Comedy is my way of fighting hate” she shared, her cheeks as bright pink as her jumpsuit.

 David Cerda

2017 Non-Equity Special Award Recipient David Cerda

Special tributes were also offered for Windy City luminaries Samuel Roberson, “art is about changing lives for the better” and Steppenwolf’s incomparable Martha Lavey. Standing ovations for each, honoring their lifetime commitment to improving the industry they both so cherished. Under the direction of Brenda Didier and musical direction by Jimmy Morehead, the 44th annual Jeff Awards concluded with a reception and photos of the winners and nominees in the Athenaeum Theatre’s gallery.  The full list of the evening’s winners are listed below.

Sydney Charles, The Wiz

The cast of Kokandy Production’s The Wiz (Group of four, Sydney Charles in yellow dress

PRODUCTION—PLAY

At the Table; Broken Nose Theatre

PRODUCTION—MUSICAL

High Fidelity; Refuge Theatre Project

ENSEMBLE

At the Table; Broken Nose Theatre

DIRECTOR—PLAY

Spenser Davis; At the Table; Broken Nose Theatre

DIRECTOR—MUSICAL

Christopher Pazdernik; High Fidelity; Refuge Theatre Project

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE—PLAY Tie

George Seegebrecht; Hauptmann; City Lit Theater Company

Gage Wallace; Taste; Red Theater Chicago

ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE—MUSICAL

Henry McGinniss; Bat Boy: The Musical; Griffin Theatre Company

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE—PLAY

Amy Johnson; Falling; Interrobang Theatre Project

ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE—MUSICAL

Colette Todd; Next to Normal; BoHo Theatre

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE—PLAY

Justin Tsatsa; Falling; Interrobang Theatre Project

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE—MUSICAL

Scott Danielson; Urinetown; BoHo Theatre

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE—PLAY

 Echaka Agba,  At the Table

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Play Echaka Agba; At the Table

Echaka Agba; At the Table; Broken Nose Theatre

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE—MUSICAL

Veronica Garza, Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Musical Veronica Garza; Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera

Veronica Garza; Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera; Underscore Theatre Company

SOLO PERFORMANCE

Philip Dawkins; The Happiest Place on Earth; Greenhouse Theater Center and Sideshow Theatre Company

ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A REVUE

Colette Todd; Honky Tonk Angels; Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

NEW PLAY – Tie

Ike Holter; Prowess; Jackalope Theatre Company

Alex Lubischer; Bobbie Clearly; Steep Theatre Company

NEW MUSICAL

Robert Kauzlaric and George Howe; Northanger Abbey; Lifeline Theatre

CHOREOGRAPHY

Lillian Castillo, Stephen Best

Lillian Castillo, Stephen Best, Urinetown’s Ariana Burks & Anaiya Burks

Aubrey Adams; Urinetown; BoHo Theatre

ORIGINAL MUSIC IN A PLAY

Natasha Bogojevich; Gentle; TUTA Theatre Chicago

MUSIC DIRECTION

Jeremy Ramey; The Most Happy Fella; Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

SCENIC DESIGN

Michelle Manni; High Fidelity; Refuge Theatre Project

LIGHTING DESIGN

Kevin D. Gawley; A Wrinkle in Time; Lifeline Theatre

COSTUME DESIGN

John Nasca; Priscilla: Queen of the Desert; Pride Films and Plays

SOUND DESIGN

Stephen Ptacek; How We Got On; Haven Theatre Company

PROJECTION DESIGN

Anthony Churchill; The Body of an American; Stage Left Theatre

FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY

Ryan Bourque; Prowess; Jackalope Theatre Company

The 44th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards occurred Monday, June 5, 2017 at The Athenaeum Theatre

Events

Stephen S. Best is currently a freelance writer for the Times Square Chronicles, covering the performing arts scene in the greater Chicagoland area. He has been a theater aficionado for years, attending his first live production, Annie, at the tender age of six. After graduating from Purdue University, Stephen honed his skills attending live theater, concerts and art installations in New York and Chicago. Stephen's keen eye and thorough appreciation for both theater patrons' time and entertainment dollar makes him a valuable asset and his recommendations key. Stephen currently lives in downtown Chicago.

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