Jeff Awards nominations are announced

Cast of The Steadfast Tin Soldier at Lookingglass. (Liz Lauren photo)
Cast of The Steadfast Tin Soldier at Lookingglass. (Liz Lauren photo)

 

Did you have a favorite show seen this season, that’s season defined by the Equity Jeff Awards eligibility rules as Aug. 1 to July 31.

If it was a touring production presented by Broadway in Chicago it can make this publication, Chicago Theater and Arts,’ top ten list but it wouldn’t have been eligible for an Equity Jeff award.

So think again about shows you’ve seen at such Chicago area venues and theater companies as Court Theatre, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass, Drury Lane, Paramount, et al. There are about 250 theater companies in the Chicago area, many of whom are non-equity

This season’s equity nominations were announced early this morning, Sept. 3 2019. For non-equity, nominations and award recipients see Jeff Awards Non-Equity. For the complete list of Jeff Equity Nominees in all categories visit Jeff Awards. (Play photos shown here are among this season’s equity nominations.)

But before looking at which theaters scored big with the Jeff Committee, know who or what about the awards.

About the Jeff Awards and eligibility

According to the Jeff website, the awards have been “honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968.” It goes on to say, “With approximately 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre, the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors.

'Next to Normal' at Writers Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
‘Next to Normal’ at Writers Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Among the rules to be eligible are: “A theater organization that has a production determined by Actors’ Equity Association to be an equity production and wishes to have that production judged must notify the Equity Wing Chair by the 18th of the month before the month in which the opening performance of that production is to take place.”

In addition, “the theatre must show that it has committed to produce a minimum of 18 performances, excluding previews, over a period of at least 3 consecutive weeks. Additional requirements as to the minimum 18-performance rule are: at least one performance per week must take place on the weekend, one weekday matinee a week can be counted towards the minimum of 18 performances.

“Additional eligibility requirements: a. The Jeff Committee does not judge late-night performances (i.e., all curtains at or after 9:30 p.m.), puppet theatre, opera, performance art, children’s theatre, student or youth theatre, foreign language theatre, mime theatre, unscripted or improvised productions, or staged readings.”

“The Committee no longer judges Touring Productions under its prior (and now eliminated) separate category of Touring Production Awards. A specific production originating from a non-Chicago area CAT/LORT theatre (commonly referred to as a “Touring Production”) which is not being produced by a Chicago CAT/LORT Theatre is eligible for consideration if it is presented as part of that Theatre’s subscription.”

'Caroline or Change,' a Firebrand production in conjunction with Timeline. (Photo by Marisa KM)
‘Caroline or Change,’ a Firebrand production in conjunction with Timeline. (Photo by Marisa KM)

Among the nominations

Production – Play – Large
“Downstate” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
“Indecent” – Victory Gardens Theater
“Photograph 51” – Court Theatre
“Radio Golf” – Court Theatre
“The Steadfast Tin Soldier” – Lookingglass Theatre Company

Production – Play – Midsize
“Frankenstein” – Remy Bumppo Theatre Company
“Noises Off” – Windy City Playhouse
“On Clover Road” – American Blues Theater
“The Recommendation” – Windy City Playhouse
“Something Clean” – Sideshow Theatre Company
and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble

Production – Musical – Large
“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” – Drury Lane Productions
“Next to Normal” – Writers Theatre
“The Producers” – Paramount Theatre
“Six” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
“The Wizard of Oz” – Paramount Theatre

Production – Musical – Midsize
“Caroline, or Change” – Firebrand Theatre
i/a/w TimeLine Theatre Company
“A Chorus Line” – Porchlight Music Theatre
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” – Porchlight Music Theatre
“Gypsy” – Porchlight Music Theatre

Production – Revue
“Djembe! The Show” – Doug Manuel, Ashley DeSimone and TSG Theatricals
“Women of Soul” – Black Ensemble Theater
“You Can’t Fake the Funk: A Journey through Funk Music”
– Black Ensemble Theater

Cast of Women of Soul at Black Ensemble Theater. (Alan Davis photo)
Cast of Women of Soul at Black Ensemble Theater. (Alan Davis photo)

Ensemble – Play
“Familiar” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf”
– Court Theatre
“Indecent” – Victory Gardens Theater
“Noises Off” – Windy City Playhouse
“Small Mouth Sounds” – A Red Orchid Theatre
“Twilight Bowl” – Goodman Theatre

Ensemble – Musical or Revue
“A Chorus Line” – Porchlight Music Theatre
“Million Dollar Quartet” – Marriott Theatre
“Queen of the Mist” – Firebrand Theatre
“Six” – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
“You Can’t Fake the Funk: A Journey through Funk Music”
– Black Ensemble Theater

New Work – Play
David Auburn – “The Adventures of Augie March” – Court Theatre
David Catlin – “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” – Lookingglass Theatre Company
Jenny Connell Davis – “Scientific Method” – Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Ike Holter – “Lottery Day” – Goodman Theatre
Manual Cinema – “Frankenstein” – Court Theatre
Bruce Norris – “Downstate” – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Jen Silverman – “Witch” – Writers Theatre
Mary Zimmerman – “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” – Lookingglass Theatre Company

Cast and production crew of Manual Cinema’s Frankenstine at Court Theatre (Michael Brosilow photos)
Cast and production crew of Manual Cinema’s Frankenstine at Court Theatre (Michael Brosilow photos)

New Work – Musical
David Cale – “We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time”
– Goodman Theatre i/a/w The Public Theater
Michael Mahler and Jason Brett – “Miracle” – William A. Marovitz and Arny Granat
Daniel Zaitchik – “Darling Grenadine” – Marriott Theatre

According to Jeff Award information, 192 nominations were made in 34 categories ranging from actors, directors and choreographers to scenic and costume design and more.

When taking all the categories into consideration Porchlight Music Theatre topped the nominations at 17, followed by Paramount Theatre with 16 and Court Theatre with 15.

The 51 st Annual Equity Jeff Awards ceremony honoring excellence in professional theater produced within the greater Chicago area will be Oct. 21, 2019 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace.

Jodie Jacobs

Sneak Peek Part Six: Theaters in West and South neighborhoods

 

The Den Theatre (Austin Peters) Photo courtesy of The Den
The Den Theatre (Austin Peters) Photo courtesy of The Den

 

Sometimes theater companies perform in more than one space and some venues host more than one resident theater company. Looking at the venues west of I 94 you find both so some of these companies have been listed elsewhere. Also, be sure to check out what’s playing at the fine theaters south of the loop such as Court Theatre and The Chicago Children’s Theatre. Next stop will be suburban theaters, then season themes.

 

West

Chopin Theatre

A multi theater venue at 1543 W. Division St. the building has “Invitation to a Beheading” by Rough House Theatre and Sweven Theatre, Aug. 26 to Sept. 15, 2019. ’ “Destinos,” an international theatre festival, features Feos Sept. 19 to Oct. 27. Rough House Theatre will be again be doing the “Walls of Harrow House” September to November. The House Theatre will present The Nutcracker” Nov. 7 to Dec. 29, 2019.

For tickets and other information call (773) 278-1500 and visit Chopin Theatre.

 

The Den Theatre

The Den, a multi-theater venue at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave, has its own house shows and hosts other companies. Here are a few of the plays at The Den in the 2019-20 season.

Haven is currently doing the Chicago premiere of “Kiss” through Aug. 18, 2019. presents “Incorruptible” Aug. 1-Aug 11.

First Floort is doing the Chicago premiere of “Sugar in Our Wounds,” Oct. 19 to Nov. 23, 2019, then the Chicago premiere of “Plano,” Feb. 15 to Mar.  27, 2020. Spring is the world premiere of “The Juniors,” April 18 to May 30, 2020.

New Colony  will do “ Peg” Nov.13,  to Dec. 14, 2019 . Then “Under the Tree” runs April 01 to May 03, followed by “Other Rockpools” July 15 to Aug.15, 2020.

For tickets and other information  call (773) 697-3830 and visit The Den

 

The Gift Theatre,

The theatre, at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., is currently doing “Wolf Play” through Aug..  18,. “Kentucky”  is coming Oct. 17 to Nov. 16, 2019. For tickets and other information call  (773) 283-7071 and visit The Gift Theatre.

 

Trap Door Theatre

The theatre, at 1655 W.Cortland St., is doing “Love and Information” Sept. 12 to Oct. 19, 2019. The December 2019 and March 2020 shows TBA. “The Water Hen” comes in May (dates TBA.) For tickets and other information call (773) 384-0494 and visit Trap Door.

 

South

Court Theatre

The theatre is at the west end of the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus at 5535 S. Ellis Ave.

The season starts with “King Hedlley II” Sept 12 to Oct. 13.  and hen “Oedipus Rex” Novl 7 to Dec. 8 2019. It continues in 2020 with “The Mousetrap” Jan. 16 to Feb.16, “The Lady From the Sea” Mar. 12 to Apr.12  and “The Gospel at Colonus” May 7 to June 7.

For tickets and other information call (773) 753-4472 and visit Court Theatre.

 

Free Street Theater

Free Street Theater performs in Pulaski Park at 1419 W.Blackhawk but is doing “Still Here: Manifestos for Joy and Survival” at South Shore Cultural Center July 25, Humboldt Park July 27 and  Cornell Square Aug. 1, 2019. It also does Storyfront at 4346 S. Ashland Ave.

For tickets and other information call (773) 772-7248 and visit Free Street Theater/shows.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Augie March misadventures

Cast of Augie March at Court Theatre. (Michael Brosilow photo)
Cast of Augie March at Court Theatre. (Michael Brosilow photo)

2 ½ stars

Free-Style Chaos Defines Augie March

This theatrical version of “The Adventures of Augie March,” at the Court Theatre perhaps serves to illustrate why the popular novel by Chicagoan Saul Bellow has never before been adapted to the stage.

The story line basically follows everyman hero Augie March (Patrick Mulvey) as he meanders aimlessly through life allowing the people he meets to shape his journey. In this way Bellow suggests the arbitrariness of life and is perhaps a cautionary tale of the dangers of undefined goals.

The play opens in the Atlantic Ocean with Augie and his maniacal companion (John Judd) floating in a lifeboat after the sinking of their merchant ship.

During a flashback, Augie’s odyssey begins in the 1930s depression era crowded apartment he shares with his mother (Chaon Cross), two brothers and an overbearing Russian Jewish grandmother (Marilyn Dodds Frank).

Along the way Augie meets an odd assortment of characters which is one of the hallmarks of Bellow’s writing as he reveled in the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of humanity.

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‘Photograph 51’ is a portrait of life

 

Chaon Cross Rosalind Franklin) in Court Theatre's Photograph 51 (Michael Brosilow photo)
Chaon Cross Rosalind Franklin) in Court Theatre’s Photograph 51 (Michael Brosilow photo)

3.5 Stars

“Photograph 51” written by Anna Ziegler and Directed by Vanessa Stalling at the Court Theatre is a snapshot of the life of British chemist Rosalind Franklin (Chaon Cross).

Until recently she had gone virtually un-credited for her contribution to the discovery that revealed the structure of DNA to be a double helix. But the discovery earned her research colleague Maurice Wilkins (Nathan Hosner) and two rival collaborators James Watson (Alex Goodrich) and Francis Crick (Nicholas Harazin) the Nobel Prize.

Franklin was hired by King’s College London for her cutting edge expertise in the field of X-ray crystallography and assured that she would be in charge of her own research. Instead, she was assigned to Wilkins’ DNA project thus leaving her status of independence unresolved at best. Read More

‘Frankenstein’ viewed through Manual Cinema eyes

Cast and production crew of Manual Cinema's Frankenstine at Court Theatre (Michael Brosilow photos)
Cast and production crew of Manual Cinema’s Frankenstine at Court Theatre (Michael Brosilow photos)

4 Stars

It is supposed that our most ancient cave dwelling predecessors told supernatural cautionary tales of adventure that included encounters with fantastic creatures.

Their flickering fires casting out-sized, ominous, and at times, grotesque shadows on the wall amplified the sense of dread and danger. Add the slow beating of a drum mimicking the ever increasing beating of hearts, mixing with the mysterious sounds of nature lurking in the darkness and you begin to see the primeval recipe that Manual Cinema has tapped into in the telling of their version of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

Manual Cinema is a singular theatrical experience that has elements of street theater and silent film. The company mixes live action, silhouettes, puppets, shadow puppetry, masks, video, slide projection and all manner of theatrical techniques, ancient and modern to create a captivating monochromatic video mash-up, reminiscent of a nickelodeon feature, assembled and projected on stage before your eyes.

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Four freakishly fun Halloween happenings

Godfrey Hotel has haunted rooms. (Godfrey Hotel photo)
Godfrey Hotel has haunted rooms. (Godfrey Hotel photo)

 

Party in the Haunted Hotel

Some Chicago hotels are reputedly haunted such as the Congress Plaza on Michigan Avenue. But seeing ghostly figures there is not guaranteed. Thus, to be sure to come across spooky guest rooms, visit the Godfrey on West Huron, Oct. 27, 2018 when it holds its annual Haunted Hotel. The fourth floor rooftop lounge will be serving bewitched potions. Daring guests are welcome to explore the 20 haunted rooms on the fifth floor. The event goes from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tickets start at $45 per person. For ticket and other information visit Godfrey events.  The Godfrey Hotel Chicago is at 127 W. Huron St.

Or party with the real Frankenstein

Before the Court Theatre holds Manual Cinema’s world premiere of its version of “Frankenstein” on Nov. 1, it is opening the show’s final dress rehearsal to a limited number of ticket holders who are ready to party Oct. 31, 2018.  Attendees should come dressed ghoulishly creepy or creatively spooky to compete in a costume contest and hungry enough to wolf down strange hors (or is it horror) d’oeuvres and cocktails. Tickets are $75 and cover the pre-show party at 6:30 p.m., performance and then a post-show artists’ mingle. Purchases of two or more tickets drop the price by $5. The Court Theatre is at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. at the west end of the University of Chicago Hyde Park campus. For tickets or other information visit the box office, call (773) 753-4472, or visit Court Theatre.

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Four Chicago theatres receive special Jeff recognition

 

Goodman Theatre is among four longtime Chicago area theatres to be honored at Jeff Awards (Goodman Theatre photo)
Goodman Theatre is among four longtime Chicago area theatres to be honored at Jeff Awards (Goodman Theatre photo)

When the Joseph Jefferson Awards holds its annual ceremony and dinner on Oct. 22, 2018 to recognize the best acting and production components of last season’s Equity shows, there will be four additional awards.

To mark the Jeff Awards 50th anniversary, Goodman Theatre, started in 1925, Drury Lane Theatre, begun in 1949, Court Theatre founded in 1955 and The Second City, dating back to 1959, will be honored for enriching the Chicago theatre scene for more than 50 years. Over the past 50 years, the four theatres have racked up more than 1,400 nominations and 350 awards.Read More

Lookingglass does ‘Frankenstein’ and the story behind it

 

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Cordelia Dewdney at Lookingglass. (Photo by Sean Williams)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Cordelia Dewdney at Lookingglass. (Photo by Sean Williams)

In January, 1818 British author Mary Shelley first published “Frankenstein (subtitle The Modern Prometheus).” This season, Court (Manual Cinema), Lifeline, Lookingglass and Remy Bumppo Theatre Companies are recognizing the 200th anniversary by each doing their version of “Frankenstein.”

Anyone interested in the similarities and differences that the four excellent Chicago companies will emphasize in their productions should try to snag a ticket to “Frankenstein: Unearthed,” Sept. 30, 2018, a 1 p.m. program at Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave. in the Chicago Water Tower Water Works. For tickets and information visit Lookingglass Theatre.

Moderated by Chicago Tribune  Critic Chris Jones, the event features a panel of Manuel Cinema’s Drew Dir, Lifeline’s Robert Kauzlaric and Ann Sonneville, Lookingglass’ David Catlin and Cordelia Dewdney and Remy Bumppo’s Ian Frank and Eliza Stoughton.

Among the issues examined will be “How is this story told?” To answer that from the Lookingglass perspective, Chicago Theater and Arts talked with ensemble member and the production’s writer/director, David Catlin, about the route traveled to write the script, what his research uncovered and what audiences can expect when the show premieres in 2019.

Lookingglass Theatre writer/director David Caitlin. (Lookingglass photo)
Lookingglass Theatre writer/director David Catlin. (Lookingglass photo)

“Heidi (Stillman, ensemble member and artistic director) had an existing script. I looked at it and read it but it was not grabbing me as I thought it should. So she said we’ll commission you to do an adaptation.

“I’m sure the points were present in the script but they not stick out so I went back to the book. I had missed reading it in high school and didn’t get it in college,” said Catlin.

He did more than read the book. Catlin also researched its author.

“I was amazed this could get out of an 18 year-old and a woman in that time period when women were not encouraged. It was a powerful piece.”Read More

‘Radio Golf’ is a Hole-in-One

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

From left: Allen Gilmore, James T Alfred and James Vincent Meredith. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
From left: Allen Gilmore, James T Alfred and James Vincent Meredith. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

A Pittsburgh real estate developer with aspirations of becoming mayor finds himself at odds with his wife and his business partner after encountering a couple of guys from his old neighborhood who bring him closer to his own history and the roots of his community.

This is a story about the quest for success, what is legal, what is fair and ultimately, what is right and what is wrong.

These concepts are not just black and white. They are usually very muddy and predicated on each individual’s point-of-view. On some level this story tries to indicate that there is a clear distinction.

Read More

Sneak Peak Part Five: Theaters in West and South neighborhoods

 

Sometimes theater companies perform in more than one space and some venues host more than one resident theater company. Looking at the venues west of I 94 you find both so some of these companies have been listed elsewhere. Also, be sure to check out what’s playing at the fine theaters south of the loop such as Court Theatre and The Chicago Children’s Theatre.

One of the spaces at The Den, a popular multi-show venue. (The Den photo)
One of the spaces at The Den, a popular multi-show venue. (The Den photo)

West

Chopin Theatre

A Multi theater venue at 1543 W. Division St. has “Borealis” by The House Theatre of Chicago Aug. 30-Oct. 21 and Rough House Theatre will be doing the “Walls of Harrow House” in October.

For tickets and other information call (773) 278-1500 and visit Chopin Theatre.

 

The Den Theatre

A multi-theater venue at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave, The Den’s resident companies include Broken Nose, Firebrand, First Floor, Griffin, Haven, New Colony and WildClaw but it also hosts other companies. Here are some of the plays performing at The Den in the 2018-19 season

For tickets and other information  call (773) 697-3830 and visit The Den Broken NoseFirst Floor, The New ColonyGriffin, Firebrand,  Haven and WildClaw.

New Colony is continuing the production of “The Light” at the Theatre on the Lake through Aug. 24, then is doing  “Fun Harmless War Machine” Oct. 3-Nov. 4. It continues in 2019 with “Small World” Mar 27-May 5. New Colony is on second floor of the Den. (773) 413-0862.

Grifin is continuing “The Harvest” through Aug. 25.  The Jacobins are doing “The Book of Sebastian” Aug. 24-Sept. 1 and Broken Nose is doing “Plainclothes” Nov. 9- Dec. 15.

New American Folk Theatre has “Scraps” Sept. 1-29 and WildClaw has “Second Skin” Sept. 11-Oct. 13.

Interrobang which is listed here later at its own space will be doing “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” Mondays Sept. 24-Nov. 12 and First Floor is doing “Hooded, Or Being Black for Dummies” Oct. 20-Nov. 17, “Mike Pence, Sex Dream” beginning Feb. 18 and “I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard” beginning Apr. 19.

Firebrand is doing “Caroline Or Change” Sept. 22-Oct. 28 and The Haven has “Directors Haven” Oct. 13-31 that showcases plays by Charlotte Drover, Airos Sung-En Medill and Dani Wieder.

The Haven continues in 2019 with “The Total Bent” Feb. 7-Mar. 10 and “Kiss” July 18-Aug. 11 and First Floor is doing “Mike Pense, Sex Dream” beginning Feb. 18 and “I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard” beginning Apr. 19.

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