Even though Chicago’s theater companies, arguably the most in the U.S. at 250, are now shuttered except for virtual experiences, their 2019-20 productions are still being recognized by the Jeff Awards.
Founded in 1968 to note outstanding achievement in categories somewhat similar to the Academy Awards, the Jeff Awards started with recognizing equity productions (operating under union contracts) but added non-equity in 1973.
The Non-Equity Award Nominations were just announced. Each year the plays under consideration are performed from April 1 through the season to March 1.
To be Jeff recommended, Jeff committee members have to see one element of excellence on opening night, then the production can be considered for category nominations. Committee members range from producers, theater educators and scenic designers to playwrights, musicians and theater critics and other professional theater positions. For more information visit JeffAwards/Judging.
The Non-Equity Nominations just announced are for 21 categories that among other segments include new works, musical and play productions, musical and play directors, musical and play lead performers, musical and play supporting performers, solo performers. Nominations also go to such important complementary work as costume and scenic design, choreography and sound and lighting design.
You may not be familiar with all the Chicago area’s non-equity theater production companies but hopefully when the COVID-19 threat is over all will reopen and you can experience their stage work.
As an example in the Production – Musical category are Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Black Button Eyes Productions for Ghost Quartet, Underscore Theatre Company for The Ballad of Lefty & Crabbe, BoHo Theatre for Big Fish and Kokandy Productions for Head Over Heels.
In the Production-Play category Raven Theatre has The Undeniable Sound of Right Now, Steep Theatre Company has First love is the Revolution, Lifeline Theatre has Middle Passage, Jackalope theatre Company has PYG or the Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle and Griffin theatre company has Mlima’s Tale.
Several production companies are also noted in multiple categories for other shows. Please visit JeffAwards/Non-Equity Nominees to see the entire list.