Jeff Awards Non Equity nominations

Mlima's Tale at Raven Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
Mlima’s Tale at Raven Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

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.

Cast of 'Head Over Heels,' a Kokandy Productions show at Theater Wit. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
Cast of ‘Head Over Heels,’ a Kokandy Productions show at Theater Wit. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

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.

Jodie Jacobs


Jeff Award Judging in May

Head Over Heels review

Mlima’s Tale review


‘Bridges’ and ‘Requiem’ big Jeff Non Equity Award winners


Theo Ubique Cabaret theatre" 'Bridges of Madison county' won four Jeff Awards. (pPhoto by . Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)
Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre” ‘Bridges of Madison county’ won four Jeff Awards. (pPhoto by . Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)

The Jeff Awards which have recognized outstanding theatre productions and artists since 1968 announced the 2019 Non-Equity recipients for the 2018-19 season on June 3, 2019. The Equity awards will be announced Oct. 21, 2019. For all nominees, awards and other news visit JeffAwards.

There were 144 Non-Equity productions eligible during the season going from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, Sixty eight of them were recommended for awards.

This year’s multiple awards by theatre were The Artistic Home – 4, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre – 4, Raven Theater -4, Sideshow Theatre Company – 3, Jackalope Theatre Company -2, Broken Nose Theatre-2 (1 in association with About Face Theatre), Haven Theatre Company – 2 and Kokandy Productions- 2.

Multiple awards by production: The Bridges of Madison County (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) – 4, Requiem for a Heavyweight (The Artistic Home)  – 4, Grand Hotel (Kokandy Production)  – 3, Tilikum (Sideshow Theatre Company) – 3, Dutch Masters (Jackalope Theatre Company) – 2, Girl in the Red Corner  (Broken Nose Theatre) – 2 and Yen (Raven Theatre)  – 2.

Trap Door Theatre received a Special Award for “opening the door to an evocative and surreal world for 25 years.”

Broken Nose Theatre received the “Ensemble” award for “Plainclothes.”

'Requiem for a Heavyweight' was a big winner in the Non-Equity Jeff Awards. (Photo by .Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)
‘Requiem for a Heavyweight’ was a big winner in the Non-Equity Jeff Awards. (Photo by .Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)

The productions that took the most awards were Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s “The Bridges of Madison County” which won best Musical Production, Best Director of a Musical (Fred Anzevino), Best Performer in a Principal Role in a Musical (Kelli Harrington as Fancesca), and Best Musical Direction ( Jeremy Ramey).

The Artistic Home’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight” took Best Production- Play, Best Director-Play (John Mossman), Best Sound Design (Petter Wahback) and Performer in a Principal Role – Play (Mark Pracht as Harlan “Mountain” McCintock. There were two awards in this category. The other went to Patrick Agada (Eric) in Jackalope Theatre Company’s “Dutch Masters.”

To see all the awards and their categories please visit Jeff Awards.

Jodie Jacobs