Chicago's Non-equity Jeff Awards 2012: Feel the Love.

Chicago's Non-equity Jeff Awards 2012: Feel the Love.
Credit: Johnny Knight photo.

Chicago, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. The stars were shinning bright last night at Chicago’s 2012 Non-equity Jeff Awards.  The event, that some say is Chicago’s answer to New York’s Tony Awards, honors the best of the best in Chicago’s non-equity theater scene–the talented, hard working, low or no salaried, men and women that are the important backbone to Chicago Theater. The Jeff Awards has been paying homage to outstanding theatre artists annually since 1968.  The Non-Equity Wing of the Jeff Awards was established in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre.

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre and The Hypocrites took the top honors this year with awards for best productions in musical and play productions, respectively.  The Griffin Theatre won this year’s nod for the best Ensemble Award for “Punk Rock”.

Last night’s awards ceremony, complete with a red carpet, was held at the Park West Nightclub/concert venue.  TimeLine Theatre’s Associate Artist Terry Hamilton and Griffin Theatre’s Jeff Award-Actress in a Leading Role, Vanessa Greenway emceed the event.  An audience of over 600 enjoyed the gala evening featuring musical production numbers from Bailiwick Chicago’s “Passing Strange” and “Violet,” Griffin Theatre’s “Spring Awakening,” and Theo Ubique’s “Pump Boys and Dinettes” and “The Light in the Piazza.”

In addition the the large contingent of those involved in the workings of  Chicago Theater, the event was open to all. Tickets were $40 in advance and $45 at the door. There was a cash bar and a complimentary buffet before the ceremony. The seating was comfortable, with the theater companys siting in groups at table areas while others sat on stools and at banquets at a higher level.  Drinks could be ordered throughout the two hour ceremony.

The ceremony was a joy to behold, with the hard-work and emotion that goes into each production evident as the cheers, hugs, and the great camaraderie continued throughout the evening. The acceptance speeches were limited to 30 seconds and the evening rolled along at a nice pace, lasting a little over two hours.

This year the Jeff Awards judges covered 141 nominations in 25 categories from 49 productions and ultimately honored 34 recipients from 15 theatres with 31 awards celebrating excellence in all aspects of Chicago Non-Equity theatre. The  2012 awards were given productions that opened between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012.

If you enjoy theater, you may want to put this special event on your calendar for next year or consider going the Jeff Awards ceremony honoring productions presented under union contracts, that will be held on Monday, October 15, 2012, at the Drury Lane Oakbrook in Oakbrook Terrace. Even if you’ve only seen a minority of the shows, the awards ceremony gives you a very personal peak inside the workings to the wide ranges of backgrounds involved in Chicago’s second to none Theatre landscape.

And here are the winners…

2012 Non-Equity Jeff Award Recipients.

Best Production–Play.
“Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses” — The Hypocrites.

Best Production–Musical.
“The Light in the Piazza” — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

Best Director–Play.
Jonathan Berry — “Punk Rock” — Griffin Theatre Company.
Sean Graney — “Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses” — The Hypocrites.

Best Director–Musical.
Fred Anzevino and Brenda Didier — “The Light in the Piazza” — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

Best Ensemble.
“Punk Rock” — Griffin Theatre Company.

Best Actor in a Principle Role–Play.
Joey DeBettencourt — “Punk Rock” — Griffin Theatre Company.

Best Actor in a Principle Role–Musical.
Chuck Sisson — “The Baker’s Wife” — Circle Theatre.

Best Actress in a Principle Role–Play.
Jacqueline Grandt — “Bug” — Redtwist Theatre.
Melanie Keller — “East of Berlin & The Russian Play” — Signal Ensemble Theatre.

Best Actress in a Principle Role–Musical.
Kelli Harrington — “The Light in the Piazza” — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role–Play.
Aaron Kirby — “Dark Play or Stories for Boys” — Collaboraction.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role–Musical.
Justin Adair — “The Light in the Piazza” — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role–Play.
Sasha Gioppo — “Red Light Winter” — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role–Musical.
Dana Tretta — “Pippin” — Bohemian Theatre Ensemble.

Best New Work.
Shepsu Aakhu — “Speaking in Tongues: The Chronicles of Babel” — MPAACT.
Deirdre O’Connor — “Assisted Living” — Profiles Theatre.

Best New Adaptation.
Sean Graney — “Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses” — The Hypocrites.
Blake Montgomery — “Moby-Dick” — The Building Stage.

Kevin Bellie — “Urinetown the Musical” — Circle Theatre.

Original Incidental Music.
Ovidiu Iloc — “The Word Progress on My Mother’s Lips Doesn’t Ring True” — Trap Door Theatre.
Kevin O’Donnell — “Moby-Dick” — The Building Stage.

Music Direction.
Jeremy Ramey — “The Light in the Piazza” — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

Scenic Design.
Amanda Rozmiarek — “The Price” — Raven Theatre.

Lighting Design.
Jared Moore — “Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses” — The Hypocrites.

Costume Design.
Jesus Perez — “Urinetown the Musical” — Circle Theatre.

Sound Design.
Christopher Kriz — “Opus” — Redtwist Theatre.

Fight Design.
Matt Hawkins — “Cyrano” — The House Theatre of Chicago.

Dialect Coaching. (new award).
Eva Breneman — “The Light in the Piazza” — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

Artistic Specialization.
Casey Baker, Kevin O’Donnell and Mike Przygoda — Percussion — “Moby-Dick” — The Building Stage
Zhanna Bullock — Music Coach — “Opus” — Redtwist Theatre

For a complete list of the nominees, go to the Jeff Awards Website.

Multiple Recipients.

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre – 6
The Hypocrites – 4
The Building Stage – 3
Circle Theatre – 3
Griffin Theatre – 3
Redtwist Theatre – 3

“The Light in the Piazza” – 6
“Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses” – 4
“Moby –Dick” – 3
“Punk Rock” – 3
“Opus” – 2
“Urinetown The Musical” – 2

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