Amazing Journey

List of Jeff Award nominees glitters with talent
The Chicago Sun Times
September 9, 2004
By Hedy Weiss

It was a very good year. And if you had even the slightest doubt about that, just a quick glance at the list of Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for the 2003-2004 theater season could easily set you straight.

Consider the top category alone of this year's Jeffs, the awards that honor excellence in productions by Chicago area Equity theaters. Of the five productions nominated for best production of a play, two already are headed for remounts in New York: the Victory Gardens world premiere of Joanna McClelland Glass' "Trying," the two-character play about the relationship between a distinguished attorney general from the Franklin D. Roosevelt era and the young woman who works for him during the final year of his life, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater's edition of "Rose Rage," the marathon two-part adaptation of "Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3," created by Edward Hall and featuring a full line of meat products as stand-ins for bloody corpses.

And that's not all. Victory Gardens is competing with itself as its production of Lonnie Carter's "The Romance of Magno Rubio," a moving tale of Filipino migrant workers, also has been nominated. And two beautifully honed productions staged by the Writers' Theatre in Glencoe -- Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" and George Bernard Shaw's "The Doctor's Dilemma" -- also are vying for the top award.

Meanwhile, this season's nominees for best musical are notable for their unusual range. In addition to the usual revivals of classics ("Annie Get Your Gun" at the Marriott, "Fiddler on the Roof" at Drury Lane Oakbrook and "A Little Night Music" at Chicago Shakespeare), the list includes About Face Theatre's original production of "Winesburg, Ohio" (presented at Steppenwolf); the Goodman and Intiman Theatre of Seattle co-production of Adam Guettel's "The Light in the Piazza" (headed to the Lincoln Center Theater this season); "The Sound of the Voice," Court Theatre's mounting of an opera-theater work by Philip Glass and David Henry Hwang, and the Second City's farcical "Romeo and Juliet Musical: The People vs. Friar Laurence, The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet" (also presented at Chicago Shakespeare Theater).

One innovation this year is the inclusion of an "Other" category that pays tribute to such diverse theater artists as a percussionist, a prop master and a projections designer. And in several standard categories there were so many fine contenders this season that the usual limit of five nominees per category was expanded.

The Jeff Awards presentation will be held Nov. 1 at Skokie's North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie. Light supper with a cash bar will begin at 6 p.m; the awards ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a dessert buffet to follow. The public is invited to attend. General admission tickets purchased in advance cost $55; $65 if purchased at the door.

Ticket orders may be mailed to Richard Hesler, 3035 Farner Court, Riverwoods, Ill. 60015. For further information, call (847) 945.4733 or visit the Jeff Web site:


PRODUCTION, PLAY: "The Doctor's Dilemma" (Writers' Theatre); "Our Town" (Writers' Theatre); "The Romance of Magno Rubio" (Victory Gardens Theater); "Rose Rage, Henry VI Parts 1,2 and 3" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); "Trying" (Victory Gardens Theater).

PRODUCTION, MUSICAL: "Annie Get Your Gun" (Marriott Theatre); "Fiddler on the Roof" (Drury Lane Oakbrook); "The Light in the Piazza" (the Goodman Theatre in association with the Intiman Theatre); "A Little Night Music" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater ); "The Sound of a Voice" (Court Theatre); "Romeo and Juliet Musical: The People vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Second City Theatricals); "Winesburg, Ohio" (About Face Theatre).

NEW WORK: Margaret Lewis, "Burying the Bones" (Stage Left Theatre); Charles Smith, "Free Man of Color" (Victory Gardens Theater); Marsha Estell, "Heat" (Chicago Dramatists); Ron Hutchinson, "Moonlight and Magnolias" (the Goodman Theatre); Patricia Kane, "Pulp" (About Face Theatre); Joanna McClelland Glass, "Trying" (Victory Gardens Theater).

NEW ADAPTATION: Dermot Bolger, "A Dublin Bloom" (Irish Repertory of Chicago); Jim Lasko and Charles Newell, "Cyrano" (Court Theatre and Redmoon Theater); Eric Rosen, Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman, "Winesburg, Ohio."

DIRECTOR, PLAY: William Brown, "Our Town"; Edward Hall, "Rose Rage, Henry VI Parts 1,2 and 3"; Sandy Shinner, "Trying"; Chuck Smith, "Yellowman" (Next Theatre); Jessica Thebus, "Pulp" (About Face Theatre).

DIRECTOR, MUSICAL: Gary Griffin, "A Little Night Music"; Marc Robin, "Annie Get Your Gun"; Bartlett Sher, "The Light in the Piazza"; Jessica Thebus, "Winesburg, Ohio"; Ron West, "Romeo and Juliet Musical."

ENSEMBLE: "A Chorus Line" (Theatre at the Center); "Pulp"; "The Romance of Magno Rubio"; "Rose Rage, Henry VI Parts 1,2 and 3"; "Winesburg, Ohio."

ACTRESS, PRINCIPAL ROLE, PLAY: Tracy Michelle Arnold, "Lady Windermere's Fan" (Northlight Theatre); Kati Brazda, "Trying"; Rondi Reed, "The Fall to Earth" (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Barbara Robertson, "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" (Goodman Theatre); Jacqueline Williams, "Yellowman" (Next Theatre Company).

ACTOR, PRINCIPAL ROLE, PLAY: Brian Bedford, "The Moliere Comedies" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Matt DeCaro, "The Play About the Baby" (Goodman Theatre); John Mahoney, "I Never Sang for My Father" (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Mike Nussbaum, "Mitch Albom's Tuesdays With Morrie" (Northlight Theatre); David Rainey, "Topdog/Underdog" (Steppenwolf Theatre Company in association with Alley Theatre); Nick Sandys, "The Misanthrope" (Next Theatre Company); Fritz Weaver, "Trying"; E. Milton Wheeler, "Our Lady of 121st Street" (Steppenwolf Theatre Company).

ACTRESS, PRINCIPAL ROLE, MUSICAL: Victoria Clark, "The Light in the Piazza"; Deborah Lew, "West Side Story" (Marriott Theatre); Susie McMonagle, "Annie Get Your Gun"; Nicole Parker, "Romeo and Juliet Musical"; Barbara Robertson, "A Little Night Music."

ACTOR, PRINCIPAL ROLE, MUSICAL: Tony Duwon, "The House That Rocked" (Black Ensemble Theater); Timothy Gregory, "Cotton Patch Gospel" (Provision Theater Company); Scott Alan Jones, "The Rocky Horror Show" (Anthony J. Tomaska and Joseph J. Tomaska and Chicago Center for the Performing Arts); Keegan-Michael Key, "Romeo and Juliet Musical"; Ross Lehman, "A Man of No Importance" (Apple Tree Theatre).

ACTRESS, SUPPORTING ROLE, PLAY: Ivonne Coll, "Electricidad" (Goodman Theatre); Shelley Delaney, "Free Man of Color"; Lisa Dodson, "King John" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Deanna Dunagan, "I Never Sang for my Father"; Paula Scrofano, "Necessary Targets" (Apple Tree Theatre); Demetria Thomas, "Burying the Bones" (Stage Left Theatre).

ACTOR, SUPPORTING ROLE, PLAY: Shawn Douglass, "Major Barbara" (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company); Tarell Alvin McCraney, "Blue/Orange" (Northlight Theatre); Kevin McKillip, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (First Folio Shakespeare Festival); Scott Parkinson, "Rose Rage, Henry VI Parts 1,2 and 3"; John Sanders, "Burying the Bones."

ACTRESS, SUPPORTING ROLE, MUSICAL: Mary Ernster, "A Man of No Importance" (Apple Tree Theatre); Janice Lorraine, "Cookin' at the Cookery" (Northlight Theatre); Rachel Rockwell, "The Pajama Game" (Marriott Theatre); Alene Robertson, "The Pajama Game"; Samantha Spiro, "A Little Night Music."

ACTOR, SUPPORTING ROLE, MUSICAL: Michael Cerveris, "A Little Night Music"; Jeff Dumas, "Winesburg, Ohio"; Mark Harelik, "The Light in the Piazza"; Rob Moore, "The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World" (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Roger Mueller, "Annie Get Your Gun"; Evan Pappas, "The Pajama Game."

ACTOR, REVUE: Eugene Fleming, "Ain't Misbehavin' " (Marriott Theatre); Joseph Plummer, "Jammin' With Pops" (Apple Tree Theatre).

SCENIC DESIGN: James Leonard Joy, "The Taming of the Shrew" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Robert C. Martin, "Lend Me a Tenor" (Theatre at the Center); Matthew J. York, "The Misanthrope"; Jacqueline and Richard Penrod, "My Old Lady" (Apple Tree Theatre); John Musial, "Great Men of Science, Nos. 21 & 22" (Lookingglass Theatre Company).

COSTUME DESIGN: Mara Blumenfeld, "A Little Night Music"; Rachel Anne Healy, "Lady Windermere's Fan"; Jane Greenwood, "The Moliere Comedies"; Michael Pavelka, "Rose Rage"; Nancy Missimi, "Show Boat" (Marriott Theatre).

LIGHTING DESIGN: Christopher Akerlind, "Electricidad"; Christopher Akerlind, "The Light in the Piazza"; Ken Billington, "A Little Night Music"; Ben Ormerod, "Rose Rage"; T.J. Gerckens, "The Secret in the Wings" (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Jaymi Lee Smith, "Yellowman"; Diane Ferry Williams, "West Side Story."

SOUND DESIGN: Ray Nardelli and Joshua Horvath, "Electricidad"; Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman, "The Secret in the Wings"; Robert Steel, "Drink Me or, the Strange Case of Alice Times Three" (Seanachai Theatre Company); David Van Tieghem, "King John"; Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman, "Cyrano"; Joshua Horvath and Ray Nardelli, "Fraulein Else" (Court Theatre).

CHOREOGRAPHY: Rudy Hogenmiller, "A Chorus Line"; Tammy Mader, "Singin in the Rain" (Theatre at the Center); Marc Robin, "Annie Get Your Gun"; Marc Robin, "West Side Story"; Patti Wilcox, "The Pajama Game."

ORIGINAL MUSIC: Henry Marsh, "The Taming of the Shrew"; Henry Marsh, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (First Folio Shakespeare Festival); Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman, "The Secret in the Wings"; Patricia Kane, Amy Warren and Andre Pluess, "Pulp"; Andre Pluess & Ben Sussman, "Winesburg, Ohio."

MUSICAL DIRECTION: Margaret James, "Fiddler on the Roof"; Alan Johnson, "The Sound of a Voice": Thomas Murray, "A Little Night Music"; Rick Sims, "The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World"; Robert Reddrick, "The House That Rocked"; Jimmy Tilman, "Mama Said There'll Be Days Like This" (Black Ensemble Theater).

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN PERCUSSION: David Pleasant, "Crowns" (Goodman Theatre).


SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN PROJECTIONS: John Boesche, "Great Men of Science, Nos. 21 & 22."

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