I had a glorious time at the 45th Annual Jeff Equity Awards ceremony, held at Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, Il on November 4, 2013, with Two time Tony nominee and Emmy winner André De Shields, who garnered his 3rd Jeff Award, (Outstanding Achievement in the category of Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical) for his critically-acclaimed role as King Louie in the world premiere of Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a co-production of The Goodman Theatre and The Huntington Theatre Company.
De Shields and The Jungle Book Orchestra kicked off the evening’s festivities with “I Wanna to Be Like You”, under the direction of Jeff Award winner Doug Peck, musical director for The Jungle Book, which was met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.
De Shields, resplendent in an Ana Kuzmanic designed three piece gold suit (from The Goodman Theatre’s production of Camino Real), delivered a valentine to the Chicago theatrical community. “Thank you very much. Thank you, Jeff Awards. Thank you Chicago,” said De Shields. “As many of you know, I am a recovering artist. And whenever I need good rehabilitation, I come to work in Chicago, because this is the font of healing in the theater. When I was in New York, and my friends said, “Andre, what are you going to do?” I said, “I’m going to Chicago, I’m going to do The Jungle Book with Queen Mary.” And they said, “Chicago?” And I said, “Yes. First of all, that’s where my career started in 1969, so I’m a Chicago talent, as New York likes to say. But also, when it comes to taking a risk, when it comes to mastering the craft, when it comes to honing the skills that are at the heart of theater, there’s no place like Chicago. Thank you, Doug Peck.”
The Jeff Awards honor excellence in professional theatre produced within the immediate Chicago area. During the 2012-13 season, Jeff Awards judges attended opening nights of 143 Equity productions offered by 51 producing organizations. From these openings, 109 productions were “Jeff Recommended” and eligible for award nominations, resulting in 166 nominations in 36 categories. Top honors went to Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, TimeLine and Porchlight theatres. Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Good People by David Lindsey-Abaire, received the award for Production-Play in a large tier theatre and for Principal Actress Mariann Mayberry. William Brown received Best Director of a play for Writers Theatre’s production of the French farce, The Liar, adapted by David Ives. Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Sunday in the Park with George won top awards with three statues: Production-Musical in the large theatre category, Director – Musical Gary Griffin and Projections Designer Mike Tutaj.
In the midsize theatre tier, TimeLine Theatre Company won the award for Production-Play with 33 Variations, a play by Moises Kaufman inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven’s eponymous work. The midsize Production-Musical award went to Porchlight Music Theatre’s A Class Act, a musical retrospective of composer-lyricist Edward Kleban, best know as lyricist for A Chorus Line. Principal Actor in a musical was awarded to Bill Larkin for his moving portrayal of Kleban. The Lyric Opera of Chicago ventured onto the comedy scene with The Second City in The Second City Guide to the Opera, which earned awards in the Production-Revue category and for Director Bill Bungeroth. David M. Lutken received the Actor in a Revue statue for Northlight Theatre’s Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie.
The prestigious Ensemble Award went to the Q Brothers’ hip-hop Othello: The Remix from Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions, Ltd. Top awards for New Work – Play went to both Luis Alfaro’s Mojada, a re-imagination of Euripides Medea in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, produced by Victory Gardens Theater; and to Rajiv Joseph’s The Lake Effect, a drama of an Indian American family in crisis, produced by Silk Road Rising. David Rice won New Adaptation – Play honors for his musical version of Cymbeline in Civil War Appalachia, produced by First Folio Theatre. Rice’s collaboration with composer Michael Keefe also received the statue for Original Music in a Play.
Television and screen actor Michael Shannon returned to his theatrical home to win Actor in a Principal Role – Play award in Simpatico at A Red Orchid Theater. Christine Sherrill received Actress in a Principal Role – Musical as faded silent screen star Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard at Drury Lane Oakbrook; Alexis J. Rogers took the top honor for Solo Performance as jazz legend Billie Holiday in Porchlight Music Theatre’s Lady Day at the Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Honors for supporting roles in a play were awarded to Raymond Fox in TimeLine Theatre Company’s Blood and Gifts and Elizabeth Ledo in Tartuffe at Court Theatre. Awards for supporting roles in a musical went to Andre De Shields in The Jungle Book produced by Goodman Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company, and Bethany Thomas in South Pacific at Marriott Theatre. Newecomer Callie Johnson received an award for Cameo Performance in Porchlight Music Theatre’s Pal Joey.
A Special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Actor Dale Benson, in recognition of his career spanning over half a century of continuous work in Chicagoland theatre. The award presentation by Jeff Awards Chair Diane Hires, included a musical montage featuring Make ‘Em Laugh performed by a chorale of actors for Dale, their beloved colleague.
The Equity Awards ceremony was directed by Michael Weber, with music direction by Linda Madonia and stage management by Colleen Tovar. Merril Prager, Equity Wing Chair of the Jeff Committee, served as producer for the evening. Music Director Roberta Duchak and Artistic Director BJ Jones emceed the event.
The Jeff Awards established the Non-Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre. Save the date for the next Non-Equity awards ceremony to be held on Monday, June 2, 2014, at Park West. BELOW IS THE FULL LIST OF 2013 EQUITY JEFF AWARD RECIPIENTS Production – Play – Large Good People – Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Production Play – Midsize 33 Variations – TimeLine Theatre Company
Production-Musical-Large Sunday in the Park with George – Chicago Shakespeare Theater Production-Musical-Midsize A Class Act – Porchlight Music Theatre Production – Revue The Second City Guide to the Opera – The Second City in association with Lyric Opera of Chicago Director – Play William Brown – The Liar – Writer’s Theatre
Director – Musical Gary Griffin – Sunday in the Park with George – Chicago Shakespeare Theater Director – Revue Billy Bungeroth – The Second City Guide to the Opera – The Second City in association with Lyric Opera of Chicago Kevin Bellie – A Grand Night for Singing – Mercury Theater Chicago Ensemble Othello: The Remix – Chicago Shakespeare Theater Actor in a Principal Role – Play Michael Shannon – Simpatico – A Red Orchid Theatre Actor in a Principal Role – Musical Bill Larkin – A Class Act – Porchlight Music Theatre Actress in a Principal Role – Play Mariann Mayberry – Good People – Steppenwolf Theatre Company Actress in a Principal Role – Musical Christine Sherrill – Sunset Boulevard – Drury Lane Productions Actor in a Supporting Role – Play Raymond Fox – Blood and Gifts – TimeLine Theatre Company Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical Andre De Shields – The Jungle Book – Goodman Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company
Actress in a Supporting Role – Play Elizabeth Ledo – Tartuffe – Court Theatre Actress in a Supporting Role – Musical Bethany Thomas – South Pacific – Marriott Theatre Actor or Actress in a Revue David M. Lutken – Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie – Northlight Theatre Actress in a Cameo Role – Musical Callie Johnson – Pal Joey – Porchlight Music Theatre Solo Performance Alexis J. Rogers – Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill – Porchlight Music Theatre
New Work Luis Alfaro – Mojada – Victory Gardens Theater Rajiv Joseph – The Lake Effect – Silk Road Rising
New Adaptation David Rice – Cymbeline – First Folio Theatre Choreography Linda Fortunato – 42nd Street – Theatre at the Center
Fight / Movement Direction John Tovar – The Opponent – A Red Orchid Theatre Music Direction Doug Peck – The Jungle Book – Goodman Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company Original Music in a Play Michael Keefe and David Rice – Cymbeline – First Folio Theatre Scenic Design – Large David Gallo – Head of Passes – Steppenwolf Theatre Company Scenic Design – Midsize Angela Weber Miller – Edward Albee’s Seascape – Remy Bumppo Theatre Company Lighting Design – Large T.J. Gerckens – Metamorphoses – Lookingglass Theatre Company Lighting Design – Midsize Brian Sidney Bembridge – Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West – TimeLine Theatre Company Costume Design – Large Susan E. Mickey – The School for Lies – Chicago Shakespeare Theater Costume Design – Midsize Emily Waecker – You Never Can Tell – Remy Bumppo Theatre Company Sound Design – Large James Savage – Othello: The Remix – Chicago Shakespeare Theater Sound Design – Midsize Martin Desjardins, Andre Pluess, Christian Gero – columbinus – American Theater Company Projections/Video Design Mike Tutaj – Sunday in the Park with George – Chicago Shakespeare Theater Wig and Make-up Design Melissa Veal – The School for Lies – Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar. Opening night photo coverage of The Jungle Book Opening Night at Huntington Theatre Company
broadwayworld.com: GOOD PEOPLE, ‘SUNDAY IN THE PARK’, Michael Shannon, Andre De Shields and More Top 2013 Jeff Awards; Winners Announced!
The Jungle Book’s André De Shields Nominated for Jeff Award; will perform “I Wanna to Be Like You” at Ceremony
Photos: André De Shields, Mary Zimmerman, Akash Chopra, Richard M. Sherman, Kevin Carolan, Larry Yando, Nehal Joshi and More Celebrate The Jungle Book Opening Night at Huntington Theatre in Boston
broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Andre De Shields and More Celebrate Huntington’s JUNGLE BOOK Opening
theatermania.com: The Jungle Book Enjoys Its Second Opening Night at Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company
broadway.com: The Story Begins! Disney’s The Jungle Book Enjoys a Wild Opening Night in Boston
playbill.com: PHOTO CALL: The Jungle Book Musical Celebrates Opening Night in Boston
Click here for more articles on André De Shields.
Other articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72
Nov. 25: David Byrne and the Cast of Public Theater’s HERE LIES LOVE including Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More to Host Benefit Concert for the Philippines at Terminal 5
Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards
Nov. 16: Brooklyn Raga Massive presents Neel Murgai Ensemble and House of Waters at Jack Photos: John Earl Jelks, DeWanda Wise, Harvey Gardner Moore, André De Shields at Dominique Morisseau’s Sunset Baby
Photos: Opening Night of Will Power’s Fetch Clay, Make Man with John Earl Jelks, Richard Masur, Nikki M. James, K. Todd Freeman, Ray Fisher
Photos: Denise Burse, Michael Genet, Doug Eskew, Tracie Thoms, Sakina Ansari-Wilson and More Celebrate Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts Opening Night at Center Stage
Nov. 14 – Dec. 29: Paolo Montalban and Eileen Ward Lead Cast of Olney Theatre Center’s Production of The King and I Nov. 18: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph to be honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards
Signature Theatre’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu Stars SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s Cole Horibe as Bruce Lee National Black Theatre Festival Photos: Backstage with André De Shields, Marie Thomas, Erin Cherry, Sean Phillips and Morocco Omari in Knock Me A Kiss
Photos: Backstage Q & A with Thom Sesma and the cast of Signature’s Miss Saigon
Photos: Backstage with Michi Barall and the cast of Regina Taylor’s stop.reset. at Signature Theatre
Photos: All-Access Pass to August Wilson’s Two Trains Running with John Earl Jelks, Harvy Blanks, Chuck Cooper, Anthony Chisholm, Owiso Odera, Roslyn Ruff and James A. Williams
Febone1960.net Review: Power Play Powerful & Suspenseful
Signature Theatre’s 2013-14 Season Features New Works by Albee, Hwang, Enos, Taylor, Wilson, Clarke and Jacobs-Jenkins
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party Video: Power Play’s Lorey Hayes and Lia Chang on The Carmen Mathis Show
The Chronicle Features Lorey Hayes’ Power Play Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.