Top 2017-18 Equity Jeff Awards go to Paramount and Court

Tuesday, 07 November 2017, 12:46:50 PM. The 49th annual Jeff Awards, presented Monday night, proved to be an exciting event for the Paramount Theatre and Court Theatre.

The Paramount Theatre in Aurora has become one of the Chicago area’s most potent Broadway competitors. Any musical that can be presented in a Times Square theater can more often than not be done even better on its grand west suburban stage, where the orchestra is frequently far larger than in New York, the talent (though lacking celebrity names) is just as formidable, the design is invariably spectacular and the ticket prices are remarkably reasonable. That unbeatable combination was rewarded Monday night as two Paramount productions garnered a total of eight Equity Jeff Awards – with five for its riveting production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” and three for its exuberant edition of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.” The 49th annual Equity Jeff Awards ceremony, celebrating excellence in shows mounted from Aug. 1, 2016 through July 31, 2017, also proved to be a winning night for Court Theatre, Hyde Park ‘s theatrical anchor, with two productions –  “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” Pearl Cleage’s play set during the Harlem Renaissance, and “Man in the Ring,” Michael Cristofer’s world premiere fantasia on the tragic life of boxer Emile Griffith – garnering two awards apiece.

While “Sweeney Todd” won for best musical in the “large scale” category, the Jeff for best midsize musical production went to Porchlight Music Theatre’s galvanic take on “The Scottsboro Boys,” the Kander and Ebb show about a notorious miscarriage of justice. And while “Blues for an Alabama Sky” won the Jeff for best production of a play by a large company, Remy Bumppo’s revival of “Born Yesterday,” Garson Kanin’s classic comedy about American democracy, was named best production of a play by a midsize company.

Drury Lane Theatre’s Chicago-retrofitted production of  “Smokey Joe’s Café,” the compendium of pop classics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, received the award for best production of a revue. And the highly prized award for best ensemble went to “East Texas Hot Links,” a Writers Theatre production.

Steve Scott, the veteran director who recently retired from the Goodman Theatre, was presented with the Special Achievement Award, and was honored for “his career achievements that have inspired artistic collaboration, educational outreach and demonstrated dramatic creativity for more than 37 years,” according to an official statement. top-201718-equity-jeff-awards-go-to-paramount-and-court photo 1

Court Theatre’s production of “Blues for an Alabama Sky” received the 2017 Jeff Award for best production of a play by a large company. | Michael Brosilow

Following is the complete list of the 2017 Equity Jeff Award recipients:

PRODUCTION, PLAY (Large company): “Blues for an Alabama Sky” – Court Theatre.
PRODUCTION, PLAY (Midsize company): “Born Yesterday” – Remy Bumppo Theatre Company.
PRODUCTION, MUSICAL (Large company): “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre.
PRODUCTION, MUSICAL (Midsize company): “The Scottsboro Boys” – Porchlight Music Theatre.
PRODUCTION, REVUE: “Smokey Joe’s Café” – Drury Lane Productions.
DIRECTOR, PLAY: Ron OJ Parson, “Blues for an Alabama Sky” – Court Theatre.
DIRECTOR, MUSICAL: Jim Corti, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre.
ENSEMBLE: “East Texas Hot Links” – Writers Theatre.
ACTOR IN A PRINICPAL ROLE , PLAY: Alex Weisman, “Hand to God” – Victory Gardens Theater.
ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE , MUSICAL: Paul-Jordan Jansen, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre.
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE, PLAY: Angela Ingersoll, “End of the Rainbow” – Porchlight Music Theatre.
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE, MUSICAL: Kathy Voytko, “The Bridges of Madison County” – The Marriott Theatre.
ACTOR IN A REVUE: Austin Cook, “Marry Me a Little” – Porchlight Music Theatre.
ACTRESS IN A REVUE, Michelle Lauto, “Spamilton” – The Royal George Theatre Cabaret.
SOLO PERFORMANCE: Linda Reiter, “Rose” – The Greenhouse Theater Center in association with Forum Productions.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, PLAY: Marton Csokas, “Uncle Vanya” – Goodman Theatre.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, MUSICAL: Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, “Parade” – Writers Theatre.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, PLAY: Kymberly Mellen, “The Columnist” – American Blues Theater.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, MUSICAL: E. Faye Butler, “Chicago The Musical” – Drury Lane Productions.
NEW PLAY: Michael Cristofer, “Man in the Ring” (Court Theatre); Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (Northlight Theatre); and Antoinette Nwandu, “Pass Over” (Steppenwolf Theatre Company).
CHOREOGRAPHY: Matthew Crowle, “Crazy for You” – Drury Lane Productions.
ORIGINAL MUSIC IN A PLAY: Orbert Davis, “Paradise Blue” – TimeLine Theatre Company.
MUSIC DIRECTION: Tom Vendafreddo , “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre.
SCENIC DESIGN (Large): Jeffrey D. Kmiec , “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” – Paramount Theatre.
SCENIC DESIGN (Midsize): Joe Schermoly, “Naperville” – Theater Wit.
LIGHTING DESIGN (Large): Nick Belley and Jesse Klug, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Paramount Theatre.
LIGHTING DESIGN (Midsize): Cat Davis, “The River Bride” – Halcyon Theatre.
COSTUME DESIGN (Large): Theresa Ham, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” – Paramount Theatre.
COSTUME DESIGN (Midsize): Kristy Leigh Hall, “Pygmalion” – Remy Bumppo Theatre.
SOUND DESIGN (Large): André Pluess, “Man in the Ring” – Court Theatre.
SOUND DESIGN (Midsize): Grover Hollway, “The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz” – The House Theatre of Chicago.
PROJECTION DESIGN: Mike Tutaj, “Objects in the Mirror” – Goodman Theatre.
PUPPET DESIGN: Jesse Mooney-Bullock, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” – Paramount Theatre.

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Porchlight Theatre’s “The Scottsboro Boys” was named best production of a musical by a midsize company at Monday night’s Equity Jeff Awards. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

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