The Playgoer: The Jeff Awards

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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Jeff Awards

By Suzy Evans

We may not have the Tony's, but the Joseph Jefferson Awards, named for the famous 19th century Chicago actor Joseph Jefferson III, are a big deal around here. The awards are given out twice a year - for Equity and non-Equity shows - and the nominations for the 41st annual awards for Equity productions were released last week. Not surprisingly, Ruined at the Goodman and then Manhattan Theatre Club, received acting, directing, music, best play, and best new work nods. However, starkly missing from the list of nominees is Robert Falls' Desire Under the Elms. Falls and the Jeff Committee don't see eye to eye, according to the Tribune.

Although I haven't seen many of the nominated shows, I'm happy to see acting nods for Linda Gehringer from the Goodman's The Crowd You're in With (a great new play by Rebecca Gilman), Mattie Hawkinson for Victory Gardens' Blackbird, Jon Michael Hill for the Steppenwolf's The Tempest (the company's first Shakespeare production), and Jake Cohen for Up, also at the Steppenwolf. (While I didn't care for Up, Cohen did a nice job.) Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of The Arabian Nights, which played for its third time - second time in Chicago - at Lookingglass, was nominated for best ensemble, costume design, and best play. The awards will be given out on October 19, and you can see a full list of nominees here.