At a star-studded gala on October 29, The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee presented 32 awards to celebrate excellence in Chicago-area Equity theatre. Over 700 gathered at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie to honor 122 nominees from Equity theatrical productions which opened between August 1, 2006, and July 31, 2007.

Hosts Mark David Kaplan and Renee Matthews presided over a spirited ceremony, which included scenes and musical numbers from the 14 nominated productions. Presenters included many past Jeff Award recipients, including artistic directors Barbara Gaines of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Charles Newell of Court Theatre. Michael Weber, himself a nominee for Director-Musical, directed the ceremony, and Equity Chair Diane Hires produced the gala on behalf of the Jeff Awards Committee.

Scenic Design
Todd Rosenthal, “August: Osage County,” Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Costume Design
Mara Blumenfeld, “Mirror of the Invisible World,” Goodman Theatre

Sound Design
Richard Woodbury, “King Lear,” Goodman Theatre

Lighting Design
John Culbert, “Mirror of the Invisible World,” Goodman Theatre

The Jeff Awards Committee sent judges to the opening nights of 123 Equity productions offered by 49 producing organizations. From these openings, 93 were “Jeff Recommended,” which made them eligible for Jeff Award nominations and Awards. The Jeff Awards are given annually by The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee to honor excellence in professional theatre produced in the immediate Chicago area.

The committee, organized in 1968, consists of up to 45 men and women with varying backgrounds in theatre, united by an active interest and concern for the advancement of Chicago theatre. Jeff members come to the committee with an academic background in theatre, significant professional experience, a history of theatre involvement, and/or years of consistent theatre attendance in Chicago and in other major theatre capitals of the world. The committee evaluates approximately 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies annually. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the committee established the Citations (non-Equity) wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union Chicago theatre. The next Citations awards ceremony will be held on Monday, June 9, 2008, at the Park West in Chicago.