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‘The Tempest,’ ‘Dreamgirls’ are big winners at 2016 Equity Jeff Awards

Written by
Kris Vire
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Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s magic-infused The Tempest and Porchlight Music Theatre’s intimate Dreamgirls led the winners at tonight’s 48th annual Equity Jeff Awards, with the two productions taking home four prizes a piece. Chicago Shakes led all other producing companies, with an additional statue for Rachel Rockwell’s direction of the new musical Ride the Cyclone (which she’ll repeat for the show’s New York premiere next month at MCC Theater).

The Tempest was recognized for “large” production of a play, direction of a play (Aaron Posner and Teller), lighting design (Thom Weaver) and artistic specialization, for Johnny Thompson’s magic design.

Dreamgirls was named best production of a musical in the “midsize” category. It also took honors for lead actress Donica Lynn (beating out fellow nominees Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, no less), supporting actor Eric Lewis and costume designer Bill Morey.

The House Theatre of Chicago’s United Flight 232 took the awards for midsize production of a play and ensemble. Paramount Theatre’s West Side Story was named the winner in large production of a musical, and took awards for supporting actress Mary Antonini and choreographer William Carlos Angulo.

New work awards were presented to Philip Dawkins’s Charm, which was produced by Northlight Theatre at the Steppenwolf Garage, and the new musical The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, written by John Reeger, Michael Mahler and the late Julie Shannon. Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls and collaborator Seth Bockley earned the new adaptation award for their sprawling, ambitious staging of Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666.

Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam was honored with a special award for his nearly 25 years leading the theater he founded in north suburban Glencoe, where he christened the company’s impressive new home earlier this year.

The full list of winners follows. (You can revisit the complete nominations here.) Next up: the 2017 Non-Equity Jeff Awards, to be presented on June 5 at Park West.

Production—Play—Large  
The Tempest - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Production—Play—Midsize  
United Flight 232 - The House Theatre of Chicago

Production—Musical—Large
West Side Story - Paramount Theatre

Production—Musical—Midsize
Dreamgirls - Porchlight Music Theatre

Director—Play
Aaron Posner and Teller - The Tempest - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Director—Musical  
Rachel Rockwell - Ride the Cyclone - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Ensemble
United Flight 232 - The House Theatre of Chicago

Actor in a Principal Role—Play
Dexter Zollicoffer - Charm - Northlight Theatre

Actor in a Principal Role—Musical
Nathaniel Stampley - Man of La Mancha - Marriott Theatre

Actress in a Principal Role—Play
Mary Beth Fisher - Domesticated - Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Actress in a Principal Role—Musical
Donica Lynn - Dreamgirls - Porchlight Music Theatre

Actor or Actress in a Revue
Shari Addison - Dynamite Divas - Black Ensemble Theater

Solo Performance
Brian Quijada - Where Did We Sit on the Bus? - Teatro Vista i/a/w the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Victory Gardens Theater

Actor in a Supporting Role—Play
Mike Nussbaum - The Price - TimeLine Theatre Company

Actor in a Supporting Role—Musical
Eric Lewis - Dreamgirls - Porchlight Music Theatre

Actress in a Supporting Role—Play 
Jacqueline Williams - The House That Will Not Stand - Victory Gardens Theater

Actress in a Supporting Role—Musical
Mary Antonini - West Side Story - Paramount Theatre

New Work
Philip Dawkins - Charm - Northlight Theatre
John Reeger, Julie Shannon and Michael Mahler - The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes – Mercury Theater Chicago

New Adaptation
Robert Falls and Seth Bockley - 2666 - Goodman Theatre

Choreography
William Carlos Angulo - West Side Story - Paramount Theatre

Original Music in a Play
Diego Colon and Christopher Kriz - The Grapes of Wrath - The Gift Theatre

Music Direction
Ryan T. Nelson - Man of La Mancha - Marriott Theatre

Scenic Design—Large
Jeffrey D. Kmiec - Deathtrap - Drury Lane Productions

Scenic Design—Midsize
Sarah E. Ross - The Rainmaker - American Blues Theater

Lighting Design—Large
Thom Weaver - The Tempest - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Lighting Design—Midsize
Mike Durst - Adding Machine: A Musical - The Hypocrites

Costume Design—Large
Catherine Zuber - War Paint - Goodman Theatre

Costume Design—Midsize
Bill Morey - Dreamgirls - Porchlight Music Theatre

Sound Design—Large
André Pluess - Treasure Island - Lookingglass Theatre Company and Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Sound Design—Midsize
Brian Quijada - Where Did We Sit on the Bus? - Teatro Vista i/a/w the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Victory Gardens Theater

Projections/Video Design
Shawn Sagady - 2666 - Goodman Theatre

Artistic Specialization 
Johnny Thompson - Magic Design - The Tempest - Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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