Suburban musical house Paramount Theatre leads the list of 2016 nominations for the Equity Wing of the Joseph Jefferson Awards, followed closely by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodman Theatre and Porchlight Music Theatre. Paramount’s West Side Story has a leading seven nominations; other new favorites of the Jeff Committee ranged from Porchlight’s intimate revival of Dreamgirls to the House Theatre’s original United Flight 232 to the Goodman’s massively ambitious adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.
Playwright Philip Dawkins scored a double nomination for best new work with his plays Charm (produced by Northlight Theatre) and Le Switch (produced by About Face Theatre). Costume designer Bill Morey outdid him, taking three of the five slots for in the Costume Design—Midsize category for three different Porchlight shows. And the list of Jeff nominations has perhaps more than its usual share of Tony Award winning actors, with the committee seeing fit to nominate both Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole for their star turns in the Goodman’s War Paint, while Deanna Dunagan, a Tony recipient for August: Osage County, earned a Jeff nod for her supporting turn in Shattered Globe’s revival of Marvin’s Room.
There are some head-scratching choices, too, such as the fact that Steppenwolf’s deadly dull adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is up for new adaptation while its premiere of Tracy Letts’s moving Mary Page Marlowe comes up empty. All told, there are 178 nominations in 32 categories, taken from 158 productions seen by Jeff Committee members between August 1, 2015 and July 31, 2016. The 48th annual Equity Jeff Awards will be presented October 17 at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace.