Here are the Jeff Awards nominees from a foreshortened Equity season

See the full list.

Drury Lane Theatre’s The Color Purple is among the most-honored productions, with seven nominations. Photograph: Brett Beiner

Even with a season cut nearly in half by the coronavirus shutdown, the Joseph Jefferson Awards committee found 37 Equity productions worthy of at least one nomination.

The list of nominees, announced this morning ahead of a virtual awards ceremony on November 9, covers productions that opened between August 1, 2019 (the traditional start of the season for the purposes of the Jeffs’ Equity Wing) and March 13 of this year, the day by which most theaters in the city were calling off performances for what many thought would be merely a two-week break. (The announcement briefly notes that two productions that had opened just days before were removed for contention because not enough committee members were able to see them before shutdown, so the effective cutoff date could be considered a couple of weeks earlier.)

In the seven months before the season’s premature end, then, the Jeff Committee’s first-nighters attended 78 openings by Equity companies. Of those, 64 were deemed “Jeff Recommended,” meaning a sufficient number of the first-nighters thought that at least one element of the production was worthy of award consideration, and thus all 55 members of the committee should see the show. (By contrast, in the 2018–19 season, committee members attended 132 Equity productions.)


Here’s the complete list of 2020 Equity Jeff Award nominees:

Production – Play (Large)

  • Bug — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • The First Deep Breath — Victory Gardens Theater

  • King Hedley II — Court Theatre

  • The King’s Speech — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

  • Oslo — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • Stick Fly — Writers Theatre


The First Deep Breath, at Victory Gardens, has five nominations including Production — Play (Large) and New Work. Photograph: Liz Lauren

Production – Play (Midsize)

  • The Boys in the Band — Windy City Playhouse

  • Grey House — A Red Orchid Theatre

  • His Shadow: A Parable — 16th Street Theater

  • The Leopard Play, or Sad Songs for Lost Boys — Steep Theatre Company

  • Sheepdog — Shattered Globe Theatre

Production – Musical or Revue (Large)

  • An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Beauty and the Beast — Paramount Theatre

  • The Color Purple — Drury Lane Productions

  • Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Into the Woods — Writers Theatre

  • Something Rotten! — Marriott Theatre

Production – Musical or Revue (Midsize)

  • Always…Patsy Cline — Firebrand Theatre

  • Monty Python’s Spamalot — Mercury Theater Chicago

  • Verböten — The House Theatre of Chicago

Ensemble – Play

  • The Boys in the Band — Windy City Playhouse

  • The First Deep Breath — Victory Gardens Theater

  • Grey House — A Red Orchid Theatre

  • How to Defend Yourself — Victory Gardens Theater

  • Kill Move Paradise — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • The Leopard Play, or Sad Songs for Lost Boys — Steep Theatre Company

  • Stick Fly — Writers Theatre

Ensemble – Musical or Revue

  • An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • The Color Purple — Drury Lane Productions

  • Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Into the Woods — Writers Theatre

  • Something Rotten! — Marriott Theatre

New Work

  • Lee Edward Colston II — The First Deep Breath — Victory Gardens Theater

  • Steven Dietz — How a Boy Falls — Northlight Theatre

  • Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen, Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler — The Secret of My Success — Paramount Theatre

  • Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon — The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley — Northlight Theatre

  • Levi Holloway — Grey House — A Red Orchid Theatre

  • Jason Narducy and Brett Neveu — Verböten — The House Theatre of Chicago

  • Douglas Post — Howards End — Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

  • Fouad Teymour — Twice, Thrice, Frice… — Silk Road Rising in association with International Voices Project

  • Loy A. Webb — His Shadow: A Parable — 16th Street Theater


The in-demand director Wardell Julius Clark came away with three nominations, for TimeLine’s Kill Move Paradise (pictured), 16th Street Theater’s His Shadow: A Parable, and Shattered Globe’s Sheepdog. Photograph: Lara Goetsch

Director – Play (Large)

  • Nick Bowling — Oslo — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • Wardell Julius Clark — Kill Move Paradise — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • David Cromer — Bug — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • Ron OJ Parson — King Hedley II — Court Theatre

  • Vanessa Stalling — Roe — Goodman Theatre

Director – Play (Midsize)

  • Laura Alcalá Baker — The Leopard Play, or Sad Songs for Lost Boys — Steep Theatre Company

  • Wardell Julius Clark — His Shadow: A Parable — 16th Street Theater

  • Wardell Julius Clark — Sheepdog — Shattered Globe Theatre

  • Carl Menninger — The Boys in the Band — Windy City Playhouse

  • Shade Murray — Grey House — A Red Orchid Theatre

  • Nick Sandys — Howards End — Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

  • Randy White — Midsummer (A Play with Songs) — The Greenhouse Theater Center

Director – Musical or Revue (Large)

  • Lili-Anne Brown — The Color Purple — Drury Lane Productions

  • Brenda Didier & Florence Walker-Harris — Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Gary Griffin — Into the Woods — Writers Theatre

  • Lynne Kurdziel-Formato — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Scott Weinstein — Something Rotten! — Marriott Theatre

Director – Musical or Revue (Midsize)

  • Nathan Allen — Verböten — The House Theatre of Chicago

  • Brigitte Ditmars — Always…Patsy Cline — Firebrand Theatre

  • L. Walter Stearns — Monty Python’s Spamalot — Mercury Theater Chicago

Performer in a Principal Role – Play

  • Carrie Coon (Agnes White) — Bug — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • Chaon Cross (Helena) — Midsummer (A Play with Songs) — The Greenhouse Theater Center

  • Charles Andrew Gardner (Teeny) — His Shadow: A Parable — 16th Street Theater

  • Harry Hadden-Paton (Bertie) — The King’s Speech — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

  • Patrick Mulvey (Bob) — Midsummer (A Play with Songs) — The Greenhouse Theater Center

  • Kelvin Roston, Jr. (Hedley) — King Hedley II — Court Theatre

  • Leslie Ann Sheppard (Amina) — Sheepdog — Shattered Globe Theatre

  • Julia Siple (Jenny) — Mosquitoes — Steep Theatre Company

  • Namir Smallwood (Peter Evans) — Bug — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • Eliza Stoughton (Margaret Schlegel) — Howards End — Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

  • Bri Sudia (Mona Juul) — Oslo — TimeLine Theatre Company


Steppenwolf ensemble members Carrie Coon and Namir Smallwood are both nominated for Performer in a Principal Role – Play for Bug. Photograph: Michael Brosilow

Performer in a Principal Role – Musical

  • Josh Drake (Jerry Mulligan) — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Leigh-Ann Esty (Lise Dassin) — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Lucy Godinez (Nancy) — Oliver! — Marriott Theatre

  • Beth Stafford Laird (Belle) — Beauty and the Beast — Paramount Theatre

  • Eben K. Logan (Celie) — The Color Purple — Drury Lane Productions

  • Emilie Lynn (Mary Poppins) — Mary Poppins — Drury Lane Productions

  • Alex Prakken (Jack Kelly) — Disney’s Newsies — Paramount Theatre

  • Hollis Resnik (Norma Desmond) — Sunset Boulevard — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Billy Harrigan Tighe (Brantley Foster) — The Secret of My Success — Paramount Theatre

  • Jonah D. Winston (King Arthur) — Monty Python’s Spamalot — Mercury Theater Chicago

Solo Performance

  • Deirdre O’Connell (Dana H.) — Dana H. — Goodman Theatre

  • Rebecca Spence (Narrator) — Every Brilliant Thing — Windy City Playhouse

Performer in a Revue

  • Harmony France / Christina Hall (Patsy Cline / Louise Seger) — Always...Patsy Cline — Firebrand Theatre

  • Donica Lynn (The Chanteuse) — Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Lorenzo Rush Jr. (The Raconteur) — Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies — Porchlight Music Theatre

Performer in a Supporting Role – Play

  • Kierra Bunch (Tonya) — King Hedley II — Court Theatre

  • Lisa Dawn (Jen) — The Cake — Buffalo Theatre Ensemble

  • Anish Jethmalani (Ahmed Qurie) — Oslo — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • Dan Klarer (Egbert Bakewell) — Jeeves Saves the Day — First Folio Theatre

  • James Leaming (Ronald Reagan) — Five Presidents — American Blues Theater

  • Marcus D. Moore (Kodak/Man) — His Shadow: A Parable — 16th Street Theater

  • Deanna Reed-Foster (Pearl Thomas) — The First Deep Breath — Victory Gardens Theater

  • Sadieh Rifai (Eva) — Do You Feel Anger? — A Red Orchid Theatre

  • James Seol (Wen Chang) — The Great Leap — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • A.C. Smith (Elmore) — King Hedley II — Court Theatre

  • John Tufts (Edmond Rostand) — Bernhardt/Hamlet — Goodman Theatre

  • Celeste Williams (Ruth Jones) — The First Deep Breath — Victory Gardens Theater

  • Larry Yando (Constant Coquelin) — Bernhardt/Hamlet — Goodman Theatre


Court Theatre’s revival of August Wilson’s King Hedley II has seven nominations including Production – Play (Large). Photograph: Michael Brosilow

Performer in a Supporting Role – Musical

  • Ephie Aardema (Harriet Smith) — Emma — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

  • Larry Adams (Max von Mayerling) — Sunset Boulevard — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Skyler Adams (Adam Hochberg) — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Sydney Charles (Shug Avery) — The Color Purple — Drury Lane Productions

  • Erica Evans (Milo Davenport) — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Jackson Evans (Lumiere) — Beauty and the Beast — Paramount Theatre

  • Jason Grimm (Hines) — The Pajama Game — Theatre at the Center

  • Nicole Michelle Haskins (Sofia) — The Color Purple — Drury Lane Productions

  • Heidi Kettenring (Vera Prescott) — The Secret of My Success — Paramount Theatre

  • Ross Lehman (Nostradamus) — Something Rotten! — Marriott Theatre

  • Meghan Murphy (Lady of the Lake) — Monty Python’s Spamalot — Mercury Theater Chicago

Scenic Design — Large

  • William Boles — Disney’s Newsies — Paramount Theatre

  • William Boles — The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley — Northlight Theatre

  • Linda Buchanan — Stick Fly — Writers Theatre

  • Regina Garcia — King Hedley II — Court Theatre

  • Takeshi Kata — Bug — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • Jeffrey D. Kmiec — Beauty and the Beast — Paramount Theatre

Scenic Design — Midsize

  • Kurtis Boetcher — Grey House — A Red Orchid Theatre

  • William Boles — The Boys in the Band — Windy City Playhouse

  • José Manuel Díaz-Soto — Twice, Thrice, Frice… — Silk Road Rising in association with International Voices Project

  • Angela Weber Miller — Sherlock’s Last Case — First Folio Theatre

  • Joe Schermoly — The Gulf — About Face Theatre

Costume Design — Large

  • Karl Green — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Theresa Ham — Beauty and the Beast — Paramount Theatre

  • Theresa Ham — Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Theresa Ham — Something Rotten! — Marriott Theatre

  • Robin L. McGee — Mary Poppins — Drury Lane Productions

  • Alison Siple — The Mousetrap — Court Theatre

Costume Design — Midsize

  • Uriel Gomez — The Boys in the Band — Windy City Playhouse

  • Kristy Leigh Hall — Howards End — Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

  • Rachel Lambert — Jeeves Saves the Day — First Folio Theatre

Sound Design — Large

  • Mikhail Fiksel — Dana H. — Goodman Theatre

  • Christopher M. LaPorte — King Hedley II — Court Theatre

  • Jeffrey Levin — Kill Move Paradise — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • André Pluess and Christopher LaPorte — Oedipus Rex — Court Theatre

  • Josh Schmidt — Bug — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Sound Design — Midsize

  • Grover Hollway — Verböten — The House Theatre of Chicago

  • Christopher Kriz — Sheepdog — Shattered Globe Theatre

  • Jeffrey Levin — Grey House — A Red Orchid Theatre

  • Sarah D. Espinoza — The Boys in the Band — Windy City Playhouse


Performer in a Principal Role – Play nominee Leslie Ann Sheppard in Sheepdog. Photograph: Lowell Thomas

Lighting Design — Large

  • Lee Fiskness — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Lee Fiskness — Into the Woods — Writers Theatre

  • Heather Gilbert — Bug — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • Jesse Klug — Beauty and the Beast — Paramount Theatre

  • Keith Parham — The Great Leap — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • Keith Parham — Oedipus Rex — Court Theatre

Lighting Design — Midsize

  • Erik S. Barry — The Boys in the Band — Windy City Playhouse

  • Mike Durst — Howards End — Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

  • Mike Durst and Claire Chrzan — Grey House — A Red Orchid Theatre

  • David Goodman-Edberg — His Shadow: A Parable — 16th Street Theater

  • Rachel Levy — The Gulf — About Face Theatre

  • Jason Lynch — Sheepdog — Shattered Globe Theatre

Choreography

  • Joshua Blake Carter — Disney’s Newsies — Paramount Theatre

  • Brenda Didier & Florence Walker-Harris — Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Linda Fortunato — Irving Berlin’s White Christmas — Theatre at the Center

  • Lynne Kurdziel-Formato — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Alex Sanchez — Something Rotten! — Marriott Theatre

Original Music in a Play

  • John Gromada — The King’s Speech — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

  • Pornchanok Kanchanabanca — The Great Leap — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo — Lindiwe — Steppenwolf Theatre Company

  • Jeffrey Levin — Kill Move Paradise — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • Joanna Lynne Staub — Bernhardt/Hamlet — Goodman Theatre


Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed in Lindiwe in addition to creating the Jeff-nominated original music. Photograph: Michael Brosilow

Musical Direction

  • Matt Deitchman — Into the Woods — Writers Theatre

  • Jermaine Hill — The Color Purple — Drury Lane Productions

  • Jermaine Hill — Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Chris Sargent — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Andra Velis Simon — Always...Patsy Cline — Firebrand Theatre

  • William Underwood — Almost Heaven: John Denver’s America — Theatre at the Center

Projection Design

  • Anthony Churchill — Sunset Boulevard — Porchlight Music Theatre

  • Hana Kim — The King’s Speech — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

  • Kevan Loney — An American in Paris — Drury Lane Productions

  • Kevan Loney — Mary Poppins — Drury Lane Productions

  • Mike Tutaj — Oslo — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • Mike Tutaj — The Secret of My Success — Paramount Theatre

Artistic Specialization

  • Breon Arzell (Movement Choreographer) — Kill Move Paradise — TimeLine Theatre Company

  • Steve Cuiffo (Illusion and Lip Sync Consultant) — Dana H. — Goodman Theatre

  • Micah Figueroa (Intimacy & Violence Director) — The Leopard Play, or Sad Songs for Lost Boys — Steep Theatre Company

  • Matt Hawkins (Fight Choreography) — How to Defend Yourself — Victory Gardens Theater

  • Wendy A. Huber and Margaret Garofalo (Properties Design) — Sherlock’s Last Case — First Folio Theatre

  • Erin Kilmurray (Movement Design) — Oedipus Rex — Court Theatre