The Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of David Lindsay-Abaire's Broadway drama "Good People," and its lead actress, Mariann Mayberry, emerged triumphant at the Joseph Jefferson Awards held at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace on Monday night, with director Gary Griffin's smash-hit production of "Sunday in the Park with George" for Chicago Shakespeare Theater taking home the honors of the best major musical of the 2012-13 season in Chicago-area theater.
Griffin joined William Brown (for "The Liar" at Writers Theatre) and Billy Bungeroth (for "The Second City Guide to the Opera") for best director honors in the various categories. In his acceptance speech Monday night, Brown referenced coming to Chicago more than 30 years ago and finding theatrical opportunities he could have found "no where else in the world."
The volunteer Jeff Committee, putting together its 45th slate of annual awards, also admired the musical "A Class Act" from the determined Porchlight Music Theatre, a winner in the midsized musical category, while the Chicago stage actor (and movie star) Michael Shannon won a Jeff for his work in Sam Shepard's "Simpatico" at A Red Orchid Theatre. Shannon, who was present at the ceremony, paid tribute to his co-star and friend, Guy Van Swearingen.
TimeLine, a perennial favorite of the Jeff Committee, won the Jeff for the best midsized production of a play for "33 Variations." Along with Alexis J. Rogers honored for her solo turn in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" at Porchlight, Christine Sherrill and Bill Larkin also took home Jeffs for, respectively, their work in "Sunset Boulevard" at Drury Lane and "A Class Act." "Class act" certainly could be said of Dale Benson, the winner of a special Jeff this year for his lifetime of work on Chicago stages.
The lengthy but enjoyable ceremony, which rivaled the Tony Awards in length, began with a performance by Andre De Shields and ended with a spectacular tribute to the beloved Benson, who was serenaded by a male-voice choir before delivering anecdotes from his 50-year career in Chicago theater.
2013 Equity Jeff Award Winners
PRODUCTION — PLAY (LARGE): "Good People" — Steppenwolf Theatre Company
PRODUCTION — PLAY (MIDSIZE): "33 Variations" — TimeLine Theatre Company
PRODUCTION — MUSICAL (LARGE): "Sunday in the Park with George" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater
PRODUCTION — MUSICAL (MIDSIZE): "A Class Act" — Porchlight Music Theatre
PRODUCTION — REVUE: "The Second City Guide to the Opera" — Lyric Opera of Chicago and Second City
DIRECTOR — PLAY: William Brown — "The Liar" — Writers Theatre
DIRECTOR — MUSICAL: Gary Griffin — "Sunday in the Park with George" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater
DIRECTOR — REVUE: Billy Bungeroth — "The Second City Guide to the Opera" — Lyric Opera of Chicago and Second City
ENSEMBLE: "Othello: The Remix" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater
ACTOR IN A PRINICPAL ROLE — PLAY: Michael Shannon — "Simpatico" — A Red Orchid Theatre
ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE — MUSICAL: Bill Larkin — "A Class Act" — Porchlight Music Theatre
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE — PLAY: Mariann Mayberry — "Good People" — Steppenwolf Theatre Company
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE — MUSICAL: Christine Sherrill — "Sunset Boulevard" — Drury Lane
ACTOR OR ACTRESS IN A REVUE: David M. Lutken — "Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie" — Northlight Theatre