RedEye

'Iceman Cometh,' 'Follies' big Jeff Award winners

Two of the most accomplished productions in the history of Chicago theater — "Follies" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and "The Iceman Cometh" at the Goodman Theatre — shared top honors at the Joseph Jefferson Awards, presented Monday night at the packed Drury Lane Theatre. The six Jeffs for "Iceman" (including a best-director Jeff for Robert Falls and a best-supporting actor nod for Brian Dennehy, even though this was a role far bigger than most leads) ended the Goodman's recent drought at the annual awards honoring the best Equity-affiliated Chicago theater.

Dennehy showed up in person to accept his award, and paid tribute to Nathan Lane, his co-star. "Iceman" took home, unsurprisingly, the Jeff for best ensemble. "Follies" also won six Jeff Awards.

"I work at a theater that says Shakespeare on its sign," said Gary Griffin, its Jeff Award-winning director, "but somehow Sondheim has sneaked in there."

Among the highlights of the lively Monday-night ceremony were several full production numbers from Drury Lane Theatre, which always treats the Jeff Awards with great respect, and an especially moving tribute to Chicago theater from Hollis Resnik, who had flown in from Toronto (where she is appearing in the national tour of "Sister Act") to accept her award for her work in "Follies." There also was a lengthy tribute celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Actors' Equity union.

Top acting honors in a play went to Larry Yando for his intoxicating performance as Roy Cohn in the Court Theatre production of "Angels in America" and Diane D'Aquila for her work in the title role of "Elizabeth Rex" at Chicago Shakespeare. Bruce Arntson of the country spoof "Doyle & Debbie" (which had a very good night) got the Jeff for best actor in a musical (something of a surprise in a competitive category), while Caroline O'Connor won a Jeff for her work in the musical "Follies." Arnston said that he was proud that his little show "from a Nashville honky-tonk" had been a part of Chicago's theater scene for eight months.

The two so-called "midsize" productions to score Jeff Awards for productions were the play "The Pitmen Painters" at TimeLine Theatre and "Doyle & Debbie," a commercial venture in the Royal George Theatre's cabaret space. Of the various revues during the past season, "We're All in This Room Together" at the Second City e.t.c. won the big prize. Timothy Edward Kane, widely acclaimed for his work in "An Iliad" at Court Theatre, took home the Jeff for best solo performance.

New works honored included Oren Jacoby's adaptation of "Invisible Man" at Court, Sarah Gubbins' "The Kid Thing" from About Face and Chicago Dramatists, Aaron Thielen and Michael Mahler's "Hero the Musical" at the Marriott Theatre and Ayad Akhtar's "Disgraced" at American Theater Company.

Unusually, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company did not win a single Jeff at this year's ceremony.

2012 Equity Jeff Award winners

Production of a play (large): "The Iceman Cometh" — Goodman Theatre

Production of a play (midsize): "The Pitmen Painters" — TimeLine Theatre Company

Production of a musical (large): "Follies" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Production of a musical (midsize): "The Doyle & Debbie Show" — Lonesome Road Productions

Production of a revue: "We're All in This Room Together" — The Second City e.t.c.

Director of a play: Robert Falls — "The Iceman Cometh" — Goodman Theatre

Director of a musical: Gary Griffin — "Follies" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Director of a revue: Ryan Bernier — "We're All in This Room Together" — The Second City e.t.c.

Ensemble: "The Iceman Cometh" — Goodman Theatre

Actor in a principal role — play: Larry Yando — "Angels in America" — Court Theatre

Actor in a principal role — musical: Bruce Arntson — "The Doyle & Debbie Show" — Lonesome Road Productions

Actress in a principal role — play: Diane D'Aquila — "Elizabeth Rex" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Actress in a principal role — musical: Caroline O'Connor — "Follies" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Actor or actress in a revue: Edgar Blackmon — "Who Do We Think We Are?" — The Second City

Solo performance: Timothy Edward Kane — "An Iliad" — Court Theatre

Actor in a supporting role — play: Brian Dennehy — "The Iceman Cometh" — Goodman Theatre

Actor in a supporting role — musical: Alex Goodrich — "Hero the Musical" — Marriott Theatre

Actress in a supporting role — play: Natalie West — "The Butcher of Baraboo" — A Red Orchid Theatre

Actress in a supporting role — musical: Hollis Resnik — "Follies" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

New work — play:

Ayad Akhtar — "Disgraced" — American Theater Company

Sarah Gubbins — "The Kid Thing" — Chicago Dramatists and About Face Theatre

New work — musical: Aaron Thielen and Michael Mahler — "Hero the Musical" — Marriott Theatre

New adaptation — play: Oren Jacoby — "Invisible Man" — Court Theatre

Choreography: Tammy Mader — "Hairspray" — Drury Lane Productions

Original incidental music: Lindsay Jones — "Timon of Athens" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Music direction: Brad Haak — "Follies" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Scenic design (large): Kevin Depinet — "The Iceman Cometh" — Goodman Theatre

Scenic design (midsize): Brian Prather — "Freud's Last Session" — Carolyn Rossi Copeland, Robert Stillman and Jack Thomas

Lighting design (large): Natasha Katz — "The Iceman Cometh" — Goodman Theatre

Lighting design (midsize): Michael McNamara — "The Turn of the Screw" — First Folio Theatre

Costume design (large): Virgil C. Johnson — "Follies" — Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Costume design (midsize): Branimira Ivanova — "Cloud 9" — The Gift Theatre

Sound design (large): Mikhail Fiksel — "Oedipus el Rey" — Victory Gardens Theater

Sound design (midsize): Christopher Kriz — "The Turn of the Screw" — First Folio Theatre

Projections/media design: Maya Ciarrocchi — "Crowns" — Goodman Theatre

Artistic specialization: Dennis Watkins for magic design — "Death and Harry Houdini" — House Theatre of Chicago

Special award: Actors' Equity Association

cjones5@tribune.com

Twitter @ChrisJonesTrib

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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