2016 Merritt Awards Honor Chicago Designers and Technicians

2016 Merritt Awards Honor Chicago Designers and Technicians

(Photo: Michael Bodeen, courtesy of the Merritt Awards Committee) 

The 23rd Annual Merritt Awards for Excellence in Design and Collaboration will take place on Monday, May 16th, at Loyola University, where Nationally-known Sound Designer and Composer Michael Bodeen will receive the 2016 Merritt Award. “At a time when other national awards have marginalized the contributions of Sound Design the Merritts are thrilled to be celebrating the career of Sound Designer and Composer Michael Bodeen,” the committee said in a statement. The Michael Merritt Award, a national award unique in its emphasis on excellence in both design and collaboration, is presented annually to a scenic, costume, lighting, sound, or other media designer.

Bodeen, a graduate of Depaul University and Roger’s Park resident, has multiple Broadway credits, including music composition and sound for No Man’s Land & Waiting for GodotBreakfast at Tiffany’s, The Miracle Worker; and sound for Larry David’s Fish in the Dark, Of Mice and Men, This is Our Youth, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Superior Donuts, A Year with Frog and Toadreasons to be pretty and Hollywood Arms with his collaborator, Rob MilburnMilburn and Bodeen’s work can often be heard at Steppenwolf and the Goodman here in Chicago. Recently, East of Eden at Steppenwolf and Another Word for Beauty at the Goodman. Prior to their partnership in 1999, Bodeen created music and sound for the Goodman Theatre productions of The Baltimore Waltz, Mirror of the Invisible World, The Odyssey (which toured McCarter and Seattle Repertory Theatre), Journey to the West (which toured to Boston’s Huntington Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre), The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, which traveled to Lincoln Center, Second Stage, Berkeley Repertory and Seattle Repertory Theatre; and sound for Philip Glass’ opera, Galileo Galilei which travelled to BAM and the Barbican Center in London. He is the recipient sixteen Joseph Jefferson nominations resulting in six awards; four for original music and two for sound design.

The Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award recognizes the work of an outstanding emerging theatrical designer within the Chicago area. This year’s Award goes to Scott Davis, a Chicago-based scenic designer who has designed over 20 shows with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, including Tug of War, Ride the Cyclone, Road Show, Pericles, and Murder for Two. Davis has also worked with Court, Paramount, Drury Lane, Northlight, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Mercury Theater, Windy City Playhouse, American Theater Company, Griffin, Steep, Profiles Theater, and Mary-Arrchie. 

The Robert Christen Award for Excellence in Technical Collaboration recognizes an outstanding technical professional whose career as a collaborator in the realization of theatrical design has been significant and sustained. This year’s recipient is David Naunton, House Audio Supervisor at the Goodman Theatre where he has served for 30 seasons.

The Emerging Technical Collaborator Award, celebrating a passionate and skillful early career professional who goes about their work in a particularly collaborative manner, will go to Jeff Glass, a Master Electrician, Lighting Designer, and Production Manager, who often works with Lookingglass and many of Chicago’s smaller storefront theaters.

In addition to the professional awards, the Merritt Awards recognize and encourage the work of young professionals and students through a national design exposition and prizes to promising theatrical design students in Chicago’s major academic programs. The John Murbach Columbia College Chicago Prize will be awarded to Tracee Baer, Costume Designer; The Theatre School at Depaul University Prize will be awarded to Connor Wang, Sound Designer, The Loyola University Chicago Prize goes to Meghan Erxleben, Lighting Designer; and The Northwestern University Prize is for Arnel Sancianco, Set Designer.

The May 16th event kicks of at 5 pm, with the Design Exposition, showcasing the works of Chicago-area emerging theatrical designers and graduating design students. At 7 pm, the staged portion of the evening begins with a discussion moderated by Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss, featuring the award recipients exploring current issues of interest to professional and student designers, followed by the awards presentations and a reception.

Tickets, which support the award’s endowment fund, are $20 ($5 for students) including food, wine and beer, and can be booked at merrittawards.com.





About author

Jason Epperson

Jason is a producer, manager, and designer with 17 years of experience in Chicago, New York, and in the touring market. In 2015, he founded Lotus Theatricals - the publisher of Performink, and an independent commercial producing company - with Abigail Trabue.