Jeff Awards to Honor Four Theaters With Over Fifty Years Producing History

Jeff Awards to Honor Four Theaters With Over Fifty Years Producing History

Pictured: The Goodman’s gift to the Art Institute for the establishment of the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Memorial Theatre. Photo courtesy of The Jeff Awards.  

The Jeff Awards have announced that, in honor of their 50th anniversary, four theaters with over 50 years of producing history will receive special awards during the October 22nd ceremony.

The 2018 recipients are Goodman Theatre (1925), Drury Lane Productions (1949), Court Theatre (1955), and The Second City (1959). Collectively, they have received more than 1,400 nominations and 350 awards, dating back to the first ceremony.

The evening will be hosted by the Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Barbara Gaines and Founder and CEO of the Black Ensemble Theater Jackie Taylor, and directed by Porchlight Music Theatre’s Artistic Director Michael Weber.

The 50th Annual Equity Jeff Awards will be presented Monday, October 22 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL. For a complete list of nominees click here.

About The Four Special Award Recipients (from the press release): 

Goodman Theatre, founded in 1925: America’s “Best Regional Theatre” (Time magazine), Goodman Theatre is a premier not-for-profit organization distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large-scale musical theater works and reimagined classics (celebrated revivals include Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh). Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, over 160 Jeff Awards and many more accolades. In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle” and its annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, which celebrates its 41st anniversary this season, has created a new generation of theatergoers. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production partner with local off-Loop theaters and national and international companies by providing financial support or physical space for a variety of artistic endeavors.

Drury Lane Theatre, founded in 1949: Under the leadership of President Kyle DeSantis and Artistic Director William Osetek, Drury Lane Theatre is a major force in the Chicagoland theatre scene, presenting world-class productions in collaboration with some of the nation’s leading actors, artists, writers, and directors. Drury Lane has had locations in Evergreen Park (which operated for 45 years, closing in 2003), Water Tower in Chicago, and its current operation in Oak Brook for the past 30 years. Collectively at its locations, Drury Lane has staged more than 2,000 productions and has been nominated for more than 350 Joseph Jefferson Awards. Drury Lane is committed to breathing new life into beloved classics and introducing audiences to exciting new works. Drury Lane in Oakbrook alone has employed more than 7,500 actors and 10,000 musicians, designers, and technicians to entertain upwards of nine million audience members. Originally founded by Anthony DeSantis, Drury Lane Theatre remains a family-run organization known for producing breathtaking Broadway classics, top-rated musicals, bold new works, hilarious comedies, and unforgettable concert events.

Court Theatre, founded in 1955: Court Theatre was founded in 1955 as an amateur outdoor summer theatre at the University of Chicago. Nicholas Rudall, a Professor of Classics at the University, established the theatre as a professional company in 1975. As Founding Artistic Director, Rudall first conceived Court’s mission of translating and adapting classic texts for contemporary audiences. Today, Court Theatre is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service. Court now serves 50,000 patrons and 4,000 high school students each season through its main stage productions and its community partner and education initiatives. Charles Newell, the Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, has led Court since 1994; Executive Director Angel Ysaguirre joined the theatre in 2018. In 2013, Court established the Center for Classic Theatre at the University of Chicago, dedicating the theatre to an expanded mission: curating large-scale, interdisciplinary theatrical experiences that fully access and utilize the extraordinary intellectual resources that surround the theatre. Dynamic collaborations with University of Chicago faculty and with community partners on Chicago’s South Side enable Court to re-examine classic texts in ways that pose enduring and provocative questions about the human experience. Court Theatre aims to make a lasting contribution to American classic theatre by commissioning new works—including new translations and adaptations—and by continuing to explore, expand, and re-define the canon of classic texts.

Second City, founded in 1959: Rooted in the groundbreaking games of Viola Spolin, The Second City opened its doors on a snowy Chicago night in December of 1959, and a comedy revolution began. The small cabaret theater has grown to become the most influential and prolific comedy empire in the world, developing an entirely unique way of creating art and fostering generation after generation of superstars. Co-founded by Spolin’s son, Paul Sills, along with Howard Alk and Bernie Sahlins, The Second City was experimental and unconventional in its approach to both theater and comedy. Almost immediately, alumni of The Second City, including Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Fred Willard, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, and The John Belushi, launched the theater into the international spotlight. Today, The Second City is home to a world-class entertainment company, continuing to produce premier talent in all three of its locations–Chicago, Toronto, and Hollywood–and entertaining more than one million audience members a year.

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