Is Jeff biased?

12484987-grunge-access-denied-rubber-stamp-vector-illustration2The 2015 NON-EQUITY JEFF AWARD nominations were announced last night.  Meh!

Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely congratulate all the nominees that are being acknowledged for their extraordinary contribution to Chicago theatre.   Well done!  My lackluster response is seeing the same theatre companies always honored… maybe overly.  Below, I took the time to compare all the plays ‘Jeff recommended’ and within that list I noted where the nominees fell.  And it looks a little bias to me.

Here’s a prime example:  I know Redtwist does phenomenal work.  I also know that they aren’t the only company showcasing great work by principal actors.  What about actors that performed at Idle Muse, Jackalope, Lifeline, Strawdog?  I saw excellence in performances.  Why do the Jeff judges tend to only see high caliber acting on a few stages?

This past year, I saw plenty of shows that didn’t even get a Jeff recommendation which surprised me at the time.  And this oversight irritates me now when I scan this recommendation/nomination list and see some companies seem to have their entire season ‘Jeff Recommended’ with or without the nominations to back it up.  I’m questioning the level of bias on the committee.

I’m not suggesting huge theatre conspiracy.  I’m certain judges aren’t accepting financial kickbacks for votes.  I’m just saying it would be nice to see directors, writers, actors and designers recognized for their hard work with equal opportunity to be honored on any non-equity stage.  I’m weary of the slanted honoring system.

Complete list of  2015 ‘Jeff Recommended’ Non-Equity Shows and Their Nominations 

Bailiwick Chicago

Carrie (actress/princ/mus, actress/sup/mus)

The Wild Party (musical, ensemble, director, actor/prin/mus, actress/princ/mus, choreo, mus dir, lights, costumes)

BoHo Theatre/ Bohemian Theatre Ensemble 

Ordinary Days (actor/sup/mus, 2 actress/sup/mus, specialization)

Parade (director, actor/prin/mus, actress/princ/mus)

Eclipse Theatre Company

Intimate Apparel (director, actress/princ, costumes)

Ruined (play, actor/princ, actress/princ)

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre

Take Me Out

The Fine Print Theatre Company

A Place in the Woods (new work)

Griffin Theatre Company

Balm in Gilead (ensemble, director, actress/princ, actress/sup, scene)

Men Should Weep (play, director, actress/princ)

Titanic (musical, ensemble, director, actor/sup/mus, mus dir, costumes)

Hell in a Handbag Productions

Caged Dames (choreo, scene)

The Hypocrites

All Our Tragic (play, ensemble, director, actor/sup, actress/sup, adapt, lights, costumes, sound, specialization)

Endgame (actor/sup, scene, lights)

H.M.S. Pinafore (director, adapt)

Idle Muse Theatre Company

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Interrobang Theatre Project

The Doll’s House Project: Ibsen Is Dead

Really Really

Jackalope Theatre Company

Exit Strategy (play, ensemble, director, new work)


Kokandy Productions

Assassins (musical, director, 2 actor/sup/mus)

The Full Monty (musical, actor/prin/mus, actor/sup/mus, actress/sup/mus, choreo)

Lifeline Theatre

Monstrous Regiment (adapt)

One Came Home (orig mus)

LiveWire Chicago Theatre


Ma’at Prod. Assoc. of Afrikan Centered Theater

Softly Blue

Oracle Productions

Circle-Machine (orig mus)

The Jungle (play, ensemble, adapt, orig mus)

Pride Films and Plays

Angry Fags

The Book of Merman (actor/prin/mus)

Some Men

The Submission (actress/sup)

Raven Theatre

All My Sons (actor/sup)

Dividing the Estate (scene)

Vieux Carre (actress/sup, scene)

Redtwist Theatre

Another Bone (actress/sup)

Geezers (actor/princ)

I and You

Look Back in Anger (actor/princ)

Red (actor/princ, sound)

Sideshow Theatre Company

Stupid Fucking Bird (actor/sup, orig mus)


the side project

Mike and Seth (actor/princ)

Signal Ensemble Theatre

The Next Thing (actress/princ/mus, new work)

Stage Left Theatre

The Coward

Keys of the Kingdom

Stage Left Theatre i/a/w Theatre Seven of Chicago

Principal Principle (new work)

Steep Theatre Company

If There is I haven’t Found it yet (actor/sup)

The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle

The Vandal (actress/princ)

Step Up Productions

Dead Accounts (actor/princ)

Strawdog Theatre Company

The Arsonists (lights, sound)

Charles Ives, Take Me Home (actress/princ)

The Sweeter Option (sound)

Theatre Y

Happy Days

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Jesus Christ Superstar (musical, actor/prin/mus, actor/sup/mus, actress/sup/mus, choreo, mus dir)

A Musical Tribute to the Andrews Sisters (specialization)

A Kurt Weill Cabaret (revue, mus dir, lights)

Always..Patsy Cline (revue, actress/princ/mus, actress/sup/mus, mus dir)

Trap Door Theater

Cookie Play (sound)

La Bete (actor/princ, costumes)


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