Aurora's Paramount earns 5 Jeffs in first year of eligibility

 
 
Updated 10/5/2015 11:23 PM
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  • Paramount Theatre's revival of "Les Miserables" earned 2015 Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards for production, director Jim Corti and set design during the 47th Annual Jeff Awards Ceremony held Monday at Drury Lane Theatre.

    Paramount Theatre's revival of "Les Miserables" earned 2015 Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards for production, director Jim Corti and set design during the 47th Annual Jeff Awards Ceremony held Monday at Drury Lane Theatre. Courtesy of Charles Osgood and Paramount Theatre

  • Nicholas Dantes, 14, of Vernon Hills, received the 2015 Joseph Jefferson Award for principal actor in a musical for Drury Lane Theatre's regional premiere of "Billy Elliot, The Musical."

    Nicholas Dantes, 14, of Vernon Hills, received the 2015 Joseph Jefferson Award for principal actor in a musical for Drury Lane Theatre's regional premiere of "Billy Elliot, The Musical." Courtesy of Brett Beiner and Drury Lane Theatre

  • The Hypocrites' world premiere of adapter/director Sean Graney's "All Our Tragic," consisting of all 32 surviving Greek tragedies, received six 2015 Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards, including awards for production, ensemble, direction and adaptation Monday at the 47th annual Jeff Awards ceremony held at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace.

    The Hypocrites' world premiere of adapter/director Sean Graney's "All Our Tragic," consisting of all 32 surviving Greek tragedies, received six 2015 Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards, including awards for production, ensemble, direction and adaptation Monday at the 47th annual Jeff Awards ceremony held at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. courtesy of Evan Hanover

  • Heidi Kettering earned a 2015 Equity Jeff Award for her performance as Anna in Marriott Theatre's revival of "The King and I."

    Heidi Kettering earned a 2015 Equity Jeff Award for her performance as Anna in Marriott Theatre's revival of "The King and I." Courtesy of Amy Boyle Photography and Marriott Theatre

Equity newcomer Paramount Theatre in Aurora received a total of five 2015 Joseph Jefferson Awards, including three for its stellar revival of "Les Miserables," at the 47th annual Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremony Monday at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace.

"Les Miserables" earned Jeffs for best musical production (large theater) and for director Jim Corti. Kevin Depinet and Jeffrey D. Kmiec shared the award for set design (large theater). Paramount's regional premiere of "The Who's Tommy" received awards for lighting designer Greg Hofmann (large theater) and projection/video designer Mike Tutaj.

Drury Lane Theatre earned three awards, including one for first-time nominee Nicholas Dantes, 14, of Vernon Hills, named principal actor in a musical for his performance as Billy in Drury Lane's regional premiere of "Billy Elliot, The Musical." Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire earned one award.

Accepting his directing award Corti thanked the Jeff Committee for opening its boundaries.

"This is a really big night," he said, crediting music director Tom Vendafreddo and the artistic team for their efforts. "This means so much to so many people. The city of Aurora, those folks are going to be over the moon."

"I love the Chicago community," said Paramount CEO Tim Rater responding to thunderous applause for the best musical (large theater) award. "Thank you for bringing us in and supporting us."

Dantes thanked his parents and family for supporting him; director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell and music director Roberta Duchak "for taking a chance;" the cast and crew "for making me look good"; and Drury Lane "for saying yes."

"It's an honor being considered among such great actors," said Dantes who shared the role with Kyle Halford of Naperville.

Paramount's five awards placed it second after The Hypocrites, the longtime storefront ensemble also in its first year of equity eligibility. The Hypocrites received six Jeffs -- more than any other ensemble -- all of them for "All Our Tragic" an epic compilation of all 32 surviving Greek tragedies.

"All Our Tragic" earned awards for ensemble; production-midsize; costume designer Alison Siple; fight choreographer Ryan Bourque; and directing and adapting Jeffs for Hypocrites founder and artistic director Sean Graney.

"It's an honor to be here," Graney said. "A 12-hour play and tons of people came ... where else can you do that?"

"I'd like to hang out with everybody in this room, so email me if you want to get coffee," he said.

Director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell won for choreographing "Billy Elliot."

"You only get a 'Billy Elliot' so many times in your career. You pray you get a Nick Dantes and Kyle Halford," said Rockwell, adding, "Thank you to Drury Lane for having the guts to do this play without cutting a word of it."

Heidi Kettering was named principal actress in a musical for her performance as Anna in Marriott Theatre's revival of "The King and I." The Marriott veteran dedicated the award to her mother, who passed away four weeks before rehearsals started and who would have turned 69 Monday.

Other acting honors went to Kate Fry, for her work in Northlight Theatre's "Outside Mullingar," and to Jerod Haynes, who played Bigger Thomas in "Native Son," an American Blues and Court Theater coproduction.

Former Daily Herald theater critic Tom Valeo -- who passed away earlier this year -- was among those the Jeff Committee recognized during the In Memoriam segment.

For their coproduction "Moby Dick," Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Actors Gymnasium of Evanston earned four Jeffs for play (large theater), supporting actor Anthony Fleming III, sound designer Rick Sims and rigging designer Isaac Schoepp.

Naperville native Mat Smart, who penned "The Royal Society of Antarctica" for Gift Theatre, shared the new play award with Joshua Jaeger and the late PJ Paparelli, who wrote American Theater Company's "The Project(s)," a docu-theater piece chronicling the history of Chicago's housing projects.

Acknowledging the late Sheldon Patinkin, the play's original director who passed away before rehearsals began, Smart thanked The Gift Theatre "for taking a chance on a play with three acts and three hours."

Paula Scrofano and John Reeger -- who met as freshman at Northwestern University, and have been forces on the Chicago theater scene for more than 40 years -- shared a special Jeff award for career achievement.

Described as "the first lady and gentleman of Chicago theater," the couple -- married for 44 years -- appeared in 48 productions together at Marriott, Drury Lane and Court, among other theaters. Their performance of the sly, affectionate "Why Do I Keep Going to the Theater?" from the 1974 revue "What's a Nice Country Like You Doing in a State Like This?" to a standing ovation.

Broadway or Hollywood was never their dream, Scrofano said.

"Our dream, our hope was to be working actors, to have a home, raise two wonderful kids and do our best possible work ... that's just what we've done," she said.

"For us that was more than enough," Reeger added.

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