Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Theo Ubique leads Non-Equity Jeffs with 14 noms

Nominations for the 2012 Non-Equity Joseph Jefferson awards (better known simply as "the Jeffs") were announced today.  The Non-Equity Awards honor excellence in Chicago theatres not under an Actor's Equity union contract.  Winners will be announced on June 4.

Rogers Park-based Theo Ubique leads the pack with 14 nominations. Eight of the nominations are for their current hit production, "The Light In the Piazza" (extended through June 23).  The other six nominations were for a production of  "Pump Boys and  Dinettes" earlier this season.

The 2012 nominations also recognized the strong seasons at Griffin Theatre Company, the newly revived Bailiwick Chicago, and the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company. 

Griffin Theatre scored 11 nominations for two teen-based works: six for “Punk Rock,” a British play about contemporary issues of high school studens; and five for “Spring Awakening,” a local production of the Tony-award winning musical about teenage repression in 19th century Germany. 

Bailiwick Chicago scored 10 nominations, including five for “Passing Strange,” a rock musical about an African American’s artistic self-discovery, and five for “Violet,” a musical about a disfigured woman on a journey of healing. 

Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. scored eight nominations:  four for their production of “Superior Donuts,” the Tracy Letts play about an Uptown donut shop; and four for  the soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture ”Red Light Winter, about a love triangle.

 The Hypocrites’ adaptation of the “Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses” cycle garnered six nominations, tying with Griffin’s “Punk Rock” for most nominations of a non-musical.

A complete list of the 2012 Non-Equity Jeff Awards Nominees

Production — Play"Opus" — Redtwist Theatre
"Punk Rock" — Griffin Theatre Company
"Red Light Winter" — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.
"Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses" — The Hypocrites
"Superior Donuts" — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.
"The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True" — Trap Door Theatre

Production — Musical"The Light in the Piazza" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
"Passing Strange" — Bailiwick Chicago
"Pump Boys and Dinettes" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
"Spring Awakening" — Griffin Theatre Company
"Violet" — Bailiwick Chicago

Director — PlayJonathan Berry — "Punk Rock" — Griffin Theatre Company
Seth Bockley — "The Ugly One" — Sideshow Theatre Company
Jason W. Gerace — "Opus" — Redtwist Theatre
Sean Graney — "Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses" — The Hypocrites
Halena Kays — "Six Characters in Search of an Author" — The Hypocrites
Blake Montgomery — "Moby-Dick" — The Building Stage

Director — MusicalFred Anzevino — "Pump Boys and Dinettes" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Fred Anzevino and Brenda Didier — "The Light in the Piazza" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Jonathan Berry — "Spring Awakening" — Griffin Theatre Company
Lili-Anne Brown — "Passing Strange" — Bailiwick Chicago
Elizabeth Margolius — "Violet" — Bailiwick Chicago

Ensemble"Moby-Dick" — The Building Stage
"Opus" — Redtwist Theatre
"Pump Boys and Dinettes" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
"Punk Rock" — Griffin Theatre Company
"Shakespeare's R&J" — Idle Muse Theatre Company
"Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses" — The Hypocrites

Principal Actor — PlayDan Behrendt (Matt) — "Red Light Winter" — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.
Joey DeBettencourt (William Carlisle) — "Punk Rock" — Griffin Theatre Company
Brian Grey (Ned Lawrence) — "The Oxford Roof Climber's Rebellion" — Caffeine Theatre
Peter Oyloe (Kjell) — "Elling" — Redtwist Theatre
Brian Plocharczyk (Stephen) — "Farragut North" — Stage Left
Andrew Burden Swanson (Gerry) — "The Last Duck" — Jackalope Theatre Company
Preston Tate, Jr. (Franco Wicks) — "Superior Donuts" — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.

Principal Actor — MusicalJayson "JC" Brooks (Narrator) — "Passing Strange" — Bailiwick Chicago
Courtney Crouse (Jim) — "Pump Boys and Dinettes" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Steven Perkins (Youth) — "Passing Strange" — Bailiwick Chicago
Creg Sclavi (Bobby Strong) — "Urinetown the Musical" — Circle Theatre
Chuck Sisson (Aimable Castagnet) — "The Baker's Wife" — Circle Theatre

Principal Actress — PlayJacqueline Grandt (Agnes) — "Bug" — Redtwist Theatre
Katherine Keberlein (Jan) — "Fifty Words" — Profiles Theatre
Melanie Keller (Sonya/Sarah) — "East of Berlin & The Russian Play" — Signal Ensemble Theatre
Eileen Niccolai (Lady) — "Orpheus Descending" — Shattered Globe Theatre
Stacy Stolz (Anne) — "Assisted Living" — Profiles Theatre

Principal Actress — MusicalHarmony France (Violet) — "Violet" — Bailiwick Chicago
Kelli Harrington (Margaret Johnson) — "The Light in the Piazza" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Rachel Klippel (Clara Johnson) — "The Light in the Piazza" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Supporting Actor — Play
Barth Bennett (Jefferson) — "A Lesson Before Dying" — Lincoln Square Theatre
Eric Burgher (Mervyn) — "A Behanding in Spokane" — Profiles Theatre
Dereck Garner (Davis) — "Red Light Winter" — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.
Ryan Heindl (Chadwick Meade) — "Punk Rock" — Griffin Theatre Company
Aaron Kirby (Adam) — "Dark Play or Stories for Boys" — Collaboraction
J.P. Pierson (Bunce) — "One Flea Spare" — Eclipse Theatre Company

Supporting Actor — MusicalJustin Adair (Fabrizio Naccarelli) — "The Light in the Piazza" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Michael Kingston (Charlemagne) — "Pippin" — Bohemian Theatre Ensemble
Evan Tyrone Martin (Flick) — "Violet" — Bailiwick Chicago
Jeremy Rill (Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm) — "A Little Night Music" — Circle Theatre

Supporting Actress — PlaySasha Gioppo (Christina) — "Red Light Winter" — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.
Vanessa Greenway (Rosaura/Astrea) — "Life Is A Dream" — Premiere Theatre & Performance i/a/w Vitalist Theatre
Susan Monts-Bologna (Lady Boyle) — "Superior Donuts" — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.
Caroline Neff (Helen) — "Under the Blue Sky" — Steep Theatre Company

Supporting Actress — MusicalAnita Hoffman (Denise) — "The Baker's Wife" — Circle Theatre
Khaki Pixley (Petra) — "A Little Night Music" — Circle Theatre
Danni Smith (Rhetta) — "Pump Boys and Dinettes" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Dana Tretta (Catherine) — "Pippin" — Bohemian Theatre Ensemble

New WorkShepsu Aakhu — "Speaking in Tongues: The Chronicles of Babel" — MPAACT
Keith Josef Adkins — "The Last Saint on Sugar Hill" — MPAACT
Scott Barsotti, Molly Each, Laura Eason, Brian Golden, Kristin Idaszak, Kim Morris, Nick Ward and Doug Whippo — "We Live Here" — Theatre Seven of Chicago
Lucas Neff — "The Last Duck" — Jackalope Theatre Company
Deirdre O'Connor — "Assisted Living" — Profiles Theatre

New AdaptationSean Graney — "Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses" — The Hypocrites
Matt Hawkins — "Cyrano" — The House Theatre of Chicago
John Hildreth — "Watership Down" — Lifeline Theatre
Blake Montgomery — "Moby-Dick" — The Building Stage
Steve Moulds — "Six Characters in Search of an Author" — The Hypocrites

ChoreographyKevin Bellie — "Urinetown the Musical" — Circle Theatre
Brenda Didier — "Pippin" — Bohemian Theatre Ensemble
Nicole Pellegrino — "Spring Awakening" — Griffin Theatre Company

Original Incidental MusicAndrew Hansen — "Hunger" — Lifeline Theatre
Michael Huey — "The Spirit Play" — The Strange Tree Group
Ovidiu Iloc — "The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True" — Trap Door Theatre
Christopher Kriz — "The Count of Monte Cristo" — Lifeline Theatre
Kevin O'Donnell — "Moby-Dick" — The Building Stage
Kevin O'Donnell, Shawn Pfautsch and Matt Hawkins — "Cyrano" — The House Theatre of Chicago

Music DirectionJim DeSelm — "Pump Boys and Dinettes" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Allison Kane — "Spring Awakening" — Griffin Theatre Company
James Morehead — "Passing Strange" — Bailiwick Chicago
Jeremy Ramey — "The Light in the Piazza" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Andra Velis Simon — "Violet" — Bailiwick Chicago

Scenic DesignBob Knuth — "The Women" — Circle Theatre
Jack Magaw and Kimberly Senior — "Bug" — Redtwist Theatre
Amanda Rozmiarek — "The Price" — Raven Theatre
Ray Toler — "Bus Stop" — Raven Theatre
Adam Veness — "The Light in the Piazza" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Lighting DesignKevin D. Gawley — "Hunger" — Lifeline Theatre
Lee Keenan — "Spring Awakening" — Griffin Theatre Company
Lee Keenan — "The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek" — Eclipse Theatre Company
Jared Moore — "Lighthousekeeping" — New Leaf Theatre
Jared Moore — "Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses" — The Hypocrites
Mac Vaughey — "The Ugly One" — Sideshow Theatre Company

Costume DesignAly Renee Amidei — "The Count of Monte Cristo" — Lifeline Theatre
Jacqueline Firkins — "Cyrano" — The House Theatre of Chicago
Jesus Perez — "Urinetown the Musical" — Circle Theatre
Elizabeth Wislar — "A Little Night Music" — Circle Theatre
Elizabeth Wislar — "The Women" — Circle Theatre

Sound DesignThomas Dixon — "The Sea" — Theatre Mir
Mikhail Fiksel — "Watership Down" — Lifeline Theatre
Christopher Kriz — "Bug" — Redtwist Theatre
Christopher Kriz — "The Count of Monte Cristo" — Lifeline Theatre
Christopher Kriz — "Opus" — Redtwist Theatre

Fight DesignMatt Hawkins — "Cyrano" — The House Theatre of Chicago
R&D Choreography — "Watership Down" — Lifeline Theatre
David Woolley — "Superior Donuts" — Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.

Dialect CoachingEva Breneman — "The Light in the Piazza" — Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Anita Deely — "Old Times" — Strawdog Theatre Company
Elise Kauzlaric — "Punk Rock" — Griffin Theatre Company

Artistic SpecializationCasey Baker, Kevin O'Donnell and Mike Pryzgoda — Percussion — "Moby-Dick" — The Building Stage
Zhanna Bullock — Music Coach — "Opus" — Redtwist Theatre
Joanna Iwanicka — Puppet, Mask and Video Design — "Watership Down" — Lifeline Theatre
Mary O'Dowd — Properties/Set Dressing — "The Price" — Raven Theatre
Brett Schneider — Magic Design — "The Spirit Play" — The Strange Tree Group
Mary Williamson and Christine Conley — Makeup/Gore Design — "Sophocles: Seven Sicknesses" — The Hypocrites
Nivan Yahaghi — Video Design and Cinematography — "We Live Here" — Theatre Seven of Chicago

The 39th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday, June 4, 2012, at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage, Chicago, IL. Doors open for a cash bar at 6:00 p.m., with a light buffet at 6:30 p.m., and the presentation ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door. A group rate of $35 is available for parties of 10 or more. Festive cocktail attire is suggested, and the awards are open to the public. Tickets may be purchased online at

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Torchwood" star John Barrowman (right) and his partner
Scott Gill, backstage at C2E2 on Saturday
Why, oh why, did I have John Barrowman sign his banana?

I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, I had a delightful Saturday morning moderating a panel with "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood" star John Barrowman at the Chciago Comic and Entertainment Expo at McCormick Place.

I really didn't know what I should have been expecting, but when I arrived an hour before the panel to tour the space, I was a little overwhelmed by the size of the theater where the panel was to take place.
The empty IGN theater moments before it was opened to fans.
People had already started to line up  for the 11:30 a.m. panel at 9 a.m. After getting a walk-through of what, where and when and how everything was going to go down, I decided to walk the C2E2 floor and try to calm my nerves.

I arrived back at the theater 10 minutes before the panel was to start. I was introduced to both John and Scott. I also gave John a brief run-down of what I had planned: a handful of questions from myself, some questions emailed in from fans and then, finally, a lightning round of questions in which John would be playing for money for one of his favorite charities, Dogs Trust.

Once on stage, Barrowman truly amped up like a supernova. He flirted with me (asking me to play with the banana he brought on stage) and brought one well-built fan up on stage for a show of "guns" (Barrowman had the bigger arms, at least is seemed that way from my vantage point).

"You lucky bitch,” Barrowman told the amused girlfriend of said fan, before suggesting a threesome. “I’ll show you things you’ve never seen before. I could teach you a couple of things, too.”

Barrowman also dared me to play with the banana he brought on stage and wouldn't relent until I stroked it.

At that point, I no longer worried if Barrowman would be offended by the cheekiness of some of my questions. Highlights include:

On whether the Tardis from "Doctor Who" truly is bigger on the inside than the outside, Barrowman grinned and took a moment to relish the innuendo before answering "Oh, yes." At first, he mentioned David Tennant, before quickly correcting himself and actually identifying the ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston.

"Don’t even go there," when the crowd shouted in response to his blunder. "I know lots of things that you don’t. Anyway, I’ve had so many Doctors I get confused.”

When asked what Broadway standard best summed out the series "Torchwood," Barrowman obliged by singing a few bars of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes."

Captain Jack Harkness: larger than life both in person and in toy form.

Perhaps the biggest laugh came from his response to the question whether he owned one an action figure of his "Torchwood" character and , if so, how often he played with himself.

“I have both the six-inch and the 12-inch, depending on how often I play with them during the day,” he replied. “Sometimes frequently.”

Barrowman also discussed his upcoming  young-adult novel Hollow Earth (co-written with his sister Carole Barrowman). “It’s a book that we wrote because it’s a book that we would like to have read,” he said. “It’s about twins who have powers and are able to draw whatever they see or copy drawings that they see and bring the drawings to life or put themselves or other people into the drawings. They also communicate through telepathy.”

The book is due out in the States in November. It's already a best seller in the UK. Barrowman indicated they are close to signing a deal for the UK television rights and they have also been approached about film rights, too.

We’re hoping to bring the nove to the screen at some point," he said. A period piece, it's about a

Barrowman also just shot a television pilot for ABC called "Guilded Lilys." A period piece set around a family operating a luxury hotel, Barrowman said it was a bit of a departure from what he is known for.

 “It’s very different from the sci-fi that I’ve been doing and that I love to do, but I wanted to try something different,”Barrowman said. “Fingers crossed. I think it’s something that people will really like, hopefully.”

ABC is expected to make a decision regarding picking up the pilot shortly.

Barrowman and his sister haven't exactly forgotten about "Torchwood," either. Though the fate of the series is up in the air due to Creator Russell T. Davies dealing with personal issues and unable to commit to continuing the adventures, the Barrowmans are currently at work on a novel, tentatively titled Exodus Code, that picks up right after the events of the last series "Torchwood: Miracle Day."

Also up in the air is Barrowman's participation in the 50th anniversary of the "Doctor Who" franchise in 2013.

“I’d be really disappointed if Jack is not involved. But that’s up to  Steven Moffat [the showrunner currently].”

In the lighning round in which Barrowman played for money for Dogs Trust, he faired marginally well. Barrowman's answers, when different, are in italics:

Winter in Cardiff or Chicago (Cardiff)

Fez of Military overcoat (Military overcoat)
Chicago Red Hot hot dog or Haggis? (Red Hot; Haggis "Haggis is a lot thicker than a hot dog," he said. )

John Barrowman in a 2002 production of Stephen Sondheim's "Company."
Sondheim or Webber (Sondheim)
West End or Broadway (Broadway)
Chips or Crisps? (Either; Chips"Because growing up  Scott's [Gill, Barrowman's partner] fantasy was Erik Estrada.” )
A Rose or Guilded Lilys (Lilys)
David "Ten-inch" Tennant

Who would you rather snog: the 10th Doctor or the 11th Doctor? (Correct answer: three-way or "yes, please"; Barrowman advised that DavidTennant will always be the Doctor to him, quipping "And they don't call him David Ten-inch for nothing.")

On the final bonus question, Barrowman needed some assistance from the audience to complete the phrase "If it's not Scottish, it's..." with the correct response "Crap."

"We don't get 'Saturday Night Live' in the UK, I may have to check it out," he said.

For being a good sport, I made a $50 donation to Dogs Trust; Barrowman matched my donation.

Barrowman ended the panel with an impromptu rendition of "The Doctor and I," his spoof set to the tune of "The Wizard and I" from "Wicked." The song can be purchased at the Amazon link below.

Backstage after the panel, Barrowman offered to sign the banana.

The signature reads "MISHA, Enjoy my Big Banana, John Barrowman"

If anybody has any suggestions on how to preserve a piece of fruit, I'm all ears. I suspect I may end up just eating Barrowman's banana.

My friend Michael Sherrin actually waited in line on Sunday to have Barrowman sign a Captain Jack action figure. Barrowman was still in cheeky form on Sunday as the photo shows.

It's a Captain Jack attack: Michael gets an intimate hug from John Barrowman.

Starz or BBC (BBC; Starz; :"Without Starz, we wouldn’t have had 'Torchwood.'”)
Chicago-style deep dish pizza or curry (Deep dish)