A day late and a dollar short again! I am still recovering from the Jeffs Monday night and my day yesterday! If I weren’t so exhilarated, I’d be exhausted! Finally crashed last night, and after a good night’s rest, I’m emailing and Facebook-ing and now, just have to share with you the big night!
Our Jeff nominated lead actor “Curly” in our Jeff nominated production Oklahoma! Colte Julian sang “People Will Say We’re in Love” with our “Laurey” Allison Sill, and sitting next to Tim, I could sense our smiles beaming so proud of them, real stars so winning of the crowd cheering for them!
In one of many impossibly tough categories of the night competitively, ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE-MUSICAL, honorees Susan Moniz, Alene Robertson, Lia Mortensen, with our own E. Faye Butler in Paramount’s Hairspray ( a foursome of the most esteemed actresses in Chicago) were nominated, and the prize went to our West Side Story “Anita” Mary Antonini, our first win of the night!
Our second win: William Carlos Angulo for his choreography in our Jeff nominated West Side Story! (The choreography of Katie Spelman in our Oklahoma! was nominated as well, and if ever this proud papa felt there should be a tie it was now!) William accepted his award with an emotional speech, shining gratitude all around, including for his parents who were there celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary that very night!
Then, a bit later, all of “The Jets” together did the big eleven o’clock number from our West Side Story, “Officer Krupke.” The place went crazy wild screaming and hooting for these young men’s searing, poignant, muscular and emotionally raw performance and gave the crowd a taste of Angulo’s originality and the expressionistic excitement of his now Jeff Award winning choreography!
Our third and final win came at the very end of the night, a very big award for PRODUCTION-MUSICAL-LARGE: competing with Nick Bowling’s Man of La Mancha at Marriott, Chicago Shakes’ Ride the Cyclone opening soon in New York, directed by Jeff winner for Direction, Rachel Rockwell, our own beautiful Oklahoma! and – get this – The Goodman’s War Paint starring Christine Ebersole and Patti Lupone! But impossibly, yes, West Side Story wins! Eyes-popping, jaws-dropping, disbelief, shock, WOW! WOW! WOW! Tim and I gasped, sucked up air and literally froze in our seats. Could not move. Then, my head snapping left to right, I realized I had to get up on my crutch! I literally leapt up the steps to the stage in what was clearly a clinical adrenaline rush. Michael Weber accepted his PRODUCTION-MUSICAL-MIDSIZE award for Porchlight’s Dreamgirls directed by Brenda Didier, and then this old guy moved to the mic and tried to find words adequate and worthy of the moment completely unexpected. Blank. I forgot to acknowledge our superb cast and supreme designers: Kevin Depinet (Set), Theresa Ham (Costumes), Jesse Klug (Lights), Mike Tutaj (Projections), Adam Rosenthal (Sound), Katie Cordts (Wigs), Sarah Ross (Properties Director) and so many, many others! But your mind races knowing you’ve got 60 seconds! What came up in those surreal moments spoke to the challenging difficulty of telling the story responsibly and relevant to our current lives. It’s hard to “hold that mirror up to life” and to be sure to hold on to the “love in this room.” That love is our strength. And that the absence of it is what happens in West Side Story. Tragedy, ladies and gentlemen, should not be lost on us. For we, our very selves, are responsible for it. It was so emotionally stirring to remember this sad tale for such an unimaginably joyous night of celebration!
I did remember to thank the Jeff Committee and our own Board of Directors and Staff for being there and Trent and Tom and William and Rose and of course, Tim, who spoke so eloquently to the future of Paramount, our School and Performing Arts Center, and the gratitude we share for the theatre artists of Chicago and our audience!
Love & thanks,