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Circle, Pride and Theo Ubique win top Non-Equity Jeffs

Jeremy Trager stars as Richard Hauptmann 'Hauptmann' BoHo Theatre.

Jeremy Trager stars as Richard Hauptmann in "Hauptmann" at BoHo Theatre.

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Updated: July 5, 2013 6:03AM

Top honors at this year’s Non-Equity Jeff Awards, which recognize excellence in Chicago’s non-union theaters, went to three dramatically different shows Monday night at the 40th annual ceremony held at Park West.

Named best production of a play for the 2012-2013 season was Circle Theatre’s Chicago premiere of “When the Rain Stops Falling,” Australian playwright Andrew Bovell’s dark, deeply troubling, multi-generational saga that crosses continents, and travels back and forth in time from 1959 to 2039. The recognition is sure to be a boost for Circle, which for 28 years was based in Oak Park, but last year decided to become an itinerant operation in the city proper. Acclaimed when it was first staged in Oak Park, “When the Rain Stops Falling” (whose director, John Gawlik, also received an award), was subsequently remounted at Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater Center.

Named best musical of the season was Leo Schwartz’s “Under A Rainbow Flag,” from Pride Films and Plays. A new work, it is based on the real experiences of Evanston resident Jon Phillips and follows the lives of four gay servicemen during World War II. The musical also received the award for best new work.

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller,” was named best production of a revue. This irresistible feast of rock ‘n’ roll classics was first staged at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s home base in Rogers Park and was subsequently remounted in a commercial production at the Royal George Cabaret in Lincoln Park, where it is still playing. The show’s director, Brenda Didier, and its music director, Jeremy Ramey, also received awards.

The coveted best ensemble honor went to Sideshow Theatre Company’s “Idomeneus,” a U.S. premiere that featured 15 actors on a sand-filled stage at the Storefront Theatre who played out many different variations on a complex Greek tragedy.

The principal actors in a play (Jeremy Trager for the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble’s “Hauptmann”) and musical (Peter Oyloe for Filament Theatre’s “Hank Williams: Lost Highway”), portrayed real-life characters, while the principal actresses (Lindsey Pearlman in Polarity Ensemble Theatre’s play, “Never the Bridesmaid,” and Kelli Harrington for Theo Ubique Cabaret’s “Aspects of Love”) both played fictional characters.

This year’s Special Jeff Award was presented to Richard Cotovsky, the actor, director and ever-experimental artistic director of the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. Cotovsky has been part of Chicago’s Off Loop theater scene for four decades and often is dubbed “The Godfather of Storefront Theater.”

For a complete list of the winners, visit

Following is a complete list of the 2013 Non-Equity Jeff Award winners:

PRODUCTION, PLAY: “When The Rain Stops Falling,” Circle Theatre.

PRODUCTION, MUSICAL: “Under A Rainbow Flag,” Pride Films and Plays.

PRODUCTION, REVUE: “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

ENSEMBLE: “Idomeneus,” Sideshow Theatre Company.

DIRECTOR, PLAY: John Gawlik, “When The Rain Stops Falling.”

DIRECTOR, MUSICAL OR REVUE: Brenda Didier, “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”

PRINCIPAL ROLE ACTRESS, PLAY: Lindsey Pearlman, “Never the Bridesmaid,” Polarity Ensemble Theatre.

PRINCIPAL ROLE ACTOR, PLAY: Jeremy Trager, “Hauptmann,” Bohemian Theatre Ensemble.

PRINCIPAL ROLE, ACTRESS, MUSICAL: Kelli Harrington, “Aspects of Love,” Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre.

PRINCIPAL ROLE, ACTOR, MUSICAL: Peter Oyloe, “Hank Williams: Lost Highway,” Filament Theatre Ensemble.

SOLO PERFORMANCE: Blake Montgomery, “Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Again.,” The Building Stage.

SUPPORTING ROLE ACTRESS. PLAY: Felisha McNeal, “Jar the Floor,” eta Creative Arts Foundation.

SUPPORTING ROLE ACTOR, PLAY: Walter Briggs, “The Glass Menagerie,” Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.

SUPPORTING ROLE ACTRESS, MUSICAL: Danni Smith, “See What I Wanna See,” Bailiwick Chicago

SUPPORTING ROLE ACTOR, MUSICAL: Jason Richards, “Avenue Q,” NightBlue Performing Arts Company.

SCENIC DESIGN: Henry Behel, “City of Dreadful Night,” The Den Theatre.

COSTUME DESIGN: Kate Setzer Kamphausen, “Sexy Baby,” Hell in a Handbag Productions.

LIGHTING DESIGN: Cat Wilson, “City of Dreadful Night.”

SOUND DESIGN: Christian Gero, “Flare Path,” Griffin Theatre Company.

ORIGINAL INCIDENTAL MUSIC: Mikey Moran, “City of Dreadful Night.”

MUSIC DIRECTION: Jeremy Ramey, “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”

NEW WORK: Leo Schwartz, “Under A Rainbow Flag.”

NEW ADAPTATION: Paul Edwards, “Peyton Place,” City Lit Theater Company.

CHOREOGRAPHY: Brigitte Ditmars, “Reefer Madness,” Circle Theatre.

ARTISTIC SPECIALIZATION: Kevin Bellie (Projection Design for “When The Rain Stops Falling”); Ryan Bourque (Fight Choreography for “Coriolanus” at The Hypocrites).

SPECIAL AWARD: Richard Cotovsky.

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