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Chicago Wicked May Receive Jefferson Recommendation

The rapturously-received Chicago sit-down production of Wicked may cause a stir if it receives a recommendation for the Jefferson Awards.

Since 1969, the Jeffersons have honored excellence in theater produced in Chicago by Chicago producers; commerical and non-profit shows alike are eligible. Productions of the city's predominately musical theater houses (such as the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire in the north suburbs, Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace in the western suburbs, the new Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower, the not-for-profit Theatre at the Center in adjoining Munster, Indiana and the NFP Porchlight Music Theatre Chicago) are most frequently cited by the Jeffersons. While Wicked's cast consists of at least five cast members who either hail from or used to live in the Windy City (such as Northwestern alum Ana Gasteyer), it's not as much of a Chicago production as some might like.

When a Chicago-area show is recommended, "Five members of the 45-member committee...attend the press opening of a production, along with two members of a separate committee consisting of working theater artists and designers. The judges then call in their votes the next morning without discussion. If five of the seven judges believe that the production or an element of the production is worthy, at least four agree on one element and at least three agree on a second element, the show is recommended," writes Mark Jeffries. Despite the Jefferson Awards' history of being fair to smaller productions (especially in design categories), it's likely that Chicago actresses in other productions will fear a victory (among others) for Gasteyer, who is earning raves as Elphaba in the show. If recommended, too, there is always the chance that Wicked could flounce away with Best Musical.

A number of other Jefferson-recommended musicals, considered by some to be more legitimately local than Wicked, are playing (or recently played) in Chicago theatres. Among the shows are
Theatre at the Center's Do I Hear a Waltz? at Theatre at the Center and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Marriott Theatre, At Last: A Tribute to Etta James, at the Black Ensemble Theatre (which will probably compete in the revue category), Tintypes and Of Thee I Sing at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Sweeney Todd at the Porchlight Theatre, the Chicago premiere of The Full Monty at the Drury Lane Water Tower, The Immigrant at the Northlight Tower, the new works Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky, at the Goodman Theatre, Hillbilly Antigone at the Lookingglass Theatre Company and the commercial production Diva Diaries, which played at the Lakeshore Theatre.

Wicked's Chicago production also stars Kate Reinders as Glinda, Rondi Reed as Madame Morrible and Gene Weygandt as the Wizard. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards, visit www.jeffawards.org.

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