50th Anniversary Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony Reveals Production Team

The 2023 Non-Equity Jeff Awards nominees include 144 theater artists across 24 categories of excellence in theater production among shows from 32 companies.

By: Feb. 21, 2024
50th Anniversary Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony Reveals Production Team
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At the milestone 50th Anniversary Joseph Jefferson Awards for Non-Equity Theater, more than 100 recognized artists and new emerging faces and voices will be honored in a program under the artistic direction of Adrian Abel Azevedo with music direction under Dr. Michael McBride, both reprising their roles after last year’s popular show. Co-hosts of the night are actor-singers Neala Barron and Ari Gato. They are joined by Frank Nall as announcer. Parker Guidry also returns to welcome nominees on the red carpet preceding the program. Johnny Buranosky, Jeff Awards Non-Equity Wing Chair, and AJ Wright, former Jeff Awards member, are producers of the awards show.  

The 2023 Non-Equity Jeff Awards nominees include 144 theater artists across 24 categories of excellence in theater production among shows from 32 companies. Four companies are recogized for with more than 10 nominations each including Kokandy Productions (17 from two productions), Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre (16), and Invictus Theatre Company and Refracted Theatre Company (both receiving 10).  “Tambo  & Bones” from Refracted Theater Company drew the largest number of nominations for a single production (10). Among New Work, eight world premiere plays are in award consideration. 

The ceremony will be held Monday, March 25th 7:00pm (CDT) at Park West in Chicago. The show will be preceded by a red carpet walk featuring award nominees and theater community members beginning at 6:00pm. 

Adrian Abel Azevedo 

As ceremony director, Adrian is thrilled to return for the the 50th Anniversary Non-Equity Jeff Awards. At last year’s ceremony, he was nominated for directing the multiple nominated production of Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical (Kokandy Productions). His work as a director, producer, concert curator and teaching artist is well known to the Chicagoland area. He has collaborated with companies including Goodman Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Steep Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Teatro Vista and Music Theatre Works. His partnerships with other national arts organizations that include Latiné Musical Theatre Lab (NYC), AMAS Music Theatre Company (NYC), and Rose Center Theatre (OC). Adrian is an Artistic Associate with Kokandy Productions and an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago.

Michael McBride

Dr. Michael McBride is a Jeff Award-winning music director, internationally-performed composer, performer and educator. He is the composer/lyricist for The Boys and the Nuns, which recently had a workshop produced by Cal State Fullerton in collaboration with the Latiné Music Theatre Lab. As a Music Director/Supervisor he has worked theaters such as BoHo, The Goodman, Drury Lane, Music Theatre Works, Theo Ubique, Porchlight Music Theatre, PrideArts, Loyola University Chicago, Timber Lake Playhouse, Engeman Theater (NY), as well as The Cabaret Project in Chicago, St. Louis,and Lake Geneva. He is the music director at A Church 4 Me MCC in Chicago and has served on faculty of Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, and North Park University.  

Neala Barron

A multiple Jeff Awards nominee, Neala is an actor, singer and performing artist whose work spans from stage and film to television, print and commercial industries. For the last decade, she has performed with Porchlight Music Theatre, Theo Ubique, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Kokandy Productions, First Floor Theatre, RavenTheatre, Firebrand Theatre, Griffin Theatre, BoHo Theatre, The Hypocrites, and many others. On TV she has appeared in Chicago Med (NBC) and Night Sky (Amazon). She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is represented by DDO Chicago. When not onstage, Neala manages a team at a boutique staffing agency where she champions artists in finding meaningful employment to help support their artistic careers.

Ari Gato

Ari Gato is the Drag persona of Chicago actor/director Darren Patin. They have worked with many companies around Chicago, including Kokandy Productions, Raven Theatre, Mercury Theatre and Court Theatre. Most recently, they appeared as Cliff in Cabaret at Porchlight Music Theatre and assistant directed School of Rock at Paramount Theatre. As Ari, they host Ari Gato’s Anything Goes Karaoke every Monday and Roscoe’s Drag Race every Tuesday at Roscoe’s Tavern. Ari is the winner of Entertainer of the Year 2023 at The Gaggys, the First Annual Chicago Nightlife Award show.

Frank Nall

Frank has received numerous Jeff Award nominations and been a part of award winning productions. A member of the Artistic Home Ensemble, he was last seen in its production of malapert love as Phischbreath. Other Chicago credits include Giles Corey in The Crucible (Invictus Theatre), Elder Jay in The Christians (Citadel Theatre), Jay in the Lookingglass Theatre Company production Her Honor Jane Byrne,  Frankenstein (Jeff Remy Bumppo Theatre Company) and in Traitor as Howard (A Red Orchid Theatre). Film and TV credits include Spygame, Empire, Boss, and assorted commercials. Frank received a Master in Fine Arts from the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign.

Parker Guidry

Originally from south Louisiana, Parker is a genderfluid actor and performer based out of Chicago. They return as the popular Non-Equity Awards Red Carpet host welcoming nominees and theater community leaders. Their work can be seen on screen in Work in Progress (Showtime) and ChristmasAgain?! (Disney Channel). Chicago theater credits include Plankton in The SpongeBob Musical, Pythio in Head Over Heels (Kokandy Productions), Lady Larken in Once Upon a Mattress (TheoUbique), and  Lucas in If/Then (Brown PaperBox). 


Tickets are $70 (includes $55.30 ticket + required fees) for general admission and the group rate for 10 or more is $58.30 ($46 ticket + required fees). To purchase tickets and learn more about this program and the Jeff Awards, visit www.jeffawards.org