The Jeff Awards to Honor Robert Falls With Special Equity Theater Award

The 55th anniversary Equity Jeff Awards will take place October 2, 2023, at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook, IL.

By: Sep. 22, 2023
The Jeff Awards to Honor Robert Falls With Special Equity Theater Award

Recognizing his visionary direction and impact on Chicago theater, the Joseph Jefferson Awards will honor director Robert Falls at the organization’s 55th Anniversary Equity Awards ceremony Monday, October 2nd at Drury Lane Theatre with this year’s Special Award. Falls has been a local and national emissary for Chicago theater as a director, producer and advocate.
 
His directing credits and influence extend across the Chicago performing arts community including The Goodman Theatre, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Court Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Remains Theater, Wisdom Bridge Theatre and many others as well as to Broadway and beyond. His leadership on boards and committees for the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Alliance and the League of Chicago Theatres among many professional entities has created an enduring legacy in the arts.


American Theatre magazine has called Falls one of the country’s “most powerful” theater artists. During a career that has spanned more than four decades he has received multiple honors including a Tony Award, Obie Award, Helen Hayes Award and 11 Jeff Awards. He is also the recipient of prestigious recognition such as the Savva Morozov Diamond Award from the Moscow Art Theater, the O’Neill Medallion presented by the Eugene O’Neill Society, and the Illinois Arts Council Governor’s Award, in addition to being inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2015. Under his artistic leadership at the Goodman, the organization received the 1992 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre and in 2003 was named “the number one regional theater in the U.S.” by Time magazine.  

An Illinois native, Falls launched his professional career as a director and producer within months of graduating from the University of Illinois. His first Chicago directing project, Moonchildren (Apollo Productions) earned him his first Jeff Award. With his second Jeff Award the following year for his Wisdom Bridge Theatre production of Of Mice and Men, he was named the theater’s artistic director. For a decade at Wisdom Bridge, he made a significant contribution to Off-Loop theater, building a reputation as an innovative director with a wide thematic and stylistic range and beginning a long time collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy.
 
In 1986, Falls become the artistic director for the Goodman, Chicago’s largest non-for-profit theater company. During his tenure, he directed more than 40 productions and produced/co-produced hundreds of plays including more than 150 world premieres. Additionally, he helped transfer more than two dozen shows to Broadway which earned over 20 Tony Awards. His productions of Eugene O’Neill plays, all starring Brian Dennehy, were presented on Broadway, as well as at the Stratford Festival and at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. His Tony Award winning production of Sir Elton John and Tim Rices’ Aida continues to be produced around the world. Under Falls’ leadership, the Goodman also received more than 160 Jeff Awards. His retirement at the end of the 2022-23 season culminated with his final show as Goodman’s artistic director in a new production of Anton Chekov’s drama A Cherry Orchard, which has received five Jeff Award nominations.
 
The 55th anniversary Equity Jeff Awards will take place October 2, 2023, at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook, IL. The ceremony will be directed by Johanna Mckenzie Miller, hosted by Lorenzo Rush, Jr., along with announcer Janet Ulrich Brooks, and with musical direction by Carolyn Jean Brady.  


ABOUT THE JEFF AWARDS

The Jeff Awards is one of the most active and engaged theater awards organizations in the country evaluating hundreds of theatrical productions annually and holding two awards ceremonies highlighting work over the past Equity and Non-Equity seasons. Through our recommendations, awards, and honors we help foster the growth of companies, encourage artists, bring new appreciation for diverse storytelling, and cultivate civic pride in the achievements of the Chicago theater community. Originally chartered in 1968 to recognize Equity productions, the Jeff Awards Non-Equity Wing was established in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre. For more information, visit www.jeffawards.org.

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