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‘August’ sweeps Jefferson Awards

Steppenwolf production sweeps with six wins

“August: Osage County,” the family drama by Tracy Letts currently previewing on Broadway, surprised no one by dominating Chicago’s legit kudos, racking up six Joseph Jefferson Awards Monday night.

Jeff committee recognized the Steppenwolf Theater Company production across multiple play categories. It won for production, new work, director (Anna Shapiro), ensemble, lead actress (Deanna Dunagan), and set (Todd Rosenthal).

Porchlight Music Theater also had a big night, taking a total of five awards in musical categories, four for its scaled-down revival of “Ragtime.” Show took honors for production, director (L. Walter Stearns), music direction (Eugene Dizon), and supporting actor (Aaron Graham). “Ragtime” transferred from Porchlight’s small home to the 400-seat Apollo for a commercial run.

Two of the most uniformly praised shows of the year received honors for new work: Joshua Schmidt and Jason Loewith took home the new musical prize for Next Theater’s chamber opera version of “The Adding Machine,” while Mary Zimmerman’s “Argonautika: The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts” won for new adaptation. Originally produced at the Chicago’s Lookingglass Theater, “Argonautika” will be staged again at New Jersey’s McCarter Theater in March.

Zimmerman’s “Mirror of the Invisible World,” a re-mounting at the Goodman Theater of her take on an ancient Persian epic, took home three Jeffs, for costume design (Mara Blumenfeld), lighting (John Culbert), and original incidental music (Michael Bodeen).

The Marriott’s revised take on dance show “All Night Strut!” also tallied three awards, for revue, director of a revue (Marc Robin) and choreography (Robin, Beverly Durand, Mark Stuart Eckstein, Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi and Sasha Vargas).

In addition to Dunagan, acting kudos went to Ben Carlson for the lead role in “Hamlet” at Chicago Shakespeare. In the musical categories, trophies went to Ernestine Jackson for the Court Theater’s revival of “Raisin” and to David Hess for Marriott Theater’s “Shenandoah.” Hess currently plays the title character in the national tour of “Sweeney Todd.”

Matt Sax, whose one-man musical “Clay” had an extended run at the Lookingglass second space before finding a slot at the Kirk Douglas in Los Angeles, shared the award for solo performance with Lance Stuart Baker, who was recognized for “Thom Paine (based on nothing)” at Theater Wit.

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