Feature News

North Central’s partnership with Chicago theater recognized in 50th annual Jeff Award nominations

Sep 21, 2018

Twenty-four world-premiere plays and musicals are among the nominees for the 2018 Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards, which recognize exceptional theatrical productions in the Chicagoland area. Among the 178 nominations in 31 categories, North Central stands alone as the only college amid the competition.

The College captured a total of seven award nominations, the most of any single production, with “Machinal,” a play co-produced by North Central and The Greenhouse Theater Center.

As part of the partnership, director Jacob Harvey of The Greenhouse Theater held auditions at North Central and filled the cast’s understudy roles with nine students. Behind the curtain, five more students assisted as members of the production crew.

Taking center stage of the production were Maddie Burke ’17, Maddie DePorter ’15 and Carin Silkaitis, associate professor of theatre and catalyst of the partnership, playing ensemble roles and the mother of the lead character respectively.

The collaboration between North Central College and The Greenhouse Theater Center opened so many doors for our students,” said Silkaitis. “It truly bridged the gap between collegiate and professional work.”

North Central’s name on the awards might come as a surprise for some since collegiate productions aren’t typically represented in the Equity Jeff awards. The awards honor productions under union contracts that are exclusive to professional theaters, but the unique partnership with Greenhouse made it possible for North Central to make the list.

North Central College's name appearing seven times in the Equity Jeff Awards nominations this year was so exciting for our students,” said Silkaitis. “It's extraordinary that we are nominated at this level, and we are so thankful to Jacob Harvey and the Greenhouse Theater Center for this partnership.”

Students, alumni and faculty were part of six different nominated productions.

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s “Macbeth” was nominated for four awards, including best large production play, and featured three North Central students as ensemble interns.

LiSean McElrath ’21, Dylan Obrochta ’21 and Alexander James Poe ’20, continued a long tradition of student interns at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre that began 15 years ago, and has seen more than 40 students perform at the nationally recognized theatre.

Rounding out student nominees is Ariana Burks ’17, who was in the ensemble cast of the Writers Theatre world premiere of “Trevor the Musical.” “Trevor” was nominated for four awards, including best new work.

Alumnus Garrett Lutz ’12 played a lead in Paramount Theatre’s “Cabaret,” which was nominated for best large musical, and Tommy Rivera Vega ’11 was a lead in Goodman Theatre’s “Support Group for Men,” which was nominated for best new work and best play ensemble.

Nik Kmiecik ’15 and Doug Pawlik ’13 both performed in “Once” at the Paramount Theatre, which also received two nominations.

Silkaitis was also recognized for directing Silk Road Rising’s production of “Through the Elevated Line,” which was nominated for best new work.