Following the announcement of the 2017 Chicago Theatre Award winners last Wednesday, The Hawk Chicago reached out to the artists who took the top prizes! 8,000 people voted in celebration of an incredible season of Chicago theatre. Check out the winners' responses below!
From Redtwist Theatre, winner of "Best Production of a Play" for Death of a Salesman
"Redtwist is very grateful to The Hawk Chicago for acknowledging excellence in Chicago theatre, and we sincerely appreciate this award for Death Of A Salesman. Our production was one of the most exciting and gratifying plays we’ve ever produced at Redtwist. First, it’s the American masterwork as cautionary tale regarding the pitfalls and minefields in our quest for the American Dream, and since it's about the timeless search for success, happiness and fulfillment, the play will be relevant and powerful hundreds of years from now. Second, it’s such a joy—and so rare—to have lots of terrific ensemble members in the same cast for any given production. In Salesman, there were nine company members, along with a good number of colleagues in our extended Redtwist family. Of course, the icing on the cake is being directed by the one-and-only Steve Scott. And even though we were doing a scorchingly painful drama, everyone had an absolute blast. A hearty congrats to Adam on his award, and many thanks to the entire Salesman team, and a special thanks to The Hawk Chicago."
From Adam Bitterman, winner of Best Actor in a Play for Death of a Salesman at Redtwist Theatre:
"Thank you to The Hawk Chicago for creating these awards and to all who participated and voted. Thanks to the wonderful cast and crew of Death of a Salesman, including our phenomenal "Willy," Brian Parry, our awesome director Steve Scott, and the loving audiences who filled the seats night after night. And thank you to Redtwist Theatre for their unwavering desire to create vital and timely art in a uniquely intimate and immediate away. I'm so honored and grateful for this award."
Kevin Adams, winner of Best Lighting Design for The Spongebob Musical from Broadway in Chicago:
"What a treat and great honor to receive an award from my peers. Thank you very very much!"
From Sydney Charles, winner of Best Actor in a Musical for The Wiz from Kokandy Productions:
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am beyond humbled to receive this award for Best Actor In A Musical. I stepped out on faith and a dream last year to pursue acting full time and it has been one of the scariest and most fulfilling experiences of my life. This award given with love and respect from my peers in the theater community and supporters of my work, helps me realize and confirms that I made the right decision. I am overwhelmed and overjoyed and will continue to do my best to uplift the art form that I have embraced and made my sole purpose for living."
Josh Sobel, Artistic Director of Haven Theatre, winner of the Trailblazer Award:
"We are extremely honored to be the first ever recipient of The Hawk Chicago's Trailblazer Award. This award... is a wonderful reminder of some of the values critical to building a company on a foundation of respect, integrity and inclusion, values that have become all the more important in our current era. This award serves as the best kind of reinforcement of these values and our commitment to continue making them inextricable from our identity into the Future. Thank you to The Hawk, the Chicago theatre community and the incredible artists and fellow administrators who have worked so diligently to build this kind of culture into the fabric of our company."
Arnel Sancianco, winner of Best Scenic Design for The Wiz from Kokandy Productions
"Thank you all for your votes and continued support for designers of color. I truly feel recognized by the Chicago theatre community and I hope this award paves the way for more diversity on both sides of the proscenium. Thank you Lili-Anne Brown for putting all your faith in me, giving me my first professional jobs in Chicago and filling me up with your inspiration and glorious support. Thank you Kokandy Productions for giving me a stage to design on and making a show like The Wiz part of your season. This is the first of many steps towards helping diversify our craft and getting a better portrayal of our population into theatre. Designers of color are not just found, we are created. We are created through outreach, through representation, through proper forms of cultural appreciation. This award is more than a celebration of my work, but a direct call to action to that young queer kid of color watching theatre for the first time: for any person who tells you no, let this be proof that you can. Thank you."
Savanna Rae, winner of Best Solo Performance for Daughters of Ire, presented by Beverly Arts Center and Other Theatre
"I don't have adequate words for how honored and thankful I am for these awards. To everyone who voted, I can't thank you enough. Bringing Daughters of Ire to the Beverly Arts Center was a privilege and a joy. I am beyond grateful to the Beverly community and to the Beverly Arts Center, especially Shellee Frazee, Colleen O'Connor, Tim Stompanato, and Jonathan Moeller. Thank you for sharing these stories with me and for making me so welcome in your beautiful neighborhood. The amount of people who have helped make Daughters the story it is are far too numerous to name... but I'll try. To the Daughters design team: thank you for your insight and artistry. You are brilliant. To Bryan Renaud and Kelly Howe: without you this show would still be a fledgling idea in my head. Thank you for believing in it before I did. To Other Theatre: you took a chance on a kid with a script and for that I'll always be indebted. And, of course, to Carin Silkaitis... I wouldn't be the woman I am, much less the storyteller I am, without you. I love you. And finally, all the love and thanks in the world to my family: my devoted dad, my fearless sister, and my sweet brother. But especially to my mother and my grandma, who taught their ire-filled daughters that stories matter, that we were created to create, and that ire can and must be channeled into action. May I be even half the woman you are."
Carin Silkaitis, Director of Daughters of Ire, winner of Best Special Event:
"I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to continue working on a play I love so much. Thank you to the Beverly Arts Center for being such gracious hosts, and thank you to the incomparable Savanna Rae for her willingness to continue working, revising, and re-visiting these women with me. You are a stunning writer, a gracious collaborator, and a ferocious talent. Let's keep playing with Daughters of Ire for the few decades. Directing you is pure joy."
Tommy Rivera-Vega, winner of Best Director and Best Choreographer for Strangest Things! from Random Acts:
"Thank you to The Hawk Chicago for the recognition! Thank you to the Chicago theatre community for the votes. Thank you to Random Acts for the opportunity. To the amazing cast, Bryan, and Emily - congratulations! It was a pleasure to work with you all. You're the real champs."
Virginia Varland, winner of Best Costume Design for The Wiz from Kokandy Productions
"Congratulations to all who worked on Kokandy Productions' The Wiz. I am proud to have been part of this production with one of the most incredible groups of artists I have had the privilege of being in the same room with. When nominations rolled out, it was heartwarming to see greater diversity...through The Hawk Chicago's 2017 Chicago Theatre Awards the Chicago theatre community brings well deserved recognition to a diverse community of artists and shows that Chicago values their work."
The Hawk was a common name for the cold, winter wind in Chicago, possibly even predating "the Windy City." Additionally, a hawk can see up to eight times more clearly than the human eye.