May , 2018

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CHICAGO, IL–The 20th Annual Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration program will take place on Monday, April 15, at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.  

The Michael Merritt Awards And Endowment Fund honors the memory of a brilliant designer and inspirational teacher. The Michael Merritt Award, a national award unique in its emphasis on excellence in both design and collaboration, has been presented annually since 1994 to outstanding professional theatrical designers. The Endowment Fund recognizes and encourages the work of young professionals and students through a national design exposition and prizes to promising theatrical design students.  


5:00-7:00 p.m.
Showcasing the works of Chicago-area emerging theatrical designers and graduating design students from Chicago’s best theatrical design programs and attended by many of Chicago’s artistic directors, production managers, and industry professionals.

7:00-8:00 p.m.
A discussion moderated by Hedy Weiss featuring the award recipients exploring current issues of interest to professional and student designers.

8:15-8:45 p.m.
Presentation of The Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award, our four academic prize recipients, the Prizes for Best Exhibit and The Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration.  Also this year, tributes to Joe Drummond, Chris Phillips, Michael Maggio and Michael Merritt.

Food, wine, beer and fellowship until 10:00 p.m.

Gallery of photos from last year: 2012 Merritt Awards Photos. http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001NuRQ8f-OstZm_07J5L4zCNjN2lTn3291BSeLJg5Trfbz_kcmlv7NqpT6KBS4CYNqgWRuoZa79eeDqfYuua8q_qWtTgYnVOnIAO18a_eFDfGEyjoqkTtIMTBVvD3tzX2YmDj7RolTELHpLgLmpLuK7lsAsP_dBSjSD34LkmwSpUQsMg5Xmmv_pB1TAgdOi91EtCGFUlStWzKQDzHkFogp2KsbdkC-je_65EP7Ogsm1Ts=

 The Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration

20th Annual Recipient: Costume Designer, Jess Goldstein

 Jess recently designed costumes for Tracy Lett’s adaptation of THREE SISTERS at Steppenwolf.

Scenic Designer Walt Spangler his former student, collaborator and close friend will present him the award.

Jess Goldstein is a native New Yorker, educated at Boston University and the Yale School of Drama. A 2005 recipient of the Tony Award for Lincoln Center Theater’s The Rivals, he has enjoyed a 35 year career designing for theater, opera, film and television. 

Jess is equally renowned for his contributions to new work as well as classic plays on and off Broadway as well as at all of the major regional companies throughout the US. 

Included among the premieres he has designed are the original productions of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, David Auburn’s Proof, Terrence McNally’s Love! Valour! Compassion!, Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out, Craig Lucas’ The Dying Gaul and Donald Margulies’ Dinner With Friends and Sight Unseen. Among his classic theater credits are The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino and Henry IV with Kevin Kline, both of which garnered Jess Tony nominations.

He is currently represented on Broadway by two long-running hit musicals Jersey Boys, in which his designs have also appeared in 10 national and international companies, and Disney’s Newsies. 

He has designed operas for all the major American companies including II Trittico for the Metropolitan Opera, Dead Man Walking for NYC Opera, Heart of a Soldier for San Francisco Opera, The End of the Affair for Houston Grand Opera and Agrippina for Glimmerglass Opera. 

Film and TV designs include A Walk on the Moondirected by Tony Goldwyn, The Substance of Fire directed by Dan Sullivan, Love!Valour!Compassion directed by Joe Mantello and the PBS telecasts of Talking With and Far East. 

Jess has served as a Professor of Design at the Yale School of Drama since 1990 and proudly counts many of his former students as illustrious colleagues working along side him today. He shares homes in New York City and Asbury Park, NJ with his partner Kim Powers, a novelist and writer for ABC News.

 The Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award   

This annual award recognizes and supports the work of an outstanding emerging theatrical designer within the Chicago area. A $2000 honorarium is given annually to an emerging scenic, costume, lighting, sound, or other media designer in acknowledgment of excellence in artistry and collaboration.

 Sarah Hughey, Lighting Designer

 Presented by her collaborator, teaching colleague, and close friend, scenic designer Collette Pollard

 Originally from southwest Missouri, Sarah Hugey has lived and worked in Chicago since 2005.  In Chicago, she has designed lighting for productions with Redmoon (The Elephant and the Whale), Steep Theatre (Moment, Festen, Parlour Song), Writers’ Theatre (Hamlet), The House Theatre of Chicago (Wilson Wants It All, The Iron Stag King Pt. 1), Chicago Children’s Theatre (The Houdini Box, Goodnight Moon), Northlight Theatre (Black Pearl Sings!), Chicago Dramatists (The Kid Thing w/ About Face), Lifeline (Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Mariette in Ecstasy), A Red Orchid Theatre (The New Electric Ballroom, Not a Game for Boys), The Gift (Suicide, Incorporated), Seanachai (Dancing at Lughnasa, Mojo Mickybo), and Griffin Theatre (On the Shore of the Wide World).  She has twice designed lighting for Lookingglass Theatre productions with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Peter and the Wolf, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella).  In January she joined members from Sojourn Theatre (Portland) and The Team (NYC) at Kansas City Rep to workshop their ongoing project Waiting for You.  She is the Resident Lighting Designer for Silk Road Rising, where she designed Scorched (2010 Equity Jeff Award for Lighting Design), Yellowface, Night over Erzinga, and the upcoming Lake Effect, and Invasion!. Since 2011 Sarah has been on the creative team for interdisciplinary performance collective Yellow House.  Sarah holds an MFA from Northwestern University and teaches at Northwestern and Columbia College Chicago. 

 Academic Prizes

We have been able to increase our support to 2000.00 this year.

 The John Murbach Columbia College Chicago Prize 

 Delia Ridenour is a graduating senior from Columbia College Chicago, with a major in Costume Design and minor in Small Business Management. She is thrilled to have received this award, and to begin her career as a young costume designer. She is currently designing The Photographer, directed by John Green and Ann Boyd, (Opens April 17th.) Her previous works include: The Pillowman, The Jungalbook, The Glory of Living, The Sandbox, As You Like It, and How I Learned to Drive. Over the summer Delia interned at The Space, a theatre in London, where she learned much about theatre management. Originally from Ohio, she plans on continuing costume design in Chicago, with the hopes of one day owning her own theatre company.

 The Theatre School at Depaul University Prize 

 Jack Hawkins is a sound designer from Kansas City currently completing his third year at The Theatre School at DePaul University. His work has been heard around the school in, Kitchen Sink, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Spring Awakening, I am Bradley Manning, Synergy and Woyzeck. His designs have been heard professionally around the Chicago area in The Altruists, The Train Play, Crave, Jack’s Precious Moments and Little Shop of Horrors.  He has also worked in such venues as, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Stage 773 and The Mercury Theatre. Jack is very honored to be receiving this prize and is looking forward to what the future will hold.

 The Loyola University Chicago Prize 

 Sharon Limpert is currently a senior at Loyola University Chicago and intends to pursue a career in costuming. In the past few years she has worked on various construction, draping and millinery projects for both Loyola’s Main Stage and Second Stage productions. Most recently she designed the costumes for Loyola’s production of Almost, Maine. Sharon has also worked as a wardrobe supervisor for The House Theatre of Chicago. This summer she will be returning to Montana Shakespeare in the Parks to work as a draper on their production of Henry V. And in the fall she will begin her first semester at Carnegie Mellon’s MFA program in Costume Production. Sharon would like to thank her professors, family and friends for their support.

 The Northwestern University Prize

 Costume Designer Stephanie Cluggish is in her third year of the MFA program at Northwestern University. Recent design credits include Nickel and Dimed, Twelfth Night, The Glass Menagerie, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (Northwestern University); The Rake’s Progress (Music Academy of the West, CA). Upcoming projects include a new devised play directed by Michael Rohd: How To End Poverty in 90 Minutes with 199 People You May or May Not Know at Northwestern; The Drunken City and The Internationalist as part of the Next Up Series at the Steppenwolf Garage, and a new production of The Magic Flute at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA. Ms. Cluggish received her BFA from Emerson College in Boston, MA. 

 The Michael Philippi Prize for Best Exhibit: Professional Designer 

This year the prize is 500.00 !

Emerging professional designers are encouraged to exhibit  http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001NuRQ8f-OstZZpcVCh3Nrek–p49BgfEr0JjmacqUAZvCRCT6Iz8H0DycgJBEzSz8QsLrqGTYt9KDE8XaROtXKqbSI4kxkbG8ligtHkPbg99wmbwPu7a_uAQAaPvpbqzJCPYXs5NKWVex6ChCaxkYrJ7a3a4-SlA3

Sponsorships that cover admission, food, drink and parking are available for emerging exhibitor and emerging director, producers and production managers  http://merrittawards.com/2013-event/attendance-sponsorships/

 Prize for Best Exhibit: Student Designer 

This year the prize is 500.00 !

Student designers are encouraged to apply to exhibit  http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001NuRQ8f-OstZqRxZYqRe9O2PRxm8PI0amARYYMoXCWHs_BsiSsO6zpm7gI4pPpUg8VfHpuLw9pwhuJ6l-24lHb0b3ht1of5NIjSc8E2sEVfT8kuuxkXKYuZENQ_9S3QEMNOPvrDSC2stfGyXFvzeInFQnwEU1Ba7E

Sponsorships that cover admission, food, drink and parking are available.


Student – $ 5.00

General Admission – $ 20.00

Book tickets online at merrittawards.com

General Public is welcome.  

Food, wine and beer are included in the ticket price.  Funds go to support the awards endowment fund.

Rob Milburn

Michael Merritt Awards Committee, Chair


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