The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee will bestow the 2015 Equity Special Award on actors Paula Scrofano and John Reeger at the Jeff Awards ceremony on October 5, in recognition of their theatrical career contributions to the Chicago theatre scene over the past five decades. Paula and John are consummate professionals who have have enriched the Chicago community with signature techniques that have brought laughter, tears, chills and thrills to audiences over the years. This dynamic duo met, studied their craft together, married, raised a family, and based their entire Equity careers in Chicago. To many of their peers, they serve as an example that even in this day and age it is possible to have a successful career, a family and a life in Chicago theatre.
Paula Scrofano and John Reeger are no strangers to Jeff Awards. Paula has received two awards for Principal Actress and an impressive 18 nominations; John has a Principal Actor award and is the playwright of the holiday favorite The Christmas Schooner, which has received numerous nominations from its many productions.
Paula primarily performs in musicals, John in plays, though in their 44 years of marriage, Paula and John have appeared together in 48 productions – nearly a third of the more than 150 shows in which each of them has appeared, the vast majority of those in Chicago.
It all goes back to The Boston Strangler. Paula and John met in a freshman class at Northwestern. He was shy, so she made the first move, which led to going to a nearby theatre, where the film was not exactly romantic. “I figured if I hadn’t scared her off by taking her to The Boston Strangler, she must be pretty cool,” says John.
That was February 1, and by Valentine’s Day, Paula says, “I knew I would never go out with anyone else again.” During their junior year, they were in rehearsal for a play directed by Frank Galati when they announced their engagement and married that summer.
After graduation in 1972, Paula and John toured with a folk group, then returned to Chicago in 1974 and both earned their Equity cards in a Happy Medium Theatre revue called What’s a Nice Country Like You Doing in a State Like This?
What’s a Nice Country Like You Doing in a State Like This? 1974
Paula says, “Some of our favorite theatrical performances are I Do, I Do (we did four productions of it), My Fair Lady, On the Twentieth Century, and James Joyce’s The Dead.”
In Chicago, “We became part of a living community of actors that supported each other, “says John. “We wanted to do our best work, earn our health insurance, and raise our children as we had been raised. We somehow got our kids through college, own our home, are still happily married and are debt free…it’s a tribute to the Chicago theatre scene of the past forty years as much as it is to us.”
The 47th Annual Jeff Awards ceremony honoring excellence in professional theatre produced within the immediate Chicago area will be held on Monday, October 5th, at Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. The ceremony, directed by Michael Weber and produced by Equity Chair Merril Prager, will feature live performances from nominated musicals and revues. Emceeing the festivities will be multi-talented award winning performers Cheryl Lynn Bruce and E. Faye Butler.
The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 55 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre, the Jeff Awards Committee is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors. The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theatres and theatre artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and civic pride in the achievements of the theatre community.