Theatre Alumni Honored at Jeff Awards
Jeff Award Winner Mariann Mayberry featured on Steppenwolf's
poster for Good People
Nov. 14, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan was well represented at the 45th Annual Jeff
Equity Awards for Chicago Theatre held at Drury Lane Oakbrook on November 4. Veteran
Steppenwolf actress, Mariann Mayberry, Class of 1987, was honored for her performance
as a principal actress in David Lindsey-Abaire’s play, Good People.
Mayberry, a native of Springfield, Mo., has performed with Steppenwolf since 1989,
eventually becoming an official member of the company in 1993. She has accrued more
than 20 credits in their productions, most recently The March (2012) and August: Osage County (2007). She was also nominated for Jeff Awards for her performances in Hysteria (1999) and Time of My Life (1995). Mayberry has appeared on Broadway in Metamorphoses and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and also has numerous Off-Broadway, film and television credits.
“The Jeff Committee has given me a lovely gift - a gift that says keep going, and
keep creating. For that, I thank them,” said Mayberry.
David Rice also accepted the Jeff Award for New Adaptation, as well as the award for
Original Music in a Play for his musical version of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. The show premiered at First Folio Theater, which he founded with his wife, Alison
Vesely, Class of 1979. While Vesely serves as artistic director and co-founder of
First Folio, she says she had minimal involvement in the actual production of Cymbeline, but rather was preparing to direct her own production of The Rainmaker for later in the summer. Coincidentally, that production starred another IWU alum,
Hayley L. Rice, Class of 2004, and has received rave reviews and a Jeff Recommendation.
However, it is considered part of the 2014 Jeff Season and will not be up for a nomination
until next year. For Cymbeline, Alison assisted with casting, conducted “Folio Method training” and was "verse nurse.”
The production was directed by Michael Goldberg, one of the company’s artistic associates,
however Vesely was instrumental in the development of her husband’s script as it went
through the daunting process of re-writes and readings before its production.
First Folio's Production of Cymbeline
(Pictured: Ryan Czerwonko, Kate McDermott, Ronald Keaton, Tyler Rich; Photo Credit:
“We are very, very proud of the production and will be marketing it to other theatrical
producers around the country,” said Vesely.
First Folio has a third IWU alumna in their group of artistic associates, Melanie
Keller, Class of 1997, who will star in the world premiere of Salvage by Michigan playwright, Joseph Zettelmaier, in the spring.
In addition, recent IWU graduate, Michael Holding, Class of 2012, interned for First
Folio’s production of The Merchant of Venice, playing a series of small roles “excellently,” according to Vesely. Holding was
later cast in the company’s fall 2012 production of The Madness of Poe: A Love Story. When the actor he was understudying for was injured during an invited dress rehearsal,
Holding took his place, playing three major roles (the Madman in The Tell-Tale Heart, the Prisoner in The Pit and the Pendulum and Fortunato in The Masque of the Red Death) for the first preview the following night and continued in those roles for the rest
of the run.
“We have often had IWU alums work with our company,” Vesely notes. “They come to us
with terrific training and preparation for the professional world of theater. We are
all very proud to be IWU drama alumni!”
Perspective on a successful career in Chicago Theater from Mariann Mayberry:
“I've been very lucky. I stumbled upon an internship at the Steppenwolf Theatre in
Chicago during "Short Term" of my junior year at Wesleyan. I Xeroxed plays all day,
every day, for the entire month. I would go back to my apartment (five girls in three
bedrooms) just weeping from the monotony, however, Steppenwolf asked me to come back
after my senior year to do whatever they needed. Eventually, I was allowed to start
acting in plays and then I just never left. In 1993, I was asked to join the Steppenwolf
ensemble -- the only job security an actor can have really besides winning the lottery
or becoming a film star. Once you become an ensemble member you're in it for life
-- an unheard of opportunity, really -- place, a home, where plays are chosen for
and by and ensemble of 43 actors/writers/directors and where our repeated involvement
is necessary and valued. I've been in almost 30 Steppenwolf productions. I couldn't
“This is not an easy profession. Sometimes, though, after years of continued hard
work, sacrifices, public embarrassments, professional humiliations, rejections, sometimes
you're given an enormous gift. You're given a play that shifts your life. A great
play and an amazing character that speaks to you on such a deep level that people
hear you, and her, and the play and say ‘That was good. I have been affected by that.’
That combination was GOOD PEOPLE by David Lindsay-Abaire. The Jeff Committee noticed
and acknowledged the production and myself. They've given me a lovely gift- a gift
that says keep going, and keep creating. For that, I thank them.”
“An actor's legacy disappears as they speak. It's momentary. An audience has to
be there to experience it and acknowledge that something actually even happened. For
them, the only evidence is the program and the feeling and thoughts as they leave
the space. The only tactile evidence of my legacy, to me, is the newspaper clippings
my mother puts in a box and some B-roll footage for the theatre's advertising department.
My niece and nephew will never know all the work I've done. I can't hand them my
performance of "Ophelia" when I was 29. Why do we, as actors, do this? Why are we
okay with constant disappearing acts? Well, I hope that I'm living a life not just
as an entertainer, but as someone who has held up a lot of mirrors and touched someone
in some way that has shifted their life, and in turn has shifted society -- hopefully
for the better. I hope that I’m doing my small part to better the life of someone,
and then hopefully, their better life has shifted someone else’s, and so on, and so
on, and so on.”
Contact: Hannah Dhue, ’15, (309) 556-3181, firstname.lastname@example.org