Two Voices Unlimited actors win
top Jeff awards for theatre roles

Singer, voiceover Joyce (Peaches) Faison won her first Jeff award as best actress in a principal role-musical.

Mark Grapey and Joyce (Peaches) Faison, two actors signed with Sharon Wottrich’s Voices Unlimited, took top honors at the recent 35th annual Joseph Jefferson equity theatre awards.

Grapey won “best director-play” for the Famous Door’s presentation of “The Cider House Rules.”

Although Faison had no previous dramatic theatre experience, she won “best actress in a principal role-musical” for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” for the Chicago Theatre Co.

The Jeff Committee awarded Faison for what was universally reviewed as an outstanding and piercingly deep tour de force performance. Earlier, Faison had won best actress awards from Chicago’s African American Arts Alliance and Black Theatre Alliance.

Grapey shared directorial honors of the two-part “Cider House” play with David Cromer. This was his first Jeff Award, although he’d been honored twice before.

“Cider House” won six awards out of the 29 awards handed out at the ceremony at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

In his acceptance speech, Grapey and Faison acknowledged Wottrich, who mentored both actors throughout their careers.

“Cider House” other awards were for best play and best ensemble; co-director David Cromer; Larry Neumann, Jr., best leading actor-play; Jennifer Pompo, best supporting actress-play and Joseph Fosco for best original music.

ASIDE: From Aug. 1, 2002 and July 31, 2003, the 45-member Jeff Committee judged 129 equity shows by 49 producing companies. They nominated 74 productions from 36 companies for awards.