Menendian and Montemurro founded Raven Theatre in 1983 with a mission to establish itself as a voice in regional theatre focusing on American classics, as well as new and lesser-known projects that illuminate the "American Experience," while occasionally exploring world classics.
According to the Jeff committee, "This mission is realized by uniting an ensemble of Chicago-based theatre artists from diverse disciplines working closely together to maintain a high standard of artistic excellence with programming easily accessible to patrons of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Vigorously fresh revivals of masterpieces by great playwrights, such as Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and David Mamet, introduce new audiences to established classics, while original and lesser-known works give voice to the next generation of playwrights."
Since its founding, Raven Theatre has been honored by the Jeff Awards Committee with 30 nominations and 17 awards.
Montemurro, a past Jeff recipient of an award as a Principal Actress in a Play, is a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama. Michael Menendian, originally from Boston, moved to Chicago in 1979. Before founding Raven Theatre he worked and studied theatre at several Chicago institutions, including Victory Gardens Theater and The Second City.
The 35th Anniversary Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony will be held on June 9 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage, Chicago, IL. Doors open at 6 PM. A light buffet precedes the 7:30 PM presentation. Cash bar. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Purchase tickets on line with a credit card at www.jeffawards.org or by mail.
The Jeff Awards Committee previously announced 113 nominations for Non-Equity Jeff Awards in 23 categories for productions that opened during the 2007-08 season (April 1, 2007-March 31, 2008).
The Jeff Awards are given annually by The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee to honor excellence in professional theatre produced in the immediate Chicago area. The committee, organized in 1968, consists of up to 45 men and women with varying backgrounds in theatre, united by an active interest and concern for the advancement of Chicago theatre. Jeff members come to the committee with an academic background in theatre, significant professional experience, a history of theatre involvement, and/or years of consistent theatre attendance in Chicago and in other major theatre capitals of the world.
The committee evaluates approximately 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies annually. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the committee established the Non-Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union Chicago theatre.
The Equity awards ceremony will be held on Oct. 20, 2008, at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, IL.