Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Alums Saluted in Chicago Tribune’s ‘Top 10 Best Performances in Chicago Theatre in 2018’ List

Caroline Neff

Joel Reitsma

Two graduates of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department‘s Acting Program were chosen by the Chicago Tribune for its annual tribute to the best Chicago theatre performances of the year, published December 18, 2018. Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones’ list of the “Top 10 Best Performances in Chicago Theatre in 2018” included Theatre Department alums Caroline Neff ’07 and Joel Reitsma ’08.

Caroline Neff (right) in “Lettie”

Neff was highlighted for her performance in Victory Gardens Theatre’s world premiere of Lettie, Boo Killebrew’s drama about a woman desperate to regain custody of her teenage children following her release from prison. Besides rave reviews, Neff won the 2018 Joseph Jefferson Award for Performer in a Principal Role–Play for her portrayal.

Joel Reitsma in “Birdland” (Photo: Lee Miller)

Reitsma was saluted for his performance in the U.S. premiere of British playwright Simon Stephens’ Birdland at Steep Theatre. Reitsma played a rock star in the drama, which Jones, in his original review of the show, called a “very serious and totally gripping attempt to find the answer to a simple but fascinating question: Can those who are handed bucket loads of cash, fame and nightly adulation actually retain their basic humanity?” Added Jones in his review: “The most remarkable thing about this staging is how Reitsma, whose performance is blisteringly good, . . . actually makes you believe he’s a rock star. . . . This, truly, is a spectacularly charismatic performance.”