by CHRISTINE SARKES
Inclusiveness and gratitude were the themes of the 12th Annual Ivey Awards held last evening at the Historic State Theater, downtown Minneapolis. Theater professionals honored their own and one of ours–Star Tribune theater critic Graydon Royce–as they reached beyond the typical candidates by awarding a non-actor, costume designer Trevor Bowen, with the Emerging Artist Award. Bowen got his start as a design assistant in the Guthrie’s costume shop (2012-13 Season) and since then, has designed costumes for many of the area’s major theater companies. Royce received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the artistic community throughout his over 35-year career at the Star Tribune. Bowen and Royce barely held back tears as they thanked the Twin Cities theater community, their mentors and families. Many honorees mentioned the unique Twin Cities theater culture that welcomes newcomers and is open to fresh, innovative theater experiences; including Guthrie Theater’s artistic director, Joseph Haj, accepting the award on behalf of Ensemble Acting Award winner, Trouble in Mind, and Sarah Rasmussen, artistic director of Jungle Theater on behalf of Le Switch, a winner for Overall Excellence.
Established in 2004 and named after a former post-show restaurant hangout for actors, the Iveys are unique among awards events in the country in that they are open to the public and there are no nominees, set number of awards or predetermined award categories, with the exception of the Lifetime Achievement and the Emerging Artist Awards. Each participating theater receives a vote to determine the Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Artist Awards. Other prizes are awarded based on evaluations completed by the more than 150 volunteer theater evaluators who saw over 1,200 performances created by 84 professional theaters in the Minneapolis-St. Paul seven-county metropolitan area from September 2015 through August 2016. Corporate sponsors foot the bill. Host were actors Mark Benninghofen and returning co-host Regina Marie Williams, who provided some comic relief, especially Benninghofen with a few apparently ad libbed comments (more please).
Because of the unique format of the award event, many outstanding productions and performances may be missed. There seems a predilection toward smaller, more experimental ones, even honoring a Fringe Festival play, rather than bigger, already critically acclaimed plays, such as Guthrie’s excellent Disgraced. That in itself is not a criticism, but an acknowledgment of the judges’ desire to reward excellence in all its forms.
Productions recognized during the 2016 Ivey Awards:
- The Wizard of Oz (Children’s Theatre Company) – Overall Excellence
- Glensheen (History Theatre) – Overall Excellence
- Le Switch (Jungle Theater) – Overall Excellence
- Victor Zupanc – Sound Design and Music: Pinocchio (Children’s Theatre Company)
- Kevin Fanshaw and Charles Numrich – Acting: Equus (Theatre Coup d’Etat)
- Warren C. Bowles – Direction: The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife (Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company)
- Kate Sutton-Johnson – Set Design: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Theater Latté Da)
- Jasmine Hughes – Acting: Sunset Baby (Penumbra Theatre)
- Ensemble – Acting: Trouble in Mind (Guthrie Theater)
- Ensemble – Acting: Now or Later (New Epic Theater)
- “On My Way” from Violet by Yellow Tree Theatre
- Scene from I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers by Candid Theater Company
- “Goodbye My Dear” from June by Savage Umbrella
- “Stick Dance” from Nina Simone: Four Women by Park Square Theatre
- Excerpt from Transatlantic Love Affair’s Emilie/Eurydice by Illusion Theater
- Scene from And So It Goes by Dark and Stormy Productions
- Scene from Equus by Theatre Coup D’Etat
- “Rockey Mountain High” from Country Roads: The Music of John Denver by Plymouth Playhouse
- Song from So Blue by The Urban Spectrum Theatre Company
- “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” from Gypsy by Theater Latte Da
- Old Log Theater’s Million Dollar Quartet band
The 2016 Iveys – including pre-event activities, behind-the-scenes interviews and the Awards show – will be broadcast on 45 TV at 7 pm on Saturday, September 24 and on KSTP-TV at 1 am on Sunday, September 25.
The show is a theater geek’s feast and a powerfully entertaining reminder of how privileged we are in the Twin Cities to have such a glut of talent and artistic courage. Go next year if only to enjoy a wonderful sampling of the previous year’s theater fare, to people watch and to bask in the enthusiasm of the theater-loving audience.
Featured Front Page Image Photo: Tom Wallace