The 2012 Ivey Awards celebration did it up right again last night with sparkly gowns, tearful winners and lively entertainment. This year the Iveys chose to feature the work of theater sound and lighting professionals, and any self-respecting theater person will tell you that they most certainly deserve special recognition.
I’m going to say right here that if you have never been to the Ivey’s, you should go. You’re reading a write-up about it, so obviously you’re interested. Put it on your calendar right now for next September. Yes, everybody’s welcome. You don’t need to have any theater credentials at all. You’ll enjoy it more if you’ve seen at least some of the shows highlighted during the festivities, but you’d still enjoy it if you haven’t. I think it’s better than the Oscars, and it’s definitely shorter. Plenty of time for the pre-party and the afterglow.
In case you didn’t know, it’s not just the show that’s open to all. Ivey evaluators are volunteers who commit to seeing a lot of theater during the year. It is their recommendations that determine who will receive awards. Interestingly, there are no categories and no set number of awards given out, except for Best Emerging Artist, given this year to Isabel Nelson, co-artistic director of Transatlantic Love Affair; and the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to Theater Mu founder and director Rick Shiomi, whose reputation for the growth of Asian theater stretches far beyond the Twin Cities.
The show is all about Twin Cities theater, with a sampling of performances from outstanding productions and schtick by local comedy favorites. Comedian and actress Shanan Custer hosted the show, keeping the jokes and the awards moving, guided by Joseph Scrimshaw’s and Zach Curtis’ snappy script. Theatre Latte Da’s music director, Denise Prosek, and a tight band of onstage musicians supported the live performances beautifully.
But even though the show is entertaining and the awards gratifying, the most impressive part of the whole event is the sheer numbers of people who attend. This brings the theater community together like nothing else can or does – actors, techs, management, board members, loyal audience, financial supporters and even us reviewers. I don’t know the numbers, but if the State Theater feels full, you call that a good house.
And the party continues, crowding into the lobby, out onto the sidewalk, across the street at the reception, upstairs later for dancing and who knows what after that? Yes, it’s a love fest for Twin Cities theater and it feels just great.