The 2016 Ivey Awards

janet-and-tim-iveysThis year, I told my significant other and regular theater companion (Tim) to write up what he wanted to say about the Iveys. He loves going to the Twin Cities theater community’s big event, and as a performer, has a good eye for all the things – and I mean all – that make up a successful awards show night. We do it up, from the pre-show to the after-party.

Tim: The Iveys came at us this year like a jack in the box.

(His off-the-wall metaphors are legendary in our family.)

Me: Really.

Tim: You know, you turn the handle until a weasel pops out?

Me: It’s Jack that pops out. But, what …

Tim: Jack Ruler?

Me: Oh, my gosh.

Tim: He got thanked a lot last night.

Me: He did, but where were we?

Tim: On surprises.

Me: Aha.

Tim: This year was a lot of surprises. Because the categories are never pre-determined, it keeps the mystique going, but this year –

(We finish each other’s sentences.)

Me: … there were some pretty cool surprises.

Tim: Winners are not seated in the first 5 rows for convenience of time.

Me: Well, they can’t be, because –

Tim: They came from main floor sides, upper balcony rear, and even all the way from the Fringe Festival.

Me: Wait, wait, wait. There was a show from the Fringe Festival that won, yes –

Tim: That’s what I mean.

(You should try texting with this guy. Impossible to follow.)

Me: And that was a surprise.

Tim: And they were really surprised. That’s what was so fun about it. It’s that moment of surprise for the recipient that overwhelms and engulfs the audience.

(But I love his use of hyperbole.)

Me: But about that Fringe show … The award was given to the actors in the ensemble of “Now or Later,” produced by New Epic Theater.

Tim: Boy, were they surprised! But everybody went nuts.

Me: Can we back this up?

Tim: Sure. Kate Sutton-Johnson won for Set Design for Theater Latte Da’s production of “Sweeney Todd.”

Me: Was that a surprise?

Tim: Well, I thought it was because it was for something other than acting.

Me: Ah. Also Victor Zupanc for Sound Design and Music in the Children’s Theatre Company’s “Pinocchio.”

Tim: The opening number by Yellow Tree was stellar. (notice the lack of a segue) I wanted that play to continue right then and personally thought the first Ivey would go directly to that songwriter/arranger.

Me: And the ensemble. “On My Way,” yes. It was really wonderful, I agree!

Tim: Show timing had a few slips in the momentum, but comebacks were furnished by several of the truly honest and emotional deliveries of a totally impromptu acceptance speech. They were really surprised.

Me: I think we’ve established that.

Tim: I have never seen a winner ask to be cut off off before the one-minute limit. ”Help me out here” Warren Bowles pleaded to the music director!

Me: Ha! That was a great moment. I loved the spontaneity of it. Bowles accepting his award for direction of “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” at the Minnesota Jewish Theatre.

Tim: But the real surprises were in the two awards that are given every year: Emerging Artist Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Me: Because …?

Tim: Actors take the bows, get the applause. It’s easy for audiences to overlook –

Me: But you’re talking Ivey theater members voting on these –

Tim Well, yes – but the people behind the scenes.

Me: Like set design, sound design, musicians, oh, and costumers. Trevor Bowen, this year’s Emerging Artist Award recipient is so accomplished it almost seems odd to call him emerging, but I guess it depends on point of view. He’s terrific, anyway.

Tim: I liked the Batman on his shirt.

Me: I remember the shirt. I’m guessing it’s his own design.

Tim: I thought it was fun that a critic won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Me: Ok, I was surprised this time. Graydon Royce (who is retiring from the Star Tribune) and I have reviewed many of the same shows, and I generally see him standing off to the side, looking like he’d rather not see anybody he knows.

Tim: They all know him, though, don’t they?

Me: Pretty much, but he keeps a low profile. Reserved, I would say. He was a little choked up there for a minute in his acceptance speech. There was a gentle but audible “aww” from the audience at that point. For a critic! Talk about Minnesota nice. It warms my heart.

Tim: Well, you’re a critic.

Me: That’s what I mean. Let’s be sure we include all the winners.

Tim: Go.

Me: Joseph Haj accepted for the ensemble of “Trouble in Mind” at the Guthrie.

Tim: And joked about having to go first, and he’s the new guy. I got a kick out of that.

Me: Overall Excellence Awards went to The Children’s Theatre Company for “The Wizard of Oz,” the History Theatre for “Glensheen,” and the Jungle Theater for “Le Switch.” That’s an interesting and varied list.

Me: Kevin Fanshaw and Charles Numrich won for their acting in Theatre Coup d’Etat’s “Equus.”

Tim: And since I didn’t see that one, I appreciated seeing a scene from it during the awards show. Made me wish I had seen it.

Me: That’s part of the purpose of having an awards show, right? It creates excitement for live theater.

Tim: If you miss it, you miss it.

Me: Brilliant.

Tim: Don’t be sarcastic.

Me: I’m not, I mean it!

Tim: Oh. Then you agree with me.

Me: If you meant, “That’s the magic of live theater; it’s in the moment,” yes.

Tim: We have one to go – the really cool glasses.

Me: Awww, yes. Jasmine Hughes for her performance in “Sunset Baby” at Penumbra Theatre. She thanked the Twin Cities theater community for embracing her “right off the bus from Mississippi.” You couldn’t help but be touched by her heartfelt impromptu speech.

Tim: They were all impromptu.

Me: So the surprise thing …

Tim: In fact, Warren Bowles said, ”When people say they’re surprised, believe them!”

Me: So, are we on for next year?

Tim: Well, yeah! I’m getting something really wild to wear.

Me: Good! Surprise me.

 

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