Ivey 2013, At The Historic State Theatre

Ricardo Vazquez, Winner of The Emerging Artist Award

Ricardo Vazquez, Winner of The Emerging Artist Ivey

Good morning, Minneapolis!  Dominic couldn’t make the awards Monday Night, so he sent me, Cousin Donny!  All the way from Los Angeles, but I’m always happy to spend a weekend away from that glittering ratrap!

Sorry to file so late, Cuz, but things got a little out of hand Monday night.  I’m talking, of course, about the Ivey After-Party, where Our Little Group celebrated our way into the wee hours, telling stories, singing songs, and generally cutting a rug—into tiny gin-soaked pieces (with freshly mulled penguin tears—delicious).  Took me a whole day and a half to recover!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It all started with the pre-party (VIP, of course—so sorry you missed it), where we enjoyed delicious snacks and wine courtesy of Marin Restaurant (I think it was gratis—we have quick hands).  Aside:  don’t mean to pull rank here, but for a Cali native this place was MUCH more L.A. than Marin (Second Aside:  which curly-haired Workhaus luminary is taking her show to Marin Theatre and taking a Celebrated Local Actor with her—you heard it here first!).


At the pre-P, we ran into a Mustachioed Patron of the Arts, looking dashing and apparently going stag—but, no, we saw his Lovely Wife later on.  Two Cultural Superheros in their mild-mannered secret identity garb (and breathing easily despite the crowds)!  Speaking of garb, toute les Cities was decked to the nines, from the “most creatively dressed” Superman Woman, to Mr Kilt, to a celebrated director wrapped up like a Roman Senator and a Latte Da singer/actor with a haircut you could bounce a quarter off (and which Gamine Actress ran up to us sans her new mad-genius beau—or is he?).  And of course Mrs Smith worked the crowd (not that like, for shame!), touting her own horn, which in this case (this lady has an orchestra worth of horns to toot) consisted of a recent City Pages rave for her new show (don’t miss it!).

Into the Historic State Theatre the crowd went, like a herd of cattle with no Temple Grandin to make the journey easier on our souls.  Past check-in the traffic jam lightened up a bit (and there were two bars, thank the Lord!), and we just kept running into old friends—from the gorgeously talented McKnight Theatre Artist with a lovely Guthrie Administrator on his arm—to the (we’ve always felt) long-missed Impresario of The Dowling Studio, tossing his locks like a Germanic conductor (or philosopher—or philosopher/conductor).  Speaking of Impresarios, one celebrated writer-creator was sporting formalwear not quite up to the level of his talent—perhaps you need a special tailor in town to match genius with the appropriate fabrics.

Oh, yes—there were some awards given at some point, but Shannon and Randy were so delightful they almost seemed like interruptions in the best stand-up routine I’ve seen in years!  The crowd was generous and very vocal—when the evening’s theme was proclaimed “Poop” (you can’t make this stuff up), they roared with laughter and applause (this West Coaster got nervous more than once—you never know when a gregarious crowd is going to turn on you). But it was all in good fun, and with a slight turn of the head we could even read the giant teleprompter on the balcony and anticipate events!

In general attempts at integrating technology and social media were more endearing than effective, as was Randy and Shannon’s “apology” skit, which at first seemed to be mocking the way actors ignore stage directions (nothing’s more fun than having an actor read the line “Ow” having skipped she stubs her toe)—but in the event mocked the writers for writing them in the first place (Honestly, I was a little miffed until I realized someone had written the skit and the poor dears were only, as usual, doing what they were told).

Which brings to mind the other extended skit of the evening, in which a trapped Superhero (“Middle Aged Man”) is regaled by a villianess (“Melodrama Queen”), in that all-too-familiar scene where the bad guy talks for so long the hero has plenty of time to escape.  The twist here was stuffing all the night’s sponsors into the action, an initially hilarious gag that unfortunately went on far longer than any of the award-winning shows.

Other Highlights:

** A snippet of Aditi Kapil’s “Brahman/i” from Mixed Blood was delightful, both for the writing and the surprise identity of the Bass Player accompanying the action (though what color is his hair, really?)

** The speeches were mercifully terse (with the award-winning Clybourne Park Ensemble showing off their charm), until a few winners toward the end decided to give their Oscar-fantasy speech, a trend that was rescued by the moving, heartfelt tears of Shannon and Carolyn Poole accepting an award for their “Two Sugars, Room for Cream”.

** If you are tempted to do an Oscar-type speech in the future, do see Craig Johnson or Jeffrey Hatcher for lessons (after winning for “Oscar Wilde” and “Lifetime Achievement”, respectively—though they could have easily switched).

** Who’s responsible for Miss Minnesota bowing in the dark after her lovely contribution to an even lovelier salute to artists we lost in the past year (Bravo, Hiram!).

** Our snark-machine was momentarily disabled by YellowTree Theatre, who came onstage looking like a trio of hillbilly cannibals and proceeded to perform the most simple, beautiful little song we’ve heard in many a year.

** And doesn’t the Czar of The Playwrights’ Center know how to work this room:  a dig against outsiders coming into the community—from an EastCoaster come into this community—genius!  Truthfully, no one knows better how to excite a crowd, and the passionate Mr C was in real danger of being overwhelmed by the alphabet of playwrights behind him—but he persevered —blazing love and inspiration to playwrights and anyone who supports New Work, with a style no one will soon forget (is is that “f***ing forget”?)

Indeed, “Community” was the overall theme of the evening—speech after speech made clear how mutually supportive The Twin Cities Theatre Scene can be—more than any individual award, this was the evening’s true cause for celebration–AND the real reason I got so drunk (though the gin was cheap).  Who wouldn’t want to be part of such a fabulous community of artists?

L.A. may be sunny 24/7, but sometimes it’s soooo cold.  Back to you, Cuz.

For a complete run-down of the awards, check in with a real newspaper:


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