The Iveys celebrate 10 years


Ivey Lifetime Achievement Award winners, Bonnie Morris and Michael Robbins, Illusion Theater co-artistic directors.

Ivey Lifetime Achievement Award winners, Bonnie Morris and Michael Robbins, Illusion Theater co-artistic directors.

When will anyone ever see so many people dressed for An Occasion in downtown Minneapolis? Some (struggling artists that they may be) could be attired in vintage Goodwill, but the Iveys are clearly The Night to dress up, go downtown and enjoy the once-a-year camaraderie of the whole Twin Cities theater community. It’s a love fest (I’ve said it before), and it’s a great night.

Each year the Iveys celebrate a certain theater practitioner (actors, costumers, playwrights, etc.), but this year we paused to recognize its run of 10 years. With 189 awards and 180 theaters in the mix, that’s something to feel good about, then go have another bar concoction created for this evening that’s as satisfying and complex as theater itself.

It was appropriate to surprise the Ivey’s founder, Scott Mayer, who keeps a relatively low profile, with special recognition for his “extraordinary vision.” Mayer was characteristically self-effacing in his short speech, emphasizing that he just likes “to see all of you on stage.”

There are a couple of awards given every year, voted on by the 65 participating theaters’ artistic directors. I’ve never guessed the Emerging Artist Award before; but this year, I felt fairly certain it would be Tyler Michaels. A run in Cabaret as the Emcee (Latte Da’s Cabaret also won an Ivey) “Freddie” in the Guthrie’s summer run of My Fair Lady, and the Chanhassen’s Fiddler on the Roof, he had charmed a sizable number of people in a few short months with his broad smile, wiry frame and made-for-musicals persona.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to two people with one vision. Michael Robbins and Bonnie Morris took their show on the road back in the 70’s and soon built themselves a theater home that’s housed that vision for 40 years. Illusion Theater has commissioned or developed more than 350 original mainstage plays, viewed by more than one millions people and staged by more than 40 theaters across the U.S. Their partnership shows no signs of winding down. Robbins ended his comments with “here’s to 40 more years!”

Sally Wingert was the other star of the show. Using the word “other” in conjunction with any appearance by Wingert seems incongruous. Not only does she rise to any challenge, she even inspired a first with a “season award” for her performances in four productions: “Rose,” produced by the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, Latte Da’s “Cabaret,” Dark & Stormy Productions’ “The Receptionist,” and the Guthrie’s “Tribes.” A unique award for “intellect and emotional intensity” recognized her performance in “Rose.”

It was a little harder to engage with the retrospective approach of this year’s show, but it makes sense to pause and appreciate a milestone when they come. It would be interesting to know how many in the audience knew this theater community 10 years ago. There were many who did, I’m certain; there were many who did not, too. And that just speaks to how vibrant theater in the Twin Cities is, with lots of young people finding their audiences, and many (young and not so young) moving from someplace else to find their place in the larger theater picture here.

Hosts Christina Baldwin and Randy Reyes were charming and improvised with ease. The show was a little looser with a little less of an “arc”, but, still, it’s an event with its heart in the right place.

1 comment for “The Iveys celebrate 10 years

  1. December 12, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Holes the play was a very exciting expeirence. While in the threater I was sucked into the story of Stanley Yelnats and his journey to Camp Green Lake. You could just see while watching the play that the actors worked well together, they were in perfect harmony. Even with how impressed I was with the play there was one thing that bothered me. That was the actor Mauricio Suarez, he was very monotone through-out the whole performance.When it came to set deisgn and props they were amazing. I felt like i was actually there with the characters in the hot desert heat digging holes. The flashbacks were my favorite part because of the lighing at the time, the way it made the dirt looking set apear to be grass. All the fights done in the play were good, but not as good as i would have hoped. When it came to were Stanley got hit by a shovel, it didnt look as well done as some of the other fight scenes. The costumes were excellent, they really gave the appearance that the boys had been out digging in the dirt, hot, and sweaty.The play was almost like the book except for a few things, like how Twitch wasnt there. Twitch was the one who taught Stanley to hotwire cars so he could steal Mr. Sir’s truck. As the play came to a close I was still stuck in my seat wanting more. When they actors came out for the discussion at the end you could tell how well they got along, like with Nick Abeel, and Mauricio Suarez, they seemed to really be good friends on and off set.Everyone from what I can tell on and off screen did a fantastic job on this showing of Holes . I would recommend to anyone I know to come see these actors perform. Great job to all the actors, directors, and all others you did a amazing job on the play. It was an expeirence that i will never forget.

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