Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The 2017 Ivey Awards at the State Theatre

On Monday night, #TCTheater celebrated another year of amazing theater with the Ivey Awards. This was my 11th time attending the awards, and despite being the first award show after found Scott Mayer stepped down, the transition was seamless and it was another wonderful evening. Pre- and post-show parties (with plenty of opportunity for mingling with your favorite #TCTheater artists) were held at Crave, which despite being a bit crowded was a great location (I suspect they might have used their rooftop space if it wasn't cold and raining). The show was hosted by Mark Benninghofen and Thomasina Petrus (charming and funny, and Thomasina wowed with a musical medley during the In Memoriam segment), directed by Whitney Rhodes, written by Lauren Anderson and Joy Dolo, and with a fab onstage band directed by Denise Prosek. Read on for a list of winners and performers, and a few thoughts about the show.

Award recipients (click on show title for my thoughts):
  • Ensemble, Vietgone, Mixed Blood Theatre - Sun Mee Chomet, David Huynh, Meghan Kreidler, Flordelino Lagundino and Sherwin Resurreccion
  • Production Design & Execution, Six Degrees of Separation, Theater Latté DaAbbee Warmboe, Barry Browning, Sean Healey, Kate Sutton- Johnson, Bethany Reinfeld and Alice Fredrickson
  • Concept & Execution, Safe at Home, Mixed Blood Theatre
  • Actor, Nilaja Sun, Pike St.Pillsbury House + Theatre
  • Director, Noël Raymond, TheChildren, Pillsbury House + Theatre
  • Emotional Impact, Wit, Artistry
  • Actor, Steven Epp, Fiddler on the Roof, Ten Thousand Things
  • Actors, Sun Mee Chomet & Sherwin Resurreccion, The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up, Theater Mu
  • Overall Excellence, RagtimeTheater Latté Da
  • Emerging Artist, Meghan Kreidler
  • Lifetime Achievement, Michelle Hensley
Performances:
  • "Beauty School Dropout" from Chanhassen Dinner Theatre' Grease, featuring Kasono Mwanza and Shinah Brashears
  • An excerpt from Frank Theatre's Citizen: An American Lyric
  • "You are Beautiful" from Mu Performing Arts and Park Square Theatre's co-production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song, sung by Wes Mouri and Stephanie Bertumen
  • "The Apple Doesn't Fall" from Dakelo Arts' production of Kander and Ebb's The Rink, featuring Karen Weber and Amanda White
  • Emerging artists winner Meghan Kreidler performing a rap from Mixed Blood Theatre's Vietgone
  • "At Least I Know I Tried" featuring the cast of Jungle Theater's Fly By Night
  • "Build a Feast" from Stages Theatre Company's Stone Soup
  • The finale: some of Twin Cities finest singing "You Will Be Found" from this year's Tony winner Dear Evan Hanson (an obvious choice, but a good one)
A few thoughts:
  • This is the first year that I saw all nine shows that received awards. I'm not sure that's a good thing, because even I don't see everything. Three theaters received two awards (Mixed Blood, Latte Da, Pillsbury House) and three received one (Artistry, Ten Thousand Things, Mu). Every award recipient is deserving, and if you ask me which one I'd take away I couldn't come up with an answer, but I do wish that more, smaller, newer theater companies could be represented in the awards.
  • The most obvious winner to me was Ragtime, which I thought was absolutely stunning and about which I would have been very upset if it hadn't been recognized. Vietgone was also something unique and special. But there are a few shows I'm surprised not to see on the above list, to mention one - Penumbra's new original musical Girl Shakes Loose. But you'll have to wait until January when I publish my favorites list (and the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers announce our annual awards) to see what other shows I've loved from this year.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see Nilaja Sun honored for her one-woman show Pike St., which she also wrote. Only because she's based in NYC and essentially toured with the show, stopping in Minneapolis for a few weeks. But I guess Pillsbury House's involvement made the show Ivey eligible, and I'm not mad about that because I cannot think of a better performance I saw all year than Nilaja's in her funny, heart-breaking, relevant play.
  • I've been impressed by Meghan Kreidler every time I've seen her for the last several years, so I'm thrilled to see her recognized. She's had an exceptional 2017, including Flower Drum Song, The Paper Dreams of Harry ChinVietgone, and Man of La Mancha (currently playing).
  • Of course Michelle Hensley received the Lifetime Achievement recognition this year, a few months after announcing that the 2017-2018 season will be her last as Artistic Director of Ten Thousand Things. I could not be more thrilled. She's done amazing work and really pioneered a new way of thinking about theater (read her book All the Lights on for details on that). She gave the speech of the night about how women, and particularly women of color, need to be put in positions of power at theaters (and every organization) to change the current paradigm. Michelle will be dearly missed in her retirement, and I only hope that we can carry on what she has taught us.
Until next year, theater friends. Go see some #TCTheater!

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