The Ivey Awards honored two people with lifetime achievement awards. Michael Robins and Bonnie Morris, who have led Illusion Theater for 40 years, received the recognition during a ceremony Monday night at the State Theatre in Minneapolis.
Robins and Morris have commissioned or developed more than 350 plays in the theater’s tenure. “Fresh Ink,” now in its 28th year, was one of the first script development festivals in the Twin Cities.
Illusion also became an early leader in educational and training theater. Robins has promoted and directed “Miss Richfield 1981,” an act by Russ King that has become nationally popular, and playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (last year’s lifetime achievement winner) regularly has premieres at Illusion.
“When people say 40 years, I look at Michael and say how can that be,” said Morris. “But we get to live in this space where time is suspended. It really is a privilege to do this everyday.”
Robins said “I just look forward to what we will do for the next 40 years.”
Few people could have been surprised when actor Tyler Michaels was announced Monday night as emerging artist. Michaels, who grew up in Bloomington, has blossomed on several local stages this year. His breakout achievement was the Emcee in Theater Latté DA’s “Cabaret.” He also had success at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres with “The Little Mermaid” and the currently running “Hello, Dolly!” and made his Guthrie debut with a showstopping performance as Freddy Eynsford-Hill (singing “On the Street Where You Live”) in “My Fair Lady.”
The Iveys marked a 10th year Monday. In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre created larger-than-life caricature puppets of the previous nine lifetime achievement winners, which were displayed at the beginning of the sold-out program.
Three productions were recognized by evaluators: “Cabaret,” produced by Theater Latté Da and Hennepin Theatre Trust, and “Ordinary Days” by Nautilus Music-Theater were cited for overall excellence. “Rose,” a solo show featuring Sally Wingert at Minnesota Jewish Theatre Co., was cited for “Intellect and Emotional Intensity.”
Wingert received acting recognition for her work in “Rose,” “The Receptionist” (Dark and Stormy Productions), “Cabaret” and “Tribes” (Guthrie).
The ensemble of actors in the Jungle’s production of “Driving Miss Daisy,” which was led by James Craven and Wendy Lehr, also was honored.
Yellow Tree Theatre, which operates in Osseo, won two trophies for its production of “The 39 Steps.” Actors Nathan Cousins and Tristan Tifft and director Anne Byrd were cited for that show.
Playwright Seraphina Nova was noted for her play “Dogwood,” produced last year by Candid Theater Company of Minneapolis.
Eduardo Sicangco received recognition for set design and costumes for Children’s Theatre Company’s “Cinderella,” and Sandy Spieler and Julie Boada of Heart of the Beast won for properties design for “Between the Worlds.”
The Iveys have neither specific categories nor nominees. Volunteer evaluators see shows and file reports that are then tabulated. The lifetime achievement and emerging artist awards are voted upon by theaters that participate in the program.