After eight years, hardly anyone wears a tuxedo to the Ivey Awards (although the gowns are still pretty great). The Iveys have relaxed into a Midwestern sensibility now, which was probably inevitable long before the penguins fled for more formal affairs.
Theater aficionados will gather Monday night at the State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis for the ninth time to celebrate the community. Randy Reyes and Shanan Custer will emcee the ceremony; actor James Denton, late of “Desperate Housewives” and now working his chops at Park Square (“Good People”) and Old Log (“Rancho Mirage”), has been tapped as host of the preshow party at Le Meridien Chambers Hotel.
The only standing awards at the Iveys are Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Artist. I’ve correctly predicted Lifetime Achievement the past four years. Keeping track of the youngsters has been more hit-and-miss, but I have at least mentioned their names in the list of possibilities. So, whom do we look for to haul away the sea-green lava lamps this year?
Lifetime Achievement: Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, one of the most prolific writers to call the seven-county mosquito district home, with work on Twin Cities stages, New York and Hollywood; Marion McClinton, who often gets mentioned as August Wilson’s director and also has credits all over the country; Gary Gisselman, early leader at Bloomington Civic, founding artistic director of Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, associate artistic director at Children’s Theatre and a mentor of young talent now as artist in residence at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Greta Oglesby and Sally Wingert both jump to mind also for their signature work, but they seem pretty young. Same for Stephen Yoakam.
Emerging Artist: Cat Brindisi has really put together a case for this. She has shined in “Spelling Bee,” “Spring Awakening” and “Aida” for Latté Da. This summer, she and some mates put together a great little production of “Hair.” Hugh Kennedy is making a name for himself at the Guthrie and has done great work in Pillsbury House’s “Buzzer.” I don’t know if Valeri Mudek is too established to be considered emerging for her substantial work at the Guthrie, but I think she lives in — gasp — New York City.