Ivey Awards Monday. September 22. Maggie Ryan, Jade Cohen, Emily Peters, Genesis McCoy, Cory Braudt, Nicole Smith.

Matt Miranda, Star Tribune

Face time: Well played

  • Article by: CHRISTY DESMITH
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • September 28, 2008 - 12:28 AM

Minnesotans don't dress up anymore -- not even for the theater. Maybe that's why thespians were so quick to use the Ivey Awards as their annual excuse to preen. On Monday night, more than 2,000 theater artists and fans donned natty suits and long, glamorous gowns for the occasion.

After the ceremony at the State Theatre, about half the crowd marched a few blocks to the IDS Center Crystal Court for a loud, claustrophobic after-party. The four-year-old event's creator, Scott Mayer, had fixed a Hollywood-style scene: Members of the Children's Theatre Company's teen council were given free tickets in exchange for their cheering services. As local theater mainstays such as Noah Bremer and Stacia Rice walked the red carpet, the kids squealed, stretched out their arms and even begged for autographs.

Private citizens seemed confused by the attention, including Minnesota State Arts Board member Ed Oliver and his gracious wife, Charty, who meandered down the red carpet in clothes far more conservative than those of the average Ivey-goer. (Oliver wore a small John McCain lapel pin.)

But outrageous threads weren't hard to find: Chris Madsen, theater fan and bookseller at Half-Price Books in St. Louis Park, is extremely tall and lean, and his purple pin-striped suit accentuated his lank features. He bought his spiffs about four years ago at bygone Uptown boutique Gabriela's.

It was a who's-who happening, peppered with well-known artists and writers. Former Jeune Lune artistic directors Robert Rosen and Barbra Berlovitz looked radiant as they hung out near the bar. Filmmaker Julie Rappaport, from Smokin Yogi Productions, flitted about in an especially memorable outfit -- an emerald green Butter By Nadia Signature Wrap Dress with two 15-foot wrap-around panels (her daughter picked it up in L.A.) and her 96-year-old aunt's vintage ostrich-feather shawl.

Guthrie Theater communications assistant William Grier looked especially stylish in his red velvet DKNY jacket, paired with lemon-yellow monster bellbottoms and stacked heels. As he struck a pose with his boyfriend, Todd Bierbrauer, Grier happily answered questions. What's the best thing about the Ivey Awards? "It's a tossup between honoring the local theater and the fashion -- heavy on the fashion," he said with a laugh.

Christy DeSmith is a Minneapolis writer.

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