Bain Boehlke, an instrumental figure in forming two of the Twin Cities' leading theater companies, was honored Monday night for his career accomplishments. Boehlke -- an actor, director, writer and producer -- received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the seventh Ivey Awards, an annual celebration of the professional theater community.
A native of Warroad, Minn., who as a young man staged plays in barns, Boehlke migrated to the Twin Cities and by 1960 had started a small troupe that toured the Upper Midwest. In 1965, Boehlke, John Clark Donahue and Wendy Lehr (who won last year's Ivey for Lifetime Achievement) formed the critical mass for what would become the Children's Theatre Company. Those three played key roles in making CTC the nation's leading theater for youth. Boehlke played dozens of roles there that have defined his reputation in Minnesota.
"Even today, I go into Lunds, and people hear my voice and ask me, 'Weren't you the Ugly Stepmother?'" Boehlke said in a 2008 interview.
On Monday night, he said, "This is so moving to me; what a beautiful group of people." Referring to a Sunday newspaper article, he said, "I may not be mad as a hatter, but I'm still crazy after all these years."
In 1991, Boehlke started the Jungle Theater in a 99-seat makeshift space at Lake and Lyndale in Minneapolis. Today, the Jungle is a 150-seat theater regarded as one of the Twin Cities' best and is credited with reviving the economic fortunes of the Lyn-Lake neighborhood. Boehlke, 72, was honored as the McKnight Foundation's Distinguished Artist in 2009.
The Lifetime Achievement is one of two standing awards the Iveys present each year. Actor Anna Sundberg was recognized as the Emerging Artist. Since 2006, Sundberg has distinguished herself with a busy schedule in small and midsize theater productions, including the just-opened "reasons to be pretty" with Walking Shadow Theatre Company.
The Iveys honored two productions and six individuals at Monday's ceremony. Ten Thousand Things theater company was recognized for its production of the Pulitzer-winning "Doubt," directed by Peter Rothstein, and Live Action Set earned an honor for its original work, "The 7-Shot Symphony."
Acting awards went to Peter Christian Hansen for his performance as a charismatic troublemaker in "Burn This" at Gremlin Theatre, Dennis Spears as Nat King Cole in "I Wish You Love" at Penumbra Theatre and to Ben Bakken for his portrayal of Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar" at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.
Director Craig Johnson won for his staging of "Street Scene" at Girl Friday Productions. Gary Rue, the longtime composer and music director, was recognized for his work with "Buddy -- The Buddy Holly Story" at History Theatre. And choreographer David Bolger received an Ivey for his work with the Guthrie's production of "H.M.S. Pinafore" this summer.
The Iveys are based on evaluations by the general public and more than 150 volunteer evaluators who viewed more than 1,000 performances between September 2010 and this past August.
The event was emceed by father and son actors Charles and Seth Numrich. Seth is currently in the Broadway production of "War Horse."