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    Posted October 21, 2010

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Wendy Lehr and Regina Marie Williams Garner Twin City Ivey Awards

By David Lotz, National Communications Director

Mixed Blood Theatre A.D. Jack Reuler and Regina Marie Williams

The Twin Cities' vibrant theatrical community came together for the sixth annual Ivey Awards at the historic State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis on September 20, 2010. Over 500 AEA members and 20 Equity theatres were represented at the gala, which was capably emceed by long-time AEA members Bain Boehlke and Wendy Lehr.

Unlike many awards ceremonies, the Ivey Awards are non-competitive and are given instead to "honorees" voted on by members of the theatrical community.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Lehr received the Ivey Lifetime Achievement Award for her 50+ years in the theatre, receiving a standing ovation as she came to the podium. Best known for her landmark work at the Children's Theatre Company (where she will always be identified as "Pearl" the goofy step-sister in "Cinderella"), Ms. Lehr has portrayed "princesses, divas, dotty harridans and fierce queens" in a career that began with bus-and-truck shows in the 60s and is continuing this month at the Jungle Theatre in "The Glass Menagerie." At the Children's Theatre Company, she created roles in over 130 productions and served as Director of Education from 1990 to 1998.

Left to Right: AEA Business Rep Ryan Hastings, Twin Cities Area Liaison Terry Lynn Carlson, AEA member Beth Desotelle, Chanhassen Dinner Theatre's Steven and Randi Peters

"The only way I can accept this award is on behalf of the ensemble of this entire theater community," she said, adding, "I am profoundly moved."

AEA National Communications Director David Lotz, Business Representative Ryan Hastings, Twin Cities Area Liaison Chair Terry Lynn Carlson and last year's Lifetime Achievement Honoree Dudley Riggs did the honors at the podium.

AEA member Regina Marie Williams also took home an Ivey, for her critically acclaimed portrayal of the brothel keeper in the Mixed Blood Theatre's production of RUINED.

Commenting on her performance, Mixed Blood Producing Director Jack Reuler wrote: "Regina defines versatility. She can anchor any type of show: comedy, drama, satire, farce, musical, intimate chamber theater, or extravaganza. In any sized theatre! Her craft, technique, and talent reveal an actress of huge emotional and physical range. She first came to Mixed Blood after years as "The Count" on Sesame Street Live and in two decades has become among the most sought-after Equity actors in Minnesota. We at Mixed Blood and in Minnesota are blessed to have a gem like Regina in an already-brimming treasure chest of Equity talent."

Area Liaison Terry Lynn Carson, Ivey Award recipient Wendy Lehr, Dudley Riggs, Business Rep Ryan Hastings and National Communications Director David Lotz
(photo: Mike Feltault)

"I have always been thrilled for the Ivey Awards, but not more than when I received one for RUINED," wrote Regina. "It was a play that I read several times before even agreeing to audition. I took another month after the audition to decide if I could play such a conflicting role. Then when I got it, the director, Aditi Kapil, had a very different vision for the character than I did. Playwright Lynn Nottage and Faye Price - Aditi's Assistant Director and a dramaturg, friend and Associate A.D. at Pillsbury House Theater - went over my lines with me until they were word perfect. The ensemble was one of those dream teams people talk about. I am so thankful to Jack Reuler and Mixed Blood Theater for being risk takers and doing theater that truly reflects our audiences and the world at large."

Three outstanding productions at Equity theatres were recognized for overall excellence: MARY'S WEDDING at the Jungle Theatre; OTHELLO at Ten Thousand Things Theater Company; and RUINED at the Mixed Blood.

Another highlight of the evening was the opening number, a hilarious send-up from A CHORUS LINE, featuring AEA/EMC members: Jamie Rocco, John Sloan, Andrew Rasmussen, Michael Matthew Ferrell, Kahlil Queen, Julianne Mundale, Linda Talcott Lee, Austene Van, Tamara Kangas, Amy Ellis, and Heidi Spesard-Noble. AEA members Perrin Post and John Sloan shared creative credits.

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