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    Posted November 18, 2011

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Ivey Awards = Love in Twin Cities

Love. Love was in the air at the Ivey Awards, which took place on Monday, September 19 at the historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The much anticipated event has removed the competitive element found in most award shows, the evening instead focuses on the extraordinary achievements of the theatrical community from the past year by honoring those special few who rose above and beyond their extremely talented peers.

The show began with a beautiful, musical, love-fest for the often unsung hero, the costume designer. The stage was filled with a parade of the couture collections from Children's Theatre Company's ANNIE, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres' HAIRSPRAY, Guthrie's H.M.S. PINAFORE (which you might have seen on a recent PBS broadcast performance), and Mixed Blood Theatre's AVENUE Q.

We were then joined by the hosts for the evening, father and son team, Charles Numrich, a Twin Cities Actor and storyteller, and Seth Numrich, currently Albert Narracott in the 2011 Tony Award-winning WAR HORSE.

The Equity theatre company Ten Thousand Things was recognized for their production of DOUBT. As an indispensable part of the Twin Cities community, Ten Thousand Things, performs in homeless shelters, prison, low-income housing, community centers, and other areas where the access to art is extremely limited. Artistic Director Michelle Hensley said, "I think what made this production of DOUBT quite exception was a combo of an incredible cast, our bare-bones, intimate staging and then, of course, what we are artists learn from our non-traditional audiences. We, as artists, were so informed by their response to the play, which, in turn communicated it to our traditional audiences - those who pay to see the show." She continued, "[Working with Ten Thousand Things] is like getting you batteries recharged. It reminds us why we wanted to do theatre in the first place. The connection with the audiences is so raw. And performing becomes not about a review or a career, but it is about something much bigger than you."

Three Equity Actors were honored with individual recognition for their stellar performances during the past season. Dennis Spears received an Ivey Award for his jazzy performance as Nat King Cole in I WISH YOU LOVE at Penumbra Theatre Company. Playwright, Dominic Taylor said, "Dennis Spears was absolutely marvelous in the role of Nat Cole. This role is challenging as it requires singing and acting-the text requires the actor to go deep and then take that complexity into song. I am hard pressed to think of any other performer who can sing and act at the level Dennis can. I was thrilled with the way he made this role his own, the way he brought Nat to life. Dennis truly deserves to be recognized and I am so glad he received the Ivey recognition as best actor of 2011." The other two awards were given to Peter Christian Hansen received an Ivey Award for his fiery performance as Pale in BURN THIS at Gremlin theater and Ben Bakken for his heavenly performance as Jesus in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.

Finally, the most welcomed award of the evening was the Lifetime Achivement Award presented to Bain Boehlke for his profound effect on the Twin Cities theatrical community over the past half century. Mr. Boehlke is the founder and artistic director of the renowned Jungle Theatre. His effort created one of the Twin Cities best theatres, but his efforts also helped to revitalize a struggling neighborhood. Mr. Boehlke was also an Actor and Associate Artistic Director at the Children's Theatre Company for more than 13 years. After all the years, the community was finally able to honor him and return the love he has given.

Actress Ms. Wendy Lehr, who hosted the Ivey Awards with Mr. Boehlke last year and was last year's recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, had so many kind words to speak about her friend. "Bain is a unique theatre artist. He is authentic. I love the word authentic because it comes from him." Ms. Lehr continued, "He is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. His work has changed Minneapolis for the better. He helped to create the theatre scene."

(L-R) Terry Lynn Carlson (Twin Cities Liaison Chair), Kathryn Lamkey (Central Regional Director), Bain Boehlke, Wendy Lehr, and Ryan Hastings (Business Representative)

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