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    Posted October 24, 2008

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Ivey Awards Honor Twin City Artists, Productions

Equity member Matthew Amendt, Emerging Artist Award Winner
Photo: Sophia Hantzes

Old Log's Don Stolz Honored for Lifetime Achievement, Matthew Amendt Wins Emerging Artist Award

The Twin Cities, which prides itself on being second to New York in per capita theater attendance, hosted the Fourth Annual Ivey Awards at the Historic State Theatre on Monday, September 22, 2008. Home to 17 Equity theatre companies and over 500 Equity Actors and Stage Managers, the Twin Cities offers an impressive array of performing venues, from smaller professional theatre companies like the Mixed Blood Theatre, the Jungle Theatre and Theatre Latte Da, to major regional institutions like the Guthrie, the Children's Theatre Company and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

An SRO audience of over 2000 warmly welcomed Actors' Equity to the celebration, as a first-time sponsor of this year's Twin Cities Emerging Artist Award. Central Regional Director Kathryn Lamkey presented the Ivey to actor/playwright Matthew Amendt, a 2004 BFA Graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre Actor Training program. In her presentation Lamkey saluted the dedication and artistry of the professional actors and stage managers who are the backbone of the Twin Cities theatre community, and acknowledged the dedicated work of the AEA Area Liaison Committee, chaired by Joey Babay. The sponsorship is part of the Union's ongoing marketing campaign to build public awareness about Actors' Equity and what it means to be an Equity theatre.

Ivey Award winner/presenter Sheila Livingston, Lifetime Achievement Honoree Don Stolz, Central Regional Director Kathryn Lamkey
Photo: Sophia Hantzes

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to 90-year old Don Stolz, best known as the guiding force behind the Old Log Theatre, which is the oldest professional theatre in the upper Midwest and the oldest continuously running stock theater in the entire country, where he has worked for more than 60 years. "There's nothing more glorious than being honored by the people you work with," said Stolz, who came to the Old Log in 1941 as an actor and director. Stolz has acted, directed and produced nearly all of the shows in the theatre's history, and received an honorary AEA Life Membership in 2005. A moving video tribute accompanied the presentation.

James A. Williams, FENCES, Penumbra Theatre
Photo: Penumbra Theatre

Among the other Equity Ivey honorees were:

Actor James A. Williams, for FENCES at the Penumbra Theatre Company, where he is a founding member. Williams has been featured in numerous productions at Penumbra, and is also an acting alumnus of The Children's Theatre Company, the Guthrie, Playwright Center, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, and Kansas City Rep. Williams was named "Twin Cities Artist of the Year" in 2003 by the Star Tribune;

Kate Eifrig, 9 PARTS OF DESIRE, Guthrie Theatre
Photo: Michael Daniel

Actor Kate Eifrig, for 9 PARTS OF DESIRE, at the Guthrie Theatre. Ms. Eifrig is well-known to Twin Cities audiences for her work at the Guthrie, the Ordway, the Jungle Theatre, Park Square Fifty Foot Penguin Theatre and Ten Thousand Things Theatre Company.

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ 42nd Street cast opened the Ivey Awards at the Historic State Theatre. AEA member Tamara Kangas Erickson garnered an Ivey for Best Choreography that evening.
Click to enlarge
Photo: Chanhassen Dinner Theatre

Choreographer Tamara Kangas, for 42ND STREET at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, now celebrating its 40th Anniversary season. Tamara has also choreographed productions of GREASE, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, WEST SIDE STORY and LES MISERABLES.

Hosts/MCs Steve Blanchard and Melissa Gilbert
Photo: Sophia Hantzes

The glittering night was hosted by Equity members Melissa Gilbert and Steve Blanchard, currently co-starring in the Guthrie's LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Both were clearly smitten with the Twin Cities arts community and added a glamorous touch to the festivities. AEA National Communications Director David Lotz and Chicago Business Representative Laura Lamoureux also attended the gala.

Named for a popular Twin Cities theatrical pub, the Iveys were produced by Scott Mayer and scripted by AEA member Holly Schroeder. Nominees are selected and evaluated by more than 100 evaluators who saw over 250 theatre productions and 1000 performances between September 2007, and August 2008.

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