Ivey Awards ready for annual closeup

Starling (Cat Brindisi) is ready to protect Twin Cities theater from all threats.
Starling (Cat Brindisi) is ready to protect Twin Cities theater from all threats.
Photo by William Clark
Nine years in, Scott Mayer isn't about to reinvent the Ivey Award wheel.

Monday's event at the State Theatre will again feature a mix of honorees, local performers and congratulations all around as the area's theater community celebrates another year.

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"You don't fix what isn't broken. The Tony's have been around for a long time. That's a good omen," says founder and organizer Scott Mayer.

That doesn't mean there aren't fresh ideas for this year, including prizes for the best-dressed patrons at the ceremony and a host for the event's pre-party at Le Méridien Chambers Hotel and Marin Restaurant and Bar.

Shanan Custer returns as host of the event. She is joined this year by actor, director, and advocate Randy Reyes. 

"She brought a real cool local energy. We celebrate Twin Cities organizations and individuals, and I think Shanan is a great embodiment of that energy and spirit," Mayer says. "We decided to give her a little relief this year. People really love Randy. He is such a big part of the theater community, both as an actor and as the new director of Mu."

For the first time, the pre-party will have a host: James Denton, the Desperate Housewives actor who has relocated to the Twin Cities.

Local performances include selections from the Jungle Theater's Urinetown, the Guthrie Theater's Clybourne Park, and Ordinary Days at Nautilus Music-Theater.

"The first piece that is going to kick off the evening is Illusion's Love and Marriage. It is fitting. It has been a tumultuous year around the marriage equality issue. We wanted to recognize it as it impacts so many people in the theater community," Mayer says.

Unlike the Tony Awards (or Oscars or Emmys), the Ivey's do not have winners selected from lists of nominees. Instead, each production by the 80 member theaters is seen by five or six members of the Ivey's evaluator pool.

"When they've seen the performance, they submit an online evaluation. All of those are collected into a software program. The elements that are consistently recognized by those evaluators is what is ultimately recognized at the show," Mayer says.

Shows that do well across the board in the evaluations will be honored with nods for overall excellence, he adds.

Two awards -- the emerging artist and the lifetime achievement prize -- are selected directly by the member theaters. "Each of them is given a ballot with no names on it. The people with the most votes win," Mayer says.

Since the prizes aren't announced ahead of time -- and there are no nominees -- making sure the winners are at the event (without tipping them off to the award) adds the occasional bit of extra logistics.

"We have resorted to unscrupulous means. We've needed to be devious. If I have a suspicion that someone isn't going to make it, I'll get someone near and dear to them [to bring them]. This year, I'm pretty confident that they will all be there," Mayer says.


9th annual Ivey Awards
7:30 p.m. Monday
805 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 1.800.982.2787 or visit online.
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Historic State Theatre

805 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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