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Joe Dowling, Mikell Sapp honored at 2015 Ivey Awards

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Former Guthrie Theater head Joe Dowling received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Ivey Awards ceremony Monday evening at the State Theatre. Actor Mikell Sapp — whose recent work includes tremendous turns in The Ballad of Emmett Till, Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, and Pussy Valley — was named this year's Emerging Artist.

The annual event, a sort-of Twin Cities Tony Awards for local achievement in theater, drew a packed house to the State, as actors, directors, playwrights, designers, backstage crew, and supporters gathered to celebrate the past year in theater.

"You would think that walk would be long enough to think of something to say. It's not," said Walking Shadow Theatre Company's Amy Rummenie after their show Gabriel was honored. 

Two other shows received nods for general excellence: Open Eye Figure Theatre's eccentric physical adventure Nothing is Something, and Live Action Set's immersive Crime and Punishment at the Soap Factory.

Dowling was honored for his 20 years in charge of the Guthrie. During that time, he spearheaded the move of the theater to its current downtown Minneapolis location. At the ceremony, he thanked the community for welcoming him two decades ago, and gave credit to the hard working and talented people who make the Twin Cities theater community tick.

Apart from the Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Artist awards, the Iveys do not have set categories. 

Joe Dowling

Joe Dowling

A number of actors and companies were honored. This included Claudia Wilkens and Barbara Kingsley for Gertrude Stein and A Companion, Shá Cage in Grounded, and the entire ensemble of Marcus: or the Secret of Sweet.

Costume Designer Matthew LeFebvre earned nods for his work on the Jungle's The Mystery of Irma Vep and the Guthrie's annual A Christmas Carol.

Two music directors were honored: Joko Sutrisno for Green T Production's Prince Rama's Journey, and Steve Tyler for the Ordway's The Pirates of Penzance

Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan had the entrance of the evening, as they danced their way down the aisle to the stage to pick up their Ivey for their choreography and playwriting for their latest production of Trick Boxing at Park Square Theatre.

Peter Rothstein picked up a director's nod for his work on Romeo and Juliet at Ten Thousand Things Theater Company. He noted that he wasn't sure about his first time directing Shakepseare, but, "it turns out he knew what he was doing."

The evening featured a mix of crowd-pleasing musical numbers from the likes of the Children's Theatre Company's Peter Pan and Casting Spell Production's Disenchanted! Dramatic works also had their moments, which led to Cage accepting her award dressed as her Grounded character, a few minutes before showing us just a taste as to why it was one of the performances of the last year.

If you missed the event, don't fret. It will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Sunday on the CW 23.