2016 Ivey Awards shines bright light on thriving theater scene

Hosts Mark Benninghofen and Regina Marie Williams
Hosts Mark Benninghofen and Regina Marie Williams (James L. Stroud, Jr./MSR New

The 2016 Ivey Awards usually attracts a packed house, so this year’s sold-out event was no surprise to those who regularly attend. African Americans were well represented once again during the 12th annual show held at the Historic State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis, September 19.

The event was co-hosted by Regina Marie-Williams again, but this year Mark Benninghofen joined her. They kept the show moving and made it look fun and easy. Williams eventually took the stage with Thomasina Petrus and Aimee K. Bryant for a song from their Park Square Theatre production of Nina Simone: Four Women.

Each year, the Twin Cities theater community recognizes their own in many categories by showcasing the work of professional theater companies and artists over the past year. Awards are given to actors, directors, sound designers and even theater critics.

The Ivey’s are special among awards shows, as they are open to the public and there are no nominees, set number of awards, or pre-determined award categories, with the exception of the Lifetime Achievement and the Emerging Artist Awards.

Pictured left to right: Thomasina Petrus, Regina Marie-Williams and Aimee K. Bryant on stage at the Ivey’s performing a song from their theater production, 'Nina Simone: Four Women.'
Pictured left to right: Thomasina Petrus, Regina Marie-Williams and Aimee K. Bryant on stage at the Ivey’s performing a song from their theater production, ‘Nina Simone: Four Women.’ (James L. Stroud, Jr./MSR News)

Longtime theater critic for the Star Tribune, Graydon Royce, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Costume designer Trevor Bowen received this year’s Emerging Artist Award.

Mikell Sapp, the 2015 Emerging Artist winner, or should we say “champion,” presented the award to Bowen, but first he entered the stage dressed as a championship boxer with two ring men by his side. Sapp removed his royal blue hooded cape after punching the air and dancing around for a few moments of fun. Then he made the announcement and passed the award to Bowen. The MSR spoke with Trevor Bowen (TB) about his award.

MSR: How long have you been in Minnesota?

TB: This is my fourth year here. I came here from Oklahoma by way of New Haven Connecticut.

MSR: How long have you been designing theatrical wardrobes?

TB: Eight years now.

MSR: What does it mean to receive the Emerging Artist Award?

TB: It’s nice to be celebrated for the work we do. As I said on stage, it’s not about what I’m doing, it’s about the creative aspect. It’s about illuminating the story. It’s about celebrating the performer and providing clarity. So if it needs to be fancy, we make it fancy. If it needs to be ugly, we make it ugly. If it needs to be pretty, we make it pretty.

MSR: What has been your favorite costume design thus far?

TB: All of them are my favorite. Every story is so unique. That’s the best part of my job. I can go from show to show and work on a comedy or drama that might cover a certain period of time.

MSR: Is examining a script and gathering material to match the designs with the story, much like a music producer writing a soundtrack for a film project?

TB: Yes, very similar. What we do on stage is a moving composition. It’s a painting that changes from scene to scene and moment to moment. Our job is to put in a specific pattern, color, texture or shape. I feel like costume designers are sculptures as much as Michael Angelo was.

Find more event information at www.iveyawards.com

See more photos below. James L. Stroud, Jr. welcomes reader comment to jlswriter@gmail.com.

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