When the State Theatre opened on February 5, 1921, it was the largest theatre in Minneapolis – and, local journalists trumpeted, the most technologically advanced in the country. It featured a state-of-the-art air conditioning system (something the audience wouldn’t test out for several months, and were probably less excited after a massive January blizzard), a glass stage floor for special projected light effects, and the largest movie screen west of the Mississippi. The latter was a key asset: from the onset, the burgeoning popularity of film dominated the State Theatre’s box office. In recognition of this, Architect J.E.O. Pridemore designed a space that could easily and quickly be reset for dance, theatre, and films – something that allowed the State to retain a chameleon identity even as many of its sister theatres became single-use cinema houses.
Today, the State Theatre continues to host a wide variety of live concert performances, lectures, comedy presentations, and other headline acts. Once a year, however, the theatre plays host to a special, one-night affair that would have made Pridemore especially proud: the Ivey Awards, which this year fall on Monday, Sept. 21.
Like most substantial pieces of theatre, the Iveys have several acts: a VIP pre-party at Marin Restaurant and Bar, the awards ceremony and showcase at the State Theatre, and an afterparty at Marin. Unlike the state-wide scope of the Sally Ordway Irvine Awards, the Iveys focus exclusively on professional theatre in the Twin Cities area. Its performance showcase, then, presents an opportunity to revisit excerpts of favorite shows from the season past – or, for those who missed them the first time around, a chance to see what all the buzz was about. This year’s showcase includes:
- An excerpt from the football drama Colossal by Mixed Blood Theatre
- A peek at unhappy fairy tale princesses through “A Happy Tune?” from Disenchanted by Casting Spells Productions
- 2014 Ivey Awards Emerging Artist Tyler Michaels in “I Won’t Grow Up” from Peter Pan by Children’s Theatre Company
- A taste of bluegrass in “The Wandering Wondering” from Jonah and the Whale by 7th House Theater (Tyler Michaels co-directed)
- A look back at a Latino Korean War vet who used to open for Elvis in “Ivy League Baby” from River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story by History Theatre
- A piece of nannying in “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins by Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
- Short glimpses of Grounded (Frank Theatre), Detroit ‘67 (Penumbra Theatre), Jeffrey Hatcher’s Hamlet, and Thurgood (Illusion Theater).
This year’s showcase is directed by James Rocco of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and takes place as part of Fashion Week Minnesota. A special feature on this year’s Ivey Awards will be broadcast by CW23 on Sunday, September 27, from 7–9 pm.