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Wendy Lehr honored with lifetime achievement award at annual Iveys

It’s not often Wendy Lehr is left thunderstruck, but the veteran actor looked positively stunned last night at the annual Ivey Awards when she was honored for her half a century of performing, directing and teaching with a lifetime achievement award.

Lehr, in fact, had changed into a flashy outfit for her part in the show finale from Theatre Latte Da’s “The Fully Monty.”

“I had no idea this was coming,” she said while accepting the award.

Just before, a theater artist on the other side of her career ­ — she has been out of graduate school for less than two years ­ — was honored for her striking costumes for a number of top Twin Cities theaters. Kalere Payton, who has designed costumes for Penumbra, Park Square, the Guthrie Theater and Theatre Latte Da, among others, was also taken aback by her award, visibly trembling as she thanked everyone for the opportunities to showcase her talent over the last year.

As a whole, the sixth annual awards gave the theater community and its backers plenty of chances to celebrate, from an opening montage of the many participating companies to several showcase performances.

The most spellbinding moment came from Ten Thousand Things Artistic Director Michelle Hensley, who won for the company’s stunning production of “Othello.” After thanking her collaborators, Hensley gave special mention to the company’s unique audience.

“I want to thank our audience, for all the men and women who are in prison and in homeless shelters, and for all the people who live on the margins,” she said, noting that their demands for clarity and insight have driven Ten Thousand Things, and that everyone in the community needs to keep reaching out to those who are not normally part of the theater going audience.

The 2010 Ivey Award honorees:

Outstanding production:
“Mary’s Wedding,”
The Jungle Theater
“Ruined,” Mixed Blood Theatre
“Othello,” Ten Thousand Things Theater

Aaron Gabriel
, music, “Madame Majesta’s Miracle Medicine Show,” Interact Theater; Katie Guentzel, acting, “My Antonia,” Illusion Theater; Allison Moore, playwright, “My Antonia,” Illusion Theater; Joseph Stanley, scenic design, “Mulan, Jr.,” Children’s Theatre Company; Tulle and Dye, costumes, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” Ordway Center for the Performing Arts; Regina Marie Williams, acting, “Ruined,” Mixed Blood Theatre.

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