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An Ivey Awards preview; Riverfront Fest coming up

Chvala photo by Bill Cameron; Benninghofen and Williams courtesy of the Iveys
Joe Chvala is directing this year’s Iveys show with co-hosts Mark Benninghofen and Regina Marie Williams.

Think of the annual Ivey Awards as our own Tonys. Except there are no nominees, only two predetermined award categories (Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Artist), and no set number of awards.

There is, however, a glamorous awards show, with a red carpet and serious fashion. (People really dress up for the Iveys.) On Tuesday during a happy hour at MartinPatrick3, the tony North Loop men’s boutique, we learned the deets for this year’s event.

The 2016 Iveys – the 12th – will take place Monday, Sept. 19, at the State Theatre. Joe Chvala, who’s been directing “A Christmas Carol” at the Guthrie for the past few seasons, and a thousand other things, and leading his own Flying Foot Forum dance company, will direct. The co-hosts will be Mark Benninghofen and Regina Marie Williams. Benninghofen killed us in Latté Da’s “Sweeney Todd” last fall and was named Best Actor in the Star Tribune’s Best of MN 2016. Williams slayed in Park Square’s sold-out “Nina Simone: Four Women” earlier this year. (Just announced: “Nina Simone” will return Feb. 7-26, 2017.)

Along with the awards presentations, the show will feature songs, excerpts and scenes from 10 Twin Cities theater productions including “Nina Simone,” Latté Da’s “Gypsy,” Yellow Tree’s “Violet,” Candid Theater company’s “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers,” Transatlantic Love Affair’s “Emilie/Eurydice,” Dark & Stormy’s “And So It Goes” and Plymouth Playhouse’s “Country Roads: The Music of John Denver.”

But “don’t think you’ll be sitting there for four hours, like the DMV,” Iveys founder Scott Mayer reassured the happy hour crowd. “Ninety minutes and you’re out.” And on your way to the after-party at Marin across the street.

Tickets are available now ($35 regular, $150 VIP, $10 ages 17 and younger).

How exactly do the Iveys work? It’s very Minnesotan. The artists and organizations recognized are selected from evaluations completed by the general public (including you, if you want) and 150-plus volunteers who see more than 1,000 performances each year. A software program summarizes the information they provide, and an 18-member advisory committee of local theater professionals, theater board members and theater-goers confirms the results.

4 theater companies announce seasons

Four small, interesting Twin Cities theater companies have announced their 2016-17 seasons:

Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric,” a book everybody has been talking about since Graywolf published it in 2014, has been adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs of Los Angeles’ Fountain Theatre. Frank Theatre will present the area premiere in spring 2017, dates and venue TBA. Frank’s season opens in October of this year with Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt’s “The Visit,” a dark play the New York Times called “a small masterpiece of misanthropy.” Oct. 28 to Nov. 20 at the Ritz.

Our pick for Best Play Title: “Waiting for Waiting for Godot.” Loudmouth Collective opens its fifth season with Dave Hanson’s play about two understudies waiting in a dressing room for a chance to perform in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” Which is never going to happen. Hanson’s comedy debuted at the New York Fringe in 2013. Sept. 23 to Oct. 2 at the Open Eye Figure Theatre. In Spring 2017 at the Open Eye, dates TBD: “The Testament of Mary” by Colm Tóibín, adapted from his novella of that name. His Mary, mother of Jesus, is less Madonna and more grieving mother.

Walking Shadow’s 12th season explores themes of true love, complacency and social change, starting with Jez Butterworth’s “The River,” about how our intimate moments are shaped by ghosts from the past. Sept. 3-17 at the Open Eye. Next up, David Adjmi’s “Marie Antoinette,” a contemporary take on the young queen of France. Feb. 10 to March 4, 2017, at the Red Eye. The season wraps with Lilita Chakrabarti’s “Red Velvet,” based on the true story of the first African American actor to star at Covent Garden – in an 1833 production of “Othello.” May 12-28 at the Southern.

Theatre Pro Rata starts us off with Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” In this staging, described as “a new way of seeing ourselves and our leaders,” all five actors take on the title role. Nov. 5-20 at Nimbus’ new home. For three nights only, including Election Night: “44 Plays for 44 Presidents” by Andy Bayiates et al., a chronological, biographical survey featuring the original 2012 cast. Nov. 6-8 at Nimbus. Spring brings Robert Ross Parker’s “Goodbye Cruel World,” based on the satire by Nikolai Erdman, banned by Stalin on the eve of its premiere. March 11-26, 2017 at Nimbus. The season closer, Bridget Carpenter’s “UP: The Man in the Flying Chair,” looks at the life of Walter Griffith, the man who attached 45 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair. May 25-June 11 on Park Square’s Andy Boss Stage.

The picks

Courtesy of the artist
Jana Nyberg

Tonight (Thursday, July 28) at Jazz Central Studios: Jana Nyberg. A versatile singer with a powerful voice and great stage presence, Nyberg usually performs with her band, which includes her husband, the trumpeter/composer/bandleader Adam Meckler. But tonight, it’s just Jana and the elegant pianist Chris Lomheim, which should mix things up nicely and offer some surprises. 7:30-9:30 p.m. $10 cover, $5 with student ID.

Friday on the west bank of the Mississippi between Plymouth and Broadway: Riverfront Fest. Food trucks, live music by All the Islands and the Sweet Colleens, beer from Northeast Micro Beers, kids’ activities, and water activities, hosted by the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership with Park & Rec and the East Exchange Club. All free but the food and beer. 5:30 p.m. to sunset. Hey, maybe you could shoot a 60-second film here and enter it into the Mississippi Minute Film Festival competition we told you about yesterday.

Friday at the Cedar: DJ Rekha. After last year’s super fun show, Ragamala Dance Company is bringing DJ Rekha back for another all-ages, cross-cultural dance party. Born in London, now living in New York City, Rekha pioneered mixing Indian Bhangra and Bollywood with hip-hop and electronics – totally infectious. DJ Chamun opens. Standing show with open floor. Doors at 7, show at 8. FMI and tickets ($18 advance, $20 door).

Photo by Rajib Bahar
DJ Rekha at the Cedar in 2015

Saturday at Fort Snelling State Park: Northern Spark @ Summer 4Play. A day of artsy, outdoorsy fun from the folks who bring us the annual Northern Spark all-night arts festival. A sampling: Explore the park by bike with a National Park Service Ranger. Take a hike with the U.S. Forest Service. Learn kayaking strokes with REI. Build a snowcone with the Jeffers Foundation, and dance with DJ Strangelove. Eat summertime food-truck fare on a 100-person community picnic blanket. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. FMI. A valid state park vehicle permit is required ($5/day, $25/annual), available from the Fort Snelling State Park Office.

Courtesy of the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts
Day of the Dead; Forgiveness by Jeannie Fransen

Opens Saturday at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley: “Art of Darkness: Inspired by the Paranormal.” Zombies, monsters, ghosts, aliens, UFOs and chills up your spine: This sounds like fun. Juried by Darkness Dave and Tim Dennis of Darkness Radio, “the best in paranormal talk radio” (sounds like we’ll have to check that out), with help from four artists who work with paranormal themes, this open-call show features 100+ works by 67 artists from 15 states and two Canadian provinces. The jurors and many artists will be there for the public reception on Saturday from 6-9 p.m. Related events include a panel discussion on paranormal art, paranormal writing workshops, and a paranormal investigation of the Banfill Tavern Building. FMI. The exhibition closes Aug. 17.

Saturday at Penumbra: “Awake.” Penumbra’s Summer Institute for teens is not just another theater camp. It’s a leadership development program that trains young artists to critically engage the world around them – to be activist artists, committed to raising awareness about social justice and equity. Directed by Austene Van (currently starring in “Disgraced” at the Guthrie), “Awake” is an evening of original ensemble work written and performed by first-year students who are standing up and speaking out about their world. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($10). “Awake” is followed next Saturday, Aug. 6, by “Authentic,” an evening of original monologues written and performed by second-year students about issues that concern them. Directed by Claribel Gross. FMI and tickets ($10).

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