Ivey Awards honor Shiomi with Lifetime Achievement Award

Categories: Theater
Rick Shiomi Ivey.jpg
Photo by Kurt Moses
Rick Shiomi with his Lifetime Achievement Award.
Rick Shiomi took home the Lifetime Achievement honor at Monday evening's Ivey Award ceremony for his decades of contributions to area theater, especially through his work with Mu Performing Arts. How much influence has he had? During his acceptance, the stage was packed with dozens of Mu performers.

The eighth-annual theater community pat-on-the-pack honored a number of worthy productions, performances, and creators during a two-hour ceremony at the State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis.


Isabel Nelson, the co-artistic director of Transatlantic Love Affair, earned the emerging artist award. The company's Ballad of a Pale Fisherman also earned an Ivey for its production earlier this year as part of Illusion Theater's Lights Up series.

Shiomi is in his last year in charge of Mu Performing Arts, which makes the honor particularly sweet for the hard-working creator. The company itself is coming off a hit production of Into the Woods, which he directed. The upcoming season ends with the play that launched Shiomi's career 30 years ago, Yellow Fever.

Four productions were honored Monday night. Along with Ballad, Walking Shadow's Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Theatre Latte Da's Spring Awakening, and Theatre Unbound's all-female Julius Caesar were honored.

Both Judy Garland's seen onstage in the last year were honored: Tracie Bennett for her turn as the singer at the end of her life in End of the Rainbow at the Guthrie, and Jody Briskey for Garland in her prime in History Theatre's Beyond the Rainbow. Up-and-coming actor Hugh Kennedy ended an impressive year with a win for his performance in Buzzer at Pillsbury House Theatre.

Barry Browning was honored for his years of lighting brilliance, more specifically for his work in the Jungle's Dial 'M' for Murder. Miriam Monasch earned a directing nod for Our Class at the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, and Joe Vass's musical direction on The Soul of Gershin at Park Square Theatre earned him an award.

Shanan Custer proved to be affable host, keeping up a quick pace that rarely flagged, but the event itself felt overstuffed and turgid at times. The weaker moments really stretched good-natured patience, such as an opening tribute to sound and lighting design that seemed to take forever to go nowhere, and a similar time-stretching tribute to Actor's Equity (also an event sponsor). 

Better were the snatches of shows, from honorees Spring Awakening and The Ballad of a Pale Fisherman to a visually stunning bit from TigerLion Arts' The Dragons Are Singing Tonight. And in place of a dull reading of all 28 sponsors, Joseph Scrimshaw and John Middleton played an overly dramatic scene as two brothers dug deep into the heartbreaks of their lives -- and managed to weave in numerous business references along the way.
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