AriZonis honor youth theater

2009-2010 AriZoni nominee "Little Women" at Musical Theatre of Anthem

I’ve never met a young actor who performs primarily to win theater awards. They’re more into the fun, the friendship, the focus on song and dance. But I know quite a few who are thrilled when their work is recognized with a nomination or award.

The AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence ceremony for the 2009-2010 season will be held Mon, Sept. 20–and recognize achievements within several categories: contracted musicals, contracted plays, non-contracted plays and musicals, youth and original works.

Here’s a brief sampling of this year’s youth nominees…

For overall production/youth play, nominees include serious works such as “The Laramie Project” and “The Diary of Anne Frank” to lighter fare such as “The Jungle Book” and “The Goats Gruff.”

Theaters with more than a single nominee in this category include East Valley Children’s Theatre and Fountain Hills Community Theater Youth Theater.

Multiple nominations for overall production/youth musical went to Spotlight Youth Theatre and Theater Works Youth Works.

Nominated titles include classics like “Oliver!” and “The Sound of Music” as well as a show you may never have heard of– “Captain Preston and the Pirate Scourge!”

2009-2010 AriZoni nominee Jackie Hammond provided musical direction for "The Wizard of Oz" at Musical Theatre of Anthem

Kenny Grossman was nominated for directing in both the youth play and youth musical categories. Other director nominees include Chanel Branham for a youth play with The Homestead Playhouse and Lori Towne for a youth musical with MCC Act II Youth Productions.

Musical direction nominees include ten different talents, while a single individual earned more than one nomination in several other categories–Jennifer Druxbury for choreography, Kenny Grossman and Dori Brown for scenic design, Barbara Jakucki and Renee Brown for costume design, and Cori Johnson for hair and make-up design.

Dori Brown earned three nominations for lighting design, while Kenny Grossman earned multiple nominations for both lighting design and sound design. Karen Rolston earned several nominations for sound design and property design.

2009-2010 AriZoni nominee Krissi Dines as Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" with Theater Works Youth Works

Six theaters are represented in the actress/major role/play category, and seven are represented in the actress/major role/musical category.

Half of the nominees for actor/major role/play category performed with East Valley Children’s Theatre, while multiple nominations for actor/major role/musical went to youth who’d worked with Spotlight Youth Theatre and Theater Works Youth Works.

Spotlight Youth Theatre leads the count for actress/supporting role/play nominations with three, and half of the 10 nominations for actress/supporting role/musical also worked with Spotlight.

Actor/supporting role/play nominees include Gustavo Huerra for work with Bennett Performing Arts Theatre and actor/supporting role musical nominees include Porter James for work with Actor’s Youth Theatre.

Guest actor/play nominations went to three individuals (for work on “The Field Trip,” “The Nutcracker: A Play” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”). Five of the nine guest actor/musical nominees worked with Musical Theatre of Anthem.

Nominations were also garnered by several other organizations (or actors/others affiliated with them)–including Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre and Starlight Community Theater.

We’d expect most of the nominees to attend the Sept. 20 ceremony, but what about others involved with youth theater?

My daughter Lizabeth learned–while attending the Utah Shakespearean Festival–that several peers she performed with last season in “Oliver!” and “The Laramie Project” were nominated, and seems just as happy to applaud their achievements as she would be were she the one nominated.

2009-2010 AriZoni nominee "Beauty and the Beast" at Theater Works Youth Works

I hope other young actors who weren’t nominated will do the same.

Even youth who didn’t perform in youth theater productions last season can have a great time attending the ceremony and watching kids their own age get recognized for their hard work and talent.

Who knows? The ceremony might even inspire more than a few children and teens who’ve never acted before to try their hand at live theater.

I suspect that for at least some of the evening’s nominees, the opportunity to inspire others to experience the thrill of performance art will be its own reward–with a win merely serving as icing on the cake.


Note: Stay tuned to for event details, ticket information and a full list of nominees in youth and other categories.

Coming up: Valley theaters recognized with 2010 National Youth Theatre awards (to be honored Sept 12 at a ceremony to be held at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix), Lynn and Liz enjoy “Ramona and Beezus”

ALERT! ASU Gammage has issued the call for 2010-2011 “Gammage Goer” applications. Click here to learn more about the “Gammage Goer” program or to submit your application. I was honored to be chosen last year as a member of the program’s inaugural class before returning to the magazine to cover the arts–and it was a wonderful experience. Go for it–and good luck!


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