Thursday, August 24, 2017

the 2017 ariZoni nominees react to being nominated

 by Gil Benbrook

PHX Stages reached out to dozens of 2017 Zoni nominees, shortly after they learned that they were nominated for the Valley's biggest theatre award, to find out where they were when they heard the news about being nominated and their reaction to what the nomination means to them.

The 2017 ariZoni Awards ceremony is Monday September 25th - Tickets are on sale now. Click here for more information.

CLICK HERE for a complete list of 2017 ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence nominees

Paige Roeber Beckman
Director Youth Play - Fountain Hills Youth Theater - Anne of Green Gables

"The first time I was nominated for an ariZoni Award I was not even thinking I would be nominated. My daughter and I were scrolling through the list of kids we knew who were nominated in the youth categories. We didn't even look in the director or music director categories.  It was just by chance we scrolled through and my name caught our eye under music director. We were surprised and excited.  This year I was at the reading of the Zoni's at Phoenix Theater and trying to post the Fountain Hills nominees on our Facebook page. When I heard our show (Anne of Green Gables) got nominated for Best Youth Play it got me wondering about possible other nominations. Then I heard my two leads nominated in the best actress category.  And sure enough, I was nominated in the director category.  I was so pleased because this play was a challenge and a labor of love and I was glad to hear it got noticed. I am especially proud of my two leads, Lachlan Henderson and Emma Baldwin. They were both amazing."

Spotlight Youth Theatre's Legally Blonde, nominated for 12 ariZoni Awards
including Addison Bowman, right, as Actress in a Major Role
and Lily Castle, left, as Actress in a Supporting Role, with Falin Ossipinsky, center
photo by Joanne Wastchak
Addison Bowman
Actress in a Major Role, Youth Musical -
Spotlight Youth Theatre-Legally Blonde
Spotlight Youth Theatre-School of Rock
Theater Works YouthWorks-Les Miserables: School Edition

"I was in a tech rehearsal for Shrek the Musical when I found out that I revived three zoni nominations for the roles of Fantine, Roselee, and Elle. My friends had texted me letting me know, and I was overjoyed (this is my second time being nominated)! I didn't expect anything of course, but I actually was hoping to have received a nomination or was hoping that something I was in received a nomination because I just really love going to the Zonis and dressing up fancy alongside my incredibly talented friends and directors!  I think more than anything I am just proud to be involved in a community full of such talented, hardworking and dedicated kids and adults. There is something special about theater in Arizona, and you can tell by the passion and love the youth has for it, It's something like none other. I just love the idea of the Zonis where we all can come together one day a year, celebrating all of the hard work everyone put into the productions."

Faith Blinn
Actress in a Supporting Role, Youth Play - Theater Works YouthWorks-The Pauper Princess

"I was shopping with my family when I heard the news. One of my close friends had posted on social media that I was nominated for my first Zoni award. I was completely stunned and speechless. I had been going through a lot this past year and hearing that I was being recognized for all of my hard work was such an incredible and validating feeling. It is proof that even though we go through hard times in life, there are good things just waiting for us around the corner. This entire experience is a blessing. I couldn’t be more humbled and honored."

Hale Centre Theatre's The Marvelous Wonderettes - nominated for 12 ariZoni Awards
inlcuding, nominees for Best Actress, left to right, Becca Bryce, Gina Kim, Jessie Jo Pauley and Melissa VanSlyke
photo by Nick Woodward-Shaw; Lighting by Jeff A. Davis
Becca Bryce
Actress in a Major Role, Musical - Hale Centre Theatre - The Marvelous Wonderettes

"I was actually sitting on my couch and watching the live reading of the nominations - it's always fun to see which shows get mentioned. I was surprised and incredibly pleased that my entire Marvelous Wonderettes cast got nominated. I couldn't believe it when they read all four names. This is my first nomination and I couldn't be more honored that it was for this show.  I think the fact that all four of us were recognized is a testament to the work we did together - the show wouldn't have been the same with any other people. I couldn't be more proud of them (and the rest of the crew!)"

David Chorley
Director, Musical - Mesa Encore Theatre-Urinetown

I sprained my ankle pretty bad the week before so I was at home with my leg up when I found out the news. I know that if I was able, I would have jumped up and down with joy at the news of my directing nomination. Good thing I didn't though as I would most likely have sprained something else I'm sure.

My Zoni nomination for directing Urinetown was extra special for me. It's always a pleasure to be nominated of course, but to be recognized for a project that you spent so many hours working on, really makes it even more enjoyable. I sensed very early on that Urinetown was going to be special so I just poured every ounce of energy I could muster to make sure that no creative stone was left unturned. It was exhausting, extremely rewarding and a ton of fun. The only thing better than getting a nomination myself was to see the show get eleven total nominations and to see artists like Sarah, CJ, Diane and Angela get recognized is just awesome because I know how much extra time they spent working on this show. All in all , I feel that Urinetown represents my best work as a director to date, so the AriZoni nomination means a tremendous amount to me and I am so very grateful to be recognized among so many other talented artists working in the Valley.

Spencer Claus
Actor in a Supporting Role, Youth Musical - Spotlight Youth Theatre - American Idiot
Hair & Makeup Design, Youth - Spotlight Youth Theatre-School of Rock &
Spotlight Youth Theatre-Willy Wonka JR.

"I was on my couch when I got a Facebook notification saying that a friend had written on my wall congratulating me. Kind of ant-climatic right? I'm humbled and don't expect a win, just happy and honored to be recognized at all."

ariZoni nominee Hector Coris, and the cast,  in Mesa Encore Theatre's Urinetown, nominated for 11 Zonis
photo by Sarah Rodgers

Hector Coris
Actor in a Supporting Role, Musical - Mesa Encore Theatre-Urinetown

"I was home, binge-watching something. I had zero expectation of being nominated - I never do - since I had only worked on one eligible show last season - and did not think my role [as "Hot Blades Harry" in MET's Urinetown] was even up for consideration. Then, someone who was at the nomination reading or watching the live-stream posted a congratulatory message on my Facebook wall and I seriously thought they were kidding.

Of course, I was happy to be nominated. For me, that's always the win. In a sea of other worthy and more prominent performances, to get pulled into that small group is very cool. However, a little part of me felt a little sheepish about it. Any number of my fellow featured ensemble members could have made the list. Our director, David Chorley, made sure that we were a cohesive unit and we all contributed immensely to the delightful mayhem on stage. Everyone in the show always made sure they were going to the nth degree, finding those spaces where they could pop out and have a moment and we all gave each other the focus to do that. So, while it is an honor to be nominated, I'm more happy that it compounds the love Urinetown received as a whole this year."

Caelan Creaser
Actress in a Major Role, Musical - Hale Centre Theatre - Thoroughly Modern Millie

"This is my first time being nominated for a Zoni award and I couldn't be more excited! I moved down to AZ last August from Seattle-- so I've only been here a year! This past year has been so amazing to be a part of the Arizona theatre scene!! I honestly didn't even know what an "AriZoni Award" was until I was in rehearsals for Millie at Hale Theatre. I think honoring local artists for their work in theatre is such a cool way to keep the theatre community alive and flourishing and I'm so excited to be nominated for a Zoni this year!"

Emilio Cress
Actor in a Supporting Role, Youth Play - Acting Zone-SwitchbackS &
Theater Works YouthWorks-In the Village of the Brothers Grimm

"I was in rehearsal for In There Somewhere when I found out I had gotten nominated for the first time ever in my time acting. My reaction for being nominated was beyond happy. To me nominations and recognition aren't why I do theater but they are a nice bonus. I do theater to make an audience laugh or cry or just forget about their day and become enveloped into the world you're creating up on stage. I am beyond honored to have received nominations for the first time and I hope to receive many more through the years to come!!!"

Jeff Deglow
Actor in a Major Role, Play - Hale Centre Theatre-Is He Dead?

"Not only am I grateful for the recognition, I am supremely grateful for the way I found out about the nomination! Having arrived home earlier that day from being out of town, I had sat down to journal about my trip. I had shut my phone off to avoid distractions, and when I returned “to the grid” I had many messages of congratulations! I am glad to have heard about it from friends rather than scouring a website. While I am thankful, and excited, for my own nomination; I am much more thrilled to see so many of my friends and colleagues’ named as well. Quick Shout out to my cast of You Can’t Take It With You… it takes a true ensemble to bring that show to life and the recognition for Best Production reflects that! Also, to Mary Atkinson and Cambrian James for making me the prettiest girl out there; I couldn’t have done it without your vision and talent! And to Dave and Corrine Dietlein for their dedication to this community and for their many Hale Centre Theatre noms.

Let me just say, congrats to all, recognized or not, in the theatre community. Whether backstage, onstage or a patron in the audience; congratulations to all; this is a celebration of the community!  It’s an honor to work and play among you!"

Trey DeGroodt
Actor in a Major Role, Youth Musical - Theater Works YouthWorks-Les Miserables: School Edition
Hair & Make-Up Design, Youth - Spotlight Youth Theatre-Green Day's American Idiot

"I was home when I heard about my first nomination for Les Miserables! My mom called me and said she was watching the live stream of the announcements, and I was nominated for my work playing Javert. This was the only role I played on stage this season, and I really poured my heart into it like crazy. I've never been so proud of my work on stage, so to be nominated was a huge validation for me. When I first heard I was cast as Javert, I was hesitant, as I never liked the part, and was never compelled by the character and his story. But of course I took the part, and I was bound and determined to make the part the best I'd ever seen. To be nominated for the role (in a show that was one of the best of this season in my opinion) was a huge honor. I was also nominated for my hair and makeup design on American Idiot. I have to owe that one to the AMAZING cast who was so willing to adapt and bring my crazy visions, as well as their own to life. I put lots of work into honing in on my hair and makeup design skills. I hope to set the bar even higher next season."

zoni nominees Kale Burr and Sarah Scroggins (center) in
Actor's Youth Theatre's Dracula, nominated for 11 ariZoni Awards
photo by Lisa Webb / Southwest Shots Photography

Zackary Diepstraten

Director, Youth Play & Original Script - Youth Play - Actor’s Youth Theatre - Dracula

"I was hanging out with my friends Jared Kitch (who also got a nomination this year) and JT Ziervogel, listening to the live stream on Facebook. After hearing about Dracula receiving an overall production nom, I felt an immediate sense of extreme pride for the phenomenonal cast then hearing about the director nomination as well as the script nomination were the cherries on top! I thought back to the rehearsals and performances and how incredible it was to see my own words brought to life by the wickedly talented cast. The very first time I was nominated I remember being at the reading of the nominations and being shocked and to win later that year was even more of a shock! I was convinced they called out the wrong name so it took me a minute to get up on stage! Today, this nomination boosts my confidence in my current venture: State 48 Theatre Company, where I'll be writing and directing my own work more often. Overall I'm very proud of my own accomplishments but I must say that my heart is filled with pride for my Dracula cast and the hard work they put into the show!"

Drake Dole
Lighting Design - Desert Stages Theatre-The Producers

"I was in the kitchen doing dishes when my phone starting going off. I got two different messages saying congratulations. I suddenly remembered it was the night of the zoni nominations. I quickly jumped on my computer to see for myself. My heart was racing with excitement that I had been nominated for my lighting design."

Tim Fiscus
Actor in a Major Role, Musical - Hale Centre Theatre-The Drowsy Chaperone &
Mesa Encore Theatre-Urinetown

I was sitting at home enjoying an evening of repetitive children's music videos with my 20-month old daughter when I started getting text messages from theater friends congratulating me on my nominations.  When I found out that I had been nominated twice for a Best Actor in a Musical award this year I was over the moon.  I was really proud of both shows (The Drowsy Chaperone and Urinetown) and so pleased to not only be nominated but see these shows receiving multiple nominations!  To get nominated for playing both the good guy and the bad guy is also a really cool aspect of these nods and I can't thank the Zoni committee enough for recognizing my work.   I have been nominated once before, for last season's Rumors at Desert Stages, which was my first show in the Valley. I am looking forward to participating in the awards ceremony this year and taking in all the amazing local talent - Phoenix is truly an amazing theater city.   Fingers crossed for my shows that all nominees walk home with their awards! Also shout out to Todd Corbeil for giving me the heads up of my nominations!"

Aurelie Flores
Costume Design - Desert Stages Theatre-The Producers &
Queen Creek Performing Arts Center-Shrek the Musical &
Costume Design, Youth - Theater Works YouthWorks-The Pauper Princess

"I was in Indianapolis for the Drum and Bugle Corps championships when I heard I was nominated for three ariZoni awards for costume designs  I was somewhat surprised at the nominations.  Both Shrek and the Producers required a large quantity of very specific costumes.  It was challenging just to finish all of these costumes.  Thankfully I had the help of my A-team members Linda Pauley, Edie Chudnow, Fran O'conner, Mary and Molly Wyman, Stephanie Wright, Allyson Ortega, Lynanne Cottle, John Lucius and Brenda Rankin.  I also have to give credit to my husband Wayne, son Isaac and daughters Isabelle and Aurelie for their help with the tank costumes in the Producers and the boat costume in Pauper Princess.  I also need to thank my family for the behind the scenes work of costuming such as hauling costumes up and down stairs, constantly loading and unloading my car and washing the mountains of laundry created by each show.  I have received two Zoni awards before and a number of nominations but each time it is an honor and a thrill to be recognized for my work.  It is a great feeling to know that someone notices the details when you have worked into the wee hours of the morning cutting out hundreds of fabric leaves to sew onto a tunic or hand-painting fabric to get the perfect color and pattern.  Actors receive applause in recognition of their hard work and for designers AriZoni nominations are equivalent to a standing ovation.  I am very honored just to be included in this group of fantastic costume designers who have been nominated this year."

Kelli James
Director, Youth Musical - Theater Works YouthWorks-Les Miserables: School Edition

"I was sitting in my studio when one of my cast members messaged me and said "congratulations. I asked "what for"? She said, "the AriZoni nominations" I then said "did we get some?" She said, "yes, all of them" This recognition was really sweet. It was my first solo flight as a director in a show that means so much to me. I really wanted to give my youth cast the kind of incredible experience that I had on Les Mis. I think we accomplished that."

the cast of Stray Cat Theatre's Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See - nominated for 7 Zonis
including nominees Ryan L. Jenkins, far left, and Van Rockwell and Devon Nickel, far right
photo by John Groseclose

Ryan L. Jenkins
Actress in a Major Role, Play - Stray Cat Theatre-Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See

"I was sitting at home Monday evening, cruising Facebook. It had slipped my mind that the Zoni nominations were being announced that night. I saw a post from Stray Cat Theatre on my timeline: my name- Best Actress. For a moment I thought it was a hopeful or fantasy nomination. Then I noticed Stray Cat was posting frequently. It clicked. They were posting the nominations. My show was nominated! My castmates, my director, my playwright...and...ME?! I found the livestream and watched the rest of the nominations. I went back and heard my name be called. I was surprised. In my two years acting in the valley, I've had one other production get nominated for Best Overall Production (Cock, 2016). This is my first individual nomination, and I'm beyond humbled to be nominated. I came to the valley with a desire to share my creativity and passion for the arts with the theatre community, and it has given me so many opportunities to shine and challenge myself through storytelling. My theatre training at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign equipped me with the skills and confidence to meet the challenges of being a lead in this show. Where I struggled, my director, stage manager, fellow castmates, and crew gave me the guidance to become the bosslady that Jackie is. I truly enjoyed bringing the production to life with them, and I could not have been nominated without them. I'm excited that so much greatness surrounding this production is being recognized, and a bit awestruck to be included."

Angela Kabasan
Hair & Makeup Design - Mesa Encore Theatre-Urinetown

"I was actually rehearsing She Loves Me, as Ilona, at Don Bluth Front Row Theatre, waiting to make an entrance when the congratulations started rolling in on my phone. Honestly? It felt a little surreal! Being recognized for makeup and hair design...well, I'm overwhelmed, awed, and humbled by it! My show goal, as cast or crew, is to present a great bit of makeup, set piece, or performance, and have it be personal to the audience. I LOVE creating experiences that make people feel things. This nomination is like a thousand of those feelings! I know it was enjoyed, that it was a magical moment for people, and I was a part of that. That makes my heart grow three sizes.  Thank you so much again, Zoni's, for my nomination! "

zoni nominee Devon Mahon, right, with Shelby Maticic in
Brelby Theatre Company's The Oz Chronicles, nominated for three Zoni Awards
photo by Fernando Perez

Devon Mahon
Actor in a Supporting Role - Brelby Theatre Company - The Oz Chronicles

"When Zoni nominations went out I was visiting my parents. We have a few tv shows we used to always watch together, and it had been a long time since doing so. This year was my first year being nominated, and I'm excited to have had it be for my true passion in acting. I consider myself a pretty well rounded artist - I act, design, write, direct, etc - but acting is where I'm rooted. My nomination for Best Supporting Actor came as a complete surprise, but I couldn't think of a character I've had more fun diving into character work for than The Hungry Tiger in Brelby's production of The Oz Chronicles. I went through a mini boot camp for the combat, dove into animal character work (movement was the most fun), ate constantly onstage, and really tried to personify a human-like cat. It's nice to know that my hard work was noticed, and I'm really proud and wish myself and the other nominees the best of luck."

Stephani McDonald
Actress in a Major Role, Play - Mesa Encore Theatre-The Fox on the Fairway

"When I heard about my ariZoni nomination for Fox on the Fairway at MET this season I was just coming out of a movie with my son, and my phone was blowing up with congratulations! The first person to tell me was my friend Patrick Russo, via text. He was at rehearsal and watching the live streaming of the reading of the nominees between his scenes. I was surprised and extremely honored to be listed among the other talented nominees. The role I played in Fox on the Fairway was Pamela Peabody playing opposite Darryl Poenisch, who is amazing, and it is one of my favorites, EVER! Our director, David Chorley was so fun to work with. He has an amazing sense of timing and comedy and helped me develop this for myself as well. Farce is so fun! He let us play with different ways of expressing ourselves and the whole process with this stellar cast & crew was so fun. I felt very vulnerable many times but it really helped me grow, and to be recognized for my work means so much to me. This is the second time I've been nominated for an arZoni award, which was 10 years ago when I played Maggie in 42nd Street at FHT. I loved that role too, as I got to tap dance again. I've been performing in the valley since 1999 and have played at a few different community theaters and love it so much. I am looking forward to the ceremony in September, when I get to be in the presence of so many wonderfully talented people. I'm grateful that so many in AZ are working to keep performing arts alive."

Ryann Neubauer
Actress in a Supporting Role, Youth Musical - Limelight Performing Arts-Sister Act

"As I was sitting on my couch watching the finale episode of the bachelorette to start airing i looked at my Facebook feed realizing i only had a few minutes till the list would be up. when i got a notification that the lists had been posted i opened my phone and saw my name. I immediately started jumping up and down and screaming " I GOT A NOMINATION" "I GOT A NOMINATION" "

Megan O'Connor
Original Script - Brelby Theatre Company-The Pledge

"I was at the reading for the nominations actually. I work as an adjudicator and am trying to have a more active role in the AZ Theatre Community and I was so excited to go and support the incredible artists who've produced so much amazing art this season. I was hoping that my play, The Pledge, would be nominated, but I know how many incredible original scripts were produced this season so I was trying not to get my hopes up, but they said my name! And I couldn't believe it! This is my first time being nominated by myself for an original script. I co-wrote Meet the Dryers, with Luke Gomez and Shelby Maticic (both of them are nominated this year as well!), which was nominated for Original Script last season, but this is my first solo full-length script. I'm incredibly honored that Brelby produced my play, that actors and designers brought it to life, that people came to see it, and that it was found to be enough to stand out among this season's original scripts. I'm in such amazing company and it feels amazing to be included in this category."

Mia Passarella
Artistic Specialization - Brelby Theatre Company-The Oz Chronicles: Puppet Design

"The nominees were announced while I was on a family vacation in Italy - on the last day of our trip to be exact. Because time zones are weird, the reading of nominees took place very early in the morning on the day we were coming home. So I actually woke up that morning to Facebook posts and messages from friends congratulating me on my nomination (which was a really amazing way to wake up let me tell you). Although I have been a part of a few productions that have received some sort of recognition in the past, this is my first nomination and I could not be more excited to be recognized by my peers in this way. Especially on a project that I worked so incredibly hard on. I sort of fell into Puppet Design and construction within the last 2 years and had to do a lot of self teaching and experimentation to fully realize these designs. It took a long time and a lot of hard work to produce them and I am very proud of the results. I feel so honored and humbled to be listed amongst the group of incredibly talented and experienced artists within my category (and just overall, our community is rich with talent). I mean, seriously. Who finds out great news like that?? And for my first nomination?? It was perfect and  I recognize just how lucky and how privileged I am to be nominated and to find out in the way I did."

ariZoni nominees Quinn Johnson, Shari Watts, and Shannon Phelps, (left to right) in
The Glass Menagerie at Fountain Hills Theatre, nominated for 11 Zonis.
photo by Patty Torrilhon
Shannon Phelps
Actress in a Major Role, Play -Fountain Hills Theater-The Glass Menagerie

"When I found out I was nominated for the role of Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, I was at home and was told to check the list of nominees. When I saw my name, as well as the names of my cast mates, I was extremely grateful to have been recognized for this particular role because of its significance in my life. I grew up reading this play at a young age and have always wanted to be in a Tennessee Williams play. I was drawn to the character of Laura due to the fact that she was based off of Tennessee's sister Rose, as well as Laura's silent strength in her ability to create a world of her own among her glass figurines. To be recognized for this role is a dream come true, and to be among this caliber of women is an extreme honor. I was previously nominated for a Zoni in 2014 for my supporting role of Dr. Jennifer Carson in Red Planet Respite at Arizona State University. To have been nominated for a contemporary devised comedy and now a classical dramatic play is a true honor that I am beyond grateful for."

Matt Pitman
Actor in a Major Role, Youth Musical - Limelight Performing Arts-Cats

I was just sitting at home alone working on some huge project due that night and then someone suddenly texted me saying "CONGRATS" and I had just been cast in 13 the Musical the day before so I thought "oh ok thank you so much!" And then just causally continued working on my project. A couple of minutes later I got another the text saying congrats again and my initial thought was that they were congratulating me on my role, but then they sent a following text telling me they were so proud of my zonis nominations! My heart almost stopped and I began to freak out because these were my first ever zoni nominations. I had really wanted one ever since I knew what they were. I remember just pacing around the house searching all over the Internet for the list so I could see for myself, and once I found it I was in just plain shock. Eventually I was almost skipping with excitement because I knew that my hard work finally was being payed off and I was beginning to get recognized by important people for doing something I love! Still today I get really excited any time the zonis are brought up because it was a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year and it just felt like such an accomplishment to finally reach that goal."

zoni nominess Sam Primack and Quincey Janisse in
Theater Works' Youth Works' production of Les Misérables: School Edition, nominated for 19 Zonis
photo by Wade Moran / Moran Imaging

Sam Primack
Actor in a Major Role, Youth Musical - Spotlight Youth Theatre-Green Day's American Idiot: &
Spotlight Youth Theatre-Legally Blonde &
Actor in a Supporting Role, Youth Musical - Theater Works YouthWorks-Les Miserables: School Edition

"I found out I was nominated for three of my roles in a Safeway parking lot actually. I was so shocked and honored to have been nominated with such an amazing group of people. After winning last year,I never would have thought that this would've happened and I am so excited to get to go and see what happens!"

Karis Puckett
Actress in a Supporting Role, Youth Play - Limelight Performing Arts-Sideways Stories from Wayside School

"I was at the Cheesecake Factory celebrating my 11th birthday when I found out about my Zoni nomination. My mom's phone buzzed and she read a text from her friend, Amy. Then my mom said, "Um... Oh my gosh, Karis. I think you've been nominated for a Zoni!" I was super excited and said, "Wow!!! That's awesome!" Then we looked up the nominations online, and found my name!! Playing Bebe in Sideways Stories from Wayside School was one of my favorite experiences, so it is cool getting my first Zoni nomination for that role. After that, we read out loud all of the other names that we knew on the list. Being nominated for my first ariZoni theater award was probably one of the best birthday presents I've ever gotten!!"

Van Rockwell
Actor in a Supporting Role, Play - Stray Cat Theatre-Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See

"I was in my kitchen making supper when I received word I was nominated. A friend of mine posted on my Facebook wall congratulating me. I knew the Zoni’s were being announced that night, and I swore I would stay off social media and read on it the next morning; so if I was nominated, I’d be just as pleasantly surprised by that as seeing many familiar names/friends also nominated in categories.

I was excited to hear the news because this is my first nomination. I was even more excited because it was for Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See, which I can confidently say was one of the best experiences and roles I’ve had in my ‘career’ so far. Hearing of the nomination only made m reminisce about the experience, and I owe a great deal of gratitude to everyone involved in that production. If I’m thankful at all for this nomination, it’s largely because of working with these cool cats."

Marina Sharpe
Artistic Specialization - Glendale Community College-The Shape of Things: Media Design - (with Eric Beeck and Layne Racowsky)

"I was at the Reading of the Nominations event at Phoenix Theatre when I found out about our team's nomination for the media design of The Shape of Things, and I was so completely taken aback that I think my jaw actually dropped. As I've only been involved in the Arizona theatre scene for the past couple years (and primarily as an actor), I'd never been nominated before, so I was extremely honored that our team was recognized for our work! I very much enjoy graphic and media design, but this was my first time doing it in a theatre environment -- I learned quite a lot working on this show with Layne and Eric, so to have the privilege to gain knowledge while on a project, and also to be recognized for the work we put into it, puts me over the moon. All of the artists nominated for the Artist Specialization category are so incredibly talented, so it's truly an honor to be counted among their ranks. I'm forever grateful to the ariZoni board and adjudicators for recognizing lesser-employed technical aspects of theatre with this category -- I hope it continues to inspire fellow artists to experiment with different or unusual theatrical techniques, so as to always keep this community growing!"

Jessica Sinodis
Actress in a Major Role, Youth Musical - Limelight Performing Arts - Cats

"I found out I had been nominated for Best Actress In A Major Role (Youth Musical) for my portrayal of Grizabella in LimeLight Performing Arts' Cats the musical through the Facebook live announcement! I was so shocked and overjoyed to hear Cory McCloskey say my name!!! Cats is a show so near and dear to my heart, so to be nominated is an absolute honor. This is my Third AriZoni nomination and I'm so grateful to have been recognized over the years along with many talented performers throughout the valley!!"

Harriet Fusaro and Zoni nominee Tom Piemme in
Ghostlight Theatre's On Golden Pond - nominated for three ariZoni Awards
photo courtesy Ghostlight Theatre
Joy Bingham Strimple
Director, Play - Ghostlight Theatre - On Golden Pond

"I was actually not aware our little production was in consideration until a zoni adjudicator whispered to me recently that she loved the show!  so I thought that maybe I should show up and remarkably we were recognized 3 times this season(production,direction, lead actor).  I've been nominated before and it's always a huge surprise !! because my plays are usually modest in scope and venue and the other nominees are from big,important venues, with big, important plays. Bless those adjudicators for their confidence and scores--it's a thrill to even be nominated.  I couldn't stop smiling..."

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