Monday, May 25, 2020


Kenny Grossman caricature by Jack Taylor

by Gil Benbrook

Our series of "Quarantine" interviews, which focus on individuals involved in the Phoenix theatre community and their reaction to Arizona's stay at home mandate, continues today with a conversation with the Artistic Director of Spotlight Youth Theatre, Kenny Grossman. 

"COVID-19 has affected us all in many ways. The theatre community has been harshly impacted with show closures and postponements. We hope this series of daily interviews will be a way to provide some personal insight to what people are doing during this period of time while highlighting familiar individuals from the theatre community in town.

Was there a show you were in or involved with or preparing for when the stay at home order started?

"Yes, The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe was set to open in April."

How have you been personally impacted by our current situation?

"The fact that theatre as we know it ceased to exist is heartbreaking. Youth Theatre is something that we’ve struggled and fought for every day for the past 16 years and now we are on an extended 'intermission'. It’s been very sad for everyone in our community. My oldest daughter Jamie is (was) a working actor living in Queens NY and my wife Vicki is a Tech in a veterinarian clinic. I worry about them everyday."

How has your daily routine changed?

"My grass looks great and I’m getting a lot of things done. I’m still creating by writing songs and stories. I’ve been taking a bunch of Master Classes and cooking a lot more. Glass half full, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my youngest daughter Carly."

What do you feel will be different when theater restarts?

"It will be a very slow comeback for youth theatre and you might see smaller cast shows being produced and smaller seasons. You will see more unity among the youth theatre community, we have already started having meetings about staying strong and unifying our efforts to get through this together. It’s actually been quite beautiful."

When do you think that’ll happen?

"It depends. 30 percent of people would support theatre right now. 30 percent will not support theatre until there’s a vaccine. 40 percent will play it by ear. I hope that some form of live theatre slowly starts up before the end of the year."

Any binge tv shows you’ve watched?

I’m obsessed with Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Musicals use singing and dancing to move the story forward. In Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. singing and dancing ARE the story. "

What is the one thing you’re most looking forward to not that the stay at home order has been lifted and some businesses have started to reopen?

"Teaching young actors and draft beer."

Kenny Grossman (middle right) and other youth theatre leaders in town, including Valley Youth Theatre, Greasepaint, Desert Stages, Theater Worksm and Spotlight Youth Theater, meet to discuss the current situation. 

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