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State theater awards recognize ASU excellence

Lyric Opera Theatre’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone

The ASU Lyric Opera Theatre’s production of "The Drowsy Chaperone" was recognized at the 26th annual AriZoni Awards. Photo by Tim Trumble

October 03, 2016

The AriZoni Theatre Awards, which some consider the Tony Awards of Arizona, recognized ASU Herberger Institute productions, students, faculty and alumni during its 26th annual awards ceremony.

The ASU School of Music’s Lyric Opera Theatre program took home six AriZoni awards for three of its 2015-2016 productions: “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Guadalupe: The Opera” and “Company.”

“The ASU musical theatre program is a special place, and I'm excited to see it get the recognition it deserves,” said Brian DeMaris, artistic director of Lyric Opera Theatre and associate professor in the School of Music.

DeMaris, in his second year as the program artistic director, won for music direction for “Company.”

DeMaris said he was thrilled to receive an award for the first production he conducted at ASU, but the “icing on the cake” was when his own student, Brent Mauldin, also won in that category for his work on “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“Brent did excellent work not only on ‘Drowsy Chaperone,’ but also during his two years as a teaching assistant in our Master of Music in musical direction degree,” DeMaris said.

Brittany Howk, a musical theatre student who graduated in May, nabbed the best actress in a musical award for her role in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and Robert Kolby Harper, a faculty associate in the School of Music, won the director award for the same production.

Professor James DeMars won for original musical composition for “Guadalupe,” a world premiere. “Guadalupe” also received the award for original script, recognizing DeMars again, as well as collaborators Robert Estevan Doyle, owner and producer of Canyon Records, and Graham Whitehead, who directed the production and has been a guest director with the Lyric Opera Theatre program in the past.

“Our numerous nominations and awards speak to the fervor with which the ASU musical theatre students, faculty and staff have thrown themselves into the many opportunities for positive change that our department is working toward right now,” DeMaris said. “We want the program to be a national model for musical theatre training and innovation, and it is evident that all the students want to help make it happen.”

In addition to the Lyric Opera Theatre, the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre also received numerous AriZoni nominations for its productions last year. Alum and guest artist David Kenton won the award for sound design in theatre for the school’s MainStage season production, “Brooklyn Bridge.”

Other alumni and current students from both the School of Music and the School of Film, Dance and Theatre also won awards for productions they participated in at local theatre companies.

“I always hear from other theatre directors how valued the ASU students and alumni are in productions throughout the region,” DeMaris said. “We are happy to continue to allow our students to participate in off-campus productions and to engage in the community, and we are thrilled by the work of all of our peer theatres.”

Those winners include:

• Charity Johansen, supporting actress in a musical for the Hale Center’s “Me and My Girl”

• Dallas Nichols, lighting design in theatre for Mesa Community College’s “Three Sisters”

• Daniel Fine, artistic specialization (media design) in theatre for Mesa Community College’s “Alice in Wonderland”

• Vinny Chavez, actor in a major role in a musical for the Hale Center’s “Me and My Girl”

• Michael Margetis, supporting actor in theatre for All Puppet Players’ “Jurassic Puppets”

• D. Scott Withers, director in musical forTheater Works' “Man of La Mancha”

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