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Excellence in theater: ASU students, faculty recognized at annual awards ceremony

People in costumes on a stage.
November 01, 2022

Students, faculty and alumni in Arizona State University’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre took home several awards at this year’s ariZoni Theatre Awards Celebration.

The ariZoni Theatre Awards celebrate excellence in Arizona theater, where “after completion of an exhaustive judging process … awards of excellence are presented to those individuals who have excelled in performance and production during the just-completed season.”

The ASU Theatre production of “Everybody” won best overall production. Bill Partlan, associate professor and head of stage directing, was artistic director of theater last year and helped select the theater production season.

“This production was a powerful collaboration between graduate student director Kristina Friedgen and our talented student designers and actors,” said Partlan. “The evocative world of the play came to life, viscerally, for everybody in the audience.”

Several ASU students received ariZoni Awards for their work on “Everybody,” including Kristina Friedgen for director, Chloe Cobb for scenic design, Kimmy Mar for sound design and Henry Beach for media design. 

I am truly honored to be among several ASU students recognized for their work on ‘Everybody,’ and immensely proud that the entire production received the Zoni for best play,” said Friedgen. “This recognition is a testament to the pluralistic collaboration we cultivated in the rehearsal room. We sought to create a play about ‘everybody’ that was simultaneously representative of a universal, as well as a distinct and diverse, human existence.”

Daniel Jaquette and Mario Yñiguez were awarded the Zoni for best original score. They co-wrote the music for “Healing Wars,” a school-wide collaborative production of Liz Lerman’s original work.

A singer stands in the middle of the stage in a purple dress with ensemble and a simple rustic house in the background.

Frenki Hykollari and the cast of "Bright Star" in ASU's Music Theatre and Opera program. Photo by Tim Trumble

Frenki Hykollari, a recent music theater graduate of the Music Theatre and Opera program, was awarded best actress in a major role for her portrayal of Alice Murphy in ASU’s production of “Bright Star.” 

“One of the most valuable things my time in the Music Theatre and Opera program gave me was a feeling of community with the incredible faculty and the talented and supportive student artists,” said Hykollari. “I always felt safe experimenting and taking risks with my craft, and I believe this made me a better performer.”

ASU alumni who took home awards for Mesa Community College Musical Theatre’s “Sweeney Todd in Concert” include James Zannelli for actor in a major role, Haley McHardy for actress in a supporting role and Tregoney Shepherd for director. Shepherd is currently in the Broadway cast of “Wicked” in New York City.

ASU students perform not only in productions at ASU but in dozens of theater productions across the Valley every year.

“These experiences are essential to their growth as performers,” said Brian DeMaris, associate professor and artistic director of ASU’s Music Theatre and Opera program. “The ariZoni Awards are a wonderful annual opportunity to celebrate the abundant presence ASU students have in the local theater community. We are pleased to recruit talented young performers from across the country to Arizona for their training and connect them to the thriving theater scene here in the Phoenix area.”

Story written by Lynne Macdonald and Lacy Chaffee

Top photo: ASU Theatre production of "Everybody." Photo by Tim Trumble

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