By Brad York
March 23, 2020

Known for its commitment to community and active engagement efforts over the years, Arizona Broadway Theatre will launch a MASK RELIEF EFFORT to supply medical masks to healthcare workers during this much needed time.

The theatre has called upon all sewers and crafters within the community to assist and organize a volunteer effort to provide aid for the immediate need of face masks – both locally and nationally. Representatives from ABT have contacted a number of healthcare organizations directly in Washington, Colorado, New York and right here in Arizona to assess the need. The volunteer effort is being lead by ABT Costume Director & Resident Designer, Lottie Dixon. A number Costume Shop staff will also be volunteering their time and effort.

“We might not be able to produce theatre right now, but this we can do,” said Artistic Producer, Cassandra Klaphake. “During this dark time at the theatre we can bring some light – some help – to those on the front-line. ABT can help – and we will!”

1) Donate materials: the theatre is in need of ¼ inch, ⅛ inch or round elastic, and lightweight cotton or cotton/poly blend fabric. Materials can be dropped-off at ABT’s main entrance at: 7701 W Paradise Ln. in Peoria (place at the foot of front doors – staff will collect)

2) Sew from home:  the community is encouraged to use their own material where they can. Guidelines for sanctioned fabrics and construction can be found at: https://www.deaconess.com/How-to-make-a…/Documents-Mask/Mask,  or by watching the instruction video found here: https://youtu.be/9tBg0Os5FWQ

3) Assemble Kits (to be sewn by others): the theatre is putting together individual mask assembly kits. For information on getting an assembly kit, contact lottie@azbroadway.org to arrange pick-up of supplies and instructions

All assembled masks and kits can be returned directly to Arizona Broadway Theatre for distribution. Again, please contact lottie@azbroadway.org for times and availability.

ABT Awards $1,500 Scholarship To Arizona Young Artists’ Competition Performer

By Maddy Dowler

ABT winner, Isabella Brown with ABT Executive Producer, Kiel Klaphake

On February 22, 2020, The 21st Annual Arizona Young Artists’ Competition, presented by Herberger Theater Center (HTC) and Center Dance Ensemble, was held on Stage West at Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. Talented youth, ages 15-20, competed in the disciplines of Acting, Dance, Musical Theatre Voice and Classical Voice.  Arizona Broadway Theatre (ABT) partnered with Herberger Theater Center to sponsor an additional $1,500 scholarship that was awarded to Isabella Brown. Isabella was chosen by a panel of ABT judges and has been offered an opportunity to perform with one of ABT’s professional cast in an upcoming “Broadway Series” Mainstage production.

The winner in each area received a $1,500 scholarship to help further their education in the arts. Nine awards and almost $8,000 in scholarships were presented to recognize the outstanding talent of these young artists. The audience in attendance voted for their favorite performers in the People’s Choice category. This event was presented with the support of National Society of Arts & Letters, Greater Arizona Chapter.

Brody Wurr, member of ABT’s HyRev and winner of Musical Theatre category.

The winner of the Judges’ Choice Award in the Musical Theatre category was Brody Wurr. Brody is 17 years old and has been involved in musical theatre since 2014 having starred as Avery Arable in Musical Theatre Anthem’s production of Charlotte’s Web. Since 2014, Brody has honed his skills at Arizona Broadway Theatre in a number of “Broadway Series” Mainstage shows. His first show at ABT was Oliver! in 2017 and he has appeared in eight shows in total – most recently Sweeney Todd and Elf The Musical. Brody is currently a member of HyRev, ABT’s teen performance troupe.

HyRev is specifically for young performers ages 13-19 with some previous music theatre/dance/show choir experience. The program includes two performance troupes: HyperToneZ (advanced troupe) and Sonic Revolution (elite troupe) – both built upon and improve participants’ performance strengths and include Valley-wide performances (with future out-of-area performances as time and scheduling allow).

“Promoting arts education, performance opportunities and personal growth is what’s most important to us at ABT,” said Artistic Producer, Cassandra Klaphake. “This is why we have the programs we do and why we provide the additional scholarship to the Arizona Young Artists’ Competition. We are thrilled for winner, Isabella Brown, and look forward to seeing her on ABT’s Mainstage in the season to come!”

Here is the complete list of winners of the 21st Annual Arizona Young Artists’ Competition.

People’s Choice:

Musical Theatre – Isabella Brown

Dance – Emma Noel

Acting – Aydan Bruce

Classical Voice:

Lily Grubert

Arizona Broadway Theatre Award:

Isabella Brown

Judges’ Choice:

Musical Theatre – Brody Wurr

Dance – Serah Nicodimus

Acting – Kendra Richards

Classical Voice – Lily Grubert

Photos by Apatrou Photography

ABT Raises Over $140,000 in Support of Artistic & Educational Programming At 7th Annual Broadway Ball

By Maddy Dowler

Arizona Broadway Theatre’s (ABT) 7th Annual Broadway Ball was a spectacular affair overflowing with champagne, chandeliers, guests wearing their very best, live performances, and loads of fun! ABT’s annual event brought out over 300 attendees on Saturday, February 29, 2020, and raised over $140,000 in support of the theatre’s artistic and educational programs. The festivities included a live auction featuring a Viking River Cruise, Sedona “Cool Down” summer get-away, an exclusive in-home dinner for eight featuring ABT’s talented culinary and service team, a silent auction, the all-new “Bubbles & Barrels” sparkling wine and whiskey tasting experience, “Gift Card Frenzy,” and the very popular “Wine Pull.”

Executive Producer Kiel & Artistic Producer Cassandra Klaphake, Brad York, Director of Marketing & Development, Susan Casper, Host of Sonoran Living with husband Sidney

Co-emceeing with Brad York, ABT’s Director of Marketing & Development, was Susan Casper, host of ABC15’s Sonoran Living. Susan joined ABC15 in 2008 as an anchor and reporter before moving to Sonoran Living, the longest-running television lifestyle show in Phoenix. Susan is an executive board member of Dress for Success Phoenix and a founding member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Phoenix Metropolitan Chapter. Susan and Brad used an interview-style format with ABT co-founders and Executive & Artistic Producers Kiel & Cassandra Klaphake as well as Associate Artistic Director Kurtis Overby to give Broadway Ball attendees an “insiders” look at the theatre’s mission, vision, educational plans & goals, artistic successes stories, and its influence and impact in Arizona and on the national stage.

Not only was the night informational and inspirational, it was also filled with spectacular music from ABT’s Mainstage shows. The cast of La Cage aux Folles kicked-off the program portion of the evening performing the show’s opening number and the evening wrapped-up with the talented Tiffany Sparks and Liz Fallon, leads in ABT next Mainstage offering, Chicago (Mar 13 – Apr 19), impressing the audience with “Nowadays” and “Hot Honey Rag” from the show.

HyRev, ABT’s teen performance troupe, brought the house down with their high-energy renditions of “Cross the Line” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Bring It On and “A Million Dreams” from the film The Greatest Showman. The versatile group also performed a memorable version of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” HyRev teens will benefit specifically from the $16,000 raised for scholarships to help defray the cost of employing the youth in the Mainstage shows for which they will audition and be cast.

HyRev troupe members L to R: Brody Wurr, Alyssa Armstrong, Liv-Boscardin, Jack Yampolsky, Tristan & Kieran-Klaphake

“The theme of this year’s Ball was ‘Raising the stars of tomorrow!’ said Brad York, Dir. of Marketing & Development. “Be it the next big Broadway star or the next star in the classroom, boardroom, on Wall Street or in the ER, ABT’s Academy for Young Performers and HyRev programs provide pre-teen and teen youth with not only the skills to become the best singers, actors and dancers they can be, but also, practical life-learning skills such as self-expression, team building, and critical thinking – quite simply, becoming the best human beings they can be!”

Corporate sponsors for the evening included “Tony Award” sponsors A.L.S.REM, Arrowhead Cadillac, Midwestern University, New Valley Construction, and Renew Dental; “42nd Street” sponsors The Jason Mitchell Real Estate Group, Red Bird Farms, Sun Health, Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat, Warren & Delores Huebner, and Birt & Louisa Kellam. Table sponsorships for this year’s Broadway Ball reached record numbers, which was vital in assuring the success of the event.

Seasoned Culinary Professional, Larry Canepa, Joins ABT as Food & Beverage Service Manager

When Larry P. Canepa reflects on his many years in the dining and hospitality industry, even he is surprised at how fast the time has gone by. With a background in the culinary arts which includes teaching, hospitality management, etiquette training, wine expertise and even a certificate of tea mastery, Canepa’s portfolio is as flavorfully diverse as the menus he has created for his uniqe food and culture ‘food-tainment’ classes.

Originally from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, Canepa sharpened his culinary chops in Phoenix, the city he has called home since moving to the Valley of the Sun 50 years ago. After earning a B.A in Integrated Studies from Arizona State University, Canepa quickly began his foray into the dining and hospitality world, honing his skills at respected Valley establishments such as Missouri’s on Seventh, Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa and The Boulder’s Resort.

Canepa brings over four decades of Food and Wine experience to Arizona Broadway Theatre. He has worked in the business as Chef, caterer, sommelier and Food and Wine educator. He has taught culinary and restaurant operations classes at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Phoenix and Le Cordon Bleu, Scottsdale. His experiences include management and operation of free-standing restaurants, specialty wine stores, hotels and resorts. Chef Larry Canepa owned and operated the award-winning full service catering business, Dinner at Eight for 30 years in the Valley, specializing in intimate private dining and wine seminars.

Canepa continually seeks to enhance his professional skills so has traveled to many European destinations and wine regions, gathering information and experiences that he loves to share. His passion for travel and food and wine has taken him to the markets, cafes and bistros of Paris, the great Champagne houses, Belgium beer producers, the trattorias of Italy as well as extensive tours of the wine regions of Germany, Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe, Oregon, Washington, Central California and Napa/Sonoma.

Canepa has also completed his Master of Tea certification with the Specialty Tea Institute and is on a professional mission to ‘de-coffee-nate’ America with a unique and contemporary approach to wine and tea.

Canepa maintains an enthusiastic and engaging sense of humor and enjoys culinary travel, food futurism, gourmet cooking, historic home improvement and culinary gardening. He shares his home with his best food critics, a quartet of rescued Miniature Schnauzers, and a pond full of exotic Japanese koi fish…for meditation, not cooking.

ABT is thrilled to welcome Canepa and his culinary talent and experience to the team.

Arizona Broadway Theatre Holds 7th Annual Broadway Ball

Black Tie Fundraiser Benefits Artistic, Educational, and Charitable Programs

Arizona Broadway Theatre (ABT) will host the 7th Annual Broadway Ball on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 5:30 pm. Proceeds from this vital fundraising event benefit the artistic, educational, and charitable programs at ABT.

The Broadway Ball features a cocktail hour with complimentary Champagne, a three-course dinner, silent and live auctions, the Broadway Ball Wine Pull, an all-new “Bubbles & Barrels” Whiskey Experience, and much more! Live entertainment includes performances from Mainstage shows and ABT’s teen performance troupe, HyRev. Tickets are $175 per person and can be purchased at the ABT Box Office by calling 623.776.8400 or online at azbroadway.org.

“The sole purpose of the Broadway Ball is to raise awareness within our community of our mission to bring the highest-quality production values to the stage in the Valley of the Sun as well as raise funds in support of the theatre’s educational programs and community engagement initiatives,” said Brad York, Director of Marketing & Development. “We have an amazing 16-member volunteer committee that prepares all year for this crucial event. I’m so incredibly thankful for their tireless efforts to make this year’s Broadway Ball the best yet!”

Kristin Wurr, Co-chair of the Ball, has strong convictions about why ABT and the Broadway Ball are important to her.

“Many people know that Arizona Broadway Theatre is a place you can experience the magic of professional live theater. I don’t think as many people know that ABT is an educational venue where children like my son learn not only dancing, voice, and acting skills, but life skills such as how to work with others, how to manage time, how to overcome obstacles – skills they need to succeed in whatever career they choose. When you attend the Broadway Ball, you help ABT continue to inspire patrons like me, as well as the stars of tomorrow. ABT is part of our community’s family. Please come be a part of it.”

To ensure the success of this festive yet critical fundraiser, ABT is also seeking sponsors to help defray the costs associated with the Ball to assure that all funds raised can be directed toward the organization’s artistic, educational, and charitable programs.

“Corporate, individual, and community partners will be the key to success,” says ABT CEO/Executive Producer Kiel Klaphake. “Sponsorships allow ABT to continue fulfilling its mission to enrich lives through the power of the performing arts.”

Portions of sponsorships are tax-deductible and range from $1,000 to $25,000. Those wishing to support this important event through a generous sponsorship should contact Sally Jane Kerschen-Sheppard at sallyjane@azbroadway.org.

“We have some incredible auction items this year,” says Jamie Boscardin, Co-Chair of this year’s gala. “From an eight-day Rhine River Cruise generously donated by Viking Cruises to a Phoenix Suns package for four including tickets, food, drinks, and parking, to a Sedona vacation package, we are working hard to secure highly-biddable items.”

For more information or to purchase tickets for the Arizona Broadway Theatre 7th Annual Broadway Ball, contact the Box Office at 623.776.8400 or online at azbroadway.org.

[Photos from 2019 Broadway Ball]

Anti-Bullying Impact Project Is Important Part Of Theatre’s Vision


Only 20-30% of students who are bullied tell adults or authorities.

Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others.

The most common types of bullying are verbal and social.

20% of students ages 12-18 experience bullying.

Most bullying happens in middle school.

70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.

41% of school staff witness bullying once a week or more.

15% of students ages 12-18 were bullied online or by text.

29.3% of middle school students have experienced bullying in the classroom.

29.2% of middle school students have been hit, slapped, or kicked by bullies.

Adults often don’t know how to respond when they recognize bullying.

When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.



CrisisTextLine.org – Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

AZ Teen Helpline: 602-248-8336 (TEEN)