Hey gang, did you catch the 27th Annual AriZoni Awards? Or as we AZ dwellers affectionately call them, “the Zoni’s”.
(Really, if your state name lends itself to such a great rip-off on the Tony’s, how do you not use it?)
The Zoni’s recognize excellence in community theater in our Valley, and this year we went to the ceremony because… (drum roll, please)… Son was nominated! For Best Original Music Composition for a Play.
Also, both offspring were involved in a production of Avenue Q, nominated for Best Overall Production of a Musical. Their ensemble performed a musical number for the ceremony. (*proud mama moment*)
Neither Son nor the production won, but it was a thrill to hear his name read among the other nominees. And perhaps I’m rationalizing a little, but beings how it was his first time writing a composition, maybe it was best he didn’t win.
Might set the bar a little high for the next time, don’t you think?
Or as Husband said (with more enthusiasm than I thought necessary), “I bet this will be the first of many losses for him!”
Such a proud father.
Anyway, as to the ceremony itself, here a few observations I made:
Phoenicians Clean Up Good
This city isn’t known for its fashion sense, but when the event calls for it, we don’t disappoint. There were some incredible dresses that night, several of them red carpet worthy.
I was sooo relieved I thought to do an image search on the Zonis before I got dressed. (This is something introverts can relate to: I’m okay going to big event, as long as I know ahead of time what to expect.)
Dressing up in Phoenix usually means a nice pair of jeans with no holes, a button down shirt, and your best pair of sneakers (cowboy boots if you got ‘em). After viewing the images, I pulled out my black dress and heels. Good thing. I was just fancy enough to blend in, without drawing any attention to myself. (Whew!)
That’s not to say everyone got the memo. As we were making our way through the parking lot toward the theater, we walked past a family disembarking from their red Ford F-150. All of them dressed very casually. The woman was wearing shorts, flip-flops, and a t-shirt advertising Bud Light. As we passed, I recognized the look that passed over her face. It was that moment of realization when it hits you, “Oh! Should we have dressed up?”
Dear Lady, we’ve all been there.
Google image search. It’s a thing.
Presenters Got it Good
Yes, it’s nice to be a nominee and hear your name called, but honestly, if I got to choose my place for the evening? I’d be one of the people standing toward the back of the stage holding the award. The ones whose only job is to hand the awards to the winners. They don’t talk, they don’t perform, they don’t do a thing but walk on stage and stand there.
Don’t believe me? Consider this gal:
She looked to be in her late teens or early 20s. She was wearing a red mermaid dress, smiled the entire time she was onstage, and I don’t think she exhaled once.
I grew to love her.
It looked like she was having the time of her life, and why wouldn’t she? There’s no stress over winning or losing, she got a chance to shine a little on stage, and she got to hand people their award and make them very happy indeed. One woman hugged her.
You rock, Mermaid Gal!
The Little Theater That Could
There were 26 awards given over the course of the evening and a number of them went to a community theater in the little town of Queen Creek. (By little town, we’re talking a population a little over 30,000, immediately adjacent to a large urban area. So, relatively little.)
This was the first year their theater participated in the Zoni’s and they made an impressive showing, winning several major awards. Including Best Overall Production of a Musical, beating out the production my kids were in. But after hearing their director’s acceptance speech, I forgave them.
“Everyone in Queen Creek thanks you!!” she told us. “Seriously, most of them are here! We brought a bus!”
She went on to say the town of Queen Creek provides some of their funding.
Isn’t that something? How many towns do you know of set aside part of their budget to support the arts? I think that’s darn swell of them. And no doubt a big reason why they were able to put on several award-winning productions.
Phoenix is the Next New York!
Okay, this one might be a bit of a stretch. It was said by the dude who won Best Actor in a Play, so maybe he was a bit delirious at the time.
But one thing he said – and there was no reason for him to lie, so we should probably believe him – was that he moved to Phoenix five years ago and as of this year, he’s now able to support himself full-time as an actor. In Phoenix!
Granted, we’ve no idea what he means by “support himself.” Is he on his own? Does he have an apartment to himself. Does he have five roommates?
Maybe he lives in a cardboard box behind the theater! We don’t know!
All kidding aside, I was surprised to hear there were any full-time actors in Phoenix. Clearly, there’s more to our community theater scene than I realized, and I’m determined to see more of it next year.
And so should you! In your own community, I mean.
Wherever you live, there’s probably a little theater somewhere just aching for more people in their audience. The tickets are never too much, usually in the $20 to $40 dollar range – sometimes less and sometimes for free! (Be sure to check out your Community Colleges — that’s where we saw Avenue Q!)
And who knows? You might be surprised what talent is lurking in your community. You might find out you’re living in the next New York! 😉