The Phoenix Theatre Company’s December 10 Applause! Gala will celebrate Memphis Rock ‘n’ Roll and Phoenix philanthropic rockstars with signature cocktails, performances by “Million Dollar Quartet Christmas” celebrities Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, and dinner catered by Valley standout MCatering. The event’s Honorary Co-Chairs are Martha and Wally Henkel.
This festive holiday event will begin at 5:30 pm with a Cocktail Hour and passed hors d’oeuvres, followed by highlights from The Phoenix Theatre Company’s world premiere cast of “Million Dollar Quartet Christmas” (running through January 2) – a “Very Merry Sequel” to the megahit original.
The Gala will honor six individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to our community, celebrating these Honorees on the Mainstage with a unique Phoenix Theatre Company flourish – a special tribute performance that transforms various hits of the decade into memoirs.
Honorees Ivy and Joe Ciolli, owners of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and active philanthropists who help drive numerous high-profile fundraising events every year, are receiving the Gala’s Humanitarian Award. William A. Pope is being honored as an Angel of the Art for a lifetime of support for the arts community and his substantial behind-the-scenes work as Co-Chair of The Phoenix Theatre Company’s Centennial Capital Campaign.
Jennifer Moser, Co-Founder and Principal of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public & Online Relations will receive the Woman Who Cares award for her wide-ranging philanthropic efforts, including board service and fundraising leadership for many of the Valley’s best-loved charities. Manley Films is being celebrated as a Company Who Cares for their generous in-kind donation of countless hours filming, editing, and creating projects that help arts organizations in the Valley advertise their programs through quality, sophisticated video; and Rob Walton, retired Chairman of Wal Mart, is receiving the Man of Character Award for the many significant charitable contributions made by the Melanie and Rob Walton Foundation.
The evening will close with a three-course dinner and dancing in the Theatre’s Atrium lobby.
The Gala helps support The Phoenix Theatre Company’s exceptional outreach programming. The theatre offers the most inclusive Summer Theatre Camp in the state, supporting the participation of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, severe allergies, and other challenges. In collaboration with the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC), it has doubled support staff and training. After a hiatus at the beginning of the pandemic, Summer Theatre Camp was offered in 2021 with COVID protections in place and demand for this important program remains strong.
The Company’s flagship Partners That Heal initiative is a powerful direct service and training program using interactive improvisation interventions with heart patients, cancer patients, patients in ICU – virtually anyone in a vulnerability situation. As soon as the pandemic hit, the Partners That Heal outreach team immediately developed a set of tablet-based digital interventions that allowed them to continue to deliver services remotely, despite the lockdown. Finding a way to continue to offer services was crucial, especially for the thousands of children who are experiencing severe and prolonged isolation from their families as a result of COVID. Clinical testing at Phoenix Children’s Hospital has proved that these interventions help with doctor-patient communication, improve patient mood, reduce fear and facilitate optimal health care delivery.
Partners That Heal techniques also help strengthen staff resiliency and reduce burnout – a very real problem in hospitals overwhelmed with COVID cases. Local demand for the digitally based program continues to grow and The Phoenix Theatre Company has received requests to launch pilot programs in other states and even internationally – an incredible opportunity to broaden, deepen and diversify the reach of this incredible program. Partners That Heal recently received accreditation for continuing education training courses it has developed that will teach health care professionals and first responders its techniques. If just 100 individuals are trained in a year, the numbers served could easily reach into the millions within five years.
The Phoenix Theatre Company offered outdoor programming from November 2020 through May 2021, fighting for the arts in Arizona and for the countless people who make them happen at a time when most theatres remained closed. In June 2021, it resumed indoor performances and it continues to innovate as it seeks to meet the varied needs of its patrons (for example, offering selected performances where masks and proof of vaccine are required).
The effects of the pandemic have deeply challenged all arts organizations, but The Phoenix Theatre Company’s love for storytelling endures, and funds raised through the Applause! Gala will help continue this work for decades to come.
The Phoenix Theatre Company is honored to have played such an important role in the lives of its patrons and artists for more than 100 years. The pandemic has only strengthened its resolve to continue to adapt, innovate, and provide a safe space to gather together, promoting healing and hope and spreading joy in the community.
For more information or to get your tickets for the Applause! Gala, click here.