Applause! Gala: Renaissance 2021
Text Courtesy of The Phoenix Theatre Company
Images by Reg Madison Photography

Above: The Phoenix Theatre Company’s Applause! Gala: Renaissance  was an elegant outdoor event. 

On Saturday, April 17, The Phoenix Theatre Company (TPTC) hosted its Applause! Gala: Renaissance. Held in the company’s outdoor courtyard, over 200 of its closest friends and supporters gathered to acknowledge community heroes who positively impact women, children and the arts through their philanthropic endeavors.

“We are grateful for the work that TPTC produces and feel privileged to highlight the importance of this true Arizona gem!” said event co-chairs Ivy and Joey Ciolli in their program note. “Thank you for joining us as we celebrate extraordinary members of our  community, who give their time and resources to support others, and the organization who recognizes their efforts with the grace and storytelling that only this theatre can!”

Above, top left: Vincent VanVleet, Jamie Mayrose and Michael Barnard toast the audience. Top right: Attendees enjoy the skits celebrating the honorees. Bottom left: Dr. Stacie and Richard Stephenson. Bottom middle: Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O’Meara. Bottom right: Ivy and Joey Ciolli.


The evening began with a cocktail reception followed by a gourmet dinner under the stars provided by M Catering. However, the highlight of the evening was a garden-staged show celebrating this year’s honorees: an original production of singing, dancing, and acting, performed with the wit, sparkle and talent audiences have come to expect from the venerable 101-year old theatre company.

The production, directed by Producing Artistic Director Michael Barnard, honored six heroes: Dr. Stacie and Richard Stephenson received the Angels of the Arts Award for their generous support of The Phoenix Theatre Company’s programming; Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson were given the Lifetime Achievement Award for their work as co-founders of Childhelp; and Maja and John Langbein accepted the Woman Who Cares and Man of Character awards respectively for their active philanthropic endeavors on behalf of Celebrity Fight Night and the American Heart Association.

The outpouring of generosity was extraordinary. The gala raised over $500,000 that will benefit The Phoenix Theatre Company’s artistic and outreach programs. In addition, The Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, as well as Dr. Stacie and Richard Stephenson, both donated seven-figure gifts toward TPTC’s capital campaign. 

Above, top left: Jill and George Garcia. Top right: Maja and John Langbein. Bottom left: Cheryl and Ira Gaines. Bottom right: Carol and Jim Hebets.

“We are extraordinarily grateful for the support we’ve received this year,” said Barnard. “These gifts mean families in hospitals and crisis centers will receive visits from Partners That Heal all year long. Children with disabilities and from underserved communities will get to attend theatre camp this summer, and we will be able to open our doors again – to play our important role in the lives of our guests and artists!” 

The proceeds of APPLAUSE! Gala: Renaissance will benefit the company’s outreach programs. These programs include Partners That Heal, which spreads joy through theatrical improvisational techniques in hospitals and crisis facilities at no direct cost to patients; and the theatre’s inclusive Summer Camp, which provides opportunities for children with autism and other challenges to participate in camp activities by providing scholarships to low-income families.

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