Valley Youth Theatre is pulling together a cadre of its current and former performers, from Oscar winners and Broadway actors to local performers, to help it with an online fundraiser.
Surprise resident Brandon Brown and Peoria resident Jahnay Pickett will be among those performing to help raise money for VYT in a cast that includes Academy Award winner Emma Stone and Broadway actor Nick Cartell.
The theater’s VYTal Affair-athon, set for 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, is an online telethon that will replace its 26th annual VYTal Affair, the theater’s biggest annual fundraiser. Pandemic restrictions on public gatherings have forced the nonprofit arts organization online.
“I believe VYT has always been at the right place at the right time and that we can always find the silver lining in anything that might come our way, including this pandemic,” said theater artistic director Bobb Cooper.
Mr. Brown, a 21-year-old college senior who performed in five VYT productions during his teen years, said he understands the importance of this fundraiser.
“VYT had such a huge impact on my life,” he said. “I have carried the ideals instilled in me through VYT into my collegiate and professional career working here in the Valley. I can think of nothing more important that assisting them in their time of need.”
The telethon will feature live and recorded segments from various performers. It will be streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and at VYT.com and feature live and recorded interviews and performances from beloved local artists and big names from screen and stage. Each hour of the telethon will be hosted by a local celebrity, including Yetta Gibson, Cory McCloskey, Gina Salazar Hook, John Hook and Brad Perry.
Ms. Pickett, 21, is a dancer with the Phoenix Suns Solar Squad. She was eager to lend her talents to fundraiser.
“Being a part of Valley Youth Theatre was the most memorable experience I had growing up," she said. "I grew to love myself as a performer and find confidence in myself, and I thank VYT wholeheartedly for that.”
The West Valley will be well-represented during the online event with performances from Surprise, Glendale and Peoria youth and adults.
“Through all of the shows I participated in, I always looked forward to going to the theater and interacting with the staff and other members of the cast. I became so much more outgoing through my time there and it really helped me overcome some of my anxiety, particularly about making friends,” said Anna Mettes, 18, of Glendale.
Other West Valley residents participating include Ava Newton, 12, Josh Pike, 16, and Asijah Pickett, 28, all from Peoria, and 10-year-old Brooklyn Martin of Glendale. One advantage of VYTal Affair-athon’s online format is the opportunity to reach a bigger audience.
“For the first time ever, we will be able to showcase the incredible talent Phoenix has to offer to people around the world,” said Mr. Cooper. “We have performers from the age of 9 to seasoned professionals who were in our shows in 1989. They include attorneys, police officers, professional cheerleaders and drag queens, Broadway performers, TV stars and even Academy Award winners.”
High-profile performers who got their start at VYT include Jordin Sparks, Kimiko Glenn, Chelsea Kane, Max Crumm, Matt Dallas, Columbus Short and Sam Primack.
Viewers can tune in and out anytime throughout VYTAl Affair-athon. For more information or to make a donation, visit VYT.com.