Surprise resident Shannon Russo won the 2022 AriZoni Award of Excellence for Actress in a Major Role for her performance in “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” at Ghostlight Theatre in Sun City West.
Russo was also nominated for director and for choreography. The AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence is a not-for-profit organization who promotes and celebrates theatre in the Valley.
It promotes the visibility, cooperation and growth of theatre in the Valley and are dedicated to recognizing excellence in theatrical performances, as well as individuals who produce exceptional work in all aspects of theatre.
Judging for the 2022 AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence included 170 productions performed at 30 AriZoni member theatres with 3,000 potential nominees in all categories, making it ten times harder to receive a Zoni nomination than to receive a Tony nomination.
Russo also received two AriZoni nominations in 2021 for her work in “The Price of Destiny” for scenic design and for costume design.
Russo shares her love of theatre with the community. During COVID, in an effort to provide entertainment while avoiding contact, she organized and directed the first radio show at the Ghostlight Theatre, “Miracle on 34th Street” in the Ghostlight Theatre parking lot in Sun City West.
Patrons remained in their cars and listened to the show on their radios. During COVID, Russo’s family also participated in the city of Goodyear’s Christmas Show performing, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
In order to avoid contact, the show was performed on-stage with no audience present and recorded. The recorded show was then placed on the city’s website for the public to enjoy.
The Russo family has been invited back again this year on Dec. 16 and 17, but will be performing in front of a live audience. The show will be open to the public.
Russo lives in Surprise with her husband and two daughters. She is a stay-at-home mom who home-schools their two girls and is passing her love of the theatre and lessons learned from her former instructors on to them.
Both daughters have been involved in plays at several theatres in the West Valley. One of Russo’s dreams has been to share the stage with her daughters.
That dream came true as she shared the stage with her daughters in “Curse of the Werewolf,” Oct. 27-Nov. 6 at Ghostlight Theatre.