VYT Thirtieth Anniversary Season Continues with THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE


Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) opens the only play of its 30th anniversary season, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Friday, Feb. 8, 7pm, at Valley Youth Theatre. In addition to opening night, public performances include Saturdays and Sundays, Feb. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24 at noon and 3pm. The theater is located at 525 North First Street, in Downtown Phoenix, and ticket prices are $20.

The story is based on the book by author Kate DiCamillo and was adapted for the stage by Childsplay’s artistic director, Dwayne Hartford.

According to VYT’s producing artistic director, Bobb Cooper, “The reason I selected The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane begins with the high esteem and honor I have for Childsplay, in Tempe. It is an incredible organization and I’ve always been impressed with their amazing artists and leaders. Dwayne Hartford, whom I’ve known and admired since 1999, is one of these amazing artists. In 2016, Dwayne went from an accomplished actor and stepped into the highest leadership role for Childsplay as their artistic director. Dwayne took this wonderful story and beautifully adapted it for the stage. It takes a lot to survive and thrive in the theater industry. So, watching his journey from actor to playwright to the artistic director he is today has been witnessing a miraculous journey, much like Edward Tulane’s.”

This is the Arizona directorial debut of VYT’s new director of Education & Outreach, Carolyn Marie Wright, former manager of Education & Community Engagement at Geffen Playhouse and adjunct faculty at Moorpark College in Theatre Arts. She has regularly performed with The Second City Hollywood, Humanity Play Project and Looseleaf Theatre Company. Her training includes The Second City, The Groundlings, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, Yale (BA), NYU (MA) and UCLA (MFA).

“It is a delight and an honor be a part of the creative team in my role as director for The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” said Wright. “This magical story tells the tale of a self-absorbed china doll rabbit who encounters new friends on an unexpected adventure and learns how to love and care for others along the way. Now, more than ever, this message is needed in our world.”

This production features 15 local actors, ages 10–16. Edward Tulane is portrayed by 11-time VYT alum Andy Wissink, of Paradise Valley. Andy, a triplet, attends Brophy College Preparatory where he is an officer in drama club, a member of Red & White Club and active in musical theater. Kate Williams, who plays Abilene, is 10 and in fourth grade. She recently appeared in VYT’s Annie as Molly.

East Valley cast members include Alex Flores, of Tempe; Emily Jacoby, of Gilbert; Prescott Smidt, of Mesa; Jessica Wastchak, of Chandler; and Asher Stubbs and Micah Wade of Ahwatukee. Other cast members include Goodyear’s Faith Wheelington; Olivia Medina lives in Peoria; Petra Danek lives in Scottsdale; and Matthew Syms, of Paradise Valley. Rounding out the cast are Jordan Baker, Kate Brink and Ian Gray, all of Phoenix.

Produced by Cooper, the musical score is by Kyle Sorrell, set design is by Dori Brown and costume and makeup design are by VYT’s resident costume designer, Karol Cooper. Sound design is by Brian Honsberger, lighting is designed by Bret Reese and the production stage manager is Joycelin Jacobs-Schwartz.

There is also an all-youth crew: Niki Brown, assistant stage manager, and Riley Thornton, deck crew.

Sponsored by Clairvoyant, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane takes the audience on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hobo camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we’re shown a true miracle: even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love, again.

This season marks the 30th anniversary for VYT and their schedule of five musicals and one play includes three Arizona premieres. Eight-week Fall, Winter and Spring performing arts classes are also offered, as are Spring Break and Summer Camps. The theater’s ongoing community programs include Literacy and the Arts, Sponsor-a-Seat and The Nigel Ross Scholarship Fund as well as their annual fundraising events, Oscar at The Oscars, in February, the VYTee Golf Classic, in May, and the VYTal (Valley Youth Theater Applauds Leadership) Affair, in August.

For more information on Valley Youth Theatre, visit www.vyt.com.

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