New York director, actor and choreographer kicks off VYT’s 30th season

A view of Newsies’ dance class. (photo courtesy of Valley Youth Theatre)

Celebrated stage impresario, Tony Spinosa, has spent the past four weeks in the Valley, training nearly 40 local performers to dance in Valley Youth Theatre’s upcoming production of “Newsies,” running Aug. 10-26, at the Herberger Theater Center.

The production is directed by VYT’s Producing Artistic Director of 22 years, Bobb Cooper.

“I met Bobb Cooper 19 years ago, when I was with the national touring company of Peter Pan, in San Francisco,” said Mr. Spinosa in a prepared statement.

“I was shocked when I learned he was there to consider renting our Broadway and national touring set for a show — put on by teenagers! Then, a year later, when he hired me to choreograph West Side Story, I quickly learned how dedicated Bobb is to the superior quality of training his performers receive and the extremely high quality of production they provide to Phoenix theatre-goers. Both are unprecedented across the country, and I’ve worked with many American youth theatres. The experience VYT provides is truly unparalleled.”

Mr. Spinosa has spent most of his recent time in Phoenix training VYT’s cast how to dance, in a boot camp setting, according to a press release.

“That’s exciting for me,” he said in a statement. “That’s why I come back every few years. It’s an excellent experience for these young people, even if they don’t go into the arts as a career. They are learning discipline and teamwork, while building their confidence and self-esteem.”

Mr. Spinosa served as resident director of the 2010 Tony Award winning Revival of La Cage aux Folles, starring Douglas Hodge and Kelsey Grammer, consequently working with Harvey Fierstein, Christopher Sieber and George Hamilton for the national tour.

He has received many awards, including the 2001 AriZoni Award for his choreography of VYT’s West Side Story and the 2006 Arizona STAR Award for VYT’s production of CATS. Mr. Spinosa has directed and/or choreographed dramas, comedies and musicals on both coasts, most noted for his focus on crafting new woks and remounting of theater classics.

Tickets for Newsies range from $16.50 to $35.50 and can be purchased via telephone at 602-252-8497 or online, for an additional fee, at www.HerbergerTheater.org.

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