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Every year, we acknowledge the dedication of talented Youth Education program participants. Announcing the Youth Initiative Awards and Youth Achievement Award for 2012-2013. Congratulations to all four recipients!

The winners of this year’s youth awards are:

Youth Initiative Awards

The Youth Initiative Award is a special award given to an RLT Teaching Assistant in recognition of his or her dedication to the art of teaching Theatre. Their love of and respect for theatre is so contagious that they not only inspire the students in their care but the teachers they assist as well.

Youth Achievement Award

The Youth Achievement Award is the highest awarded honor a member of the Youth Program at RLT can receive. It is contingent upon a participant’s dedication to the theatre, school and community, their dedication to service, and their persevering pursuit of knowledge in the theatre arts at RLT.


Youth Initiative Award – Alyssa Hartzheim

Alyssa demonstrated her leadership abilities early. A few years ago she was identified by her teacher as a leader. As a result, Alyssa went to Washington DC to participate in the National Junior Young Leadership Conference. She is also a member of the Junior Honor Society, the Art Honor Society and the German Honor Society. She is a Board Member of her school’s Key Club which promotes leadership and community Service. She plays the Bass Guitar and is a very talented Beader, placing in a National Jewelry Competition.

Alyssa has been a student at Raleigh Little Theatre since January, 2010. She began serving as a teaching assistant in 2011 and has assisted teachers in 17 camps and classes.

She was a cast member in last summer’s Teens On Stage production of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, playing the roles of the servant and the Troll flower girl. Alyssa will be a part of this summer’s production of Animal Farm. She was also a member of The RLT Players to Go! production of How Reading Came to Nowhere and a cast member of Storytellers To Go! productions of Blackbeard: Pirate of the Carolina Coast and Jack Tales: Appalachian Adventures.

According to Storytellers To Go! Director Judy M. Dove, “I have had the wonderful experience of working with Alyssa for two years in my Storytellers Troupe. Her creative enthusiasm and passion for theatre are infectious, and she has become my right hand as far as organizing, analyzing, and giving me tips from past seasons. She is always spot-on as an actor, and learns all of the ensemble parts so well that she can fill in for any role, and readjust other actors into the totally interconnected roles when there is an absence. Alyssa is hard-working, dependable, and has a wonderful creative energy and discerning eye for detail. I am so proud of her for earning this award — it is well-deserved!”

Alyssa also served as the teaching assistant for this year’s RLT Players to Go! production of Imogene’s Last Stand.

Director, Renee Wimberley says, “I love having Alyssa as a TA. She doesn’t just “follow instructions” and isn’t just an errand-runner. I trust her to coach scenes, lead warm-ups, and the students respond to her as an authority. She takes initiative and treats the children with respect and kindness. The fact that she is a beautiful artist is also a bonus and we were blessed to have her create props for our show this semester. What a fabulous young woman and a gift to our education program.”

Alyssa was also the TA for Susan Meyer’s 8 and 9 year old class. As a tribute, Susan wrote this song saying, “I couldn’t think of a better way to sing out her praises with.” Please sing to the Tune of “Gilligan’s Island”:

Just sit right and you’ll hear a tale
A tale of Alyssa Hartzheim
She is one of the best TA’s that you could have
At RLT
At RLT

With her creative spirit and cheerfulness
Not a shy bone in her body
She made all the students feel special
And encouraged them
And encouraged them

Alyssa really deserves this award
The Youth Initiative
I love working with her, she’s such an asset
In our Play On Class
In our Play On Class

CONGRATS Miss Alyssa and thank you for all that you do! We are all so very PROUD of you!!!


Youth Initiative Award – Maddy Kunkel

Maddy began taking classes at Raleigh Little Theatre in 2007 and she began serving as a teaching assistant in 2010. In all, she assisted teachers in 23 classes and camps. In 2010, she performed Wanda in the Youth Series production of The Hundred Dresses.

According to Director, Linda O’Day Young, “Maddy was an enthusiastic and dedicated actor who brought the character of the fragile Wanda to life with such truth and depth of feeling. She brought to rehearsals a sense of dedication, an eagerness to learn and grow as an actor along with a true spirit of team work.”

Since that first show, Maddy has appeared in Sideways Stories from Wayside School, The Adventures of Nate the Great and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

She has also performed in the Teens On Stage productions of Gooney Bird Greene and her True Life Adventures and East of the Sun and West of the Moon. This summer she will appear in Animal Farm.

Maddy also performed in the Storytellers To Go! production of Blackbeard: Pirate of the Carolina Coast.

According to Storytellers To Go! Director, Judy M. Dove: “I had the privilege of working with Maddy through Storytellers during my first Storytellers season — which was “the season that wouldn’t end”! As the group received more and more requests for performances that overflowed into the next season, Maddy adjusted her busy schedule to perform in all of the extra performances, and in addition took on one of the main roles for an actor who was unable to make one of the performances. Maddy is hard-working, dependable, has a positive energy that invigorates the show and the cast, and, from what I have seen of her other performances outside of Storytellers, is a wonderful actress. I am very proud of her for earning this well-deserved award!”

Maddy also assisted Susan Meyer in her classes.

“Maddy led my Brady Bunch Skit for our sharing with the parents of theses 8 and 9 year olds. I couldn’t think of a better song for her that I could sing out her PRAISES with!!! Please sing to the Tune of “The Brady Bunch”

Here’s a story of a TA named Maddy
Who had been at RLT for so long
She is so dependable and very friendly
And she is loved by all

I have been working with her in my Play On Class
And she really does a super duper job
She truly cares about all the children
As a TA she’s my BEST Student

Then this one day, she was up for an award
And I couldn’t think of anyone that’s more deserving
It’s The Youth Initiative Award at RLT
I’m so very proud of you Maddy!!!

Congratulations, Maddy and thank you for all that you do.


Youth Initiative Award – Kinsey Watson

Kinsey is currently a homeschooled 9th grader but will attend Long Leaf School of the Arts in the fall. She is in her second year of sign language classes and she plays hand bells with her family at Pullen Memorial. She also babysits several neighborhood kids and runs a Sunday evening childcare program at The Church of the Apostles. She is also involved with Justice Theatre and is currently working as ASM on Ragtime. She will be participating in the NCSU Teen Writers Workshop this summer.

Fortunately, Kinsey also enjoys spending her time at Raleigh Little Theatre. She began taking classes and serving as a Teaching Assistant here in 2011. She has assisted teachers in fifteen classes or camps.

She was a cast member in Dear Edwina, Jr. and also performed as a Servant and that simply gorgeous Troll Wedding Photographer in last summer’s Teens on Stage production of East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

She began volunteering on shows with Merry Christmas, Strega Nona. She ran lights and sound for The Adventures of Nate the Great and served as the Production Assistant for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and for Snow White: The Queen’s Fair Daughter.

According to Director, Linda O’Day Young, “Kinsey takes the position of Production Assistant to a whole new level. As Production Assistant on Snow White she went above and beyond and was absolutely vital to the success of that show. She recorded blocking, prepared the stage for rehearsals and performances, served as deck crew chief and kept rehearsals and performances running smoothly. She was my rock. Kinsey is creative, eager, supportive and a true source of positive energy. To me she is always a bright ray of sunshine.”

In The Brementown Musicians, Kinsey was light board operator as well as the videographer. According to volunteer Sound Designer and Videographer, John Maruca, “Kinsey’s enthusiasm for exploring different elements of multimedia theatre is really infectious. She has the ability to quickly embrace technology whether it be video, audio, projections or programming and derive a creative solution by blending many elements. I am very proud to be working with her on the shows and workshops at Raleigh Little Theatre.”

Thank you, Kinsey for all that you do in our classes and for our shows!

RLT teacher Susan Meyer would like to say a few words about her experience with Kinsey.

Please sing to the Tune of “The Princess Pat”

This is a repeat after me song…

The TA Kinsey
She is OUTSTANDING
At RLT
She’s has lots of energy

She made my Summer Camps
Much more fun
By being creative
And on the run

Now the kids love her
Why we all do
Thank you TA Kinsey
Just for being YOU!!!


Youth Achievement Award – Emma Caterinicchio

Emma has been playing the cello for the past 7 years and is a very active member of the Apex High School Orchestra, volunteering the past 3 years to perform in the high schools play productions as part of the orchestra pit and putting several groups together playing at weddings and fund raisers. She is active in the Apex High School German club and recently won the Philip Watts scholarship, awarded each year to an outstanding German student in the Wake County Public School System.

Emma will be attending ECU this year with a double major in Exercise Physiology and German, and hopes to obtaining a PhD in Physical Therapy.

Emma has been involved with RLT since she was 6 years old taking classes at the Apex Community Center and here at the Theatre. In 2008, she began serving as a Teaching Assistant in Apex and continued doing so while in middle school and during her first two years of High School.

According to Kathleen Rudolph, “I loved having Emma in my classroom! Things always ran smoother, as Emma saw many opportunities to insert her own creativity in my lesson plans!”

In 2009, Emma was cast in the Teens On Stage production of Charlotte’s Web. According to Director, Linda O’Day Young, “In her ensemble role, I saw Emma courageously take some chances vocally as well as physically. Her heart was clearly invested in her work. I love actors with heart!”

The following year, Emma was cast as Maude in The Great Cross County Race. Her role involved speaking a Romeo and Juliet scene totally in Gibberish, which was written by RLT student Tess Mygatt.

Young says “She took on that difficult challenge with grace and dignity and that scene became one of my favorites from the show.”

In 2011 she was cast as the delightful Mrs. Pigeon in Gooney Bird Greene and her True Life Adventures, where she was able to demonstrate her wonderful sense of comic timing and her detailed character work.

Last summer, Emma decided to change roles by accepting Linda O’Day Young’s request to be the Stage Manager for East of the Moon and West of the Moon. According to Young,“She had never stage managed before but once again she eagerly accepted the challenge and with a small amount of mentoring from volunteers, Scott Wray and Becca Easley, she mastered what is probably the most demanding job in theatre. She was able to strike just the right balance every stage manager needs, a commanding presence with a nurturing heart. She was without a doubt one of the best stage managers I have ever worked with. I am extremely happy that she will serve as my Stage Manager for this summer’s production of Animal Farm.”

Also last summer in the mornings when she wasn’t stage managing she was busy answering phones in the business office and assisting Kathleen Rudolph with Education Program needs. According to Rudolph, “I was able to give her lots of jobs to do, which she did in a flash!”

Emma, you truly represent all of the values of the Youth Achievement Award. You are creative in spirit, generous with your time, dedicated to personal growth and RLT’s Youth Theatre and Education Program is proud to claim you as one of our own. Thank you!