Every year, we acknowledge the dedication of talented Youth Education program participants. Announcing the Youth Initiative Awards and Youth Achievement Award for 2013-2014. 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 – Connor Gerney

This recipient is a fine young man who has been taking classes both here and at our Apex location for half of his life. He took core classes, performance classes, workshops and camps. I didn’t even have to look for his name on a roster, I just knew it would be there. And I hoped it was because he was the kind of student that, even at an early age, was a magnificent role model. If I wanted the class to see an example of something, I just called on him. Luckily he enjoyed that role and became a Teaching Assistant in 2010. I am blessed to have him as my right hand in the classroom.

I have also had the pleasure of directing him in many plays, both here and in Apex. And I must say, overall it has been a hoot. He is the kind of person you want to have around to lighten the load, to bring humor to a situation and to be one of the manly men that help move set pieces on and off the stage.

He has been taking stage combat classes with Jeff Jones, and was recently certified in Unarmed, Rapier and Dagger. He is also a wonderful artist – I have many opening night gifts that he either drew, painted or sculpted, and a fabulous musician – serenading fellow cast members on the piano before rehearsals or shows.

Besides his time in theatre, this young man is a very well-rounded individual. He has been in the Boy Scouts for 4 years and is working on his Eagle Project. He plans to landscape an outside area at the Women’s Center of Wake County so that the patrons can have a nice place outside to relax or have a private meeting. His project includes replacing the fencing, clearing out the weeds, trimming up tree limbs, mulching, adding stepping stones and building some Adirondack chairs.

Speaking of manly men, he just returned from a 7 day wilderness canoeing expedition at Northern Tier in Minnesota. His crew of 3 adults and 6 boys paddled, camped, fished and cooked in the wild for 7 days.

I am proud to award the Youth Initiative Award to Connor Gerney.


Youth Initiative Award – Ben Mygatt

This recipient of RLT Youth Initiative Award for 2014 began taking classes here at Raleigh Little Theatre ten years ago this Fall. He was in my Creative Drama classes for 6 and 7 year olds and I especially remember his performance as the Dragonfly in I Wish I Were A Butterfly. He has appeared in four Youth Series shows, as a Lost Boy in Peter Pan, as Jack Beggles in The Hundred Dresses, as a cow and a dead rat in Sideways Stories from Wayside School and as Mowgli in Jungalbook.

It was always a joy to have him in a cast. He enjoyed the experience as any young boy would, any young well behaved boy, that is. But there was always something about this boy. He had all the energy and creativity of a boy but he also had the calm wisdom and acceptance of a mature man. He could charm you with a look. Melt you with a smile. And expand your knowledge with the latest piece of information he had learned.

He also participated in three Teens On Stage productions. He was Barry in Gooney Bird Greene and Her True Life Adventures, Einar, the Troll in East of the Sun and West of the Moon and The Boy in Animal Farm. This summer, he will appear in Fiddler on the Roof as the Fiddler.

In addition to this, he has served as a teaching assistant for three years. He has been my TA in Creative Drama classes for which he is a perfect match. The students really respond to his kind, gentle and respectful demeanor.

He has also been a Teen Advisory member and a valued volunteered. He never hesitated when I asked if he, along with his sister could play violin for my pre-show music for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

This young man is an Honor student at Raleigh Charter High School where he is the Concertmaster for the String Ensemble and the Co-Founder of the Classical Music Club. He is in the Mathletics Club, Pre-Calculus Club, the Improv Club and the Arts Over Easy Drama Club. He has participated in the Physics Olympiad, the Model United Nations and Poetry-Out-Loud. He also spends Community Work Days with Builders of Hope.

I have been told that he is thinking about majoring in Astrophysics and Violin Performance.

The violin has been his passion for most of his life and he is so accomplished that he has been sharing his passion with audiences for many years. He played with the Triangle Youth Orchestra from 2009-20010, The Triangle Youth Symphony from 2010-23012 and the Triangle Youth Philharmonic for the past two years. He is currently studying at the North Carolina Governor’s School this summer.

This young man has been at RLT as long as I have and I am grateful to present the Youth Initiative Award to Ben Mygatt.


Youth Achievement Award – Anna Claire Stark

This recipient of the RLT Youth Achievement Award for 2014 began taking classes at Raleigh Little Theatre in 2009. The following year, she also became a Teaching Assistant. According to RLT faculty member, Christine Northrup, “As a TA, she was bright, intuitive and kind. She was always willing to jump in and help in any way that she was able. She was also very sensitive to the needs of the students in my classes. Students felt comfortable expressing themselves with her and she always gave encouragement and positive reinforcement.

In the summer of 2011, she was cast RLT’S Teens On stage Production of Gooney Bird Greene and her True Life Adventures.

She is a multi-talented young woman who began taking piano lessons when she was 5 years old and soon after started theatre, voice and dance classes.

She recently graduated from St. Mary’s School and will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She plans to major in Psychology with at least a minor, if not a double major in Vocal Performance.

Prior to attending St. Mary’s, she took classes at Raleigh Little Theater, North Carolina Theatre, Burning Coal Theatre, North Carolina Dance Institute and voice with Mary Kathryn Walston.

At St. Mary’s, she appeared in the following productions:

She attended Furman University’s Young Artist Vocal Experience Intensive. She was also a member of the SMS Dance Program Orchesis Dance Theatre during her Freshman and Sophomore years. She was a four year performer at Saint Mary’s Black Curtain Coffeehouse. During her senior year, she had the opportunity to be employed as an Opera Singer at Romano’s Macaroni Grill in Cary , where she performed Italian Arias during evening dinner hours. At St. Mary’s, she was a member of the Honors Chorale, Honors Chamber Choir and the student-run a cappella group, Ladies in Blue. She is a member of the National Honors Society, National French Honors Society, served as a Judicial Board Representative and was president of the Drama Club and the French Club. In her years at St. Mary’s she has received awards for piano, drama, French and Outstanding Artistry in Chorale. She is also the recipient of the Geraldine Cate Award for voice and two-time recipient of the St. Cecelia Award in chorale. She is also the two-time first place winner of the St. Mary’s School Shakespeare Competition.

This Award goes to Anna Claire Stark.


Youth Achievement Award – Madeline Cooke

This recipient of the RLT Youth Achievement Award for 2014 began taking theatre classes here in 2009. That summer she performed in the Teens On Stage production of Charlotte’s Web. She continued to perform in Teens On Stage foe the following two summers The Great Cross Country Race in 2010 and Gooney Bird Greene in Her true Life Adventures in 2011. She also appeared in the 2010 Youth Series production of Jungalbook. I was also honored to have her as a member of the 2009 Storytellers to Go! Teen Performance Ensemle touring libraries with UBU: The Importance of Being Yourself. She played a Cricket in I Wish I were a Butterfly and a House in The Big Orange Splot.

In 2011, she began serving as one of our most valuable TAs.

According to RLT Teacher, Susan Meyer:

“For the past 2 years I have had the privilege of Miss Madeline being one of my TA’s for my precious little Playtime Class and my Play On Class (year before last for a Session)! During this time, I considered her one of my best students which is something every Teacher wants to feel about their TA.

I wish so much I could be there tonight, but please know that I am cheering you on in spirit… BRAVO Miss Madeline! Take your BOW!!!”

The Youth Achievement Award goes to Madeline Cooke.