At Pioneer Theatre Company, we believe in celebrating the individuals who make a positive impact in our community. Based on our open call for nominations, these changemakers were selected in recognition of the positive influence they have in their respective communities. So, we are thrilled to honor some of these exceptional changemakers on our very own stage! As part of these honors, each of these extraordinary individuals are being given their well deserved moment in the limelight with a special walk-on role in our production of The Prom. We’ve also gifted each person some complimentary tickets and a discount to the production so their friends and family can join in on the celebration. Our changemakers have already added an extra touch of magic to our performances, inciting cheers as they run on stage. It’s been a delight to hear the audience give them some well earned appreciation, and now we invite you to join us as we shine a spotlight on their remarkable achievements and contributions.
Michelle Wolfenbarger (May 12th), a native of Salt Lake City, has embarked on an extraordinary journey through her life that’s taken her from The National Ballet of Canada to law school and beyond, but her impact on the community extends far beyond her impressive accomplishments. With a special place in her heart for individuals with intellectual disabilities, Michelle has been running a Special Needs Activity Program (SNAP) for over a decade. From there her dedication to serving the special needs community led her to Special Olympics Utah, where she has served as the Board Chair for two terms. Michelle’s unwavering commitment and passion for improving the lives of others make her an invaluable change maker in our community.
Bree-Taylor Lof (May 13th), a proud queer and trans-nonbinary educator, has made it their mission to promote inclusivity and diversity in children’s literacy. With a background in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership & Policy, Bree runs a Rainbow Club for LGBTQ+ students and allies. They also contribute their expertise to FAM, a local nonprofit dedicated to fostering LGBTQ+ inclusive Utah schools. Bree’s advocacy for inclusive practices and creating safe spaces in the classroom sets a strong example for those around her.
Heather Benson’s (May 16th), love for the arts and her dedication to promoting diversity and beauty within our community are evident in her remarkable accomplishments. With a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and a minor in theater, Heather has both graced the stage, and worked as a choreographer and designer for renowned productions. Today as the president of the Pioneer Theatre’s Guild, she continues to champion the arts through fundraising and volunteer efforts, enriching our community with her passion.
Jason Hogue (May 17th Matinee), a senior at West High School, has found his calling in the world of theatre. From seventh grade onwards, he has immersed himself in countless productions, and recently took on several directing roles. Jason’s commitment extends beyond the stage, as he actively engages in organizing drama club events and ensuring that theater is accessible and enjoyable for everyone. His infectious love for theater and his desire to share it with others make him a true inspiration.
Eric Richards (May 17th Evening), a veteran in the musical theater and vocal community, has dedicated his life to helping young people develop their talents and build confidence through music. As a private vocal coach and musical theater director, he has nurtured countless youth, encouraging them to embrace their authentic selves. Eric’s passion for community arts, crisis communications, and youth development has made a lasting impact in Sandy City and beyond.
Xendria Childs Hutchings (May 18th), has been a shining star in the world of theater since the age of 7. With numerous roles and productions under her belt, she is a testament to the transformative power of performing arts. Xendria’s dedication to being a friend to all is truly remarkable, as she believes in extending kindness and creating a sense of belonging for everyone she encounters. Her belief that everyone deserves love and friendship is a testament to her compassionate spirit.
Vivian Stewart’s (May 23rd), vibrant personality and love for theater, music, and movies shine through in everything she does. Having won awards for her performances, she continuously uplifts those around her with encouragement, love, and support. Vivian’s commitment to empowering others and fostering a sense of teamwork exemplifies her role as a change maker in our community.
Elizabeth Harges (May 25th), a gifted pianist and singer, possesses a remarkable array of talents. Her involvement with the West High Theater Company extends beyond her remarkable performances on stage. As the Company Advocate, she goes above and beyond to ensure that every member feels valued, supported, and loved. Her commitment to creating inclusive and safe spaces within the theater community is truly commendable, as she advocates for kindness, mindfulness, and the celebration of diversity.
Rilee Pickle (May 26th), an English Language Arts teacher to a remarkable group of 204 students in the Salt Lake City School District, stands out as a beacon of inspiration. Having obtained a master’s degree at a young age, Rilee utilizes their academic prowess to educate and empower their students. As a member of the leadership team for the nonprofit organization FAM, Rilee actively works towards creating inclusive schools for LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and parents. In their classroom, Rilee fosters an environment where every student feels safe to be themselves, voice their opinions, and engage in meaningful discussions. Their dedication to teaching resilience, channeling passion into impactful actions, and nurturing the next generation of changemakers is truly admirable.
We extend our heartfelt appreciation to who’ve joined us so far, and we look forward to celebrating our other esteemed changemakers during the rest of our run! The Prom continues through May 27th.