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Theatre Director/Teacher from South Plantation High School celebrated on Broadway’s biggest night—Sunday, June 11th at the 76th Annual Tony Awards

NEW YORK & PITTSBURGH, May 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) announced today that theatre director/teacher Jason Zembuch Young of South Plantation High School in Plantation, Florida, will receive the 2023 Excellence in Theatre Education Award.

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award was co-founded in 2014 by the Tony Awards and CMU to recognize top K-12 drama teachers and to celebrate arts education. Zembuch Young will receive his award at The 76th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, at the historic United Palace in New York City’s Washington Heights.

Making theatre accessible for all audiences has been the hallmark of Zembuch Young’s 20 years as a drama teacher. Each year, he produces two full-length mainstage productions, a play and a musical, in both voice and American Sign Language (ASL). As an advocate for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) population, Zembuch Young has reshaped policies to provide interpreters during and after school to teach his hearing and DHH actors and crew how to communicate and perform.

“As a high school theatre teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many students from different backgrounds with varying exceptionalities. When we are inclusive in the theatre, everyone is better for it. Everyone deserves to have a voice,” said Zembuch Young. “It is in the theatre that we have an opportunity to give our students a platform to use that voice, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what language they use to communicate.”

Zembuch Young runs a one-person, zero-budget public school theatre department with upwards of 150 students participating in performances. He also operates a six-week summer-stock theatre camp for elementary and middle school students, using high school drama students as counselors and mentors. With his South Plantation School students, he participates in International Thespian district and state competitions and is an eight-time South Florida CAPPIE winner for Best Play or Musical. Zembuch Young fundraises annually to provide four $1,000 scholarships to help graduating seniors.

Helping others overcome disability or life circumstances doesn’t stop when the school bell rings for Zembuch Young. He and his husband Michael have fostered more than 35 abused and underprivileged children. He’s facilitated the adoption of foster kids in his care and became an adoptive parent himself. He offers free admission to all performances for foster families so that they can experience live theatre.

A panel of theatre experts from the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League and Carnegie Mellon University selected Zembuch Young from a nationwide call for entries.

“We are thrilled to present the 2023 Excellence in Theatre Education Award to Jason Zembuch Young,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President and CEO of the American Theatre Wing. “Jason’s exceptional commitment to empowering every student to make and be part of theatre has won the hearts and appreciation of his local community and now the Broadway community, as well.”

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award recognizes a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who has demonstrated exemplary impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. Zembuch Young will receive $10,000 for South Plantation High School’s theatre program and tickets to The Tony Awards and Gala. Zembuch Young’s students will also receive a visiting Master Class taught by CMU Drama professors.

“New trails are blazed when teachers challenge paradigms in the name of art, expression and accessibility,” said Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian. “Jason Zembuch Young is an extraordinary educator who has used the power of theatre to profoundly impact the lives of his students. CMU is proud to present this award to Jason in recognition of his positive influence and remarkable achievements.”

Tune in to The 76th Annual Tony Awards

The American Theatre Wing’s 76th Annual Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will air LIVE on Sunday, June 11, 2023 from the historic United Palace in Washington Heights in New York City from 8:00-11:00 PM, ET/5:00-8:00 PM, PT on the CBS Television Network, and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+. 

CBS and Pluto TV will present The Tony Awards: Act One, a pre-show of live, exclusive content leading into The 76th Annual Tony Awards. The celebration commences at 6:30-8:00 PM, ET/3:30-5:00 PM PT, on Pluto TV, the leading free streaming television service (FAST). Viewers can access the show on their smart TV, streaming device, mobile app or online by going to Pluto TV and clicking on the “Pluto TV Celebrity” channel (no payment, registration or sign-in required).

About the Tony Awards

The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. At The Broadway League, Lauren Reid is Chair and Charlotte St. Martin is President. At the American Theatre Wing, Emilio Sosa is Chair and Heather A. Hitchens is President & CEO. 

Sponsors for The Tony Awards include: Carnegie Mellon University – the first-ever, exclusive higher education partner; City National Bank – the official bank of The Tony Awards; Playbill;  Rainbow Room – the official partner of the Tony Nominee Luncheon; Sofitel New York – the official hotel of The Tony Awards; United Airlines – the official airline of The Tony Awards for over 20 years; Zacapa Rum – the official partner of the Tony Awards; Baccarat – the official partner of the Tony Awards; and Ketel One Vodka – the official partner of the Tony Awards. 

About Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 13,000 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Together with the Tony Awards, Carnegie Mellon University presents the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama is the first degree-granting drama program in the United States and celebrated its centennial in 2014. In the past century, CMU has produced hundreds of Tony nominees, and its alumni have won 58 Tony Awards to date. 

SOURCE Carnegie Mellon University

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