Brianna Maloney
Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic
Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic

The Desert Theatre League (DTL) honored the Best of the Best in the Coachella Valley from thirty theatre arts, dance companies, and High Schools at their 30th Annual Desert Star Awards ceremony and banquet held in Sun City’s Mountain View Banquet room in Palm Desert last Sunday. For the first time in its history, the popular DTL event was sold out. Loosely paraphrasing a line from the movie “Jaws”, the DTL is going to need a larger facility to hold the event next year.

Attended by more than 300 Regional theatre professionals, non-professional actors, directors, producers, playwrights, and technical wizards, along with young students, and theatre aficionados in general, DTL Co-Hosts and professional actor/singers Darci Daniels and Paul Mackey did the announcing of more than 500 Nominees that produced 103 Winners with style and precision in the proper pronunciation of each nominee and winner’s names. To borrow a political word from this year’s election cycle their ‘stamina’ was a first class effort in itself.

The desert theatre arts organization, in addition to the awarding of the Desert Stars Award Statuette, also honored five individuals for their above and beyond contributions to theatre arts in the Coachella Valley.

Receiving the coveted Desert Theatre League Lifetime Achievement Award was Cynthia Kaye, longtime DTL member and founder of C.K. Dance Company, and a very popular choice. The Michael Grossman Award given to a Valley actor in recognition of talent, dedication, and a devotion to the craft of theatre production was presented to three-time DTL winner Chuck Yates, co-founder and artistic director of Coyote StageWorks.

Multi-award winning actor, director, and stage technician Charles Harvey, was honored with the Sydney Harmon Award for theatrical excellence both on and off the stage. Award-winning Playwright Tony Padilla was honored with the Joan Woodbury Mitchell Award, given to an individual who gets theatre done and inspires that effort in others. The Bill Kuhlman Award was presented to professional and award-winning cinematographer, film director, and stage technical wizard Clark Duggar of Dezart Performs. The Kuhlman Award honors the efforts of the ‘unsung heroes’ of theatre production, those behind the footlights who toil in anonymity so others can shine on stage.

In addition to the above Board of Directors Special Awards, the DTL also awards a Desert Theatre League Scholarship to a deserving young student of the arts. This year’s winner is seventeen year-old dancer, singer, and actress Brianna Maloney, a student at Musical Theatre University, in Rancho Mirage, who is planning on an acting career.

With more than 500 individual DTL nominations and the names of the 103 winners of the 2016 Desert Star Award, there isn’t enough space to list everyone, however, each artist and/or performer along with the production company name, deserves to be recognized. You can check out all of the nominees and winners by going to the Desert Theatre League Website at And next year be sure you make your reservations early. It’s the theatre event of the Fall season to meet, mingle and schmooze. And it quickly sells out.