Harry Dietzler Honored with Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award
The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre are presented annually by The Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. The awards, which celebrate theatre in the Philadelphia area, hold a definite value and have been referred to before as “Philadelphia’s Tony Awards”. However, tonight’s ceremony is a little more personal for many in the Philadelphia area as Harry Dietzler, the Executive & Artistic Director of the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center and Founder of Upper Darby Summer Stage, will be honored with the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Harry Dietzler, as previously mentioned, is the current Executive & Artistic Director of the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center in Drexel Hill, PA. He is also the Founder of the national recognized summer theatre program, Upper Darby Summer Stage. 36 years ago, Harry Dietzler realized something had to be done with the new empty theatre space at the Upper Darby High School and proposed to the township a sumer theatre program. Beginning off with only $4000, the program has since grown to today become a model for childrens theatre programs regionally and nationally.
Upper Darby Summer Stage was most recently honored with the Best Theatre Group in Philadelphia Award for the 4th Year in a Row. The program which runs every summer is home to over 700 participants grades 5 through college. Boosting 6 children’s theatre productions annually, a main stage broadway musical, a dance troupe program, cabaret program, one acts program, apprentice program, rising stars program and technical theatre program, Summer Stage does it all. And you can all thank Mr. Dietzler for that.
Thats not all he does though. The Upper Darby Performing Arts Center through out the year boosts many performances from Theatreworks USA to choral concerts to school events to musicals and dramas. The venue is a cultural icon for the area and one many people can connect with. Many say working in the venue and its programs have changed their life.
One person who went through the Summer Stage program and was actually the person to nominate Mr. Dietzler for the Lifetime Achievement Award was Tina Fey. Famous for her SNL skits and other hilarious movies such as Mean Girls, Tina Fey has become an icon for humor in the current world. And yes, she went through the program. Another would be Alyse Alan Louis, who most recently played Sophie in Mamma Mia on Broadway! And while Summer Stage isn’t about creating the stars of tomorrow, it is about so much more – Imagination, creativity, being yourself, accepting others and filling the world with love. And tht is where Mr. Dietzler comes in to place setting all of those examples first.
So what exactly is the Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award all about? This is what the Barrymore Committee says…
“The Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award is given in recognition of an individual who has devoted his or her time, talent and energy to making a significant impact on the cultural landscape of Greater Philadelphia. Harry epitomizes what this award is about with his decades-long commitment to nurturing the local artists of tomorrow,” says Margie Salvante, Executive Director of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. “But Harry has done much more than create artists, he has built communities that support theatre and enrich lives year after year.”
I would like to take a moment and also say a personal thank you to Mr. Dietzler. I went through the Summer Stage program as a performer and now work there every Summer. This program has very much affected my life. How so? It made me realize what I want to do for the rest of mine – work with children in theatre. I can absolutely say 100% that I would not be majoring in Arts Administration in college with out the support, help, guidance and inspiration Summer Stage has given me. It really is one of the most incredible places to work at. And I only hope that if you have never been to it, you get a chance to experience it at least once. It will change your life – I promise you that.
So Congratulations to Harry Dietzler on his Barrymore Award for Lifetime Achievement. Myself and Everyone else could not be more happy for all the incredible memories you have created for us these past 36 Summers filled with imagination, hope, dreams and so much more. While Summer Stage’s “theme song” is “To Fill the World with Love”, I think everyone can say you have truly filled ours with tons of that. Thank you for Everything. For more information, check out the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center’s Website.