The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University have named Jason Zembuch Young of Plantation, Florida's South Plantation High School as this year's winner of the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. The honor will be presented to him at the 76th Annual Tony Awards, set for June 11 at United Palace in Washington Heights.
Zembuch Young was selected from a nationwide call for entries by a panel of theatre experts from The American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, and Carnegie Mellon University. Zembuch Young will receive a $10,000 grant for his school's theatre program, along with tickets to this year's Tony Awards ceremony and gala as part of his win. His students will also receive a visiting master class led by CMU Drama professors.
“We are thrilled to present the 2023 Excellence in Theatre Education Award to Jason Zembuch Young,” say Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin and American Theatre Wing President and CEO Heather Hitchens in a joint statement. “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.”
Zembuch Young is currently running a one-person public school theatre department with no budget and nearly 150 students participating in productions. He uses his summers to operate a six-week theatre camp for elementary- and middle school–aged children. Offstage, Zembuch Young and his husband Michael are foster parents, having taken in more than 35 abused and underprivileged children. The couple are adoptive parents, and have facilitated the adoption of foster kids in their care. Zembuch Young also offers free admission to all of his productions to foster families.
"As a high school theatre teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many students from different backgrounds with varying exceptionalities," says Zembuch Young. "When we are inclusive in the theatre, everyone is better for it. Everyone deserves to have a voice. 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."
Nominations for the Broadway honors were revealed May 2, with Some Like It Hot becoming the season's most-nominated production with 13 nods. The title is one of five shows up for the venerated Best Musical Tony Award, along with & Juliet; Kimberly Akimbo; New York, New York; and Shucked. Up for Best Play are three works that are already Pulitzer winners: Between Riverside and Crazy, Cost of Living, and Fat Ham; along with Ain't No Mo' and Leopoldstadt. See the full list of nominations here.
For more Tony Awards coverage, visit Playbill.com/Tonys.