September 9, 2015
At this summer’s Thespian Festival, the first ever Thespian scholarships awarded by the Amy Bennett Foundation were presented to two Thespians. The recipients of the inaugural awards were Tarnim Bybee of Troupe 3093 at Lake Havasu High School in Arizona and James Conley of Troupe 2326 at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach.
The foundation was created last September in memory of Thespian alum Amy Bennett, who was struck by a vehicle while bicycling to the theatre in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where she was playing a lead in the Jackson Hole Playhouse’s production of Paint Your Wagon. Bennett was a member of Troupe 7070, Boulder Creek High School in Anthem, Arizona. The foundation will also award a scholarship at the Arizona State Thespian Festival in November.
“The Thespian Society created an environment for youth to seek their dreams,” Amy’s father Terry said. “It really opens doors, by giving Thespians the ability to learn about all of their options for colleges and providing access to top programs.”
One of four siblings in a family of theatre lovers, Amy Bennett displayed a great deal of talent at a very young age. Her parents, Pat and Terry, recall their three-year-old dressing up in costumes to sing and dance around the house, and performing whenever she had the chance.
“All she wanted to do was be a performer,” her father Terry said. “We are a very theatre-oriented family, and Amy was the light of the family as it related to that.”
In high school, as an active member of her troupe, Amy attended both the Arizona state Thespian event and the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her mother Pat recalls Amy being wowed by the main stage performances in Nebraska, making lifelong friends, and auditioning for callbacks with college musical theatre programs, including the four-year program at the University of Northern Colorado, where Amy graduated.
When Amy eventually moved to New York in February, 2014, she reconnected with high school and college friends alike, all of whom were active Thespians.
At first, Amy’s parents were apprehensive about her career choice, but after seeing Amy perform in Los Angeles as part of the University of Northern Colorado senior showcase, and the reaction of a crowd full of industry professionals, her father knew she had made the right choice.
“She was a very focused, dedicated, hard worker, and she was always positive,” her mother said. “She was thrilled to be cast from New York for the Summer Stock production in Jackson Hole. We want to keep her legacy going, which is why we created the Amy Bennett Foundation. I know she’s watching over us, helping us do great things in her name and provide opportunities to other deserving students.”
The Amy Bennett scholarships are to be given on an annual basis to graduating high school seniors who plan to study musical theatre or dance.