Cultural Center earns its place as a top theatrical production company in the Southern California desert region

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JOSHUA TREE, CA – After receiving an astounding 54 award nominations from the Desert Theatre League for its 2015-2016 season productions, with every production receiving a nod, the Hi-Desert Cultural Center’s prestigious Hi-Desert Playhouse theater division won a crowning eleven awards for theatrical excellence—tying for the spot as the top theatrical production company in the Southern California desert region at the 2016 Desert Star Awards Gala on October 9, 2016.  Of the 30 such producing members of the Desert Theatre League, the Cultural Center was the only one to have received these accolades across the professional, community, and youth theater designations.


The Cultural Center’s acclaimed ArtsTech Academy youth program figured prominently garnering three of the top production awards for its 2015 Summer Youth Theater Program production of Disney’s The Lion King Jr., including the prestigious overall award for “Outstanding Production” of a musical in the Youth Theatre category.  Directed by Playhouse Artistic Director Howard Shangraw and musically directed by Nelms McKelvain, The Lion King Jr. not only won the top honor for its overall outstanding production, but the costuming, hair, and makeup design also received the top honors across all theatrical categories.  The Cultural Center’s Costume Designer, Amy Angel, and mask artist, Patricia Kinney, received the top award for “Outstanding Costume Design” and Echo Westover and Linda Shrader received the top award for “Outstanding Hair & Makeup Design.”  The Center’s popular Reader’s Theater Series garnered a total of four awards with an overall “Outstanding Production” award for LA COMEDIA, written and directed by Andy Harmon and Boel Larsson; Barry Cutler won “Outstanding Lead Male Performer-Professional” for his performance in SHYLOCK; Meg Wolf won “Outstanding Lead Female Performer-Professional” for her performance in OTHER DESERT CITIES; and Analisa Pilecki won “Outstanding Supporting Female Performer” for her performance in MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD.  Revered playwright Charles Evered won the “Bill Groves Award for Outstanding Original Writing” for the world premier of his new work AN ACTOR’S CAROL, which also garnered Cultural Center Technologies Director Matthew Garret the top award for “Outstanding Sound Design.”  Rounding out the eleven awards was the Playhouse production of the musical THE SPITFIRE GRILL, which earned Playhouse Artistic Director Howard Shangraw the coveted “Outstanding Director-Musical/Opera-Professional” award and Analisa Pilecki an “Outstanding Supporting Actress-Musical/Opera” award.

For more information on the Cultural Center’s theatrical offerings, its youth theater, music and arts programs, or how to get involved or donate, visit or send an email to

The HI-DESERT CULTURAL CENTER (DBA) is a fully recognized non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation: “HI-DESERT PLAYHOUSE GUILD, INC.” Federal Tax ID# 23-7425816, California Department of Justice Charity Registration #008976.  Donations to it are deductible to the fullest extent of the law.


GREAT NEWS FOR SEASON PACKAGE TICKET HOLDERS! Should your schedule change and you find yourself needing to attend a performance on a different date — if you give the Box Office at least 48 hours notice prior to your ticketed performance, management will attempt to exchange your ticket for a different performance of the same show!