August 2019: Nan Howlett, Maja Langbein and Sandy Magruder

Posted By on August 6, 2019

August 2019 Honorees

Nan Howlett, Maja Langbein and Sandy Magruder

Co-chairs of Centennial Applause! Gala benefiting Phoenix Theatre Company;

Why do you support Phoenix Theatre Company?

Sandy: There are only five other theaters in the United States that can claim 100 years of continuous operation — and no other in Arizona. The Phoenix Theatre Company has never closed its doors — not during World War I or II, not during the Great Depression or the recent recession. The Phoenix Theatre truly stands out for its persistence, determination and heart, and that’s something I am very proud to be part of.

Nan: The history of the Phoenix Theatre is remarkable. It was founded by community leaders and philanthropists who shared a passion for the arts and understood the important role that arts play in communities. In fact, the Phoenix Theatre was the state’s first arts company, home to the USO during World War II, and the place where Steven Spielberg got his start — he premiered his first feature-length film at age 17 on our historic Mainstage. Through the years, the Theatre has launched the careers of countless performers.  

Maja: My husband John and I are active with theater and arts and feel that the Phoenix Theatre Company exemplifies value, diversity, endless support and an overall good feeling. We don’t have many opportunities in life to celebrate the history of such an amazing organization, so being involved in the 100th anniversary of this incredible theater is beyond an honor.

Describe this year’s event.

Nan: The Phoenix Theatre Company’s Centennial Applause! Gala on Saturday, Oct. 19, is going to be the party of the century! I’ve always loved attending this event, but this year is truly special as we celebrate the Theatre’s 100th anniversary with celebrity guests, a remarkable performance created by the Theatre’s own Michael Barnard that will celebrate a century of performing arts, Steven Spielberg and some other fun surprises as well as an auction that will feature once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Maja: And, later in the evening, there will be dancing to popular hits through the decades with performers and celebrities under the stars. We’re really looking forward to sharing the evening with our family and friends.

Favorite movie:

Nan: My favorite movie is also my favorite book and one of the best performances I’ve seen on stage: Les Misérables. Part of why I love it is because I lived in France for 17 years and deeply cherish France, and in particular Paris, where the book by Victor Hugo is based.

Proudest accomplishment:

Sandy: I am so proud of my daughters Kristine Thompson and Shannon Barthelemy. They are amazing women who do so much for our community, but the most precious gifts are the six beautiful grandchildren they’ve given us. Kristine and Shannon are wonderful mothers and role models for their kids and work hard to do so much good for others. I am just so proud of them!

Fun fact about you:

Maja: Something that not many people know about me is I am fluent in Polish. My mother grew up in Poland and as I was growing up I would spend time in the summers there with my grandmother and family. It was a wonderful experience that helped me to learn the language and culture.

To learn more about the Phoenix Theatre Company, go to

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