In 1996, the Players were well on their way to building their own rehearsal studio in East Concord and Karen Braz’s quest to offer theatre programming for children finally became a reality. Under Braz’s direction, the newly formed Children’s Theatre Project (co-founded with Barbara Woodman), began with The Wind In The Willows, featuring a cast of young actors ages 8 to14 performing at Concord’s now-defunct Annicchiarico Theatre. Since then, the CTP has presented a fully produced play or musical every fall (now at Concord City Auditorium) with the exception of pandemic year 2020. Since the beginning, Karen and her team have offered a Winter Vacation Theatre Camp, where young thespians spend five days rehearsing shorter adaptation of shows, with a pizza party for the cast and a free on-stage performance for family, friends and the community. For the past ten years, CTP has also offered a similar Summer Theatre Camp every August. 

The number of children who have been involved in the plays, musicals and camp productions directed by Braz is at this point almost incalculable. The average Concord area resident may or may not be familiar with community theatre shows generally, but one need not go far to find someone who will perk up at mention of the name “Karen” as they fondly recall the positive theatre experiences their children or grandchildren have had with CTP over the decades. The 25th Anniversary of the Children’s Theatre Project occurred during the pandemic, leaving the Community Players with little opportunity to recognize and celebrate the occasion as they felt it – and Karen Braz – truly deserved. When a board member recently suggested creating an annual award in her name to recognize above-and-beyond support for the Children’s Theatre Project, the response was instant and unanimous approval. The annual award, called the “Karen Braz Children’s Theatre Project Award,” was first presented at the Players Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 8, 2024, and the first recipient of the award was, of course, Karen Braz. 

In the fall of 2021, Braz took time out from directing to be interviewed by ConcordTV. “Over the years, there are people who look at me like I’ve got nine heads because I work with kids,” Braz said. “No. Don’t even think that. They are great to work with and they are the future. If you want patrons of the arts, if you want actors, if you want techies – this is where they start.” In a sudden reflective mode, the director recalled, “There are kids for whom this niche is really important. There was this one little boy, at the Anniccharico – I’m not sure what camp we were doing – and he looks up at me and he goes, ‘This is the best night of my life!’ ” Braz laughs as she tells the story but adds, “often you don’t realize until years later, when kids come back and tell you how much it meant to them.”


The Karen Braz CTP Award Recipients

On May 8, 2024, the Players’ Board of Directors unanimously voted to establish the Karen Braz Children’s Theatre Project Award “to be given annually at the Players’ annual meeting to someone who has made extraordinary contributions to the Children’s Theatre Project in the past or present.”    

Karen Braz