Carnegie Mellon University lauded for its connection to the Tony Awards
When a Broadway actor wins a Tony Award, he or she often thanks a teacher, that one person who was an inspiration for the winner’s passion for the theater.
That’s what the two women who plan the annual Tony Awards shared with a group of Carnegie Mellon University students on Wednesday at the Purnell Center for the Arts on the Oakland campus. Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League and Heather Hitchens, president & CEO of the American Theatre Wing, met with CMU president Farnam Jahanian before participating in a panel discussion with students on the business of acting.
“People who win often mention a teacher who inspired them,” Hitchens said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about the pride they have in their school and their teacher. Teachers are heroes.”
Which teacher inspired you? @Ben_Rappaport @davidmcromer @Rosie @Will_Hochman @CynthiaNixon @kidsandwolves share theirs at the @SoundInsideBwy #openingnight. Share yours & they could be honored by the #TonyAwards & @CarnegieMellon https://t.co/fYFLUYTDFA #applaudmyteacher pic.twitter.com/rdbWW4aD8L
— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) October 29, 2019
. The 74th Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Hitchens and St. Martin came to Pittsburgh as part of the connection between the university and the Tony Awards of which the school’s alumni have won 50. Notable Tony-winning alumni include Judith Light, Billy Porter, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Leslie Odom Jr., Cherry Jones, Stephen Schwartz, Patina Miller, Jamie deRoy, Christian Borle, Jules Fisher, Peggy Eisenhauer and Ann Roth.
“Carnegie Mellon gets it,” St. Martin said. “They are clear on strategic goals. It’s a perfect partnership.”
Odom will be in Pittsburgh Saturday for the “A Night of Promise Gala,” at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, Downtown, Pittsburgh. It’s to help raise money for The Pittsburgh Promise, which provides scholarships to graduates of the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Carnegie Mellon, the exclusive higher education partner of the Tony Awards, partnered with the Tony Awards to co-present the Excellence in Theatre Education Award to a K-12 drama teacher from anywhere in the U.S., following a rigorous nationwide search, according to a news release.
The search for a 2020 honoree is under way. Submissions are being accepted at tonyawards.com. Deadline is Dec. 6.
A panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon and other leaders from the theatre industry annually select the winner from hundreds of submissions representing nearly every state. The winner receives a $10,000 grant for his or her drama program, a visiting Master Class taught by Carnegie Mellon drama professors and two scholarships to the university’s acclaimed drama pre-college program.
“Carnegie Mellon has this most vibrant, connected, loyal alums I have ever seen,” St. Martin said.
She and Hitchens discussed how four out of five shows aren’t profitable.
“Our mission is to develop the audience of the future,” St.Martin said, referring to Broadway Bridges, a quest to have 70,000 high school students in New York see a Broadway show.
There is nothing quite like live theater St. Martin said.
“Broadway is a family,” Hitchens said. “You care for everyone. The arts are a powerhouse. We are changing the world through theater. Live theater feeds off an audience.”
On Thursday, Pittsburgh city council member Erika Strassburger presented Hitchens and St. Martin with proclamation declaring Oct. 31 “Tony Awards Day.” It recognizes Carnegie Mellon’s ongoing collaboration with the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards.
Strassburger signed the proclamation Thursday alongside Heather Hitchens from @TheWing, Charlotte St. Martin from the @BroadwayLeague and Dick Block from @cmudrama. https://t.co/CtSIawnVXp pic.twitter.com/vFD0OUMAS0
— Carnegie Mellon (@CarnegieMellon) October 31, 2019
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .