Carnegie Mellon University
June 04, 2015

Theatre Education Award Winner and Finalists Named

Award To Be Bestowed at Tonys Sunday

By Carnegie Mellon's Ken Walters / 412-268-1151 /
and Pam Wigley / 412-268-1047 / 
and the Tony Awards' Shawn Purdy / 212-235-6813 /

Corey Mitchell
Corey Mitchell, theater arts teacher at the Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C., is the winner of the inaugural Exellence in Theatre Education Award.

The Tony Awards® and Carnegie Mellon University have named Corey Mitchell, theater arts teacher at the Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C., as the winner of the inaugural Excellence in Theatre Education Award. This year’s finalists were Marianne Adams, director of education at the Grandstreet Theatre School in Helena, Mont., and Donald Hicken, Theatre Department director at the Baltimore School for the Arts in Baltimore.

This special honor recognizes a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. More than 4,000 nominations were received from across the United States for the 2015 Excellence in Theatre Education Award.

“The submissions for these educators by their students and colleagues were extremely moving, and the lasting impact they have made was made very evident by the videos and stories they shared. We are extremely honored to have this opportunity to recognize their outstanding work in this manner and are thrilled to have them join us on Sunday evening at the Tony Awards,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing.

A panel of judges comprising representatives of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon and other leaders from the theatre industry selected Mitchell as the winner and Hicken and Adams as the runners-up. Mitchell will receive the Excellence in Theatre Education Award at Radio City Music Hall during the 69th Annual Tony Awards telecast on CBS at 8 p.m. EDT, Sunday, June 7.

Mitchell is proudest of the love for the stage he instilled in thousands of young artists over the years.

“In light of CMU’s rich history of producing Tony Award-winning talent, Carnegie Mellon is proud to partner with the Tonys in celebrating arts education with this first-ever honor for theatre teachers,” said Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh. “The importance of arts education and its impact on the human condition cannot be overstated.”

Reared in rural North Carolina and educated at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Mitchell is now completing 20 years in the classroom and his 14th year at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte. He teaches acting and leads a dynamic musical theatre program. His musical theatre history final exams have become legendary, and his love for Uta Hagen is unparalleled. 

Mitchell does not shy away from material that challenges his students, the audience or his own skills. Some of the most notable of his 70-plus productions include “For Colored Girls,” “Pippin,” “Edges,” “Aida,” “Rent” and “Hair.” During his career, Mitchell has garnered recognition as a director, performer and teacher. He was named the North Carolina Outstanding Theatre Arts Educator in 2007.

In addition to his work at Northwest, Mitchell is involved as a director and actor with the Charlotte-area theatre community and is a strong advocate for arts education through his work on the board of directors for the North Carolina Theatre Conference.

Additionally, Mitchell, his colleagues and his students are the subject of the 2015 feature-length documentary “Purple Dreams.” The film chronicles the journey of Northwest's production of “The Color Purple” and its journey to the main stage of the International Thespian Festival. With past and present students performing, writing and composing for community, university and regional theatre, as well as theme parks, the West End and even Broadway, Mitchell is proudest of the love for the stage he instilled in thousands of young artists over the years.

Adams received her bachelor's degree in theatre arts from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She has directed many mainstage productions for Grandstreet, most recently “The 25th Annual Putnam Co. Spelling Bee,” “Big River,” “Ragtime,” “Annie,” “Peter Pan,” “Into the Woods,” “Oliver” and “Songs for a New World.” She teaches acting classes for the Theatre School, and also has worked as a mentor and artist-in-residence in the Helena Public Schools and surrounding areas.

Hicken has directed “Red,” “Heroes,” “Fifty Words,” “Shooting Star,” “Our Town,” “I Am My Own Wife,” “The Turn of the Screw,” “Betrayal,” “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” “The Children’s Hour,” “Jacques Brel,” “My Children! My Africa!,” “Watch On The Rhine,” “The Road To Mecca” and “The Lion in Winter” for Everyman Theatre. He also has directed at The Berkshire Theatre Festival, The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, The Kenyon Festival Theatre, Round House Theatre, Rep Stage and Pennsylvania Stage Company. For his production of “The Glass Menagerie” (a co-production of Everyman Theatre and Round House Theatre), he created and directed “Steps in Time: Scenes from 1840 Baltimore” for the Baltimore City Life Museums.

Hicken founded The Center Stage Conservatory, The Actors’ Conservatory and has taught master classes at The Berkshire Theatre Festival, where he developed “Fog People,” a celebration of the Eugene O’Neill centenary. He has been department head of theatre at the Baltimore School for the Arts since 1979, where his productions include “Romeo and Juliet,” “Lysistrata,” “The Rimers of Eldridge,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Marat/Sade,” “Curse of the Starving Class,” “Yerma,” “The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” “The Lady From Maxim’s,” his own adaptation of “The Wind in the Willows,” “A Chekov Sampler,” “Ionescorama” (an evening of one-act plays by Eugene Ionesco), the world premiere of “Chalk” by Al Letson (co-commissioned with the Baltimore Theatre Project) and “Our Town.”

From January through March 31, 2015, submissions were accepted online for K-12 theatre educators for the inaugural Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Anyone — from students and school administrators, to friends, neighbors and family — was invited to submit a worthy teacher for consideration. Submissions were accepted for current teachers at an accredited K-12 institution or recognized community theatre organization anywhere in the United States whose position is dedicated to and/or includes aspects of theatre education. 

Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama is the oldest drama degree-granting program in the United States and celebrated its centennial in 2014. In the past century, CMU has produced hundreds of Tony nominees, and its alumni have won 40 awards to date. During last year’s live Tony Awards telecast, CMU alumni Zachary Quinto (A'99) and Matt Bomer (A'00) announced the educator award initiative.