January 30, 2023

UM Department of Theatre Wins Four Regional Awards for its Productions and Performances

The University of Montevallo’s Department of Theatre brought home four 2022 BroadwayWorld Birmingham Awards this month, which honor the best in regional productions, touring shows and more.

UM’s wins included Best Play winner “Anon(ymous),” Best Musical winner “A New Brain,” Best New Play or Musical winner “Flatliners the Musical” and Best Supporting Performer in a Play winner Eric Browne for his role in “The Normal Heart.”

According to BroadwayWorld, the performances had to premiere between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2022. The audiences at the performances then voted and made their selections for the best in each category.

“I’m elated and very proud of the work that the students have done and proud of the department,” said Michael Walker, interim chair and associate professor of theatre, acting and voice   at UM. “The amount of time and effort that goes into a production is unreal. To see those efforts acknowledged in a regional and statewide way is fantastic.”

“The people voting validate that the work we’re doing and the work that our students are doing is high caliber   and at an elite level. It validates the hard work that the faculty, staff and the University have put into developing the programming and this department.”

BroadwayWorld is an international organization that’s broken down in different regions across America, Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Asia. Montevallo is part of the Birmingham and Central Alabama region, which includes Shelby, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties.

“This is the only theatre award we have in our area, so it’s a big deal,” Walker said.

“Anon(ymous),” premiered in March 2022 in the Rebecca J. Luker Stage in the DiscoverShelby Theatre  . It was a sold-out play about immigration.

“A New Brain” premiered in April 2022 in the Michael & Sue Meadows Black Box Theatre  . Walker said it was the last show that lighting and scene design faculty Kel Laeger did before retiring.

“Flatliners” is a new musical produced and written by Annslyn Pilkington, who graduated in May 2022, and UM Accompanist and Music Director

Jennifer Hartsell co-wrote. It’s based on the movie “Flatliners” released in 1990 and was performed in Palmer Hall Auditorium  and Homewood Theatre in Jefferson County.

“Annslyn reached out to Sony Pictures to ask if she could make a musical of the film and they connected her to the original writer Peter Filardi who gave them permission,” Walker said. “It’s been incredibly successful and they are hopeful that the show will continue development and move to New York.”

Eric Browne won Best Supporting Performer in a Play for his role in “The Normal Heart,” which was a show Montevallo put on 10 to 15 years ago, Walker said. Members of the original production were invited back to perform it again in May 2022 and Eric, who is a theatre teacher in Mobile, was “phenomenal” Walker said.

Learn more about the UM Department of Theatre at montevallo.edu/department-of-theatre/.