The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards® Presented By:
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The Tony Awards® and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) asked the American public to tell us which theatre educators inspired them to be better artists, and better people, as part of a national conversation about the importance of arts education. We invited you to submit candidates for the award, and you told us about thousands of extraordinary educators.

On June 4, the Tonys and CMU announced 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, Md.

The Excellence in Theatre Education Award is a 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. 

Submissions from Across the US

This winter more than 4,000 submissions 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,” Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, said in a staement.

A panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University and other leaders from the theatre industry selected Hicken and Adams to be recognized as the runners up for the honor, and Mitchell as this year’s winner. 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. (Eastern Time), Sunday, June 7.

“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 Dr. Subra Suresh, president of Carnegie Mellon University. “The importance of arts education and its impact on the human condition cannot be overstated.”

About the Winner and Finalists

Reared in rural North Carolina and educated at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Corey Mitchell is now completing twenty years in the classroom and his fourteenth year at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C. 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. Corey does not shy away from material that challenges his students, the audience, or his own skills.  Some of the most notable of his seventy-plus productions include For Colored Girls, Pippin, Edges, Aida, Rent and Hair. During his career, Corey has garnered recognition as a director, performer, and teacher, including the North Carolina Outstanding Theatre Arts Educator in 2007.

In addition to his work at Northwest, Corey 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, Corey Mitchell is proudest of the love for the stage he instilled in thousands of young artists over the years.

Marianne Adams received her BFA in Theatre Arts from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Marianne 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. She has also worked as a mentor and artist-in-residence in the Helena Public Schools and surrounding areas.

Donald 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 has also 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.

About the Award

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. To learn more, visit

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 and Matt Bomer announced the educator award initiative.

The 2015 Tony Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, June 7th, 2015 (8:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET/PT time delay) on the CBS Television Network, live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Past Tony-winners Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming will co-host. The Tony Awards, which honors theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway, has been broadcast on CBS since 1978.

The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.