BJU Production Voted Best of Year

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Bob Jones University’s presentation of Titanic: The Musical has been voted the winner of The American Prize in Musical Theater Production for 2019–20.

Part of BJU’s Concert, Opera & Drama Series during the 2019 spring semester, the production in Rodeheaver Auditorium was based on the 1997 Tony Award-winning musical. Dr. Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts & Communication, was the stage director. Dr. Michael Moore, division of music chair in the School of Fine Arts & Communication, conducted the orchestra, Jeffrey Stegall designed the sets and lighting was designed by Richard Streeter.

Cast members included BJU students, faculty and staff in addition to guest artists.

Titanic: The Musical was a wonderful production that showcased the talents and creativity of the BJU community, and winning The American Prize award is a testament to everyone’s tireless efforts. Congratulations to everyone who was involved,” BJU President Steve Pettit said. “Our fine arts programs are a central part of the BJU experience and a high-quality complement to the academic breadth at BJU.”

The American Prize, established in 2009, is a series of annual national performing arts competitions for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals in the U.S. Prizes are awarded at the professional, college, university, church, community and secondary school levels. 

BJU has won awards in several categories of The American Prize and has been recognized multiple times as national finalist and semifinalist. It is the University’s first award in the musical theater division.

Three individuals with BJU ties are finalists for The American Prize in Directing — The Charles Nelson Reilly Prize — in the 2019–20 theater/musical theater division. Lawson advanced for Titanic, while David Schwingle is a finalist for his work on the November 2018 University Classic Players’ production of King Lear. BJU alumna Lori Lane, campus director of the Artios Academies of Greenville, South Carolina, is a finalist for directing Jane Eyre the Musical.

Additionally, Moore is a finalist for The American Prize for Conducting in the college/university orchestra division for the second consecutive year. He won in 2019 for BJU’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Award winners will be announced throughout the summer.

Earlier this year, Lawson was named a 2019 Honored Artist of The American Prize. Honored Artists are previous winners of The American Prize that the organization recognizes for “sustained excellence” over several years of the competition. 

Previous BJU awards include second place in the stage directing division for Erin Naler’s 2017 production of Trip to Bountiful, second place in directing for Lawson’s 2014 production of Aida, second place for Moore in conducting–college/university division for opera/music theater for La Cenerentola (2015), and third place in music theater and theater performance for Richard III (2012).