Southeast’s ‘An American Hero’ Wins NYMF’s Best of Festival Production Award


“An American Hero,” a Southeast Missouri State University original production, has been honored with the New York Musical Festival’s (NYMF) Best of Festival Production Award.

The powerful, jazz-inspired musical, which tells the story of an Irish immigrant during World War II, recently was performed as part of the 15th season of the NYMF July 23-29 in the Acorn Theatre in New York City.

In addition, Adam Schween, a junior musical theatre major from Germantown, Tennessee, received the Award for Outstanding Individual Performance for his portrayal of the lead character, Thomas. “An American Hero” also received a special citation for University Excellence, and the production’s design team received a nomination for outstanding design.

“We are so very proud of the work our students, staff and faculty did preparing  and performing ‘An American Hero’ at the New York Musical Festival,” said Rhonda Weller-Stilson, dean of the Holland College of Arts and Media.  “This festival experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Southeast students to perform in New York City. Southeast students were excellent ambassadors throughout the trip, and the entire production company received praise for their professionalism. Receiving these awards is an amazing recognition to an amazing experience, and we will display them proudly in The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance.”
Thirty-five Southeast students and faculty traveled to New York City to perform five productions of “An American Hero,” and received glowing reviews from Theatre Mania, Theatre Review from My Seat, and Buzzfeed, which declared “An American Hero” one of the “3-Must See Festival Shows.”

The dramatic musical centers on the optimistic Irish immigrant, who joins the United States Army, falls in love with and marries a spirited American woman, before being sent to fight in World War II, where he becomes the reluctant recipient of the Medal of Honor. Along the way, he learns the depths of his love of family, the sacrifices of heroes and the true meaning of becoming an American.

“An American Hero,” including the script and music, was co-written by Southeast Missouri State University 2017 graduate Cody Cole of O’Fallon, Missouri, and Dr. Kenn Stilson, chair of The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance.