Southeast Faculty, Alumnus Musical ‘An American Hero’ Premieres at River Campus


The Rhodes 101 Stops and Commerce Bank Theatre and Dance Series at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus opens the 2017-2018 season with “An American Hero” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27-30 and 2 p.m. Oct. 1 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall.

The world premiere of this original World War II musical by Dr. Kenneth L. Stilson, chair of The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance, and 2017 Southeast graduate Cody Cole, is the first time the University has developed an original musical on this scale.

“It’s a timeless story of patriotism, courage, and love in extraordinary circumstances,” Stilson said. “It’ll appeal to a wide range of audiences, from people who love dramatic musicals to history buffs to current and past members of the military and their families. You don’t want to miss this one.”

The dramatic musical centers on an 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.

The musical was part of the Overtures Staged Reading Series by the Off-Off Broadway Company the Gallery Players in Brooklyn, New York, in December 2016.

Cole and Stilson are excited to showcase their musical after two and a half years of working on finalizing it for production.


Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265, or online at

Patrons are invited to begin the evening with Art Cuisine in the Kenneth and Jeanine Dobbins River Campus Center. Dinner will start at 5:30 p.m. with a choice of entrée offered. Reservations are required and must be made by Sept. 25. To make reservations, call Chartwells at (573) 651-2511. More information, registration and menu information will be provided with ticket orders.