Cass Tech drama teacher honored with Tony Award

As a drama teacher for the past 39 years, Marilyn McCormick has felt at home on Cass Technical High School’s stage. But on Sunday night, she graced a different stage to accept a Tony Award. McCormick received the Excellence in Theater Education Award that honors professionals who “discover talented students, nurture them, inspire them and set them off on a lifelong journey as theater supporters,” the Tony website says.

In her acceptance speech, McCormick gave a special thank you to Cass Tech Principal Lisa Phillips. “I’d like to thank my students who have been an inspiration over the years to me ... I am because you are. You are the next Lin-Manuel Miranda. You are the next Audra MacDonald,” she said, ticking off more Broadway names. Speaking to the performers in the audience, she told them “whether you realize it or not, each and everyone one of you has touched me in a very special way and helped to make my life complete.”

McCormick’s students, who affectionately call her “MC,” nominated her for the Tony given in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and honored her in a video on the Tony Awards Facebook page. “Ms. McCormick loves you straight, no chaser, and that allows for you to blossom in any, and many, different directions,” one woman said in the video. Cass Tech student Yakira Allen, 15, had McCormick for acting. She told The Detroit News that McCormick “teaches from the heart” and made her classroom feel like a family. “She’s very welcoming and really opened my eyes to different perspectives of acting,” Allen says. Vice principal Velma Snow echoed that the award, which comes with a $10,000 grant for the school’s theater program, is “very well deserved.”

Wrapping up her two-minute speech, McCormick — who’s retiring at the end of this school year — said this was the best way to end her career. “There’s no better way to go out than to win this Tony Award in a time when there’s so much diversity among the nominees. I am grateful.”

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Compiled by Melody Baetens and Stephanie Steinberg

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