The Tony Awards, given for excellence in live Broadway theatre, have announced that Erica Heilmann, an Oak Lawn Park District Community Theatre Director, has been recognized as one of only 20 teachers in the United States to receive the Honorable Mention for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award.
The Award, sponsored by The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University, 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.
“There are so many wonderful teachers out there, including those who taught me, so to be even considered for this award was very special”, Heilmann said. She was the only teacher in Illinois to win this distinction.
Heilmann’s plate is full when it comes to theatre, directing the award winning Oak Lawn Park District Teen theatre program, the Broadway Jr. theatre program, multiple shows in the adult theatre program, and having taught theatre at T.F. South High School since 1998.
“Erica was my first theatre teacher when I was 7 and has literally changed my life”, said Reagan Pender, a theatre major at Ball State who was recently directed by Broadway star Sutton Foster.
Heilmann is passionate about the impact theatre can have, especially on teens and children.
“Through the theatre we can teach so much more than acting or dancing – we teach them the importance of acceptance, of giving everything of yourself on the stage, and that when you give selflessly, it lifts everyone around you, whether in a show or in life”, Heilmann said.