In recognition of his outstanding scholarship and teaching, Assistant Professor of Theatre Bradley Willcuts was named a 2021 recipient of Michigan State University’s Teacher-Scholar Award.
Supported by the Office of University Development, Teacher-Scholar Awards recognize faculty who, early in their careers, have earned the respect of students and colleagues for their devotion to and skill in teaching, and whose instruction is linked to and informed by their research and creative activities.
Willcuts exemplifies the artist-teacher-scholar combination. Focused on developing new musical theater, his creative activity aligns perfectly with his MSU research. And he brings this research into the classroom, where students effectively learn up-to-date practices. Discussions, coaching, and critical analysis are ways he enhances education.
Willcuts also is highly regarded as a professional musical theater director and choreographer. His most notable credits on Broadway as well as regionally and internationally have all been new musicals. His artistry was witnessed in Europe in the new musical “Sherlock Holmes, The Legend,” which premiered at the prestigious Karlin Musical Theatre in Prague, and the recent production of “Porgy and Bess” at the Metropolitan Opera.
Because of his excellent working relationships with New York-based artists, he regularly creates opportunities for students to collaborate with Broadway professionals in developing new musicals. This experience was in danger of suspension due to the pandemic, but Willcuts’s expertise in online education informed his approach to this challenge. “Medusa,” this year’s ĭmáGen new musical selection, was performed virtually with 21 students, giving viewers an inside look at the work involved in developing a new musical. Shifting from staged reading to documentary film, the production followed Broadway directors, actors, and choreographers collaborating with MSU musical theater and dance students, and local high school actors in the creation of the new musical “Medusa.”
Willcuts was selected as an exemplary example of engaging course design for his Integrative Arts and Humanities class through the Enhanced Digital Learning Initiative (EDLI) and the Fintz Award for Excellence in Teaching for his course focused on providing a more kinesthetic education in social dance. He received a HUB Catalyst Innovation Grant to develop cutting-edge techniques in technological teaching and a HUB Faculty Fellowship for transitioning those ideas to the online classroom.
He is a contributing author for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre in New York City and its recent online “Nuts and Bolts Guide for Creating New Musicals.”
For his commitment to innovating and rethinking pedagogy through technology and bringing the professional world of musical theater directly to his students, Willcuts is most deserving of the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.
He will receive his award during the MSU Awards Convocation, which is being scheduled for next year due to the pandemic.