By Sharon Eberson
If you are a member of the Pittsburgh theater community, you know Billy Hartung as a performer; of course, He’s been to Broadway and back. As in back home, that’s back in Mt. Lebanon, where he is raising six children of his own and uplifting dozens of others as executive director of The Center for Theater Arts.
When the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University announced the 2022 Excellence in Theatre Education Award this week, Hartung was recognized for his work as a theater educator with a spot on the honorable mention list.
The winner was theater director Roshunda Jones-Koumba from G.W. Carver Magnet High School in Houston, Texas. Still, Hartung is first in the hearts of many Pittsburghers who have gone through his nonprofit school, which welcomes performers of all abilities.
The Center for Theater Arts features teaching artists, including Hartung. The Center’s mission states that it is “dedicated to offering the highest quality performing arts instruction. It is committed to providing all students, including those with special needs, opportunities to improve their self-image and self-confidence through artistic expression.”
Earlier this year, a couple of Hartung’s Broadway friends – Norm Lewis and Hugh Panaro – performed in concert at Heinz Hall to benefit the Center, a testament to his enduring popularity among fellow artists and belief in the school he attended as a boy before taking the reins.
CMU presents the annual education award bestowed at the Tony Awards. It recognizes U.S. educators from kindergarten to 12th grade who have “demonstrated monumental impact on students’ lives and who embodies the profession’s highest standards.”