The last time The Sound of Music was produced at Artpark, the year was 1997 and the show was directed by Brother Augustine Towey, C.M.
A longtime professor and co-founder of Niagara University’s theatre program, Brother Augustine also served as associate artistic director for theatre programs and director and founder of the Artpark Repertory Theatre from 1975 through 2003.
In light of Brother Augustine’s passing last Thanksgiving, Artpark and Company Inc., the nonprofit organization that manages the venue’s programming, made the decision to dedicate this summer’s production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to the memory of the beloved Western New York theatre icon.
On opening night – Thursday, July 11 – Artpark President George Osborne welcomed Niagara University President Father Joseph Levesque, C.M., to offer a brief tribute to the man affectionately known by many as “Bro.” Osborne and Father Levesque were joined onstage by Dr. Sharon Watkinson, co-founder of NU Theatre, and Steve Braddock, NU’s theatre director.
“We are so thankful that Artpark is joining us in remembering Brother Augustine Towey, a man who, as Dr. Watkinson says, ‘was one unique human being who touched a million lives,’” said Father Levesque from the Artpark stage. “During his time at Niagara, Bro directed more than 135 plays, but his true impact was on the generations of students he inspired, both as professionals and, more importantly, as human beings.”
Brother Augustine came to NU in September of 1964 to teach English. He soon became involved with the Niagara University Players and, from a few early theatre courses, the current theatre program came into existence. He also established the bachelor of fine arts degree at NU, which received New York state certification in 1988. Many years later, he was the driving force behind the construction of the Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre on Niagara’s campus.
Brother Augustine was also well-known in the professional theatre community. He directed and served on the boards at many local venues, while also writing 12 plays for the stage and television, including The Guardian for the NBC-TV network. In addition, Brother Augustine was an accomplished poet, having published seven volumes and two CDs of poetry while at NU.
Niagara University Theatre will celebrate its 50th anniversary during the 2013-2014 season, which will also be dedicated to Brother Augustine.
Tickets for Artpark’s 2013 production of The Sound of Music are available online at www.artpark.net.
Additional information on Niagara University’s upcoming theatre season can be found at http://theatre.niagara.edu.