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"Odyssey of the Stars" Honors Longtime Theater Arts Educator

 "Odyssey of the Stars – A Celebration of Artistic Journeys" will honor University of Montana alumnus and former faculty member Firman H. "Bo" Brown during its 10th anniversary production at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 10, in the University Theatre.

This year's celebration – "Opening Doors" – recognizes Brown for his lifetime dedication to opening doors for students in the theater arts, not only at UM, but also across the nation.

 "Odyssey of the Stars" honors outstanding UM performing and visual arts alumni and tells the story of their artistic journeys, showcasing the many different roads to success that an artist can travel. Odyssey 2010 will feature some of UM's finest student performers and artists. The production, held annually since 2001, supports the College of Visual and Performing Arts Scholarship Fund.

"Bo Brown had a powerful impact on the cultural landscape of Montana through his founding of the Montana Rep, Bigfork Summer Theatre and his advocacy of the arts through the Montana Arts Council," said Stephen Kalm, dean of UM's College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Odyssey Sponsorships help underwrite the event. Sponsors enjoy select seating to the show followed by a VIP champagne reception with Brown.

Two-ticket sponsorships cost $125, and four-ticket sponsorships are $200. A portion of the cost of an Odyssey Sponsorship is tax deductible. For more information, call the College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean's Office at 406-243-4970.

Individual tickets cost $30 for the public and $15 for students. They can be purchased at all GrizTix locations, by calling 406-243-4051 or 888-MONTANA, or online at http://www.griztix.com.

Brown earned a bachelor's degree at UM in 1949 and a master's at the University in 1953. During his years as a UM student, he appeared in several productions, including "Hamlet," "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" and "Dracula."

He began his career in educational theater at Northern Montana College in Havre and, after doctoral studies in speech and theater at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, returned to Montana to teach at UM.

From 1956 to 1969, Brown chaired UM's drama department. During that time, he made profound contributions to the growth and stature of theater at UM and to the arts in Montana. In 1958 he established the Masquer Summer Theater in remodeled space in UM's Student Union Building. He turned to private enterprise in 1960, opening the Bigfork Summer Playhouse with his wife, UM law Professor Margery Hunter Brown. The couple ran the theater for eight years.

Brown established the M.A. and M.F.A. degree programs at UM and launched the inaugural season of the Montana Repertory Theatre in 1967 with an ambitious statewide tour featuring three plays: "The Devil's Disciple," "She Stoops to Conquer" and "Julius Caesar." He was a founding member of the Montana Arts Council in the days when the National Endowment for the Arts was just beginning.

Brown then taught, directed and worked as an administrator at Ithaca College in New York, Rollins College in Florida and Ohio State University before returning to Montana in 2006. He served from 1987 to 1990 as president of the University/Resident Theater Association, a national organization of 40 major theater departments and regional theater companies. From 1990 to 1993, he was president of the National Association of Schools of Theater, the accrediting body for theater programs in American higher education.
Brown was awarded an honorary fine arts doctorate from UM in 2008. The degree recognizes a lifetime dedicated to teaching, scholarship and service to educational theater.

For more information, call 406-243-4970 or visit the "Odyssey of the Stars" Web site at http://www.umt.edu/umarts/odyssey.