WHEN: Thursday, March 1. Reception at 5:30 p.m. with a screening of “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” to follow at 7:15 p.m.
WHAT: Tony Award-winning Broadway producer, writer and performer Bonnie Comley – a UMass Lowell graduate and Bedford native – will return to campus with her husband Stewart Lane to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the university theater dedicated in their name.
The event will include a reception on the theater’s stage with the couple and a screening of “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” by BroadwayHD.com, the online streaming service they founded. The musical is critically acclaimed for its inventive plot and infectious pop score.
Comley, who has won three Tony Awards among several other honors, graduated from UMass Lowell in 1981 with a business degree that helped pave the way for her career. Lane is also a Broadway producer, as well a playwright, director and former actor. A gift from the couple supported renovations of the campus performing arts venue that was renamed the Comley-Lane Theatre in their honor.
“It is so fulfilling to know that UMass Lowell students, faculty and the community have had 10 years’ worth of entertainment in this theater. I love to return to Lowell to see all the improvements and additions to campus and to meet all the students looking forward to bright futures,” Comley said. “As a UMass Lowell business major, that skill set has helped me in every aspect of my life. I received a great education and that foundation enabled me to pursue a career that I love.”
Launched in 2015, BroadwayHD.com brings the excitement of musical theater to viewers around the world through their computers and mobile devices. The venture is reinventing the way people access and enjoy live theater and is a force in the global marketplace.
“We have shows closed-captioned for the hearing impaired and we are creating landing pages in different languages so viewers’ geography will determine the language they see when they first visit the website,” Comley said. “The flow of new content is exciting and is extending the reach of these shows and creating the next generation of theater-goers and theater-makers.”
Over the past 10 years, the Comley-Lane Theatre has helped fuel the growth of UMass Lowell’s theatre arts program, offering students a performance space in which to hone their talent in rehearsals and live shows. The theater has staged more than 30 full-scale productions and readings of plays in the past decade.
In addition, the Comley-Lane Theatre Arts Endowment Fund allows the university to invite professional artists to campus to perform with and mentor students in acting, writing, directing and all forms of stagecraft. Comley and Lane have led master classes at UMass Lowell in the past and are also scheduled to meet with students on Thursday as part of their visit. Comley is a past recipient of UMass Lowell’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
WHERE: Comley-Lane Theatre, Mahoney Hall, South Campus, 870 Broadway St., Lowell. Contact UMass Lowell media relations for directions and parking information.