the building became a reality Walsh began networking within the arts world,
both regionally and nationally. Locally he made contacts, serving on the
board of Concert on the Green, the Clay County Tourism Committee and by
directing theatre in Northeast Florida.
Furthering the THCA's position in the cultural arts business, Walsh became
active regionally and nationally with the Arts Presenters Association
(APAP), serving on the executive board of the Florida Presenters Consortium
and The Performing Arts Exchange (PAE) of the Southern Federation of the
Arts. Walsh recently served as a PAE panelist at the group's annual conference.
Born in Brooklyn, New York Walsh attended St. Cecilia's Parochial School.
"I had a very Catholic education," said Walsh. "St. Cecilia is the patroness
saint of music and at the school, l learned about music from Sister Sylvester,
while Mrs. Burns opened my eyes to the visual arts. My love for the arts
When Walsh was in the third grade his grandmother, a major influence in
his life, took him to a performance at the world famous Metropolitan Opera
House. The experience moved Walsh and fueled his desire to perform. "The
opera was La Traviata," explained Walsh. "I was not sure what was
going on throughout the performance, but I was captivated. I knew I wanted
As Walsh grew, his love for the arts blossomed. "Both my mother and father
supported my love of music with voice and music lessons," said Walsh.
"I was asked to sing on Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, but my mother
thought it would be a bad influence. She of course did make sure I learned
the instrument that all Italian boys growing up in Brooklyn play-the accordion!"
Walsh attended Delehanty High School where he was exposed to yet another
great influence, his music teacher Bridget Maloney. Under the tutelage
of Maloney, Walsh landed lead roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas
HMS Pinafore and Trial by Jury. This exposure prepared Walsh
for leading roles in professional productions of The Mikado and
The Pirates of Penzance later on in his acting career.
After graduating Walsh headed to Long Island and Hofstra University. There,
for his first two years he studied music, but he later switched to a double
major in theatre and speech.
Life at Hofstra afforded Walsh a wealth of experiences, and he was fortunate
enough to study vocal interpretation with Richard Mason and Lois Crews,
whose dear friend Margaret Hamilton, stared as the wicked witch in the
Wizard of Oz. "Ms. Hamilton would come to classes and teach us how to
do character voices," said Walsh. "This was a great learning experience."
Walsh's college performances were not limited to campus productions; he
landed a role in the off-Broadway musical Pins and Needles - a
revival production produced by the now famous Roundabout Theatre Company.
Following graduation in June of 1968, Walsh went on the road with his
first professional Broadway musical Sweet Charity. He spent the next eight
years acting and singing professionally in New York City and on the road,
starring in off-Broadway productions, dinner theatre productions and national
touring productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Mame, and Oliver. Walsh also
spent time working in nightclubs in New York City and San Juan, Puerto
Rico. Additionally, Walsh lent his talents to some small roles on the
daytime dramas: Search for Tomorrow, Guiding Light and As the World Turns.
While forming the backbone of his professional career, Walsh continued
studying his craft working with theater legend Sue Seaton. At the same
time, Seaton was coaching her best friend Katherine Hepburn. "Ms. Hepburn,
who was appearing in her only Broadway musical Coco," explained
Walsh. "I use to get to my voice lessons early so I could sit in the waiting
room and hear her vocalize before her Wednesday matinees."
One day as Walsh was waiting, Hepburn emerged from the studio doors and
exclaimed, "I'm sure it would be a much better experience for all of us
if I sat in the waiting room and listened to you vocalize!" The memory
of this meeting has never left Walsh.
Through Seaton, Walsh met his first professional mentor, award - winning
actor Jose Ferrer. Ferrer later cast him in the title role of A Song for
Cyrano, a musical version of Cyrano DeBergerac. The production was written
and produced by Ferrer with music and lyrics by the famous American song
- writing team of Wright and Forrest.
The show premiered at Hope College in Michigan, and while Walsh toured
with the production for a year he developed a life long friendship with
After leaving Hope College, Walsh attended Adelphi University, but it
wasn't all books as he worked on his masterÉs of arts in educational theatre
while operating his one-man Storyteller Theatre and appearing in small
roles on the daytime drama Search for Tomorrow.
Receiving his master's in 1976, Walsh did not attend his graduation ceremony;
instead he packed up his belongings and headed south to North Carolina,
where he joined the faculty of the prestigious North Carolina School of
Walsh adapted to life on the Winston-Salem campus teaching, writing and
directing plays. In the summers he would return to the Big Apple, staying
active in the competitive theatre market the city is famous for. His play,
Tales of the Disco People, was optioned by the powerful New York agent
Bill Barnes. Barnes handled many celebrities including famed playwright
Through Barnes, Walsh met Tennessee Williams. The meeting gave Walsh the
unique opportunity to have his play reviewed by the legend. "I came away
from that experience with advice on my writing skills and suggestions
on how to focus my creative energy in a different more successful way,"
said Walsh. "It was truly one of the highlights of my career."
Barnes later introduced Walsh to his future writing partner Louis St.
Louis. The two would begin a lifelong creative collaboration and friendship
that remains strong today.
In 1990 a collaboration of St. Louis' and Walsh's would receive artistic
recognition, when their musical Sugar Hill was nominated for the
prestigious Audelco Award, which is given annually for contributions in
Walsh was enjoying success in North Carolina, his plays were being produced
and recognized regionally, but New York called. For months several agents
tried to persuade Walsh to return to his native city, at the same time
a smaller arts school in Palatka, Fla. was calling.
In 1981, Walsh left New York City arriving in St. Augustine, he joined
the faculty of the Florida School of the Arts (FloArts), beginning his
long relationship with both SJR State and the Northeast Florida Community.
Two years later SJR State president Dr. Robert L. McLendon appointed Walsh
to serve FloArts as dean. That same summer Walsh assumed the position
of artistic director of Cross and Sword, the state play of Florida.
While at FloArts, Walsh continued writing and directing plays, and in
1983 he was one of five playwrights to work with three-time Pulitzer Prize
winning playwright Edward Albee at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Through FloArts Walsh developed a close friendship with world renowned
photographic artist Jack Mitchell. Upon an invitation from Walsh, Mitchell
served the school as an artist residence. His support to SJR State and Walsh
continues today in the form of donated collection. The photographs his
donated are now part of the THCA permanent collection and were celebrated
in 2004 as part of the Center's inaugural season.
Collaboration between Albee and the five playwrights produced Scenes From
a Non-Marriage. The play premiered at the Atlantic Center for the Arts
and later at FloArts.
In 1991 Walsh left FloArts to head up the Institute of Entertainment Technologies
at Valencia Community College in Orlando, Fla. While in the position,
Walsh started a television production department and was responsible for
writing and directing several television programs which aired regularly
on Time Warner Cable. "My most memorable experience in Orlando," said
Walsh, "was working with four-time Academy Award winning film director
Robert Wise, as assistant producer for the short film Best Two of Three."
Today Walsh awaits the success of the THCA, under his guidance it is sure
to happen. "I've had the unique opportunity to work with many creative
and gifted individuals in my career," said Walsh. "I am truly indebted
to them for their mentoring and for the friendships and relationships
that have evolved. I feel this support will help me make the THCA a major
player in presenting the cultural arts in Northeast Florida."
See you onstage and in the gallery... Tony Walsh
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