Announcing the Winners of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” Grant

The unsinkable Molly Brown art

In its inaugural year, The Unsinkable Molly Brown Grant has awarded 16 high school theatre programs with $160,000 in grant funding to mount productions of the Meredith Willson musical. Announced in 2023, the program was made in partnership with Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), The Music Man Foundation (TMMF), and Music Theatre International (MTI) with an aim to empower theatre programs to engage educators, students, and their communities-at-large.

Winning Theatre Programs

The winning schools’ productions of The Unsinkable Molly Brown will take place in 2024 or 2025, with exact dates to be announced later. The winning schools, listed alphabetically, are:

  • Aloha High School; Beaverton, OR
  • Arts High School; Newark, NJ
  • Brownell Talbot College Preparatory School; Omaha, NE
  • Byng High School; Byng, OK
  • Clear Brook High School; Friendswood, TX
  • Columbus School for Girls; Columbus, OH
  • Garden City High School; Garden City, KS
  • Grants Pass High School; Grants Pass, OR
  • Harry S. Truman High School; Levittown, PA
  • Lake City High School; Coeur d’Alene, ID
  • Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls; Philadelphia, PA
  • Maryvale Preparatory School; Lutherville, MD
  • Morris Area High School; Morris, MN
  • Seaside High School; Seaside, CA
  • Walnut Hills High School; Cincinnati, OH
  • Woodmont High School; Piedmont, SC

Due to robust interest in the program, the partnering organizations agreed to extend six additional $10,000 grants to the first round of applicants, bringing the total awarded to $160,000 across 16 schools nationwide. Additional grants are set to be awarded in the spring of 2024 after a second round of submissions.

Why The Unsinkable Molly Brown?

Ensemble members stand in a circle with their arms raised at the end of a dance number.

Originally written in 1960, The Unsinkable Molly Brown told the fictionalized history of Margaret “Molly” Brown, a survivor of the Titanic sinking. While the story may have been fictionalized, it was based on a very real character with an inspirational civic-minded spirit.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown holds a special place in our hearts as a story that transcends time and circumstance,” says Kellye Griffin, Thespian troupe director at Byng High School. “It is the tale of a young, impoverished Southern girl who defies her humble beginnings—a narrative that resonates with students in our rural Southern school.”

In their grant applications, teachers repeatedly expressed their intention to connect to the historical figure of Molly Brown and the relevant lessons students might take away from the opportunity to explore her life more deeply. “Molly is a prime example of what one person can do to make an impact and we feel her story is one worth telling,” wrote Michelle Smith, Thespian troupe director at Clear Brook High School. “Producing this work is an opportunity to encourage the changes we want to see.”

A Lasting Impact

“We were overwhelmed by the response to this grant opportunity,” said representatives from the three partner organizations. “It was clear that the musical’s themes resonated with students and teachers, a testament to the passion they feel about creating a better world for one another,” continued Matt Conover, Chair of the Educational Theatre Foundation’s board of trustees. “We are thrilled to watch these students not only portray Molly’s life story on stage but also bring her fiery spirit alive in their communities.”

MTI plans a wider release of the show to all theatrical organizations in 2024. Find a free read of the revised script as well as selections from a new cast recording on MTI’s website.