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Hub City Players, Lopinto Named Finalists for American Prize Award

Mon, 06/17/2024 - 11:56am

The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts - David (Volosin) Katz, founder and chief judge - has announced that The Hub City Players production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” has been named a finalist for the American Prize in Musical Theatre.

American Prize Award

For his impressive body of work, Dr. Mike Lopinto, PR/Marketing and Event Coordinator in the School of Music at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has been named a dual finalist in both the professional and collegiate categories for the American Prize in Directing – the Charles Nelson Riley Prize. Lopinto’s recent credits were noted for the Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company’s (SOMTC) production of “Guys and Dolls” and the Hub City Players production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Both productions were directed by Lopinto with co-directing credits for “Beast” with Chris Word. Both were choreographed by Brett Barnes with co-choreography credits for “Beast” with Word. Both productions were costumed by Tammy Mansfield, who also music directed “Beast.” Dr. Michael Miles music directed “Guys and Dolls.”

“This is a wonderful recognition for the many dedicated and talented performers, technicians, and patrons who support excellence in the arts,” said Lopinto. “It is incredible that we can have both a Southern Miss educational program and a professional theater organization not just co-existing in the same community, but collaborating on productions of such high quality that they can both be recognized on a national level in the same year.”

American Prize Award


The Hub City Players, formed in 2012, by Lopinto, Mansfield and Dr. Jennifer Bruton, have enjoyed success upon success, many of which stem from an artistic partnership with FestivalSouth. Over the years, the group has created a formula that Hattiesburg audiences love.

With some of the area’s best singing actors, the project has become more than just singular events and is continually expanding to an annual season of performances in venues across the South. Recent productions of “Jersey Boys” and “Little Shop of Horrors” drew enthusiastic crowds. Previously, their 2018 production of “James and the Giant Peach” won the American Prize, with Lopinto, Miles, Word, and Mansfield at the helm.

“Having one of our musical productions and, simultaneously, one of our staff members recognized as a finalist for the American Prize is a watershed moment for our School of Music,” said Dr. Colin McKenzie, Director of the School of Music at USM. “We all know, as the people affiliated with our myriad events each year, that what we do is of the highest quality. It is always, however, wonderful to have external validation of those facts.”

McKenzie continued, “In addition to being incredibly proud of the work that our faculty, staff, and students do which warrants such a recognition, I am continually amazed that we, collectively, attain this level of achievement considering the limitations of our facilities. It really is a testament to the grit and determination of our School of Music faculty, staff, and students. To say that I am proud is an understatement.”

The Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company (SOMTC) at Southern Miss has accrued a reputation as one of the finest opera and musical theatre collegiate companies in the region — attracting a range of diverse and dazzling performers and presenting professional quality productions within an educational setting. The program regularly offers students opportunities to perform in opera and musical theatre productions, as well as recitals and concerts.

The 2018 production of “Phantom of the Opera” won the American Prize in Musical Theatre with Lopinto, Miles, Word, Barnes, Mansfield, and Dr. Jay Dean guiding the monumental production.

For more information, visit Hub City Players or USM School of Music.