UNA Summer Theatre Brings Back Alumnus for New Production


FLORENCE – Michael Baldwin, former UNA theatre student, is back in Florence for the summer theatre production ofThe Mountain Top.

The play is a fictional depiction of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on earth. The entire play is set in room 306 of the Lorraine Motel on the eve of his assassination in 1968, after delivering his legendary “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

Performances will be June 29, 30, and July 1 at 7:30 p.m., and July 2 at 2 p.m., and will take place in the George S. Lindsey Theatre.

Baldwin said he is happy to be back in Florence for the first time in five years to bring this play to the community.

“I think it’s such an exciting challenge and an exciting endeavor because I think it’ll bring forth a lot of conversation,” he said.

Post UNA graduation, Baldwin earned his MFA in performing arts at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). During his last summer there, a lead casting director called him in for an audition, which led to the director seeing him – that’s how he got the part of a security guard in the movie “Coup d’Etat.”

The movie, which hasn’t been released yet, stars Michael Caine, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes and Seth Green. Baldwin didn’t give away too much about his role, but he did say that his character has an altercation with Michael Caine’s character.

However, Baldwin said he’s really excited to visit his alma mater again, which he said was the only campus he visited when searching for a university.

“Because my father had served in the military during the Vietnam era, I was able to get a VA scholarship, which allowed me to go to any state college in Alabama tuition free, including books,” Baldwin said.

He visited the campus his senior year of high school during the State Trumbauer Theatre Festival UNA hosted. He said part of the reason he chose to come here is because he loved the small town feel and felt very comfortable. A decision he said he’s still very happy with.

“Unlike other larger universities, UNA allowed me to play a lot of parts I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play otherwise,” he said. “Parts like Tiresias in Antigone, Horatio in Hamlet and John Merrick in The Elephant Man.”

Baldwin was also able to perform in The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCATF) as Sam in Master Harold…And the Boys.

Baldwin said his time at UNA was “a great experience, an eye opening one.”

He said that UNA helped prepare him for his future and made him more confident.

“Even from the professionals they brought in; it made me being a professional seem that much more tangible,” he said. “Just by being around those people it made me feel like, yeah, I can do this.”

He also said that UNA gave him the opportunity to take on challenges that would have scared him – he’s lost a lot of his fear about being an actor. When he graduated, he still didn’t have a concrete plan, but that didn’t scare him anymore.

“I was confident that I could do this. I was just like … I know it is going to happen. I know I’m going to get where I want to go. I just don’t know how yet,” he said. “And yes that’s scary, but that’s also the most exciting part about it and why I think I love doing this because it’s always changing; you never know where you’re going to be.”

That’s why his advice for other theatre students is to not second guess yourself, but instead, to just go for it and “jump off the cliff,” he said.

“Everybody has a different path. Some people’s paths are similar, but don’t do something because you think you’re supposed to do what somebody else is doing. Follow your own path.”

Tickets for The Mountain Top can be purchased at the Department of Entertainment Industry Office, Monday – Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12 Noon; online at https://www.una.edu/theatre/productions.html; or at the door.

For more information: Call Wanda Dixon at 256-765-4342.

Kelsey Herston

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