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SMCM Professor Michael Ellis-Tolaydo Receives Prestigious Helen Hayes Award

May 6, 2010
Press Release #10-098


St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) professor of theater, film, and media studies' Michael Ellis-Tolaydo received the prestigious Helen Hayes Canadian Embassy Award for Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Play, for his acting in "Heroes" at the MetroStage at the 26th Helen Hayes Award in Washington, D.C.  Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer presented the award to Tolaydo.  The Helen Hayes Award is in its 26th year of promoting professional theaters in the Washington area, serving as credentials for artists and theaters alike.  This year's awards were more competitive than in years past, as the number of productions and eligible theaters has increased significantly. 

Tolaydo, who was on a one-semester sabbatical from the college, also appeared in two other plays this year, including "The Accident" and "Benedictus." 

"Michael's ability to successfully maintain dual careers as an actor and educator has always amazed me," said Merideth Taylor, professor of theater and dance and chair of the Theater, Film, and Media Studies Department. "This short sabbatical has given him a chance to concentrate on his work in the acting arena and he has capitalized on it with three roles in the current season, and all to superlative reviews!  I think he had a great time, and we're happy to have him back!"

In "The Accident," Tolaydo plays Adam, a man wracked by guilt and uncertainty after he and his friends hit a pedestrian one night coming home from a bar.  In "Benedictus," Tolaydo stars in the Middle East thriller that investigates the arms race in Iran.   "Heroes," directed by John Vreeke, is a very different genre, illustrating the pain of World War I felt by three old veterans.

"Tolaydo has managed to stay active as a professional in the regional theater scene while simultaneously meeting the demands of his position at St. Mary's," said Taylor. "In fact, he thrives on it, and feels that his work as an actor keeps his teaching fresh. He stresses the integration of the two and always takes his classes to see his work in shows in the Washington, D.C., area."

A faculty member at SMCM since 1987, Tolaydo was born in Nakuru, Kenya. He graduated with a master's of fine arts in directing from Catholic University. At SMCM, he teaches acting, directing, dramatic literature, Shakespeare, and theater history. Tolaydo is a former Steven Muller Distinguished Professor of the Arts, which honors faculty whose accomplishments in the arts distinguish them among their creative peers.

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.