Accompanied by the Northwinds Concert Band, UMSL theater scholar Jason Cannon delivers the St. Crispin's Day speech from William Shakespeare's "Henry V" on Oct. 27, 2008 at Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Jason Cannon, visiting assistant professor of theater at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, took home his first Kevin Kline Award last night. He was named Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play for his portrayal of Father Flynn in “Doubt,” the first production staged by Dramatic License Productions. Cannon tied for the award with John Contini, who played John Barrymore in Avalon Theatre Company’s “Barrymore.”

“The best part of the whole night was when Joneal Joplin – a dear friend and brilliant actor – called my name, and the roar from my friends and colleagues in the audience was so great that it drowned out the name of the show and the company,” Cannon said. “That kind of support and community is so touching and inspiring.  It was as much a recognition of my 10 years working with everyone here in St. Louis as it was for that one performance.”

Cannon, a veteran Shakespearean actor and director, also was nominated for Outstanding Director in a Play. In addition, he has directed several UMSL plays, including the recently wrapped spring production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” To date, he has received five Kevin Kline Award nominations.

Following Cannon’s win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play, a few of  his students weighed in on the award. Sean Green, a sophomore majoring in theater and dance at UMSL, said it was already an honor before the award to work with Cannon, who he called a talented local actor and director.

“After working with Jason for these past two years, I am not at all surprised by his victory at the Kevin Kline Awards,” Green said. “If he brings the same dedication and passion to the stage as he does to the classroom, it was just a matter of ‘when’ he was going to be commended.”

Joanna Brown, a freshman majoring in theater and dance at UMSL, said Cannon has helped her grow as both an actor and a person.

“I know it was well deserved,” she said of him winning the award. “He is an increibly talented and dedicated individual. I am honored to be learning from him.”

Named for acclaimed actor and St. Louis native Kevin Kline, the awards recognize outstanding achievement in professional theater in the greater St. Louis area. This is the fifth year for the annual awards.

Visit to read an earlier entry about Cannon receiving the nominations.

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Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz