Winnipeg couple wins 1st theatre educator award for inspiring students

After meeting at work, and going on to create theatre programs and inspire Manitoba youth to join the arts for decades, a Winnipeg couple will share recognition for their work at the city's first-ever theatre awards on Sunday night.

‘To work and do something I love so much with my life partner has been a privilege unto itself’: Robin Dow

Robin Dow, left, and George Budoloski speak on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show about receiving the theatre educator award at the inaugural Winnipeg Theatre Awards for their work in the classroom and on the stage. (Bruce Ladan/CBC)

After meeting at work, and going on to create theatre programs and inspire Manitoba youth to join the arts for decades, a Winnipeg couple will share recognition for their work at the city's first-ever theatre awards on Sunday night. 

George Budoloski and Robin Dow will be receiving the honorary theatre educator award for their work in the classroom and on the stage.

"It's overwhelming and it means a lot, obviously," Dow said Saturday on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show.

"To be acknowledged by the rest of the theatre community is something I didn't even think about. The opportunity to work and do something I love so much with my life partner has been a privilege unto itself."

The couple met while teaching in a theatre program at Winnipeg's Isaac Newton School. They eventually moved to Grant Park High School, where they gained a reputation for Broadway-style shows, before building a performing arts program at Balmoral Hall School.

"We've been married for 22 years, but because we work together I measure it like dog years — seven to every one," Dow said with a laugh.

The couple's work in performing arts has moulded students into actors, academics and even other theatre teachers. But Budoloski said his greatest hope is that "they are good people.

"I hope they've found the passion in what they do and moved forward with it."

On a trip to New York, to show their daughter the bright lights of Broadway, the couple went to see the musical version of Aladdin. They met up with Jaz Sealey, a former student and member of the cast, for a backstage tour after the performance.

While walking around, Sealey told the couple there were four former Grant Park High School students involved in the cast.

Budoloski laughed and said now his daughter thinks all Winnipeggers end up on Broadway.

Not all of their students ended up taking a curtain call after a big show, but Dow said whether they are doctors, lawyers or teachers, "learning to follow your passion and enjoy it on some level is something we hope they all take away."

The inaugural Winnipeg Theatre Awards will be presented Sunday night at the West End Cultural Centre.