Volpe, who began as a 21-year-old English teacher in 1969 at Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, PA, later transitioned to become the school's drama teacher – staging over 43 productions in his 40 years of teaching.
He will be presented with the honor on March 9 by MTI's Senior Operations Officer, John Prignano, prior to the Truman High production of Godspell. The Stephen Schwartz-John-Michael Tebelak biblical musical marks Volpe's final production at the school.
According to MTI, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Theatre Education "honors individuals for their exceptional commitment to promoting the legacy of musical theatre by nurturing the next generation of performing artists and audience members."
"Lou's contribution to theatre education is incomparable," Prignano said in a statement. "He has been an innovative force in the theatre world, and has been a pioneer by being the first to stage high school versions of Les Misérables and Rent. Lou was also the first to produce an edited version of Spring Awakening for a high school. He is a true innovator and has made Truman High's theatre program one of the most respected in the nation."
He continued, "He always challenged his performers and audiences to embrace all types of material, regardless of subject matter. Whether presenting classic works like Guys and Dolls and West Side Story or modern offerings like Parade or Spring Awakening, Lou found the essence of each show and made them relevant to his community." Music Theatre International handles the live performance rights to hundreds of musical titles, including the Stephen Sondheim and Disney catalogues, as well as Annie, Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story, and newer titles such as Legally Blonde, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal, Les Miserables, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Xanadu, 9 to 5, Avenue Q, Hairspray and Rent. The company also represents the Broadway Junior series, which streamlines Broadway musicals for young performers.