In 1990, when she was 25, Bronwyn McEwen enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as a theater major.
“I had two major goals in life,” she said. “The biggest was to be a wife and a mom, and the second was to be an actor.”
She quit nine months later to marry Warren McEwen. Goal one: Check.
Their daughter Mary Catherine was born four years later. Goal two: Check.
Acting never left her mind, though, and in spring semester 2022—32 years after she left college and at the age of 57—she returned to UTC to finish her degree as a theater major.
Goal three: Check on the horizon.
In her first acting role ever, she is playing The Nurse—a vital role—in the UTC Theatre Department’s production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
The production runs at the UTC Fine Arts Center’s Dorothy Ward Theatre from Nov. 15-19.
“I just feel privileged to have this be my first experience,” she said.
Anne Swedberg, associate professor in the Department of Theatre, has been McEwen’s instructor for three courses—Acting 1, Theatre History 1 and Voice and Body. Having McEwen as a student has been “a great pleasure,” she said.
“She is curious, eager to learn as much as possible and enthusiastic about everything she undertakes,” Swedberg said.
Undertaking acting seems a natural fit for McEwen, who is almost electric in her energy level—whether talking about her past, present or future.
Although being a wife and mother was No. 1 on her goal list, the acting bug came first. In 1982, months after graduating from Chattanooga Christian School, she spent eleven months searching for fame and fortune in Los Angeles.
“I was young and naïve, and I thought, ‘I’m just gonna show up over there and they’re going to say, ‘Oh yes, we want you.’”
No one said that, although she did win a car on “The Price Is Right.”
Dejected, she returned to Chattanooga. Five years later, despite feeling too old for college, she enrolled as a theater major at UTC.
A semester and a half into her college career, she met—or re-met actually—Warren McEwen. They had met a year before in a Bible study for singles in a friend’s home but didn’t click, she said.
“In fact, we had zero interest in each other.”
A career accountant and now a lecturer in the Department of Accounting in the Gary W. Rollins College of Business, he earned a master’s in business administration at UTC in 2018.
Along with her husband, her second daughter—also named Bronwyn—graduated with a business administration degree from UTC in 2018. Their youngest son Jack plans to graduate in December with his BA in finance.
Will, their oldest son, earned bachelor degrees from the College of Charleston in finance and economics. Mary Catherine plans to graduate in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from an online university.
As for her, she hopes to graduate in 2026 and has concrete plans afterward.
“The goal isn’t to just have fun here in school and get my degree, which is important,” she said. “But the whole goal of it is to learn how to act and then be able to audition for things.
“I don’t want to be 70 when I graduate.”
“Romeo and Juliet”
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 15-19, with a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Nov. 19.
Tickets can be purchased through the UTC Box Office in person, by phone (423-425-4371) and by visiting the UTC Theatre web page. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students (with proof of student ID) and seniors.
Location: The UTC Fine Arts Center is at the intersection of Dr. Roland Carter St. (formerly Vine St.) and Palmetto.
- Noah Fernandez (senior, Ooltewah, Tennessee)
- Maegan Whitlock (junior, Nolensville, Tennessee)
- Bruce Shaw (alumnus, Chattanooga)
- Patrick Sweetman (UTC Theatre Faculty)
- Nancy Tillman (junior, Franklin, Tennessee)
- Jaden Donovan Partain (senior, Athens, Tennessee)
- Courtney Rea Parrish (sophomore, Maryville, Tennessee)
- Gwynne Jones (senior, East Ridge, Tennessee)
- Cameron Branch (sophomore, Waynesboro, Tennessee)
- Frankie Bolognani (freshman, Chicago)
- Bronwyn McEwen (freshman, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee)
- Daniel McMahan (sophomore, Franklin, Tennessee)
- Liomar Mercedes Sosa (junior, Chattanooga)
- Kat Wilcox-Chelimsky (senior, Knoxville, Tennessee)
- Emma Jo Moyle (sophomore, Spring Hill, Tennessee)
- Calista Geralds (sophomore, Chattanooga)
- Taylor Jones (sophomore, Auburntown, Tennessee)
Assistant Stage Manager
- Caton Taylor (junior, Murfreesboro, Tennessee)