College News

Tony Award Winner Ben Vereen to Receive Linda Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Theatre

The University of Florida (UF) School of Theatre and Dance is pleased to announce that it will present the Linda Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Theatre to Tony Award winner Ben Vereen on April 2, 2014, at a reception following his performance at the Curtis M. Phillips, M.D. Center for Performing Arts in Gainesville, Fla.

The Linda Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Theatre was established by the UF School of Theatre and Dance to honor preeminent theatre artists. The award is made possible through an endowment from University of Florida alumni George and Linda Wilson. The endowment supports the ceremony, a master class giving students the opportunity to engage with and learn from the honoree and scholarships for students in the UF School of Theatre and Dance. Past recipients of the award include Zoe Caldwell (1998), Chita Rivera (2004), Estelle Parsons (2008) and Tommy Tune (2011).

“My vision to create the Linda Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Theatre was to combine honoring a preeminent, legendary theatre artist for their contribution to the American theatre while combining it with a master class for our students and awarding scholarships to musical theatre students,” said Tony Mata, professor and head of musical theatre at UF. “It is so important that our students are influenced by the very best theatre artists in our industry.” 

Vereen’s master class will be held in Constans Theatre on Wednesday, April 2 at 10:40 a.m. Following the class, Linda Wilson will present several scholarships to students. Later that evening Vereen will take the stage during his Steppin’ Out Live with Ben Vereen performance at the Phillips Center at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $10 for UF students to $50 and are available through the Phillips Center Box Office at 352-392-2787. The Linda Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented during a private reception following his performance.

“My message to students of all arts discipline is to remember to give back to your college in any way you can, big or small,” said Linda Wilson. “The University of Florida School of Theatre and Dance has given students so much, and the exposure of Ben Vereen to them will provide an invaluable lesson they will not get anywhere else during their time as undergraduates. I look forward to seeing the students interact with Mr. Vereen during his master class.”

For more than 40 years, Tony Award winning entertainer Vereen has been a force on stage and screen. Vereen utilizes his singing, dancing, storytelling and humor in a show that includes salutes to Broadway, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. He was recently inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame, The Dance Hall of Fame and received the Broadway.com Cabaret Award for best celebrity vocalist. To learn more about his career and accomplishments, visit www.benvereen.net.

This event has been funded in part by a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourism Development Council. 

About the School of Theatre and Dance

The School of Theatre and Dance is one of the University of Florida College of Fine Arts’ three fully-accredited schools. Undergraduate students can pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting, dance, musical theatre, theatre production—including costume design, lighting design and scenic design—or a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance studies or general theatre. Minors are also offered in dance and theatre as well as certificates in arts in medicine and dance in healthcare. Student organizations, showcase programs and other intensives provide students with invaluable professional experiences. UF is home to three School of Theatre and Dance theaters, including the Constans Theatre, Black Box and G-6 Studio. To learn more about the School of Theatre and Dance, including upcoming performance dates and ticket information, visit www.arts.ufl.edu/theatreanddance.

About the About the College of Fine Arts

The College of Fine Arts is one the 16 colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. The College of Fine Arts offers baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its three fully-accredited schools — the School of Art and Art History, School of Music and School of Theatre and Dance. The college is home to the Center for Arts in Medicine, Center for World Arts, Digital Worlds Institute and the New World School of the Arts in Miami. More than 100 faculty members and more than 1,220 students work together daily to engage, inspire and create. The college hosts more than 300 events each year and faculty and students also exhibit and perform at other local, national and international venues. Guests are welcome to attend college events and visit the University Galleries, University Auditorium and Constans Theatre, among other on-campus arts venues. To learn more, visit www.arts.ufl.edu.

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Editor’s Note: Media interested in attending the master class at UF’s School of Theatre and Dance on April 2 should contact Leah Craig at lcraig@arts.ufl.edu. Media interested in attending the April 2 performance at the Phillips Center should contact Amy Douglas at adouglas@performingarts.ufl.edu.

UF

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