Leslie Uggams to Perform at Amas Musical Theatre's 45th Anniversary Benefit Gala, 3/31

Amas Musical Theatre, New York City's award-winning pioneer in diversity and multi-ethnic casting in the performing arts since 1968, will celebrate its 45th Anniversary at a gala benefit on Monday, March 31st, 2014 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center (East 25th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues). Honorary Chair for the event is veteran Broadway virtuoso Maurice Hines.

The evening will kick off at 6pm with a champagne reception and silent auction. At 7pm, students of the Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theatre Academy will present a sneak peek of their upcoming spring production followed by Tony Award winner (and Amas friend) Leslie Uggams offering "Classic Uggams," a cabaret exploration of some of her favorite songs. The evening will culminate in presentations of "The Rosie Award" honoring three-time Tony Award winner Hinton Battle (Sophisticated Ladies, The Tap Dance Kid, Miss Saigon) and philanthropist and champion for the arts Walter (Scott) McLucas II. The award, commemorating the life and work of Amas Founder Rosetta LeNoire, is bestowed on individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary accomplishment and dedication in bringing our world more closely together through the performing arts.

"What a thrill to be celebrating our 45th year with the incomparable Leslie Uggams, one of American musical theatre's great leading ladies and a cherished member of the Amas family", says Amas Artistic Producer Donna Trinkoff. "And we honor two champions: Hinton Battle's breakout career has thrilled audiences for decades; and, Scott McLucas, through his One World Foundation, breaks new ground connecting cultures, with his innovative arts partnerships."

Tickets are $500 and $250, plus a limited number of show-only $150 seats available, and can be purchased online at www.amasmusical.org, or by calling (212) 563-2565. More information at www.amasmusical.org.

Amas Musical Theatre is New York City's award-winning pioneer in diversity and multi-ethnic casting in the performing arts since 1968. Amas ("you love" in Latin) is devoted to the creation, development and professional production of new American musicals through the celebration of diversity and minority perspectives, the emergence of new artistic talent, and the training and encouragement of underserved young people in the New York area. In recent years, under the leadership of Artistic Producer Donna Trinkoff, Amas has emerged as a leading not-for-profit laboratory for new musicals, including The Other Josh Cohen (Six 2013 Drama Desk Nominations including Outstanding Musical, 2013 Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Musical, 2013 Off-Broadway Alliance Nomination for Best New Musical); Triassic Parq, The Countess of Storyville, Distant Thunder, Casanova, Marry Harry, Me and Miss Monroe, Aesop & Company, Signs of Life, Wanda's World, Shout! The Mod Musical, Lone Star Love, From My Hometown, Zanna, Don't!, 4 Guys Named Jose and Stormy Weather: Reimagining Lena Horne. Amas education programs include the Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theatre Academy, Lens on Live Theatre and in-school theatre arts residencies designed in partnership with elementary, middle, and high schools.

Leslie Uggams - Incandescent star of stage, screen and concert hall, Amas favorite Leslie Uggams is a Rosie Award winner in her own right in 2009. Broadway eagerly awaits her portrayal of Lena Horne in Stormy Weather, which broke box office records at The Pasadena Playhouse and was first developed at Amas. Both a Tony Award and an Emmy Award winner, Ms. Uggams' many Broadway appearances have included starring alongside James Earl Jones in On Golden Pond and co-starring in the Broadway hit Thoroughly Modern Millie. In 2001, her Broadway portrayal of Ruby in August Wilson's King Hedley II was nominated for a Tony Award. Hedley followed two other critically acclaimed, Off-Broadway performances: The Old Settler and Keb Mo's blues musical Thunder Knocking on the Door. She has been captivating stage, screen and television audiences since her national television debut at age six on the TV series "Beulah," portraying the niece of Ethel Waters. At the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, nine year-old Leslie opened for such legends as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. She also made appearances on "Your Show of Shows," "The Milton Berle Show," and "The Arthur Godfrey Show." Embracing her love of music, Leslie attended the New York Professional Children's School, and at the age of 15 appeared on the CBS-TV quiz show "Name That Tune," winning $12,500 toward her college education. Her appearance proved to be fortuitous. Mitch Miller, head of recordings for Columbia Records, was so impressed by her vocal talents that he signed her to a recording contract and then made her a regular on "Sing Along With Mitch." Leslie Uggams became the first African-American performer to be regularly featured on a weekly, national prime time television series. Concurrent with her musical composition and theory studies at the Juilliard School, Leslie released the first of 10 albums she was to record for Columbia Records, including her first hit single, Morgan. Alternating major nightclub appearances with her stage work, Leslie appeared in the musical The Boyfriend in Berkeley, California, and soon made her Broadway debut as the lead in Hallelujah, Baby! That performance earned Leslie the 1968 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Broadway Musical. She followed that with a starring role in her next Broadway show, Her First Roman, opposite Richard Kiley. In 1970, she had her own musical variety television series on CBS-TV, "The Leslie Uggams Show," and signed a new recording contract with Atlantic Records. In 1972, she made her dramatic film debut opposite Charlton Heston in the MGM film Skyjacked, followed by Black Girl, the acclaimed film directed by Ossie Davis. However, it was Leslie's portrayal of "Kizzy' in the most watched dramatic show in TV history, Alex Haley's "Roots," that won her worldwide recognition as a dramatic actress - including the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1978, an Emmy nomination for Best Leading Actress and coveted Golden Globe Nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. She later starred in the miniseries "Backstairs at the White House," the ABC-TV movie of the week "Sizzle," and the HBO special "Christmas at Radio City Music Hall." Leslie went on to win an Emmy as co-host of the NBC-TV series "Fantasy." In addition to ongoing concert dates, Leslie returned to Broadway to star in the musical Blues in the Night and enjoyed a two year run the hit musical revue Jerry's Girls, based on the music of the legendary Jerry Herman. In 1987, she toured with Peter Nero and Mel Torme in "The Great Gershwin Concert," for which she received rave reviews. In 1988, she starred as Reno Sweeney in the National Company of the Lincoln Center Production of Anything Goes and later reprised the role at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater on Broadway. Recently, Leslie starred in a new version of Kander and Ebb's The Rink at the Cape Playhouse, and an acclaimed production of Hello, Dolly! at Houston's Theater Under the Stars. Leslie starred in the all-star tribute to the legendary Jerry Herman in Jerry Herman's Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl. She also starred in the revival of Play On at New Jersey's Tony Award-winning Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick and tackled the demanding dramatic portrayal of opera diva Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's Master Class at TheaterFest, also in New Jersey. When not performing in the theater, Leslie can be found touring the country with her acclaimed concerts. She has appeared with The Cincinnati Pops, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, The Washington Symphony Orchestra and The Rhode Island Symphony, to name a few. In addition, she performed before 300,000 people during the Memorial Day Concert on the Washington Mall and reached millions more as the event was televised live by PBS. Recently Leslie received rave reviews for her CD "On My Way to You - The Songs of Marilyn and Alan Bergman."

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