Leslie Uggams to Perform at Amas Musical Theatre's 45th Anniversary Benefit Gala, 3/31
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."
Hinton Battle - Born in Germany, and raised in Washington, D.C. and New York City, Hinton Battle's tremendous talent became apparent at the early age of nine. After three years of studying ballet at the Jones & Haywood School of Ballet, he received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, under the legendary George Balanchine. He studied there till, at the age of 15, he found himself on Broadway playing the Scarecrow in the historic Broadway musical The Wiz. Battle has the honor to have been the first African American to have received three Tony Awards for his work in the Broadway Shows Sophisticated Ladies (1981), The Tap Dance Kid (1984) and Miss Saigon (1992). He has also received the NAACP Award and the Fred Astaire Award for his work in The Tap Dance Kid. Other Broadway shows Battle has starred in include Dancin', Dreamgirls and Chicago as Billy Flynn. He received rave reviews as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in the Chicago production of Ragtime, which garnered him an Ira Aldridge Award. Battle served as associate choreographer on both the 65th and 66th Annual Academy Awards. He received great notices for his work as an actor and choreographer on the feature film Foreign Student. He also wrote, directed and choreographed "712 Cathedral" for WJZ-TV. Battle has also choreographed for Coca-Cola and Disney; the sitcoms "Fired Up," "Sister, Sister," "The Trouble With Normal," "Andy Richter Controls the Universe," Warner Bros.' network promos; "The Ella Fitzgerald Tribute" and prepared recording artists for music videos and touring. In 1995, Battle performed Elton John's nominated song "Circle of Life" on the 67th Annual Academy Awards. With Otis Sallid, Battle developed his one-man show, Shine, for the 1997 HBO Comedy Festival - where he received tremendous attention as a comic force. Battle also performed on "The Kennedy Center 25th Anniversary Special." Battle narrated The Kennedy Center's children's ballet, Pepito's Story. As an actor, Battle starred opposite Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor in the ABC television special "These Old Broads" and choreographed and starred as Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in "Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story" for ABC. He also had the pleasure of playing "Sweet," the evil dance master in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Walter (Scott) McLucas II-- Scott McLucas has spent a life creating extraordinary opportunities for artists, actors, musicians and creative legends around the globe, through his One World Foundation. In 1993, in New York, he was presented with The Medal of the Writers Society of the United Nations for having created exchanges of productions of great American and Russian theater works in translation in both New York and Moscow, following the 'Russian Spring' of 1989-90. An important grant to New York's Signature Theater helped support the company's first seasonal exploration of the work of playwright Horton Foote in 1994-95, the year Foote won The Pulitzer Prize for Drama, beginning a long association in support of that playwright's work in New York and elsewhere. With New York's Irish Repertory Theatre and the York Theatre Company, the foundation produced several award winning plays and musicals Off-Broadway. In 1996, the W. Scott McLucas Theatre opened at the Irish Rep. In Great Britain, the foundation co-produced A Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir, translated and performed by Diana Quick. In France, the foundation was first commissioner and co-presenter of the world premiere of Bill T. Jones' award winning ballet, Still Here. The foundation was also seminal in bringing The Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre together with the Kennedy Center for a landmark interactive learning experience between Ladysmith Black Mombaza and young student audiences in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Japan. In Europe, through Syrinx Concerts, McLucas has presented innovative arrangements of classical music for chorus, orchestra, and new soloists. In 1996, he was named vice-president of the Renoir Museum Association to develop new exhibitions and international programs emanating from the painter's last home in Cagnes sur Mer, France. McLucas's memoir Lucky Life was published last year. He lives in Ponte Vedra, Florida with One World Foundation's co-founder, his beloved wife Nancy.