Vanessa Williams Wowed TUTS Supporters At The 50th Annual Education Celebration

Last Thursday, multi-platinum recording artist and the star of television, film and the Broadway stage,Vanessa Williams performed some of her greatest hits in a one-night-only intimate experience at Theatre Under The Stars' 50th Anniversary Education Celebration!

This annual event benefits TUTS educational outreach, including The River Performing and Visual Arts Center, Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, and other community engagement programs.

Nearly 250 guests were treated to intimate performances from the TUTS Inclusive Performance Troupe and Williams on the stage at Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The Troup features students of differing abilities from both The Humphreys School and The River.

Several standing ovations ensued throughout the night as the Troupe presented selections from TUTS' 50th Anniversary Season, and after a beautiful set, Vanessa Williams brought down the house with "Save the Best for Last." You would be hard-pressed to find a dry eye in the house when Vanessa welcomed the Troupe on the stage to sing her Academy award-winning hit "Colors of the Wind," including American Sign Language interpreting.

At this event, inspired by both The Wiz and The Wizard of Oz, guests were greeted and invited to travel down the Yellow Brick Road by eight "munchkins" from both The River and the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. Throughout the night, more children from the programs acted as "flying monkeys" to assist emcee Dana Tyson of Sunny 99.1.

The evening's event chairs were Martha and Guy Benham & Jessika and Jeff Smith. Both couples are passionate supporters of The River, where the Benhams' daughter is a student and the Humphreys School, where the Smiths' daughter is a student. In their remarks, Martha and Jessika shared the importance of inclusion and access to arts education for children and our community as a whole.

Featured speakers included TUTS' Executive Director Hillary J Hart, Artistic Director Dan Knechtges, and Director of Education Clifford Alexander.

Catering was provided by Jackson and Company and decor by Blooming Gallery.

The evening raised more than $225,000 for TUTS education programs and scholarships, as well as the new Margaret Alkek Williams Center for the Arts and Education.

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