Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress and singer Leslie Uggams will share her insights and talents with students of the Wright State University Musical Theatre Program January 22-23 in Dayton, Ohio. Uggams will become the first major visiting artist to conduct master classes and perform as a guest of the school’s new Musical Theatre Initiative.
"Leslie Uggams represents so much of the history of popular entertainment in the last half of the 20th century and into the 21st," says Joe Deer, distinguished professor of musical theatre and director of the Musical Theatre Initiative at Wright State. “Exposing students and faculty to an artist like Ms. Uggams provides inspiration to complement the rigors and discipline of training. It’s an infusion of energy for all of us.”
The new Musical Theatre Initiative celebrates and explores the history, culture and craft of the musical theatre through guest artist residencies, concert performances and international conferences. It provides students and faculty with the unique opportunity to learn from and work beside world renowned artists, thinkers and teachers.
According to Deer, who worked with Uggams 25 years ago on the national tour of Anything Goes, Uggams is the ideal performer to serve as the Musical Theatre Initiative's first visiting artist. "She runs the gamut from silly, variety show entertainment to very serious drama," he says. "She will give our students a chance to really apply what they learn from her."
On Thursday, January 22, Uggams will lead master classes with acting and musical theatre students from 10 a.m. to noon in the Herbst Theatre in the Creative Arts Center. The classes are open to the public. The master classes will be followed at 1 p.m. by a question-and-answer session led by Deer. Later in the day Uggams will work privately with a select group of musical theatre students who will perform with her the following night.
On Friday, January 23 at 8 p.m. Uggams and her protégés take the stage of the Victoria Theatre in downtown Dayton in a concert featuring classic and contemporary standards. They will be backed by Don Rebic on piano, Ray Kilday on bass, and John Ferraro on drums. The concert is presented by the Musical Theatre Initiative at Wright State and the Victoria Theatre Association. Additional support for Uggams' visit is provided by Wright State's Bolinga Black Cultural Center.
Tickets for the concert are $47 and $37 for the public; $17 for Wright State faculty and staff; and $7 for all students. Tickets may be ordered online at ticketcenterstage.com or by calling (937) 228-3630.
In conjunction with Uggams’ visit to Wright State, ThinkTV, Dayton’s public television station, will produce a 30-minute segment highlighting her performance and sessions with the students. Future broadcasts will be scheduled throughout the PBS network.