In the Loop
General News : Mar 3, 2014

Tony Award winner Ben Vereen to receive award

The School of Theatre + 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 Cabaret Award for best celebrity vocalist. To learn more about his career and accomplishments, visit