Performer Ben Vereen to receive award from UF

Published: March 14 2014

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tony Award winner Ben Vereen will receive an achievement award from the University of Florida School of Theatre and Dance and conduct a master class for students when he visits UF next month.

Vereen, who has starred on Broadway and appeared in movies, will receive the Linda Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Theatre at a private reception following his performance April 2 at the Phillips Center for Performing Arts.

The award was established through an endowment from UF 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 the morning of April 2 in the Constans Theatre. Following the class, Linda Wilson will present several scholarships to students. At 7:30 p.m., Vereen will take the stage during hisSteppin’ Out Live with Ben Vereen performance at the Phillips Center. Tickets range from $10 for UF students to $50 and are available through the Phillips Center Box Office at 352-392-2787.

“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, Vereen has been a force on stage and screen. He uses 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

To learn more about the School of Theatre and Dance, including upcoming performance dates and ticket information, visit





Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories