Nov. 10, 2011 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNCSA’s GERALD FREEDMAN TO BE HONORED AT EVENT FEATURING BROADWAY STARS
UNCSA Chancellor John Mauceri, Hal Holbrook, Kevin Kline and Others to Give Personal Tributes to Freedman
Patti LuPone, Brian D’Arcy James Among Those to Perform
Cabaret Benefits Sonnet Repertory Theatre, Founded by UNCSA Alumnae
WINSTON-SALEM – Gerald Freedman, dean of the School of Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), will be honored at the annual Benefit and Cabaret for Sonnet Repertory Theatre (SRT), a nonprofit organization in New York City founded by UNCSA alumnae.
The 10th annual fund raiser, An Evening of Song and Tribute, is Monday, Nov. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Joe’s Pub in New York City. It will celebrate Freedman’s career.
An Obie Award-winning director, Freedman holds the distinction of the first American invited to direct at London's Globe Theatre. He has been dean of the School of Drama since 1991. He is regarded nationally for productions of classic drama, musicals, operas, new plays and television.
Freedman said he is humbled and happy to be honored by his former students. “For me it’s all about the work: getting it, using it, failing at it, learning from our failures, getting back up on our feet and doing it again,” he said. “’The process’ we call it. I have to assume that’s what they’re really honoring, principles and a way of working.”
UNCSA Chancellor John Mauceri will provide a personal tribute to Freedman, as will Hal Holbrook, Estelle Parsons, Kevin Kline and Austin Pendleton.
The cabaret will feature performances by some of Broadway’s greatest talents and legends, including Brian D’Arcy James, Jennifer Ferrin (an alumna), Penny Fuller, Rebecca Naomi Jones (an alumna), Jeremy Jordan, Patti LuPone, Terrence Mann (an alumnus), Bryce Pinkham, Alfred Uhry, Price Waldman and Emily Young.
Olympia Dukakis and Chita Rivera will perform special video tributes to Freedman.
The event will feature music composed by Leonard Bernstein, Scott Frankel, Galt MacDermot, Terrence Mann, Ben Toth and Robert Waldman, from many of the Broadway shows with which Freedman has been involved, including Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, Hair, Gypsy, A Time for Singing, and The Robber Bridegroom.
The cabaret will be hosted by UNCSA alumnus Wesley Taylor, who won a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut for his role as Franz in Rock of Ages and was recently seen on Broadway as Lucas Beineke in The Addams Family. He can soon be seen on Steven Spielberg’s NBC-TV show SMASH.
Proceeds from the event will support SRT’s efforts to produce exciting, accessible classic theatre and to nurture an appreciation for arts and classical language among New York City’s schoolchildren. The company was founded in 2002 by School of the Arts alumnae Robyne Parrish and Katrina Thomas Kent. In the spring of 2007, UNCSA alumni Todd Lloyd and Tiffany Little Canfield assumed their current roles as co-artistic directors. For information about SRT, visit www.sonnetrepertorytheatre.org.
Freedman serves on the board of advisors of SRT and is a strong proponent of the company’s mission: classic theatre for the modern planet. “There is nothing like the challenges of the great plays,” he said. “They demand everything from us. Our minds, our bodies, our souls. Everything. Euripides, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Shaw, Chekhov, Beckett, Arthur Miller, Caryl Churchill, August Wilson,” Freedman continued. “They teach us what it means to be human. They are in touch with things we need to know and will make our lives more satisfying and meaningful.”
At noon on Monday, Freedman has been invited by Oscar Eustis, artistic director of the Public Theatre, to share remembrances of his work as the founding artistic director and of the dozens of productions he directed between the late 1950s and 1980s.
Freedman has staged 26 of Shakespeare’s plays, along with dozens of other world classics. He has directed celebrated actors such as Olympia Dukakis, James Earl Jones, Stacy Keach, Julie Harris, Charles Durning, Sam Waterston, Patti Lupone, Mandy Patinkin, Jean Stapleton, William Hurt, Carroll O’Connor and Kevin Kline. His Broadway directing credits include The Robber Bridegroom; The Grand Tour with Joel Grey; the revival of West Side Story, co-directed with Jerome Robbins; the premiere of Arthur Miller’s The Creation of the World and Other Business; and Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession with Lynn Redgrave and Edward Herrmann.
He made theatre history with his off-Broadway premiere of the landmark rock musical Hair, which opened the Public Theatre in 1967.
Freedman served as leading director of Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival from 1960-71, the last four years as artistic director. He was co-artistic director of John Houseman’s The Acting Company from 1974-77; artistic director of the American Shakespeare Theatre during 1978-79; and artistic director of the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1985-1997. Productions for the Great Lakes Theater Festival include Shakespeare’s King Lear (with Hal Holbrook), which went to the Roundabout Theatre in New York City. He directed opera productions for the Opera Society of Washington (Kennedy Center), the San Francisco Opera Company, and New York City Opera. For New York City Opera, he directed revivals of Brigadoon and South Pacific.
Before coming to the UNCSA, Freedman taught at Yale and The Juilliard School. A native of Lorain, Ohio, he received both his B.S. and his M.A. (summa cum laude) from Northwestern University. He trained for the stage with Alvina Krause, voice teacher Emmy Joseph and at the Actors Studio.
In addition to the SRT board, Freedman serves on the Kennedy Center New Play Committee and is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.