The Ensemble Honors Phylicia Rashad With Lifetime Achievement Award at its Annual Gala
Chandra Wilson of Grey's Anatomy to be honored along with other community honorees
HOUSTON, July 21, 2005 -- The Ensemble Theatre is set to host "An Evening of Brilliance Black Tie Gala" on Saturday, August 13, 2005, at the Wortham Center and officially announce its 2005-2006 season at a subscription drive party on Sunday, August 14, at The Ensemble. The weekend celebrations officially kick-off The Ensemble's 29 years of uninterrupted productions set to begin in mid-September.
The Gala, a festive, black-tie event which honors members of the theatre and community who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in enhancing the theatre and fine arts, will include a Mayor's Reception, awards presentation, dinner and dancing. This year's Gala promises to be even more spectacular. The Ensemble is proud to announce that it will honor two native Houstonians, Phylicia Rashad with its Lifetime Achievement Award and Chandra Wilson with its Rising Star Award.
As the first African-American female Tony Award winner in 2004 for Best Actress in "A Raisin in the Sun," Rashad is also well known for her television role as Claire Huxtable on the popular NBC sitcom, "The Cosby Show." However, she also played the role of Ruth Lucas on the CBS sitcom, "Cosby." A magna cum laude graduate of Howard University in Fine Arts, she has many other Broadway credits which include: "Gem of the Ocean," "Jelly's Last Jam," "Dreamgirls," "The Wiz" and many others. Off-Broadway credits include Tracey Scott Wilson's "The Story" and "Everybody's Ruby". The Negro Ensemble Company productions include "Puppet Play," "Zooman and the Sign," "Son and Fathers of Sons," "Weep Not For Me," "The Duplex" and others. She has also received the NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Phylicia is the sister to actor/choreographer Debbie Allen and the daughter of poet/American classicist, Vivian Ayers Allen who was The Ensemble's 2004 Legacy Award recipient.
Chandra Wilson, a leading actress in ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," began her acting career at the age of five in Houston in The Ensemble's Young Performer's Program (YPP). She continued to cultivate her acting career while attending High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Wilson ultimately earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York. In addition to her leading role on "Grey's Anatomy," she appeared in ABC's "Bob Patterson," "The Sopranos," "Law & Order" and "The Cosby Show." She has had numerous recurring roles on hit shows such as "Third Watch," "One Life to Live" and "Queens Supreme." Wilson has performed in numerous theatrical productions, she has appeared in the production of "Good Times are Killing Me" both at the Second Stage and Minetta Lane Theatres which won her a "Theatre World Award" for Outstanding Debut Performances; "The Miracle Worker" at Charlotte Repertory Theatre; "Little Shop of Horrors" at the Falmouth Playhouse. During her training at the
Ensemble, one of several productions she appeared in was "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show." Wilson expressed her delight in receiving the award by saying, "It is an absolute surprise and a big pleasure for me to receive the "Rising Star Award" from The Ensemble. I had a fantastic time at the Ensemble and it has always had a special place in my heart. I am truly honored."
An elite and distinguished group of past honorees have included Lou Gossett, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis to name a few.
The Ensemble will also recognize Teppco Partners executive Brenda Peters with its prestigious Founder's Award for her 18 years of service and consistent dedication, philanthropic support and leadership on its board of directors. CenterPoint Energy will receive the Corporate Partner Award for its financial support and dedicated community services hours performed by the company's employee volunteer corps over the past twenty years.
Business owners and community philanthropists Shelly Ann and I. W. Marks are serving as the Gala's Honorary Co-chairs; the Dinner Co-chairs are Winell Herron and Willie Mayberry, Jr., who are both Ensemble board members and business executives at HEB and J. P. Morgan Chase Bank, respectively. The Gala serves as the theatre's major fundraiser that supports its annual $1.5 million operating budget. This year's Gala financial goal is $350,000. Table sponsorships begin at $3,000 and individual tickets are $300 each.
Wrapping up the "Gala Weekend" on Sunday, the annual Subscription/Season Kick-off Party will be held at The Ensemble. The honorees will join the theatre's subscribers as they get a glimpse of the upcoming season productions. This special event will allow guests to subscribe for the new season at special rates; partake of a delicious smorgasbord of foods; be entertained with musical talent; and to experience enticing vignettes of the upcoming new season.
Founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins, The Ensemble Theatre has evolved to be the largest African-American professional theatre company in the U.S. that produces in-house and owns its own facility. It is truly one of Houston's finest historical cultural institutions. The theatre is a non-profit organization that houses three stages located on Main Street in the heart of Midtown. Each year the theatre presents a repertoire of critically acclaimed dramas, comedies and musicals that demonstrate the artistic ability of more than 250 professional local, regional and national artists and support staff. The theatre also has an educational touring program and a summer young performers training program. The Ensemble celebrated when the theatre accomplished two major milestones: the retirement of its $360,000 debt remaining from its $4.5 million capital campaign, and the dedication of a METRO commuter rail stop named in the theatre's honor. For more information, please visit the website at www.ensemblehouston.com
CONTACT: Advantage Communications Linda K. Brown, Media Relations Consultant (713) 737-8321 email@example.com The Ensemble Theatre Janette Cosley, Executive Director (713) 520-0055 firstname.lastname@example.org