Leslie Uggams Brings Her Show Uptown, Downtown to the Robinson Theatre
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The last date listed for Leslie Uggams: Uptown, Downtown was Sunday October 17, 2010 / 2:00pm.
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Tony and Emmy Award-winning Leslie Uggams recently won an Audelco award for her starring turn in First Breeze of Summer at the off-Broadway Signature Theater. She also recently starred as Lena Horne in a pre-Broadway run of Stormy Weather at the Pasadena Playhouse. Ms. Uggams’ Broadway appearances have included starring alongside James Earl Jones in On Golden Pond and co-starring in the Broadway hit Thoroughly Modern Millie. In 2001, her Broadway portrayal of Ruby in August Wilson’s King Hedley II was nominated for a Tony Award. Headley followed two other Audelco Award-winning, critically acclaimed, off-Broadway performances: _The Old Settler _and Keb Mo’s blues musical _Thunder Knocking on the Door. _
Those are just the latest accomplishments for a woman who has been captivating stage, screen and television audiences since her national television debut at age six on the TV series Beulah, portraying the niece of Ethel Waters.
At the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, 9-year-old Leslie opened for such legends as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. She also made appearances on Your Show of Shows, The Milton Berle Show, and The Arthur Godfrey Show.
Embracing her love of music, Leslie attended the New York Professional Children’s School, and at the age of 15 appeared on the CBS-TV quiz show Name That Tune, winning $12,500 toward her college education.
Her appearance proved to be fortuitous. Mitch Miller, head of recordings for Columbia Records, was so impressed by her vocal talents that he signed her to a recording contract and then made her a regular on Sing Along With Mitch. Leslie Uggams became the first African-American performer to be regularly featured on a weekly, national prime time television series.
Concurrent with her studies at the Juilliard School, Leslie released the first of 10 albums she was to record for Columbia Records, including her first hit single, “Morgan.” Alternating nightclub appearances with her stage work, Leslie appeared in the musical The Boyfriend in Berkeley, California, and soon made her Broadway debut as the lead in Hallelujah, Baby! That performance earned Leslie the 1968 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Broadway Musical Comedy. She followed that with a starring role in her next Broadway show, Her First Roman.
It was Leslie’s portrayal of Kizzy in the most-watched dramatic show in TV history, Alex Haley’s Roots, that won her worldwide recognition as a dramatic actress — including the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1978, an Emmy nomination for Best Leading Actress and a Golden Globe Nomination.
She later starred in the miniseries Backstairs at the White House, the ABC movie of the week Sizzle, and the HBO special Christmas at Radio City Music Hall. Leslie went on to win an Emmy as co-host of the NBC-TV series Fantasy.
In addition to ongoing concert dates, Leslie returned to Broadway to star in the musical Blues in the Night and enjoyed a two-year run the hit musical revue Jerry’s Girls, based on the music of the legendary Jerry Herman. In 1987, she toured with Peter Nero and Mel Torme in The Great Gershwin Concert, for which she received rave reviews. In 1988, she starred as Reno Sweeney in the National Company of the Lincoln Center Production of Anything Goes and later reprised the role at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater on Broadway. Recently, Leslie starred in a new version of Kander and Ebb’s The Rink at the Cape Playhouse, and an acclaimed production of Hello, Dolly! at Houston’s Theater Under the Stars.
When not performing in theatre productions, Leslie tours the country with her acclaimed concerts. She has appeared with The Cincinnati Pops, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Symphony Orchestra and the Rhode Island Symphony, to name a few. In addition, she performed before 300,000 people during the Memorial Day Concert on the Washington Mall and reached millions more as the event was televised live by PBS.