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George Faison, Broadway’s First African American to win a Tony Award for Best Choreography, to appear at Hillside’s Opening Night Gala of THE WIZ

Hillside High School will honor the legendary Broadway choreographer Dr. George Faison at its opening night Gala of its production of “The Wiz” on Friday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m.

Faison is a celebrated producer, writer, composer, director, choreographer and dancer. He made history in 1975 when he became the first African American to win a Tony Award for Best Choreography for “The Wiz.” He began his career as a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. His Broadway career began with the musical “Purlie.” After leaving the Ailey Company he formed his own company, the George Faison Universal Dance Experience.  He has also choreographed and staged concerts for musical greats including Ashford and Simpson, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, Dionne Warwick, Stephanie Mills and many more.

Faison accepted an invitation to visit Hillside given by Drama Director Wendell Tabb as part of his “Celebrities in the Classroom” program. The program is committed to inspiring a high level of artistry by connecting young people with artists who have paved the way and are eager to share their knowledge of the business with high school students in the arts.  “I am elated that Dr. Faison will visit Hillside to share his expertise and experiences with our students”, said Hillside Principal Dr. William Logan. “Mr. Tabb’s ‘Celebrities In The Classroom’ program has connected artists with our students and encouraged them to pursue their dreams of performing at the collegiate and professional levels.”

Dr. Faison will work with Hillside Drama students on Thursday, Nov. 3, in preparation for their opening of The Wiz. He will also be honored with the annual Trailblazer Award In The Arts during the Opening Night Gala Celebration.

In 2000 Faison and co-founder Tad Schnugg established The Faison Firehouse Theater, a 130-seat full service, digitally advanced performing arts and culture center.  He also created The Firehouse Respect Project, a youth empowerment troupe for community outreach that continues today. Dr. Faison has recently directed and choreographed “The Wiz 40th Anniversary Celebration.”

Hillside will also present its Distinguished Theatre Alumnus Award to Ms. Veronique McCrae, founder and Executive Director of The 1:10 Project, a non-profit arts collective consisting of Act Trinity Creative Arts Services, V. Lash Productions and The 1:10 Project (originally established as Act Trinity Performing Arts Company in 2005).   The Community Ambassador Award will be bestowed to the Hillside High School National Alumni Association for their unwavering support of the Hillside High School Theatre Program.

The gala event for “The Wiz” will take place on Friday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. Other show times for “The Wiz” are Saturday, Nov. 5, at 3:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 6, at 3:15 p.m.  For tickets and more information contact Hillside High School at (919) 560-3925 ext. 25240 or order online at www.seatyourself.biz/hillside.