WMU News

Broadway star and alumna receives honorary degree

April 23, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Broadway actress Marin Mazzie has another accolade to add to her long list of accomplishments, this one from her alma mater.

On Thursday, April 20, the WMU Board of Trustees voted to award Mazzie, a two-time Tony Award nominee, an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. Mazzie, currently starring in the hit Broadway musical "Kiss Me Kate," graduated from WMU with a degree in theatre in 1982.

Mazzie will be presented with her honorary degree on Saturday, May 20, on the stage of the Martin Beck Theatre, where "Kiss Me Kate" currently is playing. The presentation will be made immediately after the curtain call, with Brian Stokes Mitchell, the male lead in the play, inviting the audience to stay for a brief ceremony. Mitchell also performed opposite Mazzie in the Broadway smash "Ragtime."

A University group will travel to New York to make the presentation. The delegation will include President Floyd and his wife, Carmento; George Franklin, chairperson of the WMU Board of Trustees; trustees Joan Krause, Lori Waddles, and Richard Chormann; Dr. Timothy Light, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Janet Stillwell, interim dean of the College of Fine Arts; Dr. D. Terry Williams, chairperson of the Department of Theatre; and Todd Neal, director of the musical theatre performance program.

After the presentation, the group will head backstage, then adjourn to a dinner celebration.

Those who have watched Mazzie's Broadway career unfold have seen her become one of the top actresses in her profession, known for her outstanding singing voice.

She began her professional acting career as an apprentice at the Barn Theatre in Augusta while in her junior year at WMU. She continued acting at the Barn and after graduation moved to New York to fulfill her dream of becoming a Broadway star.

It didn't take long for the aspiring young actress to make her mark on the "Great White Way." Mazzie landed roles in the Broadway productions of "Into the Woods," "Big River" and the City Center Encore production of "Out of this World," as well as parts in numerous off-Broadway shows and national touring and regional productions.

She was first nominated for a Tony Award in 1994 for her portrayal of Clara in the Stephen Sondheim/ James Lapine musical "Passion" and repeated her role in the film version for PBS. In 1998, Mazzie received a second Tony Award nomination as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critic's Circle award nominations as Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Mother in the Broadway production of "Ragtime."

Mazzie recently has struck Broadway gold again in the hit revival of the musical comedy "Kiss Me Kate," in which she plays the dual role of Lilli Vanessi/Kate. The play, directed by Michael Blakemore, features music and lyrics by Cole Porter and an all-star cast.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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