Design and Production faculty and alumni receive awards from leading trade organization

A faculty member and two alumni of the School of Design and Production (D&P) will be honored by the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) during its 61st Annual Conference and Stage Expo taking place virtually this week. USITT will recognize Eduardo Sicangco, assistant professor of scene design, and Tony- and Grammy-winning alumnus Paul Tazewell (B.F.A. ’86) with Distinguished Achievement Awards. Alumna Elizabet Puksto (B.F.A. ’17, high school ’13) will receive the Rising Star Award, which annually recognizes a young professional at the beginning of their career for excellence and artistic achievement in the design of scenery, lighting, sound or projection, or the convergence of these design disciplines.

“We’re tremendously gratified to have our faculty and alumni honored by USITT, the nation’s leading professional organization for performing arts and entertainment,” said School of Design and Production Dean Michael J. Kelley. “It’s an indication that our peers recognize the excellence of our faculty and our alumni at every stage of their careers. Eduardo, Paul and Elizabet have the creativity and the technical expertise that our industry demands. We are proud of all they have achieved.”

Eduardo Sicangco will receive a Distinguished Acheievement Award from USITT

Eduardo Sicangco will received a Distinguished Achievement Award from USITT.

Sicangco, who has taught at UNCSA since 2011, has a 40-year career designing sets and costumes for a wide range of projects including plays, musicals, opera, ballet, film, Las Vegas spectaculars, circuses, ice shows, cruise ship entertainment and theme parks. His work has been seen at various venues including Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theater, Radio City Music Hall and Dollywood, and for events including Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice.

His design credits include New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Virginia Opera, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Hartford Stage, Tanglewood Music Festival, Chautauqua Opera, Center Stage, Seattle Rep, Asolo Theatre Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Theater Under the Stars and the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre.

Paul Tazewell will receive a Distinguished Achievement Award from USITT

Alumnus Paul Tazewell will receive a Distinguished Achievement Award from USITT.

Tazewell has been designing costumes for Broadway and regional theater, film and television, dance, and opera productions for over 25 years. He won a Tony Award as costume designer for the celebrated Broadway smash “Hamilton,” and an Emmy Award for NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” He has also been nominated for an Olivier Award, and has received four Helen Hayes Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, and the Princess Grace Statue Award, among many others.

His extensive work on Broadway includes the groundbreaking musical, “Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk,” “In the Heights,” “The Color Purple,” “Dr. Zhivago,” “Memphis,” “Russel Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam,” and the revivals of “Side Show,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Guys and Dolls,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” and “On the Town.”

Tazewell remains engaged with UNCSA, serving on the dean’s council for D&P, visiting as a guest artist periodically and serving as commencement speaker in 2018. He established a merit-based scholarship for undergraduate students of color in D&P that year, and was awarded an honorary doctorate.

Scenic artist Elizabet Puksto will  receive USITT's Rising Star Award

Alumna Elizabet Puksto, who designed scenery for "April" (Spring Dance 2016, choreographed by Brenda Daniels), will receive USITT's Rising Star Award. / Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

Since graduating four years ago, Puksto has launched a varied career in production design and art direction of music videos, commercials and film, working with artists including Alicia Keyes, Jennifer Lopez, Pink, Demi Lovato, Tyra Banks and Lana del Rey; and clients including the Disney Channel, Wendy’s, Burger King, Carnival Cruise Lines, Little Tykes and Crayola. She also designs scenery for theater and installations and events including “Pip’s Island,” an immersive, interactive children’s event in New York City, and the New York City launch event for Powering Creativity: The Campaign for UNCSA.

Her design experience at UNCSA includes “April,” choreographed by Brenda Daniels for Spring Dance 2016, and A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute’s “Ariadne Auf Naxos” in April 2017.

The Rising Star Award is sponsored by LDI/Live Design, a creative and technical resource for live entertainment professionals in lighting, sound, staging and projection.

USITT was founded in 1960 as an organization to promote dialogue, research and learning among practitioners of theater design and technology. Today, the institute boasts thousands of members at all levels of their careers and has embraced the new technologies being used in entertainment. USITT is now the leader in lifelong learning opportunities for the entertainment design and technology industry.

A stand-alone design and production conservatory dedicated to every aspect of modern stagecraft, the School of Design & Production delivers a profoundly creative, hands-on immersion in the behind-the-scenes magic of live theater, with undergraduate and graduate programs in costume design, costume technologylightingproduction and project managementscene designscene paintingscenic artscenic technology, sound designstage automationstage managementstage propertiestechnical direction, and wig and makeup design. Alumni have won or been nominated for major awards in the arts and entertainment industry, including the Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Helen Hayes awards. 

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March 10, 2021