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March 19, 2013/For Immediate Release, high res. photo available

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu


Broadway Producer Thomas Schumacher to Speak at UNCSA High School Commencement on MAY 18




(Winston-Salem) The man who brought to the stage such beloved Disney characters as Simba, Ariel, Mary Poppins and a whole bunch of Newsies will speak at commencement ceremonies for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) High School Class of 2013. Chancellor John Mauceri has announced that Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical Group, will speak during the ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, at the Stevens Center, 405 W. Fourth St.

Schumacher has produced such hit Broadway musicals as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, Mary Poppins (a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh), and Newsies, winner of two 2012 Tony Awards and now in its second smash year. Worldwide, Disney Theatrical Group’s eight Broadway titles have been seen by more than 124 million theatergoers and have cumulatively run a staggering 195 years.

Previously, as head of Disney’s Feature Animation Division, he supervised 21 animated features including NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS; POCAHONTAS; TOY STORY; THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME; HERCULES; MULAN; A BUG'S LIFE; TARZAN; TOY STORY 2; DINOSAUR; MONSTERS, INC.; LILO & STITCH; and FINDING NEMO.

In making the announcement, Mauceri wondered if any of the high school graduates will cross the stage never having seen a Schumacher film or stage production. “His legacy is a treasure trove of beloved characters and popular songs,” Mauceri said. “Our students have grown up with his work, and will be inspired by his words.”

Schumacher joined Disney in 1988 to produce the animated feature THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER, then served as executive producer on the 1994 animated blockbuster, THE LION KING, which is one of the highest grossing films of all time. He later brought THE LION KING to Broadway, where it won six Tony Awards in 1998, including Best Musical, and became Broadway’s highest grossing show of all time.

Schumacher also supervises Disney Live Family Entertainment, whose projects include Disney On Ice and Disney Live!, with 12 productions touring the globe at any one time.

Intensely passionate about theatre from an early age, Schumacher recognized the impact that theatre has on the lives of young people and developed a licensing program with Music Theatre International to make select Disney theatrical titles available for performance in schools and amateur theatres throughout the world.

“Thomas Schumacher has enjoyed a distinguished career that crosses several performing arts disciplines, and has been a steadfast advocate for artists,” Mauceri said. “He exemplifies all that we try to instill in our young artists here at the School of the Arts.”

As associate director of the acclaimed 1987 Los Angeles Festival of Arts, Schumacher was instrumental in presenting the American premiere of Canada's immensely popular Cirque du Soleil and the English-language premiere of Peter Brook's The Mahabharata.

He spent five years on staff at the Los Angeles Music Center's Mark Taper Forum, where he worked on more than 25 productions for the Taper Mainstage, Taper Too and the Taper's literary cabaret. Additionally, he produced three original productions for the Improvisational Theater Project, the theater's touring program for young audiences.

Schumacher is the author of the children's book “How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theatre,” published by Disney Editions and released in November 2007. This uniquely designed book is a first-of-its-kind introduction to the world of the theatre, from box office to backstage and beyond.

Schumacher worked on the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, served as assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Ballet, and has participated extensively in conferences and on panels relating to the arts and arts policy. A graduate of UCLA, he is a member of the Board of Trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Tony Administration Committee, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing. He is a mentor for TDF Open Doors program and serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

In 2009, Chancellor Mauceri created, arranged and conducted the Disney Legacy Concert, with more than 80 minutes of music based on the original materials in the Disney archives, resulting in world concert premieres and marking his debut in Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Commencement ceremonies for UNCSA’s undergraduate and graduate programs will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at the Stevens Center. The speaker for that event will be announced soon.

As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.




MEDIA: The UNCSA commencement ceremonies are not open to the general public. Family and friends of graduating students must have tickets to enter the Stevens Center. However, tickets are available for media representatives. Please call 336-734-2891 or email whitakerl@uncsa.edu by May 6 if you are interested in covering this event.