Legendary Stage, Screen Star Gregory Hines to Perform at UB on March 29

By David Wedekindt

Release Date: February 19, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Center for the Arts will present "An Evening with Gregory Hines" at 8 p.m. March 29 in the Mainstage Theatre, located in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus. The performance is sponsored by Kaufmann's.

Gregory Hines exemplifies the term "multi-talented." As a dancer, singer and star of the Broadway stage, he has earned three Tony nominations and the Tony Award for "Best Actor in a Musical." As a film actor, he is equally gifted in comedy and drama. On television, he has starred to widespread critical acclaim in his own CBS-TV series; as Ben Doucette he made up part of the gifted ensemble of NBC's Award-winning program "Will and Grace," and he earned an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of the legendary and groundbreaking dancer/film star Bill Robinson in "Bojangles." For three years Hines has been the voice of Big Bill on Bill Cosby's animated series for Nickelodeon, "Little Bill."

Gregory Hines began dancing, with big brother Maurice, at the age of three under the tutelage of tap master Henry LeTang. As soon as Gregory turned five, the brothers went professional as the Hines Kids, making nightclub appearances across the country. They virtually grew up backstage at the Apollo Theater, where they were witness to the performances and advice of tap dance legends including Teddy Hale (Gregory's personal source of inspiration). When Gregory was 18, he and Maurice were joined by their father, Maurice Sr., on drums, becoming "Hines, Hines and Dad." They toured internationally and appeared frequently on "The Tonight Show," but the younger Hines was restless to get away from the non-stop years on the road, so he left the group in his early 20s and moved to Venice, Calif. For a time he left dancing behind, exploring alternatives that included his forming a jazz-rock band.

Shortly after moving back to New York City, Hines landed a role in "Eubie," a certified Broadway hit, which earned him the first of four Tony nominations. "Comin' Uptown" led to another nomination and "Sophisticated Ladies" to a third. In 1992, Hines won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his riveting portrayal of jazz man "Jelly Roll Morton" in George C. Wolfe's production of "Jelly's Last Jam."

Hines made the initial transition from dancer/singer to film actor in Mel Brooks' "The History of the World, Part I," having been suggested to the director by co-star Madeline Kahn.

In 1988, Hines starred in a film that combined his penchant for both dance and drama, "Tap," which became the first dance musical to merge tap dancing with contemporary rock and funk musical styles. It also featured a host of tap dance legends, including Sandman Sims, Bunny Briggs, Harold Nicholas and Hines' co-star and show business mentor, Sammy Davis, Jr.

Hines' extensive and varied film resume includes "White Nights," in which he co-starred with Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Frances Ford Coppola's "The Cotton Club." In 1986, he teamed with Billy Crystal in the hit comedy, "Running Scared." He also has starred in "The Preacher's Wife" and "Waiting to Exhale."

Gregory Hines work in television is equally diverse. It includes an Emmy-nominated performance on "Motown Returns to the Apollo." His PBS special, "Gregory Hines: Tap Dance in America," also was nominated for an Emmy award in 1989. Hines made his television series debut in 1998, playing a single father on the critically acclaimed "The Gregory Hines Show."

His performance at the Center for the Arts will include dance and song accompanied by a live band. He also will interact with the audience and share stories from his career. Attendees with dance experience are encouraged to bring tap shoes, as he often invites audience members to join him on stage.

Tickets for Gregory Hines are $49.50, $44.50, $39.50. Tickets are available from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Center Box Office and at all Ticketmaster locations, including Kaufmann's. To charge tickets, call 852-5000; in Canada, call 416-870-8000. For group sales, call 645-6771. For more information, call 645-ARTS or visit the Web site at http://www.arts.buffalo.edu. The Center for the Arts is a Ticketfast location.