Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: André De Shields Delivers Keynote at the International Conference of Fine Arts Deans in New Orleans

André De Shields at the Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans, Louisiana on October 25, 2013. Photo by Raymond Tymas-Jones

André De Shields at the Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans, Louisiana on October 25, 2013. Photo by Raymond Tymas-Jones

It’s been quite a jazzy year for Two-time Tony Award nominee and Broadway legend André De Shields, who delivered his keynote address, The Artist As Alchemist, at the International Conference of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) on Friday, October 25, 2013, held at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. The presentation was attended by more than 100 Deans and administrators of fine arts colleges and universities from around the world.

Mr. De Shields completed his run as King Louie and Akela in the world premiere of Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s THE JUNGLE BOOK, a co-production of Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and Boston’s Huntington Theatre on October 20, 2013.

André De Shields (King Louie) and Akash Chopra (Mowgli) in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book. Photo by Liz Larsen

André De Shields (King Louie) and Akash Chopra (Mowgli) in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book. Photo by Liz Larsen

For his critically-acclaimed role as King Louie, he has been nominated for a Jeff Award for Outstanding Achievement in the category of Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical, and recently garnered a 2013 BTAA for Best Featured Actor in a Play (Musical or Revue) at The 19th Annual Black Theater Alliance Awards, which honor excellence in African American theater and dance productions in the Chicago area, De Shields will perform “I Wanna to Be Like You” from The Jungle Book at the 45th Annual Jeff Equity Awards ceremony honoring excellence in professional theatre produced within the immediate Chicago area, on Monday, November 4 at Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL.

Andre De Shields Photo by Lia Chang

Andre De Shields Photo by Lia Chang

Entertainment Weekly: The Jungle Book Reviewed by Thom Geier (Jul 12, 2013)
“The Act 1 finale, the raucously swinging show-stopper ”I Wanna Be Like You.” In that spirited number, the commanding Andre De Shields leads a chorus of mischievous apes and squeezes every drop of juice out of the delightfully jazzy tune by Disney tunesmiths Richard and Robert Sherman (the brothers who wrote most of the original movie’s songs).”

Variety: Theater Review: ‘The Jungle Book’ by Steven Oxman (Jul. 1, 2013)
“All of this comes together to put the audience on true highs, particularly at the end of Act I with the number “I Wanna Be Like You.” Andre De Shields plays the monkey King Louie with incomparable showmanship; Gattelli’s choreography is rich and buoyant; and Peck’s arrangements bring layers of additional interest and verve.” Jungle Book Review BY CATEY SULLIVAN (JUL. 2, 2013)
“Here, the fiercely elegant Andre De Shields absolutely owns the role of the King of the Swingers, stopping the show cold with his roof-raising, infectiously celebratory rendition of a song expressing Louie’s desire to obtain the secrets of fire. The ultra-high energy number left me with two uncontrollably tapping feet and a grin… De Shields sings, swings and scats with a regal, red-hot cool that leaves no doubt: With all due respect to the Shere Khan and Bagheera, Louie is the coolest cat in the jungle.”

Chicago Goodman Theatre’s ‘Jungle Book’ a wonderful new musical By Hedy Weiss (July 1, 2013)
“Along the way there is the raucous royalty of the monkey kingdom, with Andre De Shields as King Louie, driving the joint to jumping and beyond in “I Wanna Be Like You,” the song that suggests the difference between man and beast is man’s ability to create fire.” The Jungle Book Review By Sandy MacDonald (Oct 7, 2013)
“A spirited cast — notably André De Shields as a Louis Armstrong-inspired orangutan King Louie…”

“King Louie (André De Shields), the flamboyant orangutan who leads his swingin’ troop of mischievous monkeys in a roof-raising “I Wanna Be Like You”… The intended show stealer is André De Shields as King Louie, the character created by Disney in 1967 for jazz great Louis Prima. De Shields belts, riffs and scats with the best of them….De Shields builds the number joyously and exults in swingin’ and swayin’ like a Zoot-suited Cab Calloway.”

The Boston Globe: ‘Jungle Book’ is lush yet temperate By Don Aucoin (SEPTEMBER 19, 2013)
“When longtime Broadway veteran Andre De Shields seizes the stage, though, the temperature of “The Jungle Book’’ measurably rises. He plays King Louie, an orangutan and leader of a band of monkeys who kidnap young Mowgli (enthusiastically portrayed by Akash Chopra), intent on eliciting from him the secret of fire. Toward that end, De Shields performs “I Wanna Be Like You,’’ while the monkeys shake and twirl and hurl things about, the action rising to a state of pandemonium until De Shields finally faces the audience, points a finger at them, and sings: “I want to be like you.’’

Larry Yando (Shere Khan), Mary Zimmerman (Director/Playwright), André De Shields (Akela/King Louie) and Anjali Bhimani (Mother Wolf). Photo by Lia Chang

Larry Yando (Shere Khan), Mary Zimmerman (Director/Playwright), André De Shields (Akela/King Louie) and Anjali Bhimani (Mother Wolf). Photo by Lia Chang

In a career spanning more than forty years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, choreographer and educator. He is best known for his show stopping performances in the original Broadway productions of four legendary musicals: THE FULL MONTY, for which he received Tony, Drama Desk and Astaire Award nominations, in addition to both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards; PLAY ON! (Tony nomination), AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (Emmy Award) and THE WIZ (title role). De Shields is the recipient of the 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship/Distinguished Achievement, 2009 National Black Theatre Festival Living Legend Award, and the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance.

As an educator, Mr. De Shields has served as Visiting Artist/Lecturer, SUNY-Buffalo State College; Harold ClurmanVisiting Professor, CUNY-Hunter College; Adjunct Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, NYU; Adjunct Professor, School of Education, Health, Nursing and Arts Professions (SEHNAP), NYU; Distinguished Visiting Professor, Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dallas, TX; Algur H. Meadows Distinguished Visiting Professor (SMU); DR. Martin Luther King Jr.-Rosa Parks-Cesar Chavez Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Distinguished Visiting Professor, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA, among others. He has taught a wide variety of courses ranging from Shakespeare to Masterpieces of Western Literature to Musical Theatre and an interdisciplinary arts workshop in Extreme Performance: From Ancient Africa to Postmodern America.

The International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) is a vehicle through which members share information and ideas that enhance the leadership of arts units. Founded in 1964, the ICFAD membership is comprised of more than 400 arts deans throughout North America and around the world. ICFAD is the only organization focusing exclusively on issues that impact all creative units in higher education including fine and performing arts, arts education, art history, architecture and communication. ICFAD works to provide a foundation that allows arts administrators to do their job better and to expand their circle of contacts with people who share common challenges and experiences. ICFAD helps train new deans and hone the talents of those who will be rising into leadership. Likewise, many annual conference sessions provide direct help, training, and advice on issues that are faced by all: advocacy, fundraising, personnel review, and leadership vision, just to name a few.

ICFAD’s international efforts are also expanding and its upcoming events will focus increasingly on innovative international programs and exchanges. In addition, a summer international symposium, which focuses on specific international arts issues, is held every three years.

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar.

Opening night photo coverage of The Jungle Book Opening Night at Huntington Theatre Company
Photos: André De Shields, Mary Zimmerman, Akash Chopra, Richard M. Sherman, Kevin Carolan, Larry Yando, Nehal Joshi and More Celebrate The Jungle Book Opening Night at Huntington Theatre in Boston Photo Flash: Andre De Shields and More Celebrate Huntington’s JUNGLE BOOK Opening The Jungle Book Enjoys Its Second Opening Night at Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company The Story Begins! Disney’s The Jungle Book Enjoys a Wild Opening Night in Boston PHOTO CALL: The Jungle Book Musical Celebrates Opening Night in Boston
Click here for more articles on André De Shields.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Nov. 18: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph to be honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards
Signature Theatre’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu Stars SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s Cole Horibe as Bruce Lee
Photos: Denise Burse, Michael Genet, Doug Eskew, Tracie Thoms, Sakina Ansari-Wilson and More Celebrate Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts Opening Night at Center Stage
National Black Theatre Festival Photos: Backstage with André De Shields, Marie Thomas, Erin Cherry, Sean Phillips and Morocco Omari in Knock Me A Kiss
Photos: Backstage Q & A with Thom Sesma and the cast of Signature’s Miss Saigon
Photos: Backstage with Michi Barall and the cast of Regina Taylor’s stop.reset. at Signature Theatre
Photos: Charles Smith’s Knock Me A Kiss Starring André De Shields Featured in Encore Performances at The National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, July 30-August 1, 2013
Photos: All-Access Pass to August Wilson’s Two Trains Running with John Earl Jelks, Harvy Blanks, Chuck Cooper, Anthony Chisholm, Owiso Odera, Roslyn Ruff and James A. Williams
Photos: Opening Night of Will Power’s Fetch Clay, Make Man with John Earl Jelks, Richard Masur, Nikki M. James, K. Todd Freeman, Ray Fisher Review: Power Play Powerful & Suspenseful
Signature Theatre’s 2013-14 Season Features New Works by Albee, Hwang, Enos, Taylor, Wilson, Clarke and Jacobs-Jenkins
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Video: Power Play’s Lorey Hayes and Lia Chang on The Carmen Mathis Show
The Chronicle Features Lorey Hayes’ Power Play
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

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