University News

Theatre Professor receives Kennedy Center Honor

Published: April 10, 2013 | Category: Arts

A man of many theatrical talents, Peter Sham, associate chair of SUU’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, was selected by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival to receive its Excellence in Education Award for 2012. Sham was honored for his outstanding contributions to teaching and producing theatre as well as for his commitment to the American College Theatre Festival.

On learning of his honor, Sham remarked, “I am always astounded at receiving accolades of this nature.  In the theatre, we are slaves to our craft. We get to practice and continue to learn the thing we love; and for most of us that’s honor enough. That said I am thrilled at receiving this most prestigious national award. As ever, I wish to thank Dean Shauna Mendini for constant encouragement and endless support, as well as all of my beloved colleagues, those in Theatre Arts & Dance, and those outside our department, you know who you are. Finally, I must thank my wife Kirsten and my children for making every day special.  Without them any success would be meaningless.”

In addition to being one of the University's most acclaimed professors, with recent awards from University administrators and SUU students for his impact as an educator and scholar, Sham is most recently known for his work as book writer/lyricist on Lend Me A Tenor: The Musical (Brad Carroll, composer), which celebrated a successful run at the Gielgud Theatre on London’s West End, has now been performed by professional theatres in five countries, and will open on Broadway in 2014. 

Each year, the eight Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) regions honor individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the development of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.  Most importantly, recipients have demonstrated a strong commitment to the values and goals of KCACTF and to excellence in educational theatre. It is the most prestigious regional award given by KCACTF and is considered one of the great honors in theatre education.

Sham is also the author of three other musicals Toyland, It’s a Dog’s Life: Man’s Best Musical and Waxworks, and the plays Shakespeare’s Moby Dick, a classical adaptation of Herman Melville’s American masterpiece, Twinkle, Twinkle, ‘Killer’ Kane (written with William Peter Blatty – The Exorcist), and the highly popular A Christmas Carol On The Air (also written with Brad Carroll). A veteran regional actor for over 30 years, he was a principal member of the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival for eleven seasons, and has performed at such places as the Asolo Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Studio Arena Theatre, Eastside Playhouse, Perry Street Theatre, Artpark and Yale Summer Cabaret. Notable roles include, Salieri in Amadeus, Benjamin Franklin in 1776, Henry Brock in Born Yesterday, King Henry in Henry IV Part One, Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Johnny in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune and Sancho in Man of LaMancha, starring Robert Peterson. As an educator, he has served as visiting assistant professor of theatre at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and adjunct professor of acting/guest director at Elon University in North Carolina. Sham has directed numerous productions throughout the Eastern United States and Utah and has served as artistic director of the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and Bristol Valley Playhouse in Naples, New York.

Sham holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Delaware’s nationally acclaimed Professional Theatre Training Program. He is married to director/choreographer/ actress, Kirsten Sham, and blessed with two remarkable children, Olivia and Orlando.

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