The Ensemble Theatre Celebrates 2013 Annual Celebrity Gala

Houston, Texas, UNITED STATES

Creating Magical Moments: All the World's a Stage

Actress Marla Gibbs to be Honored With the Lifetime Achievement Award

HOUSTON, July 31, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre celebrates its 36th uninterrupted season as Houston's premier African American performing arts institution with a gala themed: Creating Magical Moments: All the World's a Stage Saturday, August 17, 2013, 6:30 PM at the Hyatt Regency – Downtown Houston, Imperial Ballroom, 1200 Louisiana, Houston, TX 77002.

Marla Gibbs will be honored with The Ensemble Theatre's Lifetime Achievement Award. She began her career in theatre where she performed in several well received productions leading up to her nationally noted role as "Florence" in the hit television sitcom The Jefferson's. After nine successful seasons on "The Jefferson's," she returned to theatre where she was cast as the lead in a play being produced by her daughter Angela; the play "227" written by Christine Houston was a hit. In fact, the play was such a success Gibbs purchased the television rights and helped produce "227" as a five-season hit series, now in syndication.

Marla has recently appeared in the television shows, "iCarly" and Tyler Perry's "House of Payne", as well as the films "The Heart Specialist", "The Last Laugh" and Tyler Perry's "Madea's Witness Protection." Most recently, she was cast in the new sitcom pilot "The First Family" as the First Lady's mother.

Kim Coles will receive the Actress of the Year Award. Perhaps best known for her five-season turn as the unforgettable "Synclaire" on FOX's ground- breaking comedy series called, "Living Single," Kim Coles has starred on numerous hit television programs including Frasier, Six Feet Under, In Living Color, One on One, and the uproarious TBS comedy series 10 Items Or Less as the villainous "Mercy P. Jones". She was the co-host of the nationally syndicated daytime talk show, In the Loop with I Village and has been a guest co-host for various shows, including The View and Good Day Live.

In her latest venture, she is combining comedy and inspiration to empower others with her unique program called "Open the G.I.F.T.S." Through speaking engagements, live events, workshops and products, the program inspires others to discover their own true "gifts" so that they may share them with the world.

Mykie Gray "Miss Mykie" will be recognized as this year's Rising Star Award recipient. She is a former participant of The Ensemble Theatre Young Performer's Program whose professional career has led her to becoming a nationally recognized host on BET's 106 & Park. While being a television host for the BET Network, she has interviewed some of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry, from Jamie Fox, to Kerry Washington, Chris Brown and others. Her work as a recording artist with an impressive blend of pop, R&B and hip hop has allowed her to collaborate with music industry heavyweights Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, Kirko Bangz, Jazze Pha, Paul Wall and many more.

H-E-B will be honored with the Corporation of the Year Award for their outstanding corporate citizenship. They maintain a strong presence of support and service in the communities located near their over 350 stores throughout Texas and Mexico. H-E-B Group Vice President Winell Herron has served on The Ensemble Theatre's board since 2005. Her passion for the theatre led to H-E-B President Scott McClelland and his wife Soraya getting involved by serving as honorary chairs for the theatre's 35th anniversary season gala.

Spectra Energy will receive the Corporate Founders Award for their longtime support of The Ensemble Theatre. They are distinguished for having one of the longest running corporate relationships with the theatre, dating back 30 years, to 1983, by one of Spectra Energy's predecessor companies. Throughout their relationship with the theatre, they've provided financial and volunteer support. Jackie Phillips, Spectra Energy's vice president, ethics and compliance, currently serves as president of the Ensemble Theatre's board of directors. Spectra Energy's General Counsel Reggie Hedgebeth and his wife, Michelle, have also been actively involved on multiple projects, including the theatre's fundraising endeavors.

Becky and Ralph S. O'Connor are this year's Individual Founder's Award recipients. The O'Connor's have been extremely active in the Houston community and support numerous charitable and civic organizations.   Their relationship with The Ensemble Theatre began in the late 1990's. Most recently, their leadership and support helped The Ensemble Theatre raise more than $285K during its inaugural Annual Founder's Circle Campaign towards initiating a reserve fund and enhancing the theatre's endowment.

A. Reneé Logans, will receive this year's President's Award. She has served as a community and business leader in Houston for more than 20 years. She has been Board Member of The Ensemble Theater since 2002 where she was responsible for creating a program called Santa at The Ensemble. The program is designed to provide a day of entertainment and activities with toys and books for underserved youth. Participants come from a variety of school programs and organizations offering social support services. Santa at The Ensemble has benefited over 3,000 children since it began twelve years ago.

Energized for STEM Academy will receive the Community Partner of the Year Award for their ongoing relationship with The Ensemble Theatre. They work with the theatre's Artist in Residency and Touring Education programs as part of their dedication to using the arts as a tool to stimulate excellence among youth in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. 

The celebration continues at The Ensemble Theatre on Sunday, August 18, 2:00 PM with the community subscriber's party and "Giorgee Awards," The Ensemble's own version of the Tony's, affectionately named after the theatre's founder George W. Hawkins. The Giorgee Awards are presented in recognition of the best actors, designers, and overall productions seen at The Ensemble Theatre the previous year. 

The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African-American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African-American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team.

The Ensemble Theatre produces a main stage season of contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre's Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-in-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre; and the Young Performers Program offers intensive summer training for children ages seven to 17 encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts.

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Actress Marla Gibbs to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award Kim Coles receives Actress of the Year Award Miss Mykie, BET 106 & Park host, to receive Rising Star Award H-E-B receives Corporation of the Year Award Spectra Energy receives Corporate Founder's Award Individual Founder's Award A. Renee' Logans receives President's Award Energized for STEM Academy, Inc. receives Community Partner of the Year Award

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