Pasadena Playhouse will honor director, choreographer and producer Kenny Ortega with the 2015 Diversity Award as its Artistic Honoree at the ninth annual Pasadena Playhouse’s Wells Fargo Theatrical Diversity Project fundraising benefit on Sunday, September 13.
Abel Ramirez, founder of Pasadena’s El Portal Restaurant and business and cultural leader of the Pasadena community, has been selected as the Community Honoree. The benefit event will celebrate the opening of Josefina López’s Real Women Have Curves, which begins performances September 8.
Ortega gained notoriety in the 1980s for his stage direction and choreography of the A&M recording artists, the Tubes. He went on to choreograph for some of the industry's most popular musicians, including Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, Kiss, Gloria Estefan, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bette Midler, and the Pointer Sisters. His film work includes Dirty Dancing and St. Elmo’s Fire. Following his work with John Hughes on Pretty in Pink, he was made the second unit director of the classic parade sequence in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In 2006, he directed Disney Channel’s High School Musical and High School Musical 2, which were both the most successful Disney Channel Original Movies to date when they premiered.
Over the course of his career, Ortega has received three Emmy Awards, a DGA Award, Fred & Adele Astaire’s annual Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award, a Bob Fosse Award, an American Choreography Lifetime Achievement Award, an MTV Video Music Award, an American Music Award, an ALMA Award, a Nosotros Golden Eagle Award, an Imagen Creative Achievement Award, and an NAACP Award, among others.
"Kenny Ortega is a true Renaissance Man of the entertainment world," said Pasadena Playhouse artistic director Sheldon Epps. "He is a great artist who also cares deeply for artists and their development. His work has touched so many around the world in a number of ways and inspired us all. It is our great pleasure to honor him at this year's Diversity Event and to recognize his extraordinary achievements as an entertainer and a great humanitarian. Our celebration is all about those who have used the arts to overcome challenges to achieve great success. That being the case, Kenny is an ideal honoree!"