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Theater alumnus earns Tony Award nomination

Dale Ricardo Shields earned master's and bachelor's degrees from OHIO

A graduate of Ohio University’s Theater Division now can add “Tony-nominated” to his list of achievements.

Dale Ricardo Shields has been nominated for the inaugural Excellence in Theatre Education Award, which recognizes a K-12 theatre educator “who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession.”

“I must have reached someone, somewhere,” said Shields, who completed Ohio University’s MFA program in 1995 and earned his BFA in General Theater from Ohio University in 1975. “I feel that I was needed and respected in my nominators’ lives. There is not anything more special than that for a human being.”

The award, which is being given for the first time, is the result of collaboration between the Tony Awards® and partner Carnegie Mellon University. A $10,000 cash prize will go to the winner’s school, and $1,000 will go to the schools of the other finalists. The winning teacher will be presented the honor at the 2015 Tony Awards® Ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on June 7.

“These are dedicated professionals who discover talented students, nurture them, inspire them, and set them off on a lifelong journey as theatre supporters and professionals,” the Tony Awards® website states in its description of the candidates.

Shields recently has taught as a guest artist at Cleveland School of the Arts and currently runs the Cleveland division of Project1voice, a non-profit organization that advocates for and promotes African American theater and playwrights. He also frequently visits colleges and universities, where he leads student-written productions with the goal of “bringing different races, genders, and creeds” together. “Hopefully it helps the campus become more of a community,” he says.

Shields expressed gratitude toward Ohio University for giving him “a strong artistic and show business foundation.”

“The training program prepared me for both the professional and academic sides of theatre,” Shields said.

As an OHIO graduate student, Shields served as Production Manager and taught Stage Management and Acting. A resident of the Cleveland area, Shields works as a director, stage manager, and actor. As an actor he has appeared on Saturday Night Live, Another World, Guiding Light, and The Cosby Show.

“The Tony Awards® is the top of our business,” said Shields. “It’s certainly taken me by surprise. I don’t know quite what to say. It means everything.”

The Tony Awards®, which celebrate excellence in theatre, are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.