Kim Criswell, a Hixson High School alumna who is now an internationally known musical theater actress and recording artist, will be presented the 2014 Tennessee Woman of Distinction Award by the American Lung Association in Tennessee on April 29.
The presentation will be part of the 29th annual Women of Distinction Awards, the ALA’s annual fundraiser held at the Chattanooga Convention Center. The luncheon benefits the ALA’s mission to prevent lung disease and promote lung health.
Criswell, who lives in London, will attend the ceremony and perform for guests, says Shirley Cudabac, ALA in Tennessee development director. The honoree said in a statement through the ALA that she is extremely honored by this award and that the Lung Association’s work is important to her because both her parents died of lung cancer.
Criswell says she began pursuing her dream of a career on Broadway with singing, acting and dancing lessons as a child. By the time she got to Hixson High, she was performing in school productions and programs throughout the city. After graduation, she went to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music to study musical theater.
She moved to New York and landed a role in the touring company of “Annie” before making her Broadway debut in 1981 in the original cast of “The First.” She also was a member of the original casts of “Nine,” “Baby,” “Stardust” and “The Threepenny Opera,” in which she co-starred with Sting.
In Los Angeles, she played Grizabella in the original production of “Cats,” and also was seen as Lalume in Opera Pacific’s “Kismet.”
London’s West End audiences have seen her in the title role of “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens” and “Dames at Sea.” She won a Helen Hayes Award in 1989 for “Side by Side by Sondheim” at the Olney Theatre and an Olivier Award nomination for her portrayal of Annie Oakley. She appeared in two British TV miniseries: “The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous” and “Savage Play.”
She opened her one-woman show, “Doin’ What Comes Naturally,” in 1991 at the Shaw Theatre in London. In August 2009, she was a featured soloist in the “BBC Proms 2009: A Celebration of Classic MGM Film Musicals” at Royal Albert Hall, in which she performed “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” with Seth MacFarlane. In October 2009, she was a featured artist at the Broadway to West End Gala in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. In January 2012, she performed at Vienna’s Volksoper, starring in “Candide.”
She has recorded four solo albums and has sung on two dozen other recordings.
In addition to Criswell’s honor, the ALA will recognize 12 local females with Women of Distinction awards. They are Sgt. Cherilyn Bryant, Pat Fuller, Sissy Figlestahler, Dr. Deborah Ingram, Janet Jobe, Stacy Johnson, Virginia Love, Donna Roddy, Krystal Scarbrough, Judge Christie Sell, Pat Starke and Amy Thomas.
Three high school seniors who have distinguished themselves academically, in leadership roles and community service will be recognized as well. They are Ashley Augustine, Baylor School; Anna Carroll, Girls Preparatory School; and Rebecca Hilleary, Rhea County High School.
Tickets for the Women of Distinction luncheon are $75 and may be reserved by calling the ALA office at 423-629-1098.
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