For a first-time visitor to the University of Miami campus, the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre may seem pretty, well, bland.
It’s small and round, devoid of flashing lights or glitzy marquees. Its exterior may not be glamorous, but when it comes to the Ring Theatre, remember what your mother always said: it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Inside is a stage that has been the launch pad for award-winning careers. For seven decades, the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre has been the training ground for the thousands of actors and actresses who learned and sharpened their craft at the University of Miami’s renowned Department of Theatre Arts.
Emmy winners and Golden Globe and Oscar nominees performed at the Ring Theatre before they were famous.
Now, the stars of tomorrow grace the stage.
The current theater was built in 1951, giving the Department of Theatre Arts the permanent home it had been searching for since its inception in 1936.
In the time period between its founding and 1951, shows were performed in a circus tent and in a round building used to train Allied navigators during World War II.
Named for its circular-seating pattern that forms a ring around the stage, Hurricanes affectionately refer to it as the “Ring.”
Its namesake, Jerry Herman, is a two-time Tony Award-winning composer who scored such hit musicals as Hello Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles and Mame. Herman graduated from the University of Miami in 1953.
Today, dozens of students perform in the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre’s productions of Broadway’s greatest hits. The 2009-2010 season, which will showcase six plays, includes Rent.
“It’s such an honor to perform in shows with an excellent stage that has had some incredibly talented people performing on it,” said junior Mike Collier, who has performed in Ring Theatre productions of Cabaret and Guys and Dolls.
Currently under the direction of Vincent J. Cardinal, himself a successful playwright, the Ring Theatre serves as both a classroom and spotlight for some of the world’s finest and undiscovered acting talents.
“It offers a rich tradition of successful alumni for current students to emulate, while setting new standards of quality themselves,” Cardinal said. “University of Miami students see tomorrow’s Broadway and film stars on the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre stage today.”