Seattle and Los Angeles actor Anthony Dwain Lee was shot to death by the Los Angeles Police Department Oct. 28, 2000 at a Halloween Party, but the respected African-American actor will live on with the establishment of the Anthony Lee Student Matinee Series. The new program, hosted by the Sacramento Theatre Company, will allow students in middle and high school to experience live performance and participate in pre-show and post-show talkbacks.
To raise funds for the series, STC and Lee's sister Tina Lee-Vogt have sponsored the Feb. 5 benefit Turning the Poison Into Medicine at Los Angeles' El Portal Center for the Arts. Wayne Brady of TV's "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" hosts the event, which will feature song, dance and spoken word from the Los Angeles chorus of The Lion King, "Boston Public"'s Loretta Devine, "Moesha"'s William Allen Young, "The Practice"'s Steve Harris, Los Angeles director and "The Love Boat"'s Isaac, Ted Lange; "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air"'s James Avery, Bernard Gaddis, Ka-Ron Lehman Dancers and magician Kendrick "Ice" MacDonald.
Tickets to the benefit are $25. The El Portal Center for the Arts is located at 5269 Lankershim in North Hollywood. For reservations, call (818) 508-4200. Gifts to the Anthony Lee Student Matinee Series can be mailed directed to STC Development Office, 1419 H Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Lee, 39, was slain while in possession of a solid grey prop gun made to look like a .357 Desert Eagle semiautomatic handgun. Two LAPD officers were investigating a noise complaint made by the neighbors of the Halloween festivities when Officer Tarriel Hopper fired nine shots at the actor through a West Los Angeles mansion window. While working in Los Angeles since 1994 (his TV and film credits have included "N.Y.P.D. Blue," "Brooklyn South" and "Liar Liar"), Lee was most at home in the theatre, where a $30 acting course once rescued him from gang life with The Crips in Sacramento. Seattle was his theatrical base and his roles there were varied, ranging from Shakespeare's noble, but jealous Othello to the zoot-suited hustler Sweet Back in Spunk.
Lee's Seattle debut was in The Colored Museum at the Empty Space Theatre in 1988. He also played Mr. Rose, the anguished father caught in a sexual relationship with his daughter in The Cider House Rules at Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Chicago chauffeur with a big dream in Raisin in the Sun at the Group Theatre and in the Intiman Theatre debut of The Kentucky Cycle.
His most recent Seattle appearance was in July 1999 when he played Astrov in The Art Theatre of Puget Sound's production of Uncle Vanya under the Russian director Leonid Anisimov.
-- By Christine Ehren