Big Night in the Big Apple
Nearly 600 Trojans and friends attended the second annual Tommy Awards June 28 at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.
Presented by the USC Alumni Club of New York, the evening showcased the creative talents of USC graduates, honored the extraordinary contributions of USC alumni to the New York community and awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships to incoming freshmen and continuing students.
Produced by the club with the support of the USC Alumni Association and other university partners, the Tommy Awards recognized five New York-area Trojans who have excelled in architecture, art, business and entertainment: bestselling financial author David Bach ’90 (The Automatic Millionaire); The Blackstone Group senior managing director Timothy Coleman MBA ’79; architect Jonie Fu ’85, whose projects include master plans for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Disneyland Resort; author/painter Peter Plagens ’62; and Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jekyll & Hyde). The club also presented the Spirit of Troy Award to past president Abe Garver ’90 for his commitment to furthering the club’s mission.
In addition to recognizing alumni achievements, the evening featured musical performances by several USC alumni, including two-time Daytime Emmy Award winner Kevin Mambo ’95, currently starring in the Broadway hit Fela! While Mambo and his band Blaz and the 88 Sound performed original material, other Tommy Awards cast members performed songs by such Broadway veterans as Wildhorn, Tony Award-winning USC faculty member Jason Robert Brown (Parade) and Laurence O’Keefe ’94 (Legally Blonde: The Musical). The program was directed and staged by Michael Schwartz ’06, who conceived it with Kate Russo ’03. Russo shared an executive producing credit with Amir Akhavan ’02.
Deans of five schools — USC College, USC Marshall School of Business, USC Roski School of Fine Arts, USC School of Theatre and USC Thornton School of Music — were in attendance to present the awards and recognize the club, along with USC Alumni Association CEO Scott M. Mory, Carol Fox MS ’62 and Lisa Barkett ’81, the alumni association’s president and president-elect, respectively.
Hailed as “fresh and engaging” by BroadwayWorld.com’s Michael Roderick, the second annual Tommy Awards required months of planning, writing and rehearsing by alumni volunteers. The production was a huge undertaking, but in the words of Mory, “the USC Alumni Club of New York rose to the challenge with flair and real heart.”