TROY theatre faculty member selected to receive Cole Porter Award

Posted: Monday, 08 October 2012

TROY - Troy University lecturer and alumnus Tommy Newman has been selected to receive the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation’s Cole Porter Award.

Established in 2009 with a gift from the Cole Porter Musical and Literary Trusts, the award is presented annually to an ASCAP or unaffiliated member who writes music and lyrics, whose work shows promise, and who has participated in an ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Workshop.

Noted composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz, whose four-decade career includes musical theatre work including “Godspell,” “Pippin,” “The Baker’s Wife” and “Wicked,” will present the award to Newman during the 17th Annual ASCAP Foundation Awards at the Lincoln Center in December.

“I am very grateful to Michael Kerker (ASCAP vice president for musical theatre and cabaret) and the ASCAP Foundation for so generously presenting me with the Cole Porter Award,” Newman said. “Cole Porter was a giant in the industry, and I am truly honored to be considered for this prestigious award in his name. It is especially exciting to me to be selected by Stephen Schwartz and the ASCAP committee. Stephen is a legend in the theatre community, giving us such classic shows as ‘Pippin,’ ‘Godspell’ and ‘Children of Eden.’ I have looked up to him as an artist for as long as I can remember, so for him to believe in my talent and in my future as a writer -- that means the absolute world to me.”

A 2003 TROY graduate, Newman served as artist in residence at TROY during the 2011-2012 academic year. During that time, he led a production of “Band Geeks,” a musical he co-wrote, that was performed in several locations in honor of the University’s 125th birthday celebration. The musical centers on a high school band with dwindling numbers and funding and how its members work together to save the band program from extinction.

As a member of the TROY faculty, Newman is serving as musical director for TROY’s Department of Theatre and Dance and is currently teaching music fundamentals and playwriting.

“We are so fortunate that a theatre position became available this fall so we could hire Tommy full time to teach scriptwriting and serve as our musical director for ‘Chicago’ and ‘Sweeney Todd,’” said Dr. Maryjo Cochran, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts. “Tommy has a true gift for writing music and lyrics. He exemplifies the qualities noted in the Cole Porter Award. And my money is on a Tony nomination and award for the TROY graduate before the decade is out.”

After graduating from TROY, Newman earned his Master of Fine Arts in musical theatrical writing from New York University. While at NYU, Newman wrote two musicals as part of his thesis project. The first, “Tinyard Hill,” was produced at the Red Mountain Theatre in Birmingham and then nationally. The production of “29” was presented on Broadway in 2006. Both also were showcased in the National Alliance of Musical Theatre.

“Tommy was a special student when he was here in terms of the work he did as a developing artist,” said Adena Moree, director of theatre and dance. “Our department was very supportive of him as he pursued his Master of Fine Arts degree and we have continued to follow his professional career. We are extremely proud of all Tommy has accomplished and we are truly fortunate to have him as a member of our faculty. He has already had a huge impact on the career opportunities of several of our students.”