Love in the air
Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 4/12/2012, 2:15 p.m.
"Amas." It is the Latin word for "you love," and you've gotta love the work and performance presented by the Amas Musical Theatre. Amas recently celebrated its 43rd year in the musical theater production and performance business with a gala featuring a special concert by Tony winner Lillias White.
The event took place at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. Iconic restaurateur, author and transcultural lifestyle pioneer B. Smith was the event's honoree and was presented with the Rosie Award, named for Amas founder Rosetta LeNoire.
Established in 2002, the Rosie Award is bestowed on individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary accomplishment and dedication in bringing the world more closely together and, as entrepreneurs, have distinguished themselves through their leadership and commitment to diversity as a core business strategy. According to Donna Trinkoff, Amas artistic producer, "Ms. Smith is being recognized on both counts."
You have to visit Smith's (who was accompanied by her husband, Dan Gabsy) website to learn more about all of her fascinating accomplishments; it's very inspirational reading.
Honorary Benefit Chair Leslie Uggams is a past Rosie Award recipient. Additional past honorees include Ossie Davis and Rubie Dee, Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade, Maurice Hines, Phylicia Rashad, Woodie King Jr., Dionne Warwick and George C. Wolfe Jr. Previous corporate honorees include Ernst & Young, JPMorganChase, Verizon and PWC.
Guests for the evening were treated royally to a special performance by White, one of the few performers to be honored with Broadway's "Quadruple Crown"--a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, People's Choice Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in a Musical, for her 1997 role as Sonja in "The Life."
Additional awards White has won include the Obie Award for Best Actress in a Musical ("Romance in Hard Times"), the Drama-Logue Award for Best Actress in a Musical ("Dreamgirls") and an Emmy Award for "Sesame Street." In 2010, she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for "Fela!" which she recently performed in Nigeria.
Engaging as she is entertaining, White stole the audience's heart with a medley of songs from "Cabin in the Sky" and honored a request from the audience to perform her own special version of "I Want a Big, Fat Daddy."
Amas Musical Theatre was founded in 1968 by the late actress and producer LeNoire. Since its inception, the company has been devoted to the creation, development and professional production of new American musicals through the celebration of diversity and minority perspectives, the emergence of new artistic talent and the training and encouragement of underserved young people in the New York area.
To that end, the evening included a special performance by teen students of the Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theatre Academy and concluded with the presentation of the eighth annual Rosetta LeNoire Scholarship, which is given to a deserving college-bound student attending the Amas Academy.
Celebrating the 62nd annual Women of Distinction Spirit Awards Luncheon and Fashion Show were the Greater New York Chapter of the Links Inc. Honored were Tanya Lombard, assistant vice president of AT&T, and Constance E.B. White, editor in chief of Essence magazine, both of whom have been "strong advocates for women, children and their families and continue to make profound contributions to our global community," according to Gerri Warren Merrick, president of the chapter.