|Bryan Batt '81 Named Recipient of 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Award|
The Alumni Association is pleased to announce that the 2009
recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award is Bryan Batt '81. He will be
honored at an event this spring. Batt says he is proud and humbled by this
lovely acknowledgment from the institution that gave him so much.
Bryan Batt credits his Newman drama teacher and friend Kitty Greenberg with
inspiring him to become an actor. As he was busily making his way through high
school, attempting to conform to the more typical path, Greenberg had
her eye on Batt. She had never forgotten his third grade performance
as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in the winter play. She
cornered him in the hallway and pointedly said, "When are you going to
audition for my play? You know you want to and you know you will be good."
He did, and it was that personal, intuitive interest by his Newman teacher that
ignited his passion for acting and set him on his career path.
Batt graduated from Tulane University and took to the Broadway boards
shortly thereafter. He has appeared in leading and principal roles in nine
Broadway shows and numerous Off Broadway productions including: La Cage Aux
Folles, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical the Musical, Sunset Blvd., Saturday
Night Fever, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat, Cats, and Starlight Express. Off Broadway credits
include: Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back and Forbidden Broadway
Cleans Up Its Act. Batt is most proud of originating the role of
Darius in Paul Rudnick's groundbreaking comedy, Jeffrey, in both
New York and Los Angeles. He won the Drama Desk Award for his performance
and recreated the role opposite Patrick Stewart in the Hollywood film
adaptation. Recently Batt was named "Vocalist of the Year" by Back
Stage magazine for his New York one man show.
Currently, Batt portrays "Salvatore Romano" in AMC's critically
acclaimed dramatic series "Mad Men." The runaway hit has received 6
Emmys, 3 Golden Globes, the Peabody, and numerous Writing and Director's Guild
awards. In January, Batt received the coveted Screen Actor's Guild award for
Best Ensemble Acting in a Drama Series.
In 2003, Batt and his partner of 20 years, Tom Cianfichi, opened Hazelnut, a
nationally noted fine gifts and home furnishings store in New Orleans. The
Magazine Street store and his award-winning fabric design, "New Orleans
Toile," have been featured in numerous publications
including The New York Times, House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Town
& Country and InStyle. After Katrina, a portion of all sales of
the signature fabric raised funds for Second Harvest Food Bank, under the
direction of Batt's lifetime friend and fellow Newman graduate, Leann Moses
'81. Hazelnut's other causes include Children's Hospital, The Human Rights
Campaign, Save The Oaks and The Anti Defamation League.
Since Katrina, Batt has hosted, performed and appeared in countless
fundraisers and philanthropic events both in New York and New Orleans
benefiting Habitat For Humanity, the Contemporary Arts Center, LA-SPCA,
Preservation Resource Center, New Orleans Museum of Art, Friends of City Park,
YaYa and many more. In 2005, just weeks after returning from evacuation, he
founded Magazine Street Retail Relief, now a much-anticipated yearly event, in
an effort to jump-start commerce for local merchants.
Batt has worked tirelessly for causes dearest to his heart. For the last 15
years he has been a major force in raising millions for Broadway Cares/Equity
Fights Aids; locally he sits on the boards of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre
and N.O. Aids Task Force.
Other Honors include OUT magazine's
"Artist of the Year," Human Rights Campaign's "Equality
Award," and Gambit's Big Easy Award "Entertainer of the