Tommy Greenwald Hangs At The White House

Tommy Greenwald spent Monday practicing his command to the taxi driver: “The White House, please.”

When he actually got in the cab, he added: “And not for the tour.”

He and his wife, Cathy Utz, were headed for the Alexander Hamilton gate on 15th Street. After 3 airport-like security screenings — and an “unglamorous” entrance through a tent area, rather than “strolling through the front door,” as he’d imagined — the Westport couple entered the White House.

Tommy — a longtime Westporter and Staples Class of 1979 grad — is a co-founder of Spotco. The New York agency specializes in Broadway and entertainment advertising. A client is fellow Westport resident Harvey Weinstein.

Tommy Greenwald invitationThe film executive helped arrange “Broadway Day” at the White House. Students from across the country came together to enjoy performances, and learn about acting, singing and dancing. Andrew Lloyd Webber was there. Kristin Chenoweth served as host.

Michelle Obama welcomed everyone to her home. (Her husband was on a business trip, to Turkey.) Among the guests — thanks to Weinstein — were Tommy and Cathy. He got them tickets, because Tommy had created a pro bono video for the event. It airs Thanksgiving night on TLC (Optimum channel 28, 8 p.m.).

Cathy Utz and George Washington.

Cathy Utz and George Washington.

Neither Tommy nor Cathy had been in the White House before. He borrowed a tie from his son Joe. “I hadn’t worn one in 7 years,” Tommy notes. “That was the most stressful part — figuring out what to wear so I wouldn’t get tossed out.”

After being herded into a holding area — filled with things like “Benjamin Harrison’s dinner setting,” Tommy says — the group filed into the East Room. Tommy says it’s “just like any other small performance space, except for all the military people there.”

Three days after the Paris attacks, he and Cathy felt grateful to meet the men and women who protect America.

Michelle Obama - photo Tommy Greenwald

First Lady Michelle Obama enters the East Room. (Photo/Tommy Greenwald)

The First Lady strode in. “She looked fine!” Tommy says.

She gave an introductory speech; then the hour-long concert began. That was followed by a “big nosh cocktail reception.”

It was like any other social event, Tommy says, “except every room was ridiculously gorgeous, with portraits of presidents and first ladies.”

There was nothing saying “White House” that he could steal, he says — “just napkins in the bathroom.” He took a few, for his office staff in New York.

“I was hoping for better tchotchkes,” Tommy admits. “Still, it was great.”

Being around Broadway and film stars, Tommy says, “I’m usually pretty jaded. But sitting 5 feet from Michelle Obama was pretty cool. My wife said she’s never seen me so wide-eyed.”

Tommy Greenwald at the White House piano. I asked if it was the same one Richard Nixon played. Tommy did not know -- but it was definitely the one Andrew Lloyd Webber sat at just a few minutes earlier.

Tommy Greenwald at the White House piano. I asked if it was the same one Richard Nixon played. Tommy did not know — but it was definitely the one Andrew Lloyd Webber used just a few minutes earlier.

Once the concert was over though, all the “incredible organization” ended. Tommy calls it “an interestingly informal free-for-all.”

Soon enough, it was back in a taxi. I did not ask Tommy what he told his driver on the return trip.

10 responses to “Tommy Greenwald Hangs At The White House

  1. Way to go tom and Cathy. Seems like we were just working at MGM together. This is about as cool as it gets!

  2. David Schaffer

    I’m going to guess Tommy is related to my classmate Ken Greenwald. And I know Cathy from school as well. Very cool to see people I know having great adventures.

  3. Wendy Kramer Posner

    Tommy appears to be channeling the long (and quite spectacular) Greenwald musical tradition. Was his paternal grandfather Bernie? Kudos, this gig looks like it was a sensational success.

  4. Correction: Michelle Obama welcomed everyone to OUR HOUSE.

  5. NICE!!!

  6. great piece dan! hi wendy, yes, bernie green(wald) was my grandpa. did you know him??

    • Wendy Kramer Posner

      Yes, I knew him, his brother (?) from Brooklyn, and was particularly fond of your grandmother. The Green(wald’s) were great friends of my parents.

  7. I also knew Bernie Green – sailed with him on his 3 sailboats. The first was an original Herreshoff Bullseye that had an inboard engine right in the cockpit, next a Herreshoff S-boat which we once raced at Larchmont. His third boat was a Rhodes Bounty II, the largest fiberglas boat at the time – 1956 – a 40 footer and the third one built. Bernie, an orchestrator and composer for TV shows, was also a serious composer, unknown to most people. And before my time, he played in early jazz bands.

  8. How wonderful to know you’re out there, Peter. My brothers and I have the beautiful photos you took of Pop and his boats (I’ve even got one of me, age 4, at the tiller). Sailing is what brought us to Westport, in a way. Pop said that Cedar Point was the only yacht club on LI sound that would accept Jews when he first started to sail.

    Hi Wendy!