Cynthia and Tony Petrello hosted a cocktail reception in November in their Houston home to honor Broadway legend Tommy Tune. The multitalented Tune was born and raised in Texas, and he was back in Houston to put on a show for 5,000 of his enthusiastic fans at the Miller Outdoor Theater.
Tony Petrello is chief executive officer, chairman of the board, and president of Nabors Industries, a leading oil and gas company. Tony is known for his keen business insight, his strategic planning, his visionary leadership, and his dedication to making life better for the people of Houston.
His wife, Cynthia Petrello, shares Tony’s passion for giving back to Houston. Cynthia is an actress who appears on stage and on television, and she is also a model who can be seen in major magazines. After philanthropy, her biggest interest is fashion. She recently won the Stellar Award from CKW Luxe, given annually to a woman who combines enthusiasm for philanthropy with a fantastic sense of style, a description that fits Cynthia like a well-tailored glove.
Although Tommy Tune now lives in New York, he has deep roots in Texas. He was born in the Texas town of Witchita Falls, and he went to high school in Houston and college in Jacksonville and Austin. He came back to Houston for graduate school, where he studied directing, and he studied dance with the Houston choreographer Patsy Swayze. With this solid Texas background paving the way, he started performing on Broadway, and the rest is history. He’s won 10 Tony Awards, numerous other awards, and the love of theater fans throughout the world.
Despite all of Tommy’s success, he has never forgotten Houston. The Tommy Tunes Awards, administered by Houston’s Theater Under the Stars, provide scholarships for talented high school students who participate in outstanding musical theater productions. These awards help ensure the vibrancy of Houston’s musical theater community. Tommy was thrilled to be back in Houston performing “Tommy Tune Tonight,” a musical telling the story of his life.
Houston was just as excited to welcome Tommy home. Tony and Cynthia Petrello put on a beautiful party in his honor. The 50 guests enjoyed sipping cocktails and nibbling on appetizers as they strolled around the grounds of the Petrello mansion, with the music of piano and strings setting a romantic mood. The party was a great success and a fine tribute to Tommy’s Texas roots.
In addition to supporting the arts, the Petrellos strive to improve many other aspects of Houston life. When they had a daughter born with a neurological disorder, they became dedicated to helping fund research into childhood neurological diseases. “You realize your time here on earth is short,” Tony Petrello said, “and you want to make a difference.” To that end, they have donated $7 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital and were co-chairs of a capital campaign that raised $500 million for the hospital.
Tony Petrello also has a passion for supporting education. With undergraduate and masters degrees in mathematics from Yale and a law degree from Harvard, he knows the value a good education brings. He established an endowment to memorialize Serge Lang, a mathematician who was one of Tony Petrello’s mentors at Yale and a close friend. The endowment funds an annual prize.
Cynthia serves on the boards of many of Houston’s cultural institutions, including the Houston Grand Opera, the Tony-winning Alley Theater, and the Museum of Fine Arts, which is one of the largest museums in the country. She has also provided leadership for major annual fundraising events that raise millions of dollars for Houston organizations. “A world changer is focused and committed about their service to others,” she has said, and her dedication has added greatly to the quality of life in Houston.
Together, Cynthia and Tony Petrello have achieved great success in their quest to improve the world around them. The couple formed the Petrello Family Foundation, which supports health, education, and the performing arts throughout Houston. The effect their philanthropy has had on the life of Houston residents has been so profound that the Smithsonian honored them with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service. The Petrellos have learned that true happiness in life comes from giving to others in many different ways, from the life-saving effects of medical research to the joy awakened by the performing arts.