Press Release - 2014 Gala Chair Announced

Olivia Johnson to Chair SCR’s 2014 Gala “Grand Illusions”

COSTA MESA, CA – May 28, 2014, South Coast Repertory Emeritus Trustee Olivia Johnson will chair the theatre’s 51st Season Gala, “Grand Illusions,” to be held on site at the Emmes/Benson Theatre Center on Saturday, September 13.

According to Johnson, “We’ve drawn our inspiration for ‘Grand Illusions’ from SCR’s production of The Tempest that will open the 2014-15 season.  The show features magic by Teller—of Penn and Teller fame—so we’re creating a Gala that’s fanciful and mysterious and just plain illusionary!”

Johnson added that the Gala will also be filled with surprises.  “We’re not revealing all of them until the big night, but expect a wildly creative event where partygoers escape from the day-to-day world to a totally transformed South Coast Repertory.  Every moment will be beyond imagination—that’s what I’m promising our ‘Grand Illusions’ guests!”

South Coast Repertory Gala History

Since its early beginnings, the SCR Gala has been declared the traditional opener of the social and theatrical seasons in Orange County.  It provides the first—and one of the largest—donations to the theatre’s Annual Fund, in support of educational programs.

The first on-site Gala was also the first white tie event in Orange County, SCR’s “Fourth Step Opening Gala” in 1978.  Last season, “Theatrical Gold,” celebrating the theatre’s 50th, was only the second time the event has been held on site.  According to Gala Committee members, the party was so successful that everyone agreed the Emmes/Benson Theatre Center was the perfect place for “Grand Illusions.”

Background on Olivia Johnson

Johnson and her husband Andy have a longtime association with the theater, dating back to the early ’70s and including support through all of the major campaigns, as well as all opening nights and Galas.  They have underwritten four productions, most recently the world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s Rest.  Olivia has chaired numerous events and committees, including the 1993 “Stagestruck” Gala, both the Golden and Platinum Circles and many summer fundraisers over the decades.  She served on the Board for two nine-year terms, and is now an Emeritus Trustee.

Gala Committee members, to date—and growing

Bette Aitken (Cuisine co-chair; Hospitality co-chair), Ashleigh Aitken, Julianne Argyros, Kathryn Cenci, Barbara Cline (Graphics co-chair), Sophie Cripe (Décor & Entertainment co-chair), Gail Doe, Patricia Ellis, Valerie Fearns, Joan Fimiano, Barbara Glabman, Marlene Hamontree, Mimi Holcombe (Cuisine co-chair), Olivia Johnson (chair), Joan Kaloustian, Teri Kennady, Tracy Kirwan (Graphics co-chair), Elaine Krajanowski, Sarah McElroy (Décor & Entertainment co-chair), Pam Muzzy, Stacey Nicholas, Nancy Palmer (Cuisine co-chair), Nola Schneer, Jan Seitz Jashinski, Laurie Smits Staude (Hospitality co-chair), Ardelle St. George. Jane Taylor, Kathy Taylor, Julie Ann Ulcickas (Hospitality co-chair), Socorro Vasquez (Underwriting Executive Committee chair), and Elaine Weinberg

For more information on SCR’s 2014 Gala, please call SCR Director of Development Susan C. Reeder at (714) 708-5518.

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is led by Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei. SCR is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. SCR is committed to theatre that illuminates the compelling personal and social issues of our time, not only on its stages but through its wide array of education and outreach programs. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers and composers. Each year, it showcases some of country’s best new plays in the Pacific Playwrights Festival, which attracts theatre professionals from across the country. Of SCR’s more than 480 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres, whose subsequent stagings achieved enormous success throughout America and around the world. Two SCR-developed works have won Pulitzer Prizes, and another eight were named Pulitzer finalists. In addition, SCR works have won several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, California, SCR’s David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. Today, SCR produces 13 shows and eight public readings each season. More information is available at