PARTYGOERS GET “STAGESTRUCK!” AT SCR GALA
Event raises funds for theatre’s artistic and education programs
COSTA MESA, CA – Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. “Stagestruck!”, South Coast Repertory’s 53rd Season Gala, brought out the Southland’s movers and shakers (all of them theatre lovers) for a highly imaginative evening in celebration of all things theatrical.
With their arrival at The Westin South Coast Plaza, the Orange County social season began in earnest, just as the evening before, the theatrical season had kicked off with First Night of the highly-anticipated Tony Award winner, All the Way. Traditionally, these two seasons—social and theatrical—begin each September at SCR, and when they occur on consecutive evenings, that makes for a theatre-filled weekend.
After guests emerged from their cars, they entered the hotel’s East Galleria through a dramatic archway and as they stepped inside, posed for photos before a sapphire “Stagestruck!” backdrop. Mingling with other partygoers, they paused to greet Gala Executive Chair Sarah J. (Sally) Anderson, who was joined by Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei and Board President Alan Slutzky.
Two t’Suite, a musical duo of piano and cello, set the mood with classic show tunes and cool jazz. Greeting old friends and meeting new ones, guests sampled passed hors d’oeuvres and sipped gold medal award-winning champagne by Le Grand Courtâge or the evening’s signature cocktail, “Stagestruck Salute,” featuring Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
Photo opportunities were available everywhere, and partygoers were encouraged to snap “selfies” at six grand stages, featuring costumes from select SCR productions. The plays—Amadeus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, In the Next Room or the vibrator play and The Heiress—represented a wide range of periods and featured some of the theatre’s most glorious costumes.
Inside, the ballroom was stunningly theatrical, with luxurious sapphire-blue drapery and light box decorative columns around the room and flanking the stage, along with huge screens which continually showed stunning visuals from past productions, interspersed with the “selfies” partygoers had taken—and continued to take and post online through the evening.
Guests dined at rectangular tables shimmering with sapphire iridescent linens, enhanced by gold chargers and flatware and touches of gold glimmering in the floral centerpieces and votive candles. Amidst the glitter, they enjoyed a three course meal with wines poured courtesy of Bluewater Grill.
Early in the evening, Slutzky greeted the crowd of supporters and led the applause for SCR’s Founding Artistic Directors David Emmes and Martin Benson. Others acknowledged were past Board Presidents Sophie Cripe and Wylie Aitken and Emeritus Trustees Olivia Johnson, John Murphy, Carl Neisser, Barbara Roberts, Tom Rogers, Laurie Smits Staude and Elaine Weinberg.
Tomei personally thanked Anderson, the Gala committee and its generous patrons, who helped make “Stagestruck!” a success and provided the resources for the artistry onstage and the education and outreach programs that will serve more than 24,000 children and young adults in the coming season.
Masterson added his thanks, saying that the funds raised by the Gala help SCR achieve its commitment to reach out, engage and share the power of theatre with the entire community. SCR’s 2016-17 season reflects that perspective with stories that are meaningful in the lives of Orange County’s increasingly diverse audience.
After a brief rundown of the season, Masterson acknowledged two SCR actors who joined Emmes and Benson in the early days of SCR and have been part of the journey ever since, Founding Artists Richard Doyle and Don Took. He then turned the stage over to the person who led the Gala Committee in making the celebratory evening possible, announcing, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Sally Anderson.”
Accepting thanks on behalf of the committee members (whom she asked to stand and be honored), Anderson announced that “Stagestruck!” had raised more than $300,000 to support the programs that are an important investment in the future of the community. Concluding her remarks, she reminded partygoers there was more to come.
And there was! After dinner, SCR Associate Artistic Director John Glore took the stage to introduce the evening’s special guest star, Nicole Parker, whom he met when she was nine years old and was cast in his first play. The show was Wind of a Thousand Tales—Folktales from Far Away Places, written for SCR’s Young Conservatory Players. Parker played the lead and amazed the audience—and the playwright—with her talent, energy and pizzazz which later made her a hit on the wildly popular “MADtv” and in theatre from New York to LA.
Captivating the audience with her memories of SCR, Parker proceeded to wow them with “Defying Gravity,” the hit song she performed in the Broadway musical Wicked; “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from Funny Girl, which won Nicole LA’s Ovation Award; “Stars and Moon” from Songs for a New World; plus a surprise number by Stephen Sondheim.
Later in the evening, guests returned to the East Galleria, which had been transformed into an intimate lounge for relaxing with dessert and coffee, and a special treat from a gelato cart donated by Mangiamo Gelato Caffe.
Then, breaths caught, it was back to the ballroom to dance to the music of Retro Soul before the evening wound down with song selections by Extreme DJ. Then partygoers packed up souvenir programs and gift bags (which contained—for an added touch of theatre—complementary tickets to First Night of a show of their choice, along with mini bottles of Tito’s Handmade Vodka and mini boxes of ’Lette Macarons), snapped a few final selfies, and agreed that “Stagestruck!” was a theatrical tour de force—in celebration of South Coast Repertory.
ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. 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. One-quarter of SCR’s 525 productions have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. www.scr.org