Share-A-Date: NasherSalon With Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Monday, March 5: To coincide with the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Lexus Broadway Series’ “In the Heights” (March 13 – 25), those smart folks at the Nasher have arranged to have “In the Heights” co-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as the guest for the first NasherSalon of 2012.

If his name isn’t as familiar as Stephen Sondheim or Kristin Chenoweth, you have been absent from Broadway 101 classes. The Puerto Rican-American composer, rapper, lyricist and actor was “an instant sensation for writing and starring in the four-time Tony Award-winning musical.

That isn’t enough. My, but you’re demanding!

“As an actor, Lin-Manuel received a 2007 Theater World Award for Outstanding Debut Performance, and the 2007 Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Male Performance courtesy of Actor’s Equity Foundation. He has also performed for President Obama and the First Family at the White House for its first-ever Poetry Jam. Additionally, his TV and film credits include The Electric Company, Sesame Street, The Sopranos, House, Modern Family, The Sex and the City Movie, and the upcoming The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”

The timing could not be more perfect. After a full weekend of celebrating the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, it will be nice to be indoors for an intimate chat.

Tickets are available starting Monday, February 6.

Photo provided by Nasher Sculpture Center

Share-A-Date: A Night At The Turtle Creek Karaoke Lounge

Peri Gilpin

Friday, February 24: A Night at the Turtle Creek Karaoke Lounge is not for the faint of heart or Scott Cantrell. It’s a night when being tone deaf or monotone is a real crowd pleaser. In fact, the worse you sing, the more the audience eats it up. Co-chairs Danya Anderson and Cary Deuber along with Honorary Chairs Anne and Steve Stodghill have arranged to have “America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru” Steve Kemble and DJ Lucy Wrubel return this year to set the pace at Edison’s starting at 7 p.m.

They’ve also lined up the following victims. . . uh, singers to entertain:

  • Peri Gilpin
  • Drew Henson
  • LeeAnne Locken
  • Rich Emberlin
  • Abi Ferrin
  • Hunter Sullivan
  • Amy Vanderoef

Don’t be surprised if by the end of the evening, many in the audience decide to take a stab at singing their lungs out.

Yes, of course, there will be plenty of food and grown-up refreshments to fuel the songbirds and their music loving audience.

BTW, there’s a good chance that it will be a quick sell-out. Amanda Ward alone bought 14 tickets for her entourage that includes the choir director from Highland Park United Methodist Church.

And remember — it benefits the Turtle Creek Recovery Center, the only residential treatment program in North Texas wholly dedicated to serving adults with a mental illness and an addiction.

Make-Believe-Benefactors: Sandy and Steve Watson

Sandy and Steve Watson

“We would love to endorse the check to the Dallas Summer Musicals for what they do for our children in the Dallas Ft. Worth Metroplex. With their education and outreach programs including Kids Club, Seats for Kids, Stage Right, Discover Theatre, DSM Academy of Performing Arts, and now High School Musical Theatre Awards, DSM has made a wonderful and positive impact on our children to raise awareness of the arts, increase self-esteem, and bring the magic of music and dance to their lives. DSM is a 72-year tradition in Dallas bringing family entertainment, children’s programs, and the best of Broadway to Dallas.”

-Sandy and Steve Watson

Photo credit: Dana Driensky

Curtain Call And Dream Gala Go Head-To-Head On March 31

Bret Michaels and the girls

The days of 2011 are getting less and less and already 2012 is starting to look as crowded as the early-morning lineup at Starbucks in Highland Park Shopping Village. First face-off by event planners is Saturday, March 31, when both Curtain Call benefiting the Dallas Summer Musicals with spectacularly beautiful and talented Vanessa Williams at the Music Hall and the Dream Gala for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation with Bret Michaels at the Omni Hotel will take place. Unlike this past year when Bret was the guest of honor for his efforts promoting juvenile diabetes, he’ll be performing on stage this go-around.

It’s going to be a battle to decide which one to attend: Vanessa putting on one heck of a show, and Bret doing the same across town. Last year when Bret attended the event as an honored guest, he was surrounded by kids and grown-up ladies lining up for photos with the rock star.

In the “Sure You Knew Department:” In addition to Bret’s being Type 1 diabetic since childhood, his daughter Raine is diabetic. Ironically, Vanessa is Type 1 diabetic, too, and lost her grandmother as a results of diabetes. It’s a nasty disease that needs to be put to rest. 

So, no excuse for staying home and cleaning up your Outlook on March 31 . . . not with these two events taking place.

Make-Believe-Benefactor: Duncan Graham

Duncan Graham

“As President Kennedy said, ‘… Above all, we are coming to understand that the arts incorporate the creativity of a free people. When the creative impulse cannot flourish, when it cannot freely select its methods and objects, when it is deprived of spontaneity, then society severs the root of art.’ So my choice would be TACA.

“With a vibrant arts community we not just nourish our souls, but we provide an environment that encourages all the things JFK talked about. With a vibrant arts community we attract a vibrant business community. And that in turn leads to higher employment and sustained growth.

“With our economy spluttering, givers either cut back on their contributions or redirect their gifts to non-art causes. I think TACA’s need for a generous donation has never been more prescient.”

-Duncan Graham

NasherSALON Series’ Award-Winning Kristin Chenoweth Hits All The Rights Notes Perfectly Despite A Case Of Bronchitis

Last week a bevy of fabulous, well-known ladies overnighted in Dallas for different reasons. Don’t know if any of the Kardashians were in the crowd, but Cyndi Lauper, Oprah, Katie Couric and Kristin Chenoweth were and they made lasting impressions. At the Mansion a newlywed couple walked in only to be greeted by overnight guest Oprah who congratulated them on their nuptials. Katie had Mansion guests and staff members almost giggly as she charmed one and all. Cyndi, who looked a little puffy, did a meet-and-greet at an event that was so fast-and-furious it must have set records.

And then there was Kristin, the all-around mega talent, who hails from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She was here Thursday for the NasherSALON including an afternoon session with Booker T. Washington students.

But before getting started, know that Kristin was not in the best of health. She’d been fighting a nasty case of bronchitis since hosting Monday’s American Country Music awards show. Skeptics muttered that she’d probably cancel out on the Nasher, but they evidently didn’t know the Tony Award-winning songbird/actress very well. Kristin not only showed up, she scored home runs at every turn.

Booker T. Washington

Kristin Chenoweth

Like a scene out of Glee, Kristin had a love fest with an auditorium filled to over-capacity. She told the students that her visit to Booker T. Washington had been “very emotional for me. I see myself 20 years ago. It’s been inspiring. . . very inspiring to be here.”

Originally the 4’11” Kristin wanted to be a ballerina, but at the age of 7 was relegated to the role of a rabbit in the Nutcracker because of lack of height. “Now, the rabbit sits next to Clara in Act 2. . . a very important job. The Sugar Plum Fairies dancers now have their vine that they dance with. One of them dropped on the floor. Those of you who are in theater know that when a prop falls on stage, it needs to be moved, especially in ballet. And I’m sitting next to Clara and there’s the vine left on the stage and Russian dancers were waiting and the orchestra was waiting. In my head I remember thinking, ‘What would a bunny do?’ So I hopped out there and put it (the vine) in my mouth and hopped back and the place went insane.”

She didn’t talk down to the 400 students. She talked with them like a big sister providing inspiration and tips about being an artist. Admitting that she had made personal sacrifices for her career, Kristin went on to say that she doesn’t believe there are rules, “which is why I love this place. You guys do it all. . . I didn’t have the opportunity that you have.”

Continuing on she admitted that she tries to stay out of the tabloids; “I’m about being an artist and less about the fame part of it. Nothing against the Karadashians. They should make the money while they can. But. . .  and I do say ‘but’ (much laughter from the audience).”

Kristin Chenoweth

On a serious note, she added, “It’s more about the process of creating what we do than the red carpet crap. That’s actually more work than it looks like, because you have people looking at every little thing instead of how your high C sounded.”

Later she warned them, “What we all are is artists. . . . Our job is to keep the flow (of creativity) going. . . Fight for those practice rooms. Fight for time by yourself. Be with people who inspire you. Work together. You have such a gift to be here.”

Of course, Glee came up and she explained how the cast of Glee was an extension of her.  “Having kids look up to you is probably the most rewarding aspect of my time on this earth. . . and it makes me so happy that I could affect somebody like that. It’s very emotional, very emotional.”

Regarding training and education, she admitted to being “a big proponent of conservatory and college. Because all that stuff that you can’t wait to get to is going be there. There are going to be 20 people in line behind you who sound just like you, but what’s going to make you different is the fact that you spent the time looking at a Monet painting and wondering what kind of aria you could sing to it.”

Her advice to the students: “If you have anything else you want to do, go do it. It is hard. This takes everything you have. I have sacrificed a lot. I made some sacrifices . . . big time in my personal life, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. I’m a lifer.”

About her upcoming role in TV’s GCB, she said, “It’s got a lot of interesting press around it because it’s based on a book by Kim Gatlin called Good Christian Bitches. However, this gives me a great opportunity to talk quickly about this. I am a Christian. I would never do anything that would make fun of my religion. This is about five women who grew up in church together and how they deal with their demons and how they deal with their love for each other. It’s more about relationships than it is religion. It is very funny. . . It’s comedy, comedy, comedy. It’s one big package of chocolate cake.”

Asked to sing Popular, she responded without hesitation and it was noted that some of the students started singing along.

Her parting advice to the students was “to take care of yourself, and sleep is the best way to do it. Do whatever you have to do. Pop Benadryl. I’m sorry, people. Sorry, teachers.”

In addition to a standing ovation, the powerhouse received a goody bag that she rummaged through as if it were her first.


Kristin Chenoweth

For a lucky few, the NasherSALON hosted a private meet-and-greet on the ground level of the Nasher Sculpture Center for sponsors and VIP types just prior to the salon taking place downstairs. Kristin showed up early for a tour of the Nasher, loving the Tony Cragg show, and then faced the lineup of guests including Lisa Troutt, Veletta Lill, Lynn and Allan McBee, Tanya Foster, Jeanne Marie Clossey, Jim Moroney and daughter 

Jenny Moroney and Kristin Chenoweth

Jenny and Schlegel sisters Kim and Krystal. One warning was passed to photographers — turn off camera flashes. It seems that they result in Kristin having migraines. Didn’t matter. The little star shone bright enough as she greeted each person as if they were the celebrity. Instead of the Lauper hustle-through, Kristin chatted it up like a politician trying to lock down major contributors.

Jeanne Marie Clossey, Kristin Chenoweth and Lisa Troutt

But once the photo session was over, she headed downstairs for the talk with KERA’s Jeff Whittington. Unlike the afternoon session of hanging with fellow artists, the evening Kristin was a tad more sedate. There was still the mischievous look and the Chenoweth giggle, but she was talking to nearly 200 adults with a couple of youngsters mixed in. In addition to retelling some of the stories from the afternoon, she told the group:

  • Kristin Chenoweth

    She lives in New York City more than Oklahoma, but she’s still just a girl from Broken Arrow.

  • Speaking of the South, she said, “You know, there’s a misconception that we’re dumb. . . but we’re not. We’re smart.”
  • Her dad, who is a chemical engineer, negotiated her first contract.
  • She waited seven hours once to do an audition in New York.
  • At one point in the talk she looked down at her dress and was surprised to discover: “I have a sensor on my dress from the store! That says it all!”
  • To prepare for her role as Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, she went to Central Park for weeks watching little kids.
  • “My biggest challenge to this day is staying healthy. I have bronchitis right now. . . but it’s not contagious!”
  • “I love junk food, 7-Eleven, chain-store food.”
  • “The only way to grow and get better is to push yourself.”
  • She has a animal charity called Maddie’s Corner, which supports animals in need: “It’s animals helping people helping animals.” It was named after her Maltese, Madeline Kahn Chenoweth, that is the namesake of the actress Madeline Kahn, Kristin’s big hero.
  • “I don’t have a husband. . . so I may have paid a price for [having a busy varied career] in that way.”
  • Loves horror films and science fiction films.
  • “Going to the theater is like water in the desert for me.” After a CD-signing in Frisco on Friday, she’s headed to New York City to catch up on plays, and “I can’t wait.”
  • Kristin Chenoweth

    She suffers from Meniere’s disease, an inner-ear disorder that can cause vertigo, headaches and nausea.

Then it was off to her hotel for a night’s sleep, to Frisco on Friday for the CD-signing and then to New York City for an appointment with a doctor.

Evidently the pride of Broken Arrow firmly believes that the show must go on. . . even if she’s got a nasty case of bronchitis.


Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Deb, Honor Guard Parents Were Fashionable And Feted At Eiseman Jewels Thursday

Marena Gault

To kick off December and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League deb warm up, Richard Eiseman hosted his annual holiday party at Eiseman Jewels honoring the parents of the DSOL debs and

Sandy Petruska

honor guard. Sure, the presentation isn’t until February 11th at the Meyerson, but it’s never too early to be celebrating and to do a little counter shopping. . .  boy, were they doing both. The place was filled to near overflowing with parents, patrons, DSOL President Marena Gault and evening chair Sandy Petruska.

Leg fashion

Along with the tasty gems and watch pieces in the display cases, fashion notes were being spotted, like stockings are definitely back in action on the best legs with the reddest soles.

Sara Lee Gardner

And on this chilly evening, Sara Lee Gardner‘s nifty vest looked quite comfy. Seems husband Stan picked it up in Cannes for her. The Gardners are old pros on the DSOL deb circuit. Daughter Helen was a DSOL deb this year, and son Madison will be a member of the honor guard for the 2012 presentation.

Honor Franklin, who was still celebrating her November 12th birthday, and husband Bob Mitchell reported that Honor’s

Honor Franklin, Bob Mitchell and Sylvia Chavez

mom, Jeannette, probably wouldn’t attend the bow of her granddaughter, Sullivan Franklin-Mitchell. After all, Jeannette has chalked up 93 years on her dance card and attending such soirées can be a bit wearing. But she won’t miss the bow altogether. Seems Honor and Bob have such occasions videotaped and shown to Jeannette with commentary provided by Honor, Bob and the rest of the clan.

Tagging along with the Franklin-Mitchell team was Sylvia Chavez, whose daughter Natalie will be one of the 51 debs making their bow on the Meyerson stage.

While some of the parents got their holiday shopping locked up at Eiseman’s, none left empty-handed. Why? Because it’s part of the Eiseman tradition to present each of the parents with a pair of pearl stud earrings for their daughters. What’s that? What if the deb doesn’t have pierced earrings? Never you mind, because Richard can easily provide clip-ons for the young lass who doesn’t have punctured lobes.

Remember, the DSOL presentation benefits the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, so the young ladies are bowing on behalf of the musicians and their future.

Art and Commerce Merge as Business Council for the Arts Gives Its 2011 Obelisk Awards

When attorney Mike Birrer accepted the 2011 Obelisk Award from the Business Council for the Arts on behalf of his Carrington Coleman law firm last Wednesday, Birrer humorously recalled his own brush with the arts back in grade school. When young Mike turned in an artistic depiction of a “baby chick,” he recalled, his teacher Mrs. Nelson sent the picture back with these three words written across the top: “Not very good.”

In contrast to Mrs. Nelson’s discouragingly blunt style, the Obelisk Awards are intended to encourage those who practice art — and commerce – in an effort to enhance Dallas-Fort Worth’s quality of life and economic development. The Nov. 2 “Obelisk Luncheon and Awards Ceremony” at The Fairmont Dallas drew a crowd of more than 340 people from local companies and arts groups who watched as the nonprofit BCA gave a total of nine awards.

Proclaimed Katherine Wagner, the business council’s CEO: “Today we recognize the companies and business leaders whose commitment to this region is creating a better tomorrow for all of us.”  

First, though, there was a bit of soulful hilarity. Just as guests were finishing up their lunches, dancers from the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, cleverly clad as waiters and waitresses, broke out in frenzied dance to a disco song. Tom Leatherbury, the BCA Chair, mounted the stage and said with a laugh, “They asked Nancy [Nasher] and me to do the encore, but we didn’t.” Nasher, the business council’s Founder’s Chair, was a tad more serious during her remarks, pointing out that the arts generates “over $1 billion annually” for the North Texas economy.

Then, it was on to the much-anticipated awards.

Birrer, of Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, accepted the Arts Partnership Award for mid-size businesses, for Carrington Coleman’s support of the Creative Arts Center of Dallas. The Arts Partnership Award for small businesses went to SullivanPerkins for its support of Kitchen Dog Theater, while the Arts Partnership award in the large-business category went to the Texas Instruments Foundation, which supported Richardson’s Eisemann Center.

Gene Jones

Three firms also received New Initiatives Awards. RD2 Inc. nabbed the honor in the small business category for its support of the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, while the Dallas Cowboys Football Club and the Jerry Jones Family were given the award for mid-size businesses, for their decision to integrate a “stunning art collection” into the design of Cowboys Stadium. (Gene Jones accepted the award for the family and the club.) Wells Fargo snagged the award in the large business category, for the bank’s support of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

Three additional individual awards were given out as well. The Arts Leadership Award went to Jennifer Junker, president of the John F. Clark Co., for her work on behalf of the Trinity River Audubon Center. Ron Whitehead, city manager for the Town of Addison, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his efforts to make Addison a place where art is an “accessible, integral part of everyday life.” And Capital One Bank took the Arts Education Award, for its sponsorship of the Dallas Wind Symphony.

Tom Leatherbury, Jorge Calderon, Greg Mangum

Accepting the Education award for Capital One, the bank’s Jorge Calderon said

Nancy Nasher Haemisegger and Pat Porter

that it was Pat Porter, the BCA’s former CEO, and the late businessman/art collector Raymond D. Nasher (who helped found the business council in the late 1980s), who first “got me involved in the community.” Today Calderon sits on the BCA board.   

The banker’s story was personal, sure. But it was also a powerful testament to the BCA’s very real, long-term — and growing — influence on art and commerce in North Texas.

October 25 MySweetCharity Round Robin: Curtain Call, Zoo-To-Do And Crystal Charity Ball

The tsunami of events continues with three-a-days becoming the norm. Due to the MSC elves working in overdrive and the MSC community in need of info, we’re launching MSC Round Robin for those occasions when there are a slew of events taking place at one time.

First out of the gate is Tuesday, October 25, that had Dallas’ boldfacers gathering for everything from Curtain Call’s 2012 plans, Zoo-To-Do’s updates to Crystal Charity Ball’s sneak peak of luxury silent auction items.

Curtain Call Announcement Party

Costumed staffers

The announcement party for the Dallas Summer Musical’s 2012 Curtain Call had all the inklings that the Saturday, March 31, fundraiser would have an Asian headliner. After all, it was being held at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the theme was “Honor the Children in the Year of the Dragon” and members of the staff like Development Director Melinda Ogden were in beautiful costumes.

Sandy Watson

Ah, but no. It seems that Curtain Call Co-chair Sandy Watson had ventured into the DSM warehouse two years ago and discovered $800K worth of hand-beaded costumes that the DSM owned from its “Flower Drum Song” production. So, she thought it would provide a marvelous look to support the theme and the purpose of the gala — to bring the Best of Broadway to Dallas and provide for children’s education and outreach programs.

Before announcing the plans for the gala, Co-chair Steve Watson recalled his parents started going to the DSM back in 1951 and how the production of “Oklahoma!” with its tornado scene made such an impression on him as a youngster. Fast-forward to 1989 when he “seriously” started getting season tickets and now to 2011 when he and Sandy are heading up the major fundraiser.

But you’re still wondering who is going to razzle-dazzle at Curtain Call. None other than gorgeous and talented Vanessa Williams, who has performed on Broadway and in films and television series like “Desperate Housewives.”

Zoo-To-Do Underwriters’ Patrons Party

Gregg Hudson

The Dallas Zoo Executive Director Gregg Hudson had a long day Tuesday. Earlier in the day Koko, a 25-year old chimp, had escaped from her cage. Declaring a Code Red situation, the staff immediately got the errant zoo resident back home with the general public never in danger.

There was no truth to the rumor that she was headed to the Zoo-To-Do announcement party at Jennifer and John Eagles’ nest, where staff members serve as lifeguards making sure no one slips into the dining-room pool as they cross the marble walkway into the living room.

The great thing about the Edward Durrell Stone-designed home, besides the art and the graciousness of the Eagles, is the white spiral stairway in the living room. Yes, it does provide access to the upstairs, but it also serves as a great place to make announcements. There is one step in particular that seems to be a favorite, where speakers can be seen easily from all parts of the room.

In this case, Dallas Zoological Society Board Chair  Jennifer Burr Altabef announced that the Zoo-To-Do’s “ZTD Goes Hollywood” at the Wilds of Africa Plaza on Saturday, November 5, would be celebrating its 20th anniversary with Honorary Chef Jim “Sevy” Severson and 25 other top chefs providing the food, literally. Often in chef-cooking events, the organization has to arrange funding for the food products, but in this case the chefs and their restaurants provide for the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

Martha Fordyce

Jennifer also went on to say that in addition to Neiman’s hosting the cocktail reception at the Giants of Savanna exhibit the night of the event, Hermes’ Martha Fordyce had arranged for zoo-themed scarves and ties to be created especially for the event with 20% of sale proceeds going to the zoo.

Gregg replaced Jennifer on the staircase and thanked the core supporters saying their efforts have resulted in attendance records already being broken as of September 30 by 100,000.

Mike Gruber

Zoo-To-Do Co-chair Mike Gruber, with

Diane Gruber

wife/Co-chair Diane watching from the floor, took to the staircase and thanked the many who had supported them including Honorary Chair Ruth Mutch, who lives most of the year in Sheridan, Wyoming. He reminded the gathered group that zoo attendance had grown from 400,000 in 1993-1994, 500,000 in the mid-2000’s and now nearly 800,000 so far in 2011.

For the business-oriented in the audience, Mike added that underwriting for the event stood at $730,000 and suggested that the evening’s silent and live auctions should boost that number even higher.

Since this was an animal-oriented group, it was predictable that talk among the guests would touch on critters. Holly Reed was still reeling from her recent falconing weekend in New York, thanks to a New Zealand gal-pal’s purchasing the adventure at an charity auction. They were supposed to be at Bobby Kennedy Jr.‘s place, but he suggested they venture over to his friend Glenn Close‘s, since the Kennedy and Close kids were friends. Glenn couldn’t have been more accommodating and charming. When she heard that one of her guests was from New Zealand and the New Zealand team had just won the Rugby League World Cup, Glenn went upstairs and returned wearing a New Zealand rugby shirt.

But the highlight of the Close encounter for Holly was seeing the infamous knife from “Fatal Attraction” on display . . . and in a frame.

Crystal Charity Ball’s 2011 Luxury Silent Auction Preview

David Blank

In the gem neighborhood bordered by Highland Park Village on the south and NorthPark on the north, there is a new kid on Preston Road- the Diamond Doctor. Formerly located in the Galleria for 10 years, DD relocated to Preston Center last month when owner David Blank bought and renovated the 7,000-square-foot, two-story building after Washington Mutual went out of business.

With nary a timepiece in sight, the place dazzles with gems of all cuts, carats and clarity. Why, even earlier on Tuesday, Louise Eiseman of the NorthPark Eisemans was in to check out the baubles. And you know Louise knows her gems from amethyst to zirconia.

So it was only appropriate that the Crystal Charity Ball had a sneak preview of its luxury silent auction items amid the high-intensity lights and multimillion-dollar diamonds just waiting to be worn.

David, who was on crutches after roughhousing with his son, pointed to one necklace of gold and diamonds, close to 70 carats, that had been made by the DD staff. Had it been offered by a nationally-renowned jewelry retailer, he suggested that the price range would be floating around $2M. But at DD, it could be picked up for a cool $750K.

BTW, if you’re wondering why it’s called the Diamond Doctor, it’s not because diamonds, sapphires and emeralds have physicals or get vaccinated there. Nope. David’s dad was a physician back in South Africa and he just considered the name Diamond Doctor to be a tribute to his father.

Connie O'Neill, Peggy Meyer and Kim Miller

As for the CCB ladies, they were in countdown mode for the December 3 mega-gala. CCB Chair Connie O’Neill was still keeping deets about the ball under wraps, but did admit that the holidays were her favorite time of the year since “it’s all about family, celebration, gratitude and thankfulness.” Thus the theme “Tis the Season.”

But the gift giving has already started. As the couples boarded their vehicles to head home, they were presented with a sizable, gift-wrapped package compliments of David and the DD staff. One person asked if it was an appliance since it was heavier than a box of chocolates. Well, sorta. Looked like a Tassimo, but it was a Jewel Jet steam cleaner and in some households that’s as important as a microwave.

From “First Night” To Diane Al-Habid, The Arts District Rocks And Rolls Along

Let no one tell you that the Arts District is a ghost town. Perfect example was Friday, November 21, with the foodie trucks of every flavor lined up on Flora Street like Highland Park Belles. Okay, so maybe the fumes puffing from the trucks’ exhaust compromised the yumminess of the offerings, but take one bite and you’re sold.

Dallas Opera’s “First Night”

Just east of the gourmet truckers was the Dallas Opera’s “First Night” gala at the Winspear Opera House with a red carpet tra-la-la. There’s definitely a energy pulsating at the DO nowadays. It’s not the blue-haired-and-multi-millionaire’s baby only. Thanks to General Director Kevin Cerny and his staff, they’re expanding their efforts and reaching a younger audience who prefers a more casual environment. But more about that later.

Marisa Huckin and Rhonda Sargent Chambers

Gala Chair Kaki Hopkins was determined to make this red carpet splashier that the norm, so she recruited two experts in the world of splash — Marisa Huckin and Rhonda Sargent Chambers. They put their coiffed heads together and came up with a novel game plan — have a local designer create a costume representing the diva of each of the 2011-2012 operas and have them modeled by a socialite.

No small challenge, but they rose to the occasion with

  • Geoffrey Henning and D'Andra Simmons

    “Tragic Obsessions” with designer Geoffrey Henning and model D’Andra Simmons

  • Liz Kimple and Khanh Nguyen

    “Lucia di Lammermoor” with designer Khanh Nguyen and model Liz Kimple

  • Tanya Foster

    “Tristan & Isolde” with designer Abi Ferrin and model Tanya Foster

  • Shannon Skokos

    “La traviata” with designer Michael Faircloth and model Shannon Skokos

  • “The Magic Flute” with designer Nicolas Villalba  and model Linda Ivy

And what is a red carpet anywhere without fans? So, Rhonda arranged to have area students on the sidelines taking photos and applauding as all the black-tie guests arrived. The frosting on the red carpet was having WFAA-CH.8’s Ron Corning on the carpet doing interviews with key guests. No, you didn’t see it in your home media room. But anyone in Sammons Park could watch it on a bigger-than-a-food-truck screen. (Remember the screen. It’s part of the “more about that later” segment.)

Linda Ivy

While all the ladies magnificently presented their designer gowns, the showstopper of the night was Linda Ivy. As Ron described the look, “It’s a little Technicolor dream coat” as Linda turned again and again to the delight of the band of photographers. Linda’s husband Steve Ivy was watching from the sidelines. Steve chuckled, “I just made the cover of D CEO and yet I’ll be known as the man who escorted Linda Ivy to the opera.”

Emily Wyly and Niven Morgan

Other action on the red carpet included: Don Winspear showing off his one-of-a-kind boots designed by his wife Ellen; Emily Wyly glowed in a gold gown on the arm of Niven Morgan; Margaret McDermottin her environmentally correct vehicle (a wheelchair) had to wheel backwards

Mina Chang

down the steps of the red carpet entry; Mina Chang held her own on the carpet wearing one of a Nha Khank; as one fan got a bit winded from clapping and found herself sprawled on the ground, another started showing wear and tear and headed into

Colin Duchin

the Winspear for relief; D’Andra’s fiancée, Colin Duchin, looked like a model for GQ as he waited for his girl to complete her runway stroll.

Oh, you were wondering about “that more about that later” issue. While the swells were gathering in the Winspear and taking their places in the hall, families with children, single young people in shorts and elderly couples were seated in Sammons Park watching and listening to the opera’s simulcast for free and made possible with AT&T Performing Arts Center. It was a beautiful evening to love and learn about an art form that has been passed down for centuries and endures.

Sightings: Diana Al-Hadid

Jeremy Strick, Diane Al-Hadid, Jed Morse

Just a couple of blocks west, the Nasher was hosting a sneak peek at “Sightings: Diana Al-Hadid’s” Gradiva’s Fourth Wall in its Corner Gallery. Perfect timing on the part of the Nasher staff. On the eve of the Two x Two weekend, it provided out-of-towners with a place to “hang” and hang they did.

Nasher Director of External Affairs Jill Magnuson said they invited 100 of the out-of-town Two X Two “gallerists” and artists because they had a “night off” between Thursday’s First Look and Saturday’s gala. It gave them something to do and the visitors took advantage of the invitation.

Naime Haine and Kathryn Andrews

Naïme Haïne in from Paris was comparing notes with Los Angeles artist Kathryn Andrewson the terrace. . . Inside

Phil Grauer, Michael Williams and Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart was checking in with New Yorker Phil Grauer, who has a gallery called Canada, and NYC artist Michael Williams, who hadn’t been in Dallas in 10 years, when “my car broke down here.”

Jon Lott

After Diana Al-Hadid checked other parts of the gallery with New York architect Jon Lott, she got together with Marianne Boesky, whose New York gallery represents her, and Serra Pradham in front of her dramatic sculpture that she had been working on just minutes before the doors opened.

Gradiva's Fourth Wall

One person passing by the window and trying to see what all the hubbub was about commented, “It looks like a convention of ghosts.” His companion muttered, “Reminds me of white chocolate covered pretzels.”

Oh, well, everyone sees art differently.

Dallas Opera’s “First Night” Organizers To Launch 2001-2012 Season With Fashions, Flowers, Food And One Mad Scene

McIntyres' home

For announcements of any kind that are associated with music, Shirley and Bill McIntyre‘s home is splendid. Ah, heck, it’s great for any occasion. Beautifully designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape, it was the perfect place for the October 21st First Night Patron Party Thursday. To add to the perfection was the weather. Not too warm, not too cold, just . . . perfect. Drat! There goes that “P” word again, but it was.

McIntyres' backyard

With a backdrop of the McIntyres’ backyard with its bridge over the creek into lush trees and greenery, Dallas Opera General Director/CEO Keith Cerny and First Night Chair Kaki Hopkins presented the plans for the launch night for the 2011-2012 season.

Keith recognized Patti and Blaine Nelson of Deloitte fame (Deloitte is sponsoring First Night) and reported that “Lucia di Lammermoor” rehearsals were going well for the First Night. According to Keith, soprano Elena Mosuc had been rehearsing the “mad scene” the night before and doing very well.

Keith Cerny

As part of the DO’s shaking things up, Keith told guests the performance would be simulcast to the public for free. While a couple of the guests gave each other the “What’s that?” look, other recognized the simulcast would reach an audience that might love opera but not be able to afford a ticket.

Keith also added that was reporting that the weather was going to be fine and that there would be no World Series that night. Hmm, you’ve got to think that either the muses are smiling on the DO folks, or the DO team has got all their bases covered.

Then Kaki stepped up and after thanking her bud Joyce 

Kaki Hopkins, Khanh Nguyen, Liz Kimple

Mitchell for her guidance, she said, “We used to be so fashionable in Dallas.” Interesting comment, but she went on to say that Dallas’ standing in the fashion world had inspired her to create a red carpet complete with celebrities, paparazzi, designer fashions and magic. For this she and her committee had arranged

Abi Ferrin and Tanya Foster

to have designers create gowns for celebrity models. Oh, and it just so happened that a couple of those types were in attendance — Abi Ferrin with her model/mom Tanya Foster, Khanh Nguyen with her model Liz Kimple and D’Andra Simmons.

Kaki went on to reveal that the dinner following the performance would be held in a tent in the Annette Strauss Square with floral designers interpreting each of the season’s operas in five magnificent seating areas.

It should be a perfect night of opera, fashion, food, flowers and only one mad scene.

Marilyn Maye Returns To The Venetian Room For Cabaret Gala 2011 With A Tear And Twinkle In Her Eye

Marilyn Maye

Ella Fitzgerald once described Marilyn Maye as “the greatest white female singer in the world.” The chanteuse, whose legendary career includes 76 appearances on The Tonight Show, Grammy nominations and singing with Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, has a special place in her heart and a tear in her eye when it comes to Dallas.

Back in the 70’s when the Fairmont’s Venetian Room was the place to be seen and see the country’s top entertainers (Sonny and Cher, Richard Harris, Marlene Dietrich, Pearl Bailey, the Smothers Brothers, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Lou Rawls, Patti Page, Carol King, Mitzi Gaynor, etc.), Betty Holloway was handling the pr for the newly opened hotel. Remember this was a time before the Hyatt Reunion, Hilton Anatole, Crescent, etc. Betty flawlessly handled the media and the celebrities. If there were hiccups, no one ever knew of them.

Marilyn was one of those entertainers who became one of Betty’s fans and best friends. All this explains why when MM appeared on the Venetian Room’s stage Saturday night for Cabaret Gala 2011 benefiting the Dallas Children’s Theater, she seemed to tear up and hesitate in recalling her friend who died in 1985. “She was my soul sister and I loved and admired her.”

Honor Franklin and Bob Mitchell

On a brighter note, Marilyn also made many other friends whom she called out from the stage like Carolyn Lupton and Dr. Honor Franklin with husband Dr. Bob Mitchell.

The 83-year-old’s Dallas appearance Saturday was the first in many years, but her voice hadn’t changed one iota, her eyes twinkled and she proved to the sold-out crowd that she could still do kicks and perform non-stop for 90 minutes.

Among the tales she shared with guests was the fact that she was the first to record “Cabaret” and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”

Proving to be a ironclad professional, she spotted a problem with the feedback and called to her sound man, “Chad,” to correct it. No way Marilyn was going to pretend there wasn’t a problem. After sharing her frustrations with the sound situation with Chad and her trio, everything was back on track in perfect harmony.

Yvonne Crum and Ruth Buzzi

Because of the stage lights, Marilyn couldn’t see Ruth Buzzi and her husband Kent Perkins just inches away swaying to the Broadway tunes and laughing at Marilyn’s anecdotes. Immediately after leaving the stage, MM spotted the twosome and nearly hugged the air out of Ruthie.

Kent Perkins and Mayo Crum

Right next to Ruth and Kent were Gala Co-chair John Clutts and Raffle Chair Yvonne Crum. In announcing the sponsors on stage, John admitted, “If I massacred your name, it’s OK — my name is Clutts!” Yvonne, who joined him on stage for the raffle held her own nicely telling John, “If I’d known you were going to introduce me, I would have dressed up.” The two of them should have their own talk show.

Robyn Flatt

At another front row table were Honorary Chairs Julie and Ken Hersh. Back a row were Dallas Children’s Theater’s Executive Artistic Director/Founder Robyn Flatt and Arts District Leading Lady Veletta Lil. On the upper tier of tables was spotted The Dallas Opera’s Keith Cerny.

Making sure that everything went smoothly was DCT Associate Artistic Director Artie Olaisen, who reported that the DCT would be launching its 28th season at the Winspear.

It’s been way too long since Marilyn’s voice has been heard in Dallas. Hopefully, she’ll be jazzing it up locally again very soon.

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Leaves Black Ties In The Closet For Dressy Casual

Kit Sawers

The TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction showed all the signs of heavy duty adjustment Friday at the Mansion on Turtle Creek. Gone were the black tie, flowing gowns and flawless gems. Well, maybe the gems were still there, but the penguin brigade and trailing hems were replaced by “dressy casual,” formerly known as “shabby chic.” While the majority were feeling frisky about the dress code change, others hinted at a touch of regret. But the change had been deemed by event co-chair Kit Sawers. Was it a good idea? “Absolutely,” said the blonde Sawers. “The ladies want change.” According to Kit, Saturday night’s fine for a gala, but for Friday evening, it’s nice that men can come in a suit because a lot were probably coming straight from work.

Another change in the evening’s agenda was the number of guests. Last year it was 250. This year they added an additional 50 guests. This addition resulted in dinners being served in upstairs suites, as well as the usual restaurant facilities.

Speaking of upstairs at the Mansion, the buzz during the reception was about Journey. The musical group was staying at the luxury hotel for their sold-out Saturday concert. Word had it that former White House-party-crasher/separated-from-her-husband/Journey-groupie Michaele Salahi was upstairs having a “discussion” with lead guitarist Neal Schon.  TMZ probably has the details.

One of the top topics of the night was the Celebrity Waiter Luncheon held earlier in the day at the Ritz. Celebrity Waiter Tracy Rathbun, who had done a full split with restaurant partner Lynae Fearing, followed up her fundraising gig by heading to a five-year-old’s birthday party. Another survivor of the lunch summed it up by saying, “It was loud. There was annoying music. People were screaming. Other than that, it was fine.” As a Houston socialite legend once said, “In order to be successful, one must be controversial.” Guess that means the luncheon fundraiser for Family Gateway was a success!

Dallas Dillon and Heidi Dillon

Heidi Dillon was back from summer in California with an adorable, tall blonde fella. Don’t get the wrong impression. It was her son Dallas, who spent the summer growing very, very tall.

Lucy Wrubel

Back to TACA. With the less formal dress, a younger set of guests were expected, so DJ Lucy  Wrubel had her game plan in place — start with a “cocktail set,” then for dinner French influenced music and after the auction, “We’re gonna throw it down.” Lucy was set up in the Pavilion behind a grand lit bar that extended the full length of the room. She wasn’t by herself. On either side barkeeps were tending champagne and other alcoholic concoctions. When asked if she had recovered from her jumping and jiving on a mini-trampoline at the previous week’s Dallas Symphony Orchestra gala, she sheepishly admitted that she broke two of the springs.

The Mansion’s candle lit bar

As the cocktail set played and the guests talked and drank and talked on the Promenade and in the Pavilion, the Mansion looked stellar with candles everywhere and marvelous floral arrangements by Todd Fiscus.

Mansion wine cellar

Then it was time for a delicious dinner of poached gulf shrimp with Texas melon salad, lime, tobiko and lobster vinaigrette and sarawak pepper-crusted beef filet and short rib-stuffed piquillo pepper with smoked potato puree and Tassione Farms greens prepared by Mansion Executive Chef Bruno Davaillon.

Andy Teller

While TACA President Andy Teller and the RBC Wealth Management top echelon dined in the Mansion’s wine cellar,

Hal and Diane Brierley

Diane and Hal Brierley were joined by AT&T Performing Arts CEO Mark Weinstein. This was his first TACA Custom Auction, don’t you know. When asked if they had a specific item in mind, the Brierleys hinted that they had a pick but weren’t talking. . . On the Verandah were The Dallas Opera’s Keith Cerny, who was getting to unveil TDO’s Wall of Honor for the 21st Century on Wednesday, and Tincy and Vance Miller just a table away recalling their courtship at SMU. .  .

Dillard Spring

Dillard Spring was making her final rounds as TACA’s marketing director before heading to the East Coast. . .

Allan and Lynn McBee

While others had to walk to the restaurant area via the driveway, Lynn and Allan McBee managed to talk their way into the hallway from the Pavilion to the bar.

By this time, every- one was prime for the live auction. As they gathered back in the Pavilion and packed it to the hilt, there was just a whiff of bargain hunting in the air. Think Sam Moon prices at Tiffany & Co.

Matthew Simon and Todd Fiscus

At times it was hard to tell who was bidding for what due to the number of gorgeous

Auction crowd

people filling the room. How auctioneer Mike Jones could spot bidders was amazing, but he’s an old hand at eyeballing a winning hand.

Peter Bowling, Karen Mordecai, Kent Rathbun

The biggy trip to glamorama Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, Tara Lewis and John Swords joined forces with Carol Calkins to win the prize for a nice $27,500. On hand to congratulate them were master chef Kent Rathbun, who is putting together a wine and cooking trip to the resort, and Pedregal General Manager Peter Bowling.

Another trip, The Bermuda Getaway (value: $11,200) cost Bill Bogart $12,500.

As Lel Echols, who snapped up the Tod ‘s Italian Experience, put it when asked if he was a big Tod’s fan, “No, I’m a big TACA fan.”

Perhaps that explains why the less-than-a dozen items brought in $119,000 from the live auction totaling $400,400 for the night’s take  — $400 more than TACA’s goal.

The Dallas Opera Presents 21st Century Wall Of Honor With Seven Honorees At The Winspear Opera House

Dallas Opera Board Chairman Dr. Kern Wildenthal, Mary McDermott Cook, Don and Ellen Winspear, Rogene Russell, Margot and Ross Perot, Tom and Phyllis McCasland, Dallas Opera General Director/CEO Keith Cerny and James R. Seitz, Jr.

The Dallas Opera continues to show vim and vigor in development activities. Not only was Chairman of the Board Kern Wildenthal on KRLD with David Johnson, but this afternoon The Dallas Opera’s 21st Century Wall of Honor was presented acknowledging seven of the TDO’s most generous donors and foundations from the past decade.

In the west lobby of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House the following heroes were recognized: Phyllis and Tom McCasland, Margaret McDermott, Margot and Ross Perot/The Perot Foundation, James R. Seitz Jr., the Elsa Von Seggern Foundation, Margot and Bill Winspear and our old friend, Mr/s. Anonymous.

According to TDO, each has “given multi-million dollar gifts to the Dallas Opera in the 21st century and made tremendous contributions to both the artistic and financial strength of the company.”

Kern said, “The Dallas Opera is extremely fortunate to be the beneficiary of some of the most respected and visionary philanthropists in North Texas. Their past generosity has defined the Dallas cultural landscape and their gifts to TDO in the 21st century have helped this company to weather the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“Together, these people have created a model of cultural and civic leadership that will endure for generations to come,” Kern concluded.

TDO General Director/CEO Keith Cerny added, “We are enormously grateful to each of these benefactors and foundations that have made The Dallas Opera a part of their 21st century mission. They have demonstrated a generosity of spirit that elevates gift-giving to an art form all its own, and I am proud to be able to share with patrons and visitors to the Winspear Opera House how much this company has benefited from their extraordinary giving, as well as, their formidable expertise.”

Photo credit: Karen Arnold

Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala Kicks Off The Black Tie Season With Belly Dancers And Joshua Bell

As anyone who just got off a plane at DFW International knows, the North Texas arts community is going through a challenging period. With beautiful facilities and extremely talented artisans, there is still the problem of upkeep. As one very wealthy fella said about buying a eight-figure estate in the early part of the century, “It’s not buying the place. It’s the upkeep that will put you in the poor house.”

Blaine Nelson

Last weekend the grand old arts community, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala opened the season with the first black-tie fundraiser at the Meyerson. When the event was originally put into place earlier this year, it was a different world on a whole new journey to better days. Bill Lively had assumed the leadership of the DSO; Jaap van Zweden was in the driver’s seat of the well-tuned orchestra; and DSO board members were high-fiving each other. That was January 12. Fast forward to April 29, when Bill Lively resigned due to health reasons. With Lively’s resignation, hopes for hefty assistance in gala underwriting went into cardiac arrest. But gala chairs Barbara and Don Daseke, as well as DSO Board Chairman-elect Blaine Nelson, rallied the troops. The show would go on and it would include stellar violinist Joshua Bell having a grand time with Jaap and the DSO musicians.

Along with the announcement of Bell’s participation was the news that the theme would be Indian/Moroccan/Turkish. Along with a sigh of relief that it wasn’t going to be the same old “Beer Garden a la Mendelssohn” or “Drama  with Verdi,” eyebrows were raised as to how it was going to be executed.

Not to worry. Todd Fiscus was on board to make it happen. Plus to attract the younger crowd, too-adorable-for-music Anna-Sophia van Zweden would chair the post-concert party.

Patti Nelson

A sniggling of what was going to happen took place last Friday at Patti and Blaine Nelson‘s home for gala patrons. Amid whispers of rain, guests arrived smiling in hopes that the summer of 2011 was over. Then there was Joshua Bell, who was quickly scurried into the kitchen by handlers before the patrons could discover the “great one” was there. Between us, Joshua may be past 40, but he looked like a starter for the Highland Park Scotties football team — no tie, open shirt, blazer and a boyish smile. He also had just a glimmer of mischief in his eye as he eyeballed the guests. After a one-two rest, he was escorted like the most precious White House resident through the room. Picture the #1 rushee on campus being surrounded by alums wherever he went. “Go this way,” “Now this way,” “These folks want to be photographed with you,” etc.

AT&T ‘s Holly Reed was with her best friend, mom Katie in from San Antonio.  . .  Another AT&T type, Forrest Miller, admitted that he and wife Cynthia were still adjusting to life in Dallas. Seems after living in San Antonio and, before that, many years in Los Angeles and San Francisco, he said, “We thought we were Republicans in California, but we found out we’re conservative Democrats here in Texas.”

Joshua Bell

After almost everyone had been shot with Joshua, it was time for a “chat with Joshua.” Organizers said that Interim DSO Headman David Hyslop would do the interview if he arrived in time. But his wife Sally‘s plane was late, so it was iffy. But what do you know? He showed up just minutes before the interview commenced. However, it was host Blaine who took up the role of interviewer. Joshua didn’t mind. He and Blaine are simpatico.

Blaine asked if Joshua had brought his legendary Stradivarius red violin that was created in 1713. Joshua admitted, “I didn’t. I hope it’s safe at the Ritz-Carlton. Maybe I should call security.” Joshua went on to tell his history with the musical instrument. Of the 400 Stradivariuses in the world, he got his exactly 10 years ago this month. Fell in love with it, in London. Within 30 seconds of playing it he decided, “This has gotta be my violin. I said, ‘I gotta have this’. I keep falling in love with my violin over and over. … I feel very lucky. I’m one of a few of my generation to be able to afford my instrument; it’s not on loan.”

He went on to discuss a plethora of subjects:

Dallas Symphony Orchestra:  “You have a lot to be proud of here. A great hall, a Dallas Symphony that is very highly regarded around the world … I think it really brings a lot – more than the Cowboys right now.”

Football teams: “They’re (Dallas Cowboys) looking more hopeful than my team, the Indianapolis Colts.”

His performance in a subway: He’s “a little bit tired of” the subway story … Why did they ignore him in the subway? he’s asked. Maybe several reasons, he says: music demands concentration, and the people didn’t have it rushing by. They were “checking their texts” he said … to which Holly of AT&T piped up: “Which is not all bad!” and everybody laughed.

The Meyerson: “The Meyerson is in the top tier of great halls in the world.”

Live vs. electronic performances: “There’s nothing like the live experience, but there’s a place for both (live and recorded). The electronic ‘feeds’ the live (gets people into the halls).”

The future: He said we should be focusing on the kids; he works with Education through Music for underprivileged kids in New York.

Another VIP who was initially on the agenda for an appearance was Anna-Sophia, but at the last minute it was revealed that she probably wouldn’t be there. Seems she was swamped with responsibilities for the DSO Gala and the MTV event the following week.

Belly dancers with Steve and Linda Ivy

Saturday was another situation. Unlike the Nelsons’ stately home in the Park Cities, the first sight greeting guests at the Meyerson were colorful belly dancers accompanied by musicians. The earlier plans to have a baby elephant at the front doors had been stowed.

Anna-Sophia van Zweden

Friday night’s MIA Anna-Sophia in a double sari green gown by Prashe with royal jewelry was on the scene with her buddy Ana Pettus. With luscious lips and a more than generous tan, A-S was the homecoming queen of the night.

Don and Barbara Dasekes

In front of a colorful princely tent just outside the Opus, Barbara and Don Daseke greeted both old pals and strangers as compatriots in their mission to raise funds for the DSO.

Before guests can could make their way to the Dasekes, Jose Reyes was one step after the Meyerson ticket takers greeting guests and telling them, “It’s gonna be all the raj!”

Stacey and John Relton

Looking around the Meyerson lobby, palm trees hovered over the dining rooms and colorful flat, low couches were spotted in the Opus, but there were no snake charmers nor turban-wrapped heads. But that didn’t dissuade some from dressing for the occasion. Barbara Daseke was in a jeweled encrusted deep beige skirt and beige sweater with two regal necklaces on loan from Prashe. . . Stacey Relton was on the same page with the theme in her sari gown, again by Prashe. . . Others like Jan Miller Rich and Carmaleta Whiteley simply took a favorite gown and dressed it up with a marvy necklace and/or Sue Gragg earrings.

On the other hand, others just embraced the tried-and-true-couture-names of Carolina Herrera (Faye Briggs and Linda Ivy), Oscar de la Renta (Myrna Schlegel and Doris Jacobs), David Meister (Kaylyn Montgomery), Alberta Ferretti (Julie Hawes) and Escada (Barbara Durham).

Holly Reed

Holly Reed went straight for killer bright, glorious colors with a jeweled top and kaleidoscope of colors in her flowing skirt. Who was the designer? Holly’s secret. She wasn’t talking, but she was with her “favorite fella,” Brad Beaird.

Jeff Rich

But the ladies weren’t the only ones in talk-about-fashion. Jeff Rich in a silver-ish “tuxedo” with matching narrow tie and Bob Schlegel wearing a little western-style tie exchanged comments about their looks. Jeff: “Just wait, Bob, someday that will come back in style.” Jeff went on to ask what period Bob’s tie was from. Bob: “Bat Masterson. When you come across the border and into Texas, they give you one of these.”

Jona Kerr and Melissa Stewart

Melissa and Paul Stewart weren’t talking about fashion. They were introducing Jona Kerr, the wife of the new DSO concertmaster, Alexander Kerr. Seems that Jona has been staying with the Stewarts and turned out to be the perfect house guest. She’s an excellent cook and has put the Stewarts’ kitchen to good use. . . .

Joe Straus

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and wife Julie served as honorary chairs and chatted up DSO board chair Ron Gafford.

After a reception that wasn’t weighed down by a silent auction or raffle offerings, the Meyerson chimes called all to dinner. The blended couscous pilaf salad with dried fruits, pine nuts, vine-ripened tomatoes and field greens was a hit across the boards! The Moroccan-spiced lamb chops got mixed reviews depending on your table. While some said it was the best ever served, others were seen trying to discreetly dispose of the lamb’s cellulite.

But that question of taste quickly passed as the gala patrons and the concert attendees merged into the concert hall for the full-blown concert complete with DSO corps, DSO chorus, Joshua Bell and Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell keeping score.

Before the musicians could lift a bow, housekeeping duties were performed. Joe Straus told the audience that, “It’s the first time we’ve been here. . .  the first time to hear the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.”

Blaine reminded the audience that Jaap was beginning his fourth year as conductor and that the DSO would feature some unique programs during the upcoming season, ending with, “We need you to come back after tonight.”

Then the concert was underway. If you want a critique of the program, you need to check Scott’s review. Let’s just say that the partnering  of Jaap with Joshua was like teaming up George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Both were mesmerizing and delivered with sweet sounds and physical grace. Even an elder socialite, who had dozed off earlier in the performance, was as wide awake as  a Jack Russell Terrier when Jaap and Joshua performed Bruch’s violin concerto #1 in G minor.

Unfortunately, even the finest musical moments can suffer from thoughtless audience members. During Wagner’s bridal chorus form Logengrin, a ringtone didn’t just go off, it continued playing in competition with the orchestra and chorus. Instead of silencing the renegade phone, the owner answered the call and then discussed it with his companion in a volume that was a notch or two louder than a whisper. Guess these folks haven’t seen the movie adviso about such cellular interruptions. Sorta ironic that this no-no took place during the “Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala.”

Jessica Olsson, Meghan Looney, Ana Pettus and Anna-Sophia van Zweden

While the naughty ringtone didn’t receive an SO, the onstage musicians and singers certainly did. Then the hall was emptied with patrons heading to the after-party hosted by Anna-Sophia with her coterie of gal pals including Jessica Olsson (her boyfriend Dirk was in Germany), Ana Pettus and Meghan Looney.

Martin Dondnoe

Providing the musical backdrop for this part of the evening was DJ Lucy Wrubel. Like Jaap, her physical dexterity was noted as she bounced on a tot trampoline and jammed. . .Veletta Lill was using new-age technology to locate her husband in the crowd. No, she hasn’t had him microchipped. She was texting him. . .  Adding to the international flavor of the night was a band of gents in kilts with a Scottish lilt to their accents.

As the older guests exited for the valet parking, the younger crowd arrived on the scene resulting in an age drop of about 20 years. Some of the vintage patrons sat on the flat couches checking out the younger generation in their party wear. One young miss in an eggplant gown with exposed back, got a second look. Perhaps it was the tattoo along her spine. Another gal walked the marble floor barefooted. Those floors can be tough on stilettos.

Among the spray-tanned, lip-enhanced crowd walked Joshua Bell. Just because he’s a world-famous violinist doesn’t mean he doesn’t like a good party with beautiful young people.

Dallas Children’s Theater Patrons Get Tuned Up For Cabaret Gala 2011

There’s no such thing as a wallflower or shy guy when it comes to the Dallas Children’s Theater crowd.  So that explains why Bailey’s was rocking Tuesday night with more than 40 donors and committee members in preparation for this Saturday’s Cabaret Gala starring Marilyn Maye at the Fairmont’s Venetian Room.

Cynthia Young, Dr. Anne Moses, Charlene Howell, Merriott Terry

Dr. Anne Moses, Cynthia Yung and Merriott Terry were just heading out and bumped into Charlene Howell. They updated her on their new venture “Ignite,” a leadership program for young women. . . LeeAnne Locken‘s usual sultry look was nowhere in sight. Seems she had taped a spot earlier in the day that called for her to be a cookie-baking, Beaver-Cleaver-mom-type. She was handing out brochures about the October 4th Ten Four 2011 Golf Tournament at Prestonwood Country

LeeAnne Locken, Claire Pruitt Wilhite, Piper Young, Allyson Aynesworth

Club that benefits first responders. . .  Claire Pruitt Wilhite was showing off her baby bump to Piper Young and Allyson Aynesworth. . . Carolyn Lupton was

Carolyn Lupton

holding court with Barbara Brice. . . Jill Rowlett was still glowing from successfully chairing the Pegasus Ball the previous Saturday. . . Jill’s partner in mischief/Cabaret Gala Raffle Chair Yvonne Crum seemed to breaking all records. Besides challenging Gala Co-chair John Clutts in a raffle competition, she’s got Ben Jones really doing a bag job, having sold 50 of the $20 chances. Seems Ben carries the tickets around in a Park Cities Bank bag. When people ask what’s in the bag, he pulls them out and, voila, the sale is a done deal.

If you’re going to the Saturday after-dinner-affair, expect delicious. From Marilyn’s killer voice to the desserts and champagne, it will be an evening that is so perfect for the intimacy of the Venetian Room. Here’s a thought: Why not have dinner first at the Fairmont’s Pyramid Room and stroll across the lobby for the evening with MM?

And if you can’t attend the performance, go ahead and buy a raffle ticket.

The Dallas Opera’s 2011-2012 Season Will Be Filled With Divas On Stage And The Red Carpet

Billingsley cradle

Lucy and Henry Billingsley have lived in their too-good-to-be-true home for 31 years. It is filled with “wonderful things” that they and their family have collected. Last

Lucy Billingsley

Monday among the jade, art and antiquities over in a corner of the living room was a beautiful wooden cradle draped in white linens and a tiny white pillow. Seems Lucy’s mother, Margaret, brought it back from her world travels 30 years ago for the birth of Lucy’s daughter. In turn Lucy had rummaged through her put-away stuff and found the cradle for the any-minute-now birth of her first granddaughter.

Keith Cerny

But the gathering Monday night was not to admire the cradle, but for the announcement of plans for the upcoming season for The Dallas Opera. Under the tutelage of General Director/CEO Keith Cerny, TDO has been busy and the first crop of activities proved that opera lovers will have a full plate, both musically and socially.

Keith told the very crowded gathering of young and vintage opera supporters the 2011-2012 season, “Tragic Obsessions,” will feature the second-ever simulcast of the Dallas Opera. The schedule calls for the following operas to take place at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House:

In the past that would have satisfied the opera folks. But there was more than the titles and dates. For instance, they’ll be doing La traviata in modern dress and Lighthouse will be “a little bit like Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians” and will be directed by Dallas Theater Center’s wunderkind Kevin Moriarty.

Kaki Hopkins

Then Kaki Hopkins revealed the plans for “First Night” (Friday, October 21) that will take place on the opening night of Lucia de Lammermoor to kick off the season. With the help of Marisa Huckin and Rhonda Sargent Chambers,  Kaki explained, “The red-carpet

Marisa Huckin and Rhonda Sargent Chambers

extravaganza will feature exquisite creations by five of the best fashion designers working today. Each will design a glorious gown inspired by one of the operas of the season — and by the divas who have captured our imagination!”

And the models wearing these one-of-a-kind gowns will be Dallas “ladies of fashion and philanthropy.”

Yes, you want to know who is doing the designing and who will be wearing them. Here you go:

  • Geoffrey Henning

    “Tragic Obsessions” theme: Designer Geoffrey Henning and model D’Andra Simmons

  • Lucia di Lammermoor: Designer Nha Khanh and model Liz Kimple
  • Tristan & Isolde: Designer Abi Ferrin and model Tanya Foster
  • Michael Faircloth

    La traviata: Designer Michael Faircloth and model Shannon Skokos

  • The Magic Flute: Designer Nicolas Villalba and model Linda Ivy

Following the red carpet, a reception in the Nancy B. Hamon Hall and the performance of Lucia di Lammermoor starring Elena Mosuc, Bryan Hymel and Luca Grassi, guests will dine in the Annette Strauss Square.

Suggestion: Unless you’re one of the lucky “five ladies of fashion and philanthropy,” better get that gown picked out because you’re going to be sharing the red carpet with legendary divas of opera.

World-renowned Violinist Joshua Bell Won’t Be Fiddling Around With DART

Joshua Bell

If you happen to run into 44-year-old, world-famous violinist/cutie Joshua Bell (his performance in Monte Carlo made Anna-Sophia van Zweden cry), please don’t ask him about his performance with his beloved Stradivarius in the subway system of Washington D.C. Yes, it won a Pulitzer for the Washington Post‘s Gene Weingarten, but it also followed poor Joshua around the world with people asking, “Are you going to perform in our metro?”

He’s in town for tomorrow night’s Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala, not to perform in the Dallas sub system.

Suggestion to DART: Stage violinists performing throughout the lines with million-dollar Strads and advise people you’re going to do it.

Suggestion to folks wanting to chat with Joshua: Ask him about how his relationship with his “ex-Huberman Strad” is like a marriage based on a charming love story.

Grovel Alert: Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala

Ebby's cake elephant

Guess the reunion of Barbara Daseke and Todd Fiscus has made the season’s first black tie fundraiser a done deal for this Saturday. The lucky 500+ who have tickets for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala will discover what these two have whipped up.

It was back in February that they created a circus extravaganza at the Meyerson for Ebby Halliday’s 100th birthday celebration. Remember? That one outdid Barnum and Bailey with entertainment, dining and decorations including a carousel cake compete with gi-norous elephant head and operating choo-choo train.

Course, having world-famous Joshua Bell performing with the DSO under the direction of Maestro Jaap van Zweden and the after-party hosted by the ever-gorgeous Anna-Sophia van Zweden didn’t hurt ticket sales at all.

Speaking of the after-party, Barbara reported today that they’ve had so many requests for tickets to the after-party, they’ve expanded the opportunity. Translation: you can get tickets to just the after-party. You could probably get tickets to the whole kit-and-kaboodle if you tried real hard. After all, they’re raising money for the DSO and can always set another place at the dinner table.

Call 214.871.4045 or email [email protected]

Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Announces Sixth Season of “Parties Of Note”

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra League has raised the bar for its sixth season of “Parties of Note.” But don’t go thinking that you’ll have to head to the Meyerson for these special evenings. No, the six performances will be held at six different posh settings throughout the area. Thanks to the smaller venues, it’s a marvelous opportunity to have a truly one-of-a-kind experience with renowned artists.

Marena Gault and JoyLynn Hailey Reed

“This year’s exciting series of parties are held in dynamic venues including the premier restaurant of a boutique hotel and one of Dallas’ top 100 distinctive residences,” said League President Marena Gault.

According to DSOL reps, along with a sumptuous dinner served at each party, guests will enjoy the remarkable featured guest artists who will be honored. The 2011-2012 series of events is chaired by JoyLynn Hailey Reed.

Now that you know the POA, here is a list of the dates, artists and locations:

  • Tuesday, September 20: Dutch Treat features Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma, a much sought after soloist and recitalist preforming with leading orchestras and conductors worldwide.
  • Tuesday, October 18: A Knight at Central 214 featuring Spanish pianist Joaquín Achúcarro at Central 214 in the Hotel Palomar.
  • Sunday, January 8: Up Close and Classical presents DSO Senior Principal Associate Concertmaster Gary Levinson at “a grand Highland Park home.”
  • David Fray

    Wednesday, February 1: Classic French Cool with French classical pianist David Fray at the W Hotel.

  • Wednesday, April 25: Elegance and Masters presents DSO concertmasters Alexander Kerr and Nathan Olson with Victor Marshall in an “extraordinary private residence.”

Money raised from Parties of Note will benefit the DSO’s Education and Community Engagement Programs.

Photos provided by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League

Turtle Creek Chorale Is Holding Auditions Sunday For Its 32nd Season

Turtle Creek Chorale

In preparation for its 32nd season, the Turtle Creek Chorale is holding new member auditions at Grace United Methodist Church (4105 Junius Street) on Sunday, August 28, from 3 to 6 p.m.

The season begins on Sunday, October 23, with a performance of the “Messiah” at the Meyerson. One of the highlights of the 2011-2012 season will be “Madonna Madonna” in March.

Cattle Baron’s Ball Individual Tickets Are On Sale And Goals Are Being Topped For The October 15 Extra-Extravaganza

Cattle Baron’s Chair Jennifer Dix and her posse have been working through the summer’s heat to bust all records for their Rhinestone Cowboy extravaganza on Saturday, October 15, at Southfork. You already knew about the ultra-fab pre-party for big boot scooting sponsors with Clint Black as the entertainer and the fact that Darius Rucker and Dierks Bentley will be handling the music at the gala. Now for the new news from Jennifer:

  • The individual tickets to the gala itself are now on sale. No one is supposed to officially know until the very end of August. But Jennifer said we could let our “friends know now so they can get their tickets ASAP. We WILL sell out!” Better do it now before it’s grovel time.
  • Other big buck news involves the Big Board and the Live Auction. The Big Board’s goal was to have a $1-million-valued offering. The gals have already rustled up $940,000 worth of goodies and are within a lipliner’s distance from achieving their numbers.
  • On the other hand, the Live Auction’s total value is over the $1 million mark. Boy, are the CBB gals and their cowbells going to be jangling this year during the bidding.
  • And speaking of donations, here’s a little behind-the-scenes info. Thanks to the in-kind donors, more and more money is raised for the American Cancer Society. If it weren’t for these donations, $550,000 would have to be spent by CBB for services and materials. For instance, Tracy Locke has provided CBB with amazing, award-winning creative elements for the past few years including the program book, which is as thick as a telephone directory. This year’s book is 40 pages bigger than last year’s because of all those auction donations.  Jennifer is giving a tip of the hat to CBB committee member JB Hayes, who coordinated all aspects of the book.

But the real clincher of the whole night will be event planning guru Tom Addis‘s interpretation of Rhinestone Cowboy. We’ve seen Tom’s story board and have been sworn to secrecy. Let’s just say that thanks to Mr. Addis, this event is going to be oh-so-over-the-top that it will make Viva Las Vegas seem like a knitting bee.

DSO AT&T Gala Powers Barbara And Don Daseke And Anna-Sophia Know How To Warm Up For September 17

You’ve got to hand it to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra AT&T Gala crowd. They know how to prepare for the Saturday, September 17th gala. Since they have Todd Fiscus and his merry staff putting all the magic together to transform the Meyerson for the big night, they’re in other parts of the world getting in shape.

DSO Gala chairs Barbara and Don Daseke have been hiking around Peru. According to Barbara,”We have hiked 7 of our 9 days in Peru. Very remote. No access to anything whatsoever. Hardest thing we’ve ever done. Today came DOWN 4000 ft to Machu Picchu. Made it to 17,000 but with tough hiking, I could barely breathe. Even the many mule trains who passed us on a narrow trail were gasping!!!”

On the other side of the world, After-Party chair and DSO first daughter Anna-Sophia van Zweden was Miss Popularity with the bluest blooded bold faces.

Joshua Bell

Ah, where to start? How about the royal concert attended by newlyweds Prince Albert and Princess Charlene? Anna-Sophia ran into DSO Gala featured artist Joshua Bell, aka People Magazine‘s “50 Most Beautiful.” No, Joshua was not just another party guest. He was performing with the Orchestre Philhamonique de Monte-Carlo for the royal celebration. And whom do you think was conducting the orchestra? Ah, we just knew that you would know. You’re absolutely right. Anna-Sophia’s always talented papa, Jaap van Zweden.

Alas, the beautiful Anna-Sophia in her Dolce & Gabana outfit admitted to tearing up, “Joshua Bell made me cry. . . so beautiful!”

And her review of Monaco’s new princess? She reminded Anna-Sophia of Princess Grace.

Isle de Marguerite

As if that wasn’t enough to send our girl to a spa for recovery, she attended a birthday party for a Dutch multi-millionaire. Can’t name him because he’s too darn shy. No, it wasn’t one of those Dom Perignon dinners in a quaint little restaurant in Paris.  Oh, no, not at all! The birthday gent rented the entire Isle de Marguerite near Cannes. The dress code was white and glamorous.

Anna-Sophia van Zweden

Our Anna-Sophia was a knockout as usual. Dressed in white Grecian-style, she highlighted her look with gold accessories including Yves Saint Laurent jewelry that she had bought in Monaco a few days earlier.  Around 200 guests from the Netherlands, Russia and U.S. — including Nicky and Paris Hilton — were picked up by speedboat at Cannes and taken to the Carlton hotel on the island.  The party was catered by Bruno, a restaurant famous for its truffles in the  Cote d’Azur. DJ Jacky of the famous nightclub Les Caves in the Byblos hotel played before Sheryl Cole sang “Happy Birthday” to the birthday boy Marilyn Monroe-style. When dinner was over, the crowd moved to the dance floor where the Black Eyed Peas (without Fergie) played all night long! Everyone at the party was dancing like there was no tomorrow

Nicky Hilton, Anna-Sophia van Zweden and Paris Hilton

Now, you know what to talk about with Barbara, Don, Anna-Sophia and Jaap when you see them at the gala. Better get your tickets now. Got a feeling that thanks to Todd’s decorations, Joshua’s performance with Jaap and the DSO, Anna-Sophia’s after-party and some other surprises, the DSO fundraiser is going to compare very nicely to the mysterious Dutch millionaire’s birthday party.

Joshua Bell photo provided by Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Share-A-Date: A Fun Evening With The Levee Singers

Levee Singers

Tuesday, October 18: Want entertainment that is G-rated and strictly for everyone? Well, that’s what the Retina Foundation of the Southwest has planned just that at the Dallas Children’s Theater Rosewood Center for the Family Arts with Dallas’s legendary Levee Singers at the helm. As if the Levee Singers were big enough and fun enough to satisfy your shoulder-rubbing-requirements, you should see who is lending their names to the event.

Mind if we name drop? We’ll only drop the best. Honorary chairs are Caroline Rose Hunt (she’s recovering from surgery nicely, thank you) and her brother Herbert Hunt and his best lady Nancy.

Of course, you want more names. How about Rand Best, Faye Briggs, Patsy and J.B. Cline, Catherine Carr Cox, Margaret Anne and Richard Cree, Margaret Crow, Pam and Byron Dunn, Martha Ellsberry, Anne and Rick Herrscher, Gene and Jerry Jones, Sara and David Martineau, Stephanie Ambrose May, Sharon and Mike McCullough, Olive Anne and George McLaughlin, Madeline and T. Boone Pickens, Gwen and Gage Prichard, Margaret Ann and Jimmy Purse, Barbara and Farrell Ray, Mary Elizabeth Reppetto, Billie Leigh Rippey, Lynne and Roy Sheldon, Helen Storey, Ellen Terry, Dee Collin Torbert, Betty and Jim Vandeveer and Marj Waters.

Well, that just about wiped out the entire boldface crowd. Whew!

Cocktails will start at 6:30 p.m. following by a seated dinner and a performance by the Levee Singers. Be prepared. When the Levee Singers take charge of the place, you’ll find yourself dropping your very-proper-self and singing along with them and wanting to get up on stage. The one thing that is guaranteed — everyone will be smiling.

Get your tickets now and don’t have regrets.