Legendary B.J. Thomas Took The Stage For Northwood Woman’s Club’s Annual Kaleidoscope Fundraiser At Intercontinental Hotel

While the rest of North Texas was resting after a morning of runs/walks on Saturday, October 28, the Northwood Woman’s Club was in overdrive at the Intercontinental Hotel for its annual Kaleidoscope 2017 “Believe in Love” fundraiser. In addition to having The Triumphs on stage, the star of the night was the legendary B.J. Thomas. Here’s a report from the field that was delayed due to a MySweetCharity elf’s being asleep at the wheel: 

No raindrops fell Saturday, October 28, on the Northwood Woman’s Club Kaleidoscope 2017 “Believe in Love” Gala at the Intercontinental Hotel. The only raindrops at the event came later in the evening in a song when music legend B.J. Thomas took the stage and sang his Grammy winning hit “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

Upon arrival, guests mingled and explored the silent auction items and wine pull. As guests moved to their tables for dinner, they viewed a slide show featuring the beneficiaries of the event—Attitudes and Attire, Callier Center for Communication Disorders at UTD, Cristo Rey Dallas, Dallas CASA, Interfaith Family Services, St. Simon’s After-School, and NWC Scholarship Fund at Communities Foundation of Texas.

Gala chair Leslie Apgar welcomed guests into dinner as the band The Triumphs took the stage to play during dinner. The Triumphs, the original band that recorded with B.J. Thomas, added a touch of nostalgia to the evening with their familiar hits from the sixties and seventies.

Sharyl Weber, Patricia Kay Dube and Vaughn Gross*

To start the evening’s program NWC President Patricia Kay Dube welcomed everyone and thanked them for supporting the event. She then turned the program over to Master of Ceremonies and Auctioneer Dean McCurry, who recognized guests from each of the beneficiary organizations, including Dallas CASA President and Executive Director Kathleen LaValle and St. Simon’s After School Executive Director Maria Vizzo.

To start the live auction, Dean urged the crowd to “bid up” on a variety of live auction items. He kept the bidding lively for hot sports items such as a Cowboys game experience that includes tickets in a suite and on field passes, and a suite at a Mavericks game for twelve people. Travel items up for auction included a vacation home in Breckenridge, Colorado and a stay at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in Hawaii. The live auction concluded with a trip to New York in December to see the Billy Joel concert, and this item generated so many bids that several additional trips were awarded to bidders.

B.J. Thomas*

Ready for the featured entertainment of the evening by five-time Grammy winner B.J. Thomas, the crowd enthusiastically welcomed B.J. to the stage and filled the dance floor to sing along and dance as he performed his many hit songs, including “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “Hooked on a Feeling” and many others.

The Triumphs closed out the evening with more music and dancing.

The best part of the evening was the success of the event in raising funds for NWC’s beneficiaries and scholarship fund.

* Photo provided by Northwood Woman's Club

The Senior Source Honored 2017 Spirit Of Generations Awardees Diane And John Scovell With Some Tricks And Treats

Hyatt Regency Dallas guests probably thought that Halloween was getting an early start on Tuesday, October 31. Passing them by were a blonde in black attire topped off with a black cowboy hat and red cape, a person in oversized cowboy costume, cheerleaders and munchkins in red T-shirts reading 2027 Panthers.

Actually, all these characters were on site as part of The Senior Source’s Spirit of Generations Luncheon honoring longtime Texas Tech loyalists Diane and John Scovell, as well as present the 2017 Molly H. Bogen Service Award to Lori Daniels.

Fred and Jan Hegi

Bob White

Carolyn Miller

As the Landmark Circle filled to capacity for the VIP reception with Gail and Gerald Turner, 2016 Spirit Awardees Jan and Fred Hegi, 2011 Spirit Awardee Carolyn Miller, 2010 Spirit Awardees Marnie and Kern Wildenthal, Sarah and Alan Losinger, Caren Kline, Kristen and Jim Hinton, Tucker Enthoven with her mom Julie Ford, John and Betty Crawford, Debbie Oates, Brent Christopher, Robin Robinson and Margo Goodwin, The Senior Source President/CEO Cortney Nicolato and Bank of Texas Dallas Market Executive Bob White welcomed the crowd.

Diane Scovell

One or two of the group admitted that they had headed to the Anatole, where the event had been held in the past. But since John had built the Hyatt along with the world-renowned tower, it was only right to honor him in his hotel.

One guest was huffing as she arrived after parking her car in the satellite parking lot. She admitted that the lunch was just the second time that she had been to the Hyatt and climbing the hill in high heels for John was a labor of love. The next time she was gonna valet.

Alan White and John Scovell

Mary Montgomery and Kristi Hoyl

At 11:30 the Landmark Ballroom was filling with longtime friends of the Scovells like Texas Tech buddy Alan White was tableside with Pat SchenkelKristi Hoyl and Mary Montgomery spied each other across the way. They were both in similar dresses… Alan Walne was still sporting a sling due to surgery…Former Senior Source President/CEO Molly Bogen arrived to hugs from Lindalyn Adams …’nother former Senior Sourcer Betty Houser reported that after a year off for “temporary retirement,” she was considering a return to the nonprofit sector… and Pat McCallum, Barbara Stuart, County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, District Attorney Faith Johnson and Brad Cheves.

Pete Schenkel, Brad Cheves and Alan Walne

Betty Houser and Stephanie Russell

Just past noon Senior Source Board Chair John Taylor III got things started by introducing Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Rev. Matthew Ruffiner, who gave the invocation, and Luncheon Chair Carol Lupton Huckin and Diamond Underwriter Baylor Scott And White Health CEO Jim Hinton addressed the crowd as lunch was served.

In presenting the Bogen Service Award with Molly to Lori, Cortney told how Lori had served in various capacities to help the elderly. Lori even created an underwear donation drive called “The Reverse Panty Raid” and a gift drive for the holidays. That first year, “ten seniors were adopted.” Last year 200 personalized gifts were delivered to clients.

Lori Daniels, Cortney Nicolato and Molly Bogen

Lori recalled how she had joined The Senior Source after seeing a notice in The Dallas Morning News for a volunteer opportunity. That was 20 years ago. Since that time, she has involved friends, family and especially her husband, Jim Daniels.

A video was shown detailing the countless programs that The Senior Source provides. Just last year they accommodated 33,000 “older adults.”

As the lights came up, a couple of white rocking chairs were now on the left side of the stage in front of a row of faux hedges with twinkling lights. In the back of the ballroom, cheerleaders and other characters waited.

Red Raider and Masked Rider

Following the video, Cortney asked that guests visit a senior and text donations. She then explained that while the fundraiser often took place around Thanksgiving, this year “We’re just trying to mess with you today and do it on Halloween.”

As Cortney left the stage and Diane and John took their places in the rocking chairs. A voice over the PA revealed how it was a Scovell tradition at Halloween that trick or treaters must do a trick before getting a treat. In keeping with that idea, it was announced that Stage Fright Events had been hired to screen the masses who seek their 15 minutes of fame “on the Scovells’ front porch.

John and Diane Scovell

The skit provided laughs as one of the screeners proved not to be the sharpest tack in the box saying that

  • John had met Diane when she was a traveling rodeo clown. No, Diane had been a rodeo queen in Brady. And they met in college — Texas Tech, of course.
  • John’s dad, Field Scovell, had been “Mr. Spandex Bowl.” No, Field had been Mr. Cotton Bowl.
  • John had built the Eiffel Tower. No, he had built Reunion Tower.
  • In college, Diane and John were named Mr. and Miss Texas A and …. No, they were named Mr. and Miss Texas Tech.

Preston Hollow Elementary School third graders

The first to tryout were future Hillcrest Panthers/third graders from Preston Hollow Elementary, who sang “Skin and Bones.” [Editor’s note: It was pretty darn adorable.]

Next up was the Reunion Tower Ball that texted via the big screen that it and the Scovells go back 39 years. For its trick, the revolving ball displayed a lit pumpkin.

Reunion Tower

Texas Tech cheerleaders

The final tryout on stage was the Texas Tech crew including the cheerleaders shouting “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar. All for seniors  stand up and holler.” With that the Tech fight song played, Masked Rider and Raider Red arrived on stage and the guests stood.

With the Diane and John still rocking, Underwriting Chair John Crawford replaced the Stage Fright team and told how the Scovells had made a dynamic impact on Dallas education, business, health and environment by looking “to the future with a reverence for the past.” In the Scovell world, “Success is a team sport.”

John Crawford, Carol Huckin, John and Diane Scovell and John Taylor

John Taylor and Carol joined John Crawford in presenting the award to the Scovells.

After receiving the award, John Scovell retired to his chair and Diane admitted, “I want to shut the doors and get around to everybody…We’re appreciative and so very uncomfortable. It’s kinda not our style.” She asked everyone who had been involved with any of the Scovell projects for the betterment of Dallas. It seemed like all but a handful stood. At one point she told how their sons had been such troopers even when John coached them in soccer but knew nothing about the sport.

It was now time for John to address the group by defending his soccer skills. “My father told me early on. He said, ‘Son, if you can’t use your hands, it must be a communist sport.’ That was my introduction to soccer.” He then had Diane join him at the podium. Once again he recalled something his father had told him, “He had spent a lot of time at events like this and he said, ‘Son, if you’re to speak and have a nice audience, here’s what you tell them. You stand up to be seen. You speak up to be heard. You sit down to be appreciated.”

And from the audience’s response, the Scovells were truly appreciated.

For more photos of the day’s activities, head on over to MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Body Oak Cliff Founder Joel Pulis And Sheriff Lupe Valdez To Receive The Well Community’s First Founder’s Award At Recovery Live Benefit Concert

The Well Community is adding a new element to its annual Recovery Live Benefit Concert on Thursday, November 30, at The Kessler. In the past, the fundraiser to help adults dealing with severe mental illnesses has just a great time with great music.

Lupe Valdez (File photo)

But after four years, they decided to put some bells and whistles to the festivities. In addition to having WFAA’s Brett Shipp as emcee and Floramay Holliday and Over the River and The Rosemont Kings performing, they’ve added a silent auction and the Founder’s Award.

This first-time award will be presented to Body Oak Cliff Founder Joel Pulis and Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

According to The Well Community Executive Director Alice Zaccarello, “This award has been created to acknowledge those whose action have opened up new avenues of recovery and hope to individuals suffering from mental illnesses.”

Event sponsors include Good Space, Ged Dipprey Realtor, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, Bret and Karen Schuch, Steven and Dawn Camp, Roland Warnock, Hanes and Boone LLP, K and L Gates LLP, Beth and Wes Keyes, Jim Lake Advisors LLC, Republic Title Turtle Creek, Amy Carenza and Nathan Offerdahl, Potpourri of Silk, Soap Hope, Shirlee and Charles Bealke, Suzanne and Wayne Braddick, Diana and David Ezzell, Scott Griggs, Colleen and Ken Kelley, Cornerstone Home Lending, Masterman, La Calle Doce and El Ranchito, Methodist Medical System, Norma’s Café, RPGA Design Group, Ryan Frahm – Origins Bank Home, Lending, Square Foot and Vickie Turner.

Tickets start at $50. And if you’re already got plans that night, consider taking a tour of The Well Community and discover the various programs that are offered to help deal with an very real challenge within lives.

The Scripps Society Celebrated The Moody Foundation’s Announcement Of A $12M Gift To CRI With Dinner And A Very Special Singer

While Kathy and Harlan Crow were in Washington, D.C., they left “the key under the mat” for The Scripps Society’s annual dinner on Tuesday, October 24.

For newcomers, The Scripps Society was named after Debbie and Ric Scripps, who “have embodied the Children’s Medical Center mission.” It’s made up of people who have provided one million dollars or more for the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, better known as CRI.

Sean Morrison, Christopher Durovich, Francie Moody-Dahlberg, Kevin Dahlberg and Brent Christopher

But on this occasion, Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher and Children’s Health CEO Christopher Durovich had a breathtaking surprise for the group whose funds had generously supported pediatric healthcare.

Following dinner in the Crow Library, it was announced that The Moody Foundation had gifted a whopping $12M for CRI.

Jamie Williams and Ralph DeBerardinis

Despite having coordinated the arrangement of the gift, Foundation Human Resources Director/Regional Grant Director for North Texas Jamie Williams admitted that it had been quite an undertaking, but well worth it. Thanks to the gift, CRI will be able to “attract the world’s top scientists to Dallas to work alongside other researchers at CRI and will fuel their research for the next decade.”

As for Moody Foundation Chair/Executive Director Francie Moody-Dahlberg and husband Kevin Dahlberg, they were amazed at the magnificence of the library. It was their first time to visit.

In the crowd were CRI’s Dr. Sean Morrison, Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, Dr. Hao Zhu,Christina Durovich, Marnie and Kern Wildenthal, Sherry Vittrup and CRI’s Dr. Sean Morrison, Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, and Dr. Hao Zhu.

Hao Zhu, Russell Vittrup and Sherry Vittrup

Another highlight of  the evening was Children’s patient Russell Vittrup‘s singing some “Old Blue Eyes” favorites. Having been diagnosed with leukemia his first  year in college, Russell’s story, like his singing, is mesmerizing.

Thanks to The Moody Foundation and the members of The Scripps Society, medical research is creating life-saving treatments and diagnoses for others like Russell.

Despite Ma Nature’s Threatening With Weather Woes, Cattle Baron’s Ball “Shot For The Stars” With Paddles Waving And Guests Partying

Las Vegas oddsmakers thought they had all their bets covered on Saturday, October 21. The Astros were facing off against the Yankees in the 2017 American League playoffs, and the 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball was facing incredible odds to raise bunches of money for cancer research.

While the Astros won the pennant in Houston and prepared to meet  the L.A .Dodgers in the World Series, the CBB-ers were also rising to the occasion at Gilley’s Dallas. With all types of ugly weather once again threatening to create a Debbie Downer predicament, CBB Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill prepared for battle, making Eisenhower’s D-Day playbook look loosey-goosey.

Steve and Anne Stodghill and Sunie and Steve Solomon

The layout had been redesigned from past CBB gatherings at Gilley’s to address any possible stormy outburst. And as the days got closer and a norther started ambling its way southward, tents sprung up like bluebonnets in spring. Even the brief crosswalk between Gilley’s proper and the football stadium-size tent for the Brooks and Dunn concert was encased. Only the Ferris wheel lay bare.

Ferris wheel

But then, the Baronesses were old hands at dealing with Ma Nature, and Sunie, Anne and their committee members were prepared to take the old wet gal on. One longtime CBB vet was amazed at how seamless the evening went. The POA was created to be flexible, just in case an “Oops!” situation arose. And it did—but more about that later.

While the very fashionable types sported everything from suede skirts to custom boots, the accessory du jour was made of paper. No matter the amount of turquoise worn, it was the color of a guest’s wristband that established their pecking order. Talk about a caste system! It not only determined when and where a guest could venture, but it also reflected your exact ranking of table assignments at the Brooks and Dunn concert—if you scored the limited meet-and-greet with the duo.

Alison and Mike Malone and Hallie Lawrence

John Buchanan and Ken Paxton

Dwight and Claire Emanuelson

Andrea Weber, Mary Parker and Olivia Kearney

Rhonda and Fraser Marcus

Barbara and Don Daseke

Stubbs and Holly Davis and Kent Rathbun

Phil White and Danice Couch

Alex Laurenzi

Tom and Amy Hughes and Pam and Vin Perella

As guests like Ken Paxton (who was attending his first Cattle Baron’s in six or seven years), Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Pam and Vince Perella, Rhonda and Fraser Marcus, Angela Nash with Billy Martin Jr., Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Olivia and Jeff Kearney, Barbara and Don Daseke, Bethany and Stephen Holloway and past CCB chairs (Olivia Kearney, Jennifer Dix, Cindy Stager, Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Parker, Amy Turner, Katherine Wynne, Tia Wynne, Kristen Sanger and Brooke Shelby) partied in the main ballroom, some super VIPers waited for their meet-and-greet time with Winston and Strawn Live Auction entertainer Pat Green.

Among them: Co-chair Husbands Steve Solomon and Steve Stodghill, longtime friends who passed the time bantering about their outfits (Stodghill bought his tricked-out C&W jacket at Manuel’s in Nashville, it seems, while Solomon joked that he got his duds at Neiman’s). Stodg also revealed that his Winston and Strawn law-firm pals had bought five tables for the big party.  

Terra Najork

Steve Lamb, Pat Green and Deborah Ferguson

Katie Layton, Megan O’Leary, Paige Westhoff, Andrea Nayfa, Pat Green, Diana Hamilton, Terra Najork, Katy Bock, Nancy Gopez

That’s when the “oops” happened. As it turned out, the Pat Green meet-and-greeters waited … and waited … and waited. Seems that Pat had gotten a late start and then had been stuck in traffic. Not to worry, though. Food and beverages were brought in, creating a mini-party, as calls were made checking on Pat’s progress. Once he finally appeared, though, things went perfectly, with Green apologizing to each of the guests as their photos were taken. “It was the craziest thing in the world, trying to get here,” he explained to anyone who would listen. Who couldn’t forgive the baby-faced blonde? In the meantime, Pat’s wife, jewelry designer Kori Green, made her way to Jacqueline Cavender’s table for the performance leading up to the live auction, which would have a different feel tonight.  

Jacqueline Cavender and Kori Green

Pat Green and Steve Stodghill

As the two Co-Chair Hubby Steves introduced Pat to the audience, Pat came up behind Stodgie and wrapped his arms around the attorney. At points throughout his performance, Pat managed to not only play his guitar and sing, but to pose for selfies with loving admirers on the floor. He also chided the crowd at one point: “It’s Saturday night, and you don’t have to apologize until tomorrow. You all sure are quiet Christians! I guess for the Brooks and Dunn show, you’re gonna be hammered!” Pat even spied his Cavendar pals and thanked them for supplying his evening’s entire wardrobe—right down to his undies.

Kevin Kuykendall

Annika Cail

Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi

No sooner had Pat left the stage than it was time for the live auction to get underway. Some longtime observers were concerned. After all, stalwart paddle-hoisters like Nancy Rogers, Diane and Hal Brierley and Lisa and Clay Cooley were MIA, due to out-of-town ventures and other commitments. Not to worry. Such names as Wagner, Kuykendall, Fischer, Turner and Maguire not only filled the void, they raised eyebrows. One CBB vet stood in amazement as uber-bidding took place.

An auction package of a trip to Umbria and Florence to create custom porcelain place settings for 16, plus dinner afterwards at Truluck’s Dallas for 20, was won by Sabrina and Kevin Kuykendall for $100,000.

Kevin and Sabrina Kuykendall

Gail and Cliff Fischer

When the poker game with former Dallas Cowboys went up for bid, Cliff Fischer put on his best poker face, waved off auctioneers and watched the bidding proceed. He had snapped it up last year for $100,000 and was playing hard-to-get. Just as the bids slowed to a standstill, Cliff raised his paddle to snap it up for $75,000.

Cary Maguire wheeled up to the Deason table on the front row with his posse just long enough to have the last paddle standing for the Las Vegas package that included a concert with Reba McIntire and Brooks and Dunn for $50,000. No sooner had he signed on the dotted line than the Maguire entourage was gone.

Steve Stodghill and Todd Wagner

Amy Turner

Todd Wagner took home the Indie package for $41,000 and Amy Turner picked up the Chefs’ dinner for a nice round figure.  

A last-minute add was artwork by Ronnie Dunn, who appeared on stage to discuss his artistic venture. Art-loving Steve Stodghill couldn’t resist and snapped up Ronnie’s piece for $14,000.

Like clockwork, the live auction ended and the thousands headed to the big tent. For a handful of super-duper VIPs, it was backstage then for the meet-and-greet with Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn. As per the routine of most grip-and-grins, guests are photographed sans purses and other distractions.

Ronnie Dunn, Anne Stodghill, Sunie Solomon, Kix Brooks and Steve Solomon

But on this occasion, there were the exceptions. Barry Andrews proudly hoisted a Miller Lite. Who could blame the Miller distributor, who had once again sponsored the Miller Distributing Main Stage presented by Miller Lite?

Mike McGuire, Ronnie Dunn, Sophie McGuire, Natalie McGuire, Barry and Lana Andrews and Kix Brooks

Ronnie Dunn, Kinky Friedman, Nicole Barrett and Kix Brooks

And then there was this one fella who couldn’t be separated from his stogie. His name was Richard Friedman, but he’s more commonly known as Kinky Friedman. Perhaps he hadn’t been told that the fundraiser was benefiting the American Cancer Society?

Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn

No sooner had the photo session ended than it was time for Sunie and Anne to greet the more than 3,000 guests from the stage, announce the winners of the raffle, and get the concert underway with salutes to the military. And, what a concert it was! As two-steppers flocked to the front of the stage, Brooks and Dunn pumped out hit after hit: “Brand New Man,” “Red Dirt Road,” “Lost and Found,” “Play Something Country,” “Neon Moon,” “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” “Husbands and Wives,” “My Next Broken Heart.” Suffice to say, the big crowd got their money’s worth—and more. 

In the distance, meantime, Mother Nature was holding off. She was either was on her best behavior, or flat scared that Steve Stodghill would sue her for tortious interference. Regardless, as if perfectly planned, the heavens opened up and the rain started pouring down just as the final shuttles were hauling guests back to their cars at 2 a.m.

Yup, this year the CBBers had a game plan ready to take on all challenges. And the plan worked out just beautifully.

For a look at the festivities, check out the 90 pictures at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Treasure Street’s “Color Me Texan” Co-Chairs Niven Morgan And Shelby Wagner Were Bullish On Breaking Records

Before the longhorn steer set hoof on the grounds of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for the annual Treasure Street fundraiser, the numbers were already boding “record breaker”on Thursday, October 19, with way more than 1,000 in attendance. Think 1,300 coming together to “Color Me Texan.”

Shelby Wagner and Niven Morgan

The bovine was the photo opp of the night with all types lining up for a selfie. However, the snap of Co-Chairs Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner got stalled. Niven was searching the grounds for his presentations notes. In the meantime, Shelby looked picture perfect despite Niven’s claims that earlier in the day Shelby had been hauling hay for the event set up.

BTW, this wasn’t Niven and Shelby’s first involvement with Treasure Street. As Shelby put it, “Niven’s been supporting Texas Scottish Rite for years.”

Niven added, “We were just flattered that they asked us to chair Treasure Street.”

Greiner Arts Academy Middle School Mariachi band

The organizers were also smart. This year’s outdoor fundraiser took over the parking lot at the corner of Oak Lawn and Maple. Almost immediately upon leaving their cars, guests were greeted by the 18-piece Greiner Arts Academy Middle School Mariachi band.

Treasure Street hay bar

Following the path to the check-in, they discovered the steer and a micro-version of Cattle Baron’s Ball with food stations (Campisi’s, Haystack Burgers and Barley, Matt’s Rancho Martinez, Parigi and Paul Martin’s American Grill), a stage for Emerald City, towering bars made of bales of hay and tall tables and chairs. And on this night, there was no need for a tent. The sky was perfect.

Janice Provost

Pretty-in-pink Janice Provost womaned her Parigi station and reported that the previous weekend’s Dining On The Prairie Dinner Series for Trinity Audubon had been a grand success despite the challenges of limited facilities.

At 7:30 America’s Got Talent electric violinist Svet surprised the audience by performing.

As for the live auction, it lived up to the record-breaking feel of the night with the tennis package with John Isner going  for $12,500 and the John Lannom terrain-hunting buggies going for $45,000. The results? Thanks to the silent and live auction, the total haul of the night was more than $1.2M.

Gerry Fronterhouse and Annette Simmons and Kathy and Rodney Woods

Others in the crowd were Honorary Co-Chairs Ginny and Randy Bailey, Annette Simmons and Gerry Fronterhouse, Mark Edgar, Ann Davidson with Mark Porter, Carolyn and Karl Rathjen, Carol Seay, Sue and Jimmy Gragg, and Kathy and Rodney Woods.

Insider Tips For Saturday’s 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball’s “Shooting For The Stars”

If there are some gals MIA today, they’re over at Gilley’s Dallas. No, they’re not line-dancing and bar leaning. They’re in T-shirts, old jeans and sneakers ripping open boxes, schlepping carts around, setting up tables and getting ready for Saturday night’s 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball. After all, that’s what CBB committee members do the day before the American Cancer Society mega-fundraiser.

Cindy Stager and Amy Turner

While some might think such a gaggle of females would be high drama and round-the-clock temper tantrums, they missed the mark big-time with this bunch. One gal said that everything is so organized that they just might finish earlier than planned. Why, they even had time to have lunch with some of the past CBB chairs like Mary Humphreys Parker, Cindy Stager, Amy Turner, Tia Wynne, Andrea Weber, Olivia Kearney, Kristi Hoyl and Kristin “KJ” Sanger.

Kristi Bare, Sunie Solomon, Anne Stodghill, Wendy Messmann and Karen James

When 2017 CBB Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill were asked their secret, they attributed it to their troops like Andrea Nayfa, Nancy Gopez, Kristi Bare, Katy Bock, Wendy Messmann, Karen James, Meaghan O’Leary and others who have been working with color-coded seating charts, spreadsheets and professionalism.

Nancy Gopez. Meghan O’Leary, Andrea Nayfa and Katy Bock

They’ve even arranged for a back-up plan to accommodate Mother Nature’s mood in case she boo-hoos on the festivities. Pat Green will be on the Winston and Strawn LLP Live Auction stage in Gilley’s proper, and Brooks and Dunn will be  on the Andrews Distribution Main Stage in the humongous tent with concrete floor. Even the never-ending grazing will be indoors!

But just in case you want to be in the ultimate know, here are some insider tips to avoid those “Gee, I wished I’d known” or “Wow! I forgot all about that!” moment.

Must Have

  • More important than your cellphone will be your tickets, wristbands and hang-tags, if you’re driving. No guest will be allowed on the premises without them.
  • Also, please don’t forget your favor bag ticket. It’s not required for entrance, but you’ll hate yourself when you aren’t able to get the Hirzel Capital Favor Bag with all the swag as you leave.

Parking is a bit different this year, so be prepared. According to traffic czarina Nancy Gopez, here is the breakdown:

  • Blue hangtags — Arrive and depart in the Gilley’s driveway for valet parking.
  • Gold hangtags — Arrive at the valet parking at Kay Bailey Hutchinson Lot D. Lot opens at 5:30 p.m. Shuttle buses will take guests to the Event Center at Gilley’s Dallas. The last shuttle bus will depart Event Center at 2 a.m.
  • White Hangtag — Self-park at Eddie Deen’s starting at 6:30 p.m. Shuttle buses will take guests to the Event Center at Gilley’s Dallas. The last shuttle bus will depart Event Center at 2 a.m.
  • Limousines — Arrive and pick up at Event Center.
  • Uber, Lyft, Wynne Transportation and other private driving services — Drop off at Gilley’s driveway and pick up at Event Center

Hint: Sunie strongly recommended Ubering.

Auctions

Rhinestone longhorn head

  • The CBB Silent Auction and Big Board are available online. So, if you didn’t get your ticket in time or are at home with the sniffles, you can still bid and, hopefully, win a goody like the rhinestone longhorn head. Here’s the link to the online viewing and bidding.
  • Live Auction items will only be available at the Ball. However, if you’re out of town and really want one of the items, check with the CBB office now to make arrangements for proxy bidding.

FYI

  • No one under the age of 21 will be allowed to enter Gilley’s Dallas for the event.
  • No filming is allowed at the event.
  • Give the stilettos the night off and pull on those boots.

Check back with MySweetCharity during the day Saturday for any updates or news.

Jade Ball Was Highlighted By Beijing Opera Singer Lucy Xu, Artist-Filled Hutongs, Delayed Dishes And Dancing Dragons In The Driveway

As locals and tourists in shorts, T-shirts and sneakers walked by Belo Mansion on Saturday, October 7, something seemed a little amiss. Perhaps it was the sound of drums, but more likely it was the dragons.

At times there were two Chinese dragons vying with the valet parkers in the driveway for the arrival of black-tie guests. At other times it was an elongated dragon dancing and entertaining the already-settled guests looking down from the windows upstairs in the Pavilion. The dragons, the drums and the 350 guests were all there to celebrate the inaugural Jade Ball benefiting the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

Phillip Chen

Once past the check-in, the Mansion and hallways surrounding the ballroom had been turned in to hutongs filled with artist Danqing Coldwell, calligrapher Carle Shi, tea master Phillip Chen and fortune teller Iris Quachs.

Robert Weatherly, Amy Lewis Hofland, Lynn McBee and Trammell S. Crow

Event Chair Robert Weatherly and Honorary Chair Lynn McBee were hustling through the crowd, fulfilling the demands of photographers.

Darryl Freling and Emily Eisenhauer-Freling

Paul Christopher Yanez and Lauren Embrey

Linda and Steve Ivy

Kristen Gibbins and Stacie Adams

Darryl Freling and Emily Eisenhauer Freling were reporting that they were past the newlywed-year marker… Following the fundraiser’s title, jade was indeed the color of the night — Linda Ivy’s jade necklace and matching earrings with jade-colored stole, Kristen Gibbins‘ earrings, Nikki Webb‘s necklace, Gay Donnell‘s and Angela Nash‘s jade-colored gowns, and Billy Martin Jr.‘s tie highlighted with deep-green leaves. Getting into the Asian ensemble category were Mimi Sterling in a gray kimono with fan, Lauren Embrey in a rose-red lace qipao, Trammell S. Crow in traditional Chinese formal black jacket and Koshi Dhingra in a red sari highlighted with sky-blue flower appliques.

Crayton and Nikki Webb and Angela Nash and Billy Martin Jr

Just as the place was going to bust with guests, the doors to the ballroom opened with a splendiferous array of tables surrounding a stage with a backdrop of bamboo topped with colorful lanterns.

While it took some time for the guests to take their places, there were no pre-sets. Instead of salads, they found charger plates, silverware, water and wine glasses and chopsticks, of course. Crow Collection Executive Director Amy Lewis Hofland got their attention plinging chimes. In describing the growth of the Asian community in North Texas, Amy told how when she had graduated from Plano High School, only 1% of the students were Asian Americans. Today the figure stands at 30%.

In the meantime, servers provided plates with three dumplings — pork with ginger soy, chicken with dragon chili and mushroom with sesame yuzu. Not wanting to seem unworldly, most guests proved their dexterity by using their chopsticks to devour the trio.

Lucy Xu

Instead of being immediately removed, the dumpling-less plates stayed put while beautifully attired Beijing Opera singer Lucy Xu sang “Drunken Beauty,” accompanied by the Dallas HuaYun Chinese Orchestra.

Eventually, the dumpling dishes were removed and water glasses were filled nonstop. A floor monitor walked between the table looking satisfied. Plates of Hong Kong style short ribs on purple and russet potato taro root mash and wok fired Yu Choy with sweet carrots slowly made their way to the tables. Most guests found themselves resorting to the silverware to cut into the short ribs and saw into the carrots.

Lucy Xu

Chair Robert and Honorary Chair Lynn were invited to the stage by Crow Collection Media Relations person Stacie Adams. Graciously they thanked the Crow family for expanding Dallas’ appreciation of the cultures on display and programs available at the museum. Between the eloquent acknowledgments by Robert and Lynn and the live auction was Lucy Xu in yet another fabulous costume to perform “Farewell My Concubine” after a slight delay, due to one of the HuaYun Orchestra members having to tune up.  

While Lucy’s performance was beautiful, the action tableside was still spotty. At one table, all the entrée plates had been removed except for one. Even after dessert plates—with vanilla cake with matcha cream frosting, red plum drizzle and mooncake with red bean —had been placed, the empty entrée plate stayed as if anchored to the table. The guest in possession of the lone entrée plate told the other guests to proceed with their desserts. Despite his offer, no one lifted a fork until the situation was updated.

Katherine Rigdon

It was now 9:30 p.m. and Heritage Auctioneer Katherine Rigdon took the stage, searching the room for bids like a bird dog on the hunt. She claimed there was $2,500 hiding out there. At one point she hooded her eyes and looked to the far reaches of the room trying to discover a $45,000 bid. Oops! Make that a $4,500 bid. After a couple of packages were paddled in at low four-figure numbers, Chef Kent Rathbun arrived on stage, taking the mic and rallying the bids. His package of a dinner for 20 at the Crow Museum popped up the bidding to $10,000. Things were definitely perking up. Kent then continued his campaign, offering an event at the Rathbun homestead for a dinner, a cooking or whatever for ten. That surprise package hauled in a nifty $7,000 from Nick Even.

After the final bid was tallied, the crowd adjourned for more fortunes to be told and artwork to be created.  

For more pictures, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Due To Bernadette Peter’s Signing Up For NYC’s “Hello, Dolly!,” Brian Stokes Mitchell And Sutton Foster Are On Their Musical Way To Save The Days

The busiest person in the entertainment business is songbird Bernadette Peter’s agent. In New York, s/he is celebrating Bernadette’s taking over Broadway in “Hello, Dolly!” in January. In North Texas, it’s another story. S/he is breaking hearts.

Seems that the signing of Bernadette for the iconic role meant she had to cancel her appearances locally. As a result, there have been a lot of calls made for replacements.

Due to rehearsals, Bernadette won’t even be able to headline the Dallas Summer Musical Gala on Saturday, November 4. Yipes! That’s less than three weeks away. But Co-Chairs Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld have signed up Tony Award-winning Brian Stokes Mitchell for the fundraiser at Fair Park’s Music Hall with a special performance by Katharine McPhee.   

Brian Stokes Mitchell*

Sutton Foster**

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra had planned on Bernadette for their April 6-8 concerts. They’ve just announced that they arranged for another Tony Award winner to appear — singer/dancer/actress Sutton Foster.

While Bernadette’s absence is a heartbreaker for her fans, it’s the opportunity to see and hear talents that have also made their Tony mark in the Big Apple. Who knows? They just might mend those broken hearts.

* Photo courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals 
** Photo courtesy of Dallas Symphony Orchestra

 

Junior Players’ Annual Future Stars Celebration Will Have Its First Ever Honorary Chair — Kevin Hurst

The Junior Players nearly upstaged “Hamilton: An American Musical”’s Christopher Jackson at the 31st Attorneys Serving the Community luncheon in June. From the pop-up performance to the testimonies by former students, the 62-year-organization showed that it was still as youthful, creative and impressive as ever.

22nd Annual Future Stars Celebration*

Those elements will be on hand at the Frontiers of Flight Museum on Saturday, November 11, for the 22nd Annual Future Stars Celebration.  In addition to the food provided by Maguire’s Regional Cuisine, live and silent auctions, games, a wine pull, a photo booth and performances by students from Junior Players’ 2017 production of “Rent” and “Junior Players Presents: Metamorphosis,” they’ve added a new twist — an honorary chair.

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

According to Junior Players Board of Directors President Dana Roland, “Junior Players is proud to announce that Kevin Hurst of Neiman Marcus Group will be serving as the first-ever honorary chair for our signature annual event.”

Since arriving in Dallas in 2013, Kevin has been very active in all aspects of the North Texas nonprofit community. From his position as NM’s director of charitable giving to his personal involvement with a variety of charities, he’s been a supporter as well as a call-to-arms champ for the area.

When the crawl tubes from the Neiman’s holiday windows were being retired, Kevin arranged to have them installed at Spark. When the tornadoes hit North Texas, he toured the devastated area with the Red Cross to learn what was needed. When the July 7th police shooting took place, he expanded his reach to “his network of corporate philanthropic partners and focused on coordinating their efforts to maximize the impact of their contributions to our grieving community and the victims of violence.”

According to Kevin, “It is my pleasure to serve as the honorary chair for the Junior Players’ Future Stars Celebration. Since moving to Dallas in 2013, I have seen first-hand the tremendous impact they have on the lives of so many aspiring performers. Their mission to ensure students across DFW have access to and participate in the arts aligns perfectly with the mission of the Heart of Neiman Marcus’ foundation of funding youth arts education and experiences.”

Tyler Foundation has already signed up as the lead sponsor, but there are other opportunities, as well as tickets that are going for $80. Funds raised from the event will “help support all of Junior Players’ free after-school and summer arts education programs, which serve more than 14,000 children and teenagers every year.”

* Graphic courtesy of Junior Players

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Dallas Symphony Gala

Clay Cooley, Margaret McDermott and Lisa Cooley

With sweeping gowns and bow ties ranging from feathers to colorful prints, the 2017 Dallas Symphony Gala officially kicked off the mega-gala fundraising season on Saturday, September 16, at the Meyerson. Joining the leadership team of Co-Chairs Lisa and Clay Cooley was Honorary Chair Margaret McDermott.  

Kara and Randall Goss

Cece Smith and Ford Lacy

Jody and Sheila Grant

In addition to being a lavish show of swell-egants, it was also the final gala performance by Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala Maestro Jaap van Zweden. To add to the special occasion, cellist Yo-Yo Ma joined Jaap and the orchestra on stage following a seated dinner and just before the evening’s after party.

While the post is being prepped, the fashions and boldfaces of the night can be seen at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Grovel Alert: Jade Ball

Always-on-the-move Lynn McBee was on her way to Saturday night’s Fur Ball when she reported that the Jade Ball benefiting Crow Collection of Asian Art on Saturday, October 7, at Belo Mansion was just one table away from being a done deal.

Jade Ball*

According to sources, the near sell-out is due to Jade Ball Chair Robert Weatherly and Lynn along with the host committee members like Denny Alberts and Cynthia ComparinJenna Alexander, Annika and Dennis Cail, Darryl Freling, Kristen and Reed Gibbins, Gerardo Gomez, Joyce Goss, Diana Hamilton, Frank Hettig, Jenny and John KirtlandJerald Miller, Jin and James Mun, Angela Nash, Andrea and David Nayfa, Debra Nelson, Heather Randall, Tracey and Kent Rathbun, Carol and Frank Riddick, Lisa and John Runyon, Capera Ryan, Stephanie and Michael Seay, Clara Hinojosa, David Kiger, Matrice Ellis-Kirk and Ron Kirk, Jane McGarry, Sunie Solomon, Anne and Steve Stodghill, Whitney and Rob Strauss, Tara Lewis and John SwordsConnie and Marc Sigel, Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Ashley Tatum, Joanne and Charles Teichman, Maxine Trowbridge, Trey Wasser, Annette and Myron Watkins, Paige Westhoff and Megan and Brady Wood.

Lynn McBee (File photo)

Robert Weatherly (File photo)

Ah, but Lynn reports that the Crow Collection’s inaugural Jade Ball is going to be a fundraiser somewhere between The Sweetheart Ball and Art Ball with a blend of entertainment, seated supper and surprises throughout the evening.

When asked why it wasn’t being held across the street at the Crow Museum, Lynn said, “There wasn’t enough room.” After all, the attendance for the event is scheduled to hit the 400 mark.

According to Robert, “The success of the Jade Ball is extremely important as we work to ensure the longevity of our city’s sole Pan-Asian museum. I’m very proud that this first-year event will help the Crow Collection of Asian Art continue to provide North Texas with quality, diverse programming such as the southern U.S.’s largest Chinese New Year Festival, groundbreaking exhibitions, innovative wellness programs and exciting educational activities and events for all ages.”  

If that one table has already been snapped up, try the old-fashioned way of getting in — write a big, old check. Betcha Robert and Lynn will find a way to squeeze you in. Here’s the link to get in.

A Night To Remember’s Meet And Greet With Jennifer Hudson At The Winspear Was A Warm Get Together For CitySquare

The Winspear green room was more like a hot house on the night of Saturday, September 9. With at least three portable mini-heaters blowing away, it would have made an orchid feel right at home.

On the other hand, for guests preparing for CitySquare’s meet-and-greet with A Night To Remember concert headliner Jennifer Hudson, it was a bit toasty.

The reason for the hot times was the songbird’s concern for her voice. And anyone who had heard Hudson’s singing, they would understand and downright defend her need for warmth.

Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell

After briefly cocktailing in the Hamon’s suite that was truly decked out, the top-drawer types like Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell, Caleb Tam and Vy Duong, Jillian Jaccar Conry and Gerardo Diaz Blanco,  Erica  and Jack Thomason and Gernise and Terry Flowers lined up for the grip-and grin outside the green room. Inside Co-Chairs Wendy Messmann, Sherel Riley and Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins were joined by CitySquare’s Brenda and Larry James.

Sherel Riley, Wendy Messmann and Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins

On cue, Jennifer arrived in a denim shirt over a black top. While her smile was nearly blinding, her skin was what the cosmetic industry only wishes to achieve. She looked so rested and relaxed.

Without hesitation, she walked up to one and all in the room and greeted them. It was almost like she was ready to settle back and spend the evening chatting with them.

Larry James, Jennifer Hudson and Brenda James

But the handlers recognized there were dozens of big spenders waiting for a brief howdy-do and a quick photo. Jennifer’s one request as she walked over to the backdrop was, “Don’t shoot my feet.” All eyes shot to her feet. Were there extra toes? A tattoo? Nope. They looked as normal as could be. But who cared? It was the face, the smile and the voice that mattered.

And the concert proved that all three were in marvelous shape. For her reward, Jennifer and her crew toddled back to The Joule for a good night’s sleep, knowing that they had raised funds to help combat homelessness in Dallas.

DFW Restaurant Week’s Food And Wine Night Celebrated The Kick Off Of the 20th Annual Fundraiser With Cadillacs, Grazing And Sunshine

Heat and sunshine didn’t dissuade folks from attending the DFW Restaurant Week’s Food and Wine Night party on Thursday, August 3. Taking over the entire One Arts Plaza driveway, food stations were set up along the sides with a stage at the far end facing the mega high rise.

Cadillac owners were pleased to find out that they were due free valet parking courtesy of Restaurant Week Co-Sponsor Dallas-area Cadillac dealers. Only problem arose when the valets couldn’t tell a Cadillac from the other makes.

Then there was trying to get into the party. It required IDs’s and tickets to receive the required wristbands. Some guests though the bracelet translated into free grazing only to find out that all was not gratis. One gal had a mini-sticker shock when she discovered that her adult beverage had a price tag. Oops!

One Arts Plaza driveway

Cadillac on display

As the sun set, the crowds sought the shady side of the driveway or headed into the air-conditioned lobby. Luckily, as the sun set, guests found conditions more user friendly. Still those fountains the center sure did look inviting. But so did the food and those spiffy Cadillacs on display.

Marijke Lantz, Bill Durbin and Susan Arledge

Elise and Daren Martin

Anna and Benson Kurian

Looking cool as a margarita were bare-shouldered types like newlywed Elise Martin with husband Daren Martin, Susan Arledge, Bill Durbin, Marijke Lantz, Anna Kurian with husband Benson Kurian wearing his comfortable Toms, Allyson  Hartenstine, Gable Mansfield, Chase Badzik, Pedro Armstrong and Danielle Abril, who had to borrow a blouse from cohort Carly Mann’s closet.

Allyson Hartenstine, Gable Mansfield, Chase Badzik, Carly Mann, Danielle Abril and Pedro Armstrong

The 20th Annual Restaurant Week officially got underway with a preview weekend on Friday, August 4, with more than 100 area restaurants serving up vittles during its run to break up the doldrums of August and with 20% of every meal going to North Texas Food Bank or Lena Pope!

Attorneys Serving The Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon Scored A Summer Hit With Junior Players And “Hamilton”‘s Christopher Jackson

Inside the Hilton Anatole’s Carpenter Ballroom, organizers and VIP guests were starting to arrive before 11 a.m. on Friday, June 23. Even the most “been-there, done-that” boldfacer had a look of anticipation. In an adjacent room, fewer than a handful of chairs were set up for an interview with the keynote speaker for the Attorneys Serving the Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon benefiting Junior Players.

KERA reporter Hady Mawajdeh had all his equipment set up as Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award-winning Christopher Jackson arrived. It was obvious from his height and demeanor why he had scored a Tony nomination for his portrayal of George Washington in “Hamilton.” As Chris settled back in the chair, he proved even more so with his articulate responses to Hady’s questions. Highlights included:

Christopher Jackson and Hady Mawajdeh

  • Junior Players — “They (children) have the distinct perspective of seeing the world as it should be perhaps and as is. Who better to hold up that mirror than the children, especially organizations like the Junior Players, where you’ve got kids from all over the economic spectrum and who are learning what it means to communicate with and express themselves? It’s an organization that can provide a palette for that. There is no higher pursuit in our society than giving kids the opportunity to experience something like that.”
  • The first role —“I grew up with middle-child syndrome. So, acting was pretty much my only way to garner any kind of attention in the house… I participated in every Sunday service every week. So getting up in front of people was never really something I had a hard time with. Pretty much I was the ham. [Laughter]”
  • Career — “A career in the arts is not for everyone. But I would say that 90% of what I get to do is to have fun with my friends. Who doesn’t want to do that for a living? But the same could be said about someone who works in social sciences or teachers or engineers or astronomers. Once you find that passion and a way to it, that’s it right there… For me, it’s as much the pursuit of what I don’t know as it is seeing the finished product on the show or in the song.”
  • Hip Hop — “Hip Hop rap is probably the best form of modern-day storytelling and maybe the latest great, pure American art form… But it depends on what part of the country you come from. Hip hop is very regionalized and that happened very, very quickly toward the end of the ’90s, where every market, every group wanted to have their own sound and created their own sound. The same could be said for rock; the same could be said for gospel music. It’s a testament to how big our country is. And it’s a testament to the different kinds of cultures within our society and there’s room for all of that.”
  • Hamilton — “You’d be amazed how many people have come up to me said, ‘I’m a little nervous about the rap.’ But it’s much like Shakespeare. If you’ve ever seen a Shakespeare play, the first five minutes you have no idea of what’s going on. You don’t know what anybody is saying. You’re not accustomed to people speaking in iambic pentameter. And yet in that first five minutes your ear gets attuned to it and off you go.”
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda — “Lin has been regarded as a modern-day Shakespeare in the way he uses verse to communicate the story and I honestly believe that it certainly descends from that.”
  • Sesame Street — “The idea of writing for ‘Sesame Street’ was a dream come true.”

Peter Altabef, Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Christopher Jackson, Jennifer Altabef, Rosaura Cruz Webb and Beth Bedell

Christopher Jackson and Kathleen LaValle

Michael Holmes, Sophia Holmes and Cathleen Holmes

With that the interview ended at 11:10 a.m., as one of the organizers said, “He’s got a long line out there.” They were speaking of the people lined up along the Carpenter Ballroom wall for the meet-and-greet. Without hesitation, Chris posed for a photo with Hady and headed straight to the sponsor backdrop. Chris accommodated one and all including Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Honorary Co-Chairs Jennifer and Peter Altabef, Junior Players Executive Director Rosaura Cruz Webb, and Kathleen LaValle with autographs, cellphone snaps and chats. Ten-year-old Sophia Holmes’ twin sister, Addison Holmes, couldn’t attend, but Sophia had brought along a “Hamilton” book for Chris to sign. After seeing, “Hamilton” in NYC, Sophia fessed up that Chris’ George Washington was her favorite character.

At 11:30 the doors to the Grand Ballroom opened for nearly 1,000 guests including Ellen Magnis, Joanna Clark, Angie Kadesky. Shelly Slater arrived to be prepped for the onstage chat. Had she met him? No, but she had seen him on YouTube.

The Junior Players arrived and approached the production platform rapping, “Hamilton.”

Jeremy Coca in vest surrounded by Junior Players

, who had been in the first Junior Players musical production three years before when he was attending Booker T. Washington, reported that he had seen Chris in “The Heights.”

Rosaura Cruz-Webb told how the night before, when they were setting up for the luncheon, Chris had come down from his room and chatted and charmed them all.

As the guests started to take their seats, Junior Players one at a time popped up throughout the room performing. Seamlessly, they grabbed everyone’s attention that the program was underway. Chris watched with a smile of admiration at the young performers pulling off a perfect launch for the day’s affair.

At 12:06 Shelly welcomed the group and introduced Kara, who was joined by Beth in presenting the ASC Friend of the Community Award to the Hilton Anatole Senior Catering Sales Manager Catherine New, who has orchestrated many of the area’s major fundraisers.

Beth Bedell, Catherine New and Kara Altenbaumer-Price

Following Rosaura’s telling how Junior Players had turned around her life as a young person, a video was shown with the audio ramped up and the house lights so dim that one guest had to use her cellphone flashlight to find her way out of the ballroom.

Lisette Sandoval

As the video ended, a young woman who had been seated at the far end of the head table took her place at the podium. Her name was Lisette Sandoval and she told how it hadn’t been that long ago that she had felt her destiny was to get pregnant by 15 and drop out of school. Instead her brother directed her to Junior Players, where her life took a different road. Lisette admitted that at one point suicide had been an option. What dashed that thought was news that she had been picked for the cast of “Taming of the Shrew.” She is now going to college on a scholarship.

Lisette was followed by Honorary Co-Chair Peter Altabef and a video of Renee Elise Goldsberry, who had originally been slated to be the keynote speaker. When she had to pull out due to scheduling, Renee arranged for Chris to sub in.

Chris started off by admitting, “Good afternoon, my name is Christopher Jackson and I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. I don’t know any lawyer jokes. None of that would surprise or astound you…. I am an artist. A profession that is historically a few rungs lower than a garbage collector, but if all the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players, I beg your patience and indulgence today. I want to sincerely thank ASC for having me here today. Thank you very much. The fact that I have been sweating since I sat down here might be an indication that I am more than a little intimidated being in a room full of people who are clearly smarter than I am.”

Using his own journey from his childhood in Cairo, Illinois, he told of the turning point in his childhood when a teacher handed him a text from “The Crucible,” and invited him to join the speech team. “I don’t what it was that made me said yes, except that perhaps I was so desperate to distinguish myself in some way or the other. I quickly realized that this acting thing was different. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t concerned with what didn’t work. I wasn’t consumed with what I didn’t have. I began to see the world from a character’s perspective and that helped me to develop my own perspective. It was terrifying and exhilarating and it changed my life forever.”

At the age of 17, he moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. In 1997, he was hired to be the understudy for Simba in “The Lion King,” just an hour before the first rehearsal.   

He claimed that if it hadn’t been for that “key”—when he received “The Crucible”—he’d probably be selling caskets in Cairo. Chris was serious. “True story. My family owns a funeral home.”

Chris then praised and encouraged support for the Junior Players for their 55 years of providing a key for thousands and thousands of children “to emerge from utter darkness and seeing an entire galaxy.”

Christopher Jackson

Leaving the podium, he was joined in chairs on stage with Shelly to discuss

  • Getting the role of George Washington — “Lin allowed his imagination to run wild and he saw these characters (in “Hamilton”) in a different way. Lin is one of my best friends in the whole world. I knew very early on that he was on to something because I thought he was crazy. The story is that we were doing a performance of ‘In the Heights,’ and during one of the numbers… he had just come back from vacation and he kinda looked over at me and said, ‘Got the next thing.’ Okay, great! I said, ‘What is it?’ (He said,) ‘It’s about the treasury secretary.’ A few days later, our director Tommy Kail approached me and said, G-dubs!’ I asked, ‘What does that mean?’ ‘George Washington… GW’ I thought, ‘Oh, great! We have shorthand. What does that mean?’ He said I was going to be George Washington. I said, ‘Great! I don’t know anything about George Washington. ‘
  • “Hamilton”’s first preview — “’Hamilton literally began at the White House. Lin was asked to perform a song about the American experience at the Evening of Poetry, Music and Spoken Word. This was in 2009 and he didn’t want to do something from ‘In the Heights.” He was just getting an idea of what ‘Hamilton’ was going to be, so he wrote what would become our opening number and he performed it. Everybody including President Obama looked at him like, ‘What is wrong with him?’”
  • Bro-hug with the President — It was years later when the cast of “Hamilton” was invited to perform at the White House that following the performance, President Obama gave Christopher a “bro hug.” As Christopher recalled, “Moments like that aren’t supposed to happen to a young boy from Cairo. My grandmother, who marched and was a union organizer and civil rights organizer and a black entrepreneur when it was definitely hard to be that in the South, raised me to understand that nothing was impossible… Always be aware of limitations so you can know how to get past them. She raised me to that moment, but she didn’t dream that moment for me.”
  • As a parent — “I’m really at the point where I’m trying to get my kids to pick their shoes up. I’m trying to get them to handle some light chores. I mean, I don’t want them to live like ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ but they can take the trash once in a while and wash their hair. My kids are Neanderthals. I can’t show them how to feel…but I can show them about justice. And I can teach them about inequality and equality. And I can teach them about respect — all the things that I was given and we were all given when it comes to just wake up in the morning, put your shoes, look people in the eye, be honest, look out for someone who has less than you, take up for the kid who is being bullied, stand up for the weaker one of us. It is all of those principles that I was given and try to live by….”

While summer heat may shoo locals to cooler places, the ASC’s 31st Annual luncheon made staying in North Texas seem like the coolest place in the world, thanks to Chris and the Junior Players.

TACA Custom Auction Gala Item #2 — Dance And Dinner With France’s Compagnie Hervé Koubi

Despite Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s proclamation that music is the universal language, it isn’t the only one. No, siree. Dancing is, too. Through its physicality and motion, it reflects everything from unique cultures to the interpretation of emotions. This second TACA Custom Auction Gala package offers a dazzling opportunity to more than just be an observer.

Dance And Dinner With France’s Compagnie Hervé Koubi*

World-renowned for its prowess and beauty, the male dance company of France’s Compagnie Hervé Koubi is quite simply breathtaking to behold thanks to French/Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi. In 2016 the troupe’s artistry received glorious reviews as well as standing ovations.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi**

The winning bidder of this package will more than attend the TITAS presentation of the troupe in January. They along with seven of his/her guests will arrive at the Winspear before all the hoi polloi. The reason? So, they can have “backstage access for the pre-performance warm-up.”  Afterward the lucky eight will head to the Brierley Suite for a seated dinner prepared by Wolfgang Puck’s folks.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi**

As other members of the audience arrive for the evening performance, the winner and guests will take their places in a private box to watch the performance that will be mesmerizing. And to top off the evening, they’ll join the dancers on stage for a post-performance champagne toast. A simple bravo just isn’t enough, don’t you know.

* Courtesy of TITAS, AT&T Performing Arts Center and Wolfgang Puck Catering 
** Photo provided by TACA

The Rustic Is Gonna Be Rocking In September For Voices For A Cause And The 5th Annual Concert For A Cure, But Not At The Same Time

September may be known as the start of Friday night lights, the kickoff of the State Fair and the first hints of fall in the air. But this year it’s gonna be full of singing for nonprofits. Two concerts are being held to raise funds and they’re both gonna be at The Rustic, but not at the same time!

Voices For A Cause*

First will be Dallas CASA’s Voices for A Cause with Signed Out getting things started and followed by country artist Brandon Rhyder as the evening’s headliner starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 14. The benefit concert is being hosted by Dallas CASA Young Profession, whose “mission is to increase awareness for Dallas CASA while providing charitable and social opportunities for people ages 21 to 40.” Co-Chairs Kelcey Hamilton, Reasha Hedke and Dana Swann have arranged for the $25 ticket to include the concert, two drinks and appetizers.

2017 Concert For A Cure**

Two weeks later Leukemia Texas is holding its 5th Annual Concert for A Cure with Honorary Chair/former Dallas Cowboy Marco Rivera and Event Co-Chairs Jenny “New Mom” Anchondo and reality personality/marrow donor Stephanie Hollman. On the performing stage will be Grammy-Award winning Reckless Kelly. Individual tickets start at $75 and include a private VIP reception starting at 7 p.m., hors d’ oeuvres, two drink tickets, open seating and valet parking. But as you know, underwriting brings perks like additional seats with better views, recognition in signage and collateral materials and boasting rights.  

Can’t decide which one? No problemo. Attend both! The attire will be comfortable casual. The throngs of folks will be your type — generous and fun to be with. The causes are both life-changing.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Cabaret Gala

According to Cabaret Gala Co-Chair Marisa Huckin,

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Have you ever dreamed of hearing Idina Menzel, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand all in one night? This is your opportunity to get your fix for the nostalgia of the golden age of entertainment. The Dallas Children’s Theater is celebrating its 25th annual Cabaret Gala with the Dallas debut of YouTube sensation Christina Bianco. Dallas is truly lucky to host a performance by this two-time Drama Desk Award nominated actress, singer, and impressionist!

25th Anniversary Cabaret Gala*

Treat yourself to an evening of song, surprises, and shenanigans while sipping champagne at your candle lit table. You’ll be among the chicest of guests at The Fairmont Hotel as The Dallas Morning News describes the DCT’s Cabaret Gala as”…arguably Dallas’ coolest arts-related fundraiser!”

And speaking of fabulous attendees, the Cabaret Gala’s honorary chairs are steadfast civic supporters, Deborah and Craig Sutton. They will be joined by their uber talented and acclaimed actor son, Montgomery Sutton, who literally grew up on-stage at DCT. As ongtime supporters of the arts, Deanna DiPizio-Johnson and I are sharing the chairmanship duties for this 25th anniversary event.

Before the show you will have a chance to sip cocktails and buy raffle tickets while being charmed by the melodic voice of Dallas’ own Janelle Lutz. Your raffle ticket entitles you the opportunity to win one of four fantastic prizes included in the 2017 Cabaret Gala raffle. The prizes include luxury accommodation and travel packages to New York City, Cancun, and San Francisco, and a jewelry shopping spree. Travel packages include flight accommodations courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

This intimate and entertaining evening of song and escapade is not too be missed! For reservations or raffle ticket information contact Artie Olaison at 214.978.0110 or go to www.dct.org/gala/.

* Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Theater

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Cattle Baron’s Ball

According to 2017 Cattle Baron’s Ball Co-Chairs Sunie Solomon and Anne Stodghill,

Anne Stodghill and Sunie Solomon (File photo)

The Cattle Baron’s Ball relies on the spirit and generosity of the Metroplex to fund the fight against cancer. Since 1974, we’ve raised more than $71 million for cancer research, the majority of which is conducted right here in DFW. True to Texas’ history of rising to the challenge, we’ve become the world’s largest single-night fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

While some might be hand-wringing at the prospect of continuing a legacy of ensuring more cancer research dollars are spent in Dallas than anywhere else in the country, they probably aren’t familiar with the members of the Cattle Baron’s Ball. Fortunately, the Cattle Baron’s Ball Committee is not comprised of the faint-of-heart – as evidenced by the fact that the CBB is the largest single-night fundraiser in the nation for cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

Join the fight and help us continue to make a difference! Cattle Baron’s Ball continues to support the American Cancer Society in the following incredible ways:

  • Provided more than 30,000 services to cancer patients in North Texas
  • Gave 7,414 rides to and from treatment
  • More than 1,500 free wigs were provided free of charge to cancer patients
  • More than 1,000 breast cancer patients were visited by our Reach to Recovery volunteers
  • Helped to enact strong state and local smoke-free laws that protect workers and the public from the dangers of secondhand smoke
  • Connected patients with more than 64,000 different treatment options, through our Clinical Trials Matching Service
  • Found the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer

Brooks and Dunn*

Dust off your boots and join us at Gilley’s on Saturday, October 21, for some serious Texas barbecue, the best silent and live auctions in town, followed by a heart-stopping performance from award-winning country and western entertainers Brooks and Dunn.

Everyone knows someone affected by cancer. From attending the ball to purchasing a raffle ticket, get involved with Cattle Baron’s Ball however you can and help us continue making a difference. 

Visit www.cattlebaronsball.com.

* Photo provided by 
2017 Cattle Baron's 
Ball

“Spotlight Gala” Celebrated WaterTower Theatre’s 20th Anniversary By Staging A Gala With Live Auction, Dining And Entertainment, Of Course

WaterTower Theatre‘s annual Spotlight Gala on Saturday, June 3, had a lot to celebrate. In addition to its new Artistic Director Joanie Schultz, the event at the Marriott Quorum Hotel was honoring its past gala chairs as well as the theatre’s turning 20 years old. Longtime supporter Barbara Daseke chaired the evening with dinner, notables, a live auction and a whole bunch of entertainment. But then, what else would you expect from this theatre crowd? Here’s a report from the field:

Barbara Daseke*

WaterTower Theatre held its annual Spotlight Gala on Saturday, June 3, at the Marriott Quorum Hotel in Addison.  Following last year’s celebration of WaterTower Theatre’s 20th Anniversary, this year’s Gala, chaired by Barbara Daseke, honored all of the Company’s past Gala Chairs:  April Bosworth, Anita Braun, Laree Hulshoff, Corky Pledger, Debbie Staggs, Allie Theisen and Barbara Daseke. The Company also honored Liese and Michael Canterbury and Angie and James Canterbury for their family’s legacy and contributions over the years. 

The evening began with cocktails for all of the underwriters and VIP donors, hosted by Barbara Daseke.  Held in the Presidential Suite, the crowd swayed to the jazzy tunes of local favorite Jodi Crawford Wright, accompanied by Jordan Cleaver on cello. Celebrating over two decades of artistic excellence at WaterTower Theatre, guests arrived in a fashion flare ranging from black-tie to elegant summer cocktail wear. Guests at the VIP reception at 6 p.m. and the gala included Jennifer and Coley Clark, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer, Norma and Paul Shultz, Tom and Anita Braun, Karol Omlor, Jennifer Swift, Addison’s new Mayor Joe Chow and his lovely wife Chi Chi, Margo and Jim Keyes, Eileen and Neil Resnik and special guest of honor, Emmy-Award winning actress and playwright Regina Taylor. For many, this was their first time meeting WaterTower Theatre’s new Artistic Director Joanie Schultz, who attended with her husband, nationally renowned opera conductor Frank Milioto. Corporate sponsors for the 2017 Spotlight Gala included Slalom, Oncor, Frost Bank, and Goody Goody Liquor. 

Tom and Anita Braun, Karol Omlor and Jennifer Swift*

Margo and Jim Keyes*

Liese and Michael Canterbury*

Eileen and Neil Resnik*

The evening included entertainment by Max Hartman, singing tunes reminiscent of “Ole Blue Eyes” while newly elected Addison Mayor Joe Chow and a crowd of attendees danced to standards including “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Route 66,” “Mack the Knife,” “Come Fly With Me,” and “New York, New York.”  WaterTower Theatre artists Janelle Lutz and Sarah Elizabeth Price sang tributes to the legendary Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli (characters they have played to high acclaim on DFW stages), as well as a trio with Kyle Igneczi to conclude the night.

The night included a live auction with auctioneer Kyle Igneczi (one of Dallas’ most beloved actors) including a theatre trip for two to Chicago with Artistic Director and Chicago native Joanie Schultz, and a luxury dinner for 10 at the Addison’s renowned Table 13.  The evening concluded with an exhilarating “Fund The Mission” where virtually everyone in attendance played the “runaround” game vying for a theatre trip for two to Toronto!

Underwriters included:

  • Executive Producer ($12,000) — Barbara and Don Daseke, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer, Janiece and Jimmy Niemann and Norma and Paul Shultz
  • The Producer ($6,000) — Rosalind and Mervyn Benjet, Liese and Michael Canterbury, Angie and James Canterbury and Larry McCallum
  • The Director ($3,000) — The Town of Addison, Frost Bank, April Bosworth, Goody Goody Liquor Inc., Stan Graner and Jim McBride, Rodney Hand / Addison Magazine, Mary Kay Inc., Robert Mayer Jr., Kathleen A. Messina and Gary W. Goodwin, Karol Omlor, Oncor/Grace Daniels, Gregory Patterson and Eileen and Neil Resnik
  • Valet parking underwritten by Slalom.
  • Patron Gift underwritten by Mary Kay Inc. and Addison Magazine
  • Cork Pull and Tabletop Wine sponsored Goody Goody Liquor, Inc.
  • VIP Patron and Underwriter’s party sponsored by the Marriott Quorum, Addison
  • Gala Signage provided by FASTSIGNS, Carrollton
  • Gala Program provided by AlphaGraphics, Carrollton 

Guests drove off with a special gift basket courtesy of Mary Kay and Addison Magazine.

* Photo provided by WaterTower Theatre

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Dallas Symphony 2017 Gala

Clay and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

According to Dallas Symphony 2017 Gala Co-Chair Lisa Cooley,

My husband, Clay and I, are honored to serve as co-chairs of the Dallas Symphony 2017 Gala on Saturday, September 16th at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Arguably, the world’s greatest living cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform with Dallas Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jaap van Zweden to the Farewell Season for the conductor.  We are thrilled to have philanthropist Margaret McDermott to serve as gala honorary chair. 

The black-tie evening, under the wizardry of designer Todd Fiscus, will include cocktails, the concert, seated dinner, After Party and dancing.  The After-Party is chaired by Graeme Ross and Lara and Brian Pryor.  After-Party honorary co-chairs are Wren and Benji Homsey.

Funds from the event will benefit the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s education and community programs that reach more than 250,000 North Texas residents annually, including 30,000 children. Capital One is the gala concert sponsor.

For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please visit Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala.

JUST IN: Park And Palate Plans Announced For Klyde Warren Park’s Mega Fundraiser With Loads Of “Pillars And Proteges” On The Menu

The Klyde Warren Park team has really been cooking up some plans for this year’s Park and Palate at Klyde Warren Park on Friday, October 13, and Saturday, October 14. Yes, yes, that’s Texas-OU weekend, but what a great place to eat, drink and party with locals and out-of-towners. Now settle back for the news.

Park and Palate*

This year’s theme is “Pillars and Protégés,” and for good reason. The “pillars” will be established vets in the culinary centers cooking up dishes with “a partner (aka protégé) who will collaborate with them at the event to create a truly diverse lineup.”  

According to Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green, “We are thankful to have the support of so many talented, culinary icons for this year’s event. The Pillars and Protégés theme certainly brings a unique twist, which is what Klyde Warren Park is all about. We supply the fun; all you have to bring is yourself!”

For the Friday night exclusive “Down To The Roots” from 6 to 10 p.m., it’s a Lone Star roundup of culinary greats including Jon Bonnell of Bonnell’s Restaurant in Fort Worth,  Tyson Cole of Uchi in Austin, Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurant Group in San Antonio, Houston’s Becky Masson of Fluff Bake Bar and Monica Pope and our local fellas Dean Fearing and Kent Rathbun.

Dean Fearing (File photo)

Kent Rathbun (File photo)

Kent, who will also be serving as the Saturday Grand Taste chef host, commented, “I am so thrilled to participate in the third year of Park and Palate. Having the opportunity to select a partner chef at the event will be such a great way to have a one-of-a-kind lineup. We will be able to really showcase our passion through our collaborative dishes. It will truly be a rare and exclusive experience unlike any other Dallas event.”

Omar Flores (File photo)

Lisa Garza-Selcer (File photo)

Brian Luscher (File photo)

Jim Severson (File photo)

And speaking of the Grand Taste, it will take place from 2 p.m. to 6 .m. with the following “pillars” already signed on board: Alex Astranti of Top Knot, Jeff Balfour of Southerleigh, Ryan Barnett of Lark on the Park, Nilton “Junior” Borges of The Joule Hotel, Richard Chamberlain of Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House, Katherine Clapner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate, John Coleman of Savor Gastropub, Jason Dady of The Jason Dady Restaurant Group, Kevin Fink and Page Pressley, of Emmer & Rye, Omar Flores, of Whistle Britches Chicken, Diego Galicia, of Mixtli Progressive Mexican Culinaria, Lisa Garza-Selcer of Sissy’s Southern Kitchen and Bar, Jared Harms of The Pyramid, Ethan Holmes of Snap Kitchen, Nick Hurry of Proof and Pantry, Brian Luscher of The Grape, Becky Masson of Fluff Bake Bar, Andrea Meyer of Bisous Bisous Pâtisserie, Kent Rathbun, Amanda Rockman of Café No Sé, Richard Ruskell of Cake Wars and Food Network, Joe Scigliano of Savor Gastropub, Jim “Sevy” Severson of Sevy’s, Callie Speer of Holy Roller, Philip Speer of Bonhomie, Aaron Staudenmaier of Lovers Seafood, Shuji Sugawara of Shinsei, Josh Sutcliff of Mirador, Rico Torres of Mixtli Progressive Mexican Culinaria, David Uygur of Lucia, Julie Vorce of Savor Gastropub, Nick Walker of The Front Room and Nicholas Yanes of Juniper with cocktails by Michael Martensen of Shoals.

Jody Grant and Tara Green*

Here’s a breakdown of how to eat your way through the Klyde Warren Park fundraiser:

  • The very, extra-special Down To The Roots on Friday night is limited to those signing on as underwriters and sponsors. Interested? Then just check with Tara and she can make your delicious dreams come true, while also helping support the park and its more than 1,300 free programs and events each year.”
  • Saturday’s Grand Taste is available by simply buying a ticket. Better lock yours down now before the Longhorns and Sooners get wind of this yummy shindig and decide to call Klyde Warren a post-game celebration. And while you’re at it, splurge and go for the VIP ticket that also includes valet parking, specialty cocktails, wines, food tastings, VIP Swag and early access to wine and spirit seminar. BTW, don’t hold off until the day of because there will be no tickets sold at the door.

Leading the two-day event will once again by Co-Chairs Lyn and John Muse and Carolyn and Rob Walters, presenting sponsor Republic National Distributing Company and media sponsor D Magazine.

A couple of suggestions:

  • This is definitely a date night because all ticket holders must be over 21 years of age. So, reserve that baby sitter ASAP.
  • Leave the car at home and Uber, Lyft, DART or walk. It’s gonna be a jam-packed event with a projected crowd of 2,600 wine and food lovers. You just know how you hate to hassle with navigating the streets. So, just sit back and let someone else do the driving.
* Photo provided by Klyde Warren Park

MySweetCharity Opportunity: First Sight/First Night

According to First Sight/First Night Co-Chairs Dianne B. and Mark H. LaRoe,

Dianne and Mark LaRoe (File photo)

Two of the most captivating fundraisers of the fall are First Sight Fashion Show and Luncheon and First Night Pre-Performance Dinner and After Party, The Dallas Opera’s season kick-off events. Important revenue is raised and awareness is gained for the company’s splendid 2017-2018 programming. The festivities surround the opening night of the opera “Samson and Dalila” by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Many North Texas patrons are aware of The Dallas Opera’s world class opera productions, but may not be familiar with all of its activities. More than 87,000 people were reached last year with the non-profit arts organization’s traditional and non-traditional formats. Family Programs, free simulcasts, student dress rehearsals and matinees, school presentations, opera camp, and performances at community partners all help to attract and serve patrons of every background, educational level, and ethnicity.

David Haemisegger and Nancy Nasher

We have long recognized The Dallas Opera as a top notch arts organization presenting magnificent opera productions, and as a company that does tremendous work serving our community with its comprehensive education and outreach programs. We are so pleased to chair the wonderful Season Opening celebrations and invite everyone to join us, take part in the fun, meet new people, and enjoy some quality entertainment! Our hope is that our participation will encourage new supporters of this great company. We are also thrilled that Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger are serving as honorary co-chairs of the events.

We believe our guests will be excited to experience the fashions by Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo that will grace the runway at First Sight Fashion Show and Luncheon with NorthPark Center serving as presenting sponsor. The fete will take place on Thursday, October 19, at 11:00 a.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House and culinary master Wolfgang Puck will cater the gourmet luncheon. We know Rhonda Sargent Chambers, of RSC Productions, will produce a magnificent show for us! Lisa Cooley, her daughter Ciara Cooley and daughter-in-law Bela Cooley are co-chairs, so we’re expecting something exquisite! Sponsorships, tables which start at $7,500, and individual tickets at $500, are available.

Then on Friday, October 20, First Night presented by Deutsche Bank Wealth Management will be chaired by wonderful patrons Betty and Steve Suellentrop, in Sammons Park in front of the Winspear. We begin at 5:30 p.m. with a red carpet entrance and guests then flow into an elegant black-tie pre-performance dinner, which starts at 6:00 p.m. We hope everyone will enjoy the scrumptious epicurean specialties, also by Wolfgang Puck, in a beautifully adorned tent enhanced by the creative team of Jeffrey Horn and Larry Leathers.

After dinner we will head into the opening night performance of “Samson and Dalila” which begins at 8:00 p.m. The festivities continue following the opera at the After Party. The cast will join us to mix and mingle with guests, more delicious Puck noshes will be on hand, and everyone will dance the night away, reveling in anticipation of more of the incredible season to come! Sponsorships, tables which start at $10,000, and individual tickets at $1,000, are available. Please join us!”

For more information, please visit www.dallasopera.org/firstnight.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: State Of Mind

According to Second Thought Theatre‘s State of Mind Co-Chairs Jennifer Swift and Nick Even,

Nick Even (File photo)

Jennifer Swift (File photo)

In case you’ve not been yet, Second Thought Theatre is a risk-taking local company performing at Bryant Hall, an intimate black-box theater on the Kalita Humphreys Theater campus on Turtle Creek. Second Thought’s current production of the new play “The Necessities” by SMU’s (and Yale’s) Blake Hackler, directed by Joel Ferrell runs until Saturday, July 29. 

To fund its expanded four-production season for 2018, Second Thought will host its annual “State of Mind” fundraiser on Friday, November 3, at 7:00 p.m. at Sammons Center for the Arts.

The evening will feature a performance by Dallas performance musical theater powerhouse Patty Breckenridge, described by D Magazine as “utterly entertaining.” She was heralded by The Dallas Morning News for her “brilliant” portrayal of Diana in “Next to Normal” (Uptown Players).  She was seen in the world premiere of “Fortress of Solitude” at Dallas Theatre Center and WaterTower Theatre’s world premiere of “Creep, delivering a performance described by the Morning News as a “feisty force of nature.” Ms. Breckenridge will be joined at the State of Mind gala by actor, TV host and producer Rob McCollum, serving as Master of Ceremonies.

A kickoff party for State of Mind underwriters and patrons will be held on Thursday, October 12, at the Turtle Creek home of Lila and Emmett Murphy.

Second Thought Theatre empowers top local theater artists to take risks and showcases writers who tackle difficult questions. Its performers have been regularly cited on the annual “Best of” lists by D Magazine, Dallas Observer and the Dallas/Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum. Second Thought’s 2017 season included two area premieres and one world premiere and its 2018 season of four plays – to be announced in the next month – promises to be equally memorable.

For more information on Second Thought Theatre, visit http://secondthoughttheatre.com. To purchase tickets for the State of Mind gala or to be added to the invitation mailing list, call 972.450.6232.