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

* Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Theater

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Klyde Warren Park

Tara Green*

According to Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green,

For the past four years, Dallas’ favorite greenspace, Klyde Warren Park, has provided more than 1,300 free programing and education activities for 1 million visitors each year and every summer the fun gets even bigger. Located in the heart of Dallas, directly between downtown and Uptown, Klyde Warren Park is the perfect place for a day of family fun. All activities at Klyde Warren Park are free thanks to our sponsors and private donations made to the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation.

In addition to the Children’s Park and several splash pads located throughout the park, here are a few activities that you and your family can take part in this summer:


  • Dallas Children’s Theater*

    Dallas Children’s Theater Activities (Every 3rdSaturday of the Month from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.) Ages: 4 and up — Bring your drama princess or prince to the Children’s Park for acting games and fun with the Dallas Children’s Theater. Children and their parents can learn acting techniques from Dallas Children’s Theater teachers and participate in mini-performances alongside other participants each session.

  • Kathryn’s Book Nook Summer Reading Club (First Sundays, July – August from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 3 – 10-years old — Hosted by local non-profit Kathryn’s Book Nook, Summer Reading Parties in the Children’s Park at Klyde Warren Park will make sure kids don’t fall into the all too familiar summer-reading slump. There will be read-alouds, games, crafts, giveaways, and performances. RSVPs are encouraged to ensure we have adequate supplies. RSVP by going
  • Miss Kimberly*

    Music and Stories with Miss Kimberly (Every Tuesday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 0 – 4 years old — Bring the kiddos to a storytelling session in the park every Tuesday! Read along with Miss Kimberly as she features cute stories and fun tunes for little ones. Bubbles, parachutes and games round out this fun and engaging storytime. 

  • Imagination Playground (Every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: Open to all ages —

    Imagination Playground*

    Play, create and let your kids’ imaginations soar at our Imagination Playground! Bring the kids to the park where they can build a new world every time they play using the larger-than-life Imagination Playground blocks. 

  • Family Art Activities with the Nasher Sculpture Museum (Every 4thSunday of the Month from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 3 and up — Experts from the Nasher Sculpture Center will offer family-friendly activities in the Dallas Morning News Reading and Games Room. Learn painting, sculpting and other unique art techniques during this free, interactive demo. Families are encouraged to make a whole day out of it and visit the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center after playing artist for the afternoon.
* Photos provided by Klyde Warren Park

24th Annual Cabaret Gala To Take Place In “Refreshed” Venetian Room On Texas-OU Saturday With Songbird Maxine Linehan

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

You’ve got to hand it to the Dallas Children’s Theater team. Over the past 24 years, their Cabaret Gala has collided with Cattle Baron’s on the same night. But this year the stars were literally in alignment for folks to attend both totally different fundraisers. Unlike the boot-wearing guests at Cattle Barons at Gilley’s, the Cabaret folks don their nicest cocktail attire for an intimate evening in The Fairmont’s Venetian Room, which has gone through some major “refreshing.”

 Maxine Linehan*

Maxine Linehan*

But the date this year may still surprise locals. It’s October 8th. Yup, that’s the Saturday of Texas-OU. While it may seem like a busy weekend to be holding a fundraiser, it makes perfect sense. By Saturday night, most of the Longhorns and Sooners have packed their bags and headed home, or they’re too pooped out to party anymore.

Dallas Children’s Theater’s Artie Olaisen and Event Co-Chair Marisa Huckin (this is her fourth one to chair) and Sharon Niebuhr have arranged for Irish transplant Maxine Linehan to be on the Venetian stage. Sure, she’s been described as “versatile, multi-talented and fiercely talented” and performed at NY’s Town Hall, Lincoln Center, 54 Below, The Metropolitan Room and Birdland. But Maxine’s also smart, having graduated from “the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and also just happens to be a Barrister,” having studied at The Inns of Court School of Law in London.

Still another highlight will be the honorary chairs — “steadfast supporters” Jennifer and Peter Altabef and their “son Will, who literally grew up on-stage at DCT.”

In keeping with the annual raffle, Raffle Chair Kerrie Forbes has five trips lined up for such places as Cancun, Costa Rica, New York City, Telluride and St. Martin.

Since tickets are limited and won’t be sold at the door, hop to it now for an evening of champagne, dessert and delightful tunes.

* Photo provided by the Dallas 
Children's Theater

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Dallas Children’s Theater’s “The Who? Party”

According to Dallas Children’s Theater’s The Who? Party Co-Chair Karen Travis,

Karen Travis*

Karen Travis*

“Autumn is, hopefully, just around the corner and I’m brimming over with excitement not only for cool, crisp temperatures, but also for an annual event that has a special place in my heart, one that really makes a difference for children, Dallas Children’s Theater’s annual Family Party. As president-elect of this incredible organization, I’m honored to be chairing the party with Stephanie Nelson, fellow board member. It is a fitting closure for me as I embark upon a new chapter of service – board president beginning in January 2017.

“DCT’s ’16 – ’17 season starts with a splash, ‘Seussical, The Musical,’ the timeless favorite which has been absent from Dallas theaters with a cast of equity actors for quite a while. On Saturday, September 17, ‘The Who? Party’ guests, following a matinee of the show, will thrill to a fun-ladened afternoon featuring an on stage, interactive song and dance session led by a professional actor; a Seussical chairs contest with prizes for the most agile, and backstage access to learn about the secret sauce that goes into creating the colorful set designs and costumes. These activities will be followed by a scrumptious, Seussical-themed banquet, topped off with a farewell dance party in our spacious lobby.

“Funds raised via the event will ensure the legacy of an essential DCT program, The Student Matinee Performance Series. Because of this important initiative, over 40,000 children annually, primarily from Title 1 schools (free and reduced lunch eligible), are provided the opportunity to attend performances at a very reduced cost — children that otherwise would not be able to come to the theater to see the magic of the live performance.

“In my mind, there is nothing quite as fulfilling as seeing wide-eyed youngsters, ecstatic with anticipation, skip through hallways festooned with scores of brightly colored Truffula trees, hundreds of Hortonian clovers, and bouquets of Mayzie approved feathers. After seeing literature come to life on our stage, students always depart with a rewarding glow.  I’m honored that Dallas Children’s Theater has embraced my penchant for decorations of this sort, and they even let me put my darling husband, Ken Travis, to work for the cause as well. 🙂

Ken and Karen Travis*

Ken and Karen Travis*

“Everyone at Dallas Children’s Theater truly believes in the words of the sweet sage, Horton… ‘a person’s a person, no matter how small.’ These words perfectly reflect our mission — all children truly do deserve to experience the magic of live theater!

“While after three years, I’m proud to say the party is always sold out, right now, sponsorships and tickets are still available for this wonderful and worthwhile event. So, anyone interested should not wait another minute to sign up.  To learn more, go to our Who? Party web page or call DCT at 214-978-0110. Your presence and your contributions help us keep feeding the minds and souls of young people with boundless creativity.”

* Photos provided by Karen Travis

2015 Crystal Charity Ball Committee Distributed Record-Breaking $6.5M To 11 Dallas Children’s Non-Profits

There are hundreds of children…no, make that thousands of children…who went to sleep on Tuesday, April 12, never having heard of a gal from Andrews, Texas, by the name of Michal Powell or an organization called Crystal Charity Ball.

That’s just peachy keen for the 2015 CCB Chair Michal and her gall-gal committee of 99. For a little over a year, they made calls, hand delivered contracts and championed the cases for Dallas children to net a record-breaking $6.5M.

Some of that money would go to healthcare, ranging from sexual abuse to hearing and sight challenges. Other funds would assist homeless and hungry kids and those working through the challenges of autism.

Pat McEvoy, Tucker Enthoven, Vinnie Reuben, Gregg Ballew, Michal Powell, Leslie Diers, Susan Farris and Mary Clare Finney

Pat McEvoy, Tucker Enthoven, Vinnie Reuben, Gregg Ballew, Michal Powell, Leslie Diers, Susan Farris and Mary Clare Finney

But on this evening, it was Christmas with Michal and her team including Underwriting chair Tucker Enthoven presenting the real-thing checks to the 11 recipients thanks to host Westwood Trust Senior VP Gregg Ballew. Among the crowd of more-than-smiley recipients and guests were Dave Woodyard, Ola Fojtasek, Robyn Flatt, Cara French, Sandra Session-Robertson, Bob Sweeney, Elizabeth Gambrell, Tom Turnage, Pam Busbee, Ona Foster, Daffan Nettle, Dr. Tom Campbell, Beth Thoele, Michael Craven, Margaret Hancock, Kimberly Williams, Anne Reeder, Doug Adkins, Tricia George, Tom Black, Mary Martha Pickens, Jan McAuley, Fredye Factor, Pat McEvoy, Vinnie Reuben, Leslie Diers, Mary Clare Finney, Susan Farris, Barbara Stuart and 2016 CCB Chair Christie Carter.

Here is a breakdown of how the checks were distributed:

  • Catholic Charities of Dallas — $575,000 for the School Readiness Program
  • Dallas Children’s Theater — $564,400 for Sensory-Friendly Performances and Classes
  • Dallas Life — $546,919 for the Kids Life Program
  • Dallas Services — $646,064 for the Vision for Children Program
  • Family Compass — $600,000 for the Healthy Families Program
  • Foundation for the Callier Center for Communication Disorders — $630,000 for The Pediatric Hearing Aid Project
  • H.I.S. BridgeBuilders — $539,450 for the Crossover Athletics Program
  • Interfaith Housing Coalition — $500,000 for the Childcare and Youth Services Center
  • Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers —$500,000 for Ewing’s Sarcoma Pediatric Cancer Research Program
  • North Texas Food Bank — $750,000 for the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program
  • Texas Health Resources Foundation — $459,124 for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program

Wanna bet what the first thing the 11 recipients did the next morning? Deliver the checks to their banks, of course. The second thing was to put that money to work.

Dallas Children’s Theater’s “A Year With Frog And Toad” To Help Youngsters In The Housing Crisis Center Program

Hmmm, “A Year With Frog and Toad”? Sound like a freshman dorm roommate assignment? Nope. It’s the Tony-nominated musical production about friendship that runs from Friday, January 29, thru Sunday, February 28, at the Dallas Children’s Theater. And leave it to those wonderful folks at DCT, they’ve partnered up with the Housing Crisis Center to help children whose families are homeless.

It’s a tradition for the DCT to use “their first production of every new year to spotlight a community partner.” As part of the collaboration, the DCT patrons are asked to make a donation to the HCC.

The DCT is also reserving tickets for some of the HCC children to attend the musical.

Ah, but there’s still more. DCT Co-Founder/Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt and her crew are “collecting books and blankets for children ages 3-12” to be provided for the HCC munchkins.

Robyn Flatt (File photo)

Robyn Flatt (File photo)

Sherri Ansley (File photo)

Sherri Ansley (File photo)

It makes so much sense. As HCC Executive Director Sherri Ansley put it, “Housing Crisis Center is implementing a new program called Imagine Time to bring therapeutic learning experiences to the children in its programs designed to allow them to heal from their situation and protect against many of the issues related to homelessness. By providing children a safe place to learn and grow, they will be given the space and time to process their previous — often traumatic— life experiences.”

MySweetWishList: Dallas Children’s Theater

According to Dallas Children’s Theater’s management team Robyn Flatt, Artie Olaisen, Nancy Schaeffer and Sandra Session-Robertson,

“Our wish at Dallas Children’s Theater is to bring the magic of live professional theater to all families in the Dallas area. We regularly hear from first-time patrons that they had no idea their children could be impacted so tremendously by the experience. We know that live theater opens up a young person’s imagination in a way nothing else can, and it is our desire to do our part to eliminate any barrier children have to participation – whether it’s cost, a cultural difference or a special need.

Show day during Dallas Children's Theater's Academy classes*

Show day during Dallas Children’s Theater’s Academy classes*

“For many families, especially those with multiple children, the idea of an outing to the theater is cost prohibitive. Even though many Dallas children experience one show a year through the Student Matinee Performance Series, we want families to be able to experience a production together. That’s when the valuable conversations begin on the ride home and lasting family memories are made. DCT relies on individual, corporate and foundation donations in order to keep our ticket prices low while maintaining the professional quality, high-spectacle productions audiences have come to expect, and that every audience deserves.

“Dallas is a multicultural community, and we wish to serve everyone so that our entire city remains rich with artistic experience. Research proves that children who are exposed to the arts grow into healthy adults who continue to appreciate and support arts and culture and contribute to the workforce in unique and immeasurable ways. We gladly accept our role in nurturing these creative spirits.

The Dallas Children's Theater's special sensory friendly performance of "Fancy Nancy"**

Reception for the Dallas Children’s Theater’s special sensory friendly performance of “Fancy Nancy”**

“With the help of a generous donation from The Crystal Charity Ball, we have been able to expand our Sensory-Friendly programming. This allows us to set aside a performance that is specially designed for families of children with autism, Down syndrome, or other sensory processing disorders. Our wish is to ensure that these plays and classes are sustained for these families for a lifetime.

“Our wish is that all Dallas children know Dallas Children’s Theater as a place for them to express themselves and fully engage in the creative dramatics experience. These wishes take a commitment from community partners and individuals who want every child to experience award-winning professional theater designed for families. We are so grateful to all the partnerships that have propelled us towards our goals for over thirty seasons and we can’t wait to see the future generations at the theater with your help.

Young patrons treating Dallas Children's Theater like home*

Young patrons treating Dallas Children’s Theater like home*

“To get in on the act of supporting theater arts for young people, you can make a donation here:

-By Robyn Flatt, Artie Olaisen, Nancy Schaeffer and Sandra Session-Robertson, the Dallas Children’s Theater management team

* Photo credit: Karen Almond 
** Photo credit: Lawrence Jenkins

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Fancy Nancy & Friends Party

“A party that’s fun and fancy and benefits more than 40,000 students across the city doesn’t come along often, but when it does, you better raise your pinky and practice your dancing.

Yvonne Crum and Samantha Crum*

Yvonne Crum and Samantha Crum*

Amy Hofland and Artessa Swords*

Amy Hofland and Artessa Swords*

“Last year’s Dream Ball Family Dress Up event (see photo of Yvonne Crum with her granddaughter Samantha and Amy Hofland with Tara Lewis‘s daughter, Artessa as evidence of the fun) raised over $35,000 net in support of sensory-friendly productions. Now that Crystal Charity Ball has so graciously covered that program for the next three years, DCT is focused on another of their very important, but underfunded programs.

Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) invites the whole family to the Fancy Nancy & Friends Party, Saturday September 19, from 6-8 p.m. The fanciful fete (that means “party” in fancy-speak) will be a fun-filled evening following the 4:30 matinée performance of FANCY NANCY: THE MUSICAL. By purchasing tickets to this event, you are supporting DCT’s Student Matinée Performance Series where Dallas area students enjoy live theater at virtually no cost. DCT believes no child should miss a live professional theater experience due to financial hardship.

Stephanie Nelson and Karen Travis*

Stephanie Nelson and Karen Travis*

“Party Chair Karen Travis says, ‘Dallas Children’s Theater creates family experiences and great memories like no one else. Girls and boys will thoroughly enjoy doing all things “fancy.” In fact, Fancy’s shark-ostumed friend, Lionel, represents the young kings quite well so be sure to bring brothers along, too! And yes, it is so heartwarming to know that our fun also helps DCT continue to offer free and significantly reduced tickets to kids who might not otherwise get to ever see live theater.  Over 60% of students report seeing theater for the first time through this program.  I hope you’ll join me and the other board members working hard to support magical theater experiences for all.”

“Some of Dallas’ fanciest Nancys have signed on as honorary hosts – Nancy Briggs, Nancy Brunson, Nancy Carlson, Nancy Dee Miller and Nancy Nasher.

“Party tickets are $50 per person and include a meet & greet with the cast from FANCY NANCY: THE MUSICAL, photos on the stage in Fancy Nancy’s school and house, an “underwater movement” experience, special crafts, and a dance. Dinner and libations (for the fancy adults) are also included. Tickets to the 4:30 performance before the party can be purchased separately for prices ranging between $15 and $28.

“Parties this fancy have limited seating, so book yours now by calling the DCT Box Office at 214.740.0051 or online here.

-By Stephanie Nelson, Dallas Children’s Theater Board member

* Photos provided by the Dallas Children's Theater

A Passing: Mardi Jones

It was just in March of last year that Dallas lost 94-year-old Dr. Cliff Jones, who founded the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas in 1966. Despite dealing with the people struggling with suicide, Cliff’s personal life was filled with happiness thanks to his “too-good-to-be-true family including his adorable wife Mardi.”

Bill McGowan,Bridget Boggess, Summer McGowan, Trip Jones, Robin McGowan, Mardi Jones and Summer McGowan (File photo)

From the left (back row): Bill McGowan, Bridget Boggess, Summer McGowan and Trip Jones; (front row) Robin McGowan, Mardi Jones and Summer McGowan (File photo)



Now just 15 months later, the Jones family, including daughter Robin McGowan and son Trip Jones, has lost their matriarch Mardi at the age of 91.

In addition to being Cliff’s life partner for more than 65 years, Mardi was her own person and lived a remarkable life that seemed at times to be overshadowed by Cliff’s leadership in bringing suicide out of the shadows.

Her love of the theater spanned from her pre-Cliff days of playing Peter Pan in an off-Broadway production to being one of the Dallas Children’s Theater’s original board members. It was that musical talent that brought Mardi and Cliff together, when he spotted her “singing with her guitar in an ice show at the New Yorker Hotel” in the 1940s.

Of course, Mardi supported Cliff in his crusade to help others deal with suicide. Whether it was working the phones at the Suicide and Crisis Center or moderating the Grief and Response committee at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, she was a hands-on partner.

For all those family members and friends who are adjusting to the loss of Mardi, they should take heart knowing that she is with her Cliff.

At 11 a.m. on Monday, July 27, Mardi’s life will be celebrated in Wynne Chapel at Highland Park Presbyterian Church. The family has requested in lieu of flowers that gifts be made to the Dallas Children’s Theater in Mardi’s name.

Cabaret Gala With Marissa Mulder Came Through At The Venetian Room Despite Mother Nature Challenges

There was no waiting for the Great Pumpkin to come to town. It came Thursday, October 2, as 70 MPH winds wreaked havoc for many. One of the victims was Dallas Children’s Theater Associate Artistic Director Artie Olaisen. He had a tree in his front yard and lost electricity and Internet, like a lot of others.

But Artie was producing the Dallas Children’s Theater’s “22nd Cabaret Gala” on Saturday, October 4, at the Fairmont’s Venetian Room.

Saturday, things were not looking so great. Artie was facing the reality that he just might have to handwrite the guest list relying on his memory. But as the evening arrived, all was peachy keen.

Zak Reynolds and Erika Larsen

Zak Reynolds and Erika Larsen

As Rapunzel (Erika Larsen) and her Sir Roderick (Zak Reynolds) strolled the crowded lobby, Dr. Sami Arslanar and John Clutts hosted the champagne reception along with Barbara Brice. Little did anyone guess that Sami and John had just arrived that afternoon from the Dallas Contemporary tour in Mexico with Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer, Muffin Lemak and Shelby Wagner.

John Clutts and Dr. Sami Arslanlar

John Clutts and Dr. Sami Arslanlar

In another part of the lobby, Lisa and George Longino were telling Annetta and Bob Newsome that their daughter/Raffle Chair Fleming Longino was MIA. Seems she and Cabaret Gala Co-Chair Matthew Huckin were in Washington, D.C., for a wedding.

Bob and Annetta Newsome and Lisa and George Longino

Bob and Annetta Newsome and Lisa and George Longino

That left Mathew’s sis-in-law Marisa Huckin to handle the hosting duties. Luckily, Marisa’s mom-in-law Carol Huckin filled in on stage when it came to thanking sponsors, friends and family like Carolyn Lupton, Caroline Rose Hunt and Sharron Hunt.

Carol Huckin, Carolyn Lupton and Marisa Huckin

Carol Huckin, Carolyn Lupton and Marisa Huckin

Just as guests like Margaret and Lester Keliher, Jill Rowlett (husband Tracy was attending his West High School reunion in Wichita, Kansas), Jean Lattimore, Barbara and Steve Durham, Billie Leigh Rippey, John Marston, Bob Brackbill and Robyn Flatt found their seats in the legendary nightclub, the program was underway with the announcement of the raffle. One, two, three. Winners were revealed for the three packages including Lisa Longino getting the puppet theater; Terry and Bart Thomas winning the New York City trip and raffle doyenne Yvonne Crum winning the sports package. What a switch. Instead of applauding others for a win, Yvonne took home a goody.

Jill Rowlett

Jill Rowlett

Another victim of the storm were Lisa Loy Laughlin and her husband Kendall. Seems they lost power and had to watch the Baylor/UT football game at Time Out Tavern. After the Baylor win, they returned home to find the power was back on.

Marissa Mulder

Marissa Mulder

Before guests had a chance to dive into the desserts on their plates, red-haired Marissa Mulder was on stage in a black sequined top and long skirt with a flirty slit.

At 9:05 she started filling the room with such tunes as “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” “I’m in Love Again,” “It’s Magic,” “This Shirt,” “Hello in There,” “My Attorney Bernie” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” with the help of her musical director Jon Weber at the keyboard.

Like a schoolgirl, Marissa confided that her Fairmont suite was indeed sweet. She had really enjoyed more than a couple of bubble baths.

Admitting that her cabaret gigs were not enough to support her New York City lifestyle, Marissa told the audience toward the end of the show that she had been a nanny for six kids in the Upper East Side of NYC for the past few years. Seeing her wards flourish and one in particular develop a love for music and theater, she wholeheartedly appreciated the evening’s goal of supporting children’s involvement in theater.

With encores demanding, she finished the evening’s program with “Come Fly with Me” and “Moon River.”

Dallas Children’s Theater’s “Knights And Princesses Dream Ball” Had A “Young” Co-Chair Help Exceed The Evening’s Goal

Inside the dimly lit theater at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts, children as well as adults dressed up as “knights” and “princesses” were scurrying around the room, laughing and chatting and waving swords around and having their photos taken onstage. Even Dallas Children’s Theater Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt and DTC board member Yvonne Crum had donned royal outfits. The occasion was the Dallas Theater Center’s Knights and Princesses Dream Ball, a fundraiser held in conjunction with the DTC’s current production, “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale“.

In addition to the photo opps, the unique, fairy-tale-themed fundraiser featured a “Royal Feast,” and then a dance (to Disney-type music) spun by DJ Sir Seth. About 160 adults and kids turned out for the event, which was the first of its kind and intended to raise money for the DTC’s “sensory-friendly shows” for children with developmental disabilities. Under Chair Karen Travis, and with former Texas Ranger Michael Young and his family serving as honorary chairs, the fundraiser exceeded its $25,000 goal. As a result, the DTC says it will be able to produce three more sensory-friendly shows in 2015. The October 11 performance of “Rapunzel!”, by the way, will be the DTC’s last sensory-friendly performance of this calendar year.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2014 Cabaret Gala

According to 2014 Cabaret Gala Co-Chair Marisa Huckin,

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

“Polish your wing tips and pearls and join me at the Cabaret!! Saturday, October 4, the 22nd annual Cabaret Gala will benefit one of Dallas’ crown jewels — Dallas Children’s Theater!

“We are so fortunate to have one of the nations’ leading professional family theaters right here in our midst. For 30 years, they have served our community and brightened and enlightened both young and old! This year’s Cabaret is somewhat of a family affair for me as I co-chair with my beguiling brother-in-law, Matthew Huckin, and we are joined by my darling mother-in-law, Carol Huckin, as honorary chair. Our family knows firsthand the value of DCT and the power of the arts.

Marissa Mulder*

Marissa Mulder*

“This year’s star is Marissa Mulder, an electrifying new cabaret princess on a meteoric rise. We are thrilled to get her to Dallas!! Be there as she takes the stage in the legendary Venetian Room at The Fairmont Dallas. There is always unexpected fun, excitement and shenanigans. Come early to mix-n-mingle during the pre-show “Cocktails & Cabaret” hour in The Venetian lobby.

“For tickets or sponsorship, contact Artie Olaisen at [email protected] or 214.978.0110.”

* Photo provided by
the Dallas 
Children's Theater

Baseball Royals Michael Young And Cristina Barbosa To Co-Chair Dallas Children’s Theater’s Knights And Princesses Dream Ball

Former Texas Ranger Michael Young and his wife Cristina Barbosa will be part of royalty on Saturday, September 20. But instead of Buckingham Palace with Kate, William, Harry and George, it will be the Dallas Children’s Theater for its Knights and Princesses Dream Ball.

Mateo, Michael, Antonio, Cristina and Emilio Young*

Mateo, Michael, Antonio, Cristina and Emilio Young*

Cristina and Michael will serve as honorary co-chairs, along with their children Mateo, Emilio and Antonio.

Cristina said, “Our family is pleased to serve as honorary chairs of the Knights and Princesses Dream Ball at Dallas Children’s Theater. Having seen firsthand the benefits that theater has provided our own children, we are excited to be a part of raising funds for adapted performances for children with special needs. After all, every child deserves great live theater! We hope everyone will join us in bringing in the magic of live theater to all children.”

This year the DCT “presented its first sensory-friendly production for children with special needs.” What does that mean? The DCT reduced sound levels, eliminated flashing lights and kept the overall house lights up a few levels higher than normal “to provide a more comfortable experience for the families.” The DCT staff didn’t just come up with these adaptions on their own. They received the recommendations from Autism Speaks, the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at UT Southwestern, University of North Texas Department of Speech and Hearings Sciences and Health Science Center and the Autism Center, Children’s Medical Center and the Dallas Museum of Art.”

The ball will follow a 4:30 p.m. performance of “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale”. Tickets for the ball are $50 per person. Proceeds from the event will benefit adapted performances for children with special needs.

Tiaras and scepters will be the accessories du jour.

* Photo courtesy of Michael Young and Cristina Barbosa

Round Robin April 3: Chick Lit And Mad Hatter’s Tea Patron Parties and Girls Party

Once again Thursday proved to be an overabundant serving of appetizers for the weekend. In the case of Thursday, April 3, it was on the eve of the Final Four and the night of SMU playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Madison Square Garden.

Oh, did we mention that tornado warnings and watches were lighting up the skies and local newscasts?

Among the activities taking place were

  • Racing for the Sight patron party at Vinnette and Mike Montgomery’s new home benefiting the Retina Foundation
  • Fashion Cited with Ron Corning emceeing at Frontiers of Flight Museum for the Retina Foundation

Chick Lit Patron Party

Carolina Herrera store

Carolina Herrera store

Carolina Herrera is the jewel box of couture clothing. And despite the threatening weather, the CH boutique in Highland Park Village had the ladies turn out for the Chick Lit Luncheon patron party.

While waiting for guest of honor/next-day’s-luncheon-speaker Julia Reed to arrive, about 100 guests chatted and checked out the gems on the hangar. One poor gent looked at a spectacular shimming evening gown and queried, “$2,000?” A broad streak of shock swept over the nearby gals. He just knew he had insulted the creation. From the sidelines, one understanding female suggested, “That would pay for the label and perhaps the hangar.” As for the gown, in an addition to the gold, it also comes in green and blue. . . and it will probably be a showstopper in the months to come at galas.

Melinda Rathke

Melinda Rathke

As for Julia, she eventually arrived and immediately became best friends with everyone. As for dinner, she had a dinner date at Café Pacific with a local gal-pal — Laura Bush. But it was an early dinner because Julia had the Chick Lit Luncheon the next morning at Brook Hollow.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Patron Party

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Honorary Chair Gina Ginsburg and husband Scott hosted their very first “philanthropy” gathering at their new Highland Park mansion. Four years in the making, the residence would have delighted French royalty pre-revolution — and the Rolling Stones.

In the two-story library, a life-size photo of Mick Jagger was in place upstairs, while paintings by JD Miller were just at eye level at the room’s entry. The old masters would have been very impressed with JD’s talents.

Scott and Gina Ginsburg

Scott and Gina Ginsburg

In the formal living room that was as proper and traditional as King Louis XIV, a very modern portrait of Marie Antoinette stopped traffic. It wasn’t the Marie A. that one recalls. Imagine a very stylized Marie A . Despite attempts to find an artist’s signature on the painting, Scott smiled and insisted that he had done it and Gina was the subject — “I didn’t know what to do with her face, so I gave her a face mask.”

Lisa Loy Laughlin and Bettina Hennessy

Lisa Loy Laughlin and Bettina Hennessy

Eventually the crowd of around 100 gathered in the den where Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Lisa Loy Laughlin welcomed the group and then had Jocelyn White reveal that as a thank you, Lisa and Dallas Arboretum Women’s Council President Bettina Hennessy had arranged to have a blooming bed in the Ginsburg Plaza dedicated in Gina’s honor — “Sweet Gina’s Blooming Bed”. Only problem? They were going to present Gina with a certificate to seal the deal, but it “was in the mail.”

Girls Party

Nancy Carlson

Nancy Carlson

The day before, Nancy Carlson had been giving real thought to moving the Girls Party benefiting the Dallas Children’s Theater into the Carlson mansion. After all, the weather guessers had threatening everything excluding the plague and swarms of locusts hitting the area.

But surprise! Like a general leading her troops into battle, Nancy decided she would chance it and held the party outdoors and Co-Chairs Maggie Kipp and Tara Lewis were on board.

Maggie Kipp and Annika Cail

Maggie Kipp and Annika Cail

Ma Nature cooperated, providing what appeared to be a fireworks show with lightning flashing in the skies above and making the thunder clouds looking like bruised meringue. She even added a touch of a breeze to keep things cool for the 200 gals.

Tented backyard

Tented backyard

As for the Carlson estate, it was once again a whimsical setting with tents, mountains of desserts, grown-up beverages and entertainment all over the place. Artist JD Miller did one of his live paint-a-thons with his bride Lea Fisher watching. The Dallas Youth Repertory Program did a “flash mob” performance. Guests found themselves donning leis and learning how to hula.

JD Miller and Lea Fisher

JD Miller and Lea Fisher

But the big surprise was the song dedication to Dallas Children’s Theater Chairman of the Board Sharron Hunt, who had been the DJ sponsor for music by DJs Jen Miller and Paul Paredes.

Sharron and Maggie also coordinated efforts to have Linda “Dallas” Gray on the scene as honorary celebrity chair, thanks to their friendship with Elaine Saab. In addition to being Sharron’s friend, Elaine’s kids grew up with Maggie. It was a few years ago that Elaine tracked Linda down to speak at a Mississippi women’s conference. Learning about the Girls Party, Elaine reached out to Linda who, despite having a 5:30 a.m. call the next morning, looked spectacular and was overly accommodating to one and all.

Robyn Flatt, Linda Gray, Sharron Hunt and Elaine Saab

Robyn Flatt, Linda Gray, Sharron Hunt and Elaine Saab

DCT’s Robyn Flatt looked like a school kid herself with the recent success of “Mariachi Girl” and the evening’s fundraiser. For the past 10 years the Cabaret Gala has been the main fundraiser. The Girls’ Party has become delicious frosting on the fundraising cake for the theater that has become a treasure to parents and kids throughout the area.

Despite the threatening weather, Nancy made the right call.

Despite Threatening April Showers, Dallas Children’s Theater’s “Girls Party” Still On For Tonight At Nancy’s Place

Nancy Carlson

Nancy Carlson

It appears that Mother Nature is going to dampen the area today. But what can you expect? While most of the countless events are indoors, the Girls Party was slated to be on the grounds of Nancy Carlson’s fabulous estate.

Talked with the long-legged lady lawyer yesterday and she was already in “just-in-case” mode. Festivities will be simply moved indoors and that ain’t shabby.

So, if you’re planning on wearing your rain boots to the Dallas Children’s Theater fundraiser, scrap that idea and wear your adorable sandals and stilettos because your galoshes will be out of place.

JUST IN: Girls Party Honorary Chair Is To Be A Gorgeous Gray

Linda Gray*

Linda Gray*

It’s great to start the day off with fabulous news. And leave it to Girls Party Co-Chairs Maggie Kipp and Tara Lewis to provide it this morning.

They had promised surprises were in store for the Dallas Children’s Theater fundraiser, when they revealed that it would take place Thursday, April 3, at Nancy Carlson’s to-die-for estate.

Well, surprise! Linda Gray (aka “Sue Ellen,” as if you didn’t know) is going to be the honorary chair for the commemoration of “the theater’s 30 years of service to the community.”

Well, yahoo!!

According to Linda, “I love what Dallas Children’s Theater does. Every child needs a home like DCT where they can discover themselves. Whether you are an audience member or you’re on stage, theater allows you to use all of your senses in creative and imaginative ways. I’d say it is important food for the spirit and every child should get a taste of that in their formative years. How fortunate Dallas is to have a place dedicated to children and families year round. It’s a treasure I’m proud to be associated with.”

Sharron Hunt (File photo)

Sharron Hunt (File photo)

And how did Maggie and Tara land such an honorary coup? Well, they’re smart gals. They tap just the right resources to hit gold. In this case, their “resource” was DCT Board Chair Sharron Hunt, who arranged for Linda to come on board.

It will be interesting to see what other surprises Maggie and Tara have planned.

Tickets start at $150, but if you give $2,500 or more then you’re “invited to an event featuring DCT cast and crew members to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create magic on stage.”

* Photo provided by Dallas 
Children's Theater


2014 Girls Party To Celebrate Dallas Children’s Theater At The Carlsons’ Estate In April

Nancy and Clint Carlson's residence (File photo)

Nancy and Clint Carlson’s residence (File photo)

One of the most fabulous places to party will be the scene for the Dallas Children’s Theater come Thursday, April 3. Nancy and Clint Carlson are opening their incredible estate for the 2014 Girls Party.

Nancy Carlson (File photo)

Nancy Carlson (File photo)

It was just two years ago that Nancy hosted that last celebration, and what a party-hearty it was! The grounds were like Neiman Marcus and Six Flags Over Texas had given birth to the perfect place with incredible balloon bouquets, tempt-delicious goodies and so much more. The problem was trying to leave. Nobody wanted to!

Maggie Kipp (File photo)

Maggie Kipp (File photo)

Tara Lewis (File photo)

Tara Lewis (File photo)

Somehow, Co-Chairs Maggie Kipp and Tara Lewis managed to get the Carlsons to host the affair once again. It wasn’t all that hard. Nancy loves DCT, so she was sorta a pushover.

According to Nancy, “DCT means a lot to me. It’s a fantastic organization that touches so many children and families. Growing up surrounded by the magic of the arts myself, I just think it’s great to have a place like DCT where children can explore new interests and discover more about themselves. DCT’s Girls Party was a very popular event in the past and when Robyn (Flatt) came to me about the need for additional support, I decided this event would be one way I could help.  I care so much about DCT and I’m happy to bring friends together to celebrate their work and have fun at the same time.”

This event will be extra special since it’s in celebration of DCT’s 30th birthday. No wonder the theme is “Surprise! It’s Your Birthday!”

BTW, sorry, fellows, but you’re not invited. So make plans to stay at home with the munchkins.

North Texas Giving Day Booster: Dallas Children’s Theater

“For 30 years, Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) has been impacting North Texas children and youth. With the help of generous donations from North Texas Giving Day, DCT is able to engage and educate more children using “learning through theater”. To illustrate how DCT impacts children I want to share Jessica’s story:

Dallas Children's Theater's "Jessica"*

Dallas Children’s Theater’s “Jessica”*

“’I’m Jessica and I have dyslexia and so school was always stressful for me.  My time at Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) was the most joyful, nurturing and creative time of my life.  And at home, life was filled with the struggles of homework I couldn’t complete. But at DCT, that didn’t matter, I was a star. It was the place I looked into my father’s proud eyes and took my first bow and the place I learned to read. At DCT, I knew the words because we lived the words, with funny voices, deep breaths and purposeful movement; they all made sense. By living the scripts, I learned to read the scripts. And I took this knowledge and used it to learn to read everything else. Now I have a Masters from Columbia University. It takes a village to raise a child. As much as my family and school may have wanted to give me the wings DCT gave me, they couldn’t. There is not a one size fit for anyone, but DCT “fits” a lot of kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks of our society. The children of Dallas deserve a place created just for them. A place designed to give every child the confidence they need to allow their voice to be heard, not just in the back row but in every arena of their lives.’

“250,000 Jessicas come to Dallas Children’s Theater to participate in classes and to see shows each year, trying to find their voice, build their self-esteem, learn to make friends, and so much more. They do this at greatly reduced prices because we believe every child should have the opportunity to experience the sparks that come from this amazing seeing, feeling, saying, doing, touching experience.  It’s all encompassing and it’s like nothing else because it engages all of the senses.  Scientific research points to the fact that this mode of learning aligns beautifully with the way the brain works and longitudinal research proves that children who are exposed to the arts early are better students, more creative employees and have a greater tolerance and appreciation for others.

“Consider this: $500 can provide an elementary school with one month of after school theater classes; or it can provide a scholarship for two children — who might not otherwise be able to afford it — with a chance to register for one of DCT’s great academy classes.  Last year’s North Texas Giving Day total of $20,038.90 helped over 120 children experience the magic of learning through theater. Your support enables us to continue to help children like Jessica and challenge generations to come.

By Dallas Children’s Theater PR Director Lisa Schreiner Goss

* Photo provided by Communities Foundation of Texas

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Cabaret Gala 2013

According to the Dallas Children’s Theater’s Cabaret Gala 2013 Co-Chair Marisa Huckin,

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

“Anyone who has ever attended a performance at Dallas Children’s Theater knows that it is a place of pure joy and enchantment!  Our family loves seeing the plays and taking a Showbiz Summer class each year. Their many programs benefit children and families throughout the Metroplex and beyond. They are truly a gateway to and for the arts and this September marks their 30th Anniversary Season!

“So, come to the Cabaret, ole chum!  This is my 2nd opportunity to co-chair the Cabaret Gala. I just LOVE this event. What could be more fun than sitting at a candle-lit table in the legendary Venetian Room, sipping champagne, and experiencing an intimate performance by one of New York City’s leading cabaret performers! Last year was a smash with stage & TV star Emily Bergl, and the year before, the incredible Marilyn Maye! This amazing event has been going on for 20 years to benefit Dallas Children’s Theater.

“This year, I am especially delighted to be sharing the co-chair duties with the master of civic volunteerism, Yvonne Crum, and, we are so lucky to have as our honorary chairs, the mother-daughter team of Martha Miller & Carla Miller.

Carole J. Bufford*

Carole J. Bufford*

“We could not be more excited to announce this year’s Cabaret Star, the 2013 New York Nightlife Award winner, Carole J. Bufford.  She’s had rave reviews in The New York Times and is guaranteed to be a showstopper! Plus, we raffle off a fabulous trip for two to New York City with air transportation, deluxe accommodations at The Carlyle Hotel, and this year, two tickets to the smash Broadway show Kinky Boots, starring Dallas’ own Stark Sands.

“Cabaret Gala 2013 will be held on Saturday, October 5th in The Venetian Room of The Dallas Fairmont. Tables start at $1,500 and Sponsorships at $3,000, for reservations or raffle tickets or information, please contact Artie Olaisen at [email protected] or 214-978-0110.”

* Photo provided by the Dallas Children's Theater

Everything Was Indeed Coming Up (Caroline) Rose (Hunt) For Dallas Children’s Theater’s Celebration

Katheryn Sands, Robyn Flatt and Courtenay Sands

Katheryn Sands, Robyn Flatt and Courtenay Sands

The Dallas Children’s Theater is truly a magnet for families of all generations. It’s been that way since it was founded by Robyn Baker Flatt and Dennis Vincent in 1984. When it was only four years old, Laurie Sands Harrison learned they were looking for a new “home.” They had been using Withers Elementary School to “respond to the growing need for professional family theater.” It was at that time that Laurie’s mom, Caroline Rose Hunt, was no longer in need of the marketing center across the way from the Crescent Court complex. Instead of letting the space go empty, Caroline agreed that the DCT could move in as long as they promised to “keep it busy.” Fast-forward 12 years: Dallas real estate was booming and the marketing center was part of the explosion. Caroline had bad news and good news. The DCT needed to “get crackin’ ” and find a new home. But the good news was almost too good to be true. She would help with the financing of the new facility at Skillman and Northwest Highway. Yes, it used to be a bowling alley, but it was perfect in so many other ways — location, room to grow, parking, etc. It just needed a little readjusting.

This history was shared by DCT Associate Artistic Director Artie Olaisen with the 280 guests at the 2013 Rosewood Awards, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” on Friday, May 17, at the DCT.

Laura Sands and Rosemary Sands

Laura Sands and Rosemary Sands

And speaking of family, Caroline’s was all around: daughter Laurie, who initiated the relationship back in the 1980’s and was honorary chair; grandkids Courtenay Sands and Katheryn Sands plus Rosemary Sands along with mom Laura Sands who was co-chairing the event with Mickie Bragalone, Carole Jordan and Craig Sutton. In addition to Caroline’s Individual Benefactor Award for her being “remarkable and visionary. . . an iconic spirit and imaginative powerhouse,” the following were also honored:

Mickie Bragalone

Mickie Bragalone

  • the late David Millet of Millet the Printer, who was posthumously awarded the Corporate/Foundation Award, was a lover of the arts and a great promoter of DCT. He invested in DCT and helped with promotional materials over the years, “even when payment at the moment was iffy.”
  • Vinson & Elkins attorney Jim Markus received the Special Recognition Award for coordinating the firm’s 43 lawyers to provide more than 400 hours of pro bono work for DCT.
  • former county judge Margaret Keliher also received the Special Recognition Award for her years of serving on the DCT board. In addition to sharing her award with her husband Lester, she “credited her parents for insisting that she and her siblings be exposed to live theater.”

And since this was a theatrical program, a simple handover of the award wouldn’t do. As each was announced, a special tune or reading was performed.

Of course, you want to know what the selections were, so here they are:

  • David Millet — Gary Floyd sang “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” from “Oklahoma!”
  • Margaret Keliher — Laura Lites sang “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked”
  • Jim Markus — Emily Ford and Jonathan Bragg sang a medley from “West Side Story” and
  • Caroline Rose Hunt — Sally Fiorello did a reading from Caroline’s book, “Primrose Past: the 1848 Journal of Young Lady Primrose.”
Charlene Howell and Margaret Keliher

Charlene Howell and Margaret Keliher

Mark Lank and Marlene and John Sughrue

Mark Lank and Marlene and John Sughrue

The evening started out in front of the theater under a tent. The organizers weren’t leaving chance to Mother Nature. Margaret Keliher was sporting a white corsage from her husband Lester, who admitted that his mother would have killed him if he hadn’t. . .  Charlene Howell said she broke her left wrist crossing the street in front of the London Ritz-Carlton on April 18. Since spending five hours in the hospital that amounted to a $6,900 bill, she’s had Carrell Clinic’s Dr. Bo Frederick surgically putting her wrist back together again. . . Kate Rose Marquez explained one of the reasons for accepting the chairmanship of the Community Partners of Dallas’ “Change is Good” was CPD Executive Director Paige McDaniel: “If Paige calls me at midnight and tells me to meet her at the Greyhound bus station, I’ll do it.” . .  Among the other guests were Marlene and John Sughrue, Mark Lank, David Millet’s daughter Dana Millet, Lynn Dealey, Daniel Holguin, Sara and David Martineau and Olive Anne and George McLaughlin.

Lynn Dealey, Dana Millet and Daniel Holguin

Lynn Dealey, Dana Millet and Daniel Holguin

David and Sara Martineau and Olive Anne and George McLaughlin

David and Sara Martineau and Olive Anne and George McLaughlin

As for supper, it was strictly grown-up fare including Mediterranean Salad “Martini”; peppercorn-crusted beef sirloin, lemon caper glazed breast of chicken, creamy risotto, grilled asparagus; and miniature desserts and coffee stations.

Here’s a little trivia that you may not know: The collection of more than 1,000 Kathy Burks Theater of Puppetry Arts puppets are stored at DCT.

2013 Rosewood Awards Announced Including Caroline Rose Hunt, Millet Printing, Jim Markus And Margaret Keliher

Caroline Rose Hunt (File photo)

Caroline Rose Hunt (File photo)

OK, so the headline gave the announcement away about the Dallas Children’s Theater‘s 8th Rosewood Awards on Friday, May 17. Yes, Caroline Rose Hunt will receive The Rosewood Award as Individual Benefactor, Millet Printing will receive the Corporate/Foundation Award for the late David Millet and attorney Jim Markus and former Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher will be presented with the Special Recognition awards.

So, why read any farther? Because there’s so much more than awards, cocktails and dinner, don’t you know!

Those always creative and entertainment loving DCT folks will present “Everything Is Coming Up Roses,” serving as a tribute to Broadway with singer Liz Mikel and local talents.

Hey, wait! “Everything Is Coming Up Roses”. . . like Caroline “Rose” Hunt? Cute and clever. Told ya those DCT folks were creative!

Single tickets are $200 per person and tables of 10 are starting at $3,000. All proceeds will benefit the DCT literary and education programs.


Barbara Bush Foundation For Family Literacy And Dallas Children’s Theater Celebrate Children Essayists

The momentum is rolling for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s November 12 “A Celebration of Reading” at the Meyerson. Yes, there will be top authors at the big event.

But part of the program includes kids’ events, too. Wednesday Erik Jonsson Community School 3rd, 4th and 5th graders learned who had won the essay writing contest inspired by the book “Pinkalicious.”

After reading the book, the students were challenged to write essays addressing questions posed by the former First Lady:

“Before Pinkalicious turned pink from eating too many pink cupcakes, she never thought there would be consequences for too much of a good thing. Think about a time when you did not make mindful choices. What did you do? What consequences did you face? Write a short story about the experience.”

Front row – Leo Ontiveros, Priscilla Cabrera and Thomas Orta; Back row – Robyn Flatt, Amanda and George P. Bush with “Pinkalicious” cast members in pink, of course.

Following a performance of “Pinkalicious The Musical” by the Dallas Children’s Theater at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts, the winners were announced Wednesday by Amanda and George P. Bush, who will be hosting “A Celebration of Reading.” Drum roll!

  • 3rd grade — Leo Ontiveros for “Listen to Your Mom”
  • 4th grade — Thomas Orta’s “My Goofy Hair Do”
  • 5th grade — Priscilla Cabrera’s “The Time I Fainted”

Other news about the upcoming November 12 fundraiser with authors on stage is the addition of a local author — Robert Zorn. His book, “Cemetery John,” suggests that perhaps there was another person besides Bruno Hauptmann who was the mastermind of the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1936.  He was inspired to research and write the book thanks to his father, the late Eugene Zorn, who was chief economist for Republic National Bank of Dallas.

The cast of authors this year is going to provide an evening for everyone, so get your tickets.

Photo provided by "A Celebration of Reading"

Dallas Children’s Theater’s 20th Anniversary Cabaret Gala 2012 Got Bergl-ed By Songbird Emily

Pity the poor folks who wrote off 20th Anniversary Cabaret Gala Saturday night at the Fairmont’s Venetian Room because they thought it was going to be a wrinkled songstress crooning tunes from a bygone era. Lucky were those who were charmed, tantalized and blown away by cabaret singer/comedian/vixen Emily Bergl benefiting the Dallas Children’s Theater.

Emily Bergl

Word had been filtering down via word of mouth and internet that Emily was part of a newer wave of cabaret performers. Imagine Tinker Bell figure, Bette Midler sass, Lady Gaga brass and Marilyn Monroe flirt. Now, you’re thinking Emily.

The New Yorker who was familiar to many in the audience from her days on “Desperate Housewives” sang, mugged collapsing on stage, ventured out into the audience and unlayered her wardrobe throughout her performance. Yee-haw!

NOTE: For a review of the show, check out The Flash List.

Robert Wilonsky, Margaret Keliher, Mary Wilonsky and Lester Keliher

The evening started off with a cocktail reception in the lobby outside the Venetian Room. It was an interesting blend of Cabaret Gala vets (Barbara Brice, Kent Perkins, Carolyn Lupton and Mayo Crum) and youngsters (Margaret and Lester Keliher, Mary and Robert Wilonsky, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Julianna and Chris LeBlanc, Ailsa Hurley, Julie Lloyd and Heather Hayes and Jeff Roberts ).

Yvonne Crum, Jeff Roberts and Heather Hays

Once the doors opened to the Venetian Room, guests were more than pleased to see a receiving line. Oh, one of those? What’s so great about that? Well, it was short, just two people, but what a pair: local resident/”Laugh-In” vet Ruth Buzzi and Dallas Children’s Theater/Gala Producer Artie Olaisen.  These two alone were worth the price of the ticket. No wonder the receiving line didn’t move like a horse race at Lone Star Park! When someone asked, “How many people ask you where your purse is?,” referring to her “Laugh-In” role,  itty-bitty comedienne Ruth responded, “If I had $1 for everyone. . . not $5. . . ”

Once inside, guests took their places at tables decked out with plates of bite-sized appetizers and desserts and flutes of champagne. In the center of each table was a bucket with reinforcements for the flutes.

At a front-row table was Kate Kuether, who just moved to Dallas from New York, where her accomplishments included appearing as Meg in “Phantom of the Opera.” She and husband John, who was also a “Phantom” vet, are now associated with Park Cities Dance.

Before Emily with her pianist G. Scott Lacey and Daniel Fabricant on bass/ukulele were introduced, Gala Chair Yvonne Crum (this is her fifth time chairing the event) and Marisa Huckin welcomed the group and thanked special friends (i.e. underwriters, sponsors, donors). Marisa told the audience “I’m only here because glasses would have spoiled Yvonne’s outfit!”

Artie Olaisen, Yvonne Crum, Marisa Huckin and Ruth Buzzi

Then it was time for the raffle drawing. For that Artie held the glass bowl with tickets and Ruth did the drawing. When the name was drawn for the trip to Santa Fe, there was a brief eyebrow raising among Artie, Marisa and Yvonne. Then they announced, “Ruth Buzzi!” Without missing a beat, Ruthie mugged, “I’m going to Santa Fe!”

Artie then took over the mic, introducing Emily. When he recalled having met her last year in New York, it was pretty darn obvious that he was smitten as he described her as “a bubbly, exquisite person. . . fresh, fun, sexy … [with] a smart way with a song.”

Emily Bergl

All of those points came out the moment the blonde arrived on stage in a soft lavender floor-length evening gown. As she sang “I’ll Take Manhattan,” “Mad About The Boy” and others, one song had Emily on the floor, saying, “That’s the first time I’ve ever been on the floor in Dallas, and it may not be the last.”

After another song, a member of the audience was heard to say instead of “Brava,” “Yee-Haw!” Immediately, Emily with an eyebrow raised responded, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard ‘yee-haw’ at one of my cabaret shows before.”

Introducing another song, she described it as being from the 1920’s and 30’s, “when ladies wore gloves, men wore hats, and people had the attention span to listen to entire f*****g songs.” Warned you that she had some Midler in her.

Emily Bergl unzipping

As Emily continued her repertoire including “It Had To Be You,” “Ten Cents a Dance,” “Crying,” “Material Girl” and others that included eliciting audience participation, layers of her dress seemed to disappear until she was down to a flesh-colored body suit. One of the layers was caught by Yvonne, who put it on for a brief stint on stage with Emily.

Hollywood Floral arrangement

At the very end of the performance, Emily thanked Hollywood Floral for the big floral arrangement saying “EB” in the entry to the Venetian Room.

Brought back for an encore, she finished her stage performance with Mama Cass’s “Dream A Little Dream Of Me.”

Cabaret may seem like something from the past, but it’s the perfect venue for an entertainer like Emily, who thrives in an intimate setting to the delight of the audience.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 20th Annual Cabaret Gala

Yvonne Crum (File photo)

According to 20th Annual Cabaret Gala Chair Yvonne Crum,

“Well, he’s done it again!  So, the saying goes and has gone for the past 20 years! The ‘who’ is longtime DCT staffer Artie Olaisen and the ‘what’ is the 20th annual Cabaret Gala which he has lovingly produced since 1993. His lovechild was originally conceived as a one-time event to celebrate Dallas Children’s Theater’s 10th anniversary. That magical night in 1993 not only restored The Fairmont Dallas’  Venetian Room to its former glory and purpose, it introduced Dallas audiences to Andrea Marcovicci, the reigning queen of this intimate art form and no one was going to let him get away with just one night!  Dallas was suddenly on the radar and wish-list of every celebrated cabaret performer. Those that followed have included Julie Wilson, Karen Akers, Marilyn Maye, Amanda McBroom, Mary Cleere Haran, Christine Andreas, Liz Callaway, Karen Mason, KT Sullivan, Maude Maggart, Klea Blackhurst, Jeff Harnar and Jason Graae

“It also launched a love affair between Artie and his audience, the many Dallas patrons who have supported his effort thru the years.  It is that love for his commitment to DCT and the great American songbook that inspired (moi) Yvonne Crum to return to my role as Gala Chair along with several past Chairs who I have enticed to form  a group “The Leading Ladies” and they are Ruth Buzzi, Yvonne Crum, Caroline Rose Hunt, Carolyn Lupton, Jill Rowlett, and Dee Wyly.  We’re hoping to generate additional support this year in honor of Artie’s many years of service to DCT and the arts community.

“The guest artist for this special anniversary year will be Emily Bergl, best known for her turn as Beth Young on Desperate Housewives and appearances on Southland and Men in Trees. She recently took the New York club scene by storm with her performances at The Algonquin and the prestigious Café Carlyle.  She makes her Dallas debut at the 20th annual Cabaret Gala on Saturday, October 6th.  It’s a sophisticated  and fun after-dinner affair. For sponsorship or ticket information, contact, guess who, Artie Olaisen at [email protected] or by calling 214.978.0110.”