Some of the black-tie guests got a bit of sticker shock when they arrived at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Saturday, September 15, for the Dallas Symphony Gala 2018. In addition to the parking ticket, they were told, “That’ll be $25.” Traditionally, upper-echelon formal events in Dallas that charge $500 per person provide complimentary parking. Some were caught off guard; some grumbled. One millionaire and long-time DSO supporter laughed: “Well, somebody’s making money!”
Once inside, though, the spit-and-polish of the crowd made the bitter bill pill past tense. Instead of posing for photos against razzle-dazzle floral displays, guests were positioned in front of a shower of bitty-bitty butterflies on threads hanging from the ceiling. The half wall of glass separating the entry from the formal lobby appeared to have been etched to reflect the pattern on the tablecloths for the seated dinner. But instead of a painstaking, ever-lasting display, it was actually a temporary wrap.
Alas, no one seemed to notice when all the couture gowns, diamonds and custom tuxedos were the real showstoppers.
Among the first to stop the show were Honorary Co-Chairs Niki and Ryan Anthony. While blonde Niki looked fully coiffed, the gentleman at her side was equally eye-catching. Despite his bald pate, the sparkling blue eyes and dynamite smile could only belong to Ryan, who revealed that he was due for another stem-cell transplant. While the famed trumpeter wouldn’t be onstage tonight with his fellow DSO performers, he made it clear there was no way he was going to miss the evening with songbird Kristin Chenoweth on stage. Niki teased him, saying that when he first lost his hair, his scalp was so, so white. Now he looked like a wholesome younger version of Patrick Stewart.
Another main topic making the rounds was the just-completed presentation of the Crystal Charity Ball’s Ten Best Dressed at Neiman Marcus Downtown, with Oscar de la Renta’s creative co-directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia and CEO Alex Bolen with his wife/Oscar de la Renta’s stepdaughter, Eliza Bolen, in attendance.
When asked about daughter Kimberly Whitman’s necklace that she had worn to the CCB Ten Best Dressed Cocktail Party, Myrna Schlegel, decked out in a gown by Balmaine, recalled how she had discovered the necklace in Europe when Kim was having her dress created for her 2005 wedding to Justin Whitman.
And speaking of NM, head man Geoffroy van Raemdonck and Alvise Orsini arrived with Mimi and Rich Sterling and Cheryl Bryant, who’d been a classmate of Geoffroy’s at the University of Chicago. Alvise was just back from a quick trip to NYC. Overhearing someone tell Alvise that Geoffroy had impressed the Ten Best guests with a story about their twin sons, Geoffroy laughed that perhaps next time he ought to bring the boys along.
The NM CEO was wearing a Louis Vuitton tux, while Alvise was in Ralph Lauren. But, they were hardly the only ones bringing the show-and-wow factor. Other standouts included Kim and Greg Hext in Calvin Klein and Burberry, respectively; Mary and Bob Potter (the former in a colorful Dolce & Gabbana number); Sheila and Jody Grant in Oscar and Ralph Lauren, respectively; Barbara and Don Daseke (Barbara sporting Naeem Khan); Kara (in Rosie Assoulin) and Randall Goss; Diane and Hal Brierley; Jennifer Clark in Cucinelli; Tracy and Ben Lange (she was wearing Michael Faircloth); Myrna and Bob Schlegel (in black-velvet tuxedo shoes by Lanvin); Nikki and Crayton Webb; Lisa and Clay Cooley; Marnie and Kern Wildenthal (he was wielding a handsome, silver-tipped cane to support his tennis-ravaged knee); Betsy and Guinn Crousen (she in Ralph Lauren, he in a unique, custom-made tux by Stefano Ricci); and Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger.
After enjoying a dinner of green salad with berries and grilled beef filet with vegetables, Gala guests participated in a live auction by Heritage Auctions’ Roberta Kramer benefiting the DSO’s educational programs. A private dinner provided by the Symphony with Maestro Fabio Luisi went for $26K, a private performance by DSO Principal Trumpeter Ryan Anthony attracted $19K, and an “Unparalleled DSO Experience” during the 2018/19 season raked in $10K.
With that, it was time for the evening’s big show. Following a welcome by Gala Co-Chairs Lisa and Bob Segert, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and singer Kristin delivered a dynamite performance that had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. With the DSO accompanying and famed music director Mary-Mitchell Campbell conducting, the petite, blonde Oklahoma native opened with “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be”), the old Doris Day hit, and never looked back.
Sipping occasionally from a giant-sized Whataburger cup, Kristin mixed such standards as “Moon River” and “The Man That Got Away” with humorous commentary about Texas (she’d just visited her first Buc-ee’s, and was mightily impressed) and Dolly Parton’s breasts (“She calls hers Shock and Awe … I call mine Dumb and Dumber”). She also performed lively versions of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” “I Could Have Danced All Night” and, of course, “Popular,” from the Tony Award-winning musical “Wicked.” Many in the audience knew Kristin had played Glinda and sang the song in the show’s first Broadway production, back in the early 2000s.
Her encore song was “Smile,” performed without a microphone. Talk about a showstopper! Kristin’s energy propelled many on to the after-party, where Co-Chairs Courtney and Andrew Nall wrapped up the Gala by presiding over a late-night dance-a-thon.
For more photos of the night, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.