Like the swallows returning to Mission San Juan Capistrano, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Presentation Gala debutantes in their billowing white gowns were presented on stage at the Morton Meyerson before family and friends on Saturday, February 8. While the Gittings portraits were lined up at the lobby entrance, the Renaissance Foyer and the upper level Loge Terrace were filled with beautifully decorated tables for the seated supper that would follow the presentation. The scene was set for the 32 debs and their Honor Guard escorts to rule the night.
Following the group photos of the debs and the Honor Guard, the girls in white gowns headed to the Meyerson’s backstage area and the guests made for the lower level lobby for a reception. There, 2020 Dallas Symphony Orchestra Presentation Chair Melissa Lewis was checking her cellphone on the whereabouts of her husband, Buddy Lewis. It seems that he had left his credentials somewhere. Melissa mentioned that they should just forget the search for the document, laughing that she “had pull to get him in.”
Barry Hancock had the coolest accessory of the night. After a snow-skiing snafu resulted in a collision, damaging his ACL, Barry had a cup-holder attached to his left crutch. When a photo was required, wife Margaret Hancock in her Patti Flowers 2019 Crystal Charity Ball gown quickly stepped in, enabing Barry to set his crutches aside.
The looks of the night were fashionably formal for the most part, with Deb mother Elizabeth Gambrell in blue and white Herrera, for example. (Husband Eric Gambrell was resplendent in red sash and white tie; cracked Eric: “Just call me Mr. Ambassador.”) Lisa Troutt was in an emerald gown by Stanley Korshak’s Mackenzie Brittingham.
But there were a few oops, too, like the gal in a size-too-small red jumpsuit. Then there was the young lady in a short white dress with black fringe hem and partial sleeves that would have been right at home in a 1920s speakeasy.
Jason Downing was a man caught between two daughters. Daughter Caroline Downing had already bowed in 2018 and was president-elect for the Symphony Assembly. On hand for the night was daughter Katherine Downing, whose future includes a bow on the Meyerson stage next year. When asked whether his white tie and tails could be recycled for Katherine’s debut, he got a resounding no-vote from wife Laura Downing. When he suggested that the girls’ white deb gowns might also be drafted into wedding duties when the time came, he was vetoed once again.
Mike McCullough with wife Sharon McCullough was receiving congratulations on receiving the Vance Miller Award at the Gentleman’s Evening at the Dallas Country Club on the previous Thursday night. Mike admitted surprise at the unexpected honor.
Meanwhile, the debs were backstage in their final stages of preparation for the presentation. While some rehearsed their Texas dips with event producer Jan Strimple, others chowed down on cheese and fruit and water or just chilled with pals and papas like Eric Gambrell, Wade Jones and Marc Sigel. 2019 deb Kathleen Gamso was backstage too, helping to coordinate things. When one person complimented her on her 2019 bow, Kathleen thanked the person, proudly adding that she was the first special-needs deb.
Then, just as the Meyerson chimes sounded, everyone took their places, both in the symphony hall and behind the curtain. Kristi Hoyl was attending her first DSOL Deb Presentation and was warned that it was not going to be a sedate night of controlled applause and stiff upper lips. She seemed surprised but prepared as guests took their seats and waited for the program to get under way.
For the most part, though, the presentation came off without a hitch. Kim Brannon, president of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, kicked things off before bringing on Melissa. Also recognized were Honorary Chairs Dr. Linda Burk and Dr. John Gilmore, the various Presentation Ball committee chairs and then the venerable Stan Gardner, who would serve once again as announcer. As each of the 32 debs (Emily Baschab, Audrey Berner, Isabella Cox, Grace Crenshaw, Gracie Davis, Maddy Duvall, Maddie Esping, Eleanor Gambrell, Georgia Hallam, Hunter Hart, Kate Jones, Izzy Keene, Ellie King, Katie Kottwitz, Mary Kumpf, Avery LeVoyer, Catherine Magee, Audrey Magnuson, Allie McWhorter, Shelby Nelson, Grace Olson, Annalea Pedigo, Beth Ryan, Kendell Sigel, Margaret Smith, Campbell Swango, Sara TaCcito, Julia Tribolet, Savannah Troutt, Natalie Ward, Brynn Weakley and Genny Wood) was called to the stage in turn by Stan, there were only a few rafter-raising whoops and screams for particular debs and bows that amazed all.
When everyone repaired to the dinner-and-dancing area, they saw the tables laid out for a repast that would include green salad, grilled beef filet and either a lemon curd tart or a Mexican chocolate torte. First, though, there was the Grand Waltz to take care of. Before the presentation had begun, Marc Sigel admitted that he hadn’t been a dancer at his wedding, and that he wasn’t expecting much to come of the post-presentation dad-deb first dance of the night. But lo and behold, when the Taylor Pace Orchestra struck up the first notes of “Moon River,” Marc and daughter Kendell Sigel were front and center on the dance floor, looking quite at home.
For loads of more looks of the night, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.