Friday, April 1, may have been April Fool’s Day, but Broadway Dallas wasn’t fooling around. Well, maybe just a little. With “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” as the inspiration, 2023 Broadway Dallas Gala Co-Chairs Jolie Humphrey and Gail Plummer glamorized Fair Park’s Music Hall with staging that would have impressed “Moulin Rouge!” director Baz Luhrmann. Almost from the moment guests entered the Hall, they were put into the party-hearty mood with the Crystal Terrace decked out like the legendary, turn-of-the-century Parisienne venue where the “very rich could come and ‘slum it’ in the fashionable district, Montmartre.” Where else would one find a chanteuse making herself right at home among the silent auction items, a “Harold Zidler” emcee threatening guests to sit down “or else” and memorable presentations from Trap Opera Star Madelyn Brené and students who had benefited from the Broadway Dallas education programs. Here’s a report from the field:
As guests exited their vehicles at the entrance of Fair Park’s Music Hall, they were greeted by a red-carpet entrance featuring the red-bulb marquee letters, Broadway Dallas. The name change from Dallas Summer Musicals, which took place a year ago, was starting to stick, and they wanted everyone to know! But it was the moss-wrapped, colorfully dressed elephant from Prashe Decor at the entrance that had guests in line snapping photos with can-can girls and a few bohemian gentlemen.
2023 Gala Co-Chairs Jolie Humphrey and Gail Plummer along with Broadway Dallas President/CEO Ken Novice (dressed in a head-to-toe Thom Browne runway look, kilt included) greeted friends and supporters. As guests including Lydia and Bill Addy, Calvert Collins-Bratton and Vince Bratton, Sally and Forrest Hoglund, 2021’s Gala Co-Chairs Sarah Lee and Stan Gardner and Cindy and Scott Collier, Kymberley and Tony Scalia from Hall Group, Honorary Co-Chairs Ambassador Kathryn Walt Hall and Craig Hall and Venise Stuart (dressed in a show-stopping red opera coat) with husband Larry Stuart made their way into the Crystal Terrace, gasps of disbelief could be heard.
Taking inspiration from the iconic Moulin Rouge cabaret of the late 1800s and 1900s, the Terrace had been transformed into an elegant yet modern Parisian cabaret, right down to the red crystal-topped lanterns on each table, giving a nod to the iconic red lamp. The legendary Moulin Rouge red windmill could be seen in the distance along with a cast of characters to help bring the Parisian evening to life.
The silent auction looked right at home inside a French boudoir designed to honor the dancer and courtesan, Satine. Frivolity and fan-fare with French costumes and stunning dancer Paula Ulery (dressed in a Satine-inspired look) had guests enthralled as she playful preened and interacted with guests, ensuring that bids on silent auction items kept going up and up and up!
Just as the cocktail reception was coming to an end, resident Dallas actor B. J. Cleveland took the helm as the evening’s emcee. His vibrato-toned voice could be heard telling guests to “sit down, sit down, unless you want me to spank you.” Guests laughed but played along as they took their seats for a custom four-course supper paired with Hall wines.
But it was the opening act with Trap Opera Star Madelyn Brené (aka the evening’s Sparkling Diamond) that left the crowd speechless. Beginning with an operatic rendition of “Nature Boy,” the Dallas native made her mark and set the tone for the evening.
Remarks from the stage were given by Ken Novice, Board President Tom Watson and Gala Co-Chairs Jolie and Gail, who surprised the crowd with news of the Broadway Dallas 2024 Gala. It seems that Gala 2023 Stars of the Show sponsors John Quattrocchi and Joseph DeMartino would be chairing Broadway Dallas’ 2024 Gala. Highlighting the fundraiser that will be taking place on Friday, February 2, will be a full performance of “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” that promises to be quick sell-out.
The dinner evening continued with a rousing live auction of two exclusive experiences followed by a performance of “Paris Holds the Key (to Your Heart)” from “Anastasia” by more than 30 students from Guyer High School, who annually participate in Broadway Dallas’ High School Musical Theatre Awards. The crowd responded to the performance by rising to their feet with thunderous applause and raised their paddles high, gifting additional funds to support the full spectrum of Broadway Dallas’ education and community outreach programs.
As dinner concluded, guests received glasses of champagne Telmont and took their places in the theater for a show-stopping performance of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” winner of ten 2021 Tony Awards® including Best Musical.
Following the performance, confetti-sprinkled guests headed to the After-Hours Fête hosted by Co-Chairs Emma Coppola and Jolie’s daughter Hannah Hunt. The after-hours experience featured more savory and sweet French-inspired fare, from crepes from Whisk Crepes Café to Parmesan and truffle pommes frites, croque monsieurs and several indulgent flavors of crème brûlée. A full-flowing bar with specialty themed cocktails courtesy of Grey Goose Vodka, Roxor Botanical Bourbon and Osadía Tequila kept guests coming back for more. There was even an absinthe-featured cocktail that had guests intrigued and talking about the absinthe of old.
Just for fun, lines formed for both the 360-degree photobooth and for The Original Butt Sketch artist Rob Free, who captured the behind-the-scenes looks of many friends, including several toned ones from the “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” cast who joined the celebrations later that evening.
Madelyn returned to the center stage for a performance set of operatic and pop sounds to an awe-struck crowd. As the night continued on, DJ Sheka, high above the stage, spun tunes to a packed dance floor until 1 a.m.
* Photo credit: Thomas Garza